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. 

Ethel Weiss June 06, 2012 at 01:06 PM
I wish to thank Elizabeth Alterman for her fine effort at bringing attention to the potential lack of fire protection in our town. The mayor needs to address this situation before there is an needless tragedy.
The Real Facts June 06, 2012 at 02:29 PM
It is clear in my mind that the damage to the reputation of the Westfield Police Department in general, and to Officer Kasko, in particular, is of such magnitude that it cannot be borne. The Township of Westfield and its citizens have every right to expect that a public employee, entrusted with the public welfare and presentation of facts at trial and legal proceedings, must maintain the highest integrity and honesty. In this regard Officer Kasco has failed. He has knowingly and purposefully testified falsely in a public forum, under oath, and therefore has violated his oath of office. In my opinion, his actions rise to the level of misconduct and may well have been pursued in a criminal venue. As a result of this, it is recommended that Officer Kasko be terminated from the Westfield Police Department, effective immediately. * Note - This is how Mr Kasko retired. He has provided the above to the local media and may be obtained by filing an Open Public Records Act request with the Westfield Town Clerk
harry June 06, 2012 at 02:33 PM
if you keep the hawk, but don't fix the roofs and fix the ball field but no lights or you can fix the roofs take down the hawk install the lights but don't fix the ball field or you can keep the hawk fix the ball field but don't fix the roofs or you can put up a parking deck!!!
NR9 June 06, 2012 at 03:04 PM
@The Real Facts. What is your opinion on the SIXTEEN known accidents (an accident every 41 days) that have taken place at the Cambridge/Clover portion of Central Avenue SUBSEQUENT to installation of the HAWK light at CAMBRIDGE? What is your position with regards to the Westfield and Union County experts who were ignored after having advised that a STANDARD traffic light should be installed at the CLOVER intersection? You’ve made your opinion of Mr. Kasko very clear. But what do you think about the light type (HAWK vs. Standard, as recommended by the experts) and the location (Cambridge vs. Clover, as recommended by the experts)? Do you think the HAWK light at Cambridge should be removed and replaced with a standard light at Clover? Why or why not?
NR9 June 06, 2012 at 03:22 PM
@The Real Facts. These are the dates on which accidents occurred at Cambridge/Clover SUBSEQUENT to installation of the HAWK light at Cambridge. Original accident reports are available at the Westfield Police Dept. Or, you can search Patch/Westfield Leader to see articles/photos related to those accidents. 2010: Jul 9, Jul 22, Aug 22, Aug 24, Sep 26, Oct 25 2011: Jan 7, Apr 25, Sep 12, Sep 21, Oct 27, Dec 14 2012: Jan 25, Feb 9, Mar 14, Apr 12. This data is compelling. A standard traffic light should be installed at Clover. The HAWK light should be removed at Cambridge.
A.John Blake June 07, 2012 at 12:59 AM
To The Real Facts, It would seem "the Real Facts" are rather selective.Forgetting for a moment the Kangeroo Court which you quote, why not follow through with the FACT that the Town DISMISSED all charges and claims against Mr.Kasko, paid him until he was able to retire and then certified him to the retirement board as retiring as an officer in good standing in the Westfield Police Department. Are you so enamoured with the truth ,candor and veracity of the Administration that you automatically dump on any critic of the Administration. If Mr Kasko were Adolf Hitler, it would be irrelevant if what he said was the truth. You are a perfect example of the old defense "shoot the messenger" A.John Blake
Note This June 07, 2012 at 02:03 AM
Judging by the character of the last two police chiefs, Tracy and Parizeau, who tried unsuccessfully to have Kasko fired for exposing corruption in the police department, I don't buy anything anyone says to defend these two pieces of scum. Tracy had an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate and Parizeau got caught by one of his own officers engaging in an extra-marital affair in his cop car. You want to attack Kasko because the town hired the Summit police to recommend termination so that they could bargain away the civil suit he had against Tracy and Gildea. Don't forget to mention the incompetence of our new chief Wayman that sunk the town's case. It's only a matter of time before his own extra marital affairs catch up with him. Just ask the assistant prosecutor down at the county what she thinks about him ever since she found out he was married. As for the light, which I know NR9 and Mr Blake will tell me to keep on subject, I don't know.
harry June 08, 2012 at 04:57 PM
@NR9 Let's just install mid-block HAWKS at every known intersection that has the same number of "points of conflict" as the central/clover in the favor of public safety. Oh yeah, and let's make sure there is a driveway in the middle of it all!
Cambridge Person June 09, 2012 at 01:13 AM
@ Harry No, let's install them where they are designed to help pedestrians cross a busy street that was identified 30 years ago.
harry June 09, 2012 at 01:16 AM
@CP Yes job well done!
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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