Part 3 1990’s Bridgewater-Raritan schools battle, continued

By the early 1990’s Superintendent Horowitz’s goose was cooked. The pro-West, anti-Horowitz group discovered, that the Superintendent had inappropriately approved certain spending that was under the control of the Board of Education. There was an administrative hearing down in Trenton. And the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) reemed it into Horowitz.

The Soriano law firm in Somerville, that has been handling a lot of Bridgewater-Raritan’s work for the past several decades, must have had years of fat, billing the Bridgewater-Raritan school board. I have always felt, that controversy in B-R, of which there has been plenty, has been good business to Soriano and Soriano.

As for Horowitz, he ended up being out of a job, and later sold used cars before landing back in private education.

With High School West decided upon as the site for consolidation, the bickering factions on the B-R board went on to fight about how well or poorly the expansion plans were going.

And mind you, whenever a town or a district gets set, to spend millions and millions, there is a LOT of fighting about what law firm is going to get the money, what engineering firm is going to get the money, etc. There are a lot of friends and enemies made at these times.

Your law firm doesn’t get business, you get on committees and you start ripping apart the work being done by other firms. That’s how some people do it in New Jersey.

From all the information I got over the years, one of the factions wanted Construction Firm A and Law Firm B, and others wanted Construction Firm C and Law Firm D.

The Superintendent, Joe McGarry, a long-serving bureaucrat within the B-R system, knew exactly what to do, since he had been around B-R for a long time: he let the board factions fight it out. (This is why he survived so long as superintendent. He knew where all the township’s political land mines had been laid.)

McGarry let the board decide, and then he also suggested that a “citizens committee” be commissioned to oversee. This way, as Superintendent, he didn’t have to oversee. That might upset the board, and he would be out of a job.

And sure enough, the “citizens committee” went to town, politicizing everything that got decided by the Board and by the hired contractors.

The contractors were screwing up here and there—sure. That’s New Jersey for you.

But the “citizens committee” had to make it so much worse! They had to politicize every screw up they could find. This would cause the board to see things personally, and dig in their heels at every turn.

The contractor, NOT responsible to a sole superintendent who could observe and criticize as he chose, also dug in their heels, rather than be overseen by a specious “citizens committee” (made up of certain people who LOST election to the real Board of Education.)

In the end, it got nasty, and many threats were made.

A plaque that thanks the “citizens committee” for their efforts was a political balm to soothe over hurt feelings, because the Board was threatening trespass actions against big name businessmen like Kalafer. Had the plaque not gone up, the hurt feelings and bickering would have just continued and continued.

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