Nor’easter cost borough $426,000

23 08 2007

LITTLE FALLS — April’s nor’easter and the flooding that followed cost the township more than $426,000, according to records submitted to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Overtime and equipment for the police and fire departments cost more than $52,000. Repairing damaged roads, storm water sewers, Zuchorsky Park and catch basins accounted for another $39,000.

Fred Batelli, the township’s Office of Emergency Management coordinator, said although FEMA didn’t reimburse Little Falls for its flood in April 2005, the federal agency would do so for this one.

“We were lucky this time,” Batelli said Wednesday. “We haven’t received anything yet. It should be coming within the next month or so.”

April’s nor’easter caused the Passaic River to overflow its banks, sending waist-deep water onto township streets, and affected some 400 homes.

In Totowa, Allen Del Vecchio, the borough’s Office of Emergency Management coordinator, said its tally on municipal flood costs wouldn’t be ready until early next week.

Last week, Steve Wielkotz, West Paterson’s borough auditor, said April’s floods cost the town $255,000 — about half of which had been reimbursed by FEMA.

Reach Jennifer H. Cunningham at 973-569-7162 or

Empty building featured in ads

23 08 2007

PASSAIC — A new advertising campaign on NJ Transit buses portrays the city’s Main Avenue shopping district as a mecca with “over 100 stores” and a low 3.5 percent sales tax.

“Everybody knows that this building, there’s not a company in it,” Ahmed Ebid, the store manager of Home-N-Furniture, said Tuesday. “People they are going to take it as not the truth.”

Redevelopment Director Glenn Carter said the city’s nonprofit Urban Enterprise Zone paid $8,000 for the latest advertising campaign on 20 buses to bolster the city’s image. In past years, city officials had used bus billboards and television commercials.

“We obviously knew it was vacant,” he said. “It was decided to be the most prominent building in Passaic, and we do look at it as a hope for the future.”

Local business owners complain that the 88,575-square-foot, 11-story behemoth known as the Bank Tower, at 663 Main Ave., projects a negative image with broken windows and garbage scattered on windowsills.

“Glass breaks when the wind blows … it’s a dangerous building,” said Kenneth Lulo, an attorney with a law office on nearby Prospect Street.

The art deco-style building has sat dilapidated and vacant for more than a decade after medical offices, lawyers and professional services moved out. The owners opted to shutter the building instead of making mandatory fire-code upgrades.

Carter said the city is in the process of filing a condemnation complaint against the building’s owner, New York City-based 460 Park Associates.

In April, the city hired an appraiser who estimated the value of the building to be $1.86 million.

Telephone calls for comment on the Bank Tower building to The Moinian Group, a New York City-based property management company representing the owners, were not returned Tuesday.

In 1994, to reinvigorate the city’s ailing downtown business district, the state designated Passaic as an Urban Enterprise Zone, making it one of 33 places in New Jersey to receive special tax benefits and incentives. Passaic and Paterson are the only cities in Passaic County to enjoy the special status. Businesses can get a 100 percent sales tax rebate on business-related purchases.

UEZ Chairman Cliff Lindholm said the advertising campaign’s main goal has less to do with the symbolic building and more to do with attracting retail shoppers to the downtown business district.

“How much time do you spend looking at a bus?” Lindholm questioned. “What you really want to get across is the 3 percent sales tax.”

Lindholm, who owns Passaic-based Falstrom Co., an aerospace manufacturer, said the UEZ has not only helped shoppers, but the 250 business-owners who are members of the UEZ. Revenue from the city’s sales tax goes directly into the city’s coffers to pay for improvements to streets in the business district.

The bus depots boast new lighting, landscaping, paving and other improvements. The UEZ also has helped finance several of the city’s redevelopment projects.

Reach Meredith Mandell at

New York, NY – Laptop with Personal Data of 280,000 People Stolen from Consultant to the City

23 08 2007

New York, NY – A laptop with personal data of as many as 280,000 city retirees, belonging to a private consultant to the city Financial Information Services Agency, was stolen from a midtown restaurant, said City Hall spokesman Jason Post.
“The consultant [had] access to personal information of members of the city’s various pension systems,” Post said.

It was not immediately clear how many retirees’ personal information files – possibly including names, addresses, Social Security numbers and pension amounts – could have been on the computer.
Therefore, all retirees whose privacy might have been compromised as a result of the theft will be contacted, Post said.

A police source said the laptop was lifted from Kang Suh, a Korean restaurant at 1250 Broadway.
The potential good news for retirees, the source added, is that sensitive information on the computer may have been encrypted, although that’s still under investigation.
The Official Directory of the City of New York describes FISA as a “state-of-the-art information technology services center” that “provides secure access” to data on the city’s finances and payroll. [nydailynews]

Designer Succahs

22 08 2007

For people who appreciate something unique and creative, Designer Succas offer a new way to make this beautiful mitzvah still more beautiful – and to double this mitzvah as well. That is because proceeds from the succahs, available exclusively through Oorah, will help the kiruv organization make sure that every Jewish family has a succah of its own.The Mehadrin structure of the ‘Designer Succa’ satisfies all the halachic requirements of succah, while adding a brand new design dimension. There are three models to choose from: Classic, which features a formal, elegant cream-on-beige design; Kotel, which evokes the beloved holy site of the Beis Hamikdash; and Rich Embroidery, a patchwork of Judaic motifs in rich earth and jewel tones. All of the interiors feature a subtle print of the exterior design, offset by interior window flaps and all-around valances in full color.Not only is the Designer Succa unique and kosher, but it is also constructed for simple assembly and disassembly – no tools required. The lightweight, compact components can be stored anywhere.Oorah has been supplying and assembling succahs for its kiruv families for decades. Designer Succas create a new way to fund this growing, high-impact program, and they bring the Jewish community an exciting new way to add a little extra simcha to  z’man simchaseinu.For more information please click HERE to visit our website at or call 1-877-2-SUCCAH.

Hide Your Electronics In The Car

22 08 2007

Thieves are targeting cars with visible valuables such as laptops and GPS systems. Investigators urge residents to keep valuables out of sight and always lock your car.

Clifton Gas Station Robbed at Gunpoint

17 08 2007

Heather Haddon –

Clifton, NJ – Police continued to hunt for a roving band of robbers Thursday who hit two gas stations in two counties in the space of about an hour.

At around 11 p.m. Wednesday, an unidentified man approached the attendant at the Sunoco station, 870 Route 3 west, and asked for a pack of cigarettes. The robber then pulled out a handgun and punched the clerk in the face, according to Clifton police Capt. Robert Rowan.

The thief stole wads of money from the attendant’s shirt and pants pockets, then fled in a silver sport utility vehicle with a female driver and male passenger, Rowan said.

Managers at the Sunoco station were still calculating how much was stolen Thursday, Rowan said. The 32-year-old attendant from Passaic, whose name was not released, was treated at the scene for injuries to his face. No shots were fired.

Just after midnight on Thursday, the robbers allegedly struck again along Route 22 in Union Township, according to Lt. Joseph Dilginias, of the Union Police Department.

Again, three individuals in a silver SUV stole from a gas station with a handgun, Dilginias said.

Anyone with information about the crime is urged to contact Detective Hank Tkach of the Clifton Police Department at 973-470-5900.

Victory In Passaic for Taxpayers

17 08 2007

Press Release from 36th District Assembly Republican candidate Carmen Pio Costa

Double-Dipping Schaer Forced to Pass A “Save My Job(s)” Resolution, Yet State Still Suffers From His Budget-Busting Spending Plans

Nutley, NJ – In a press release issued Thursday, 36th District Assembly Republican candidate Carmen Pio Costa congratulated the citizens of Passaic for forcing a vote by the City Council to rescind its recent self-serving grab for publicly funded health benefits. The council, led by dual-office holder Assemblyman Gary Schaer, had tried to give themselves lifetime health benefits for their part-time jobs 10 years earlier than the city’s 700 other employees.

Widespread opposition from angry voters, the local papers, and Pio Costa, who is challenging Schaer’s Assembly seat this fall, forced Schaer to call a special meeting this morning to rescind the perk-grabbing resolution. Pio Costa personally attended the Passaic council’s meeting to make sure the will of the taxpayers was carried out.

Pio Costa today also called attention to Schaer’s contribution to bankrupting the state through his work on the Assembly Budget Committee, where in just two years he has supported an increase in state spending by $5.6 billion.

“If residents of this district want to know why their taxes are so high, Assemblyman Schaer provides a textbook example of the problem in Trenton,” said Pio Costa, a businessman from Nutley. “While he votes to recklessly increase state spending from his position on the powerful budget committee, he boosts the cost of local government through his votes as a dual office-holder on the Passaic City Council.”

Schaer has served on the budget committee since 2006 and approved both of Governor Corzine’s spending plans that hiked state spending from $27.9 billion in FY2006 to $33.5 billion in FY2008.

The Legislature’s special session on property tax reform last summer identified the ballooning cost of public employee benefits as a major underlying factor driving up property taxes in New Jersey. Passaic homeowners saw a 9% increase in their taxes, yet that did not stop Schaer from voting to boost his benefits before the public caught him with his hand in the cookie jar.

“Property taxes have soared on average by 36 percent in the past five years and state taxes have been increased 94 times,” Pio Costa said. “This is too much for New Jersey taxpayers to take, and as long as individuals like Assemblyman Schaer view government as a piggy bank this problem will continue. It is time we elected candidates who will be good stewards of taxpayer dollars – not those seeking to enhance their own benefits.”

The views expressed here are those of 36th District Assembly Republican candidate Carmen Pio Costa, and do not necessarily reflect the views of PCJN. His website: