YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A Norwood councilman temporarily had an electronic roadside ad for a local PBA fundraiser for the “Wounded Warrior” project turned off, insisting that borough equipment shouldn’t be used for union functions. But Mayor James Barsa ordered it turned back on as soon as he found out.
Here’s the original sign (CLIFFVIEWPILOT.COM photo)
“It’s a sad day for the PBA to witness politics get in the way of raising money for our true heroes in the Wounded Warrior project,” Closter PBA 233 President Jack McTigue told CLIFFVIEW PILOT, before Barsa interceded.
The electronic message on Livingston Street in Norwood touted Sunday’s first annual car show at Northern Valley Regional High School in Demarest. The Sunday event, from noon to 5 p.m., also features food, various merchandise vendors, a deejay and trophies for the most outstanding vehicles. PBA Local 350 is a co-sponsor.
About 1:30 Saturday afternoon, Krapels said, he got a text from Norwood Councilman Alan Rappaport, the police commissioner, asking whether the chief authorized use of the sign for PBA purposes.
“I think you do not have the support of the council. Anything about the PBA is a major issue,” part of the councilman’s text said.
Krapels — whose nephew was severely injured in battle last year, to the point that he might lose both legs — reluctantly agreed to switch it off.
“That sign is for public service announcements and public safety,” the chief told CLIFFVIEW PILOT. “They are donating 100 percent of the proceeds to a very worthy cause. I did not see anything wrong with that.”
No sooner did the sign go blank than veterans in town immediately got hold of Barsa. He drove straight to the chief’s house. By 3:30, the sign was back on.
“We have a great police department and we have great police officers in town, but at times there are conflicts over contractual concerns, just like any other town,” Barsa told CLIFFVIEW PILOT. “I may not agree with the PBA on all issues. But I think this is a terrific, outstanding thing that they are doing.
“We give the chief the authority to use the message board at his discretion, and the mayor and council did not authorize it to be turned off or removed,” the mayor added. “I did not feel that it was appropriate to turn off the sign.”
Rappaport “says he does not want borough equipment to support PBA business, but this isn’t union business,” said McTigue, the union chief. “The PBA is not making a dime on this event. Besides giving all of the proceeds to the project, we’re donating $500 of our own.
“This was strictly retaliatory,” he told CLIFFVIEW PILOT.
Rappaport, in turn, told CLIFFVIEW PILOT: “I felt that the sign has historically been used for borough business — rec, PTA, whatever. If the chief wanted to use it for anything other than that, he should have called the borough administrator, the mayor and council, or myself first.
“I wholeheartedly support veterans and especially injured veterans. They give us something that we can never get — democracy and freedom of choice. I drove back two hours from our summer home to march in the parade.
“Based upon the fact that the borough is having all of these issues with the PBA, then we should have been consulted.”
He also told Krapels the issue would be discussed at the next council meeting.
“It’s a professional relationship that’s going through tough times,” Krapels said of the contract situation. “But that had nothing to do with this.”
To which Barsa added: “Just because we don’t agree on some things doesn’t mean we don’t agree on anything.”
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