2017 Municipal Reorganization Meeting

The 117th governing body of Roselle Park had two new councilmembers join the dais – Fourth Ward Councilman Michael Connelly and Third Ward Councilman William Fahoury. What started out as a council that maintained a 4-2 Democratic majority ended with First Ward Councilman Eugene Meola declaring himself a registered Independent, changing council’s make-up to 3-2-1. Mayor Carl Hokanson is a registered Democrat.

The meeting started with Deacon Dave Farrell from the Church of the Assumption giving the invocation with Mr. James Vigliotti once again singing the National Anthem. Outgoing Councilman Ryan Kelly was not in attendance due to the responsibilities associated with his newborn son but Mayor Hokanson read his final remarks on the record. Councilman Mohamed ‘Gino’ Elmarassy gave his short farewell address in person. The oaths of office were given to both new councilmembers and the roll call for the 2017 governing body was conducted.

Mayor Hokanson gave his annual address (link). Despite the mayor’s speech which included the need for unity, the very first appointment – that of council president – showed a rift in the governing body that became apparent as the meeting progressed. For the past two years, Councilwoman-At-Large Charlene Storey was appointed council president. Due to issues that had the mayor and councilwoman at odds, most notably the Kneeling Solider At Cross memorial, Mayor Hokanson recommended that Second Ward Councilman Joseph Petrosky be selected as the council president. Councilman Meola amended the motion, seconded by Councilwoman Storey, to have Fifth Ward Councilman Thomas ‘Thos’ Shipley elected into that position. By a 4-2 vote with only Councilmen Connelly and Petrosky voting ‘no’, Councilman Shipley was made council president.

A major protocol that was not followed in this first meeting of the year was that the first public comment portion of the meeting was absent from the agenda.

After remarks from council, the appointments of committees for the governing body were read by Borough Clerk Doreen Cali for the four (4) components of local government: public safety, municipal services, finance, and public services. The first change was when Mayor Hokanson stated that First Aid, even though it was listed as being appointed to Councilman Connelly, was to be given to Councilman Shipley. The appointments gave chair positions to senior members of the governing body except Councilman Meola. Additionally, first-year Councilman Fahoury was appointed to three (3) committees – the most of any member of the governing body – while new Councilman Connelly only had one appointment to a committee.

2017 Appointments (Council Committees)

'Thos' Shipley
First Aid
Construction & Transportation
Code Enforcement
Municipal Budget & Finance
Public Buildings & Facilities
Human Resources

The next order of business was the unanimous approval of the municipal by-laws by council.

Then came the nomination and confirmation of the 2017 borough board & committee appointments for nine (9) committees. Usually voted on with one vote, Councilwoman Storey made a motion to confirm appointments individually, seconded by Councilman Meola.

2017 Appointments (Emergency Management)

CoordinatorPaul Morrison3-year
Deputy CoordinatorRichard Cocca3-year
Deputy CoordinatorJoseph Signorello3-year

2017 Appointments (Fire Department Officers)

Deputy Fire Chief, CentralSteve Thompson1-year
Deputy Fire Chief, LorraineJames Smith1-year
Deputy Fire Chief, FaitouteRay Parenteau1-year
Captain, CentralMark Jaskula1-year
Captain, LorraineWilliam Ferdinando1-year
Captain, FaitouteDennis Sisnetsky1-year
Lieutenant, CentralNeal Iaccarino1-year
Lieutenant, LorraineEric Finkle1-year
Lieutenant, FaitouteRaymond Kuterka1-year
Engineer Ladder 2, CentralJan Scholte1-year
Engineer Engine 1, LorraineDante Verdun1-year
Engineer Engine 3, FaitouteTodd Literate1-year
Engineer Ladder 2, CentralDomingo Silva1-year
Engineer Rescue 9, LorrainePatrick Wirkus1-year
Engineer Engine 4, FaitouteJohn Gura1-year
Engineer Squad 5, FaitouteVinny Santiago1-year

2017 Appointments (Fire Prevention Bureau)

Arson InvestigatorRay Parenteau1-year
Chief InspectorJeff Bonner1-year

The appointments were to be read by groups but Mayor Hokanson stated as he looked around the dais, “Do you just want to cut to the chase and go to the meat of the bone? Who do you want to pull? Instead of wasting time.”

With that, Councilwoman Storey stated she wanted to pull the Board Of Health, a committee in which she was appointed as the council representative. She said, “I had no knowledge of being . . . there was no discussion of my being appointed to that. I don’t have the expertise or the knowledge to be in that position. I think somebody who had that knowledge and expertise should take it.”

Mayor Hokanson stated there was a conflict of interest for him. With no one else on council volunteering, the councilwoman stated, “I will accept it for now but I think we need to discuss more qualified candidates for the future.”

2017 Appointments (Board Of Health)

CommissionerLeslie Guitierrez3-year
Council RepresentativeCharlene Storey1-year

The very next appointment, the Community Center Committee, had Councilwoman Storey amending the appointment of Councilman Petrosky as the council representative to have Councilman Fahoury appointed to the position.

It was then that Borough Attorney Richard Huxford commented, “Mayor if I could intervene for a second. It’s a mayoral appointment so only the mayor has the power to appoint this position . . . [The] mayor nominates. Council confirms. They don’t need to confirm someone but they don’t have the power, at this point and time, to change a name. The mayor can change the name but council, as of right now, presently, doesn’t have that power.”

Councilwoman Storey then asked, “We have the power to vote it down?”

“Absolutely,” responded Mr. Huxford.

The councilwoman remarked, “Okay. My misunderstanding.”

The mayor, clearly confused and frustrated, added, “So where we going?”

Mr. Huxford responded, “It’s my understanding that the council representatives request that Councilman Petrosky not be approved so I would recommend that the first five people be voted on and then the council representative be voted on separately.”

The other members of the committee were voted on and approved unanimously. The vote was then taken for the council representative and it was defeated, again, with the same 4-2 vote count as before. With an open appointment, Mayor Hokanson – as is his legal right – was left to make another appointment. He appointed Councilman Fahoury who was, surprisingly, approved unanimously by council.

2017 Appointments (Community Center Committee)

Committee Member Sachin Modi3-year
Committee Member Maxine Padulsky3-year
Committee Member (Senior Citizen Representative)Gladys Lugo1-year
Committee Member (Library Representative)Diane Meola1-year
Committee MemberVipel Patel1-year
Committee Member (Board Of Education Representative)-1-year
Council RepresentativeWilliam Fahoury1-year

“Now the biggie,” remarked Mayor Hokanson, “Joint Sewer.”

The appointment had Mayor Hokanson on the Joint Meeting of Essex & Union Counties (JMEUC) for a third year along with Councilman Petrosky acting as the alternate. This was defeated by the 4-2 vote. Mayor Hokanson then recommended Councilman Shipley who responded with no reason or explanation, “I have to decline.”

Mayor Hokanson then conceded in exasperation, “All right, let’s just get to [it]. I recommend Eugene Meola!”

With the now familiar 4-2 vote, Councilman Meola was appointed to the JMEUC. Councilman Fahoury was unanimously appointed as the alternate.

(NOTE: A separate article will be forthcoming providing details on the significance of this appointment that has been given to elected officials along with the accompanying $6,400+ annual stipend.)

2017 Appointments (Joint Sewer Representative)

RepresentativeEugene Meola1-year
Alternate RepresentativeWilliam Fahoury1-year

The remaining three appointments were approved with no changes even though no one on council asked if Councilwoman Storey serving on the Library Board of Trustees is a conflict of interest due to her litigation against the borough regarding the Kneeling Soldier At Cross memorial that was installed – then removed – from the front of the library. Even though the library was not specifically named, the possibility that members of the Library Board might be called to testify where Mrs. Storey would be the plaintiff was never addressed.

2017 Appointments (Library Board)

Committee MemberKimberly Powers5-year
Committee MemberBrooke Paskewich1-year (Unexpired)
Committee Member (School District)Pedro Garrido1-year
Council RepresentativeCharlene Storey1-year

2017 Appointments (Morses Creek Flood Control)

Commission MemberDonald Hellhake1-year
Council RepresentativeEugene Meola1-year

2017 Appointments (Police Doctor / Panel Physician)

Police Doctor / Panel PhysicianMulti-Care, Inc.
Trinitas Regional Medical

One appointment that was missing was that of a representative to the Rahway Valley Sewerage Authority (RVSA). Councilman Connelly was appointed last year after Roselle Park News revealed that the appointment of Councilwoman Storey had a conflict in the meetings of the RVSA and Mayor & Council meetings. Now that he himself is a councilman, another person should have been appointed to fulfill the unexpired term. The major differences between the appointment to the RVSA and the JMEUC is that the RVSA representative receives a smaller stipend of $600 a year and has almost always been given to a resident.

The following mayoral appointments of 19 committees were approved with no changes since they do not require council approval. The only omission is that the Diversity Committee* has no council liaison.

2017 Appointments (Arts Council)

Committee MemberDanielle Zdanowicz1-year
Committee MemberPaul Zdanowicz1-year
Committee MemberPam Reinoso1-year
Committee MemberPico Reinoso1-year
Committee MemberAnn Marie Peterson1-year
Committee MemberJoseph DeIorio1-year
Council RepresentativeThomas 'Thos' Shipley1-year

2017 Appointments (Animal Control Bureau)

MemberCarl Hokanson1-year

2017 Appointments (BOE Council Liaison)

Council LiaisonEugene Meola1-year
Ex-OfficioCarl Hokanson1-year

2017 Appointments (Clean Communities)

Council LiaisonJoseph Petrosky1-year

2017 Appointments (Community Development Committee)

Committee MemberRupen Shah1-year
Committee MemberRandy Maisuir1-year
Alternate Committee MemberAntonette Signorello1-year
Council LiaisonCarl Hokanson1-year

2017 Appointments (Diversity Committee)

Committee MemberStephanie Kilborn1-year
Committee MemberKim Jacobs1-year
Committee MemberJeof Vita1-year
Committee MemberSaul Qersdyn1-year
Committee MemberKrishna Patel1-year
Committee Member(Vacant)1-year
Committee Member(Vacant)1-year
Committee Member(Vacant)1-year
Committee Member(Vacant)1-year

2017 Appointments (Environmental Commission)

Commission MemberDaniel LaPorta3-year
Commission MemberDan Petrosky1-year
Commission MemberSachin Modi1-year
Commission Member (Alternate II)Jackie Nolt2-year
Council RepresentativeMichael Connelly1-year

2017 Appointments (Events Liaisons)

Memorial DayMichael Connelly1-year
Independence DayMichael Connelly1-year
September 11thCarl Hokanson1-year
Veterans DayWilliam Fahoury1-year
Christmas Tree LightingJoseph Petroksy1-year

2017 Appointments (Borough Historian)

Borough HistorianPatricia Butler1-year
Council RepresentativeJoseph Petrosky1-year

2017 Appointments (Keeper of Kelly-Kaulfers ad hoc Committee)

Committee MemberRay Parenteau1-year

2017 Appointments (Matron)

MatronJoyce Rosenberg1-year
MatronCarmen Suarez-Malave1-year
* Matron is the female present in the Roselle Park jail whenever there are females being held.

2017 Appointments (Municipal Land Use Board)

Committee Member, Class IIPeter Picarelli1-year
Committee Member, Class IIIJoseph Petrosky1-year
Committee Member, Class IVJ. Albert Nitche4-year
Committee Member, Class IVJohn Stephen4-year
Committee Member, Alternate IPaul Baiamonte2-year
Committee Member, Alternate IIJerry Vitale2-year
Committee Member, Alternate IVGregory Delano1-year

2017 Appointments (Rahway Valley Sewerage Authority)

Representative(Vacant)4-year (Unexpired)
Committee MemberJennifer Miller5-year
Council RepresentativeJoseph Petrosky1-year

2017 Appointments (Solid Waste Advisory Council)

DesigneeJoseph Petrosky1-year

2017 Appointments (Street Lighting Committee)

Committee MemberJoseph Signorello1-year
Committee MemberJames McCrady1-year

2017 Appointments (Town Crier)

Town CrierBarbara Jean DeInero1-year

2017 Appointments (County Transportation Advisory Committee)

Committee MemberDan Petrosky1-year
AlternateMichael Connelly1-year

2017 Appointments (Youth Center Council Liaison)

Council LiaisonJoseph Petrosky1-year

2017 Appointments (Youth Center ad hoc Advisory Committee)

Committee MemberJoseph Signorello1-year
Committee MemberAntonette Signorello1-year

The final order of official business from the governing body for the reorganization meeting was the voting on 37 resolutions. These include the appointments of professional service providers and the authorizing of required responsibilities from the municipality. The only three (3) resolutions that were pulled were for the appointments of Labor Attorney (2-17), Municipal Prosecutor (3-17), and Clean Communities Coordinator (6-17).

(NOTE: Separate upcoming articles will detail issues with the appointments of each of the pulled resolutions.)

The first resolution pulled had council appoint Ken Davie from the law firm of Cifelli & Davie as the Municipal Labor Attorney. This was done by the same 4-2 vote as previously contested appointments upon the recommendation of Councilman Shipley for the same $135/hour rate charged by the firm listed on the agenda – Garrubbo & Capece. The appointment was made against the advice of the Borough Attorney who stated that along with proper protocol and law not being followed, Cifelli & Davie did not submit a Request For Proposal (RFP) bid. Another point of interest is that this firm was used by Borough Clerk Doreen Cali in her grievance against the municipality regarding her claim to lower health benefit contributions last year (link).

The next resolution had council appoint Richard Huxford as the municipal prosecutor as well as the borough attorney. Mr. Huxford had served in both capacities up until 2015 when council voted to appoint Mr. Huegel. Mr. Huxford performed the duties of prosecutor for $0 as part of the $50,000 fee for borough attorney. Mr. Huegel was paid $15,000 each year since 2015 as municipal prosecutor. This year, Mayor Hokanson stated that even though there was nothing illegal or prohibitive in appointing one person to both positions, he gave an ambiguous reason of an unnamed lawyer who told him as well as other councilmembers that it could cause a conflict of interest. Additionally, Mayor Hokanson stated that it might cost the borough money if there was an incident where Mr. Huxford could not prosecute someone due to a conflict of interest. The mayor did not note nor state that an alternate municipal prosecutor was appointed that evening who would cover for Mr. Huxford in such an instances and that there would be no charge to the borough for that service. (link 1) (link 2) (link 3)

The final resolution had the Clean Communities Coordinator position given to Michele McGlynn, a member of a volunteer group that has gone around town cleaning up the borough since fall of last year at no cost to taxpayers. The position was listed as going to Roselle Park Democratic Committee (RPDC) Chair Dan Petrosky even though Mr. Petrosky – among other things – was so delinquent in properly filing required paperwork for the state program that it jeopardized funding.

One noticeable decrease came from the Borough Auditor, Samuel Klein & Company. The firm charged less this year than it did in 2016 for almost all of its services.

The meeting ended with a closing prayer by Pastor Manuel Cruz, Jr. from the Community United Methodist Church. Mr. Vigliotti, who usually leads those in attendance with a rendition of “God Bless America”, was feeling a little under the weather and left earlier in the meeting.

The next Mayor & Council meeting is scheduled to be January 19, 2017 at 7 p.m.

2017 Appointments (Professional Services)

Parent Agency
Borough Attorney
Richard Huxford
Triarsi, Betancourt, Walsh & Wukovits
Labor Attorney
Cifelli & Davie
$135/hour (not to exceed $20,000)
Richard Huxford
Triarsi, Betancourt, Walsh & Wukovits
Alternate Prosecutor
Steve Merman
No charge
Public Defender
Harvey Fruchter
Alternate Public Defender
James A. Boyd
$200/court day
Borough Engineer
Neglia Engineering
(not including fees to be paid for
additional engineering services)
Tax Appeal Attorney
Robert F. Renaud
Palumbo & Renaud
$60/hour (not to exceed $15,000)
Clean Communities Coordinator
Michele McGlynn
Court Administrator
Nicole Nunes
No amount provided
Deputy Court Administrator
Rose Cooper
No amount provided
Violations Clerks
Michelle Boff
Katy Andaluz
No amount provided
Borough Auditor
Marvin Lustbander
(Financial Consultant)
Samuel Klein & Company
(Audit Services)

(Sewer Utility Audit)

(Annual Financial Statement
Review & Preparation)

(Annual Debt Statement)

(Supplemental Debt Statement)

(Deferred Compensation
Plan Review)

(2017 Budget Review
Preparation & Services)

(LOSAP Report Review)

(Assistance in Preparation
of Official Statements for
Bonds and/or Note Sales)

(For Each Update)

Bond Counsel

P.C. Gibbons P.C.
(for Bond Counsel Services
plus $1 per $1,000 of bonds issued
plus out-of-pocket disbursements)

(for each single purpose ordinance
plus out-of-pocket disbursements)

(for each multiple purpose ordinance
plus out-of-pocket disbursements)

(for Temporary Financing
including Tax Anticipation Notes
plus $.50 per $1,000 of notes issued
plus out-of-pocket expenses)

(for Services beyond the scope of those
specified above provided
by legal assistants)

(for Services beyond the scope of those
specified above provided by attorneys)

(Advanced Refinancing)

(for more than one series
of bonds for each series)
Public Agency Compliance Officer
Doreen Cali

No amount provided
Collection Systems Operator
Neglia Engineering
(not to exceed $4,200.00)

(*NOTE: Saul Qersdyn, publisher of Roselle Park News, is a member of the Roselle Park Diversity Committee)