CALDWELL, NJ — Regarding an ongoing lawsuit between Caldwell officers and the Caldwell Chief of Police James Bongiorno, Borough Attorney Greg Mascera stated at the council meeting on Tuesday that the borough has secured counsel for both Bongiorno and the Borough of Caldwell.
According to Mascera, Bongiorno will be represented by Daniel Antonelli Esq. in Union and Nicolas Grieco Esq. will represent the borough.
“The borough has no intention of settling,” said Mascera.
Resident Ed Durkin, a former Caldwell Councilman, spoke during public comment regarding a conflict of interest with Paul Jemas, township attorney for West Caldwell. Durkin stated his concerns over Jemas’ position after he served as mayor in Caldwell and was part of the Democratic Party.
Durkin said he feels it is a conflict of interest to have Jemas work for the West Caldwell Township, as the townships have shared services that may not be in the best interest of Caldwell.
“There needs to be full disclosure, and this raised a lot of red flags,” said Durkin, who added that he “came in peace” and that he wanted to bring Jemas’ ability to influence Caldwell settlements and non-disclosures to the council’s attention.
Mascera replied that this is West Caldwell’s concern because Jemas works for West Caldwell.
“He can be affiliated with any political party, as that does not disqualify him for the position,” he said. “It’s a West Caldwell prerogative.”
In other news, Caldwell Mayor Ann Dassing discussed her attendance at the Lincoln School’s exhibit of its Touchstone Projects, which showcased students’ ideas on how to improve Bloomfield Avenue.
“I want to see if we can implement some of their ideas,” she said. “How exciting would that be for a 5th grader to see their idea implemented. I was amazed at their maturity.”
One example of the ideas the children came up with, she said, was having QR codes on the borough’s historic places.
The meeting opened with a presentation by Steven Neale from the Township of Verona’s Department of Community Services, who presented The Verona Solar Challenge to the council in support of the Caldwell Environmental Commission.
According to Neale, the Verona Solar Challenge is a town-sponsored program that has partnered with EnergySage, an online solar marketplace that was developed with funding and support from the US Department of Energy.
This free service is intended to help residents learn about and shop for a solar energy system with no obligation to make a purchase. The platform compares quotes from three pre-screened solar installers online on an apples-to-apples basis.
In response to inquiries about how it benefits the township, Neale noted the cost savings for residents and the benefits for the environment.
Also during the meeting, Councilman John Cascarano recommended extending liquor sales from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays. If permissible by state and alcohol laws, he said he would like to look into this extension within the borough.
Cascarano also announced that April is “Distracted Driving Month” in Caldwell and reminded residents that officers will be out and about observing drivers on their cell phones.
In addition, Councilman Kris Brown promoted upcoming Earth Day/Arbor Day in Caldwell on April 22, sponsored by the Caldwell Environmental Commission. The event will consist of paper shredding, tress distribution, bike swap, information tables, pollinator garden table, electronic recycling and more activities. Earth Day will take place at Caldwell Borough Hall from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on that date.