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An Open Letter to Ed Sinclair from the Citizens and Taxpayers of Mahwah

A letter to one of Mahwah's mayoral candidates

Dear Mr. Sinclair,

Recently, you have been boasting about your personal integrity, honesty, openness, and looking out for the best interests of Mahwah taxpayers as reasons why you should be elected. However, the facts do not support you possessing any of these traits. In actuality, the facts directly fly in the face of those traits.

Consider the following FACTS.

We the Citizens and Taxpayers of Mahwah demand answers to these questions:

1. You currently earn over $100,000 per year as a DPW supervisor (mind you, not the head of DPW as you would want some to believe) in Mahwah. You also earned over $20,000 in overtime last year and have earned tens of thousands of dollars in overtime since 2009. You have publicly come against our Mahwah Police Officers earning overtime (who, by the way, only earned on average $7,000 in overtime last year). Does this sound like someone looking after the taxpayers in Mahwah? Why does a supervisor earn overtime at all? Is this the REAL reason you are so opposed to privatization of services in our DPW? Because you do not want to lose your overtime? How can you be against Mahwah Police earning overtime protecting our community when you earned more than three times what the average Mahwah Police Officer earned in overtime last year?

2. You are in the position of awarding contracts on behalf of Mahwah DPW. It is public knowledge that some of those contractors also did work on your home. Is this true? How do you justify this? At the very least, isn’t this a conflict of interest and an ethical issue? How does this differ from the recent North Bergen DPW Corruption Scandal that has been in the news recently?

3. You have publicly said that it is not the Mayor’s role to look out for the taxpayer and reduce taxes, as Mayor Laforet has done. If it is not the Mayor’s role, whose role is it? What is the role of the Mayor if it is not to represent your constituents and look out for the Mahwah taxpayer?

4. You have publicly said that you want to keep the tax rate “stable” and, on your website, you only mention taxes twice. The first time you mention taxes, you talk about long term stability in Mahwah's tax rate which many would argue is already too high (by the way, the tax rate was up between 3.14% to 26.67% from 2002 to 2011...7.21% in 2011 alone….that is stable???). The second time you mention taxes you say that Mahwah has enviable low property taxes. Mayor Laforet is trying to reduce the current tax rate and believes our taxes are too high. Don't you think we should be trying to reduce our tax-rate in Mahwah? How can you say our taxes are low when many Mahwah residents pay well more than $20,000 per year in taxes and have seen more than a doubling in their taxes over the last decade?

5. You have been seen driving around Mahwah during work hours in a DPW truck replacing your campaign signs post-Hurricane Sandy. Is that the best use of your time while many residents of Mahwah have no heat, electricity, are volunteering their time to help others, and are suffering? Should the Mahwah taxpayer be paying you to work on your campaign?

6. On your website and campaign propaganda, you list your priorities if elected Mayor. Budgets, reduced spending and taxes were conspicuously absent and not mentioned as priorities. With continued reduction in State aid, the 2% tax levy cap, pending Union negotiations, and the continued soft economy, why were those not mentioned? Are these not important?

7. You have said that your experience in developing budgets for DPW has prepared you to be able to handle budgeting for the entire Town of Mahwah. First off, the Director of DPW, Mr. Keith Hallisey (your boss) is the man responsible for the DPW budget. Second, the DPW operating budget for departments that you supervise was only 4.9% ($2 million out of $42 million) of the total municipal budget. Can you comment on how not being the person responsible for DPW (and their budget) and the fact that the DPW is such small percentage of the municipal budget has prepared you to be able to handle a $42mm municipal budget with a 2% tax levy cap? What educational or business experience do you have that makes you a budget expert?

8. You have repeatedly on the record been opposed to the recycling outsourcing plan proposed by Mayor Laforet for the following reasons: a). Loss of 6 DPW jobs b). Loss of 5 volunteers, which would cause disruption in our emergency services in Mahwah c). The projected cost saves are not real. However, you have continued to ignore the following facts: a). There would be NO loss of jobs. b). Disruption of emergency services is not an issue since there is no loss in jobs. c). Cost saves are very real since they are contractual in nature. d). Numbers were prepared and certified by Ken Sesholtz who you have publicly called the best Municipal Chief Financial Officer in the State. e). Mayor Laforet’s proposed service is much better than the current service-single stream weekly as opposed to multi-stream bi-monthly which we currently have. How is this an issue and why do you distort the facts? Is the real reason that you are opposed to this is the loss of OT that you are earning?

9. Blue Ribbon Panels have been consistently used around the country to get high quality advice from qualified constituents for free. Both Governor Christie and Governor Cuomo have employed similar panels to address issues in NJ and NY, for example. The Blue Ribbon Panel in Mahwah is composed of citizens who volunteered their valuable time free of charge. They are men, women, Democrats, Republicans, people that love Mahwah, but most of all, they were professionals who have hundreds of years of experience in running businesses, looking at budgets, taking a hard look at expenses, etc.  You have publicly stated that your "Blue Ribbon Panel" would be the Town Council. How does that reconcile with the checks and balances of our form of democracy (the Mayor as the executive branch, the Council as the legislative branch)? How is the Town Council a better advisor to you when: a). They could not even cut their own health benefits. b). The Blue Ribbon Panel was made up of independent residents/constituents who are only looking out for the best interests of Mahwah. c). The 14 members of the Blue Ribbon Panel have hundreds of years more experience than the Town Council? 

10. You have discussed in detail your economic development plan which centers around your "Come to Mahwah" advertising campaign featuring Ed Sinclair as the star (to quote you, like Mario Perillo’s “Come to Italy” TV Campaign). How do you expect to pay for this elaborate advertising campaign? Is this sort of expense prudent in these economic times?

11. Mahwah municipal elections and offices have remained staunchly non-partisan/independent for a reason. This year, you involved the Republican Party in the election and won their endorsement (interestingly with views that are polar opposite of the Republican Party that many of us are members of). Councilman Alderesio, himself a lifelong Republican, has renounced his membership in the Mahwah Republican Party because of their support for you. Why do you think the Mahwah Republican Party supported you despite your tax and spend views as well as your pro-labor stance and what role, if any, do you think political parties should have in future Mahwah municipal elections? Are you just a puppet and mouthpiece for people like Rob Hermanson who have their own agenda that is not in the best interests of Mahwah? Doesn't it make more sense to have an independent thinker as Mayor who only has one interest in his heart and mind, the residents of Mahwah? It is about time that we get some answers from you. It is time for a Mayor that REALLY exhibits integrity, honesty, openness and being on the side of the Mahwah Taxpayer. You are certainly not that man. That is why we support the reelection of our Mayor, William Laforet.

Sincerely,

CONCERNED CITIZENS AND TAXPAYERS OF MAHWAH

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Philip Lipper November 07, 2012 at 07:31 PM
Sounds good to me
Eileen Rite November 08, 2012 at 01:59 AM
Mr. Lockwood, I think you missed the point I made weeks ago; most of us do not vote party line especially locally, we vote for the person that we think will do the best job possible. We don't care who contributes what to who's campaign. Mr. Sinclair's main concerns were for the municipal workers and keeping the status quo. It was pointed out to me and I checked for myself... nowhere in any of Sinclair's campaign literature did he ever once refer to or even mention the Mahwah taxpayers, and I found that to be almost as disconcerting as your organization endorsing him. If he's the personification of a Mahwah Republican, then I just became a Blue eyed, Blue blooded Smurf of a Democrat!
David Bagatelle November 08, 2012 at 03:03 AM
Ms. Rite, It's posts like this that make me proud to be a 20+ year resident of Mahwah. The silent majority won out over outsiders trying to take control of our beloved town. God bless you, Mayor Laforet and the residents of Mahwah Township.
David Bagatelle November 08, 2012 at 03:11 AM
PS Ms. Rite, Thank you for fact checking my letter. As I said, nothing but the facts....Mayor Laforet was re-elected because of his strong leadership (look how he has handled the storm vis s vis other Northern Bergen County Mayors) and fiscal responsibility (he is already at work to keep our 2013 tax rate low, come in under the 2% tax levy cap, and reduce municipal waste and spending). Those are the issues that matter to our neighbors.
Regenbogen November 08, 2012 at 03:54 PM
The voting is over and time will tell!

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