Vanity plate issue highlights underlying tension

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:47

    WEST MILFORD-Town Councilman Joe Elcavage (R) thought it would be nice if there was a vanity license available for for people who served in local governments to purchase and put on their cars, much like firefighters, physicians, mayors, Masonic Order, etc. Last September, at the request of Elcavage, Assemblyman Joseph Pennacchio R-Montville introduced a bill to the state assembly to create the plates. On March 1, Pennacchio withdrew his bill, but he did so with a flourish. Pennachio is a self-appointed political critic who awards a monthly "Stinky Fish Award" for misdeeds, missteps and ill-advised ideas. This month he gave the award to himself for the vanity plate bill. West Milford Councilman James Warden (D) said of the idea "That would cost New Jersey taxpayers about $400,000 ... He needs to check his ego at the door in town hall." Elcavage says the plates would be self-funding, as people wanting the special plates would bear the cost themselves. Neither man is correct, since there would be an initial cost to design the plate and start production, but it would be nowhere near $400,000. Pennachio told the Daily Record that plates would have cost an estimated $75,000, although he was convinced taxpayers wouldn't have foot the bill. The vanity plate issue is now a dead one, but it has underlined ongoing tension between council members. When asked if disagreements between councilmen affected the ability to do business, Elcavage said that James Warden and Robert Nolan (the two democrats on the board) "have no background in public service and their inexperience is a problem. ... They could come better prepared for meetings and we wouldn't waste so much time."