Tag Archives: McQuade

Millville’s New City Commission

Counter to many things in my life, I welcome change in government. This evening a new City Commission was seated in the Holly City, including the first female mayor for this town. Tradition has it that the highest vote getter is decided to be mayor, although there is no rule governing that. Congratulations to the commissioners!

  • Lisa M. Orndorf, Mayor: Director of Public Affairs
  • Joseph Sooy, Vice Mayor: Director of Revenue & Finance
  • Benjamin J. Romanik: Director of Parks & Public Property
  • Charles Kirk Hewitt: Director of Public Safety
  • Robert McQuade: Director of Public Works

McQuade was not initially elected to the Commission. Longtime commisioner/recent freeholder Jim Quinn was. He actually placed fourth in the voting. Quinn decided not to sit on this commissionn (receiving anf filing Quinn’s letter was the first action this Commission took.). Speculation is that since he was alone on the other side, he bowed out. Some might categorize that as quitting. Whatever it is deemed, I am just fine with Quinn on the sidelines. There are no Democrat shills on this commission. I think that is an improvement for the city.

Orndorf presents herself well. She has no political experience, but from what little I gleaned from the meeting, it seems like she has connections. She invoked her faith several times. I’d rather one not lead with that, but I’ll give her a pass at the outset.

Sooy served previously. He was the two-punch to Lynne Porecca Compari’s one-punch. Tied at the hip, they were both voted out in favor of Cooper and Pepitone. That was a mistake for the city’s residents. Sooy is back and will be the vice mayor. It’ll be interesting to see how he operates here. I suspect he will attempt to play operator with how the Commission procedes. Is he up for the task?

Ben Romanik is young and inexperienced. We’ll see what he does.

Kirk Hewitt has been around this town for a while. It seems I met him and he tried to recruit me into the Republican Party some time ago. Yeah, I am not your guy. I am not sure of his talents. Time will tell.

With Quinn not taking hs seat, there is an opening. The Commission probably did the best thing it could do: it reached out to the sixth placed candidate. That is McQuade. McQuade has wanted to be on the Commission for years. Consider me unimpressed. He has spent the last nine years on the Millville Board of Education. Like Cooper, he ran for City Commission while serving on the School Board. Now that he takes the commissioner’s seat, the school board is left with a vacancy. I don’t think that puts one in the best light. His seat is only until November when there will be an election for the remaining two years. This gambit could shuffle McQuade out of office in his attempt to “move up the ladder.”

Brock Russell was retained as the attorney for the city. He has served well over the years and does not seem to be connected politically to any one party (perhaps I am wrong about that. I also think he’s a fine attorney as I have been pleased with his representation of me. 🙂

Lynne Porreca Compari’s husband was approved as part-time city administrator. There’s little money in this, but this is where the political favors are handed out. Interestingly, Brendan Kavanagh, a lawyer entrenched in Democrat politics was also retained by this Commission.

An ordinance on first reading was introduced to repeal the former Commission’s ordinance regarding the sewer treatment plant. According to Sooy, that ordinance had a rate hike involved in it for commercial properties. Sooy does not think that is warranted at this time. I’ll take his word on it as I do not know the particulars; in general, government should collect less from taxpayers/service users.

A few of the items detailed that this Commission wants to address:

  • Demolition of old rescue squad
  • Demolition of Wheaton
  • UEZ money is oming, start a new corporation to oversee that money
  • Re-adopt the industrial commission with some structural changes; power to make decisions

Best to this Commission in helping Millville.

McQuade’s Vendetta

Robert McQuade is at it again. The disgruntled security officer (laid off) has formed a group (of three, it appears) that is seeking to recall City Commissioner David Vanaman.

According to Robert McQuade, a former Millville special officer and commission candidate, said that when he ran for commission, City Clerk Lew Thompson (now retired) told McQuade he could not serve as the director of public safety if elected.

“He told me it would be a conflict of interest,” McQuade told the News. “(Vanaman) is the secretary of the fire department. Volunteer or paid, he handles operations of the department.”

McQuade seems to be jaded on this issue. Of course, McQuade doesn’t make the best impression. This is how he tried to get himself elected to Millville’s school board:

That aside, McQuade’s beef with Vanaman is that he serves as the Public Safety Director and is the volunteer secretary for the fire company. The read-between-the-lines issue is that Vanaman makes decisions that favor the fire department over those of the police department.

I don’t see this as a conflict of interest at all and I suspect few others would either. But accepting for argument’s sake that there is a conflict, the thing is, Vanaman did not appoint himself Public Safety Director. He was voted in by a majority of the City Commission. New Jersey 40:72-6 states:

The board of commissioners shall, at the first regular meeting after the election of its members, designate by majority vote one commissioner to be director of the department of public affairs, one commissioner to be director of revenue and finance, one to be director of the department of public safety, one to be director of the department of public works, and one to be director of the department of parks and public property, except that upon the organization of a board of three commissioners, but three departments shall be designated, as hereinbefore in section 40:72-4 of this title provided and but three directors voted therefor. Such designation may be changed whenever it appears that the public service would be benefited thereby.

The mayor may be designated director of such department as a majority of the members of the commission shall determine.

So, who is at fault if Vanaman were to be deemed in conflict? He didn’t get there by himself.

The fun part of all this is that in New Jersey, no reason (valid or otherwise) is needed to recall an elected official. Have at it, Mr. McQuade. It is my understanding that he needs to collect more than 4,000 signatures to get the issue on November’s ballot. Should he succeed, I am sure I will have more to say. 🙂

Millville BOE Commentary

I have lamented in the past how difficult it is to learn about candidates’ positions on issues for local races. Very little is known, not much is reported, etc. Millville First sought to bring the public and the candidates for Millville’s Board of Education together last evening for a forum. Unfortunately for the public, after hearing from the seven candidates, we are not much better off.

The American Legion hall on the bottom floor was the venue for the event. I estimated there were about 40 spectators. Two long tables were placed side-by-side for the candidates. This was along the entrance wall instead of in front of the stage. The event began five-10 minutes late. Robert McQuade and Michael Santiago arrived after that. First impressions, gentlemen . . .

Each candidate was provided up to five minutes for opening remarks. I learned a little about Robert Donato’s background, Ali Edwards works for Sunoco, Santiago’s son plays baseball, etc. Next, Mr. Porreca, the evening’s moderator, began questioning the panel. Questions were submitted by the audience. Porreca lumped some of them together. About 75-80 minutes later, the event was over. Lots of talking had happened, but not much was said.

There are three seats up for vote on the BOE this year. Incumbents Kelli Nedohon, Charles Flickinger, and Robert Donato are seeking re-election. Four challengers, Michael Santiago, Robert McQuade, William Opperman, and Ali Edwards, would like to unseat the incumbents.

Challengers

Robert McQuade
Last week I wrote about Mr. McQuade. I have not been impressed with his candidacy. McQuade did absolutely nothing last evening to bolster that impression.

Is this a man who should be charged with leading the education of the city’s children? I will pass on voting for Mr. McQuade.

Michael Santiago
Santiago is a retired police officer. He seems to be an affable man. Unfortunately, after introducing himself during his opening remarks, he said little. He is not in favor of opening up negotiations, admits knowing nothing about the school budget, and has not attended any BOE meetings. Other than wanting to run, Santiago brings nothing to the plate.

Santiago provided no reason to cast a vote for him.

Ali Edwards
Ms. Edwards is a young lady who moved to town three years ago. She commutes to Philadelphia for her job. She has no children. She did not present herself as being particularly knowledgeable about Millville or education.

She stumbled in telling us why she was running for office. She almost said, “to find something to do.”

She caught herself, but she didn’t present anything that would have a voter decide this is a candidate he should support.

When asked about whether she would consider cutting courtesy busing, she stated that was “insane.” As the one who wrote the question, obviously that was not the kind of answer I was looking for.

It is easy for me to dismiss the above three candidates. None of them gave me any reason to vote for them. If I am not voting for them, then let’s consider someone else.

William Opperman
Mr. Opperman is a candidate I want to vote for. He is concerned about his property taxes. He is willing to not accept the status quo.

Yet, Mr. Opperman appears to be the classic one-trick pony. It’s about taxes and only taxes with him. Safeguarding the public’s money is a big part of why I will vote for a candidate. It is short-sighted, however, to think that is all a school board member is supposed to do. The role is to approve policy. In other words, provide the guidance to the educational ship so that the students have the education they should. Money is a part (a big part), but he should be able to make a decision with educational considerations too. Opperman is not alone in being bereft of that skill.

While I was pleased to hear his passion for not squandering tax dollars, there was a bit of McQuade to him as well. He claimed there were six vice principals in one school. That was countered. He claimed it was on the district’s web site. I looked at the site last evening; I saw no school listing six vice principals. Something that is so easily disproved does not lend credibility to his argument.

Incumbents

Kelli Nedohon
An incumbent for 10 years, Nedohon is the talker of the group. She makes a strong case for the limitations that the BOE has in controlling spending. There is much mandated. The unions are strong. Yet, it seems to me that we elected her to do this job. Telling us how difficult it is and what little can be done does not instill confidence.

Nedohon claimed in answering a question of mine that the negotiated contract precludes Millville Public Schools from lengthening the school day or the academic year. My understanding is that anything between 1 September and 30 June is fair game. Obviously, there has to be some sort of limit or else how would a 24/7 school day be prevented? Perhaps she is correct. I spoke with her after the forum more about this. She said the contract’s language in this area has been in place since before she arrived on the BOE. That’s a decade. A couple years ago, I know Vineland lengthened its school day. I find it difficult to believe Millville cannot. My search of the contract has not found that language yet.

Nedohon is not for transparency. Her actions demonstrate that. She stated negotiations of $100 million of public money should be done behind closed doors. Try finding that negotiated contract on the web site your tax dollars fund and you’ll strike out. Why isn’t that document available? Surely during Nedohon’s decade tenure, contract language hasn’t precluded that.

Nedohon’s responses highlight the theme of the evening: the BOE is handcuffed from doing much of what the public wants it to do (and what the incumbents claim they want to). Yet when presented opportunities to address things that the Board could address such as food service and courtesy busing, incumbents either pass or state they wouldn’t change the way things are.

Charles Flickinger
Of all the candidates, Flickinger impressed me the most this evening. It wasn’t so much for his policy insight; there wasn’t much. It is just that Flickinger sounded more credible than I had ever heard previously. He backed up what he had to say, as little as it was.

Flickinger was nestled between two incumbents who are verbose. To his right was Nedohon, who dominated the evening. On his left was Donato, who when he spoke was lengthy as well. Over the years I have learned that Flickinger is a man of few words. That is not a handicap. But because Porreca did not alter the pattern of who responded, Flickinger always followed the long-winded Nedohon. She covered the topic. a man of few words does not spend his time repeating what others have said. I can respect that.

Flickinger did step out to indicate that he votes against high salaries. He also seems to have a decent command, from the little one can glean through this forum, of the educational structure.

Robert Donato
The BOE’s financial guru is accountant Robert Donato. As the money man, he was able to speak a bit more matter-of-factly than the other six. He has a calm demeanor, which suits him well. Unfortunately, Donato presents himself as the one in power, rather than part of a team.

When discussing the budget, Donato talked about how despite raising taxes the last two years, he wouldn’t go for it this year.

It is true that the public’s opinion means nothing in New Jersey when it comes to school board elections. For those who don’t know, should Millville’s school budget be voted down, it does not mean it would be defeated. The budget would then be sent to the City Commission. Is there anyone here who thinks the Commission would not support the budget “for the children”?

Voters do not matter. But Donato shouldn’t be so cavalier with that. We may not matter, but he is not the kingmaker either. That arrogance was displayed whenever he spoke. He was quite dismissive of entertaining cutting courtesy busing claiming safety. As the financial man, he neglected to discuss how many millions of dollars would be saved with eliminating it. He flat out dodged the food service question.

Donato has an arrogance about himself. He stated he wished he was paid to serve on the Board of Education. He claimed multiple times that he remains confidential about negotiations and then hammered the teachers for not being, even yelling at one point.

He seems capable, but it is unclear to me what he has done.

I have stated previously that incumbents have an advantage in a setting such as the one last evening. Incumbents have done something. Incumbents have seen the budget. They have been in the schools, attended the meetings, been briefed on the issues, etc. Joe Public who wants to be part of the scene isn’t privy to all that. Incumbents look better. Last evening was no different in that regard. Yet, the incumbents did not overwhelm. All three have been part of the Board for nine years or more (Donato’s time has been fractured). If the public is displeased with the BOE, then the incumbents up for re-election are definitely the target. If one is pleased with the job the school board has accomplished, reward these three as they are responsible.

Me? I am unimpressed or lukewarm with all seven candidates.

Millville BOE Candidates Forum

Last evening Millville First held a candidates forum for those running for Millville’s Board of Education. Events like this help the community.

There are 29 videos here from the event. This is the entire evening broken up into opening remarks and individual questions. Click the arrow to play. If you want to scroll to a particular question, use the the arrows on either side of the video frame.

On Robert McQuade

10-04-07 On Robert McQuade

Robert McQuade is running for Millville’s Board of Education. Currently, he is not an elected official. Obviously, McQuade wishes that were not true.

Prior to writing this piece, I searched eCache for McQuade. There have been three posts over the last seven years about Mr. McQuade.

In 2005, I wrote about McQuade’s pursuit of a seat on Millville’s City Commission. I lamented that I knew nothing about him, his candidacy, or what he would do if elected.

In 2007, Matt Dunn shared an e-mail he had received from McQuade about his candidacy for Cumberland County freeholder. It detailed spelling errors the candidate had distributed.

In 2009, I wrote about McQuade’s new pursuit of a seat on Millville’s Board of Education.

McQuade made it clear that he wants Parent’s empty seat. He praised the current commissioners over and over. He spoke about living downtown and not liking the crime. No one likes the crime in town. Other than that, he seemed not to have a handle on things. He said, “I understand we have a noise problem, but it is an asset.”

Now in 2010, McQuade is once again running for public office; this time for the Board of Education in Millville.

Today McQuade appealed to the public in a letter published in The Daily Journal. It is apparent that Mr. McQuade is a novice when it comes to education. Being a novice and a challenger are fine traits in my book. Unfortunately for McQuade, however, his inexperience is reckless.

After admitting that he was a special education student, McQuade writes:

A good education is needed to steer our children from mischief, which leads to bigger crimes, and crime alone costs the taxpayers thousands of dollars a year. As noted in the March 2 issue of The News of Cumberland County, Warden Bob Balicki said the county jail has inmates waiting four, five and six years for trial. These individuals did not start out life with this life goal in mind. It is stimulation and basic education at an early age that starts children on the right path. We can’t accomplish this without the money needed for quality teachers and programs.

Notice what McQuade is running on; spending money. He’s honest, but he’s wrong. The governor just cut Millville’s school budget by $4.5 million. Yet, McQuade speaks about spending money. If it isn’t coming from the state, then it must mean that it will come from local property owners. That’s you and me, dear reader. McQuade wants to raise your taxes all in the name of the children.

McQuade does not run from this. He follows it up with exactly what he would do:

When the governor cuts funds from education, it transfers the burden from the state to the local municipal budget, which causes property taxes to go up in the near future, due to the need of local governments to shoulder the burden of educating their youth.

Of course, what McQuade misses is that this isn’t the only option. Indeed, the governor can cut education funds and the municipalities cut spending. McQuade does not consider the local taxpayer voter; he is hellbent on adding to the pot of money he wants to control.

McQuade makes some other outrageous claims.

We should also be teaching them how to manage their money, pay their bills and rent, and generally stay out of crushing debt.

Is this the role you envision for government education that you fund? Just asking . . .

Our schools can purchase their books on CD-ROM, and teachers can print out chapters at a time for the students to read and study, just as they did in the earlier years with ditto sheets.

Two weeks ago I submitted that school districts could save beaucoup money by eliminating all photocopiers. Yet here is McQuade, who is yearning to get into elected office, offering that schools increase expenses. There is no report that will substantiate the supposed claim that printing one’s own books will be less expensive than purchasing books outright.

McQuade has run for public office at least four different times. It appears that he cares little what office he gets, as long as he gets one. His positions are ill-informed and vapid.

I will not be voting for Robert McQuade for anything.

Millville City Commission Candidates Forum

09-04-30 Millville City Commission Candidates Forum

Last evening I attended the Candidates Forum hosted by the Millville Chamber of Commerce. There are 15 candidates vying for the five Commission seats.

The current commissioners are Mayor Quinn, Tim Shannon, Joe Derella, Dave Vanaman, and Jim Parent. Parent is not seeking re-election. Quinn, Derella, and Shannon have been staples on the commission for the last 12 years (Has Shannon been on that long? He may have a term less.). They take great pride in the rejuvenation of High Street, the motorsports park, and Union Lake Crossing. Vanaman is a more recent addition. He is not as part of the team as the others. He has jostled with them over abatements and the noise at the park.

Challengers
Challenging the incumbents are Ian Roberts, Emil Van Hook, Jim Hertig, Charles Flickinger, Joseph Sooy, Dale Finch, Robert Tesoroni, Mike Wydra, Rev. Ennis, Robert McQuade, and Dick Marshall.

Roberts sounds like a politician . . . in the bad way. He has that comforting voice that sounds good until you listen to what he has to say. He stated he loved the question How will you work with your rivals and others outside your assigned department? Only a politician would love that question.

Van Hook has raised the ire of some locals partly because of his involvement with Millville First. He has been part of the Commission in the past, as well as a school board member. The current knock against him is that he is against what the current commissioners are doing, but he has offered nothing that he would do other than roll back abatements. Van Hook pitched a nine-member, walking police group armed with K-9s to patrol the Third Ward. He also discussed how his Commission was responsible for bringing Durand Glass to Millville, without abatements. That is a strong point, although I suspect folks will contend the business climate has changed since then.

Jim Hertig is pretty much a non-candidate for me. His platform is speaking of how senior housing projects are a godsend that should be pursued. I wholeheartedly disagree with that position. Seniors, while being easy on the school system, often are living on fixed incomes. Coming from Cape May, the model Glasstown is using, I can equivocally state that Victorian Towers did not end up as a boon to the local economy. We have the Four Seasons trailer park senior housing development plopped down at Buckshutem and Hogbin. There’s the eyesore on Wheaton Avenue. And the city sold the waterfront property that housed two of my shutterspots to a group that will build senior condos on prime real estate. Recruiting more senior housing isn’t the windfall Millville needs. Hertig also spoke about educating the youth with respect lessons. Feelgood legislation isn’t going to win me over. Finally, when it came time to discuss how he would deal with a $5 million cut, Hertig did not explain what he would do. He just said cuts would need to be made.

Charles Flickinger served Millville eight years as a school board member. He is the former owner of Flick’s Cafe on 2nd Street. I liked that joint. Anyhow, Flickinger seems more into wanting to be involved than having any specific goal to work towards or skill he can offer. He did mention looking at energy savings as a way to deal with a cut in funds, but he did not elaborate and there is no reason to believe he has any unique ability than anyone else to bring about those savings.

Sooy sounds like a Millville First candidate. He spoke against RAD, crime, the noise at the racetrack, and the Levoy Theatre. I did not hear anything horrible from him, but I did not get overwhelming inspiration from him either. He did speak forcibly against eminent domain, noting seizing property for private business is a cardinal no-no. I agree.

Finch has a lot of signs about the city. He appears to be well-organized. He stated he has experience in reorganizing taxes at the municipal level. That is good. He spoke about fighting crime in a manner no one prior to him had; namely, code enforcement goes a long way to cleaning up neighborhoods. I agree. Aggressive enforcement should be at the top of the list of any commissioner.

Tesoroni impressed me at the Millville First forum a couple weeks ago. He was less effective in this venue. He champions the escalating debt using a figure of $60 million. That number was disputed by Derella and Quinn, who put the debt at $47 million, which is about $3 million more than when they came into office a dozen years ago. That does not make the candidate look good. Covering a $5 million cut in funds with looking at consultant fees displays an amateur’s view of the problem. While I am appalled with some of the consultants that have been hired (like the one we did for Wawa), there is not $5 million of consultant fees. Frankly, those fees should be cut regardless of cuts. He did correctly point out that those of us who are complaining about noise at the racetrack are not against the track; we are against the noise. There is a difference.

Wydra is frustrating. He means well, and for that, I respect his candidacy. Unfortunately, “Millville Mike”, who has lived here for 53 years and loves to fish, just doesn’t have the skills for City Commission. Dismiss him.

Rev. Ennis is an interesting candidate. He has the respect of most of the candidates with whom he is running. It sounds as though he has done good things for Millville through his ministry. He is a doer. Unfortunately, politically, he doesn’t seem to have the goods. He spoke of teaching the dysfunctional. I suspect a minister would. That, however, is not the role of the municipal government. He provided no answer to what he would do to a cut in municipal aid. A windfall, however, would find Ennis sending checks to the senior citizens of the town. Grrr . . . There is no political reason to vote for Ennis.

McQuade made it clear that he wants Parent’s empty seat. He praised the current commissioners over and over. He spoke about living downtown and not liking the crime. No one likes the crime in town. Other than that, he seemed not to have a handle on things. He said, “I understand we have a noise problem, but it is an asset.” I understand he didn’t mean the problem was an asset, but that is what he said. He seemed not to take the issue seriously.

Marshall was involved in getting UEZ designation for Millville. He has a business background. He joined the rest of the candidates in most issues, including money for the Levoy Theatre and debt reduction, should there be a windfall given to Millville. He gave a nondescript cuts response to a funding cut.

Incumbents
Vanaman left me disappointed this evening. I have generally liked his positions since he joined the Commission. I really like that there is a counter to the “team”. He spoke of a respect program for the city’s children. That is not what municipal government is supposed to be involved in. He did not have an adequate answer of what he would cut, if needed, only stating what he wouldn’t cut. Vanaman did reiterate his opposition to abatements and reminded the audience that he has challenged the other commissioners on this issue. Further, he noted the noise issue at the racetrack and correctly pointed out neighbors were misled about how loud it would be.

Derella is impressive. I recall liking him the first time I attended a city Commission meeting that I actually introduced myself to him. I rarely do that. He has the facts. His presentation demonstrates why incumbents have an advantage as he has a record to run on. There is a master plan for the waterfront, taxes have stabilized, and ratables are up.

Shannon heads the Parks and Recreation Department. We have been impressed with the events the city has hosted over the years. We would encourage even more. Shannon is personable and really does seem to care for the town, not that the others don’t. Unfortunately, Shannon has not impressed me in either forum leading up to the election. He touted the litany of accomplishments of the Commission. He rightfully gets to share in the glory. He did not speak about what his department has done. Rather, he reminded the audience about “unfinished business”, then he talked about the vacancies at the airport industrial park. That’s a negative and not one that Shannon should be heralding. He also then went off on how Millville needs to become a green city. I note this was just nine days after the city recommended purchases of some Ford 350s. Duplicity at its best.

Mayor Quinn echoed the Commission’s good work. He indicated he was sincere about finding a resolution to the noise problem at the racetrack. He keeps thumping the need to build the ratable base of the city. Quinn was the first candidate to indicate that he would fulfill the Levoy Theatre’s restoration if a windfall came to the city. He spoke about attrition as a way of covering funding cuts. He’s an incumbent and has a handle on the city’s business.

Endorsements
I looked longingly at the candidates before the session ended. I asked myself who would get my vote. Unfortunately, I do not have five definites.

It is easier to list who I can dismiss. Those are: Roberts, Hertig, Flickinger, Wydra, Ennis, and McQuade.

That leaves the following in the running for me: Vanaman, Van Hook, Derella, Shannon, Sooy, Finch, Tesoroni, Quinn, and Marshall.

Vanaman, Van Hook, and Derella are likely. Shannon probably is as well (I just do not like how he is campaigning).

I am not a Quinn fan. I would welcome shaking the Commission up (How there can be consensus on issue after issue, year after year, is beyond me.). Perhaps Van Hook’s election would be enough even if Quinn were to remain. If Tesoroni, Van Hook, and Vanaman were all on the Commssion together, it may be too drastic of an about-face. Sooy, Finch, or Marshall replacing Quinn would probably create a balanced Commission that would address the racetrack noise, re-visit abatements/RAD, but keep growth in the city moving along with the waterfront development. While Quinn sounded believable on the noise issue, he has done nothing to date despite the cacophony of complaints. Since he exudes politician to me, I discount his concern on this.

I am still open for whom I will vote. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be much in the way for citizens to learn more about the candidates.