By W. Homer Axford
So in case you missed it, the Bayonne Board of Education is conducting a “nationwide search” for a new superintendent. SPOILER ALERT: They aren’t. Dr. Wanko has been chosen to get the job. He is more than qualified and lives in Bayonne, but you know they have to keep up appearances.
Looks like this newly elected school board is picking up some tricks from our Mayor: in an attempt to find a scapegoat, they suspended Dr. McGeehan over the budget crisis … that they created. The only problem with this move is that, contractually, they have to pay Dr. McGeehan to do the job of superintendent until this summer when her contract is up. In the meantime, because the district can’t operate without a superintendent — someone needs to sign documents, checks, etc. — they will have to bring someone else on to do the job. Dr. McGeehan made close to $200,000 dollars a year; we would expect the next superintendent would expect to make the same. So, in the interest of grandstanding, the newly elected school board just blew half a million dollars in salaries and benefits to pay two superintendents to do the same job for the next 8 months. They should have just let Dr. McGeehan finish out her term. Expect more budget problems, mismanagement, and poor leadership at the Bayonne Board of Education. The Board President is taking his marching orders from City Hall — no two ways about it. This is a prime example of the poor leadership of City Hall trickling down to the Bayonne Board of Education.
The Naughty List
Christmas has come and gone; we hope you had a good one. Some didn’t – they got a lump of coal in their stockings because they have been very naughty all year. Without further delay, here they are from bad to worst.
10) School Board Trustee Mike Lawandy: Lawandy is a newcomer to the list, and he probably won’t be on it for long as his days as a school board trustee are surely numbered. For some reason, Lawandy thought it would be wise to team up with Joe DeMarco to wage a political battle against Bayonne Teachers Association President Alan D’Angelo. His antics have caused much damage, the results we will see here play out in the new year.
9) CarePoint Health: Just watch this video
8) School Board Trustee Denis Wilbeck: Wilbeck for the same reasons as Lawandy. The teachers will be forced to swallow a horrible 2 year deal due to the meddling and machinations between Demarco, Lawandy, and Wilbeck. It is apparent now that the plan out of City Hall was to string this thing along until the Bayonne Teachers Association became so desperate that they would take anything. Well here you have it. Davis will now say he “got a deal done” for the teachers as he runs for office in 2018, at the same time he can say “he saved taxpayers money.” Meanwhile, the money hose is spewing uncontrollably at City Hall, contracts are being given out like candy, and the Bayonne Board of Education, with the likes of Lawandy and Wilbeck as gate keepers, are losing millions seemingly every budget cycle. But the voters of the City of Bayonne see right through the nonsense, they won’t be fooled again.
7) Councilman Sal Gullace: Gullace rose on the list from last year. There was an effort to recall him, and it ended abruptly. We would later find out that Gullace gave the guy running the recall a seat on a City board to end the recall. Bayonne corrupt politics at its finest.
6) Councilman Tommy Cotter: Cotter has fallen a bit on the list, mainly due to inactivity. Personally, we think Tommy is “like so totally over” being a councilman. It’s too much work. Tommy is barely seen around town, doesn’t go to events, never speaks at meetings. When he does speak, its only to accuse citizens of “grandstanding.” Don’t be surprised if Tommy doesn’t run again in 2018, he has told a few people that he won’t.
5) Jay Coffey: Jay is a new addition to the list. “Nice guy Jay” as we like to call him always has sage advice for speakers at the Council Meetings about how Bayonne’s problems stem back for decades, how he remembers when this deal fell through, and when taxes were raised this time. Jay never ever mentions that he is part of the systemic problem in Bayonne: the takers of the past refusing to let go. You know the ones who moved out long ago? The ones who are now Mayors of other towns, that pay taxes in OTHER TOWNS, that take their $150,000+ check from a distressed town on the brink of bankruptcy that they claim to “love” to the affluent town they live in, raise their own family in, and govern, to spend on frappuccinos and build up its tax base while raising the taxes in the distressed town? That sounds about right to us. But don’t ask Jay about those people, he is concerned with a different narrative. Expect Jay to keep taking from Bayonne, until you stop him, of course.
4) Assemblyman Nicholas Chiaravalloti: Assemblyman Chiaravalloti has moved up on the list due to us discovering the many more conflicts of interest he has had dealing with the City of Bayonne and real estate developers at the MOT in his capacity as an attorney. The stuff reads like a book on what not to do as an elected official, but that doesn’t keep our Assemblyman from double-dealing as a lobbyist, an attorney, and our Assemblyman. It is incredibly troubling that our Assemblyman will not be forthcoming with the citizens of Bayonne on what he knew about a real estate deal that fell through at the MOT involving his client Kate Howard LTD. What is more troubling is that this failed deal cost the City of Bayonne $12 million in future payments from the Port Authority of New Jersey and a budget crisis. Not to mention all the budget woes our Assemblyman has caused in the past for our City. But this is the best guy our Mayor could come up with to lead us down in Trenton.
3) The Bayonne City Council: For those of you on the City Council who thought you got away — nope. You all should be ashamed of yourselves to vote our City into further debt when it is on the very brink of financial ruin. If you think you will see one cent repaid from the BEOF deal, you don’t belong in office. If you think you won’t, you don’t belong in office. It is shameful that you didn’t learn from the sins of the past. We could go on and on. You’ve been in lock step with the Mayor — none of you has shown any indication that you are the independent voices you said you would be while running for office. Juan Perez, Gary Lapelusa, and Sharon Nadrowski, you and the rest have let the people of Bayonne down. This is why you are number three on the Naughty List. Your lack of action makes you accomplices to the Mayor’s mismanagement of the City. When you do act, you often act worse than the Mayor. You are unfit for office, never mind to oversee the budget. Going forward, we hope you do not continue to act in the way you did over the last 3 years, Bayonne cannot afford anymore of your rash spending. Remember, what you do over the next 17 months could effect Bayonne for the next 50 years. Just say no to the Mayor and his out of town cronies!
Speaking of which…..
2) Joe DeMarco: Joe DeMarco is the Mayor’s number one guy at City Hall. Every contract that is given out, every job, every dollar that is spent has one purpose: to enrich Joe DeMarco and his friends. You don’t have to look far to find evidence of this, just look at the law and engineering firms who have contracts with the City. Look at the developers who get million dollar tax abatements. Look at the Mayor’s campaign finance reports. You don’t have to connect too many dots to lead back to DeMarco. DeMarco takes, Bayonne taxpayers make. That is how it goes. He works 4 days a week and takes a large paycheck to a suburban town to spend it there (sound familiar?). This is your town, and this is what it has become under Jimmy Davis. DeMarco is the embodiment of this problem.
1) Jimmy Davis: The Mayor — none of this could happen without him letting it. He could put an end to all this with the stroke of a pen, a single phone call, one word, STOP. But he won’t. Why? Well, you’d have to ask Jimmy that. Maybe Jimmy doesn’t care about Bayonne. Maybe Jimmy didn’t know what he was getting into when he ran for Mayor, the job was too demanding, so he is letting DeMarco run the day to day. No matter what the situation is, it is toxic and it is literally rotting Bayonne from the inside out. The City of Bayonne and the Bayonne Board of Education have both had multimillion-dollar budget shortfalls in the past year. We have learned that the City of Bayonne has hired over 100 new employees over the past year due to court documents. Yet in spite of all this, under the Mayor’s direction the City Council still voted to bond the City into another $2.5 million in debt… is this the Twilight Zone? This type of insanity cannot be sustained! This City is headed for doom, and if we didn’t love it so darned much we would just not waste our time on Christmas Eve by writing this long column. But this is just that important. If this doesn’t end, we won’t be able to spend holidays in Bayonne anymore. The town won’t be the same town we grew up in. No one will be able to live here because the taxes will be unaffordable. What happens when people start leaving because they can’t afford to live here anymore? Is it even Bayonne anymore? These are the questions we need to start asking ourselves as we look forward into 2017. Over the next 17 months we will have some decisions to make. Do you think Bayonne is heading in the right direction?