Guest Post on Flag Raisings (and response)

Reader Yoni Bak wrote in:

“I’m not opposed to the Pride flag,” Pruitt said. “I’m opposed to flags, because I think that’s going to be an opportunity down the road for internal community conflict that we could do without.”

That’s Councilman Henry Pruitt at the council meeting in September 2019 in response to the proposal to fly the Gay Pride Flag on Teaneck Township property. He was, of course, 100% correct. We hoisted the pride flag and later painted a BLM mural on a parking lot and now every group wants not only to have the right to publicize their symbols but to have the Township give it official endorsement.

Now there’s a Star of David flag about to be flown which will surely generate controversy. And there will be endless debates about it. And demands for new flags to be flown. And the council will be spending all its time on matters that are not specifically related to the Town but signal which ideologies get our approval.

Why not allow residents to display their symbols of choice on private properties and properties owned by various institutions (Schools, Houses of Worship, etc) & let the Town focus on actually governing?


Mr. Bak raises the core issue at hand, which is whether or not the Council, as representatives, should fly flags.  Deputy Mayor Pruitt did indeed make the issue explicit and those in attendance, as well as others on the council, felt that flag raisings would be appropriate.

The flags are flown in support of residents, in a clear showing that they should feel accepted and safe from attacks and dangers which they face.
When someone marches with a rainbow flag and is attacked, the reason is clear.  The rainbow flag symbolizes that they are a member of or supportive of the LGBTQ+ community.
In a similar way, when someone marches with an Israeli flag and is attacked, the reason is clear.  The Israeli flag symbolizes that they are a member of or supportive of the Jewish community.
As such, the flag has come to symbolize those under constant and rising attack within our borders.
And raising it becomes symbolic of the same message other groups have received.

WHEREAS, acts of hatred and violence against members of the Jewish community have been on the rise in our area and the Township Council wishes to affirm the inherent right of its Jewish residents to live without fear of attacks and hatred

So starts the resolution passed by the Township Council on April 27th, 2021.  I would encourage anyone with questions or concerns to read it first.

This is not unprecedented Continue reading “Guest Post on Flag Raisings (and response)”

Why the cluck can’t I own a chicken?

People like raising chickens.  They give delicious eggs and people that raise them say that it’s a clean sustainable pet/food source that should be available in Teaneck.

There’s also a local ordinance prohibiting it:

Sec. 6-5: Keeping of pigs, horses and certain other animals prohibited.

[R.O. 1951, ch. 6, § 4; Ord. No. 341112-20-1994, § 1.]
No person shall keep or allow to be kept in any building or premises, or on any lot of ground of which he may be the owner, tenant, lessee or occupier, any pigs, horses, mules, cows, pigeons or poultry of any age or description.
Repeal movements have come and gone since the rule was created in 1927.  There’s one happening now.

It even has a Facebook Group: Keep Chickens Teaneck

So what’s the deal with chickens and this ban?

The practice of owning chickens in town was regulated in the ’20s as population density turned Teaneck from farmland to residential1. It was formally banned anywhere a decade later in 1937.
(census estimates show the population changing from 4,192 in 1920 to 16,513 in 1930 and then to 25,275 in 1940)
This ordinance is one of the oldest the municipality has.
Ordinance 412 appeared in July 1927

Continue reading “Why the cluck can’t I own a chicken?”

Community Choice Energy Aggregation: Coming soon?

NJ is part of the PJM interchange for electricity.  PJM has a horrible history of meeting clean energy goals set by the State and consequently, instead of generating clean energy, providers like PSE&G have met quotas by purchasing certificates from power plants in other areas that count towards the clean energy mandate.

The CCA program extends the ability to purchase those certificates (called RECs or Renewable Energy Credits) from third-party electric suppliers.

Some towns seem to have had a rocky start, unable to find bids, some found initial bids, but couldn’t find renewals.  The information (pro and con) is laid out below.

My hope is that people will share and read about the program to have an informed discussion at our subsequent council meetings.

– Keith Kaplan

What is Community Choice Energy Aggregation?

The general concept behind the program is to allow an entire County / Town(s), to use their collective purchasing power to decrease electric rate prices for clean energy supply.  In theory, if you can make clean energy less costly through aggregation, everyone can replace dirty energy sources while spending the same amount they paid through PSE&G (or at a small discount).

The legal basis for the program can be found in the NJ legislature’s  Government Energy Aggregation (“GEA”) Act of 20031.  It permits counties and municipalities to create an ordinance (or resolution) to establish an “Aggregation Program”.

Does Air Become Cleaner?

It does…. somewhere.  But only if the Municipality can find a bid. Continue reading “Community Choice Energy Aggregation: Coming soon?”

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%1.648%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.

We stand in solidarity with our AAPI Community

We Stand United with our Asian, Asian-American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) Communities

Written by Keith Kaplan & Michael Pagan with members of Grace Community Chapel

Dear Friends,

The Teaneck Council will be adopting a Resolution on Thursday night declaring solidarity with Asian, Asian-American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) Communities to stand in support with those affected by the terrible shooting in Atlanta, Georgia on March 16th.
Sadly, hate crimes motivated by anti-Asian sentiment have jumped 1,900% in New York City in 2020 and almost 3,000 reports of anti-Asian discrimination between March 19 and December 31, 2020 have been recorded by the Stop AAPI Hate.
Moreover, racially-motivated assaults and harassment targeting of AAPI seniors have dramatically increased and include the recent attack and subsequent tragic death of 84-year-old Vicha Ratanapakdee in San Francisco on January 28, 2021.
In response to the xenophobic and inflammatory rhetoric about COVID-19, President Joseph R. Biden Jr. issued an Executive Order on January 26th during the first week of his administration to show that most Americans across the country abhor this type of behavior by the bigots who commit these crimes.
The Teaneck Mayor and Council unanimously passed a resolution rejecting hate within the Township and support measures at the municipal and state level to combat the insidious and persistent impact of racism.
The Resolution that will be adopted by the Teaneck Council this Thursday night will:

Continue reading “We stand in solidarity with our AAPI Community”

Glenpointe Settlement Data

The Settlement with Glenpointe announced and approved by the Township includes:

  • 2007 through 2010 (part of litigation)
  • 2011 through 2019* (additional years not part of litigation)

The full amount the Township is refunding based on the litigation is: $1,711,869 + interest

The chart below indicates the refunds by year, which can also be found in Resolution 58-2021 on the Township’s website.

*  While not part of the litigation, years 2011-12 were subject to the “Freeze Act

 

Glenpointe Tax Appeal in the Rear-view Mirror

What is the Glenpointe Tax Appeal?

The Glenpointe complex, consisting of Hotels, Offices, Atriums, parking lots and more appealed the assessment of their taxes for the years 2007 through 20101.

Had the Glenpointe prevailed, the Township would have been responsible for refunding over $15 million dollars.

[Note: $15M figure does not take into account tax appeals for years 2011 through 2018, which are included in the settlement agreed to by the parties]

After the Superior Court found mostly for the Town, the appeals were ultimately settled for $8,083,000 (including interest).

From Judge Andresini:
(all quotes are fully explained below with relevant links to the opinion)

[T]he court rejects Plaintiff’s expert’s determination of stabilized revenue. Given that the Township’s expert’s stabilized ADR figures are in line with the actual ADR of the subject Hotel for the relevant tax years, did not overstate the effect of the economic downturn on those years, and are supported by the comparable data sets contained in the PKF trends he used, the court finds his stabilization of the subject Hotel’s revenues to be reliable and will adopt his conclusions of revenues accordingly.

Continue reading “Glenpointe Tax Appeal in the Rear-view Mirror”

Soriano-Taveras Apologizes for ‘Doing Nothing Wrong’ in Calling for Boycott

After audio surfaced of Alexandra Soriano-Taveras calling for a boycott of Cedar Lane businesses, questions began to swarm about her fitness to represent the 37th District, which includes Teaneck, in the NJ Assembly.

Yesterday, Soriano-Taveras released a statement (see full statement below) via InsiderNJ.

“There was a call to action in Teaneck this past summer and I attended to speak up and speak out against our town leadership who once again was not listening to the voices of our community.”

Continue reading “Soriano-Taveras Apologizes for ‘Doing Nothing Wrong’ in Calling for Boycott”

Teaneck Bans Facial Recognition by Police and Departments

Ordinance 7-2021:

ADDING ARTICLE XXXIV, “PRIVACY” TO CHAPTER 2 OF THE TOWNSHIP CODE ENTITLED “CHARTER/ADMINISTRATIVE CODE”

This ordinance will ban the use of facial recognition surveillance technologies by the Township.

These technologies have resulted in innocent people (including this one here in NJ), being held for crimes they didn’t commit. Crimes there were not even anywhere close to. 10 days. Sitting in a cell for a crime you didn’t commit. Continue reading “Teaneck Bans Facial Recognition by Police and Departments”

Blue Teaneck Throwing Shade

On his page, local gadfly Bill Orr has a post about housing in Teaneck.

This is an important issue and worth taking a look at, in depth.

“Housing should be a basic human right for all not just those who are affluent. Increasingly such is not the case in Teaneck. With people moving from NYC and elsewhere to our town, it has brought us higher prices and done little to help those who cannot afford these costs.”

There are two ways to reduce housing costs.

  1. Create more housing
  2. Reduce the value of existing housing

What does Blue Teaneck suggest Teaneck do? Continue reading “Blue Teaneck Throwing Shade”