Greeting and Humbugs in Union County

Left Out

By Frank Capece

The list of “Greetings and Humbugs”  in Union County seems to grow each year. So without further delay, let’s get started.

Greetings to Liz Weishapl from Union.  For the past 35 years she diligently served the auxiliary at Trinitas Regional Medical Center, including the past six as its President. It’s hard to calculate the large number of people who benefited because of her fundraising efforts.

Humbug to Cranford Commissioner Ed O’Malley. His cheap shot at outgoing Mayor David Robinson who was on a long ago planned vacation in Florida, with his four kids, when superstorm Sandy struck, was unnecessary. Factually, Robinson stayed in close contact with township officials. It was especially offensive considering that Robinson, always a gentleman, is leaving the governing body this December.  For O’Malley, he will soon be in the majority, and here’s hoping he can act the part.

Greetings to Nancy Mondella from Hillside. This Board of Education member has taken up the challenge of improving the township’s sagging participation in the school nutrition program. Especially impressive are her efforts to insure confidentiality so as to leave no stigma for the kids who will benefit.

Humbug to Assemblyman Jon Bramnick of Westfield. Lately he has taken to the “fluff” stuff like promoting food drives, and information sessions on Sandy.  The word in Trenton is he is eyeing a U.S. Senate seat in 2014. On the issue of the minimum wage increase he has toed the Republican party line in opposition. It’s true there should not be an automatic escalator increase. But opposing raising the raise from $7.25 to $8.50 should make the part-time comedian embarrassed. For those unable to afford decent food, buy clothes or find shelter, there is nothing funny with his stance.

Greetings to Erin Kelly-McGuiness.  After discovering a family member had been diagnosed with a rare blood disease, she took on the crusade of running “Playball for Miracles” at the Children’s Specialized Hospital in Mountainside. Her efforts have raised over $80,000.

Humbug to the “boat people” as aptly described by Gov. Chris Christie. Consider a local police chief, who retired with an estimated $100,000 in unused sick and vacation time. It’s time for the legislature to reign in this unsavory practice.

Greetings to Cranford Police Officer Tim O’Brien. He won’t get any commendations, but on a wet windy September night with no fanfare, he bolted out of his police car to move a dangerous obstruction near the Cranford Hotel which could have caused a serious accident.

Greetings to ex-NFL star Tony Siragusa.  His recently released biography aptly titled “Goose” is a fun read. The book is full of references to his hometown of Kenilworth. He writes, “Kenilworth is a place you always come back to.” Watching the Christmas tree ceremony Saturday night at the town hall, you get a sense as to what he meant.

Greetings to Barbara El-Khoury at the Kenilworth Diner. She is this year’s winner as the top Union County waitress for great service and kindness.

Humbug to Union County Counsel Robert Barry. He dismissed criticisms as to the selection of engineer Birdsall Services for another in a series of big county contracts — the company which has seen suspensions and indictments for abuses of the pay to play law. Barry rejected charges that the company’s big time political contributions to school board, local and county campaigns influenced the selection process. He boldly said “any allegations to the contrary are not accurate.”  Yeah, right.

Humbug to N.J Transit which due to poor planning had more than 300 locomotives and rail cars damaged when Sandy flooded a storage yard in Hoboken and  the Meadowlands. Somebody should get canned.

Greetings to Steven Thorpe from Winfield who has taken a lead on the County Transportation Board in setting out the arguments for more mass transit opportunities.

Greetings to John Kennedy from Roselle Park. This Knights of Columbus leader moved all the barriers placed before him to lead a wonderful kids Halloween party in his borough. His group also found time to provide food and shelter for a whole lot of people ravaged by the storm.

Humbug to ex-Cranford Mayor George Jorn. Three years ago he accepted a position on the Cranford Senior Housing Board. He has made a grand total of attending one meeting in all that time.

Greetings to State Senator Nicholas Scutari of Linden. From day one he defined the controversial red-light program as one not living up to safety benefits its proponents said would result. A recent DOT report study backed him up concluding the cameras are not reducing the number of accidents.

Greetings to Summit Mayor Ellen Dickson for holding a productive meeting in her city to develop better methods to deal with problems caused by sudden weather incidents.

Greetings to Pat Bennett and everyone else involved at St. Teresa of Avila Church in Summit for English as a Second Language and U.S. citizenship preparation programs.

Greetings to the Mountainside Historic Restoration Committee for their brick program honoring veterans.

Humbug to Hillside Special Counsel Richard Bauch for the nasty tone he took in his feud with local Mayor Joseph Menza over legal bills. It’s not wrong to debate the value of services. He crossed the line with his silly comments challenging Menza to put his comments in “an affidavit.”

Greetings to Mike Presley, head of the Rahway Sanitation Department. One of the hardest hit communities from Sandy was Rahway. The word is this guy and a lot of others were tireless in their efforts to get the city running again.

Greetings to Linden Boxing Association Huncho Alfred Volpe for keeping alive and exciting the city’s Diamond Gloves Boxing Tournament.

Greetings to Thomas Garvey, president of the Summit Taxpayers Association.  Agree or disagree, his arguments on budget excess are a true community service.

Humbug to everyone in Union County making such a big deal over the alleged improper borrowing of generators. As someone who slept in sweat pants, under three blankets, I’m as bugged as anyone.  The proper approach was to let the county investigate and when necessary take personnel action. Do we really need county law enforcement jumping in the fray?

Greetings to Deborah Pomianek of Union. Her caregiving services on behalf of the Arc of Union County were recognized nationally. She is praised for her expertise in contracts and budgets, often a weakness in service providers.

Greetings to Deborah Mathis for her year-round efforts on the Minority Task Force on Aging in Union County. They provide valuable services for a vulnerable population.

Greetings to Anton Tansil, vice president for Prudential retirement. He made the 59th Annual RWJ Rahway Foundation Golf classic a big success.

Humbug to those opposing legislative efforts to reign in the explosion of state vehicles in use. Here’s hoping that during the budget review, county and local officials will take a hard look at just who is taking vehicles home, including law enforcement officials.

Greetings to the Kawameeh Middle School in Union for the “Week of Respect.”  The creative plan included anti-bullying education, and the wonderful plan of “Walk a mile in their shoes.”

Greetings to the Union County Division on Aging for their annual caregiver conference. The training for caregivers of person’s with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia was especially valuable.

Greetings to Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno for taking time to present a piece of original steel from the Word Trade Center to Summit First Aid Squad as part of the memorial for Ian Thompson who died in the attack.

Greetings to Adele Shafman, president of the Roselle Cranford Hadassah and sisterhood of Temple Beth El Mekor Chayium.  Their promotion of local musical talent has been noteworthy.

Humbug for most media outlets for not making a big deal over the fact that New Jersey’s high school graduation rose to 86 percent this year, an increase of 3 percent over last year. We simply have to understand that 75 percent for African-American students and 77 percent for Hispanic students means we must do more.

Greetings to Springfield teacher Sarah David named Union County Educator of the Year for 2012.

For everyone else, here’s hoping 2013 is a lot more prosperous economically and much calmer weather wise. Happy Holidays.