Lakewood Briefs

 

Storm Leaves Thousands Without Power

Thousands of homes in Lakewood and surrounding areas were left without power for days after a storm swept quickly but violently through the area last Monday.

During and in the aftermath of the storm marked by sudden heavy rain and strong winds that reached 70 mph blew down many trees and caused severe damage to many utility poles, 15,000 Lakewood residents lost power. Trees crashed on several cars and homes, but no injuries were reported Boruch Hashem.

Local fire, police, Chaverim, Hatzalah, and other first responders were on hand in attempts to address damage and help those who had lost power or sustained property damage.

Statewide an estimated 360,000 were left in the dark initially with the highest concentration in Ocean, Monmouth, and Burlington counties. JCP&L worked to repair damaged infrastructure around New Jersey. 3,500 workers from the utility company worked around the state to repair damaged power infrastructure.

Neighboring towns of Jackson, Brick, and Howell were also among those hardest hit by outages.

In Lakewood, by Tuesday afternoon, the number of those without electricity had been reduced to 3,000, but on-going efforts to make repairs led to several more outages as the week went on. Many of those homes remained without power until Friday and some did not have it restored until Shabbos.

Jackson Council President in Focus as Report on Corruption at State Agency Released

Jackson Town Council President, Robert Nixon, was one of those in the spotlight as reports on a major corruption scandal the rocked the state’s Schools Development Authority (SDA), of which he serves as Board Chairman.

Despite the controversy that has surrounded the agency which oversees infrastructure improvements in public schools across New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy expressed confidence in Mr. Nixon and others in leadership positions at the SDA.

“The SDA plays a critical role in the construction, modernization, and renovation of schools in some of our most underserved districts across the state. The findings of these three reports will help guide SDA leadership in recommitting to the organization’s core mission: providing underprivileged students with safe, high-quality learning environments. SDA Board Chair Rob Nixon and Interim SDA CEO Manny Da Silva have my full and unwavering support to make any management decisions they deem necessary based on the findings of these reports,” said the Governor.

For several months, the agency has been under scrutiny after Governor Phil Murphy appointee, Lizette Delgado-Polanco was forced to resign after findings that she had fired several employees without cause and replaced them with relatives and connections from her former position at the Service Employees Union. In addition to accusations of patronage, investigations revealed that many given jobs under Mrs. Delagdo-Polanco’s tenure lacked basic qualifications for the positions they received.

The scandal led to a bi-partisan push in the legislature to dissolve the SDA and delegate its responsibilities to the state’s Economic Development Authority.

The comments came after the release of two independent review of the SDA’s activities by private law firms. The reports deal with how complaints of corrupt hiring practices were filed and dealt with by those charged with oversight.

Mr. Nixon re-enforced what he saw as the agency’s value.

“The SDA has a track record of success delivering quality schools throughout New Jersey so it’s important that we take time for self-reflection and demonstrate a willingness to improve,” he said. “I therefore fully support Interim CEO Da Silva’s restructuring plan to implement the recommendations of our internal audit and the finding of the independent legal counsel.”

In addition to his role at the SDA and on the Jackson Town Council he serves as Director of Government Affairs for the state Policemen’s Benevolent Association and leads a private lobbying agency and is an adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania where he teaches Government Relations.

The SDA’s troubles are not the only source of controversy involving Mr. Nixon. He has been a supporter of several zoning law changes in Jackson widely seen as aimed at discouraging the Orthodox community’s growth in the town. Earlier this year his name was added to a lawsuit against the town brought by the Agudath Israel of America challenging laws that have prevented the construction of schools and eruvin.

County Officials Warn of Social Security Phone Scam

Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders are warning residents of a new phone scam that attempts to convince people that their social security number has been stolen.

Callers claim to be federal agents who say that the victim’s personal information has been obtained by thieves who have used it to make purchases out of their bank accounts. The callers are then told to “save” their remaining funds by withdrawing all money from the account and transferring it to gift cards at local stores which a promise that a check will be sent in return.

“I want to emphasize that no local, county, state or federal law enforcement officer will ever call you and request gift cards or your personal banking information to satisfy fines or other activities,” said Ocean County Sheriff Michael G. Mastronardy. “Furthermore, no one from local, county, state, or federal law enforcement will ever call to threaten anyone with arrest either.”

The scam has targeted county residents in recent weeks, especially senior citizens.

County officials had previously warned of a scam that threatened fines and jail time for failing to respond to jury duty. It is unclear if the two stem from the same group of tele-con artists.

“The problem is that these scam artists have developed a relatively sophisticated set up where our residents are fooled by the telephone numbers they are seeing and are frightened into paying the scammers,” said Sherriff Mastronardy. “If you are concerned about a phone call, call your local police department to check the accuracy of the information.”