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$30K Potential Cost of School Board Delay

District may have lost thousands in savings from refinancing of bonds, BOE attorney says.

A Parsippany Board of Education member's motion to delay dealing with a number of school district business matters in early January may have had an unintended consequence—the loss of $30,000 in savings from the refinancing of bonds for capital improvements.

At the BOE's Jan. 3 meeting, member Michael Strumolo moved to table consideration of the superintendent's and secretary's reports until new member James Carifi could educate himself on the information contained within them. The motion launched a heated debate between members over whether the delay would bring board business, as member Fran Orthwein cautioned, "to a screeching halt."

Ultimately, board attorney Mark Tabakin said that because most items were already approved to cover the rest of the present school year, business would not be disrupted, and the board approved Strumolo's motion. 

Orthwein cast the only no vote.

At the meeting held last Thursday, the matter arose again when Strumolo made a motion to table the secretary's report. 

The move did not receive a second and died on the spot.

Member Gary Martin re-crafted the motion, pointing out specific sections regarding reappointments that end at the close of the school year, such as those for architecture firm Parette Somjen, health insurance broker Doyle Alliance Group and a host of per-hour and per-visit physicians who offer medical services to district schools.

"If we can save the district money, shouldn't we take a look at it?" argued Martin. "We don't have to stick with the same old companies year after year when we might be able to save the taxpayers money."

Martin said the board might find that the current appointees are the best, most economical choices.

"But we don't know until we look at it," he said.

Orthwein noted an unintended consequence of having tabled the previous meeting's secretary's report, and specifically, the refinancing of old bonds for capital improvements.

"Because we waited, we lost the opportunity for saving the taxpayers money," she said pointedly, noting that the loss was $15,000. Further delay, she added, would double that figure to $30,000.

Strumolo scoffed at the statement. He turned to the board's lawyer and asked whether Orthwein's assertion was true.

Tabakin looked down and said that she indeed was correct.

After a heated debate, the matter ultimately came to a vote. Strumolo's motion passed—with Orthwein voting yes alongside Strumolo, Martin, President Golderer, Vice President Sharif Shamsudin, James Carifi and Anthony DeIntinis. Members Frank Calabria and Anthony Mancuso voted no.

Other items led to less charged discussions.

Board President Susy Golderer announced that the body is looking at the possibility of restructuring public meetings so there would be a workshop meeting, where members hash out issues, and a business meeting, where voting would take place.

This method of doing business, reputed to be a more efficient way of getting work accomplished, is employed by other New Jersey school districts, including Livingston, Paterson and Summit.

She said the matter would be considered in the Critical Issues Committee, which now is headed by Strumolo.

Another idea came from Calabria, the previous board president, who suggested making committee meetings open to the public.

Strumolo erupted.

"You never said that when you were president," he charged.

"I wasn't smart enough to think of it then," Calabria responded with a smile.

President Golderer sent that idea to Critical Issues as well.

The committee will also consider a suggestion by Orthwein to issue a resolution similar to the one passed by the Parsippany Town Council to urge the state legislature to override Gov. Christie's veto of the Good Samaritan Act. The law, if passed, would prioritize saving lives over punishment by offering limited immunity to those who suffer drug overdoses and to companions who call for help.

Strumolo came out forcefully against Orthwein, saying that a school board must stand strong against all drug use.

Orthwein argued that saving lives should be the priority.

Coincidentally, there was a similar difference of opinion in Trenton: In the General Assembly, District 26 representatives BettyLou DeCroce and Jay Webber supported the measure last year, while state Sen. Joseph Pennacchio did not.

On another matter, Superintendent LeRoy Seitz said that a Youth Leadership Academy idea proposed on Jan. 3 by member James Carifi was considered as promised. He said the district felt Carifi's idea to bring law enforcement and emergency responders into contact with students was a good one and that administrators would try to meld his idea into the existing Student Leadership Retreat offered during the summer.

Another measure considered was a proposed policy change regarding rules over opportunities for public comment during board meeting. 

As expected, the board approved on first reading a refinement to the existing policy that essentially maintains the rules already in place, including a three-minute limit for commenters.

Hank Heller January 29, 2013 at 02:02 AM
If that is the case, why didn't the Business Administrator or the School Superintendent or the Board Attorney or Mrs. Orthwein insist that the re-fi be included in the next Secretary's Report? Why was it left out of last Thursdays BOE Secretary's Report? I don't understand. It sure looks like the "knowledgeable one's" we're looking for an opportunity to spring their trap. Mr. Saxton did say there were no financial ramifications to tabling the item. The question is, why was it left off a subsequent report? Is that Strumolo's fault? I think any fair-minded person would say NO.
Parsippany Taxpayer January 29, 2013 at 03:42 AM
It is sad to see that the BOE is run like the board recommending the Waterview rezoning project. This is common sense that the BOE should be taking advantage of the low finance rates to the advantage of the taxpayer. It is great that we get o watch the gridlock in Congress on TV and then read about and see the nonsense first hand in our local community. Parsippany is supposed to be a top notch community and yet from all I have read the recent actions at the BOE seem very unprofessional. I don't expect everyone to agree with one another but I do expect progress as a taxpayer of this community.
Carol M. January 29, 2013 at 01:44 PM
I could be wrong but what I remember is Mr Saxton and the lawyer saying you can do this or you can do that and it's their job to let them know whats legal not to tell them how to do their jobs. I didn't understood the delay on the refinance either so I asked quite a few different people with first hand knowledge. Think of refinancing a mortgage but elevate it 10 fold because this is a public bond. The principal needs to be recalculated based on the tax information from the town; monies collected, monies paid. If I understood correctly, those numbers are calculated monthly. Then the balance needs to be recalculated; principal paid, interest applied The interest rates need to be secured, the new rates applied and the bond attorney needs to work out the dollar amount to the penny and deal with the legal side. Then on the exact day that everything has been calculated for, the BOE needs to approve the refinance. Remember that this is public money so there's no estimating. Since the original date for the refinance, first thing in January, was arbitrarily set aside, none of the dates or dollar amounts applied so the whole process had to start all over again. Ka ching, $30,000 down the drain.
Carol M. January 29, 2013 at 01:45 PM
I was told that they are trying to get this wrapped up as quickly as they can but the next meeting is in mid February so thats reduced interest gone forever. And my impression was that if Mr Strumolo didn't start in with his I want to table this, I want to table that, that Mrs Orthwein would not have publicly pointed out the financial seriousness of his previous move. Remember, she didn't just bring it up out of thin air but rather out of desperation in response to Mr Strumolo who has been on the BOE for what, 4 years, to stop with his nonsense and for him and all of us to see how costly that kind of garbage is. I think whats fair minded is if people take responsibility for their actions, learn from their mistakes, stop trying to blame others and stop promoting theories based on one sided perceptions.
Kevin Brancato January 29, 2013 at 06:51 PM
Hi Hank, If the "knowledgeable one's" "set him up", as you say. Why wasn't he in the know? Did he get a different packet? Didn't Strumolo read his packet? He never does cause he doesn't have time remember him saying that. It's just more of the same with his disruptive tactics it's just that this time he screwed up by not reading his packet and he got caught. Carol M's description of why it wasn't back in last month's packet is exactly right. How much more has he cost the taxpayers in the past, and more important,will he cost us in the future, with his disruptive tactics?
Hank Heller January 29, 2013 at 10:57 PM
Hi, Kevin, But you didn't answer my questions in the post you responded to. See below: "If that is the case, why didn't the Business Administrator or the School Superintendent or the Board Attorney or Mrs. Orthwein insist that the re-fi be included in the next Secretary's Report? Why was it left out of last Thursdays BOE Secretary's Report? Just curious.
Kevin Brancato January 29, 2013 at 11:54 PM
Hank I'm told by multiple sources that it was brought up more than once at the reorg meeting. Was it stated that it would cost us interest savings to the tune of $15,000 per month? I don't think I read or heard that statement anywhere so I get your point. The answer is as Carol M described, it had to go back to be recalculated and then be resubmitted to and approved by the council before coming back to the BOE for a vote and I don't think two weeks was a sufficient amount time to turn that around. My point is that the information was in Strumolo's hands in plenty of time to review what was being voted on that night. There is no excuse for him not knowing exactly what the effect his motion would have. I mean he is not a new board member and he had the information at his disposal. Why didn't he use it? He either blew it off and made his motion in spite of the taxpayers or he is incompetent as a board member and is only there to mess with the people he has issues with. I'm not sure,which one do you suppose it might be?
Hank Heller January 30, 2013 at 03:04 AM
Fair question, Kevin. I believe that Strumolo cares deeply about the kids, educational proficiency and economics of our Parsippany education system. My belief is that when Strumolo asked questions about the problems of tabling the "re-fi" item on the prior agenda, he had no idea that the folks responsible for completing the work would not get the work done by the next meeting. I may be wrong, but I think the entrenched organization, that means Seitz and friends, made sure not to get the "re-fi" on the last meetings agenda in order to embarrass Strumolo. Since I am not a member of the BOE, by the grace of God, I am only speculating as to how this item was left off the last agenda. Kevin, really, if the issue was of such importance, how could the "professionals" in the current administration have allowed it to be not included on the agenda? This stinks of "set-up" to me.
Carol M. January 30, 2013 at 12:14 PM
Regardless of WHEN the refinance could be reintroduced, approving it on January 3rd would save money and tabling it COST money. Mr Strumolo made the choice to waste and disregard money that could have been used elsewhere for NO good reason. And if it were re introduced last week and the extra needless, wasteful cost were reduced, that's still ok with you? Even if his motion cost $5000, the extra expense could have easily been avoided if he just did his job. To be caught up in when the item is reintroduced or some theory about the entire world setting Mr Strumolo up rather then the simple concept that Mr Strumolo screwed up, is the farthest from fair minded possible. And Mr Brancato is right, we learned about it this time but what stinks is, how many times has Mr Strumolo's actions cost us money that WAS covered up? Now that's a theory that seems more practical given the circumstance and his over the top behavior.
Hank Heller January 30, 2013 at 12:36 PM
Debbie, what is "over-the-top" is your constant cheap-shotting anything Strumolo does or says. Kevin, your "thinking" that two weeks were not enough to get that turned around is ok, but not acceptable. Another opportunity to take a shot at your favorite target. Sorry, I don't buy your thesis, but you are entitled to an opinion, of course. Again, I compliment you on having the courage to sign your own name. At least you are a person of convictions. I am going back to my former policy of not responding ot people who write nasty stuff without having that courage.
Carol M. January 30, 2013 at 12:50 PM
Now here's something disturbing that might warrant one of those unusual theories we hear about. Last week before heading to the meeting on Thursday I looked at all the recent bulletins. At that time they clearly showed all the items that had been tabled by way of notes in the margins. Now when I look at the same bulletins, all that has been completely deleted. Even the minutes have been altered to exclude that info. Who had the bulletins that we can view, altered? Why would someone suddenly want to hide that information from us? Is this a deliberate attempt to conceal the information about Mr Strumolo's debacle from the public? Who has the power to do that and who would possibly benefit from a move like that? Could this be another attempt at a cover up? If Mrs Orthwein hadn't brought it up, there's no easily visible public record now that these changes have been made. It looks like someone is hoping that the record or memory of all that is gone forever. Now what, and who, stinks?
Carol M. January 30, 2013 at 01:20 PM
Enough is enough is enough Mr Heller! Your attempts to constantly imply that I am someone else has got to stop! It's ridiculous, petty and childish! Just because I have a different opinion then you do does not give you the right to keep doing this. You speak of respect yet you can't extend the simple courtesy to stop this craziness with names. You always turn to this tactic as a last resort to try and distract from the valid points I've made rather then just continue an adult conversation. I explained to you long, long ago that I feared retaliation from certain people in our community based on my opinions and that there were certain people who appeared to be stalking other posters so I opted to leave my full name off. At the time you belittled my fears yet I've seen you extend sympathy to others here with the same fears. I guess my fears don't matter because you don't like me but if I was in agreement with you, you'd invite me to introduce myself, shake your hand and join you for coffee rather then bother to play this name game. Just grow up and stop this now!
Hank Heller January 30, 2013 at 02:21 PM
Debbie/Carol or whatever you want to call yourself, I am not troubled by your comments, while I do not agree with almost all of them. You are entitled to you opinions as I am to mine. You care about your fears but you seem not to care about anyone else. Your comments are almost always snide, nasty and, in my opinion, often dishonest. So, to set the matter straight once and for all, please know that I disrespect you for your lack of courage, integrity and fairness. Other than that, I imagine you are ok. I will do my very best not to play "dozens" with you because trying to have a good discussion with you has proven to be banging one's head against the wall and therefor a waste of time. Have fun sniping from the trees.
Carol M. January 30, 2013 at 03:01 PM
Mr Strumolo Crony Heller, you are pathetic. Please know that my feelings about you are that YOUR comments are always snide, nasty and in MY opinion often slanderous and completely dishonest. So, to set the matter straight once and for all, please know that I and everyone I know have no respect for you due to your lack of honesty, integrity and fairness. And please enjoy your day stalking posters and hounding people to join you for coffee; you truly are absolutely pathetic.
Kevin Brancato January 30, 2013 at 04:46 PM
As far as getting it back onto the agenda my understanding is that these are financial documents and they were prepared so that the exact amounts were listed for adoption on that particular night. When the vote did not happen that process needed to start all over again and we don't know how long it took to get it there in the first place. So I guess the time frame is nothing but speculation on both of our parts. I don't know Hank but I'll stick to my opinion that he should have done his homework and known what the ramifications of his actions that night would be. He is after all supposed to be a veteran member of the board, he had the proper information in advance and still decided to act on it anyway. You can try and defend him all you want but he should have been better prepared and the result is it cost The taxpayers more money than it should.
Monica Sclafani January 30, 2013 at 07:06 PM
Mr. Heller - "This stinks of "set-up" to me." - yet another conspiracy theory? Kevin answered your question and because it's not the answer you wanted to hear, there must be some kind of conspiracy going on? Kevin's "thinking" (opinion) is not acceptable? He's taking "another opportunity to take a shot at his favorite target (Strumolo)? Why? Because he doesn't agree with you? You talk about others being unfair, dishonest and nasty. Mr. Heller, do you even read what you write anymore before you hit submit?
Hank Heller January 30, 2013 at 07:16 PM
Kevin, I am respectful of the differences in our opinions. You may be right on some aspects and I might be right on other aspects. Or we could both be wrong on all points. I don't know, but I appreciate your civility even though we disagree on some things. I am not trying to defend Stumolo, believe it or not. What I am defending against is the rabid hatred and lack of fairness some people who are allied with the prior majority have for those who now enjoy the majority position, especially Strumolo. I think it is unfair and premature. I do not know if the current majority should get our votes at the next election. Time and their accomplishments will tell each of us that, in the voice that we each personally can hear. What I do know, in my personal opinion, is that those who had the majority position have fought strongly and often unfairly to be able to keep that position. I believe that a great deal more than is currently apparent is at stake. Ultimately, the people of Parsippany spoke and chose. I'm sure it will be done again. Let's see what the people think at the next vote. Meanwhile, we can each try to influence and steer the current majority and leadership in the directions we each think is best. We should do that. What you see me fighting against are those who, I believe, have a vested interest in not giving the people who were chosen to lead a fair opportunity to do that. If you need evidence, just go back a year and more and read Debbie's comments.
Hank Heller January 30, 2013 at 07:41 PM
So, Monica, why wasn't the "re-fi" reworked in time for the meeting? Whose fault was that? I'm sure you will say it was Strumolo's fault because he held it up at the prior meeting. But that is not true. Regarding high roads and low roads, I am comfortable with my path. I don't expect you to waver from yours. You seem to have too much invested to be inconvenienced with fairness. I'll work harder not to respond to you in the future. Good night.
Carol M. January 30, 2013 at 08:56 PM
There goes crazy Mr Strumolo Crony Heller again.
John H January 30, 2013 at 09:11 PM
Mike Strumolo’s ignorance once again has cost the Parsippany Taxpayers money…$30,000 in fact. He tells all his cronies and good ol boys on the Board of Dysfunctional Education to table the ENTIRE Superintendents report and walla!!! They all listen like good followers. This Board will hurt the Education of our Students. Start the recall!! Strumolo, Carifi, Dinintinis, Golderer, Shamsudin and Martin ALL MUST GO!!!.. Get them out of office before it’s to late. They’ve already cost the taxpayer $30, 000 and have tried to throw kids out of school. What’s next Stop em, search em, cuff em and haul em out of the District. This is an educational system not a militant or police state. What a disgrace!! Parsippany wake-up!!
Nancy January 30, 2013 at 09:11 PM
Hank in all fairness Mike Strumolo doesn't need any help when it comes to embarrassing himself. He is actually really good at that.
Mike January 31, 2013 at 02:49 AM
You were told not to vote for Carifi...there's no "i" in team but two in Carifi...and then they bypass the next top vote getter to put in his teammate who will just vote the same as Carifi...next it will be Mayor time and again you are warned not to vote for the "i" teams brother because then there will be 4 "i" in team. Going to take three years to get James out and one for DeIntinis...better start thinking with your brains and not your hearts....
Hank Heller January 31, 2013 at 05:02 AM
Such a shame. Parsippany is really going into the crapper, and quick. It seems as if all the political operatives are using unidentifiable (usually) mouthpieces to do their dirty work for them. Instead of discussing plans, efforts and measured results, our politicians are using weak-headed attacks by cowards and fools to carry their message to the people. Do you think that the voters of Parsippany are so stupid as to accept your weak words as gospel. It would be so much better if all the candidates stood up and told the people why they deserve our votes. I guess the people running for office do not have the confidence in their accomplishments to go for it in a classy and intelligent way. This is no way to impress the voters, that's for sure. Speaking only for myself, I have not made up my mind as to whom I favor for Mayor and the Town Council, but I can tell you this...the approach I am seeing growing at a frantic rate on these Patch pages, is doing nothing to impress me with their candidate. What a weak approach to politics. Oh my.
Ed Dantes January 31, 2013 at 05:09 AM
It's so sad to watch the town of Parsippany continue its downward spiral. What Parsippany has become is a version of Orwell's Animal Farm! The Pig's (Elephant's in this case) have run it for many years, yet people foolishly keep electing them. Mr. Strumola may not be the king, however he’s the king maker (Napoleon the Pig didn’t rule directly, he used a frontman Squealer IE: Golderer, Priore, Barberio, etc. take your pick). Mike wants power, but not to sit in the big chair or face the public scrutiny. Mr. Heller is trying to defend Mr. Strumola here, but from who? He is his own biggest enemy, he goes off half cocked and makes foolish, uninformed, avoidable mistakes. No one is “tricking” him, he doesn’t put the time or energy in to make informed decisions. He should know better as he has been in Politics (not that the BOE is supposed to be political) long enough to know this. Mr. Heller I have to disagree with you regarding Mike’s intention. I don’t see that he is not remotely interested in the kids, educational proficiency or the education system. He’s on the BOE to punish those who cost him a lucrative School Bus contract and to politicize the BOE. Do you believe his interest in the Mayor(s) and Council was magnanimous as well? Perhaps it had something to do with the lucrative Towing contract he had with the town. I’d love to see Mr. Strumola explain himself however it appears that the residents of Parsippany don’t matter, just his agenda.
Michael Brancato January 31, 2013 at 06:04 AM
"It seems as if all the political operatives are using unidentifiable (usually) mouthpieces to do their dirty work for them." Oh, please. Give me a break, Mr. Kettle, I mean, Heller. You're not fooling anyone, your emperor is just as naked as all the others, and your high horse is so splattered with mud that I'm pretty sure you're just banging two cocoanuts together. Now, you know full well that I speak only for myself and not my aunt, Fran Orthwein, so believe me when I say that those of us paying attention see Mike Strumolo and his buddies for exactly what they are. They might be able to pull the wool over the eyes of enough voters in this town to stay on the council, but the shenanigans they made such a big deal about in getting on the Board have not stopped. In fact, they seem to have intensified and show no signs of abating. Whether or not people will notice is something we shall find out in good time, hopefully sooner than later. As for the commentary here on the Patch, well, you can only take the words of people on the internet as seriously as the name on top of it. And around here, even that isn't a guarantee of authenticity. My suggestion? If they aren't standing in front of the Board and giving their name and address, they're probably not a real person. Don't get so worked up over it.
Hank Heller January 31, 2013 at 10:59 AM
Mike, Ed If those are your feelings and beliefs then write them. I have no problem with your comments or your thoughts about me. What I am saying is, if you believe it, sign your name to it and then vote your conscience. Nothing more. You may think I am writing for Strumolo, but I am not. I am writing to inform the voters, taxpayers and parents of Parsippany as well as the people running for office. If you don't like this elected group in any office, vote them out. If you do like them vote them in. I am also against the tirelessly mean snipers who would never have the courage to write the things they do, if they HAD to sign their names. You both write your names, as do I. That gives you great license, in my opinion.
Peter Wu January 31, 2013 at 12:14 PM
@Hank Give it a rest already. It looks like youd give your dying breath to defend Strumolo. Hes not worth the energy. Hed stab you in the back just as quickly as he did everyyone else. Youd have to be some fool not to see hes a player in all this. Its done. The guy flushed 30K. By the time I read what you say about it I can't tell which of you two is the brains of the operation.
Hank Heller January 31, 2013 at 10:50 PM
Peter Thank you for your advice and opinion. I happen to think differently but we are each entitled to our views. It is good to see a new contributor who has an opinion and is willing to identify himself.
Carol M. February 01, 2013 at 11:57 PM
Oh good, some more gibberish from Strumolo crony Heller.
John H February 15, 2013 at 08:37 PM
Looks Like Strumolo and "CREW" cost the Parsippany school system dearly...Superintendent resigns, BA quits because the "CREW" wont let her do her job...whats next!! They continue to cost the taxpayers more and more each week not to mention are going to decimate the education of our children with their self centered antics. . Mike Strumolo’s ignorance and belligerence continues to hurt the kids. Start the recall!! Strumolo, Carifi, Dinintinis, Golderer, Shamsudin and Martin ALL MUST GO!!!.. Get them out of office before it’s to late. Parsippany wake-up!! And a message to Hankey!! …Stop embarrassing yourself. We all see you at the land of Misfit toys, aka “The Gas Station”. Everyone knows you take your orders from Mikey. Please don’t embarrass yourself any more with listening to misguided individuals like this. Stop being his crony and do what’s right. Your to smart for that. 20 years ago you would do whats right and be your own person! What happened!!!

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