Accomplishments or Alternative Facts?

An Open Letter About the Knudsen/Sedon Mailer

I reviewed the Knudsen/Sedon mailer, and I need to share my view of what Ms. Knudsen and Mr. Sedon stated in this document. Once I got started, I quickly came to the realization how difficult it is to arm wrestle a puff piece. I will try anyway.

My critics wonder what is motivating me to be a vociferous critic of the Knudsen/Sedon team. Do I have anything personal against Ms. Knudsen or Mr. Sedon or their families? No, I don’t. Why should I?

I care deeply about Ridgewood, and I worry about the direction it is heading–a slow decline to oblivion. And, in my humble opinion, this decline is being accelerated by having Knudsen and Sedon in power.

I am an American by choice and have lived in the US since 1958, when I emigrated from Lebanon to attend college. I never looked back, and I am now happily ensconced with my family in America. I know the country well, having traveled the highways and byways from sea to shining sea, and have been to 49 states. In June I will visit my 50th, Alaska.

I have studied America’s history and institutions and all that makes America great! And, like many naturalized Americans, I feel that the greatest gift we have as citizens is the U.S. Constitution. I urge parents with young kids to go out and purchase copies of the Constitution for their children.

Thanks to the Constitution, when it comes to expressing my views and opinions, no one will silence me. If the Mayor thinks she can browbeat me with her bullying or slander, such as claiming that I am perpetrating “fraud on the Ridgewood residents” or finding me out of order whenever I say something she does not like, I say to the Mayor: Save your breath. Go and bully someone else.

The Knudsen/Sedon mailer mentions five accomplishments and in my opinion these claims fit the definition of alternative facts. Let me address them one by one.

  1. Working to Protect Ridgewood I keep on hearing how Knudsen/Sedon work hard to protect the town’s “charm and character.” Charm and character–like boarded up auto dealerships and 20+ stores closed or about to close? We keep hearing about the tremendous work being done to update the Master Plan. When will we see results? Will Knudsen/Sedon encourage an open debate on the issues?
  2. Working to Build a Parking Garage In the first two years of their incumbency, Knudsen/Sedon did what they could to derail the garage project. After they took over as Mayor/Deputy Mayor, they kicked the can down the road with one ill-fated scheme after another to reapportion the available parking spaces and raising the annual parking fee to $1,000. As elections approached, Knudsen/Sedon put on their skates and began discussing a garage in what appears to be in earnest. In my humble opinion, this is a Trojan Horse ploy, and the garage will not be built if they are re-elected. For one thing, based on what I know, the economics of the smaller garage just don’t make sense. The cost of the added parking spaces is almost $70,000 per space. I spoke to a friend who is a senior engineer at a major national construction company, and he said in the past year construction costs have gone up some 20%. What a missed opportunity that the garage was not built two years ago. Plus interest rates have risen.
  3. Working to Improve our infrastructure What aggressive paving program? I would like to see some numbers. We have never had so many potholes in town.
  4. Working to Update our Water System I would like to see what Knudsen/Sedon, along with the Council, have done when the flyer claims they “have planned and budgeted for a complete overhaul and upgrade of Ridgewood Water.” They are spending $1.6 million to acquire and refurbish the Elks Lodge to house the Water Department, which will be moved out of Village Hall. Why? I understand this is to allow room for the Police Department to expand. The $1.6 million would have been better spent to remediate our pipes, pumps, and wells.
  5. Working for our Children Knudsen/Sedon pat themselves on the back for renovating Maple Field–ignoring all the effort and hard work of a multitude of people. And, for the record, so much more work needs to be done.

They mention Schedler. That will require so much space I will not address it here.

The other side of the mailer states “TIME TO SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT!” And, what nonsense this page is.

The first “FACT!” dealt with nepotism. Once and for all, I wish the Mayor and Deputy Mayor would have the decency to admit they misled the residents of Ridgewood when they adamantly claimed that it was a State of New Jersey mandate that municipalities give priority to residents for public safety positions. There is no such mandate. It is up to the municipality to determine that. I understand that Glen Rock has no such requirement. The Mayor should also admit that when she argued vociferously for the Village to maintain this requirement, she did not disclose that her sons were on the waiting list. Shame on the Mayor.

The second “FACT!” dealt with the Mayor winning the $25,000 raffle ticket for a fund raiser for the school associated with Mt. Carmel. It makes the claim that opponents of the Mayor accuse her and the Church of colluding by rigging the raffle. This is a blatant lie. No one that I know of has done that. I and others have criticized the Mayor for not turning her winnings back to a worthy charity. Bad optics for a Mayor to win a $25,000 raffle from an organization whose cause she espoused within a month of being sworn in as Mayor.

The third “FACT!” concerns the Rainbow Flag. Everyone I know who is knowledgeable about the actual sequence of events will disagree with the Mayor’s statements. The Mayor has an uncanny ability to dance a jig when she gets cornered or is caught having dropped the ball.

The fourth “FACT!” concerns dispatch services/911 calls. The subject was not openly discussed but was restricted to an executive session and then tabled when it came out that supporters of the Mayor and Deputy Mayor where involved. I wish I were a young reporter. I think there’s story to be told here.

All the terrible things that are taking place in Washington DC I see on a smaller scale in Ridgewood–the incompetence, lies, and self-serving corruption. Yes, we have Trump in Washington and Knudsen/Sedon in Ridgewood–peas in a pod.

Peas in a pod

Ridgewood can and must do better.

Rurik Halaby

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