User-Friendly Ordinances: Let’s Focus on Making Government Easier to Figure Out

If you have ever gone to look in Section 36 (Prohibited Parking) of our code, to see what parking regulations are on a particular block, you probably needed patience and possibly, luck.

Let’s face it — our code wasn’t written for convenience or you, as the end-user (subject to its strictures).

Has anyone in the history of time ever wondered where you are prohibited from parking except for 8am to 6pm excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays (Sec. 36-17), as distinct from where you are prohibited during those hours except (only) Sundays and Holidays (Sec. 36-16)?

If so, now you know.  But seriously… who thought this was the best way to make a code?

A User-Friendly Approach

It took the better part of two years to update our code, as decades of Council changes were never appropriately updated in a cohesive manner.  But we are now at a point, where you can know what the Township Ordinances that apply to you, actually say.

So, without changing ANY regulations, I’ve drafted an ordinance that makes a relevant part of the code user-friendly.  My proposed ordinance, which can be found in our agenda for next Tuesday’s meeting, combines Sections 36-13 through 36-20.5.

These changes let anyone see, at a glance:

  • each street
  • in alphabetical order, along with
  • the applicable parking regulation

The section on the right, below is what I’ll be pitching to Council to adopt on Tuesday.

And if these are well received, I plan on doing more of them.  What sections would you like to have me handle first?
Have suggestions?  Email me

(Residents (and others) should be able to glance at the ordinance sections and see what is relevant to them) Continue reading “User-Friendly Ordinances: Let’s Focus on Making Government Easier to Figure Out”

Kaplan: Remarks on Veterans Day, 11am, 11/11/2021

Remarks for Veterans Day, 11/11/21
Keith Kaplan, Councilman

Without veterans, without the service to a cause larger than yourselves, many of us simply would not be here today.  That service, right here in NJ, earned my grandfather his citizenship — and on behalf of the Township Council and the Township of Teaneck, I want to wish everyone a happy Veterans Day and thank you for your service.

We owe our veterans a profound debt.  Not merely for service, but for what that service has meant foto us all.

The history of any town is the history of its people.  And veterans have always been an integral part of what has made Teaneck what we are.  Even before we had our own name, our sons and daughters sacrificed for our freedoms in the 22nd infantry of Bergen County during the Civil War.

Last year, I focused on this day, at this time – and how it was inextricably linked to WWI and the Armistice signed to end the fighting for that “War to End all Wars”.  In many ways, we still mirror that time, including a world struck with a global pandemic.

Just as we are meeting here today, Judge A. Demorest Del Mar spoke here in 1938.  Del Mar was a lieutenant in the Navy during WWI and he said to those assembled: “We fought to retain that which we value above all earthly things – liberty.  We will fight again and again to preserve it if necessary.”

Unfortunately, those words would become true too soon.

Today, I wanted to take a little time to talk about Teaneck’s WWII veterans and specifically the way Teaneck was molded by their service. Continue reading “Kaplan: Remarks on Veterans Day, 11am, 11/11/2021”

Sources Matter: Demand Evidence and Question Everything

In his post on Planning Board Application 2021-19, Bill Orr says that “the proposal was to build one residence on the left and another on the right of the historic home”.

Is that true?

I say it is not.

Orr claims to be “reporting local news” and information for residents.  He goes as far as to say I am “rarely a reliable source of information“.

So what is a member of the public supposed to do when we claim diametrically opposite views on a situation?

Ask for evidence and review it critically.


Case in point: The Brinckerhoff-Demarest House*

Continue reading “Sources Matter: Demand Evidence and Question Everything”

Statement from Keith Kaplan: Silence is not an option — It wasn’t the flag

We are living in dangerous times.  Attacks are happening around our Country.

It is repugnant to find out that such HATE is now home here in Teaneck!

Now, there’s also a claim that the raising of the flag is what brings antisemitism into acceptability?

No.

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc is a logical fallacy. Continue reading “Statement from Keith Kaplan: Silence is not an option — It wasn’t the flag”

Statement regarding planned protests [Schwartz, Kaplan & Orgen]

Statement from Deputy Mayor Schwartz and Councilmembers Kaplan & Orgen:

Due to the overwhelming number of emails, we cannot respond to everyone individually at this time.  We want to thank you for your correspondence and the many valid points you and others have shared.

Requests for assembly concerning the right to protest (e.g. in public rights of way) generally receive automatic approvals in accordance with general freedom of assembly laws. Our police chief, attorney, and outside expert counsel have approved this permit with our Township Manager. The manager has the ultimate say, not the Council. Continue reading “Statement regarding planned protests [Schwartz, Kaplan & Orgen]”

Current Bonding Across Local Municipalities

How does Teaneck compare to surrounding areas in terms of bonding?

In the State of New Jersey, municipalities may bond up to the debt limit1, which is 3.5% of the equalized valuation2 of taxable real estate.

In plain English: each town adds up the value of all their land, buildings, etc… averaged over the last three years.  The limit they can bond is 3.5% of that number.  And since the amount each town can bond is relative to their individual valuations, you get a metric that can be compared.

The annual debt statement, allows you to compare neighboring municipalities’ percentage of authorized debt, against each other.
(The data below are pulled from the authorized debt statements submitted to the State)

Here’s how Teaneck looks, based on the submitted annual debt statements from Bergenfield, Bogota, Englewood, Hackensack and New Milford

Each link below will bring you to the Annual Debt Statement, filed under oath with the State of New Jersey.

YearTeaneckEnglewoodBergenfieldBogotaHackensackNew Milford
20200.877%1.717%1.24%1.648%0.982%
20190.947%1.657%0.910%1.747%1.687%1.099%
20180.826%1.818%0.520%1.279%1.273%1.128%
20170.744%1.820%0.510%1.111%1.330%1.106%
20160.619%1.810%0.410%1.057%1.368%0.986%
20150.605%1.809%0.423%0.841%0.881%1.022%
20140.588%1.517%0.415%0.721%0.719%0.996%
20130.527%1.206%0.508%0.913%0.508%0.708%
20120.487%1.069%0.534%0.913%0.698%0.506%
20110.497%0.940%0.540%0.790%0.730%0.500%
20100.477%0.910%0.550%0.690%0.630%0.480%

  1. 40A:2-6. Debt limitation
    No bond ordinance shall be finally adopted if it appears from the supplemental debt statement required by this chapter that the percentage of net debt as stated therein
    pursuant to 40A:2-42 exceeds 2.00%, in the case of a county, or 3 1/2%, in the case of a municipality.
  2. 40A:2-41. Contents of annual debt statement
    The annual debt statement shall be in the form prescribed by the director and shall set forth as
    to the local unit:
    a. Gross debt;
    b. Deductions;
    c. Net debt;
    d. The equalized valuations of the taxable real estate, together with improvements, for
    the last 3 preceding fiscal years, and the average thereof;
    e. Net debt expressed as a percentage of such average of equalized valuations; and
    f. Any other information or detail required by law or by the director. The amount of any item which is indefinite or unascertainable may be estimated.
    L.1960, c. 169, s. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1962. Amended by L.1964, c. 72, s. 5.

Save the Date: Teaneck Council Reorganization on July 1, 2020

On Wednesday, July 1st, 2020 at 6:00 pm, the Teaneck Council will hold the semi-annual reorganization meeting at the Teaneck Town Hall.
(Agenda available here: Reorganization Agenda)
We will be swearing in Mark Schwartz, Karen Orgen & Mike Pagan.

In addition, Council will elect the Mayor & Deputy Mayors, among others.

For those that may not be familiar with the way the Teaneck Council operates, I’d like to offer some additional information:

How does our system work?
Teaneck utilizes the Council-Manager form of Government under the Faulkner Act.  What that means in practice is that residents choose their council-members “at-large” (i.e. you vote for everyone, as opposed to a ward system like neighboring Englewood) and the Council as a body, once elected and seated, chooses a mayor from among the council-members (as opposed to municipalities where the Mayor runs separately). Continue reading “Save the Date: Teaneck Council Reorganization on July 1, 2020”

Teaneck Yom Hashoa [Call-In]

On Monday, April 20th at 7pm, the Teaneck Holocaust Commemoration program of the Jewish Community Council of Greater Teaneck will recognize Yom Hashoa – Holocaust Remembrance Day – via a town-wide conference call.

The dial in number is  (563) 999-1684

The Yom Hashoa program will serve to honor the memory of the 6 Million Jews murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators during the Shoa (1939-1945) and recognize Survivors living in the greater Teaneck community.  The call will last approximately 35 minutes.

The Teaneck Holocaust Commemoration Committee thanks Deputy Mayor Elie Katz, who provided us with this opportunity to use his dedicated ‘call-in’ line and make this program available to the greater community.

Thank you very much.
Blanche Silver
Holocaust Commemoration Committee

Public Comment is not Testimony: A primer on when / how to speak at public meetings

Public input at meetings of council and statutory boards is critical to the proper functioning of government.  But not all opportunities to speak are the same.

If you came out to speak at yesterday’s Zoning Board hearing against an application – it was not entered in the record for the application.

In this post, I’ll outline the problem and then make a few suggestions as to how we might find a fix.

Types of Public Input

Continue reading “Public Comment is not Testimony: A primer on when / how to speak at public meetings”