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VIDEO: The Line Forms in the Rear: Council Changes Speaking at Public Meetings

The Woodbridge council said they want residents to the left and rear of the room in an effort to bring decorum to council meetings.


It's all an effort to bring "civility" to the council meetings. That's why Woodbridge Council President Gregg Ficarra said that anyone who'd like to address the council can still do so, only this time, from the back of the room.

A wireless microphone on a stand was already set up in the rear corner of the council chamber Tuesday night in anticipation of the change. Ficarra motioned to the equipment and said the reason for making residents line up in the back of the room was because of the behavior of speakers at previous council meetings.

"People speaking out without being recognized, making comments, calling people names...I'm very uncomfortable with that," Ficarra said. "I think this is a room that requires professionalism and decorum."

The council president referred to recent council meetings where shouting went back and forth between town residents, council members, and paid township employees.

Residents did line up in the rear of the room and waited their turn to speak. Several people wondered if the reason they were being relegated to the back of the chamber was to keep them off the cameras that record town meetings to be played on local cable access channels. 

The camera in the rear panned for a moment to the resident who was speaking, but for the most part, it stayed focused on the council members and employees of the administration of Mayor John McCormac; they are seated at the front and side of the room away from the speakers.

While Ficarra said the reason for the rear microphone was to instill decorum in the chamber, the business administrator made a comment that would make it appear the out-of-camera microphone arrangement might be more of a punishment for at least some Woodbridge pundits.

Woodbridge resident and frequent McCormac administration critic Tom Maras went to the microphone and brought up Woodbridge's ongoing woes with its Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) requirements that have been in litigation for years.

Maras cited a $3.9 million figure from a Star Ledger article on money Woodbridge has set aside for its COAH requirements and asked if that number was correct. Business Administrator Robert Landolfi said the number was "grossly exaggerated," but said he didn't recall the exact number.

Maras and Landolfi went back and forth on what the precise figure was.

"How much is it?" ask Maras.

"It's not $3.9 million. That's grossly exaggerated. It's much less than $3 million," Landolfi said.

"So it's $3 million...." Maras replied, to which Landolfi shot back, "No, it's less than $3 million. How much more exact do you need than that?"

The two got into a heated exchange on what the figure was, with Maras continuing to cite the Star Ledger's numbers while Landolfi said he was correcting Maras that the $3.9 million figure was wrong.

Landolfi started to shout at Maras, "You don't get to stand there and say it's $3 million", and then added President Ronald Reagan's famous debate line, "There you go again."

Maras replied, "Yeah, there I go again, showing you don't know what the hell you're talking about."

"That's why you're stand there where you're at. Because you can't control yourself," Landolfi said.

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Tom Maras October 14, 2012 at 01:34 AM
@slyfox1961 If your underlining defense of Mac & Company (perhaps, self-serving) was not so egregiously anti-American, anti-1st Amendment, and just plain stupid, it might be laughable. Certainly, as can be seen by this community’s response to your threads and, more importantly, to what is becoming ever more obvious to the public they are suppose to serve, is an overbearing, authoritarian town council, replete with certain public employees (hired, out of town help, less they forget) who are little more than would be bullies. No wonder the Woodbridge School District tied the Elizabeth School District for 1st Place in NJ for HIP (Humiliation, Intimidation and Bullying)! What example do certain members of the town council, especially its current president (a teacher by profession) set for the children in this community when they berate citizen of the community who dare to question their decisions, let alone their rule! As you may recall, three of the council members were caught on camera yelling, nay, shouting down a well intentioned, very senior resident of the community, who was apparently too vociferous for their liking . If this council and administration really want decorum in the council chamber, let it start with them. The time of their contrived interrupting, belittling and other intimidation tactic to silence those who would speak as citizen to their elected officials, in a free America, cannot and will not be long tolerated.
Marina October 14, 2012 at 04:13 AM
God willing.....All the Mac team will be shown the door at the next election. VOTERS WAKE UP!!!!!
slyfox1961 October 15, 2012 at 03:03 PM
@maras: Tom, I am not saying they dont have a right to speak. I am saying the threee idiots, of which you are one, don't have anything of value to say. Which is why you are resorting to the lie that I am trying to infringe on their right to speak. People of your ilk normally resort to these tactics when they lack the ability or the facts to debate. To your point of the community rebuking my comments, I wold point to this and other forums where you are considered a laughing stock, with your many flip flops and transparant attempts to discredit the mayor and administration. I cite the WaWa article in the Patch as an example. ONly you can turn a ribbon cutting ceromony for a much anticipated and much liked convenience store into an anti-Mac propaganda item. Again, I am not stifling anyones free speech, just exorcising mine by telling you that I consider you to be one of the three idiots with nothing of value to say.
Tom Maras October 15, 2012 at 08:09 PM
@slyfox (what a misnomer)1961. Thanks for the clarification on the three (not threee, as you spelled (3) idiots. No doubt many readers may have thought you were referring to the mayor, his business administrator and the council members (collectively, save one or two). Then again, it could be you were referring to the mayor (for life, so he thinks) and his two cronies, Mutt and Jeff (see:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutt_and_Jeff). By "other forums" do you mean the NJ. Com Woodbridge Forum, my play ground and a refuge for some of the admin/local MacDonkeys. Ever wonder why many of the good, intelligent folk in this township post more on Patch than they do on that forum. The answer is as simple as the town council president's recent remark: DECORUM! As to discrediting the mayor and his administration, the stuff they cannot suppress any longer is doing that to then. I, and others, in this much beloved community are merely making sure the PEOPLE know what Mac & Company are doing for them; or should I say, to them! He didn’t need my help in Trenton when Corzine gave him the boot, so it just a matter of local time before the community reciprocates for his spending, borrowing (bond) and taxing methodology. As far as free speech goes, I fully support yours, no matter what screen name you need to hide under, or on which forum! By!
Katy Lake October 15, 2012 at 10:24 PM
Slyfox, tell me, who exactly are the "three idiots"? I guess you're an example of Ficarra's order for decorum. I'm glad you're "exorcising" your right to freedom of speech. Did your head do 360s while you vomited pea soup?

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