Letter to the Editor

FAIR LAWN PBA Local #67

P.O. Box 276, Fair Lawn, New Jersey  07410

“Proudly Serving the Community of Fair Lawn!”

 

  Dear Editor:

 

"I've A Feeling We're Not in Kansas Anymore"

 

This past year, a whirlwind of change swept through the Borough of Fair Lawn leaving in its destructive path unimaginable scenarios. The Mayor and Council have often encountered many forks down the "yellow brick road," but the time has come for the voters to decide which way we should go. 

                        

For the first time ever in borough history, four Fair Lawn Police Officers (including three Iraq War Veterans) were fired by the Mayor and Council leaving our department at a dangerous staffing level.

 

On the very same day (September 1, 2010), when the four officers were forced to turn in their badges and guns, two other police officers were injured when a car attempted to run them over causing one officer to fire his service weapon. One officer was severely injured and remains out of work.

 

Throughout this year, there has been an increase in bank robberies, burglaries, assaults, and car thefts. It's hard to believe, but even a pipe bomb was detonated in our borough. Most recently, on October 15, 2011, a car theft suspect was charged with aggravated assault for attempting to ram an undercover police vehicle with a stolen car. These are scenes you may see in movies, but in Fair Lawn this is reality.

 

On November 8, it's time to pay attention to the man/woman behind the curtain. Each Fair Lawn voter has the power to decide the future of Fair Lawn. Remember, "there is no place like home."

 

 

David G. Boone

President, Fair Lawn PBA #67

October 17, 2011
From: David G. Boone, President, Fair Lawn PBA #67

Letter to the Editor:

I had the opportunity to attend the October 16th Fair Lawn Candidates Forum hosted by the League of Women Voters and I must say that it was an eye opener. I had some hope when the question was asked about communication with the police department. All candidates seemed to understand that open lines of communication with all employees is vitally important.

But then Candidate Cutrone began to elaborate on her ideas of communication. She spoke about “disgruntled” employees filing law suits. She immediately showed her complete inability to understand the bigger picture of what is really going on in the police department. She has already taken “sides” and she is going to stick with it, no matter what the facts show.

She should stick with the facts! The members of Fair Lawn PBA #67 are extremely disappointed with Ms. Cutrone’s anti-police employee rhetoric. Clearly, she has adopted the genre of the present governing body which has created the dismal circumstances surrounding Borough Hall and its poor atmosphere. Ms. Cutrone knows the importance of facts as she applies them daily as a History Teacher and surely she must realize that the numbers she presented regarding salaries can be disproved.

She made the claim that the police department has not spent more in overtime costs than the Borough saved by laying off four police officers. The reality is that the four officers were not making top salary, in fact they were our newest officers. The money saved came no where close to the money spent on overtime due to low manpower.
We are not just the “Police”. We are residents too! We are parents of school children, coaches, neighbors, tax payers and friends. We take great pride in our town and the protection of every resident, every family, and every property. Having these facts in mind we ask Candidate Cutrone to present the true salaries of our officers, especially the ones that the council fired.

The contract we hold was painstakingly worked on in an effort to be fair to ALL!

Until there is an honest approach by those who hold or aspire to hold a political office, our town will continue to swirl in discord – perhaps Ms. Cutrone-Musiknow can take the first step!

David G. Boone
President, Fair Lawn PBA #67

Det. David Boone speaks out against outsourcing the Fair Lawn Police Department's dispatch unit.


March 22, 2011

To the Editor:

In reference to the understaffing of the Fair Lawn Police Department, we feel that Fair Lawn residents should be outraged that four outstanding Police Officers, including three Iraq War Veterans, were terminated on September 1, 2010, by Mayor Joseph Tedeschi, Deputy Mayor Lisa Swain, Deputy Mayor Steven Weinstein, and Councilman Edward Trawinski. Once again, the Mayor and Council have failed taxpayers.

Six months ago, Fair Lawn PBA members and supporters attended several Mayor and Council Meetings to explain the dangers of laying off four Police Officers. Through two awareness campaigns ("Keep Our Cops...Safe" and Keep My Family Safe"), the PBA warned residents that they would once again have to pay to hire and train new officers in the future. The Mayor and Council heard us, but they didn't listen.

Now it appears that the Mayor and Council are looking at options to outsource our Police Dispatching Unit. This is another huge mistake and jeopardizes officer safety. Our dispatchers, who know Fair Lawn inside and out, provide officers with vital, accurate, and detailed information each time a 9-1-1 call is received. Why should an emergency call coming into Fair Lawn be redirected to Mahwah (the County Dispatch site) and then be directed to Fair Lawn? It doesn't make sense and will increase emergency response time.

Finally, it is quite concerning that Councilman Trawinski, who also serves as Bergen County Administrator, is advocating that Fair Lawn consider using the County Dispatch Center. Councilman Trawinski's first priority should always be Fair Lawn.

Outsourcing our Dispatch Unit is just another brilliant "cost-savings solution" we cannot afford.

Trawinski has now brought his "ready, fire, aim" approach to the county level. It was announced that the county would cut its budget by $30 million. We want readers to be aware of some of the supposed and familiar "cost-cutting measures" implemented in Fair Lawn.

First, on August 1, 2010, the Borough of Fair Lawn switched to a self-insurance plan. Championed by members of the Council, the plan is a complete and utter disaster. Since "the switch," employees have been sent to collections, bills from September 2010 are still not paid and they have been forced to hand over credit card information as backup in the event the plan doesn't pay. It's troubling, but County Administrator Trawinski has now proposed "the switch" at the Bergen County Sheriff's Department.

Next, County Administrator and Fair Lawn Councilman Trawinski voted to lay off the four Fair Lawn Police officers who were terminated last September. On March 8, 2011, according to published reports, Councilman Trawinski suggested that the Borough consider hiring three Police Officers. Why? Well, according to a crime analysis report by the state, the Fair Lawn Police Department is understaffed. The fact that minds at the county are examining the possibility of privatizing the jail is absolutely alarming.

More "cost-saving solutions" we simply cannot afford. Learn from Fair Lawn...decisions made here leave lasting impressions.

Det. David Boone, President of Fair Lawn Policemen's Benevolent Association Local #67

Fair Lawn PBA Head on State Affairs: 'Let Us Be Participants in the Process'

Det. David Boone reacts to Thursday's public safety worker rally at the statehouse


http://fairlawn.patch.com/articles/fair-lawn-pba-head-let-us-be-participants-in-the-process


 

January 2011

Letter to the Editor:
 
          This letter is written in response to the article entitled, “Insurance switch saves town $1.2 million, official says”.
 
          Insurance switch saves town $1.2 Million!  You would have to be out of your mind to be against that kind of savings, unless of course these were just talking points, false or misleading information or political rhetoric designed to sway public opinion in an election year.
 
          If one was to take the amount in the Borough of Fair Lawn budget for healthcare, $7 million, and minus what was paid out, $5.8 or 5.9 million, you get an impressive number of $1.1 or $1.2 million dollars.  And miraculously this is because of a switch to self-insurance.  The problem is that this is not the true picture of any savings that might be realized.
 
          Insuring through a company like Horizon Blue Cross/Blue Shield and self-insurance are vastly different.  Under self-insurance the business or town now takes on the “gamble” that its employees won’t experience a lot of illness, surgeries, etc…  I have had to do a lot of research on this subject since the change and it has been a real eye-opener.
 
          One of the things I have found is that a lot of the towns and county governments that have switched to self-insurance have not kept this coverage for very long.  Whenever an employer changes their health insurance from a fully insured claims incurred contract to a self-insured claims paid contract, there can be significant first year cash flow savings.  The reason is that a claims incurred contract provides more health insurance protection than a claims paid contract does.
 
          In order to properly account for the difference in coverage, an employer builds in a reserve on their balance sheet for claims that have been incurred but not yet reported and paid.  They call this I.B.N.R.  This reserve is essential to account for an employer’s proper liability after switching to self-insurance.  There are still many claims which have not even been paid from last year which greatly reduce the “face value” savings that were given.  The employer is ultimately responsible for these claims.
 
          Recently it was reported that Bridgewater had run into a problem with their self-insurance because the claims went over budget by $260,000.  This can easily occur when a town has taken on the liability of “unknown” healthcare problems and claims.  They now face more layoffs and furloughs.
 
          The other reason this large “savings” is not accurate is that it was not a mature year for our insurance coverage.  Horizon was responsible for claims that had already originated under their contract for a period of four months.  The questions are, “what will a full year look like?”  “what if Fair Lawn experiences a high number of expensive claims?”  “what will happen to taxes if such an emergency happens?”
 
          We call upon the Mayor and Council to release the reports from Qual Care and Horizon which supposedly reported that Fair Lawn was not a good candidate for self-insurance.  Due diligence was never done on this issue, because if it had, self-insurance never would have been the way to go.  Between the concessions offered by all of the Borough employees and the 1.5% of their salaries which is now paid towards healthcare, the Borough would have realized a realistic dollar savings of almost $1 million dollars.  So why was this change really made?
 
David Boone
President
Fair Lawn PBA Local #67
Office:  (201) 794-5412
P.O. Box 276
Fair Lawn, NJ  07410
 
Impact of Police Led D.A.R.E.

To the Editor:

I am a Fair Lawn police officer and have instructed the Drug Abuse Resistance Education curriculum for the past three years at both Thomas Jefferson and Memorial Middle Schools. Throughout my 20 years in public safety, I've taken on many active roles mentoring our youth.  I am also the advisor for the Fair Lawn Police Explorer Post 902 (the number "902" represents PO Mary Ann Collura's car designation the night she was murdered). The explorer post is for young adults, ages 14 to 21 who wish to explore a career in public safety.

Regretfully, the D.A.R.E. curriculum has been cancelled due to the reduction in police officers.

Why do I teach D.A.R.E.? Well, like I tell my students during our first lesson, there are three reasons.  

Reason number one–My son! I want him to grow up in a world where he and other kids like him make better informed decisions. They are our future and through the combined efforts of parents, teachers and programs like D.A.R.E., we must positively impact their lives!

Reason number two–My best friend, in the prime of his young life, was viciously removed from this world as a result of Heroin! A tragedy that has decimated his family and has robbed me of my friend! There is a Heroin epidemic crossing over from the bordering city we know so well.

Reason number three–My fellow D.A.R.E. officers, and I care about your kids! We have volunteered to teach and all have seen what drug use and bad decisions have done to the kids in our community.

Our goal is to provide your children with tools using the curriculum in place combined with our experiences to ultimately aid in making better, more informed decisions about drug use, bullying, peer pressure, tobacco use and irresponsible alcohol consumption.

D.A.R.E. is a good platform but we also make every effort to connect with the students. In addition to the classroom, D.A.R.E. Officers will stop by during recess or lunchtime and spend time talking to the students. We joke with the kids, sometimes throw the ball around and are frequently asked questions about the concerning subjects I wrote about in the previous paragraph. We are always met with a warm reception and are inspired by our student's desire for knowledge. In so many cases, we form a connection with the students through positive interaction. A connection your local police have found goes way beyond the classroom. 

Fair Lawn has had the D.A.R.E. program in place for 20 years! Why is that? Because it works! Does D.A.R.E. work for every kid?  No. Despite our best efforts, we cannot connect with every student. 

How about this! Ask one of our D.A.R.E. graduates if they've used some part of our time together to make a more informed decision. It's my bet you'll see some positive responses.

You can find statistics that show D.A.R.E. works and others that say it doesn't.  Remember, if just one kid, through our time together makes a better, more informed decision about a potentially life changing event, I say job well done!

It has been our honor educating the children of Fair Lawn. It is my sincere hope that the community works diligently to see that this program continues without delay!

A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove…but the world may be a better place because I was important in the life of a child.

Michael O'Brien, D.A.R.E. Ofc.




fairlawn.patch.com
Det. David Boone
speaks out against outsourcing the
Fair Lawn Police Department's dispatch unit