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Westfield Town Council Approves Bond Refunding, Light Controversy Continues

The Town Council approved the refunding of a bond ordinance that will save the Town of Westfield and the pool utility more than $182,000.

The Westfield Town Council began its Tuesday, June 5 meeting by approving a special ordinance providing for the refunding of outstanding bonds that will save the town and the swimming pool utility just over $182,000.

Finance committee chair Sam Della Fera explained that the refunding was similar to a refinancing and that lower interest rates allowed for a substantial savings for the town.

The council, minus Mayor Andy Skibitsky and Council member Vicki Kimmins, also approved two general ordinances that amended salaries for town officers and employees as well as employees of the police and fire departments. (Check back with Patch for a complete list of job titles and salaries later this week.) 

The council also approved a resolution to award a contract for the 2012 Improvement of First Street. 

Councilman James Foerst thanked the residents of First Street for their patience in what he referred to as "long-awaited" improvements and said that the work on the street and curbs will begin soon after school closes for summer vacation. The work is expected to be completed by Aug. 17.

During the open discussion by citizens, Greg Kasko, Adina Enculescu and Maria Carluccio spoke before the council to once again urge members to reconsider the midblock placement of the pedestrian activated HAWK signal on Central Avenue.

Both Kasko and Carluccio said police have begun ticketing drivers who have failed to stop when the light is activated. Carluccio described a recent event during which a driver, who turned out to be a Cambridge Road resident, ran the light while a crossing guard and child were about to enter the crosswalk. 

"Is that irony on top of irony?" she asked. "If there's anyone who should be aware of the logistics of this light and how it works, wouldn't it be someone who lives on Cambridge? And yet they managed to not see the light with a child and a crossing guard entering the crosswalk."

Carluccio said the resident was issued an $85 ticket and concluded by telling council members she would see them in two weeks. "Unless the light moves, I'll be standing here." 

Kasko asked the council why, if this is the safest location for the light as the mayor has stated, does it need to be patrolled by police officers. Kasko also said he witnessed crews installing more signs in the area during spring 2011 and again asked why this was necessary if the light is in the safest location as the mayor had stated "from the get-go."

During his allotted 10 minutes, Kasko also referred to statements made previously by Town Administrator Jim Gildea. Gildea announced that the Town was seeking grants to increase manpower on both the police and fire departments. Kasko recalled that Gildea stated that the town had alternative plans if the grants fell through. Kasko asked the council what those plans were, to which acting mayor JoAnn Neylan said, "I hear your question and we'll get back to you."

The retired police officer also questioned why the town of Westfield and Union County both have their own emergency service units. Kasko said overtime and training were expenses the town could look at cutting in light of limited incoming revenue.

Kasko also questioned the purchase of an unmarked Dodge Durango that was intended for the detective bureau at a cost of $24,161. Kasko asked why outgoing Westfield Police Chief John Parizeau's car couldn't have been put to use rather than incurring the additional expense. 

Council members did not offer an answer nor did they address his inquiry regarding possible duplication of emergency service units. 

Following the regular meeting, the Council went into an hour-long executive session and returned to approve two resolutions. The first authorized the mayor to execute a letter and a resolution regarding NJ DEP vs. Occidental Chemical Corporaton, et al. urging action on behalf of our state's legislators.

The second resolution authorized the town through its various agencies and the mayor to execute a settlement in the matter of Sunnyside Senior Housing Corporation vs. Town of Westfield.

Councilman Foerst explained that both of these matters are, at this time, confidential. When that is no longer the case, more information will be made available to the public. 

Adina Toescu-Enculescu June 19, 2012 at 05:08 AM
To the Real Facts. I heard Mr. Kasko’s name for the first time at a Town Council Meeting in October 2010. Since then, I have heard him speaking every 2 weeks ALWAYS telling only the TRUTH, and everything was based on the official documents he presented in these meetings. I was amazed to read your comment. It looks so vicious that I first inclined to believe you are a personal enemy of Mr.Kasko or a friend of our town leaders. THE TRUTH IS that the Town dismissed all charges and claims against Mr.Kasko, paid him until he was able to retire, and then allowed him to retire as an officer in good standing from WPD. Actually it appears that YOU ACCUSE the Mayor and the Town Administrator of CORRUPTION. NO HONEST OFFICIAL would continue to pay the salary and to offer a pension to an employee who was guilty of what you said about Mr. Kasko. If they did it, it means that they wanted to cover something and they are corrupt. I am convinced that actually somebody wanted Mr. Kasko to be fired for exposing corruption in the police department but because the Truth was on his side, it did not happen. Let;s come back to the topic! Mr. Kasko have spoken again only the truth and have tried to rationalize with the Council regarding the dangerous circus created on Central Avenue. Unfortunately, the logic and the truths have not prevailed so far. The Mayor and the Council are probably waiting for a tragedy to happen or a higher forum to decide to correct their mistakes
South Westfielder June 19, 2012 at 05:12 PM
Even attorneys like Mr. Blake know that, especially when public, unionized employees are concerned, charges can be dismissed and employees allowed to "save face" and resign or retire. The truth is that Mr. Kasko felt he was entitled to give less than 100% as an officer and he got caught. Together with the tainted leadership, he other officers, and those hired to protect us have created this terrible environment. Mr. Kasko is an opportunist and has decided to redeem himself by attacking the very system he played in. Other policemen have joined in and jumped on the band wagon. God help us all. Maybe it is time to clean slate our police department from top to bottom.
South Westfielder June 19, 2012 at 05:25 PM
On the contrary - ask Mr. Blake - as an attorney he knows full well that to avoid court costs, attorneys' fees, the publicity and the like guilty former employees receive payments all the time. Don't be so naive. This may be a circus, but leading the circus are clowns who every meeting rant in front of the Mayor. There's the "Joan of Arc" clown (Ms. Carluccio) and the police clown who rides the uni-cycle (Mr. Kasko).
WPD PBA June 19, 2012 at 07:46 PM
By exposing corruption within the police department Mr. Kasko attacked the very system he worked in and thus subjected himself to the system that had to protect it's very own interest. It was only after Mr. Kasko had reported the illegal use of police computers to do backround checks on Westfield residents, to town officials, that they began to wage their retaliatory campaign on him that included numerous accusations including sleeping on duty, failing to back up a police officer, and lying by saying under oath that he had not committed these offenses. At the time, Chief Barney Tracy, Captain David Wayman, Town Admin. Jim Gildea, and others had a lot more to lose and it was easier to scapegoat Mr. Kasko but to do so they had to offer him a deal to go-away and drop his civil suit. To make that deal they had to leverage themselves, hence all the departmental charges levied to strengthen their bargaining power. It won't be so easy this time around as it appears another officer(s) have filed hostile work and unfair labor practice claims against the PD and Town officials. History sure does have a way of repeating itself. I was at Mr. Kasko's hearings and if these upcoming hearings are anything like Mr. Kasko's where Parizeau and Wayman looked like fools on the witness stand, the town will be offering to settle once again. This time, the town does not get to use its own police chief or one from a neighboring town as a judge. A waste of taxpayer $$ defending incompetence.,
South Westfielder June 23, 2012 at 04:53 AM
I wouldn't expect any other type of response from the union.

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