More than three-quarters of a million dollars in goods, specifically surplus military equipment, was sent to the Westwood Police Department through a 22-year-old government program, including 2010 Hummers, a new-looking pickup truck, soccer balls, a shop vac and tools.
“This equipment that would otherwise be destroyed or sold at auction, we get to utilize. Critics of the program worry about over militarization of our police department, but based on my experience with the program, those concerns are without merit,” said the acting Westwood Police Chief, Matthew McClutchy.
Several law enforcers and several mayors heaped praise on their congressman, Josh Gottheimer, for accessing the program, helping them navigate the federal bureaucracy, and get the goods and nearly $3 million in grants.
“Josh has been digging to find ways for us to save money and this is a great example of how towns can save a lot money for the their taxpayers,” said Fair Lawn Mayor Lisa Swain.
“He opened all of our eyes to the opportunities that would be available for us to reclaim some taxpayer dollars from Washington,” said Westwood Mayor John Birkner Jr.
Gottheimer said the 5th District gets back 33 cents for every dollar it sends to Washington, while Mississippi and West Virginia, “moocher states” as he calls them, get back more than $4 each.
“I’m sick and tired of those moocher states treating New Jersey like their piggy bank,” said Gottheimer.
Gottheimer says it’s not enough to call other states “moocher states,” you have to do something about it.
The freshman lawmaker said his efforts to improve the return on investment have led to real savings for his 5th District taxpayers. He demonstrated how much he’s helped to “claw back.”
“These are dollars that are coming home to us and dollars away from the moocher states. That’s $290 back to every family to help firefighters put out a blaze, and law enforcement to fight crime and terror and protect the children in our schools. That’s $290 back for storm clean-up, repair and emergency management,” said Gottheimer.
“Congressman Gottheimer is much more moderate than most Democrats,” said John Traier, chairman of the Passaic County Republican Committee.
Traier assesses Gottheimer’s “clawing back” campaign saying, “It’s very important for a congressman of either party to be sensitive to the needs of their district, and you’ve got to give them at least satisfactory grades for what’s he’s done and what he’s accomplished for Bergen, Passaic, Sussex and Warren counties.”
But, this week, Passaic Republicans plan to endorse a candidate for the June primary and to oppose Gottheimer in the fall. Gottheimer said he welcomes the challenge, and in the meantime, he’ll keep clawing back using the lesson his predecessor failed to learn.
“If you don’t ask, you don’t get,” he said.