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Senator Frank Lautenberg Speaks At Westfield Democrat Fundraiser
By PAUL J. PEYTON
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader and The Times
Although the calendar says February, Westfield Democrats are already beginning to talk about the possibilities which a victory in November would bring the party next year.
During a $100-per-person fundraiser, held Sunday afternoon at the Paprika Grille on Elm Street, municipal, county and state leaders gathered to support the local party.
Democrats are on the short end of a 5-4 Town Council. But, with four of the five Republican seats on the governing body expiring this year, Democrats feel good about their prospects come Election Day. Just three years ago, Republicans had an 8-1 majority.
With the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton taking center stage these days, the local party welcomed three-term United States Senator from New Jersey Frank Lautenberg as its guest speaker. The Senate, which is hearing the case, was not in session on Sunday.
Greeted on the way in the door by a UPN 9 news crew, the Senator said that while he is against removing the
President from office, he strongly supports a resolution to censure the President for his sexual liaison with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
Referring to Washington D.C. as the “entertainment capital of the world” these past few months due to the impeachment inquiry and subsequent trial, he said the Democrats’ position against removing President Clinton is based on the rules of the Unites States Constitution.
“It’s just a matter of law,” he explained.
The Senator cited the leadership of President Clinton and his ability to work with the Republican majority in both houses of Congress. He noted that six years ago, President Clinton inherited a national debt of $290 billion, with a forecast that the amount was headed to $400 billion. This year, the country is expected to generate a budget surplus.
“And if things go as they are projected, in 15 years we will be at the lowest point in public debt that this country has seen since 1917,” he said. He also cited significant gains in job
growth and home ownership among Americans.
Senator Lautenberg said he had sought a censure resolution before the Democratic leadership last August, prior to the release of independent prosecutor Kenneth Starr’s report.
“He (President Clinton) is not acquitted (under a censure resolution) for his abominable behavior,” explained Senator Lautenberg.
The Senator is currently the senior Democrat on the Senate Budget Committee. He noted that if the Democrats regain control of the Senate next year, he would likely take over as the Chairman of that committee, along with the leadership of the Environmental Committee, while maintaining his chairmanship of the Senate Transportation Subcommittee.
When asked why he chose to attend the Westfield event, the Senator told
The Westfield Leader that he has been “very impressed” with Democratic Mayor Thomas C. Jardim’s “youth, his intellect, his vitality.”
He said the Mayor is part of a “new wave” of candidates coming forth in
David B. Corbin for The Westfield Leader and The Times
PARTY FUNDRAISER….United States Senator from New Jersey Frank Lautenberg, center, is flanked by Westfield Town Council members during Sunday’s fundraiser for the party. Pictured, left to right, are: Fourth Ward Councilman Lawrence A. Goldman, First Ward Councilman Carl A. Salisbury, Senator Lautenberg, Mayor Thomas C. Jardim and Third Ward Councilman John J. Walsh.
CONTINUED ON PAGE 10 Residents Could Soon See Relief From Train Whistles
Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Richard H. Bagger of Westfield that would bring relief from piercing whistles or loud horns made by trains traveling through a town at night was approved by the Assembly on January 28.
The measure, Assembly Bill No. 560, would provide towns or counties with the ability to request a waiver of current law, which requires trains to sound such alarms whenever the engine is crossing a highway grade intersection. The waiver would be granted in cases where the Federal Railroad Administration or Secretary of Transportation has approved supplementary safety measures for that crossing.
“Noise pollution is a growing concern of many New Jersey residents. Many grade crossings located in or near residential neighborhoods are already or will soon be served by federally approved safety measures permanently installed at the crossing,” said Assemblyman Bagger.
“It is redundant to require a train engine to sound a warning when the supplementary safety measures make it impossible for a car to enter the
railroad tracks when a train is near,” he legislator explained.
Westfield residents on Rahway Avenue living near the Lehigh Valley Railroad tracks had been among those persons complaining from the noise of freight trains coming through town in the early morning hours. Federal Railroad Administration officials attended a conference on the topic in Cranford this past fall.
Assemblyman Bagger said many municipalities have complained to him and to the state and have requested that trains not be required to sound their horns where these safety devices are already used at crossings.
“Everyone has the right to enjoy a quiet night’s sleep,” Mr. Bagger said. “We need to make motorists and pedestrians aware of the dangers of an approaching train, but we do not need horns sounding at more than 100 decibels when the safety measures in place make the horns unnecessary.”
The Assembly voted to concur with Senate amendments by a 76-0-2 floor vote. The bill now heads to Governor Christine Todd Whitman for consideration.
Mountainside Council Discusses Plans for Pocket Park Funds By KIMBERLY A. BROADWELL
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader and The Times
MOUNTAINSIDE – For the second consecutive year Mountainside recreational areas will get a face lift as part of the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders “Pocket Park” matching grant program.
Officials explained Tuesday night that the program this year will be utilized to resurface all four tennis courts and upgrade the borough’s fitness trail.
According to Mountainside Recreation Director Susan Winans, the county will award $1 million in matching funds to municipalities to upgrade local parks and/or recreational facilities.
Ms. Winans reported that $34,000 was needed to resurface the tennis courts, $25,000 to upgrade the fitness trail, and $17,000 for a softball field warning track and fencing. The collective projects are entitled “Improvements to the Municipal Park Complex,” according to the Recreation Director.
She stated that half of the $76,000 tab for the improvements could be covered by the county grant, while another $30,000 could be derived from recreation trust fund moneys. This would leave only $8,000 for the borough to fund.
She said the county will be accepting grant applications as of Monday, March 1, and will notify municipalities in May.
“This is a great opportunity to get three important projects done at a minimal cost to the borough,” concluded Ms. Winans.
According to the Recreation Director’s report to the council, the county last year awarded $1.7 million to all 21 of its municipalities. Mountainside received $25,000 for the soccer fields at Deerfield Elementary School.
In other business, Councilman Ronald W. Romak, who serves as the borough’s Police Commissioner, brought the needs of the police department to the governing body.
According to Mr. Romak, Police Chief James Debbie has said the squad needs to immediately replace two police vehicles which had accumulated 89,000 and 100,000 miles, respectively, along with another vehicle that had 85,000 miles in the
spring. Councilman Romak and Chief Debbie also mentioned that new police radios would be needed in the near future, and that the borough’s 17-year-old Dictaphone machine, which records all emergency calls, would also have to be replaced soon.
Mayor Robert F. Viglianti stated that two police vehicles could be leased with the option to buy within the year without penalty, noting this had been done in the past year.
Borough Administrator Gregory Bonin stated that the budgets for all Mountainside’s municipal departments were currently being compiled for review by the end of the month as part of the municipal budget process.
Mayor Viglianti stated that because of some new positions within the borough, the 1999 municipal budget would be “very tight” this year, though he pledged to work hard toward his goal of achieving a 0 percent tax
increase in the municipal portion of Mountainsiders property tax bills.
The new positions referred to by the Mayor include a part-time TV 35 coordinator, the local cablevision access channel, as well as an administrative assistant who also serves as an emergency medical technician for the rescue squad, and the new Recreation Coordinator.
In other business, Ms. Winans reported that the fees for use of the borough’s tennis courts were going up for the 1999 season. Badges will increase from $5 to $15 for adults, and from $3 to $10 for teens and senior citizens. The badge rate for non-residents will be $30.
Councilman Keith C. Turner added that the Recreation Commission was presently asking last year’s pool management members, including Paul Brown, Stephen Fowler and Beverly Mather, to return for the summer 1999 season.