[Editorial] Gold & Its Weight

Guess it could be considered the sequel to “Gone To The Dogs” since it has the same cast of characters but, like most sequels, it is just the same rehashed storyline with just a few twists & turns and a new character or two thrown in for good measure.

The Roselle Park Friends Of the Library (FOL), fresh off their last cliffhanger when they – well officially not they buy the library – indefinitely postponed “Pet Adoption Day”, decided to follow that drama by having a vintage jewelry sale. This would be where people who had jewelry laying around their belongings that did not need them anymore would donate them to the FOL who would – in turn – hold an event to sell that jewelry to people who might fancy those pieces.

Think of a garage sale without the used unwashed clothes or unsanitized toys.

The Friends of the Summit Library held such an event and it was a great success. It seemed like a good idea – thinking outside the box – to get the library some revenue and traffic.

Then the plot started to sound familiar.

They needed to promote it, so what do they do? They go to the very place that, according to them, gave them the most trouble with the pet adoption fiasco by asking to have it put on TV-34/32.

Surprise, surprise – they were told by the Borough Clerk’s office that they could not hold the event unless they:

  • Obtain a license
  • File a $250.00 application fee
  • Submit a bond in the penal sum of $10,000.00

For a jewelry sale that, at most, would probably net less than the application fee alone.

In the municipal law (4-16), there are definitions of jewelry, and merchant/dealer which is any person who advertises, sells, offers to sell or attempts to sell used personal property including, but not limited to, used jewelry, used auto parts or used electronic devices to any other person, partnership or corporation.

Then there is a bunch of legal jargon which includes submission of individual transaction forms to the police department, a keeping of record books, restrictions on altering jewelry within five (5) days from the date the notification is made to the Chief of Police and the Municipal Clerk, requiring two (2) forms of identification from people buying the jewelry, a photograph of each seller, and a retention of those records for two (2) years.

The kicker of it all is that – after all the definitions, requirements, restrictions, and fees – garage sales, yard sales, and estate sales are exempt from doing any of those things.

But the added twist to the story was that on the day of the townwide garage sale and car show/block party, there was a merchant who was selling handcrafted jewelry. More on that later but remember this part . . . call it foreshadowing.

When asked for a copy of applications for vendors to sell used jewelry, the Borough Clerk, Doreen Cali, stated that she was not aware of anyone ever selling used jewelry anywhere in the Borough and that no application has ever been submitted to the Borough Clerk’s office to purchase/sell “used jewelry” since 2006.

She recommended that the Police Chief would be the appropriate person to explain the reasons behind the need for strict regulations regarding permitting the sale or purchase of “used jewelry”.

Roselle Park Police Chief Paul Morrison stated that the ordinance was originally put in place so the municipality could better control the potential of selling stolen items at pawn shops. Not having reviewed the application, since it was never submitted to the police, he could not comment on this particular event.

How someone who stole jewelry would then turn around and donate it for free to a non-profit organization and somehow gain financially from such a sale is a bit far-fetched. Even if an outlandish “Ocean’s Eleven” type of heist where the stolen merchandise is turned over with the intent of having an accomplice purchase the item so there would be a clean bill of sale in case could more easily be done by simply having it at a garage sale, a yard sale, or an estate sale.

And remember, those sales are exempt from all the regulations.

But in an unexpected twist, there is a pretty public, you could call it, lively debate on the date of the block party when an FOL publicly questioned whether the handcrafted jewelry vendor had a license to sell jewelry and FOL President Paul Irslinger begins videotaping the incident, and Councilwoman Charlene Storey publicly asks Carl Pluchino, the Code Enforcement Officer, who happened to be in the parking lot to help set up a tent on his personal time, why the law is not being enforced that instant. All the while, the vendor, who knew nothing of the history, is confused by what appears to be an attack on her business.

So the same cliffhanger that finished the first saga still looms with jewelry because the solutions that could easily remedy this problem, are never followed. If applying the strict letter of the law, the FOL could hold a garage sale and be exempt from any paperwork other than the $5 filing fee for a garage sale.

Another solution would be to review the law and have it amended to clearly remove non-profits or dontated items for not-for-profit events.

But none of that was done.

Instead, what is left is the FOL striking out two-for-two, a growing perception that someone has it out for the FOL, and a formal grievance being filed against an elected official.

How lucky or unlucky can the FOL be to point out weak points in Roselle Park’s ordinances that- depending on who is asked – leaves matters to personal interpretation and does nothing but add to the suspicion that they are being targeted for selective enforcement.

Regardless of whichever of the two is closer to the truth, the sure fire way to put an end to it is to remedy it by amending the ordinance to reflect what is best for Roselle Park and its residents.