#64: Hackensack, NJ 11/1/16

EDITOR’S NOTE: This meeting was insane. Therefore, I turned my review into a dramatic reading. For your listening pleasure:

It was a typical day at the Hackensack city council–which, for a normal person, would be absolutely terrifying.

A tall man lumbered to the podium, his shoulders hunched and his hands meaty.

“Richard Salkin in Hackensack, New Jersey,” he announced.

From the back of the room came a heckler’s yell. “WHAT ADDRESS?”

The man, Salkin, threw up his hands and made it clear: do not f*ck with me.

“I’m not going to be interrupted by Lenny Nix. It’s just not gonna happen.”

Mayor John Labrosse smacked his gavel from his high perch. “Lenny! Do not interrupt. He said Hackensack. That’s fine.”

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“Everything is fine. This wood is bulletproof, right?”

Ohhhh, mayor. Things were anything BUT fine. Because Mr. Salkin wheeled around and pounced on his accuser.

“151 PROSPECT AVENUE,” he screamed. “YOU WANNA GO SLASH MY TIRES?! HAVE A GOOD TIME!”

I assure him: at this point, no one was having a good time–especially now that he started talking about his wife’s lawsuit against the very city council members he was shouting at.

“The case soon will be awaiting a trial date–” he began, before Mayor Labrosse jumped in with the gavel.

“Mr. Salkin, I hate to interrupt you, but we’re not going to discuss current litigation.”

This only made his veins pop harder. “I don’t CARE if you discuss it or not! I can speak about whatever I want. Please reset it since I was interrupted!” he hollered at the timekeeper.

What came next was a verbal avalanche of biblical proportions. A tsunami of hatred aimed at the mayor and Deputy Mayor Kathleen Canestrino.

“Mr. Labrosse and Mrs. Canestrino seem to enjoy vilifying victims of your misdeeds. I am speaking out to expose what you have done. My wife has been the victim of your cheap shots. There is no longer any insurance coverage to protect the taxpayers in Debbie’s case thanks to your incompetence and your venomous motivations!”

The man looked directly into the camera–into my eyes. I nearly jumped out of my La-Z-Boy. “Anyone who watches this on YouTube, if you have any questions, you’re very welcome to call me. I’d be thrilled to explain it you.”

Believe me: I have many, many questions. But I totally, 100 percent will not be calling him. He is scary.

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Please stop looking at me.

But if you thought the madness ended there–oh, no. Oh, no, no, no. It was time for another council member to get toasted in the hot seat.

“I actually had a question for Mr. Battaglia,” a woman in a scarf looked dead-on at kindly old Council Member Leonardo Battaglia. “Can you explain what you meant during the last meeting when you said that there would be ice cream and 19-year-old girls at the SportZone?”

Battaglia, caught off guard, spoke in halting, accented English. “That was a joke I told to the guy, Chris, because I saw him many times at Dunkin’ Donuts having ice cream with 19-year-old girls, and they were not his daughter.”

“What’s funny about that?” demanded the woman.

“Because I saw him many time in working hours. And that was not right what he was doing.”

I literally cannot believe what I’m hearing. I don’t know who’s more ridiculous: him for making the terrible joke or her for deconstructing the terrible joke. But she wasn’t done raking him over the coals:

“You’re how old, sir?” she asked. He did not reply.

“It’s actually pretty disgusting for a council member to make such a comment and expect it to be funny when it denigrates women. You should apologize.”

She stomped away from the podium to scattered applause. But oh, goodness. Look who stomped back up: Lenny, the heckler from earlier. He was wearing a sweatshirt and headphones. And he spoke at the volume of a sonic boom:

“I’M NOT GONNA BS AROUND. THERE’S A LOTTA PEOPLE MAKING A LOTTA GOD DANG MONEY IN THIS TOWN THAT DON’T DESERVE IT. YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING. NOT EVEN CLOSE.”

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Those headphones play the nonstop sound of German artillery.

With that, Lenny wandered away from the podium–still with the headphones and still screaming at the top of his lungs.

“DON’T MAKE UP STORIES UP ABOUT ME.”

The mayor sounded so, so tired. “We won’t talk about you at all.”

“GOOD,” Lenny hollered as Hackensack’s finest escorted him out.

The mayor turned to the middle-aged woman next in line. “Sorry, Mrs. Davis.”

“That’s all right. I am a registered nurse. I understand,” she said patiently as Lenny screamed from the back. “I just want to say that this is one of the first meetings I’ve been to that sounded like a city council meeting should be.”

Lady, I hate to tell you, but you’re not even close.

#56: Revere, MA 10/3/16

One if by land! Two if by sea! Three if…Revere’s mayor cancels the community forum?

“I got an e-mail from the mayor’s office,” announced a sullen Councilor Charles Patch. “The subject was tomorrow’s community forum. They postponed it. They’re either going to reschedule it or they want you to go to the Ward 4 meeting.  I hope the mayor’s going to have somebody standing down there at six o’clock for the people who are going to show up.”

Here’s the problem: with his thick accent and his hand clenched in a fist, Patch sounded less like John. Q. Councilor and more like a mafia boss discreetly ordering a hit:

So I got an e-mail from the mayah’s office. They postponed the community forum. They want you–YOU–to go to the Wahd Fo-ah meeting!

Well, I SURE HOPE the mayah’s gonna have somebody standing down theah at six o’clock for the “people” who are gonna show up.

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“Don’t worry, mayah. I’ve got some nice warm concrete you can rest your feet in.”

As it turns out, a bunch of goons kneecapping the mayor was the least of Revere’s problems.

“Calendar item #3,” read the clerk, “requesting the police and fire chiefs appear before the city council to discuss ways to lessen overdoses at Dunkin’ Donuts.”

“Overdose” is a little extreme, don’t you think? I mean who hasn’t had one too many French Crullers and passed out on the floor of a Dunkin’? Is that what we’re talking about, Councilor George Rotondo?

“We have to do something about people utilizing public bathrooms and doing drugs, in particular heroin,” the bearded councilor wrung his hands.  “If they are in a bathroom alone, the likelihood for mortality is very high.”

Councilor Anthony Zambuto was quizzical about this toilet fixation. “I’m not sure what he’s asking…that we let two people go in the bathroom? So if one shoots up, the other can call 911 if they have an overdose?”

Councilor Rotondo balked at the suggestion of having a buddy system for needle pushers. “No! To the contrary. In Bahstahn they actually have someone sit in with someone who is shooting up, but this isn’t what that is at all!”

The council took a vote as the camera operator made a vertigo-inducing pan. Look away if you feel nauseous:

But when it rains, it pours. And Councilor Patrick Keefe had a piece of bad news that affects the most sacred of Boston institutions: baseball.

“I think we all read the newspaper this last week…there happened to be some illegal activity happening on the field or in the dugout areas. We should find the money to have good camera systems down at the stadium and the field.”

Councilor Patch piled on to the list of problems. “We’ve had a couple of overdoses down there also. I think the cameras are necessary.”

A frustrated Councilor Rotondo furrowed his brow and grimaced deeply. “We need to put cameras in EVERY SINGLE FACILITY that we have in the city! We’ve had several overdoses in city pahks. To save one life, it’s worth all the cameras!”

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It was a bad day for the pro-overdosing-in-parks-and-bathrooms crowd at the Revere city council meeting.

Final thoughts: For trying to clean up the city, I give Councilor Rotondo 10 out of 10 broomsticks. Vaya con Dios.