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Petition on Edison Redevelopment Bond Ordinance Rejected

Petitioners vow to keep trying to put a referendum on bond ordinance.

A petition for a referendum on the bond issue for the Edison redevelopment project was rejected on technical grounds.

New Jersey rules* on development states that any ordinance that pertains to local redevelopment or housing cannot be changed through referendum, which was one of the reasons why Karen J. Carnevale, municipal clerk, rejected the petition, according to documents provided by the township.

Residents, who were part of petition drive, were undeterred by the setback. Windale Simpson said they were digesting the reasons why the petition was rejected.

"I understand the democratic process," Simpson said. "It's a back and forth thing. I remain optimistic."

Simpson is part of a group seeking the repeal of a . The ordinance would issue general obligation bonds to the developer of the Edison property on Main Street, Prism Capital Partners, LLC. 

The bonds in question will cover the infrastructure costs on the proposed project that would erect 333 luxury apartment units for-rent and 18,500 square feet of retail space in the Edison battery building.

Besides land rules stating that a referendum cannot change the ordinance, the municipal clerk also cited the following on why the petition was rejected: some of the signatures were considered invalid, and not every petition sheet had a resident attesting under oath that the signatures were valid.

The petition was submitted to the town last week, 

“It is my understanding that the petitions have been reviewed by the municipal clerk, who has determined, based on the law, that the process for petitioning an ordinance does not apply in this instance and that the requirements have not been met,” Mayor Robert Parisi said in an email statement. “I trust that the clerk is following the state statutes with regard to this issue to ensure the township is in compliance with the law.”

(Editor's note: a previous version of this report incorrectly read that "West Orange law on development states that any ordinance that pertains to local redevelopment or housing cannot be changed through referendum." It is actually state statute, not local laws that govern the question of a referendum on any local redevelopment.)

Gary Englert April 19, 2012 at 10:24 AM
@ Will Rod: You really should disabuse yourself of the notion that you (or anyone else) can "inspire others" to do anything while hiding behind a screen name. People don't follow phantoms, they follow leaders.
MP April 19, 2012 at 11:22 AM
Forecloses in West Orange - Check out this website. About 30 listed, but there are many in various stages of foreclosure. People who couldn't afford were given subprime loans to come in to this town and they can't afford it now. http://www.essexsheriff.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=95&Itemid=59 Search for sheriff's office in any county in the web. You will find foreclosure listings.
Dan April 19, 2012 at 12:02 PM
@Andrew You do realize that all those suggestions would also cost more money and the ordinance will most likely still pass, right? Who is paying for the recall? Where's the money coming from for defense of a law suit? Who will be on the hook for police OT to ensure a safe protest? Who is paying for investigations? What do you think would happen if this town's credit rating was dropped? Really?
Cynthia Cumming April 19, 2012 at 02:07 PM
Interesting ideas, but based on the notion that the majority of registered voters and residents oppose redevelopment. And the energy required to accomplish some of these 'plans' would be costly (hopefully not to the township). Other ideas, such as 'tax strike'; or 'occupy site' are illegal.
Jersey Teapot-Party April 19, 2012 at 04:36 PM
@Gary "as "these guys" have never bailed on anything" really why did construction? . "To the comntrary, they've hung tough for nearly a decade" really is that why that are back out are table asking the finance their risk?
Gary Englert April 19, 2012 at 05:16 PM
@ Mick Erickson: Prism didn't "bail on West Orange," a significant portion of their financing evaporated with th 2008 financial meltdown and they've been increasing their financial position ever since. They've been eager to proceed the entire time and a previous funding plan was advanced two years ago but, was not even entertained by the Council. The "concessions" you speak of are relatively modest in nature, as the general plan for the structure really hasn't been effective and otherwise relate to a common sense adjustment based on market changes. Through all of this Prism, has continue to pay +/- $400,000 a year in property taxes on a property it has already invested $60 Million in, without its generating a penny of income since they acquired it. That's hardly bailing out on us, Mick.
Gary Englert April 19, 2012 at 10:16 PM
@ Jersey Teapot-Party: Prism never bailed and isn't asking West Orange "to finance their risk." What the Township has agreed to do is to provide $6.3 Million in bonding to finance the cost of mandatory, substantially town-owned infrstructure that it would have been responsible to upgrade and maintain in the normal course of events. In doing so now, it has a dedicated way to pay for it, through income from the PILOT program and a special assessment on the property. Again, the nature of a redevlopment program is such that it is supposed to be a public-private partnership.
Will Rod April 19, 2012 at 11:14 PM
My hope is that those of you who are as frustrated as I am with taxes, take your frustrations out at the voting booth and vote for new leadership. we new to save this town from those who seek to suck it dry. @gary. You are the poster boy for what needs to change. You are so blinded by the status quo that can't see the plight of honest hard working people. History is filled with people who spoke out against their country because they loved it so much, it hurt them to see it destroyed, exploited or denegrated. We just want taxation with fair representation. Thats an unalienable right and I dont need to reveal my name to prove it. I have respect for teachers, WO and the people who live here. Our taxes are out of control!
Gary Englert April 20, 2012 at 01:05 AM
@ Will Rod: "History is filled with people who spoke out?" Well, Willie, I'm more than happy with the "status quo" because not only have I spoken out (and continue to) but, those I support for public office have enough courage of conviction to do the same and put their names, faces and reputations behind what they say. I'm also astute enough to know nonsense when I hear, see or read it and most of what you post is precisely that...and to top it all off, it's anonymous.
Will Rod April 20, 2012 at 01:29 AM
I deal with facts, you insist on spewing nonsense. Try this one on. According to the documents on the BOE website, last year's proposed tax levy was $114.5 Million. This year its $119 Million. Thats a 3.93% increase. What am I missing? Last year's budget was supposed to be $132.5 Million and the BOE was patting themselves on the back for making cuts. Well it looks like they actually spent $135 Million. They then used the $135 M (not the $132.5) to show an increase this year to $139 M, a "only" 3.17% increase. If they used the original $132.5 (which we voted on), the total budget has increase 4.9%. Look at the budget! There was a 6.76% increase in Principals/Admin & support. $410,379! Did you get a raise of almost 7% this year?! Salaries in the School Sponsored Athletics increased $136,000 or 22%. Salaries for school sponsored extra-curr activives increased $117,000 or 48%. Just looking at this for 10 mins and I see $660,000 in salary increases. Im tired of people saying its for the kids. Its not always for the kids. How is this legal?? I dont understand how this puts us under the 2% cap.
john anthony prignano April 20, 2012 at 01:58 AM
In 1997, a group of people { me included} obtained thousands of signatures to get a Change in the Form of Government question on the ballot . A group mounted a court challenge to the validity of some signatures . You know how it's your right to be given ten days to correct signatures ? I was never contacted by Town Clerk NancyO'Hara. See, Nancy didn't have tenure yet . Of course she got it. Years later ,she retired with a well over 6 figure salary. No one else anywhere on earth would have paid her anything close to that. Anyhow, this group challenged some signatures by interrogating and obtaining statements from private citizens about those citizens voluntary signatures on a lawful petition . In 1999 ,I wrote in The Chronicle " The people who did that have never come forward, and they never will, because they're cowards ." It's 14 years and counting . Were the Concerned Citizens taking their marching orders from John Mckeon ? Absolutely. You see, one night my son and I attended the "Suspend Bobby Spina " candlelight vigil to offer support. As the vigil was breaking up, who should pull up in his car but John Mckeon . The adoring crowd rushed to greet him .Clearly, this was their leader. A well known Concerned Citizen who was there with her then - husband said to Mckeon " How are we doing John, ?' Mckeon said " You're doing good. Keep it up,don't stop, it's working " In 1998 , Mckeon was elected Mayor . The payoff was swift in coming, and exceedingly generous.
Gary Englert April 20, 2012 at 02:24 AM
The Change of Government initiative was nothing more than a thinly veiled plan for an incumbent under pressure to retain power and have a stalwart supporter return to the Council after her defeat the year prior. How? By electing Councilmen by wards and having a mayor chosen from among them. It's surely a paradox that one could belatedly claim to have supported removal of that incumbent's son as chief of police (as that appointment was central to his malfeasance/misfeasance and the scrutiny he was under) while supporting an intiative that would have allowed him to retain power. Insofar as anyone being notified (by the the Municipal Clerk) that there was time to address petition signatures, it was unecessary; though challenged in court, the challenge did not prevail and the petition was certified as sufficient. Accordingly, a referendum to change our form of municipal government appeared on the ballot in November 1997 and was handily defeated, by a better that 2-1 margin.
Will Rod April 20, 2012 at 02:32 AM
As usual you have nothing factual to add. I wanted to add that the district is slated to receive a total of $6,809,707 in state aid, a roughly 15 percent increase from last year's $5.8 million. So in a year in which we are receiving $900,000 in additional aid, our taxes are going up. It's all related. This effort was about putting an end to tax and spend policies. Out of control spending by the boe has led to ridiculous taxes and so will the redevelopment of Edison. Enough is enough.
john anthony prignano April 20, 2012 at 02:36 AM
Name one thing the teachers have done "For the kids " and the kids parents ? A longer work day and/or year ? No! Just the opposite. Higher standards ? Measurable standards ? Reductions in benefits ? Pay freezes ? They accept the money and benefits, but they don't accept culpability . There has been FIFTY years of profound failure in many districts . Do they concede they're even partially to blame and allow the children a means of escape ? The teachers say "We're doing all we can . The schools are failing because of no-show parents , community apathy , socio- economics, and a lack of funding."They prepare the children for every occupation they don't moonlight at . I complained several times about teachers who were grading but not correcting papers . Finally I got action . That's why public school teachers put their children in private schools at a ratio of two to one to the general public. Since they have sufficient tax dollars at their disposal,why should they subject their children to the crap they're dishing out to other people's children ? I have seen nothing that's " For the kids ".Why doesn't the "If you don't like it leave" crowd say anything negative about the hundreds if not thousands of town and school employees who have cleared out or refuse to live here ? Answer ; Because they have an agenda. A clearly self -serving , ultimately destructive agenda.
Cynthia Cumming April 20, 2012 at 03:29 AM
I am sadly convinced that the above posts are unreasonable, inaccurate, libelous, and the products of unreasonable people that have no clue about what is really going on the in the school district that is positive. I have plenty to say about how wonderful our school district and teachers are and all the great things going on, but when I read posts like the above, I realize that there is no reasoning with madness.
john anthony prignano April 20, 2012 at 03:54 AM
In previous letters , I have stated that I am convinced Gary R, Englert is paranoid regarding Sam Spina. Again tonight, he says it was Sam Spina who was behind an insidious plot to retain power .Sam Spina is Englert's Emmauel Goldstein . Many years ago, when I spoke to Englert on the phone, he guaranteed me Spina would be indicted for illegal acts regarding a land deal . Never happened. And he also said Spina was doing multiple and indeed, illegal background checks on people Spina regarded as disloyal. He said Spina had police officers loyal to him { Spina } who were going around terrorizing and intimidating local business owners. It's quite obvious Englert actually believes there was a mayoral recall. Tonight he says"This was central to his malfeasance/misfeance and the scrutiny he was under " Englert does not allege any wrongdoing by Spina . He states it emphatically . Again, Spina was never formally charged with malfeasance/misfeasance, conducting or ordering illegal background checks, or anything else. . Anyone who disagrees with Englert or challenges the status quo that Englert adores and worships100% of the time, MUST be a Spina operative The fact the Englert clearly believes several things regarding Spina actually happened and are true , when they clearly did not,and are not , I think gives greater and greater credibility to my opinion about his state of mind. .
Gary Englert April 20, 2012 at 04:08 AM
i rather doubt any reader needs nor wants to hear the amateur pyschoanslysis of anyone by another lacking the requisite credentials to render such an evaluation, let alone any credentials or record of accomplishment in anything else. The subject here is not Gary Englert nor Sam Spina, though Mr. Prignano is wont to push any discussion in whatever direction his delusional rants take him...and the delusions are obviated by his suggestion that we've ever had a direct conversation with one and other, as we most certainly have not.
Gary Englert April 20, 2012 at 04:09 AM
@ Wil Rod: "As usual (I) have nothing factual to add?" Hardly. I've given rather sage advice by advising you to take your concerns and questions directly to the subject matter experts, the West Orange Board of Ed. You can do so at its next meeting. Meanwhile, you continue to mix apples and oranges here with a discussion not part of the subject at hand, which is redevelopment. On that score, your concerns about Edison Village adversely effecting you property tax bill are simply unfounded.
Tom G. April 20, 2012 at 12:45 PM
People keep referring to the 2% tax cap, but fail to realize the 2% cap only applies to the MUNICIPAL portion of your tax bill. This cap does not apply to school and county taxes so your total tax bill can easily be raised more than 2% in any year. The 2% cap was basically implemented by your politicians as a smoke and mirrors game to grant the illusion that they have taxes under control. This illusion has obviously worked as I constantly read and hear about people that are alarmed that their taxes increased by more than 2%.
Cynthia Cumming April 20, 2012 at 12:55 PM
The Board of Education voted this year to go follow Gov. Christie's recommendation of a 2% cap and move BOE elections to November, and eliminate the public vote on the budget for the next three years.
wohopeful April 20, 2012 at 12:58 PM
Actually, I think the readers rather enjoy these strolls down memory lane. And they serve as a reminder that Mr. Englert continually overstates his accomplishments as he never did more than organize a mob lighting candles on the steps of town hall.
Gary Englert April 20, 2012 at 01:11 PM
There's Memory Lane and then there's Selective Memory Lane and, rather than confuse the two, folks would be well advised to access some news media archives when trying to confirm recent historical facts. Neither a steroid abusing, failed gym owner, stay at home Mr. Moms nor cowardly, anonymous Internet nitwit are credible sources for much of anything.
Gary Englert April 20, 2012 at 01:34 PM
@ Wil Rod: Not only do I not spout nonsense, I know how to stay on topic and this partiular discussion is about a citizen petititon failing to get certified. I have every faith that the Boad of Education has not done anything immoral, unethical or illegal in the formulation of its budget, which is reviewed both locally and by the state DOE. Why don't you trot on down to a Board meeting and address your questions there? Of course, you will be required to put a name, face and address behind them.
Mick Erickson April 24, 2012 at 11:49 AM
The evaporation of Pyramid's financing isn't the town's problem, let free markets operate. I call BS on "modest concession" and it certainly isn't common sense! It is just another avenue for government and corporations to collude for their personal gains while they steal the wealth of the people. If the breaks are so "modest" give them too current residents first!! They should have to pay taxes we all other property owners had too! People in town lost jobs, reduced pay etc, but still had to pay taxes!! Some even had houses foreclosed on and still had to pay taxes. And our taxes went up not down like the value of our properties! So Pyramid made a bad investment and can't manage their projects properly. Its not our responsibility to finance their problems. How about we finance the peoples problems, a bond for the people of $6.5 Mill? If the bond goes thru we are financing their risk! What happens if they don't pay, who gets left holding the debt. Let them go get money from a bank if it is such a great deal! Your "private-public" partnership is another legal term for government and business collusion to steal from the taxpayer. Governments have done millions of these projects yet the taxpayer never gets a financial benefit. Trickle down has consistently been a huge failure for the people, while it increases mega wealth for the elite. Show me one deal like this that has ever benefited the taxpayer by reducing our taxes! Just one Gary in all of our history!
Gary Englert April 24, 2012 at 12:38 PM
@ Mick Erickson: Clearly, you neither understand nor care that nothing has if will be done on the Edison site, Why? Because its historic designation and environtmental concerns require an investment of $32 Million over and above what the property could possibly be worth on buildout. It is for this reason the redevelopment zone was created and the alternative is to do nothing and let a minolithic eyesore remain as the center of our downtown corridor.
Mick Erickson April 24, 2012 at 01:16 PM
well said portman! I too love the diversity in WO! Thanks for not going without a fight. We need more like you.
Gary Englert April 24, 2012 at 01:56 PM
@ Mick Erickson: (anonymous Internet poster who leaves his credentials to the imagination) I do not now, nor wil I ever, draw a goverment pension. Oh that we all had crysal balls to forsee the futurem but, we don't and the environmental damage done at the Edison site occurred decades before such things were a concern or on anybody's radar screen. I'm all for free markets, however, this is a project that simply can't succeed without the tax abatement and incentives provided through the redevelopment designation and applicable laws. Lastly, please do keep in mind that the Township invited Prism here with the promise of tax abatement/assistance in return for their developing the property. The rest of your rambling is just so much inconsequential nonsense.
john anthony prignano April 24, 2012 at 07:16 PM
" In Glen Ridge every parent goes to point out ways that the teachers can improve their teaching . Parents are in control of the meetings. I have experienced this as a teacher . It is terrifying for the teachers . " Parents can only be in control of the meetings if the people who are supposed to be in control are easy to intimidate. Using a word like terrifying clearly shows that that is the case . " A student got a 97,and a parent demanded to know why the student didn't get a perfect paper ." SO EXPLAIN IT TO HIM OR HER . West Orange needs more parental involvement , higher parental incomes and education, and more two parent households . On the other hand , Glen Ridge has too much of that stuff . Refering to teachers ; "They really are trying their best with the situation they have " Undereducated , under involved , "under earning " seperated parents , overeducated, over involved, high earning , united parents, - these people have to step up , or step back or whatever. But the teachers ? They are totally blameless. Less and less and less time to do more and more and more, but that's not a problem. A company claims to have designed a robot to scan student essays , because teachers say that can't read the students' handwriting .High School teachers have told me that . Why don't those teachers demand that Grammar School teachers teach handwriting ? Who cares, right ? You know the expression the Educrats use ' It's just too easy to blame teachers "? It sure is . .
Gary Englert April 25, 2012 at 04:01 AM
@ Mick Erickson: I am neither avoiding the truth nor supporting foolish spending and, again, I'm drawing no government pension (state or federal) of any kind. I also abhor the inherent cowardice of posting from behind a psuedonym and understand the efficacy of one being a credible source with verifiable credentials. Accordingly, I don't hide who I am and provide enough information for those who care to verify that I just might be in a better position to know what I'm talking about than someone living here only since 2004. Absent from your little rant suggesting our government is ignoring the will of the people is the undeniable fact that a succession of pro-development local officials have been repeatedly elected and re-elected. Give the power and authority to examine the issues and make decisions on the electorate's behalf, they have done so. Majority rule is the essence of democracy in action. We can debate this ad nauseum but, your subjective personal opinions about Edison Village creating indordinate demands on the Board of Ed or other municipal services are without basis in fact. "First do no harm," is the essential precept of the Hippocratic Oath. Government's primary mission is to provide collective services and support for the common good that no individual or group can possibly provide for themselves. Edison Village is an example of just that and, after 50 years of discussion and debate, I look forward to it coming to fuition for the benefit of all.
Gary Englert April 25, 2012 at 02:46 PM
@ Mick Erickson: Not wishing to invite someone of your demeanor to dinner or watch a baseball game, I wouldn't waste a whole lot of time and effort trying to determine if you're a real human being (who are few and far between around here), let alone track you down. It is rather clear that your paranoid delusions suggest you are best suited to cashing in all your chips, buying a pick-up truck, stuffing it with canned goods, camping equipment and guns, then heading for the Rockies to live off the grid in a survivalist commune. Clearly, civilized society isn't your cup of tea. My guess, however, is that your lack of training and expertise in martial matters and living off the land would make you no more suited for that life than this.

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