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letters to the editor

Open politics, Moldow is needed --Pascack Press

October 8,2012

To The Editor:

Over the past several weeks, even months, I have read letter after letter demonizing Hillsdale Mayor Max Arnowitz for his so-called "lack of transparency". People were taken aback but his behavior at recent meetings and, predictably, accused him of violating OPRA laws. They said the mayor was disrespectful just because he didn't address a citizen properly and even accused him of intimidation. Something I know is a result of constant badgering over unreasonable requests and threats of frivolous lawsuits if those requests weren;t made in a timely matter. Once again government is accused of a massive cover up because a few citizens aren't happy with the the responses to their requests.

As soon as I read Jim Moldow's reaction to Mayor Arnowitz's Sept.20th letter I knew Jim is the right person for the Hillsdale Council. Jim advocates open government without crying wolf when something isn't explained immediately. I respect a man who knows government is by the people for the people. Meaning people involved in government too and not every questionable action is deliberate or is intended to hide something from borough residents.

Mr. Moldow does what government officials should have done a long time ago. He takes the time to explain the O.P.R.A process in a manner everyone can understand. Having gone through the process himself, Mr Moldow understands the difference between political stonewalling and governmental red tape. He understands these requests for materials take time to put together. If the requests were handled too quickly information would be either inaccurate or missing all together

By providing his own personal example Mr. Moldow demonstrates both the desire for a more open government while recognizing that some use the mechanisms of open government to drive their personal political agendas. He hits the nail on the head when he explains the value of O.P.R.A

I hope the people of Hillsdale listen to Jim Moldow. In a time when partisan sniping is on full display, it's a breath of fresh air to hear an independent voice.

Justin Mattes
Woodcliff Lake

"Life is a Highway" caption cited wrong writers--Pascack Press

July 4,2011

To the Editor:

I saw the picture of the Pascack Valley Chior singing with the caption "Members of the Senior Chior perform 'Life is a Highway' by Rascal Flatts". It's true the song was covered by the hit band in 2006 for the Disney animated movie Cars. However it should be noted the tune was written and first sung by Tom Cochrane in 1992, some fourteen years before the cover! While both renditions are great recordings of the popular tune, I feel the person who composed and originally sang the song needs to be recognized as well.
Justin Mattes
Woodcliff Lake

Oppposing views don't mean libel--Pascack Press

October 25,2010

To the Editor:

It amazes me that on the one hand there are people in Wooodcliff Lake who think the makeup of the council needs to change drastically this November, yet they are playing the exact games that need to be stopped

In a recent letter Jeffrey R. Goldsmith said that we should bring back dignity in Woodcliff Lake; I couldn't agree more.

However, in the same letter he attacks a citizen of this town for raising an important issue. How can anyone read Goldsmith's letter and view it anything more than a political swipe at the people who do not share his vision for Woodcliff Lake? Is this the dignity Mr. Goldsmith was referreing to in his letter to the editor>

All Gerilyn Bader did was shine a light on a citizen who has consistently pounded at the Republican members of the Woodcliff Lake Council. Although most people in town tend to ignore the comments, something has to be said when such comment are only aimed at one party or one peson. Take the back and forth over council e-mails, for example.

If this person were so concerned about the missing e-mails, why didn't he endorse my suggestion that the entire borough e-mail system be investigated?

The same could be said for the use of the town's tax I.D., number. This pero was livid to find out Joanne Howley saved mere cents when she bought a few items for herself, which she paid for, but failed to suggest the borough's purchasing practices be reviewed and changed.

It bothers me that people who claim they're shedding light on the dark side of government in Woodcliff Lakesaay they are under attack when someone speaks up. Whenever an opposing view is presented they resort to false claims of libel and threats of lawsuits. It makes their a rguments weaker if they feel the need to squelch a desenting point of view on a particular matter.

Justin Mattes
Woodcliff Lake

Howley case becoming a witch hunt--Pascack Press

June 21, 2010
To the editor:

A recent letter was written urging fellow residents to come to Joanne Howley's defesne. It occured to me that I have written three letters in the past few months defending her. In return I have been accused of defamation, recieved threatening phone calls and have been told I do not understand this issue. Maybe this is why more people won't publicly defend Joanne Howley. They don't want to be subject to these kinds of attacks from people aren't going to be happy until Joanne Howley is destroyed.

One ofthe I have noticed over the past months is letters attacking Howley are coming from mainly two people; a thrid person wrote a letter a few months back calling for Howley's resignation. However when I go around town asking people how they feel about this matter they roll their eyes. They roll their eyes because they know the real Joanne Howley who has volunteereed for this town for more than 30 years. People realize she made a mistake and it wasn't enough she was investigated,m it had to become another football in the game of politics.

What started out as a call for more open government has turned into a witch hunt that hasn't been seen since the late 17th century. If there is so much concern about open government policies in Woodcliff Lake, why hasn't the borough e-mail system been investigated? If the goal in Woodcliff Lakes is to provide a clear picture of the operations of the borough, why the focus only on Howley? It's a disturbing trend that Howley has faced the music alone when all councilpeople and borough employeeshaven't faced thew same scrutiny when they continue to use the borough's flawed e-mailed system.

I agree that any e-mails regarding mayor and council meetings be properly archived for future reference. However, the State Record Retention Policy specifically states governing body and paid municipal workers, such as the Borough Treasurer, Tax Assessor, Borough Attorney and other officialsare requiired to save thier e-mails. Meanwhile the Shade Tree, Parks and Recreation, Old Mill and other volunteer town orginizations do not fall under the State Records Retention Policy.

I have served as Woodcliff Lake OEM's Radio Officer for 10 years and during that time I have received e-mail in my personal e-mail account. The e-mails basically consist ofe-mails reminders and an occasional article regarding emergency manangemenr. There aren'tany big secrets discussed nor were any major town issues decided. The Old Mill,Shade Tree Commission, athletic associations none are issued borough e-mail addresses which are subject to the State Recordsd Retention Policy.

People who cross the line between holding elected officials accountable and personal attacks need to take responsibility for theiir actions. We need to realize there are indeed two sides toevery story and beware when state laws are quoted

Justin Mattes
Woodcliff Lake

Borough's e-mail system is flawed

January 26,2010

To the Editor:

In the midst of the ongoin saga of Councilwoman Howley's recent troubles, another important isse has surfaced. The improper setup of the borough's e-mail system. Even thoughthere's little proof, I am shocked at the slightest inkling that the e-mail council members recieve is forwarded to their personal accounts. This policy is unacceptable and needs to be corrected immediately.

Most commercial, governmental and even nonprofit organizition have strict policied to prevent employees or colunteers from utilizing official e-mail accounts pro vided to them for personal use. Likewise it is a major problem if it is discovered that a personal e-mail is used to conduct official business. All e-mails regarding borough issues should be properly archived for future reference. If someone disobeys these guidelines, they should be reprimanded, or in extreme cases of neglect, they should be terminated from their position

Instead of pointing fingers and accusin town officials of wrongdoing, I have a solution. Most e-mail programs, such as Mozilla's Thunderbird can be easily setup to leave all e-mails on th webserver, even when downlaoding them for view on someone's computer.

When the mailboxes are full, the e-mails can be dowloaded and archived on a borough comptuer of future refderence.

Likewise I suggest thye e-mails not be forwarded to a council member's personal e-mail, but rather asystem could be setup where the councilperson could use the borough website as an e-mail portal, so they can still check their e-mail from any computer the Internet. Other municipalities and businessess find these systems easy to use and it eliminates the problem of using borough e-mail for personal use and vice versa.

While I agree the e-mail system is extremely flawed and needs to be fixed, I do not believe it is the result of any willful wrong doing by any elected official or borough employee. Instead it is a problem that needs to be addressed immediately. It troubles me that Councilwoman Howley's recent ethics investigation was used as a springboard to highlight this important problem that involves all elected officials and hired employees.,

If any resignation should be demanded regarding these e-mails, it should be the person who maintains the borough's e-mail system. They are ultimately responsible for how the system operastes, not the users. The public confidence isn't only shaken with Howley's actions; there is plenty of blame to go around

Justin Mattes
Woodcliff Lake

Howley has done much for the community--Pascack Press

December 31,2009
To the editor:

It concerns me deeply that a citizen of our town can be as vicious as Mr. O'Brien was when writing about the ethics investigation of Mrs. Howley. He accused her of downright stealing from the borough which is untrue and unfair because Howley did in fact pay for the items in question, so the borough didn't give her "something for nothing."

She did the honorable thing by inquiring on how she could pay the back taxes, which to me seems to amount to pennies on the dollar. Is this what politics in Woodcliff Lake has come to?

Howley said she may have saved $5 or $8 over the course of five years by using the borough's discount card. Let's be clear taxes on these items go to the State of New Jersey, not the Borough of Woodcliff Lake.

I don't see the tax collectors knocking on Mrs. Howley's door over something so minor. She openly admitted she used a lack of judgment, something we all do from time-to-time and came clean about it. Mrs. Howley paid more than the back taxes.

Mrs. Howley did in fact breach ethics laws, but instead of making excuses she admitted her mistake and did everything in her power to fix them. She did this only after an extensive review of her actions. Not because she was avoiding the issue, but she wanted to make sure all of the facts were on the table before she commented. With all the talk about government responding hastily and without all the facts, I would think Mr. O'Brien would at least acknowledge Mrs. Howley's thoroughness on this issue.

O' Brien asks, "Where are the financial checks and balances?" I ask where is the call for the CFO's resignation? It was his responsibility to review the purchases, point out Mrs. Howley's errors and give her a chance to correct them.

I have known Mrs. Howley all my life. She has been an asset to Woodcliff Lake numerous volunteering ventures to her kindness to citizens. She has done so much for this community for so long I find it very difficult to believe she is capable of doing this on purpose.

Justin Mattes
Woodcliff Lake

Letters the the Editor-- Bergen Record (Northjersey.com)

April 29,2008

I am shocked and outraged that the peopl who so passinately demonstrate against our troop presence in Iraq have taken to the streets again to demand President Bush send our armed forces into Darfur -- without UN approval I might add. Aren't these the same people who insisted the United Nations was capable of controlling Saddam Hussein when Bush correctly said the former Iraqi dictator was a threat tha needed to be dealt with by more than useless U.N. resolutions?

The protesters say our president is standing by idly while millions are suffering a genocide similar to the Holocaust. They say Bush should take the lead and stop the abuses in Africa. They they expect the United States to come to the rescue, and chastise us when we don't respond fast enough.

Other countries call our diplomacy arrogant and reckless, excpet when they need our help. The genocide in Darfur could have been avoided if the other majorworld governments showed a little backbone. The blood is on their hands.


Whatever happended to the United Nations? I agree that the United States has had numerous foreign policy miscalculations.But the U.N.'s inactions in Darfur simply do not add up. Maybe it's timeto stop callinng our country's the world's bully and start appreciating the good deed the United States does on a daily basis.

Justin Mattes
Woodcliff Lake

In response to candidate's letter--Pascack Press

April 16,2007
To the editor:

After reading Alfred Murphy's letter published in the April 2 edition of the Pascack Press I feel I must correct his math. He says four respective local school budgets are increasing their combined taxes 5 percent while the regional high school taxes are raisin 14.3 percent.

Mr. Murphy' fails to explain the 14.3 percent is divided among the four towns which roughly equals a 3.5% increase per town. He also combines two fiscal, 2006/2007 and 2007/2008 while one using one years' increase on the local budget.

Maybe I'm wrong but his lack of explanation leads me to believ he is trying to convince the towns they will pay an additional 35% each.

His letter then continues by saying the board wants to make improvements to both high schools, but accuses th em of hiding the costs

From past meetings I know the board hasproposed suggestions and hastabled them for later discussions. They have alwyas welcomed comments from the audience and I have gotten answers to any questions I have regarding thebudget or oth=er issues just by going to the Pascack Valley Regional High School District's website and downloaded the minutes for the meetings. I have never felt the board was hiding anything or slipping increases in the budget without an explanation.

At the end of his letter, Mr. Murphy says, and I quote, "With approximately 10 people rasing questions and talking back and forth with the board, the meeting did not end until almost 10 o'clock....." How can he accuse the board of being secretive in one sentence and then complain too many people were raising questions a few lines later?

Murphy says the board gets an "F" for establishing effective communication. However, if you read his letter carefully, you will find a contradiction, He complained the meeting ran so late he missed another meeting in Hillsdale. It seems to me he felt compelled to stay at the meeting, although it escapes me why he would want to stay at a meeting where in his opinion he wouldn't get his questions answered. His opening statement leads me to believe the Hillsdale and the Pascack Valley Regional Schools Boards "conspired" to hold their meetings at the same time so members of the community would have to choose between the two.

I understand he has concerns with the school budget and applaud him for voicing his opinions on these matters. He brings a unique perspective to these issues and constructive criticism is crucial. However, accuing the sitting members of the school board of doing things in secret is not the way to win votes.

Justin Mattes
Woodcliff Lake

Letters the the Editor-- Bergen Record (Northjersey.com)

November 24, 2004

After reading William R. Brody's column regarding medical malpratice I think the public should know the real story from a victim, a prespective that is rarely considered and often misrepresented.

For the past 26 years I have lived with Cerebral Palsy because my mother's obstetrician knew I was a breech delivery and didn't perform a caesarian section, which then, as today was the proper medical protocol. Instead, he allowed labor to progress and I was born feet first, causing the umbilical cord to compressed against my mother's cervix, thereby restricting oxygen and blood to my brain.

A mistake that happened in seconds resulted in me living with a lifelong disability that has caused both physical and emotional damage only someone in a similar situation can fully comprehend.

Most folks with Cerebral Palsy don't have the mental capacity to understand why they are suffering; the only thing they know is the pain they face on a daily basis.

I was born in 1978 and filed a suit almost 19 years later, just before the statue of limitations expired. The doctor settled the suit for around $500,000, the average cost of a home in Bergen County. Would Mr. Brody call this "jackpot justice"?

Bad doctors are the real cause of the premium hikes, not lawsuits. The medical profession as a whole has totally ignored this side of the issue. Perhaps less time should be focused on trying to squelch victims' rights and more time trying to promote safer medical care.

Justin Mattes
Woodcliff Lake

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