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This is a guest post from Thomas G. Gatti, a Lakewood resident and supporter of municipal and educational equity. Gatti is a media consultant and former Chief Operating Officer of the College Television Network. He was previously COO of DIR Broadcasting and an executive at Eastman Radio.
I cannot even think of the words to express my shock that the adult Orthodox community in Lakewood has enough nerve to think there is any excuse for STEALING FROM and CHEATING the government. To use the stress and pressure under which the ultra-Orthodox live is an even bigger joke.
Do people realize the stress and pressure on people living on fixed incomes? I am referring to the seniors in particular, but I don’t think any seniors have been arrested. If you add to these arrests, the head of School for Children with Hidden Intelligence being accused of embezzling over $600,000.00, plus the beeper guy pleading guilty to at least one charge of illegally funneling money, plus all the LLC’s using his address, one would think there is a morality problem lurking below the surface in Lakewood.
If, in fact, the ultra-Orthodox community in Lakewood is as tight–knit a community as they claim to be, one would think that members themselves would be reporting these abuses. Asking the citizens of Lakewood to believe no members of the VAAD (the town’s power brokers) did not know this was happening, is asking for an unrealistic leap of faith. Unfortunately, all of these recent occurrences have just created a dark cloud over the ultra-Orthodox community in Lakewood. I think one of the ways to eliminate that dark cloud would be if members of the Orthodox community openly cooperated with law enforcement, starting by reporting illegal events.
If when you fill out your income tax and you know you have made $100,000.00 that year, yet you write in $40,000.00, what can you possibly call that?? A seminar to explain to educated people that’s a crime and illegal……ridiculous, and an insult to the citizens of Lakewood…..including the vast majority of honest Orthodox who have not committed this fraud.
I can only hope law enforcement continues to root out the dishonest people that are stealing from us all, so the town can get past this and begin healing.
If the VAAD is truly interested in stopping these crimes, why have they not offered more than just excuses and help to these people so they understand that they are committing a crime they could go to prison for?
The high-density building trend has put us all at risk because the infrastructure is so dramatically outdated. Traffic congestion also puts us all at risk, because emergency services have openly testified they can not get to emergencies in time because of the traffic. The ultra-Orthodox-controlled Board of Education can’t balance its budget and the “busing consortium,” which was supposed to be accountable to residents and public school families, is one of the biggest jokes in town.
In my opinion there is not sign that things will get any better before they get much worse.