Part-Time Mayor Dodges Debate Requests From Challenger Charlie Kratovil

For more than three months, New Brunswick Mayoral candidate Charlie Kratovil has been requesting a debate with his opponent, the 27-year incumbent Mayor Jim Cahill.

But with less than three weeks until the November 6 election, Cahill’s team has not responded to these requests.

Instead, the Mayor’s campaign ignored five consecutive written requests to arrange debates, which have been sent by Charlie’s campaign manager every Wednesday since September 19.

“The people of New Brunswick deserve a full-time Mayor who will put the people and their needs first,” said Kratovil.  “They also deserve to hear from both candidates in a series of debates.”

“Clearly, my opponent is too busy splitting his time between public service, representing his other clients, and campaigning for the first time in almost a decade,” continued Kratovil.

Charlie is the first opponent to challenge Cahill since 2010.  In contrast to the incumbent, who also works for the local government of Milltown and runs a private law firm on the side, Charlie has promised to work full-time as Mayor, without holding any side jobs or business interests.

When Charlie announced his candidacy in June, the seven-term incumbent told reporters that the campaign “will be a discussion of ideas on how we can continue to improve the quality of life for New Brunswick residents.”  But since then, Cahill has failed to lay out a platform of his own.

By contrast, Charlie’s website Charlie4Change.com includes a comprehensive issue-based platform and the videos and full text of the speeches he has given on the campaign trail.

“If my opponent truly wants a discussion of ideas, he should agree to debate me so that we can both discuss our ideas to address the Parking Authority’s $390 million dollar debt, improve our failing water infrastructure, and end the unfortunate corruption that his administration has brought us,” said Kratovil.

Kratovil Calls on Hypocritical Incumbent to Raise Worker Wages

In light of the New Brunswick Mayor’s newfound support for a $15 minimum wage, Mayoral Candidate Charlie Kratovil is calling on the incumbent to introduce an ordinance to increase wages for the dozens of city workers who earn far less for their public service.

On October 11, seven-term Mayor Jim Cahill seemed to back state legislation that would establish a $15 per hour minimum wage for all workers, without any exceptions or carve-outs, even though his own administration still pays some workers $8.60 per hour.

“My opponent has had 27 years to raise wages for the workers who serve our city, but he’s still paying some of them the state’s bare minimum wage: just $8.60 per hour,” said Kratovil.  “Nevertheless, I welcome him to the fight for $15 and encourage him to put his words into action by raising the wages that he directly controls.”

On Labor Day, Charlie rolled out his own detailed plan to raise wages for about 175 of the lowest-paid city workers on Labor Day.  Charlie’s plan would lead to all city workers earning at least $15 per hour by January 2021.

By contrast, Mayor James Cahill’s administration currently pays about 75 city workers $10 or less for each hour that they serve the public, including employees of the city’s Recreation Department, Youth Services System, and the New Brunswick Free Public Library.

Two days after Charlie laid out his plan, the Mayor’s administration announced it would give raises to about 50 crossing guards, bringing the starting hourly pay rate from $12.50 to $13.50.

Those raises will take effect on October 22, leaving about 140 city workers earning less than $15 per hour.

“I sincerely hope that my opponent’s administration will do the right thing and introduce additional legislation to raise the wages of the other workers whose pay rates remain in stark contrast to his professed support for a higher minimum wage,” said Kratovil.

The current administration has also spread disinformation about Charlie’s plan, making an unsubstantiated claim that “several individuals” would somehow earn less under the plan.

“Under your increase there are several individuals who will end up making less than what they would get under the current administration,” one employee of the Mayor’s Office wrote to Kratovil in an online exchange in the “New Jersey Resistance” Facebook group.

It’s not the first time that the incumbent Mayor’s machine has spread inaccurate information about what Charlie stands for.  The same employee previously implied that Charlie wants to downgrade the city’s career Fire Department to volunteer status, a baseless claim that the official declined to retract.

“The truth is that I am the only candidate in this race who has pledged to take a concrete action to support the fight for $15,” said Kratovil.  “The Mayor’s team should spend more time developing a platform of their own and less time trying to mislead the public about my positions.”

“Parking Relief is Coming to New Brunswick” Speech

Thank you all for joining me today.  I’m here to tell you that parking relief is coming to New Brunswick!

Now, I’m standing on the block that was once home to the Chardas Restaurant, one of many local businesses that was forced out of our city by a redevelopment regime that has been built on collusion between powerful real estate developers, corrupt politicians, and the New Brunswick Parking Authority.

Chardas opened in the 1930’s and it was the last Hungarian restaurant in New Brunswick when it closed twelve years ago to make way for a 10-story building that a politically-connected developer had promised to build.

Unfortunately for this neighborhood, the promised 10-story building is one of many projects where developers, with the help of my opponent, misled the public to secure valuable real estate, only to break their promises about what they would do with it after this regime had literally destroyed what was there before.

My opponent’s administration told the New York Times that their goal was to provide the owner of Chardas with a new location on or near Somerset Street.  We can add that, too, to the list of broken promises. Chardas never re-opened, and it closed for good on July 2, 2006.

A few months later, John Lynch, Jr., my opponent’s cousin and the former political boss of New Brunswick, pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges.  One of the people who signed a letter asking the Judge for leniency when he sentenced Boss Lynch was the owner of Lavalette-based AST Development, Robert D’Anton.

AST was the developer whose plans had forced out Chardas and that company went on to build the parking deck that you see behind me, which the Parking Authority had agreed to purchase from them.  However, here, at the former site of Chardas, where AST had promised to provide retail storefronts, office space, and condominiums, they did nothing, they made no investment, and the left behind an ugly eyesore.  They also broke their promise to install a traffic light at this intersection and another on French Street, leaving behind an unsafe situation that has led to numerous crashes.

This lot sat vacant and unutilized for another six years after Chardas closed before the Parking Authority finally paved it over and started charging people to park here in 2012.

So I tell you this story today simply so that you know what we are up against, and how the Lynch-Cahill machine has brought us a string of  broken promises and big businesses that exploit us at the expense of the small businesses that enrich our communities and the taxpayers and residents who call our city home.

This political machine’s schemes typically involve the Parking Authority, either condemning real estate at the behest of powerful developers or borrowing tens of millions of dollars to help those wealthy developers meet their own parking needs, while leaving the needs of our residents unaddressed.

For these reasons and others, I support abolishing the New Brunswick Parking Authority and absorbing its responsibilities, assets, and liabilities into a new Transportation Department, a move that will save taxpayers money and allow us to better address the parking problem, combat the climate crisis, and take control of the NBPA’s out of control debt.

The New Brunswick Parking Authority currently has an outrageous amount of debt: $390,475,000 to be exact.  As your Mayor, I will make it a priority to pay down this debt in a way that protects our people and ensures the next generation is not saddled with major liabilities or undesirable assets.

My opponent’s administration has guaranteed all $390 million of this debt in its entirety, putting taxpayers on the hook for all of it.  My plan to dissolve the NBPA will give us greater control over this debt so that we can avoid a financial crisis that will hurt our taxpayers and our local economy.

I think it’s high time we move on from the old antiquated Parking Authority model and transition into a more comprehensive, sensible, and accountable approach to transportation issues in our city.

Doing this will realize significant cost savings by eliminating redundancies such as the many outside consultants and attorneys that the NBPA currently spends their money on.  This will also enable us to merge payroll and other administrative systems with the city government’s systems, streamlining those operations and allowing us to use the best tools possible to manage our city government efficiently.

By dissolving their parking authority, Jersey City taxpayers have saved approximately $850,000 each year and helped bring more accountability to an important sector of their local government.

And that’s really the key word: accountability.  Under my plan, the New Brunswick Department of Transportation will be led by a Director who will be completely and totally accountable to the Mayor, Council, and the residents of our great City.  No more unelected NBPA Board of Commissioners and no more reckless borrowing.

I will work with community partners like our city’s hospitals, Rutgers University, NJTransit, and the county government to maximize the usage of our existing parking facilities and, in some cases, transfer these properties to new ownership in order to pay off the NBPA’s massive debt.

NBDOT will also offer its services and technology to other public and  private entities that own parking lots and decks as a way to generate revenue and contribute towards paying down that debt.

I will also pull the city government out of the commercial real estate business.  The NBPA’s recent commercial projects have failed to bring in rental revenue that they were counting on, such as the famous FreshGrocer supermarket, which closed abruptly after failing to pay rent for over a year, and still owes over $1 million to the NBPA.

After that debacle, the NBPA’s prime real estate sat vacant for a year and half before a new tenant moved in.  That tenant has currently fallen behind on their rent, and owes the NBPA $378,984.

Brother Jimmy’s BBQ, another NBPA-owned property, shut down abruptly earlier this year, owing the NBPA $82,865.  That space sits vacant to this day, generating no revenue and making it harder for the NBPA to pay down their debt.

Under my administration, we will sell these commercial real estate spaces, and we will use those funds to pay down that massive debt.

So, that’s my vision for transitioning away from that old model and avoiding what could be a pending financial crisis.  Now here’s what you can expect from the new model: the New Brunswick Department of Transportation.

In contrast to the NBPA, the NBDOT will be comprehensive in its vision, and it will bring a fresh new focus to solving the parking problem, and tackling other challenges like improving our bus system, making the streets safer for bicyclists and pedestrians, upgrading our antiquated taxi service, and repairing our roadways.

I’ve been listening to the community’s concerns about parking–the shortage of spaces, the expensive rates, the frequent tickets, the confusing rules, and the lack of solutions to any of these problems.

First and foremost, the NBDOT will be able to tackle the parking problem in a new way.  As the candidate who will put our residents and their needs first, I am committed to addressing this parking problem in a way that prioritizes our residents and their ability to park in their own neighborhoods.

So, I’m proud to announce that for the first time in history, the city government of New Brunswick will strategically invest in properties for the purpose of providing affordable off-street surface parking for residents in neighborhoods where parking demand outstrips the supply.  It will be just like the lot that we are in today, except that it will actually be for the people of this city.

And by the way, these lots will be well-lit, safe places, and they’ll be built using permeable pavement that will reduce the negative effects of stormwater runoff, including flooding.

So, for a modest monthly fee, you’ll soon be able to have a guaranteed parking space in your neighborhood, so that when you come home late and see that all of the spaces on your street are gone, you’ll still have a safe place to park near your home.

And that’s just the beginning of my new approach to our parking problem.

My administration will also support an immediate 33% decrease in the rates at every parking meter in New Brunswick, bringing us back to the days when a quarter could buy just 15 minutes of parking.  This is a common sense move to send the message that New Brunswick wants to encourage visitors to come and patronize our great businesses.

We will also end the ward-based parking permit system that discriminates against residents of smaller wards and segregates our communities for no good reason.  Down Plum Street, one of the homes that I used to live in here in the Fifth Ward, is 88 Plum Street. The only problem was that Hamilton Street is the dividing line between the Fifth and Sixth Wards, so even though we could see Hartwell Street from our porches, we would get a ticket if we ever parked there.  It’s just one of the many confusing rules about our existing permit system and because the Fifth Ward is the smallest, it only has about 12 blocks of parking where the permit is good. By contrast, a Sixth Ward permit covers a much larger geographic area, including several dozen blocks where the parking permit is very valuable, including areas directly adjacent to the Rutgers campus.

This inconsistency must stop, and by re-working this system in a way that allows residents of any ward to park in other wards, it will help our residents be more connected with one other.

My administration will also fight to limit alternate side parking regulations to only the period of May 15 to August 31 so that we are not exacerbating the parking crunch that is caused when Rutgers University is in session.

Currently, these rules are in effect from April to October, but during the school year, it is nearly impossible for residents to park their car legally during the days when those alternate side rules are in effect.  The end result is that a lot of people get tickets, the street sweepers can’t do their job, and the whole thing is just an exercise in futility.

Now, this will require changes to our city’s stormwater management plan, and as a committed advocate for our environment, I’ll ensure that appropriate mitigating measures are put in place to compensate for these needed changes.

Additionally, the NBDOT will institute a superior program for employee parking and parking validation for our businesses, one that will make it easier to do business in our crowded downtown and across the city.  The Parking Authority’s current program for nighttime employee parking is a resounding failure, with a total of zero customers currently on board. And I know first-hand many restaurant workers who struggle every day just to find places to park while they work and I’ve talked directly with them about the solutions they would like to see.  As someone committed to working people and easing their struggles, I will expand this program to cover additional parking garages so that workers are able to park near their place they work at an affordable rate. I will also explore several ways to incentivize businesses to offer parking validation at their locations, including bulk discounts, which I know is something they are asking for.

Finally, my administration will require developers to pay a fee if and when they receive parking variances that allow them to build less parking than what is required by our city’s standards.  Currently, when our land use boards grant these variances, there are often negative consequences for neighborhoods and developers get a valuable benefit at no cost. Under my plan, these developers would be required to pay a fee for each required parking space that they avoid building through the variance process.  This would be similar to how things are done in Edison Township and other New Jersey municipalities. Ultimately, doing so will generate revenue to support the operations of the NBDOT and my administration’s efforts to enhance public transportation so that we can work towards a society that includes robust public transit systems, and one that is less reliant on private automobiles.  It will also ensure that developers pay their fair share for infrastructure improvements that are needed as a result of their projects.

Before I wrap up, I just want to say that these are all changes that can be made.  We can abolish the New Brunswick Parking Authority. If Jersey City can do it, so can we.  If Montclair can do it, so can we. If Bloomfield can do it, so can we.

We can also create those surface parking lots for residents and lower the cost of metered parking to help our businesses thrive.  We can also reform the city’s ward-based permit parking system. We can also establish better employee parking and parking validation programs.  We can also scale back those alternate side parking rules. And we can require developers to pay when they don’t build enough parking. These are all things we can do.

But the only way we can do these things is if we work together and elect new leadership that will put the people of this great city first.

Together, we can make these changes.  Together, we will make these change. Together, we will take our city back and we will give power to the people of New Brunswick!

Thank you so much everyone.  Have a wonderful day.

Mayoral Candidate Charlie Kratovil Announces Plan for Parking Relief

On Monday, October 8, Charlie will lay out his vision to tackle both the crippling parking problem, and the New Brunswick Parking Authority’s $390 million debt.

Charlie has been listening to residents and business owners about their parking concerns: the shortage of spaces, the expensive rates, the frequent tickets, the confusing rules, and the lack of solutions to any of these problems.

“For the past seventy years, New Brunswick has had a parking authority that has actually perpetuated its parking problem.  I have a comprehensive plan to relieve this problem by abolishing the NBPA and transitioning to a 21st-century model,” said Kratovil.

Charlie’s proposal follows in the footsteps of other New Jersey communities like Jersey City, Montclair, and Bloomfield.

By dissolving their parking authority, Jersey City saved taxpayers approximately $850,000 per year in redundant management and healthcare costs and helped bring more accountability to an important sector of their local government.

Dissolving the NBPA will enable New Brunswick to establish a more accountable government entity, the New Brunswick Department of Transportation (NBDOT), one that will have a more comprehensive approach to improving the parking situation, access to public transportation, pedestrian and cyclist safety, taxi service, and road repairs.

With this new approach, the city government will be able to strategically invest in properties to provide off-street resident parking in the neighborhoods where the demand outstrips supply.

“Parking affects all of our businesses and institutions, but it also affects all of our neighborhoods. As the candidate who will put our residents and their needs first, I am committed to addressing the parking problem in a way that prioritizes resident parking,” said Kratovil.

Charlie’s plan to dissolve the NBPA will also give the city greater control over their $390 million debt.  This is debt that the administration of Charlie’s opponent has agreed to guarantee in its entirety, putting taxpayers on the hook.

“The NBPA’s out-of-control debt is perhaps the most important issue for taxpayers in this election,” said Kratovil.  “The next Mayor must make it a priority to tackle this problem in a way that protects our people and ensures the next generation is not saddled with major liabilities or undesirable assets.”

All are welcome to attend.

WHO:  New Brunswick Mayor Candidate Charlie Kratovil

WHAT:  Announcement of Charlie’s Parking Relief Plan

WHEN:  Monday, October 8 at 3:00 pm

WHERE:  Corner of Somerset and Plum Streets in New Brunswick

Charlie Kratovil Supports Pay Raise for City Crossing Guards

Thanks to the advocacy of New Brunswick Mayoral Candidate Charlie Kratovil, the city’s crossing guards are set to receive pay raise at tonight’s City Council meeting.

Charlie has been standing up for the approximately 50 crossing guards working in the Hub City, who protect children’s safety on their way to and from school everyday.

“Crossing guards have an important and dangerous job,” said Kratovil.  “I’ve been proud to work alongside community advocate Danielle Moore in pushing the City Council to give these hard-working people a well-deserved raise.”

On Labor Day, Kratovil announced his plans to raise the wages of New Brunswick’s lowest-paid municipal employees over the next three years.  The plan called for most crossing guards to receive a $2.50 per hour raise, by bringing the starting pay rate to $15 per hour.

“These raises will help to combat poverty and runaway inequality, improve the city’s ability to recruit and retain quality staff, and show solidarity with campaigns to raise the minimum wage for all workers,” said Kratovil.

Only two days after Kratovil announced his plans, the city government decided to give the crossing guards a raise, eventually introducing ordinance O-091805, which provides for raises of $1 or $1.25 per hour effective October 22.

Kratovil recognizes that this is a victory for the people of New Brunswick and promises to make additional changes that will foster the health and growth of our city.

“For our city run smoothly, all city workers need to earn a living wage.  New Jersey is an expensive state to live in, and our city is no exception,” said Kratovil.  “I pledge that I will do everything I can to advance the cause of working people here in New Brunswick – not just our city workers, but all working people.”

Mayor Candidate Charlie Kratovil Announces Community Advisory Team

 

Charlie Kratovil, the New Brunswick Mayoral Candidate, is proud to introduce the initial group of community leaders that will serve as his advisors for the remainder of the campaign.

On Sunday, September 23, Charlie met with his Community Advisory Team at the Lazos Community Center to discuss the major issues facing the city.

“This team is a key part of out grassroots effort to make this city a better place to live and work.  It is certainly a tremendous contribution to my campaign that this diverse and committed team of people brings over 200 years of experience living in New Brunswick,” said Kratovil.  “Each advisory member will be reaching out in their wards to ask for input and ideas from residents.”

At the closing of their first meeting, Kratovil said,  “What will make this city strong is our people. I look forward to working with my Community Advisory Team and am grateful for their commitment.”

The initial group of advisors includes representatives of each of the city’s five wards:

Nancy Scalzone has lived in New Brunswick’s First Ward for over 35 years, and is affiliated with a local animal rescue.  She has been active in proposing humane solutions to help control the feral and stray cat population.

“We need a change and I feel Charlie is more connected to the needs of our citizens,” said Scalzone.  “He will be a full time Mayor!”

Brandon Espana is a Rutgers University student who was born and raised in New Brunswick.  He lives in the Second Ward, works as a tutor for local high school students, and interns at Lazos America Unida, a local Mexican-American community organization.

“Charlie’s a genuine person who is putting the people of New Brunswick above anything else,” said Espana.  “He’s not running for personal gain but to improve the city we all call home. Charlie represents much needed change.”

Corpus Guante is a homeowner in the Second Ward, where he has lived for 11 years.  He is a laborer and a father of three children.

“I’ve known Charlie to be a tenacious worker who’s done a great job defending our community with his voice of alertness and his punctuality with objectives in New Brunswick,” said Guante.

Jad Kaado is a lifelong New Brunswick resident who works as a part-time lecturer and adjunct professor at Rutgers University.  He lives in the Second Ward and serves as literary curator for the non-profit arts organization coLAB.

“Charlie embodies the change that New Brunswick needs and also deserves,” said Kaado.

Ariel Pina has lived in New Brunswick for 19 years and is currently a resident of Cook campus of Rutgers University in the city’s Second Ward.  He serves as the Treasurer of RU Progressive, and the Treasurer for Charlie’s campaign.

“I think we need a Mayor that looks out for the children and families of New Brunswick,” said Pina.  “The current administration has been prioritizing real estate developers over the needs of minority communities.”

Thomas Peoples is lifelong New Brunswick resident who has been a homeowner in the Fourth Ward since 1996.  He is a former Democratic Committeeman and Vice President and the former President of the Lincoln Gardens Crime Watch.

“New Brunswick needs a Mayor who is going into our neighborhoods and talking with residents, addressing their concerns, and attending government meetings like the City Council and Board of Education to stay in touch with what’s going on in the city,” said Peoples.  “I support Charlie Kratovil for Mayor because he does these things right now.”

Pastor Pedro Showell has been a resident of New Brunswick for more than 50 years and currently lives in the Fifth Ward.  He founded Iron Sharpens Iron Worldwide Deliverance Ministries, Inc., a non-profit organization devoted to helping young people build strong character and realize their full potential as responsible citizens and leaders.

“I believe Charlie is going to make significant changes to the city,” said Showell.

Lindy Stork has lived in New Brunswick for 45 years and owns a home in the Sixth Ward.  She served for over 30 years as a bilingual kindergarten teacher in New Brunswick’s public schools.

“I have always thought we should have more of a choice in terms of candidates who more closely reflect my personal views on a variety of issues, and now that person is Charlie,” said Stork.

Note: There is no longer a Third Ward in New Brunswick.

 

Charlie Kratovil Presents New Brunswick Transportation Plan

Charlie Kratovil, the editor of New Brunswick Today, will speak tonight at the Second Ward Neighborhood Block Club meeting about the New Brunswick transportation system of today and what the future can deliver for the residents, workers, and visitors to the city.

After studying the current transportation resources and community needs, Kratovil developed a plan to enhance the existing bus services offered, and to make them more consistent, reliable, and user-friendly.

Seeing the need for a solution, Kratovil developed a detailed plan to help the residents of New Brunswick get around via mass transit, particularly those without access to a vehicle.

“Our city needs a transportation system that will support our residents, students, businesses, hospitals, and visitors,” said Kratovil.  “By modernizing our fragmented public transportation systems, we will make it easier for the people of New Brunswick to connect with more economic and educational opportunities, and allow the city to grow without exacerbating parking problems and traffic congestion.”

Kratovil’s presentation will cover how we can enhance the various bus systems serving New Brunswick, improving the quality and consistency of service, as well as simplifying and centralizing access to the information about these systems.

Tonight’s meeting is open to the public.

WHAT:  Second Ward Neighborhood Block Club

WHEN:  Monday, September 24, at 7:00 pm

WHERE: Quaker Meeting House, 109 Nichol Avenue, New Brunswick, NJ 08901

Mayor Candidate Charlie Kratovil Endorsed by RU Progressive

Charlie Kratovil, the candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick, secured the unanimous endorsement of RU Progressive, the leading progressive student organization in New Jersey.

“We are proud to endorse Charlie Kratovil for Mayor of New Brunswick. It’s time to elect someone who truly knows the struggles of the average New Brunswick citizen,” said Adeel Ahmed, one of the founders of the organization and its current co-President.

RU Progressive was founded in 2015 as Rutgers For Bernie, and it was recently recognized as Rutgers University’s official campus chapter of Our Revolution, the progressive political organization launched following the Presidential campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders.

Charlie expressed his gratitude for the endorsement, and hopes that more organizations will follow suit by endorsing his progressive campaign for change.

“I was honored to receive the endorsement of RU Progressive,” said Kratovil.  “This should make it clear that our campaign is by far the most progressive one in this race.”

“I am hopeful that this will be the first of several major endorsements coming our way over the next few weeks,” said Kratovil.

Charlie’s campaign is focused on giving residents the clean streets, clean air, clean water, and clean government that they deserve.  Earlier this month, Charlie laid out his plans to raise wages for the lowest-paid city workers during his first three years in office.

Organizations interested in endorsing the campaign can contact our Endorsements Coordinator at [email protected].

Charlie Promises to End New Brunswick’s “Cover-Up Culture”

Charlie Kratovil, the award-winning journalist running for Mayor of New Brunswick, has made a name for himself investigating problems with the drinking water in his city.  Now, his latest scoop has him concerned for public school children and outraged at Board of Education officials.

According to a report released yesterday, excessive levels of lead were found in water samples taken from four different city schools in late June and early July: Paul Robeson Community School, McKinley Community School, New Brunswick Middle School and New Brunswick High School.  One reading was as high as 1110 parts per billion, or 74 times the legal limit for lead contamination, but the results were not shared with the public until yesterday.

“This information should have been shared with the public immediately,” said Kratovil.  “It was wrong to keep this disturbing report under wraps for over a month, and it is disingenuous to pretend that these results were anything other than cause for serious concern.”

This morning, Charlie published an article outlining and analyzing the results and putting them in the context of several misleading statements made by a school district official at the August 21 Board of Education meeting, which was captured on video by New Brunswick Today.

At that meeting, Charlie unsuccessfully requested the results of the district’s annual water testing, only to be told they were “very good” and “really good” by Frank LoDolce, the district’s head of facilities.  Even as the results were finally released yesterday, Superintendent Aubrey Johnson described them as “extremely favorable.”

LoDolce had promised those results would be published on the district website prior to the start of the school year, but the district missed that deadline by a full week.

It wasn’t until yesterday during his weekly appearance on WCTC’s “The Tommy G Show” that Charlie first learned the results had finally been posted online.  Their release came after an article in New Brunswick Today pointed out the missed deadline, and Charlie filed an OPRA request seeking a copy of the report.

What was depicted in the results was far from “very good” or “really good.”  In fact, these were the worst lead testing results received by the district in recent years, with 29 different water sources, almost 9% of those tested, found to exceed the action limit for lead.

“New Brunswick’s parents, students, faculty and staff deserve much better than this. Simply put, they deserve the truth,” said Kratovil, who won two awards from the NJ Society of Professional Journalists for his coverage of “Watergate,” a scandal that saw a longtime city worker admit to public corruption for failing to notify authorities about problems with the city’s drinking water.

“When I’m elected, I will put an end to this cover-up culture once and for all.  Under my leadership, the New Brunswick Water Utility will conduct regular testing of the drinking water in all school facilities and promptly release the results to the public without delay.”

While some of the problems at the tainted faucets may have been rectified prior to a second round of testing, Charlie believes the district still owes the public a thorough explanation of what actions they’ve taken to address the problems.  He also wants the district to offer blood tests for students who may have been exposed to extremely high levels of lead.

Thus far, officials have given no details of any remediation efforts undertaken and have not specified if any water sources were taken out of service.  At least two locations, one at the Robeson School and one at NBMS, showed excessive lead levels in both rounds of testing.  Additionally, two individual test results from NBHS appear to be missing from the report on the second round of testing without explanation.

Charlie is encouraging anyone who shares his concerns to attend the New Brunswick Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, September 18 at 7pm in the auditorium of NBHS, located at 1000 Somerset Street.

 

Judge: Mayor Candidate’s Lawsuit Against Rutgers Board Members Can Proceed

Charlie Kratovil Calls on Governor to Ask For Resignations From Out-of-State Board Members

New Brunswick Mayor candidate Charlie Kratovil’s lawsuit seeking to remove four members of the Rutgers University Board of Governors can proceed following a Judge’s denial of a motion to dismiss the case.

Kratovil, an alumnus of the university and founder of the New Brunswick Today newspaper, filed a civil action on June 11 (docket #MER-L-1254-18) asking the Court to oust five out-of-state members illegally holding positions on the powerful board in violation of a 2011 state statute.  It was announced the following day that Joseph Rigby, a board member who resides in Maryland, would resign his position.

Hon. Mary C. Jacobson, the Assignment Judge in Mercer County, issued an August 6 order denying an attempt to dismiss the suit and requiring that the other four board members file a responsive pleading to the litigation on or before September 10.

“I was pleased to learn that Judge Jacobson has ordered the defendants to respond to the merits of my lawsuit,” said Kratovil.  “In an effort to delay their ultimate day of reckoning, these illegal office-holders had attempted to have this case thrown out on a technicality, only to back off and ultimately concede that the Judge should deny their motion.”

The Court’s order comes as the Rutgers administration is under fire for spending over $11.5 million on “golden parachutes” for ex-officials who were fired or quit their jobs, the abrupt departure of its New Brunswick Chancellor, and criminal scandals involving current and former members of the university’s football team.

But it’s not just student athletes who are accused of breaking the law.  In 2011, then-Governor Chris Christie signed the residency requirement law, NJSA 52:14-7 (also known as the “NJ First Act”), yet he subsequently appointed several members to the Rutgers Board who did not live in New Jersey and had no intention of moving here.

According to Rutgers’ own website, four members of board, including its Chair and Vice Chair, still maintain their primary residence out-of-state:

Chairman Sandy Stewart (New Hill, NC)
Vice Chairman Mark Angelson (New York, NY)
Gregory Brown (Barrington Hills, IL)
Susan McCue (Alexandria, VA)

Each out-of-state board member had one year from the date that they took office to re-locate to New Jersey before they became eligible for removal under the law.

“Chris Christie signed this act to punish rank-and-file public workers, but he apparently felt that his own political appointees were above the law and could just ignore it,” said Kratovil, who is currently campaigning to become New Brunswick’s 63rd Mayor.  “If municipal public officials like our teachers and firefighters must abide by this law, then certainly the appointees who run our state university should have to follow it as well.”

“We desperately need new leadership at Rutgers, and I am urging Governor Phil Murphy to ask for the immediate resignation of these illegal office-holders so that qualified individuals who are ready and eligible to serve our community can be selected from among the 9 million residents of New Jersey and installed without further delay.”

The board’s hands-off approach was evident at their July 24 special meeting, where a 20-year agreement with RWJBarnabas Health was approved over the objection of unions representing thousands of Rutgers employees, without any voting members of the Board of Governors physically present.

Ten voting members, including three of the defendants in the lawsuit, were supposedly on the conference call.  However, the board refused to take a roll call vote on the measure despite a point of order raised by Kratovil, leaving it a mystery which board members actually voted for the deal.

Eight voting members are required to be “in attendance” for the Board of Governors to have a quorum, meaning that the controversial deal hinges on the questionable votes of the out-of-state members.