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

October  18, 2012


Hon. Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr.

Essex County Executive

Hall of Records, Room 405

465 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.

Newark, NJ, 07102


Re: OPRA Request

       Source(s) and Amounts of Dog Parade Prizes


Dear Mr. DiVincenzo:


CWA Local 1081 respectfully submits this Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request our Union be provided all documentation within the possession of your administration delineating both the source(s) and amounts of the prizes to be awarded to the lucky winners amongst the dog owners within Essex County who bring their pets to “Strut Your Mutt,” the county’s annual canine Halloween costume parade and contest..


Our Union, of course, refers to the attached article published within the October 17, 2012 edition of The Star Ledger entitled "Dog Parades and Contest to take Place Saturday in Essex County".


Our Union submits this query in great part in relation to the attached memorandum of May 16, 2012,  written by me to the members of CWA Local 1081 entitled "Fox 5 News Interview", in which you are quoted within a Fox 5 News television story aired the evening before about the Essex County Turtle Back Zoo and the nearly $40 million dollars your Administration has spent on this "attraction" over the past ten years.


As was underlined and bolded within the attached revised iteration of my above cited memorandum, you stated within the television interview "Prior to me taking over, when I was running for election, the things that you talked about are absolutely. The highest property tax, the highest foreclosure, the highest unemployment. Those are all true statements. And when I took over, guess what, they're true today".


Reverentially, CWA Local 1081 never ceases to be amazed at the problematic properness of the priorities placed upon that provided the residents of the County of Essex by your Administration. Your personal incontrovertibly incomparable inclination to majestically manage the slew of very often Shauger-family constructed structures within the Turtle Back Zoo and the County's parks is unfortunately usurped by the dire dearth of devotion your Administration has deployed to other much more pressing County residents' problems such as taxes, foreclosures and unemployment and all the socio-economic ills accompanying those problems. As our Union has oft opined to you, as well as publicly, the telling fact that at the minimum one out of every five residents of the County of Essex receives some semblance of service from the Essex County Division of Welfare is emblematic of an emergent emergency that may no longer be evaded.


CWA Local 1081 thanks you, in advance, for your anticipated expeditious cooperation with this sincere supplication you provide us the information we seek.


Yours truly,



David H. Weiner, President

CWA Local 1081


Dog parades and contest to take place Saturday in Essex County

By Greg Hatala/The Star-Ledger The Star-Ledger
on October 17, 2012 at 8:00 AM, updated October 17, 2012 at 8:12 AM

Brought to you by

ESSEX COUNTY — Dog owners in Essex County are invited to bring their pets to “Strut Your Mutt,” the county’s annual canine Halloween costume parade and contest.

This year, two parades have been scheduled for Saturday; one in Montclair, another in Maplewood.


In Montclair, registration begins at 9:15 a.m. for the parade that will start at 10 a.m. at the Brookdale Dog Park on Grove Street.


In Maplewood, registration will start at 1:15 p.m. for the parade that begins at 2 p.m. at the South Mountain Dog Park on Crest Drive and Bear Lane.


Prizes will be awarded in a variety of categories.


For more information on the county-sponsored event, call (973) 239-2485



TO:              All CWA Local 1081 Members

FROM:       David H. Weiner, President

DATE:        May 16, 2012

SUBJECT: Fox 5 News Interview


Last night, on Fox 5 News,  a story was aired about the Essex County Turtle Back Zoo and the nearly $40 million dollars the administration of Essex County Executive has spent on this "attraction" over the past ten years.


I was interviewed for the piece on April 27, 2012 at CWA Local 1081's Newark office and our Union provided the producer of the piece most of the information used last night.


As CWA Local 1081 has said for many years, both to Joe D directly and to the residents of Essex County publicly, these "legacy projects" upon which he has lavished so much fiscal and human capital have come at the expense of so many more pressing issues facing the County of Essex.


It was indeed telling that during his interview with the Fox 5 News Reporter Joe D said:


"Prior to me taking over, when I was running for election, the things that you talked about are absolutely. The highest property tax, the highest foreclosure, the highest unemployment. Those are all true statements. And when I took over, guess what, they're true today".


Here is the link to the piece.:;h=v8/3d12/0/0/*/h;44306;0-0;0;77150018;27085-850/30;0/0/0;;~sscs=?Taxpayer money pours into N.J. zoo





oText Size

Posted: May 15, 2012 11:27 PM EDT Updated: May 22, 2012 11:27 PM EDT

By SHARON CROWLEY, Fox 5 News Reporter


In this tough economy, most governments are raising taxes or slashing their budgets.  But one local government is spending tens of millions of dollars on a zoo.

The zoo in question is the Turtle Back Zoo in Essex County.

Three are new attractions, like big cats, apes and reptiles.  Attendance at the zoo is hitting record numbers.  Most of the expansion has come in the past ten years, under the watch of Democratic Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo.

"I'm very proud of the zoo," he says.  "I'm proud of this entire complex, what we have done here."

What he has done is spend millions of taxpayer dollars in new zoo exhibits.  $5.5 million went for a new sea lion exhibit.  $3 million went to build a big cat hour for jaguars and cougars.  $2 million went to build a playground for gibbons.

$2 million was even spend for a carousel.

Add it all up and taxpayers have spent $23.5 million for expansion.

"It's all about the quality of life, but to me its also about economic development," DiVincenzo says.  "This entire complex employees about 400 people.

Taxpayer dollars are not just being used to expand the zoo.  The county approved an additional $9 million for a mini golf course and for a restaurant next door.

The spending is getting the attention of critics.

CWA president David Weiner represents union workers in Essex County.  He says he'd rather see that tax money going to his workers and meeting the needs of Essex County citizens.

"It's an amusement park," Weiner says.  Do we really need that to the extend that you are neglecting everything else?"

Republicans are also critical of what they call Joe D's spending spree.

Steven Rogers unsuccessfully ran for County Freeholder in 2010.  The focus of his campaign was cutting entertainment spending.

"There are wants in life and there are needs in life," Rogers says.

Those needs, according to critics, include tax relief.  Essex County residents pay some of the highest taxes in the nation.  The  county is also home to rampant foreclosures.  DiVincenzo says those are problems he inherited.

"Prior to me taking over, when I was running for election, the things you talked about are absolutely true the highest property taxes, the highest foreclosure, the highest unemployment; those were all true statements," DiVincenzo says.  "And guess what, they are all true today."

Most of the money for the zoo expansion came from what the county executive calls "grant dollars."  It was a mix of state Green Acres dollars and Essex County Open Space money.  DiVincenzo says that money couldn't be used to cut taxes or help people fighting foreclosure.

But, the watchdog group New Jersey Taxpayers Alliance has concerns about how the Essex County Open Space Trust Fund is being used.  It's a one and a half percent additional property tax intended to preserve open land.
"It sounds good.  Open space.  Who can argue with that?" Cantrell says.

But he says people think of trees and grass when they think of open space.

"You don't want commercial facilities there that you are going to have to pay to get into," Cantrell says.

Open Space money will also be used to pay back nearly $9 million in loans used to build the mini-golf course and McLoones Boathouse restaurant.

DiVincenzo says the loans came from a referendum passed by voters.  He also says that the cost of the expansion project are factored out, the zoo makes about $800 in profit a year.

He also has more plans to continue the expansion.  His next target is the reservoir behind the restaurant.  He wants to put paddleboats on the water and a track that goes around the reservoir so people can bike and jog.

"Why shouldn't I have these dreams?  And if it is going to bring more people here, isn't that good?" DiVincenzo asks.