To all of Joe's loyal supporters, words of thanks from our candidate and campaign chair:
Thanks to all of you and the many other supporters of our mayoral campaign for your efforts. Although we did not achieve our shared goal, we provided our community a new perspective of future possibilities that I hope will bear fruit over time. Because of your volunteer efforts, this was the best campaign of the sixth that we’ve run. I’m disappointed that more voters did not find me the suitable choice. But as the candidate, I accept their collective decision in the vote count and the entire responsibility for it. The election result was certainly not a reflection of the tremendous effort that so many of you contributed to the campaign. I ask for this support as I finish the last two years of my current council term by helping to continue to illuminate the facts and issues that are the foundation of our vision for the future of West Orange.
From John Mandler, campaign chair:
I know that the results of yesterday's election are disappointing and disheartening. We worked hard - we sacrificed our time, talent and treasure in a campaign to bring real change to West Orange. The council results provide a glimmer of hope that a desire for change and new direction in our municipal government can continue to be nurtured. Although the goal that we wanted most to achieve - electing Joe as Mayor - proved elusive, we raised important issues, we forced essential conversation and we planted seeds for reform. All of that is good. You who worked so hard for Joe can be proud of the effort that you put out and the dedication to making our town better that you exhibited.
For me, serving as chair of Joe's campaign has enabled me to meet so many new and wonderful people. We came together from various political paths and backgrounds, united in a common purpose. I've come to know and appreciate people who six months ago were perfect strangers to me - and I hope that as the campaign ends we can continue building coalitions and looking for ways to make a difference together. You all put so much of yourselves into the campaign; you made my job easier by taking on so many of the campaign tasks. You were selfless in working toward our hoped-for end of electing Joe. It's been my privilege to get to know you and work together with you.
I hope that you hold your heads high because of your amazing efforts and that you continue to work for real change and to make a difference in West Orange.
Reason #1 - Joe is the candidate who truly can and will deliver on his promises and wants to be held accountable. West Orange has a "strong mayor" municipal charter, which means that the mayor has significant powers to act independently of the Township council. The mayor:
- drafts the municipal budget for council review, amendment and approval,
- implements the approved budget,
- manages the municipal workforce and daily operations,
- hires department heads, who serve at the pleasure of the mayor,
- negotiates all contracts including those with employee labor unions,
- appoints many members of municipal boards and commissions, including all but one of the members of the Planning Board and all the members of the public library board,
Practically speaking, Joe’s power on the council now is transparency – letting residents know more about what their government is doing in their name and with their taxes so that voters can hold their elected officials accountable. The current mayor and council majority do not need his vote to pass any legislation – and as a result they almost never negotiate with him or agree to any of his suggested compromises or proposed legislation. He is almost always the only council member who votes against any of the mayor’s proposals. Thus the “4-1 Joe” moniker.
However, given the mayor’s powers and authority, Joe will be in a much better position to implement his agenda, through both statutory powers and the development of a better give-and-take relationship with council members. For example, his power to draft the annual budget allows him to avoid proposing wasteful spending that is now routinely approved by the town council majority. His contracting powers allows him to implement competitive bidding in dozens of no-bid contracts annually and structure other bid specifications to ensure the greatest competitive response. Additionally, he will be in a position to influence council members’ work with the township’s workforce and resources to realize shared goals. Joe expects these dynamics to lead to an excellent working relationship with town council.
Joe has pledged to keep residents better informed, and he will keep council members better informed than is current practice. If two of the change agents running for Township council this year are elected, Joe would have council members with whom he could work to bring about additional change to benefit the community.
Reason #2 - Joe is the candidate who promises (and has long provided) true transparency, utilizing his journalistic skills at research and communication. For the last decade, Joe has provided West Orange the vast majority of information about wasteful spending, mismanaged contracting and other failures of their government to serve them. He believes transparency leads to accountability, which in turn leads to better government for the benefit of the community. Government is supposed to work for residents, not the other way around.
Joe will conduct municipal business in the "sunshine," improve the sound quality of council chambers, Facebook Live stream council meetings, and get more information on the budget and legislation out to the community utilizing various channels that are largely ignored now – all to encourage residents to become more informed and engaged in the process of governing. As mayor, Joe will make significant improvement with Open Pubic Record Act requests for township documents. Joe also will hold regular town hall meetings so that residents can get information and provide input in a two-way dialogue – particularly on important issues.
Reason #3 - Joe is the candidate who promises true fiscal responsibility. Joe has been a “watchdog” against wasteful municipal spending since before he was first elected to the township council in 2010. Joe is the only candidate who has put forth a plan to reduce the budget by $1 million without impacting employee headcount or services. Joe's “Common Sense Budget” trims wasteful spending, ends no-bid contracts valued at more than $10,000, holds vendors to high performance standards, and makes other structural reforms. Joe will create incentives for municipal employees to suggest ways to make government more efficient and will work to reduce the level of municipal debt, which will weigh down the budget as interest rates rise. Importantly, Joe will end the practice of offering tax abatements to wealthy developers -- which increase the tax burden on residents who must replace this lost future revenue.
Reason #4 - Joe is the candidate who will promote true SMART development. One of Joe's first steps as mayor will be to replace the part-time planner with a full-time one with economic development experience. This will greatly improve our focus on development that meets the needs of our community, not just developers. Such a planner will work to attract appropriate commercial activity to boost ratables, targeting specific areas of town that need help. We need to grow the tax base, which over the last eight years of the current mayor has contracted significantly every year until rising a paltry 0.03% this year. Growing the commercial tax base and ratables will help reduce downward pressure on residential taxpayers and the value of their homes. Targeted and appropriate commercial development also will improve the quality of life for residents and make the town attractive to live in and stay in. Joe also will end the abuse of the state redevelopment and long-term tax-exemption statutes for the benefit of wealthy property owners and developers.
Reason #5 - Joe is the change agent candidate working to make West Orange better for all residents. West Orange is becoming unaffordable. We need to reverse this trend, so that senior citizens can age in place, young families can move here and establish roots, and the diversity that makes West Orange such a special place is not lost. Joe will work to establish a senior citizen advisory board and provide meaningful opportunities for seniors to share their concerns and communicate their ideas. Joe will work to improve senior transportation. Joe wants to expand open space and will protect our treescape from encroachment and destruction. Joe will look to plow savings from increased municipal efficiency and cutting of wasteful spending into infrastructure such as roads, public safety, new youth recreation non-athletic programs such as chess and computer programming, and more support for the library. Joe is committed to making West Orange a town that welcomes all, that is responsive to its residents and that provides a full range of municipal services efficiently, cost effectively and fairly.
Here's our most recent campaign video highlighting Mayor Parisi's lack of progress in labor contract negotiations with police unions and Joe Krakoviak's plan to negotiate a fair deal. All town bargaining units have been out of contract since the end of 2017. At the October 30, 2018, Town Council meeting, Police Superior Officers President Michael Cassidy spoke about the status of contract negotiations, including Mayor Parisi's failure to appear at a scheduled negotiating session with the policeAs mayor, "Say No Joe" will make a priority to negotiate a fair contract as quickly as possible.
We join the millions of others worldwide in condolences and prayers following the horror in Pittsburgh over the weekend, for the victims and their families and loved ones, for the Jewish community in Squirrel Hill and for the community of good souls worldwide that has suffered this senseless tragedy. Anti-semitism, racism and all other forms of intolerance have no place in our country. Violence in a house of prayer against those worshiping in peace is contrary to civilized norms. We all must work to preserve and repair our common bonds as Americans and as human beings. We all must continue to work and pray for an end to anti-semitism, an end to hate and an end to violence – and for the victory of love, unity and embrace of our shared humanity. As an elected official, I always will work with all the West Orange synagogues (and any other houses of worship and community centers that are threatened) to strengthen security to insure that a similar tragedy never occurs in our community.
“Who Does Rob Parisi Work For?” is the latest campaign video of Councilman Joe Krakoviak for Mayor. Using state campaign finance reports, the video shows nearly $30,000 in contributions to Parisi just this year from donors who do business with, and get funds from, the Township of West Orange, often without competitive bidding. Other donors are appointees, town employees and those seeking regulatory approvals from the Township. The Township funds many of Parisi donors receive dwarf their contributions.
The two-hour Mayoral Forum held Sunday, October 14, at B’nai Shalom demonstrated sharp contrasts between the two candidates on a variety of issues and resident-generated questions: the municipal budget, taxes and spending; redevelopment and commercial development; senior issues; the recent garbage/recycling contract; property maintenance; West Essex Highlands; diversity; term limits, and other issues. As you view the video, we welcome your comments below and urge you to consider sending the link of the video Mayoral Forum video to contacts you think would be interested in learning more about the candidates. You can also hit SHARE in the upper right hand corner of the video.
Here's video of the recent Campaign Kick-Off event. We'd like you to please watch all the speeches. But if you are pressed for time, Joe's speech starts at the 7:00 timestamp.
Some "Fast Facts" about wasteful spending in West Orange. Do you know about the 61% increase in the garbage/recycling contract? Or the township's chief financial officer's five straight years of raises totaling more than $33,000 -- to a salary of nearly $174,000?
Town Council discussion of Legionella bacteria at municipal facilities - September 10, 2018
Here’s a 13-minute portion of the August 7, 2018, Town Council meeting discussing the Legionella bacteria issue in Township buildings, part of the follow-up from an employee contracting and recovering from Legionnaires' disease. Another 6-minute discussion on the same subject occurred at the September 4, 2018, meeting.
Prism again delinquent on property taxes and misses start date for Downtown Edison Redevelopment Phase II - September 14, 2018
Prism continues its long record of not meeting contractual requirements of the Downtown Edison redevelopment project. The company still hasn’t paid its August 1 property taxes on its major property, 55 Lakeside Avenue, according to the town’s online database, which shows it still owes $42,399 plus interest penalties. In the last five years, Prism has been delinquent on its property taxes the vast majority of time – despite a requirement in redevelopment governing documents that it stay current on the taxes.
When I asked about the delinquency at the September 6 Town Council meeting, Business Administrator Jack Sayers said he didn’t know about it. Tax delinquency is an event of default, if the mayor decides to enforce the provision. At the meeting, Mr. Sayers finally disclosed after multiple Council meetings that Prism was also not meeting the contractual requirement to file its Phase II plans with the Planning Department within 90 days of signing the government documents. Mr. Sayers said the documents were signed June 1 – more than eight months after the council majority approved them last year.
Edison Phase II comprises 252 townhouses and a 44-unit affordable housing apartment building to the east and north of the Edison Phase I site on Main Street. The townhomes have a 30-year tax abatement and a Payment in Lieu of Taxes that starts at 75% of what the property taxes would be – producing nearly $8 million less revenue in the first seven years of the PILOT.