Wednesday, June 18, 2008

What's Broken in Teaneck

With the new Council organizing in two weeks, the question that many residents are asking is what is broken and what can Council fix.

One of my personal issues is the parks. I am very pleased that Teaneck has so many parks, but often when I take my nephew to Votee, the track is cracked, the grass is growing and in some areas I feel like I am walking in swamp land.

Another broken area is our building department. Last year when I had to pave my driveway, I left the building department very frustrated and angry.

And what about our taxes. With no more County connection, will we ever see any more aid in Teaneck?

These are just some of the issues that are on my mind.

What do you think we should tell Council is broken?

55 comments:

Teaneck Resident said...

Perhaps the Council of Religious Leaders could put together a sensitivity training program for our new Council. In my opinion, recently comments spoken by newly (and re-elected)council members indicate a strong need guidance. I don't see how the new council will be able to fix "what's broken in Teaneck" until they can demonstrate that they can work together and that they are capable of representing ALL of Teaneck.

Anonymous said...

Why would anyone take the upcoming Unity Day seriously? The amazing hostility expressed by the Honisites at the last Council meeting (best represented by the man who stated in ominous tones, "I was a marine and I am watching you [perhaps through my sniper sight?])" shocked those in attendance as well as those watching on TV.

The demands by Teaneck United supporters for control of the Council need to be resisted firmly. The best thing for Teaneck would be the continuation of Mayor Katz with the elevation of Adam Gussen to Deputy Mayor.

Jervis said...

Honis is broken!!!

She needs an extreme makeover!!

mskj said...

I agree with the suggestion about the Clergy Council working on a program, but unfortunately, there are no Orthodox religious leaders who are willing to participate with that group even in discussion. They have asked for years for some of them to join them. We need the kind of discussions that took place after the Pannell incident in the early '90's but it all depends on who plans them and structures them, complete with independent unaffiliated facilitators to lead them. I wait to see what will happen.

I absolutely disagree with the recommendation to ignore Teaneck United, but the hard line taken by both sides, who have both shown an inability to compromise and work together also discourages me. I would continue the present town leadership (Katz and Parker) and see what kind of tone is set by Feit and the newly elected council persons (esp. Mohammed). We know the weak insular representation Honis brings to the table, and Gussen is too much of a firebrand.

Anonymous said...

Exactly right--Gussen is a firebrand. Exactly wrong in saying that that is NOT what we need. Fight fire with fire!!

There is only one way to stop the circus Teaneck United has brought to the council chamber for the past few years. And that is by standing up to their lies and saying, "No, by thunder!"

arkil said...

what is meant by no more county connection?

Anonymous said...

Translation of "county connection": Now that Rudolph's out of a job who will provide access to lucrative contracts for well-connected businesses in exchange for political favors?

Anonymous said...

It sure won't be the Weinberg crowd with their me-myself-I
orientation.

They just look out for their own pockets.

Swiggle said...

I would continue the present town leadership (Katz and Parker) and see what kind of tone is set by Feit and the newly elected council persons (esp. Mohammed).

I'm with you on Katz, but what exactly has Parker brought to the table? I would pick Hameeduddin as Deputy Mayor.

Anonymous said...
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Jeff O said...

Speaking as someone who, I believe, was very close to the Katz campaign last time around (but maybe not as close as I thought I was, Elie?), and who is frankly disappointed in the political choices my dear friend Elie has made over the last two years, I believe that Kevie Feit should be mayor.

Certainly the "spoiled brat" should never be mayor under any circumstances -- something even many of those who supported her re-election for political reasons agree on. Nor could Toffler be mayor of all our citizens until she expresses some sort of regret for her quotes in the NY Times.

Besides, she doesn't have the votes and Parker doesn't either.

Of the four "Teaneck guys," for lack of a better term -- and don't you love the parallel allusion? -- Feit in my opinion has been the most independent and conciliatory. His selection as mayor would acknowledge that (a) the council majority hasn't changed; and (b) the overall rejection of "the Katz Team" (bad decision, my dear friend) demands some sort of change. As for who gets to be deputy mayor, I could live with just about anyone except the spoiled brat who's done absolutely squat for four years. In the spirit of reconciliation, I think it should be someone from "the other side," which argues strongly for leaving it as Parker.

Anonymous said...

Gussen for Mayor. Honis' replacement for Deputy.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
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Dave said...

What's broken? Sure we can make a list of minor inconveniences like wet spots in the parks, but the real problem was and continues to be TAXES. We need to rezone to allow businesses on the Route 4 corridor and at the Turnpike exit.
And wait till we get hit with the taxes that Katz and company pushed forward from last year's so-called "0% tax increase" that will come back to haunt us in the next few years. Enough of these lucrative contracts for teachers and municipal workers. Enough with a paid fire department that killed three kids two years ago when every place else makes do with volunteers. Enough with Saturday hours at the library. Enough with these ridiculous pedestrian plazas on Cedar Lane, which do nothing except make it harder to get to the fish store. Enough with parks to serve the handicapped, although I sympathize with their plight, we can't spend the town's money on the few people who use those facilities, that's why we have charities, where those who choose can contribute; it's not an issue the town should be involved in. Beautification will have to wait until the town hits the lottery. You don't fix up your house when you can't even afford the mortgage on it. And don't even get me started on the waste in the schools, which don't even serve the majority of the community.
What is broken is how they waste our money!

2008anony said...

Jeff -

I am puzzled. In your post, you stated as a basis for supporting Feit for mayor- "the council majority hasn't changed." What is this "majority" you speak of? Who does it consist of & who does it represent?

Anonymous said...

dave(karin) is like a broken record.

Anonymous said...

Majority=
Katz, Gussen, Feit, Hameeduddin

Anonymous said...

12:46 am should be deleted

Katz is a smart guy and I feel over the course of his being active in Teaneck truly has the best interests of the Townships in mind. I think he had his own "uh oh" moment with that Team Teaneck thing and realized how it back fired. I think he was talked into the idea that Rudolph had much more support than he in reality did.

I am hoping that Mohammad turns out to be wonderful for the town. I think that Katz learned his lesson. Katz DOES learn from his mistakes. Gussen does not do his homework thoroughly and shoots too much from the hip. He has said too many inflamatory things at the council meetings over the years. He would be a poor choice for mayor. Katz or Feit for Mayor and Parker for deputy mayor.

Anonymous said...

I've done a lot of thinking about this and going back to the "blue laws" debate, we will probably get more national merchants in Teaneck if we did not have blue laws.

We currently live in a 24/7 society with the internet a great competition to many local merchants. Why would a National merchant open up in a small municipality that is closed on Sunday when they can open up a few miles away. Paramus is known for shopping but not the small towns around Bergen county. We have GOT TO get more commerce in town to lower our tax base. Work on the blue laws.

Anonymous said...

So what has loretta done about the blue law situation all the years she has sat in the legislature (other than promising during the last century that she would cut a deal with Paramus to get Teaneck an exemption)?

ZIPPO!!!

Let's get her to use her clout on this.

C'mon you guys in the Weinberg machine... Do something for teaneck.

2008anony said...

I understand that the "majority" to which Jeff refers equals
Katz, Gussen, Feit, Hameeduddin. However, majority means that they act in a coordinate manner or represent a common group or hold common positions. I just want to understand on what basis does Jeff believe that these 4 are a block, likely to act in lockstep and therefore constitute a "majority."

Anonymous said...

They are the ones that care about the well being of the entire community.

Anonymous said...

Do you think Toffler will ever apologize for her anti-Semitic actions during the election and last year with the NY Times?

No point talking about Monica.

Parker is alright, but she doesn't do anything.

Anonymous said...

Elie Katz said: "I was very active in supporting specific candidates. If anything I did or said or if any actions attributed to candidates I was associated with were wrong in anyone’s eyes, I respectfully and sincerely apologize."

Don't apologize Elie. We don't need it and Monica's peeps won't believe it anyway.

A straight answer is requested said...

Parker is alright, but she doesn't do anything.

Exactly, so why would you want her as deputy again? Let's face it, we tried the...let's have someone from the 'other' side as a deputy to make bridges, blah blah blah. It didn't work...I don't have much bad to say about Parker, but that's because she doesn't DO much.

Let's put people in charge that can do the job (and take over a meeting if needed).

Gussen is capable and whether you agree or disagree with his views, he listens to what you say before telling you why he thinks you're wrong.

Anonymous said...

Right!
Thumbs up for Gussen!!!!

Anonymous said...
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Jeff O said...

Anony-

Sorry, I was busy today and while I think I did a "damage" check earlier in the morning, it must have beeen before your question. (All I saw were the infantile obscenities.)

I am willing to concede a bit of an oversimplification, particularly as it relates to Mr. Feit. If it would make my post any more palatable to you, I'm happy to rephrase to say "a council majority was not gained" (by those who would make one of the "hometown gals" mayor).

That said, I do think you're being a bit intentionally myopic. Mr. Hammeduddin ran on a slate that received significant support from the county machine, was nicknamed the Katz slate and was certainly supported by Mr. Gussen. To his credit, Mr. Feit was more circumspect, but I wouldn't take any odds that he voted for any of the "hometown gals," or the two candidates I voted for, who came in 7th and 8th.

That doesn't mean "the four "hometown guys" will all vote in lockstep, and I have hopes and well wishes for all of them in the new council. But I do think there is still something of a 4-3 fault line. Hopefully everyone will keep it in check and avoid the quakes.

Anonymous said...

I've read many posts over the last year that indicate that the position of "mayor" is merely a title, without any additional power than any other councilman. Other than leading the council meetings, are there any perks to being the mayor?

Anonymous said...

The mayor chairs the council meetings, sits on the planning board, sits on or appoints an alternate member to the library board, performs weddings, speaks on behalf of the township to the press and signs documents for the township. The mayor's formal actions, including the execution of contracts and signing of ordinances requires a prior majority vote of council; either four or five votes, depending upon whether or not bonding is required. The mayor's salary is the same as the other sitting council members.

Anonymous said...

Rumor has it that the mayors make good money each time they officiate at a wedding. Fact or fiction...is this a reason they want the post???

Anonymous said...

I know for a fact that both Paul Ostrow and Jackie Kates gave most of their honorarium dollars for weddings to various local charities including our library, Holy Name, TVAC and numerous other good causes. That was even mentioned in the Teaneck Manager's guides during the 90's and through 2004. Paul and Jackie were two class act mayors with brains, sensitivity, much community experience & no personal agendas.
(My husband and I feel that Paul's knowledge and sense of humor was the best) There is now a new law that requires certain fees for weddings performed by the mayor. He or she can still donate part or all of that money; does Mr. Katz?

Anonymous said...

Its extremely noble and respectable for past mayors to donate income from weddings to charity, and I would encourage Mr. Katz to do the same.

However, that's his choice. These weddings require his time - time that could be spent on his business or with his family. So if he, or any other mayor past, present, or future decided to pocket the fees I would have no problem with that.

Anonymous said...

How much do the mayors charge for weddings?

Anonymous said...

I thought Mayor Katz doesn't do weddings.

Anonymous said...

I thought Mayor Katz doesn't do weddings.

2008anony said...

Jeff

The only think myopic about me is my eyesight. For the last 4 years we have been treated to repeated demonization of the town's "Orthodox majority" on the council (which, I take from Dr. Toffler is an inherently bad thing and which the Jewish Voice did a wonderful job of inflamming). That, of course, becomes somewhat more difficult when your 4th Orthodox Jew is a Muslim.

So now we have to figure out what makes you still treat them as a majority. So Hammeduddin enters the majority by virtue of his backing by the County machine. Great. But wait a minute, I know of no evidence of the machine's support of Feit in the last election. So once again, I (you) am having trouble coming up with a 4 person majority.

No Jeff, we are looking at a Council which is 3-3-1 (Feit as 1) or, hopefully, 3-2-2 (Feit and Parker as truely independent members). I say 3-2-2 hopefully, because I believe that Parker and Feit are the only non-tainted or the least tainted members of the council. As members of 2 different communities, their "swing block" would be much better than a single swing vote

I know Feit a bit and from what I have heard about Parker, I believe that they can lead the bridge building that is required to move Teaneck forward. Given the Council composition, their approval would be their swing vote in any action proposed by either of the "factions" which would serve to moderate them. Better yet, they would be in a unique position to launch their own coordinated initiatives for the good of Teaneck.

Anonymous said...

Toffler is the chief inflammator against the Orthodox!

Feit is her chief opponent and took her down last year when she perpetrated her attack on the Orthodox via the NY Times.

Feit knows that he must do the right things for all of Teaneck.

Mayor Katz sits in the center and is the only one who can lead the extrication of Teaneck from the mess Cramer(s)/Toffler/Homis et al have perpetrated against the township.

TeaneckDemocrat said...

Ms. Parker ran on the Teaneck New Beginnings slate and she, herself credits Senator Weinberg as her mentor. She is not an independent voice.

Anonymous said...

Teaneck needs Katz to remain as mayor. Gussen or Feit for deputy mayor.

Anonymous said...

Charles Stile writes in the Record Sunday:

How quickly they forget

Sen. Loretta Weinberg's mild scolding of Gov. Jon S. Corzine for backing Ferriero's reelection bid for BCDO chairman was an exercise in historical irony.

"I don't think it was necessary for the governor of the State of New Jersey to get involved in a party leader race," Weinberg said at Hackensack Middle School on June 10, shortly before the voting concluded.

Weinberg, however, had no complaints in 2005 when gubernatorial candidate Corzine backed her in the bruising battle for the vacant 37th District Senate seat against Ferriero's ally, former Assemblyman and Hackensack Police Chief Charles "Ken" Zisa. And it was Corzine who helped negotiate a truce last year that averted the threat of a costly Zisa-Weinberg primary showdown in the 37th District.

One Democratic Party official — who declined to be identified, noting that there is nothing to gain from publicly commenting on parochial Bergen County political spat — observed: "If it wasn't for Jon Corzine, Ken Zisa would be the senator from the 37th District."

E-mail: stile@northjersey.com

Jeff O said...

You're a hard man to please, anony. I said up front, in the course of endorsing Feit for mayor (who looks like he's your man too), that he "has been the most independent and conciliatory" of the four "Teaneck guys" -- not Orthodox, not 3 Orthodox and a Muslim. I also said in my answer to you that I am willing to concede an oversimplification in my use of the word "majority," "particularly as it relates to Mr. Feit."

If you prefer to think of the council as 3-3-1 or 3-2-2 (so we agree on Parker too) -- that's fine with me. As I said, Mr. Feit has shown his independence, particularly on rent stabilization. But while I never used the phrase "voting in lockstep" (an inevitable oversimplification given how many routine 7-0 votes there are), some 4-3 votes are more important, and arguably more defining than others.

Two come to my mind: The council's refusal to accept the Advisory Board on Community Relations' advice that it go on record against the dirty anonymous mailings of the 2006 election; and the council's refusal -- by four abstentions led off by Mr. Feit -- to reappoint a trustee to the Historic New Bridge Landing Commission.

Be that as it may, those incidents do not establish a pattern and I will stand corrected on my oversimplification regarding Mr. Feit's relationship to alleged council "majorities" in both our current and our soon-to-reorganize council. But please do not even obliquely associate me with the "demonization of the town's 'Orthodox majority.'" I have not been part of that and my criticisms right or wrong have not been based on religion.

Anonymous said...

Not all the anons are the same writer.

Anonymous said...

From Teaneck web site~ The Mayor presides at all Council meetings and has a voice and vote in its proceedings. The Mayor appoints the members of and fills vacancies in the Library Board and appoints the Class II member of the Planning Board and sits as the Class I member of the Planning Board. The term of the Mayor is for two years and expires upon the election of a successor at the next organizational meeting of the Council.

Anonymous said...

FROM MONDAY'S Record
-----------------------------

Teaneck celebrates day of diversity Sunday, June 22, 2008 BY HUGH R. MORLEYStaff Writer

Michele Branch-Jones, after a moment of thought, had few doubts about the need for Teaneck’s first Unity Day.

“I think we are a little divided,” said Branch-Jones, 39, an African-American who brought her son, Jeffrey, 9, to the eight-hour unity festival Sunday at Milton Votee Park Sunday.

She cited the tendency of African-Americans and Latinos to socialize separately at the township high school as one example of the community’s need for greater ethnic understanding.

Yet there was little sign of anything but harmony — and a lot of rain — as Teaneck mounted the sweeping celebration of cultural diversity, which came just weeks after a heated municipal election seemed to aggravate political and cultural divisions.

Organizers said more than 1,000 people had come to the festival by about 3 p.m., drawn by a varied agenda of dance groups, local bands, inflatable children’s attractions and more than 60 stalls.

Churches, non-profit groups, government agencies and other religious, political and social organizations staffed those stalls as residents from diverse backgrounds milled around the attractions, savoring an idea here and a piece of culture there.

More attendees were expected. But a torrential rain storm mid-afternoon likely scared off some visitors, said Councilman-elect Mohammed Hameeduddin, an event organizer.

Still, many attendees were unfazed by the weather – most attractions were moved into the nearby Richard Rodda Center – and instead relished the mix of cultures on offer.

“It’s good for us to get to know each other,” said Ahmad Nassri, a limousine driver, as he waited for his 7-year-old daughter, Zara, to jump inside an inflatable princess’ castle. “To see each other’s culture.”

Nassri, an Afghan and a Muslim, said the mutual understanding that came out of the event could help overcome the kind of misperceptions that have branded Muslims as violent since 9-11.

The festival grew out of two similar events organized by the Muslim Eid Committee of Bergen County to promote unity last year.

Mayor Elie Katz said the township backed the idea after the Eid Committee sought municipal support, with the council suggesting the event be broadened to include the entire spectrum of Teaneck’s rich array of ethnicities and culture.

The U.S. Census reports that about one quarter of the township’s 39,000 residents were born abroad, with the bulk coming from Asia and Latin America, and slightly more speak a language other than English at home.

African-Americans and Hispanics account for about 12 percent of the population, and the township is home to mosques, churches, synagogues and a Buddhist temple.

The township’s aim to encourage the community to embrace and understand its differences took on new meaning after the contentious municipal elections in May prompted complaints of political intimidation, negative advertising and identity politics.

Tzvi Solomon CQ , 17, a member of Teaneck Youth Advisory Board, said he believed the fractious atmosphere of the election had reached quite deep into the community.

He said he also hoped the event could break a “rumor” around the township that its youth are not unified due to different religious backgrounds or because some go to private schools instead of attending the public school system.

“The reason why I am here today is to show that the youth in Teaneck, no matter what religion or race, are together,” said Solomon, who is Jewish.

Dr. Sapphire Ahmed said she came in the hope of persuading her elected officials to do something to integrate another ethnic group – displaced New Yorkers.

“We have an influx of people from New York City,” said Sapphire, wearing an orange and red traditional Asian style smock. “And with them comes a lot of horn blowing, loud music playing, a lot of screaming.”

Sapphire said she hopes the town will help to convince the newcomers to think more of their fellow residents, adding, “There needs to be more unity.”

E-mail: morley@northjersey.com
Michele Branch-Jones, after a moment of thought, had few doubts about the need for Teaneck’s first Unity Day.

“I think we are a little divided,” said Branch-Jones, 39, an African-American who brought her son, Jeffrey, 9, to the eight-hour unity festival Sunday at Milton Votee Park Sunday.

She cited the tendency of African-Americans and Latinos to socialize separately at the township high school as one example of the community’s need for greater ethnic understanding.

Yet there was little sign of anything but harmony — and a lot of rain — as Teaneck mounted the sweeping celebration of cultural diversity, which came just weeks after a heated municipal election seemed to aggravate political and cultural divisions.

Organizers said more than 1,000 people had come to the festival by about 3 p.m., drawn by a varied agenda of dance groups, local bands, inflatable children’s attractions and more than 60 stalls.

Churches, non-profit groups, government agencies and other religious, political and social organizations staffed those stalls as residents from diverse backgrounds milled around the attractions, savoring an idea here and a piece of culture there.

More attendees were expected. But a torrential rain storm mid-afternoon likely scared off some visitors, said Councilman-elect Mohammed Hameeduddin, an event organizer.

Still, many attendees were unfazed by the weather – most attractions were moved into the nearby Richard Rodda Center – and instead relished the mix of cultures on offer.

“It’s good for us to get to know each other,” said Ahmad Nassri, a limousine driver, as he waited for his 7-year-old daughter, Zara, to jump inside an inflatable princess’ castle. “To see each other’s culture.”

Nassri, an Afghan and a Muslim, said the mutual understanding that came out of the event could help overcome the kind of misperceptions that have branded Muslims as violent since 9-11.

The festival grew out of two similar events organized by the Muslim Eid Committee of Bergen County to promote unity last year.

Mayor Elie Katz said the township backed the idea after the Eid Committee sought municipal support, with the council suggesting the event be broadened to include the entire spectrum of Teaneck’s rich array of ethnicities and culture.

The U.S. Census reports that about one quarter of the township’s 39,000 residents were born abroad, with the bulk coming from Asia and Latin America, and slightly more speak a language other than English at home.

African-Americans and Hispanics account for about 12 percent of the population, and the township is home to mosques, churches, synagogues and a Buddhist temple.

The township’s aim to encourage the community to embrace and understand its differences took on new meaning after the contentious municipal elections in May prompted complaints of political intimidation, negative advertising and identity politics.

Tzvi Solomon CQ , 17, a member of Teaneck Youth Advisory Board, said he believed the fractious atmosphere of the election had reached quite deep into the community.

He said he also hoped the event could break a “rumor” around the township that its youth are not unified due to different religious backgrounds or because some go to private schools instead of attending the public school system.

“The reason why I am here today is to show that the youth in Teaneck, no matter what religion or race, are together,” said Solomon, who is Jewish.

Dr. Sapphire Ahmed said she came in the hope of persuading her elected officials to do something to integrate another ethnic group – displaced New Yorkers.

“We have an influx of people from New York City,” said Sapphire, wearing an orange and red traditional Asian style smock. “And with them comes a lot of horn blowing, loud music playing, a lot of screaming.”

Sapphire said she hopes the town will help to convince the newcomers to think more of their fellow residents, adding, “There needs to be more unity.”

E-mail: morley@northjersey.com

Anonymous said...

Tzvi Solomon for Town Council!!!!

Anonymous said...

So Esther---Where are the apologies from Toffler and Honis?

esther said...

When did I become Honis and Toffler's press agent?

Dave said...

Funny how "Unity Day" was all about divisiveness. Instead of finding things that unified us, we got each individual group showing their own culture, food, etc. That's not unity!
Unity would be one big happy place where everybody can enjoy everything. But a Christian revival, ethnic food, Islamic culture? These do not unify us, they divide us. My advice? Everybody stick to your own ethnic enclave. It's better that way. I don't want my grandkids socializing with the gang members, anyways.

Anonymous said...

shut up karin and stop impersonating a jew

Anonymous said...

Maybe their apology was a bit more subtle. I saw both of their names listed as volunteers in the Unity Day booklet. Maybe their involvement in yesterday's party is the start of everyone working together.
Either way, my family had a great time yesterday. Not even inclement weather could spoil such a project.

2008anony said...

Jeff

A couple of things -

(1) Feit is not "my man" for Mayor. I could make different, but good arguments for either Parker or Feit. In my view the balance of the Council is either too inexperienced, tainted or both to serve as Mayor.

(2) Correction, demonization of the Orthodox majority has only gone on for 2 years, not 4 as I have written. Although it seems like a lifetime of bickering ago, the current council alignment has only been in place for 2 years - with Rudolph completing the final 2 years of a 4 year term.

(3) Did not suggest that you have demonized the outgoing Orthodox majority. To the contrary, I was puzzled as to where you were finding a majority in the current Council. I think we can now both agree that if a couple of Council members maintain their independence, there is a window here to effect change.

Dave said...

You all sound like a bunch of Barack Obama wannabes.
We want to "effect change!"
Change what?
Change for the sake of change?

2008anony said...

No Dave, change for the sake of solving real problems. Change in the form of a plan for combining measured development with strict spending controls by the town Council and BoE to at least measurably slow the increase in our taxes. Change, in the form of budget prioritization of spending that acknowledges that we can't afford to do everything any more (btw, once the impact of energy prices fully impacts the budget, there will be few in town who won't draw that conclusion). Otherwise, our town motto will be "Teaneck, if you have to ask you can't afford it."

Change, in the form of a development plan that enhances the appearance of Teaneck Road and surrounding neighborhoods in the North East of town, while being acceptable to most of its residents. Change, in the form of "pay to play" legislation that removes some of the taint from town government.

The list of need is long. Won't comment on Sen Obama's calls for change - we can have a long discussion on that on another blog. However, insanity is doing tomorrow what you did yesterday and expecting a different result. So, yes Dave, change needs to be on the agenda.