Accusations and Insults Traded at Westfield’s Town Council Meeting
Wednesday, September 19, 2012 • 11:30am
WESTFIELD, NJ—With little on the agenda at the September 18 Westfield Town Council meeting, open discussion by residents took center stage, beginning with Maria Carluccio’s remarks regarding the HAWK light on Central Avenue.
Residents Carluccio, Greg Kasko and Adina Enculescu regularly attend Westfield town council meetings, arguing again and again against the HAWK light and crosswalk system, which sits in front of Enculescu’s home. They have complained that the configuration is confusing and dangerous, that Enculescu’s driveway now appears to be a road on which to turn and that the signal devalues Enculescu’s property.
“It’s actually two years since I’ve been coming here, and it’s been tough,” said Carluccio. But, she told them, “I’m never going to stop doing what I feel in my heart is the right thing to do.”
Resident John Blake spoke before the council in response to Town Administrator Jim Gildea’s statement at the previous meeting that “Mr. Kasko is a disgraced former police officer that has no credibility in this town.”
“Last week was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back,” said Blake. He noted that Gildea had personally signed documents stating that Kasko was retiring in good standing.
When Kasko spoke, he told the council that he had been recognized for excellence within the department, only to be ostracized after he went to Gildea to blow the whistle on alleged wrongdoings by then Chief of Police Bernard Tracy. Kasko accused Tracy of running illegal computer checks on people for political gain.
At one point Mayor Andy Skibitsky interrupted Kasko to say, “How can you say these untruths? Haven’t you got any conscience?”
Kasko went on to say that he had been a model officer and that he was only accused of sleeping in his car while on duty because “they were piling on the charges until something sticks so they could get rid of me.” He also said that he had a phone bill proving that he had been on the phone three minutes before he was said to have been asleep.
Kasko added, “As hard as they tried … they couldn’t fire me.”
Kasko continued speaking after the mayor told him that his allotted 10 minutes were up, with the mayor asking a police officer to escort him away before Kasko ultimately left the microphone of his own volition.
In response to Kasko’s speech, Skibitsky said, “It was nothing but pure revisionist history.”
In between the speeches and the shouting, two council members—Vicki Kimmins and Dave Haas—called for an end to personal insults.
“All of us, on both sides of the microphone, need to focus on the issues,” said Haas.
Also at the meeting, resident and Republican freeholder candidate Diane Barabas praised the town for improvements made at and around the Westfield High School parking lot.
At an earlier council conference meeting that evening, Councilwoman Jo Ann Neylan had said that, while some adjustments are still being made to parking regulations around the high school, “We’re happy to say that we’re getting a lot of positive feedback from the residents.”
Mayor Skibitsky said that he had heard positive remarks about improvements to the parking lot from students and parents, as well.