Seriously disappointed by robocall

Credit: Flickr user, notionscapital.

Councilman Ramon Hache
Village of Ridgewood

I was disappointed by your robocall the other day. You did not use my name even though I signed the letter, A Voter’s Remorse. Your uninformed remarks led me to believe that you have not read the expanded version of the letter on my website, www.ridgewoodvotes2018.com.

At no time have I attacked the Catholic church. In fact, I am certain that the raffle holders acted honorably in awarding the Grand Prize to Susan Knudsen. It is even listed in Mt. Carmel’s church bulletin from June 19, 2016, the month before she became Mayor (with your help I might add). From that point on, the optics around this prize went horribly wrong. A sitting Councilwoman, and then Mayor, accepted a $25,000 prize from the one institution in town that positioned itself vehemently against a parking garage? Even you must be able to see how bad that looks! The mayor then stumbled through a rather strange explanation as to why she was keeping the money. It just keeps getting worse!

An elected official in this situation should have graciously rejected the donation and either returned it to the church for far better use there, or to some charity of her choosing, not pocketed the money for herself. And, where have you gone with a garage since then? For two years it’s been nothing but a stalling action. You serve as the Council’s liaison to the business community. Whenever I speak with business owners, the response from them about a parking garage is unanimous: Build it already!

Instead, the CDB is beginning to linger under your watch. When once it carried 13% of the village’s tax burden, it now is down to 8%. I think you know who makes up the shortfall. Stores are standing empty for longer and longer periods of time. Not so oddly enough, that makes the parking easier because fewer and fewer people come to use our restaurants and shops. I think our downtown jewel is becoming a bit tarnished.

As to nepotism by Mayor Knudsen, surely you must know better than what you ramble on about in your message. First, let me say that I have no objection to all three of her children now working for the Village. If they were not there doing their jobs, someone else would be – the money for their positions would be spent in any case. My objection goes to the vote taken by Councilwoman Knudsen on a civil service list that favored her sons’ appointments over others. It, in fact, made those appointments much more likely. And, she participated in the unanimous vote in the full knowledge that her children would be advantaged by that vote. She did not disclose that information to the rest of the Council. And, the vote that she says she took later where she voted no on another civil service matter? That vote applied only to civil service listings for non-uniformed services. It had nothing to do with her children!

I know that all of this civil service stuff is a bit of a quagmire for you and others in the Village. I lived with that system for 35 years while working for the Supreme Court of the State of New Jersey, and I was proud to have been an employee there – an employee who enforced the code of ethics by which we conducted ourselves: no gifts, no favors, no business under the table! When our employees stood before the bar to do their business, nothing untoward could be allowed to come out in court. There are always a few who do not like to understand the rules. They became the unemployed! In Ridgewood they become Councilmembers, even Mayor.

You label my letter as negative, and your language is mighty unkind, even slanderous. My letter is meant to share with the voters of Ridgewood the truth about Susan Knudsen and her ineffective leadership style and the self-serving nature of at least some of her most important actions. I did not think it was my job to talk about how hard the mayor works. Surely someone who sticks her fingers into every pie in this Village and feels the need to control her environment so tightly has to expend a lot energy. If only all that energy could be directed positively for the welfare of all residents and voters. A coloring book of the Mayor handed out to impressionable schoolchildren? You have got to be kidding.

I leave you with one thought: It is rumored that you are positioning yourself to become the next Mayor of our Village, that you remind people that you were the highest vote-getter in your election, yet stepped aside magnanimously to let Knudsen become the Mayor. Should the fortunes of politics go your way, I just pray that you will make a better Mayor. This town sorely needs one!

Respectfully,
Hans-Jurgen Lehmann

PS: this remorseful voter is doing nothing more than exercising his First Amendment rights; your robocall comments come dangerously close to endangering those rights.

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