CWA Local 1081
60 Park Place, Suite 501
Newark, NJ, 07102
Office (973) 623-1081
Fax: (732) 988-1081

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Newark Teachers Union

New Jersey Citizen Action Oil Group

March 22, 2009


Joyce Wilson Harley, Esq., Administrator

County of Essex

Hall of Records

465 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd, Rm. 510

Newark, NJ, 07102


Re: Resolution #27

       Gibbons Ape Exhibit


Dear Ms. Wilson Harley:


CWA Local 1081, having fastidiously scrutinized Resolution 27 of the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders’ March 4, 2009 Conference Meeting agenda, proffers our Union’s following observations. The Administration has submitted Resolution #27 to the Freeholders asking they approve the expenditure of $1,759,976.20 to construct a Gibbons ape exhibit within the Essex County Turtle Back Zoo. The company selected by the Administration to construct the exhibit is Shauger Property Services, Inc. Our Union takes great pride in the fact that the Administration took to heart our recent constructive criticism of its past failings to note the minority status of its proposed vendors, as the female minority status of Lisa Shauger is written in bold font within Resolution #27.


CWA Local 1081 is saddened, however, to have to conclude that Mr. DiVincenzo treats the clients and employees of the Essex County Division of Welfare far less well than he would his proposed Gibbon apes. Two large rats were recently discovered residing within an office leased by the Essex County Division of Welfare, in Newark. Hundreds of our agency’s clients, men, women and children, were forced to line the streets surrounding the County-owned East Orange facility in the freezing cold last month due to insufficient numbers of staff. However, the apes housed within Turtle Back Zoo’s Gibbons Holding Facility will enjoy the following were Resolution 27 approved:



CWA Local 1081 has grown weary of witnessing Essex County Executive DiVincenzo repeatedly denying the accuracy of our Union’s argument that he, despite the tough economy, is actively pursuing “niceties and not necessities” by spending $1.8 million on such things as the yet-to-be-built Gibbons ape exhibit at the county's Turtle Back Zoo and embarking on a $1.1 million acquisition of the Presby Memorial Iris Gardens in Montclair.  


Mr. DiVincenzo alleges “the funding for the ape exhibit-- a mix of state Green Acres grants and county open-space money -- cannot be used to offset operating expenses”. (The Star Ledger, February 24, 2009) The fact is that $1,259,976 of the funding for the Gibbons ape exhibit would come from county open-space money, with the balance of $500,000 coming from the County’s own capital budget. None of the exhibit’s funding would come from Green Acres grants.


The Administration has the option of dedicating $500,000 less to its capital budget (since it’s not yet adopted its entire 2009 budget) and spending that money instead to service the needs of the needy residents of Essex County. It can choose not spend $1,259,976 from the open space trust fund on the ape exhibit and instead spend that money on restoring the number of parks’ employees it laid off, just as it spent open space trust fund money to pay for the cost of a number of parks’ employees in its 2008 budget. The Administration can afford to negotiate with its employees’ Unions for fair wages and affordable health benefits, instead of pandering for political advantage by announcing his attacks on those employees in the media without even having spoken with their Unions.


Mr. DiVincenzo held a news conference, where he unveiled his own two-pronged economic stimulus package, saying he would free up nearly $5 million in open-space grants and press ahead with tens of millions of dollars in park and infrastructure upgrades. “Why do you have to build a gazebo?”, Mr. DiVincenzo was quoted as saying as he made mockery of the kind of questions CWA Local 1081 has persistently posed in the face of his wasteful spending. "Guess what, life has to go on”, he reportedly said. (The Star Ledger, January 27, 2009)


To Mr. DiVincenzo, CWA Local 1081 offers the following:


A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, 1967.


The same, our Union maintains, may be said of a County administration that continues to spend more money on parks and infrastructure than on matters of far greater human import.





David H. Weiner, President

CWA Local 1081