|Hackensack Board of Education President Jason Nunnermacker (he's the one with the double chin) hiding from the camera at Tuesday night's City Council meeting, above and below.|
By VICTOR E. SASSON
Hackensack Board of Education President Jason Nunnermacker was being dishonest when he claimed at a public meeting that school officials "cut taxes for the average homeowner by $214," city officials said Tuesday night.
Near the end of a long City Council meeting, Deputy Mayor Kathleen Canestrino said Nunnermacker "had absolutely nothing to do" with potential property tax cuts from a citywide reassessment of home values.
Apropos of nothing, Nunnermacker rose to speak at the May 3 City Council meeting and declared:
"On the superintendent's behalf, we cut taxes for the average homeowner by $214 -- under my presidential leadership."
(A week later, Nunnermacker announced at a school board meeting that Superintendent Karen Lewis had been suspended with pay for reasons he didn't disclose.)
On Tuesday night, Canestrino, speaking for the mayor and council, said the citywide revaluation is the "sole reason" some homeowners could see a total cut of about $400 in city and school taxes.
School taxes make up 44% of the total property tax bill.
Canestrino noted the reassessment lowered the value of one-third of the homes in the city, one-third stayed the same and one-third went up.
She also noted the school board approved a $4.2 million hike in the tax levy that a tiny minority of registered voters approved in the April 19 election.
The $79 million tax levy supports an overall budget of $104 million, higher than the city's own. The hike in the city tax levy was $2.1 million -- half of the board's increase.
The Record didn't bother covering the issues or the nine candidates in the school board election or report on the budget in any detail.
Lt. James Prise
Staff Writer John Seasly of The Record covered Tuesday night's City Council meeting, but his story in the Local section today doesn't report any of Canestrino's comments about Nunnermacker (L-1).
Nor does Seasly report that City Councilwoman Deborah Keeling-Geddis again led members of the city's African-American community in criticizing officials for promoting police Lt. James Prise to captain, only to return him to his original rank when it was learned he failed the oral portion of the state civil service exam.
Prise was the city's first black police lieutenant and was heralded as its first black captain at a March 8 ceremony in City Council Chambers.
City Manager David Troast said Prise's promotion was "provisional" pending the results of the oral exam, but he still thinks he was the right choice to lead the Police Department after the retirement of Police Director Mike Mordaga.
In response to comments from the audience that the City Council should issue a public apology to Prise, Canestrino and Mayor John Labrosse said officials have apologized a number of times, but that The Record hasn't reported any of them.
A front-page story today reports that Bergen County had one of the state's 191 "apartheid schools," or "schools where 1 percent or less of the student population was white," according to a 2013 Rutgers University report.
But even though a Record reporter added material to the story from The Associated Press, that district isn't identified (A-1).
"Apartheid schools" certainly would fit the elementary and middle schools in Englewood, where desegregation efforts in the last decade have focused only on Dwight Morrow High School.
Over the years, Dan Sforza and other Record reporters assigned to Englewood have routinely ignored the city's dysfunctional school system.
Then, Sforza spent many years as a local editor who assigned reporters to cover stories in Englewood before he was promoted to managing editor this year.
Staff Writer Mathhew McGrath, who covers the city now, has written about education, but never reported the city's elementary and middle schools have few white students nor has he asked the superintendent what, if anything, he intends to do about that.