By W. Homer Axford
The blame games have begun. Well, they began a long time ago, but they are starting up again.
From what we know now, last January, City Business Administrator Joe DeMarco and Mayor Davis had just learned that they were going to have to raise taxes, and they needed an excuse to do it. So, with no proof whatsoever (According to the state of NJ), they made up a story. The story goes like this: the Bayonne Board of Education owes the city 11 million dollars from way back, like when Doria was mayor. Looking back on it, the language in the “missing money” claim by the City is very telling: DeMarco made a point to mention “The City’s inability to repay the bond, which the board used for 22 school construction projects over a 14-year span, could place the city at ‘financial risk’ and become a burden on the taxpayer.” This statement is quite contradictory to DeMarco’s statement at this month’s City Council meeting, when he advocated for the City spending nearly a million dollars in tax payer money to buy a vacant lot on Broadway, a move which has been proven by previous luxury apartment projects to be a gamble, at best. So how is it that a 2 million dollar loss creates a burden and puts the taxpayer at risk, but a 1 million dollar loss and a 30 year tax abatement is worth the risk?
Nevertheless, Davis and DeMarco put out this big press release, and made a big to do about it and people were furious (rightfully so) and we waited. And we waited….. And now the State confirmed that the Bayonne Board of Education did owe the City 11 million dollars, but they paid back 9 million dollars of it. The State also found that due to poor record keeping on both sides, the City would have to eat the other 2 million. In sum, according to the State of New Jersey, the Bayonne Board of Education owes the City nothing. It was hard to understand this if you saw the expertly written article in the Jersey Journal last week, but that is the story.
Then there was DeMarco and Davis’ claim that “The BOE’s actions have put the taxpayers and City at risk of losing State funding. This lack of oversight directly calls into question the BOE and the school administration’s ability to properly manage the district.” About 4 months after this statement, DeMarco and Davis were seen at a party with the very members of the Bayonne Board of Education they are basically calling incompetent criminals. (Seen Below)
So what exactly is going on here? I mean, do we really have to spell it out: you ( the taxpayer) are being played like a fiddle. The City of Bayonne is spending and hiring like crazy. They are making their friends rich with shady development deals, legal contracts, and other forms of nepotism and cronyism at City Hall. Now the time has come to pay the piper. The bad news is Davis and DeMarco have no money to do so – they want you to do it. And they are going to, once again, blame the children, teachers, and taxpaying employees of the Bayonne Board of Education for it. Don’t get us wrong, there is a lot of wrong going on at the Board of Education, but they are not responsible for the decline of our town; Davis and company are doing more than their fair share to hurt Bayonne. They just see the BBOED as an easy target, given their previous successes with exploiting it. They will try to sell you that the impending major tax increase that is coming is due to the Bayonne Board of Education, not their incompetence. They are lying and the clues of those lies are painfully obvious.
Big Parties in Atlantic City
So the cesspool of Bayonne politics continues in a different area code last week. The New Jersey League of Municipalities was held in Atlantic City, as it is every year, and just like last year, Mayor Davis and a few lucky pals from his Administration were at every single event thrown by developers, law firms, and engineering firms in the State. They weren’t there to attend conferences or learn about how to govern better. They were there to feed out of the communal troths of free food and booze, and, well, other things. Davis and company were seen at many events rubbing elbows with actors from the law firms and engineering firms that are already getting rich off of Bayonne taxpayers. We are sure they met a few more friends that can get rich, too.
City Dumps Humane Society for Shady Politically Connected Animal Control Firm
The Council voted 4-1 to dump the Liberty Humane Society as the City of Bayonne’s official Animal Control Agency. The Society is a non-profit that was doing great things for homeless and feral animals throughout the city. It will be replaced by a shady politically connected firm. Instead, the City will now use the politically connected NJACAR out of Lodi, NJ. The contract is for $87,000 dollars for one year of service. Don’t ask us who runs it, we can’t find anything on them online.
BBOED Rushing to Make Promotions Before Elected Board Takes Over
Seems like the orders have come down from Davis: promotions, raises, and contracts must get done before he loses control of the board. Davis has instructed his puppet trustee, Piechocki to vote in line with his demands. He has also garnered the support of Ray Greaves, Mary Jane Desmond and others. This, of course, is a smack in the face to the people who ran and voted in the school board election.
We wonder if the teachers will be getting their new contract any time soon? After all, Mayor Davis ran on the value of “respect” for everyone. We really do hope the teachers get a fair deal, but it is interesting to see how the narrative has dramatically changed since the ones who had all the answers before are expected just to have a few answers now. The cheerleaders of change from yesteryear have all been silenced by the hard realities of our City budget and the constraints it has on all of us. The only difference between now and then is that due to the glut of spending, the City is in far worse shape than it was just a year ago. That isn’t good news for any part of the City’s financial equation. City employees, teachers, police, firefighters, and taxpayers will all be penalized for the uncontrollable spending of this administration. This is just the beginning.
Where is P.J. Leonard? We miss you P.J., please come back! We also wonder if we will see any proof of some of the City Council’s claims that they are paying their illegal health benefits back. What did LaPelsua mean when he said that “now we will follow everything by the letter of the law.” Does that mean he broke the law before – or the City did? I guess we will just have to find out. Hopefully, our tax bills don’t force us out before that time comes.
Blame, blame, blame, blame