A police promotions ceremony was held shortly after the Board of Commissioner’s meeting on Wednesday and four police officers within the North Bergen Police Department were advanced in rank.
Capt. Robert Dowd and Lt. Christopher Brignola were promoted to the positions of deputy chief and captain, respectively, and Sergeants Arthur Del and Robert Farley, Jr. were promoted to lieutenant.
The ceremony drew a large crowd of family, friends, retirees, and public officials.
“All four officers are fantastic officers,” said Chief William Galvin, Jr. “I’ve worked with all of them and I have nothing but the utmost respect for each and every one of them.”
Captain Gerald Sanzari mentioned that Deputy Chief Robert Dowd, now one of the higher ranking officers in the department, has achieved several distinctions through his 18-year career, including the apprehension of nine fugitives transporting assault weapons throughout the country, the apprehension of an armed bank robber in a hostage situation, and the implementation of a city-wide surveillance crime-prevention system (see our Nov. 13, 2011 story).
Mayor Nicholas Sacco and Lt. Peter Fasilis thanked his staff for their ability to maintain a steady police force despite budget cuts and a rough economy.
“We filled some much needed positions,” said Lt. Peter Fasilis. “In these trying financial times, “layoff” is the word of the day lately.”
Fasilis also said that the police force had experienced a high turnover in the past year.
“North Bergen was fortunate,” Fasilis continued, “we persevered. It wasn’t an easy task. We were in dire straits for both manpower and supervision.”
“No one should live in a community that’s not safe,” said Sacco. “If North Bergen streets aren’t safe, people have no reason to live in North Bergen.”
“This is a wonderful community and today we’re going to make it remain that way,” Sacco added.
“In these trying financial times, “layoff” is the word of the day lately.” – Lt. Peter Fasilis
During the public portion of the meeting, Tonnelle Wine and Liquors owner Larry Wainstein contested the schedule of commissioners’ meetings, which typically rotate between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. meetings. Wainstein complained that the town has only one 8 p.m. commissioners meeting scheduled for the rest of the year.
The matter had been broached at a previous meeting by Mario Blanch, an attorney who represented the “Citizens for Change” mayor/commissioner ticket in their unsuccessful election bid against Sacco’s team last year. Blanch also represents a former town employee who filed a state ethics complaint against Sacco in December.
Town attorney Herb Klitzner said that he had explained last meeting that the state established a series of rotating meetings in 1985, which the town adopted. He also said that the number of people who attend the meetings at 8 p.m. is “very little different” from those who attend the 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. meetings.
“A public meeting is just one opportunity [for residents] to speak,” said Klitzner. “People who have an issue with the town can contact the town and arrange a meeting anytime.”
“[That] information is false,” said Wainstein. “You’re declining [residents] of their voice.”
Wainstein continued to say that most people, including Mario Blanch, are working at 11 a.m. and can’t attend the meeting. After the meeting, Wainstein said he did not work with Blanch, but was an “acquaintance.” Wainstein once worked with the North Bergen Concerned Citizens Group to help relief efforts for victims of the North Bergen fire in January.
“Is Mario Blanch running for office?” asked Klitzner.
“No, he is not running for office,” said Wainstein.
“Last May, 83 percent of the citizens voted for this administration,” said Klitzner. “Obviously they think we’re doing something right.”
Wainstein then asked Mayor Sacco’s stance on the meeting schedule. Sacco had previously left last meeting before Blanch had a chance to speak about the subject.
“I will tell you that there’s been absolutely no difference from any meetings we’ve had from 11, 5, or 8 [p.m],” said Sacco. “People contact the town every day, numerous times, and we respond to them. It doesn’t happen at commissioner’s meetings, it really doesn’t.”
“[The ones] who come to the commissioners’ meetings are normally people like yourself,” continued Sacco, “who criticize the government and have their own agendas, and you’re entitled to be here.”
Wainstein responded to Sacco’s “agenda” remark by saying his issue had nothing to do with politics.
“Oh, this is not about politics,” repeated Sacco. “Mr. Wainstein, please. You funded the last [Citizens for Change] campaign.”
Wainstein’s five-minute public portion time allotment quickly expired following the discussion.
A resolution was passed updating an existing contract with T.M. Brennan Contractors for the repairs to the municipal building. The contract was increased by $2,566.
A resolution was passed awarding a $33,750 contract to Cannon Cochran Management Services to perform the services of a claims adjuster. The company will administer claims in the area of general liability, automobile liability, law enforcement liability, and workers compensation.
A resolution was passed awarding a $49,050 contract to Funding Group Initiatives, Inc. The firm will serve as a consultant to assist the township in the application and administration of different county, state, and federal grant opportunities and funding sources.
Stephen LaMarca can be reached at email@example.com.