Former Union City deputy police chief asked to pay $1,920 for public records
Former Union City Deputy Police Chief Joe Blaettler, who has brought several apparent scandals in Union City to light over the past year, was asked by a Union City municipal clerk to pay a $1,920 fee for a large Open Public Records Act request he made two months ago, he said on Wednesday. He said that now, he is taking the matter to court.
Blaettler had also filed a suit back in April for other records he tried to get from the city.
Blaettler was the deputy chief of police for 23 years before he retired in December 2008. A year later, he was hired as a private investigator by a citizen who gave him information that led to an investigation that, in the end, exposed Union City Mayor Brian Stack’s ex-wife Katia, who ran the city’s day care program. In addition, Blaettler’s prompting also led to an investigation of thousands of dollars paid to the city’s recently retired police chief for off-duty work over the past few years, a matter featured on several News 12 investigative reports (see links to related stories below).
By state law, requests for OPRA documents must be handled within seven business days, and Blaettler called the lack of a timely response a clear violation of the OPRA act. But the clerk stated that OPRA requests that require over three hours of research incur a fee of $32 in labor per hour.
Blaettler said he made OPRA requests for documents surrounding what he believes is the “wasteful spending” of the Community Development Agency and referenced what he called “questionable projects” lumped under what the CDA termed their citywide façade improvement program.
According to Stack’s spokesman, Mark Albiez, Blaettler could have used the state Government Records Council rather than a lawsuit to address his complaint.
Union City is only city in Hudson to get restored state aid
Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill Tuesday, Dec. 27, restoring $139 million in state aid to several cities. The cities must work with the state to keep costs in line.
Eleven cities will split the restored aid. The only one in Hudson County is Union City, whose mayor and state senator, Brian Stack, is an ally of Christie.
The other cities to get the award include Camden, Paterson, and Asbury Park.
Moody s upgrades Weehawken s credit rating; Union City removed from watch list
Weehawken has been lifted out of junk bond (or “speculative grade”) territory by credit rating agency Moody’s Investors Service as of Dec. 27., according to a story at NJ.com. Weehawken was downgraded to junk status in July of 2010.
Moody’s cited several positive changes in relation to Weehawken’s $5.04 million in general obligation debt: its continued waterfront redevelopment, its decreased reliance on tax-anticipation notes for cash flow, and a reported surplus of $271,000.
Separately, on Dec. 21 Moody’s removed Union City from its downgrade watch list after the city received restorative aid from the state.
Five NJ municipalities retain their junk status: Harrison, Collingswood, Salem, Irvington and Camden.
Hudson County seeks foster advocacy volunteers
Hudson County Court Appointed Special Advocate group (CASA) seeks volunteers to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children. Hudson County has nearly 700 children in foster care; most have been removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect.
CASA uses trained community volunteers to provide assistance to children while helping to move them toward safe and permanent homes. CASA and its volunteers speak for children in court, serve as fact-finders for judges, and safeguard the interests of children in the foster care system.
An informational session will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 10 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. in room 400 of the Hudson County Administration Building at 595 Newark Ave., Jersey City for those interested in learning more about the program and the role of its volunteers.
For further information, please call (201) 795-9855, e-mail email@example.com or visit www.hudsoncountycasa.org.
Union City to hold youth soccer clinics
Union City will hold weekly soccer clinics every Saturday from Jan. 14 through March 31, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Emerson Middle School gymnasium at 318 38th St.
The clinics will run for 120 sessions, 120 min. each, and are open to boys and girls ages 7 through 9. Equipment and training will be provided by the Union City Soccer Academy, and trainers are licensed by the state of N.J. The clinics will allow students to improve their soccer skills and take their game to a higher level.
Students must register before attending. Parents and guardians may call (201) 430-4658, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.ucsocceracademy.com. They must provide their name, phone number, and child’s age.
Registration to be held for free performing arts classes
The Grace Theatre Workshop, Inc. will hold registration for its professional theatre training program for children ages eight and up from Monday through Thursday, Jan. 23 to Feb. 3 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Jose Marti Freshman Academy, 1800 Summit Ave., Union City.
The workshop will provide free ballet, jazz, hip hop, salsa, tap/rhythm, singing, and acting classes.
To register, children must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Registration fee is $25 per student, but classes are free and open to all Hudson County residents. All of the instructors are professional performers. Adult classes in Salsa dancing are also offered at no cost.
For information, call (201) 864-7149 or visit www.GraceTheatre.com.
Union City to open new art exhibit
The Union City Museum of Art will host the opening reception for Craig Radhuber and Abby Levine’s new art exhibit entitled “All Too Human” on Friday, Jan. 27 at 7 p.m. at the William V. Musto Cultural Center located at 420 15th St. The artists will be in attendance, there will be live jazz music by the James Austin Trio, and refreshments will be served.
Admission to the event is free, and everyone in the community is invited to attend.