The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines "retaliate" as "usually implies a paying back of injury in exact kind, often vengefully."

The Merriam-Webster dictionary further defines "requite" as "implies a paying back according to one's preference and often not equivalently."

Finally, the Merriam-Webster dictionary "collusion" as a "secret agreement or cooperation especially for an illegal or deceitful purpose."

All of these terms adequately defines what occurred on Monday night at the Lakewood Board of Fire Commissioners meeting.

The members of the Board publicly admonished their Vice Chairman Larry Loigman.

Mr Loigman's crime: single handedly exposing a massive tax increase in the Township Committee's proposal to construction of 150 feet high rise buildings in a portion of the Township.

As the news was very first broken here on FAA News back in March 2023, Lakewood's Township Committee and Industrial Commission had been working to quietly push through an ordinance that will allow construction of 150 feet high rise buildings in a portion of the Township off Route 70, east of the Garden State Parkway.

Earlier this year, Township officials reached out to the Board of Fire Commissioners and asked them to review this high rise proposal.

At a subsequent meeting of the Board of Fire Commissioners, when the Board discussed the Township's proposal and request for a report on the proposal, Vice Chairman Larry Loigman stated that the report should include financial considerations.

Despite that the Board of Fire Commissioners is duly elected by the voters/taxpayers and funds their operations with taxpayer dollars, Chairman Yaakov Steinberg pushed back against including financial considerations in their report, stating that the Township only asked for any safety concerns they may have had.

Fire Chief Jonathan Yahr duly drafted a report which quietly admitted that the proposal would require the career department to be increased as well as for additional fire apparatus to be purchased, yet at the same time confidently assuring the Township that "we can handle your high rise building proposal."

Subsequently, as first reported here on FAA News, BOFC Vice Chairman Larry Loigman penned a letter very clearly warning the Township Committee that the need to the need to double the size of the career department, and acquire sufficient apparatus, training etc which would be required due to the construction of higher rise buildings than currently permitted in the Township, would increase our property taxes $6 million annually.

This letter was written on BOFC letterhead. Immediately in the second sentence Mr. Loigman expressed his "own views."

Due to this exposure, the Township Committee put the brakes on their proposal, first halting it, and then ultimately, adopting the Ordinance, but only at 75 feet high.

Shockingly, the rest of the members of the Board of Fire Commissioners are apparently unhappy that this "top secret tax increase" was brought out to the light of day and shown to the Township Committee.

In fact, they are so very unhappy that, on Monday night, they formally adopted a very important Resolution Admonishing Mr. Loigman for "violating the Board's Code of Ethics by falsely representing the concerns of the Fire District as a whole!"

The Resolution ignores the fact that immediately in the second sentence of his letter, Mr. Loigman wrote that the letter expresses his "own views."

Instead, they hyped on that the letter to the Township Manager was written on Board of Fire Commissioners letterhead and signed by Loigman in his capacity as Vice Chairman of the Board, and that the last paragraph of the letter stated, "I am certain that the Township Committee and Administration share the Fire District's concerns for the safety and well-being of all the residents of Lakewood."

The Board's Resolution of Admonition charges that this letter was in violation of the Board's Code of Ethics which states that "each Board member recognizes that authority rests with the whole Board and will make no personal promises or take any private actions which may compromise the Board... Board members shall not make statements to the public on behalf of the Board unless authorized by the Board to do so... Prior to making personal statements regarding Fire District matters, the Board member shall identify himself as as Board member but indicate that their comments are neither authorized nor spoken on behalf of the Board."

The Resolution of Admonition asserts that Mr. Loigman's letter "falsely represented the concerns of the Fire District as a whole."

Coincidentally, the Board's by-laws do not expressly prohibit Board members from writing letters on the Board's letterhead.

Mr. Loigman suggested that the Resolution be tabled and the matter be referred to the Board's by-laws Committee where the entire matter could be properly reviewed. The Board declined this suggestion and plowed forward with adopting their resolution.

Sounds like this Resolution complies with the Merriam-Webster dictionary's definition of retaliate and requite!

Moreover, a bigger question is, why were the rest of the members of the Board of Fire Commissioners still so very upset at Mr. Loigman, especially in light that the Township Committee already adopted the Ordinance as they amended it, so technically the topic of Mr. Loigman's tax increase exposure could have been deemed "discussed and done, let's let bygones be bygones," right?

The answer lies in the Merriam-Webster dictionary's definition of "collusion," which is a "secret agreement or cooperation especially for an illegal or deceitful purpose."

The rest of the members of the Board of Fire Commissioners were not retaliating simply for their honor, their ceremonial admonishment was actually all for the honor of the Township officials who prefer to operate in quiet virtual meetings rather than transparently!

By the way, the joke truly is on the shoulders of the rest of the members of the Board of Fire Commissioners and their comfortably paid administrative staff, as ultimately all their earlier collusion was for nought.

As previously reported here on FAA News, following Mr. Loigman's uncomfortable exposure, Township officials looked for a scapegoat to fix the massive headache caused by Mr. Loigman's uncomfortable exposure.

Luckily for them, the Board of Fire Commissioners, maneuvered by their general counsel, Attorney Ian Goldman, Fire Chief Jonathan Yahr, and Fire District Administrator Yehuda Beer, cheerfully agreed to become the perfect scapegoat.

(This year's fire district budget, which for the first time has topped $10 million, includes a salary of $191,732 for Chief Yahr, $155,000 for Administrator Yehuda Beer, and $110,000.00 for Deputy Administrator Steven Mulholland. Mr. Goldman's contract is for $155 per hour for his legal services. In 2022 the District paid Mr. Goldman close to $50,000 for his legal services. Clerk Erin Belfiglio receives $55,000.)

As reported in the above story, not only did they distance themselves from the "unwanted tax increase exposure," they even actively supported the ordinance to permit high rise buildings, explaining that "Lakewood needs to continue to grow!"

When Mr. Loigman interjected "the residents of the Township have nothing to gain here as only the unknown developer will gain," Chief Yahr pushed back, saying "the Township Committee are the ones who want to push through this ordinance. It's not our place to try to stop them for any reason. Our job is simply to figure out how to provide sufficient fire service for however the Township Committee chooses to permit the Township to continue to grow."

Ultimately, the joke is on them as the Committee ultimately adopted the Ordinance, but only at 75 feet high.

Since that time, additional troubling information about this "high rise buildings proposal" has come to light.

The central beneficiary is intended to be Tomchei Shabbos, who wants land for a large warehouse.

Essentially, this is the very quiet deal that Tomchei Shabbos worked out with the Township: The Township will sell land to a developer. The developer will donate a portion of that land to Tomchei Shabbos (and likely also build them the warehouse they want). In return for this generous favor, the Township will amend the zoning ordinance to permit for the developer to construct high rise buildings on this land.

So it's a win-win for Tomchei Shabbos and the developer. All made possible by their hooked up friends on the Township Committee!

Finally, a much more glaring issues has come to light: The Township's very own 2017 Master Plan recommendation.

The Master Plan actually recommended that the lands east of the Parkway adjoining the Township boundary with Brick Township be conserved as Open Space - not be sold off in a top secret deal for development!

Huh? How in the world did the Township officials miss that one single little item??

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Just a taxpayer said...


david beyda said...

What the___l???
Loigman is the only good guy on committee?