May 31, 2007

Camp Berkeley Heights - New Providence & Summit Look Out!!

We first talked about Camp Berkeley Heights back in 2005.....See article "Berkeley Heights soon to be Linden West."

It seemed a natural that the following letter, from a concerned Berkeley Heights resident and activist should be shared as it illustrates perfectly what appears to be going on up in them there hills.

It should be pointed out that former Union County Open Space Administrator Angie Bowen Devanney is the town's Administrator. Angie is married to Union County Manager, George Devanney, who is one of the individuals who was on the committee that studied the change in Berkeley Heights form of municipal government and led the charge at the polls to effect that change. George now has himself sitting on the Berkeley Heights planning board, which could constitute something of an unethical appointment, even though George is a resident of the municipality. George, mind you, is the nephew of State Senator Raymond Lesniak who has referred to himself as a political power broker here in Union County and assuredly is a buddy to Charlotte DiFilippo, the current Chairwoman of the Union County Democratic Committee. Ms DiFillippo is a Hillside resident, the Devanney's hail from Elizabeth and Lesniak from Linden, one could call them all the "new carpetbaggers".

And now for the letter:

I guess We’re not in Kansas anymore Toto!

A week or so ago the Independent Press printed an article released from the “seat of Democratic Power” in Union County, Ms. Charlotte DiFilippo, who serves as the Union County Democratic Chairwoman. I wondered why Ms. DiFilippo felt compelled to insert herself into the politics of Berkeley Heights from her home in Hillside. Apparently, her intrusion revolves around Township Councilman John Bonacci, one of the brightest, most articulate, caring and concerned individuals that we have on the Council. Mr. Bonacci has tirelessly fought to contain the budget, get better roads, continue an efficient and cost effective sewer plant, look out for the senior citizens and establish a government that works for the people not against them. What is so wrong with that?

Word has it that Ms. DiFilippo received a telephone call from our Boss DeVanney, insisting that Berkeley Heights Councilman John Bonacci not be given the Democratic Line in the upcoming election for Township Council, despite the fact that Mr. Bonacci had just won a one-year term to Council in 2006 as a Democrat. Moreover, the Berkeley Heights Democratic Chairman, Councilman Tom Battaglia wanted Mr. Bonacci to run for reelection on the Democratic Ticket. Apparently, John Bonacci isn’t the “right kind of Democrat” for Boss DeVanney and Boss DiFilippo’s liking. Perhaps he doesn’t “toe the party line”, or blindly prostrate himself in front of the party “bosses.” Or, maybe he simply independently represents the interest of Berkeley Heights over the interests of the County Bosses. One thing is for certain, he doesn't have a political patronage job at the County so the Bosses have to resort to press releases because they cannot control him though promotions or demotions or flimsy disciplinary actions. I do not think that Boss DiFilippo's diatribe will dent Mr. Bonacci's independent stand on the issues.

Over the next six months, until the election in November, we here in Berkeley Heights will be hearing a lot about political machines and political bosses. Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines boss as “2 a person who controls a political machine or organization, as in a county; often political boss.” When was it that Berkeley Heights adopted the politics of the Big City Political Machines? Our Town is not Chicago, New York or Union County. The Berkeley Heights that I know is made up of independent thinkers, Democrats, Republicans and Unaffiliated folks who pride themselves on judging each issue on its own merits and making up their minds based on the facts as they see them. Our issues are local and unique to our small town community, they transcend party label. We don’t need to be told how to think, or for whom to vote. We talk to our friends and neighbors, listen to the candidates and decide for ourselves what’s right for our community. That’s how “politics” used to work in Berkeley Heights. Apparently, we are too small-town minded for the Political Bosses' tastes. They want to change us to their liking. They would rather have us a subservient colony of taxpayers who should just pay their County Tax bills and do what we are told, or else. Or else they won’t let you have proven candidates to vote for.

I fully expect that over the next couple of months our mailboxes will overflow with trite campaign material from the “Union County Democratic Machine.” You can also expect to receive those annoying recorded telephone messages encouraging you to get out and vote for the machine candidates. Just like any other “scheme” designed to separate a fool from his money, this election has the potential for doing much worse. It really is “now or never” in Berkeley Heights. Forget the party designations, they don’t mean a thing at this level of government. Forget the fancy mailings, and the dressed-up promises and remember, behind the curtain where the big, booming voice shouted “I AM THE WIZARD OF OZ” sat a very small individual. Listen carefully to the politicians who would separate you from your vote and never forget, the future of your community is at stake.


John Miller

Note: John Miller was a write in mayorial candidate who was narrowly defeated in the last Berkeley Heights election.

Wanting to make the situation abundently clear, I am not endorsing any candidate with this post but rather beleive that the residents in not only Berkeley Heights but New Providence and what could be called the Jewel in the Crown, Summit, must make informed,educated decisions at the polls, not only in the upcoming primary but the general election as well. Do they want to be ruled with an iron fist from a dining room table in Hillside or do they want to make decisions which are in the best interest of themselves for them selves and preserve the quality of the life that they have enjoyed.