Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Hackensack's 'undercover' firefighters

Two unmarked SUVS were parked on Tuesday in a city owned lot next to Hackensack Fire Department headquarters on State Street.


Is Hackensack using undercover firefighters in unmarked vehicles to roam neighborhoods in search of homes without smoke alarms or overloaded circuits? 

That might explain two white SUVs parked in the city Fire Department's parking lot on State Street.

But the truth is the unmarked SUVs are among as many as 15 city owned gas guzzlers driven home by employees, only a few of whom are on 24-hour call.

City Manager Stephen Lo Iacono says one of the SUVs is driven home to Maywood by the fire chief, and that the chief's vehicle is "traditionally" unmarked.

Lo Iacono told independent City Council candidate Victor E. Sasson he had no information about the second unmarked SUV.

The second SUV is rumored to be driven home by a deputy fire chief who lives far from Hackensack, and that is why the vehicle is left unmarked.

City passes budget

The Hackensack City Council voted, 4-1, on Tuesday night to approve a $91.9 million budget that calls for a 3.3% hike in property taxes.

Landlords who pay property taxes will undoubtedly pass that increase along to renters, many of whom don't vote in the quadrennial municipal election.

There appeared to be no major changes in the budget, which was introduced on March 19.

The Record didn't cover the meeting, and no story appears in today's Local news section. 

Squelching dissent

Councilman John Labrosse, the only incumbent seeking another term on May 14, voted "no," and his running-mate, Kathy Canestrino, identified budget cuts of about $1 million the city could have made. 

After Canestrino spoke, the city manager said her proposed cuts weren't possible.

When Canestrino wanted to speak again, Mayor Michael R. Melfi said she couldn't, and ended the public hearing on the budget.

Candidates from the Coalition for Open Government -- "the Zisa slate" -- didn't speak during the hearing.

A budget summary listed the "general state of the economy" and "impact of tax appeals" among factors affecting the budget.

But it ignored the tremendous amount of tax-exempt property owned by Hackensack University Medical Center, Fairleigh Dickinson University and Bergen County, and how little they give back to the city.


  1. Victor:

    The Chevy Tahoe is driven by Deputy Fire Chief Matt Wagner, who lives on Saddle River Road in Fair Lawn.

    Many municipalities leave markings off of official vehicles for a variety of reasons - to avoid theft of equipment, to reduce the likelihood of someone deliberately crashing into the vehicle to obtain an insurance settlement, to keep residential neighbors from complaining about marked vehicles parked in driveways overnight, and to ward off nosy taxpayers.

  2. Fair Lawn is far enough away to argue there is no good reason to give him a city owned vehicle to drive home, seeing how he would be of little use in an emergency.

  3. "Of little use in an emergency."

    You crack me up.

  4. No. The joke is on the taxpayer in Hackensack.


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