NW 4

Shame of the Third Ward
121 Sanford Street
At the north west corner of Sanford St. and Melrose Avenue.


This house has been empty now for at least six months and it appears that the owner on public record, Nicole Thibault, is not coming back, since no repairs have been made and the house is rapidly deteriorating as you will see in these photos. The state of the house is also affecting the immediate neighborhood and the city is doing nothing to clean it up.

South side of house. This is where the blight is spilling over onto Melrose Avenue, unchecked by anyone from the city. The red numbers indicate current problem areas that were photographed next.

Problem 1 - Lots of glass and what appears to be plastic frames of a broken window (see below).

Between Problem 1 and Problem 2 we have a dumping ground.

Problem 2 - I am surprised that the post office hasn't reported the mis-treatment of its property, or the danger of leaving mail in a box like this in an environment like this.

Problem 3 and a new Problem - 4. Does this look inviting for someone evading the police, or a squatter or a drug addict?

From Problem 3 to the southwest corner end of the property is a good accumulation of litter, extending the dumping ground even further up the street.

The window on the left has been hit by stones judging from the glass directly on the ground beneath it.

One of those smashed windows on the second floor is probably the source of all that glass on the sidewalk below (see Problem 1 above).

North East Corner

This appears to have happened as the result of a car crashing into the fence. That means that there is probably a police report on an accident that happened some time in the past year. That means that "someone" in one of the many city departments already knows about this eyesore property, but has done nothing about it. Let's find out who and give that person a termination party.

This is NOT part of the property belonging to the owner of 121 Sanford Street, but I don't believe it is a coincidence that this is right in front of the house on the southwest corner. This is not just any sewer opening, but one which is labled as dumping into an underground river waterway (probably the Second River). A motorized city street sweeper visits this corner at least once a week. The person operating that sweeper has to have noticed this build-up as well as the build-up of debris on the sidewalk along the south side of the house. That's his job, isn't it? Perhaps another termination party is in order, for the street cleaner and the street cleaner's supervisor.

Third Ward councilwoman Quilla Talmadge is up for re-election in June, but has just been involved in breaking a city code (238-4) multiple times, so she won't be concerned that this property has been violating codes for months. She and Third Ward councilman Ted Green are still into giving away "free stuff" at taxpayer expense, and throwing taxpayer funded Third Ward parties. Neither has been by to see what is happening in "their" Third Ward, but Quilla Talmadge has sent plenty of her election workers up and down this street lately in an attempt to get their votes and allow her to go on doing nothing as a Third Ward councilwoman. Time for a change and one more termination party.

Will Swanson, who works as an "inspector" at City Hall left me this message today: "Jim Gerrish, call in your complaint to property maintenance, 973-266-5320. Ask for the tracking number so you can follow it. This is the proper way to report a complaint."

I'll try it and let you know the results on this page.


My phone is out of order so I didn't get to call the magic number, so imagine my surprise when I came home from photographing the LINE A code violations to discover two workers at 121 Sanford Street and actually working. So I thought, at first.

They had a city truck containing bags and cans and rakes and brooms plus I saw them using power clippers, a weed whacker/trimmer and a leaf blower. I figured they had everything they needed to at least make a start on cleaning up around the house. Are you getting all this Will Swanson and Dwight Saunders?

When I left them they were trimming and whacking and blowing leaves, so I went inside to have lunch, figuring I would come out afterwards and record the results of their time and labor.

It was 3:00 by the time I finished my "working lunch" and went out to check on "Will Swanson's Guys." My first disappointment was that they hadn't even touched the debris-filled sewer grate which opens to the river water. Given a shovel and a rake, I could have cleaned that up myself in a few minutes. Where is Kevin Taylor when you need him?

I quickly saw that all that whacking and leaf blowing was a sham. There was more litter on the south side of the house now than there was yesterday. Take a photo walk with me.

Here is yesterday's Problem 1 - the pile of broken glass and plastic window frames and roof shingles, right where they were. I guess we can be thankful they didn't use that leaf blower to scatter these broken bits of glass into the street. Instead they left everything carefully where it was.

The dumping ground between yesterday's Problem 1 and 2 has had an addition, demonstrating one other principle of the "broken window" theory - that if people see a pile of debris, they will add to it.

While I was photographing this, a woman with her family of small children came along and carefully navigated through the glass and in and out of the piles of debris. Thanks, Lester Taylor. This is real "quality of life!"

The view from the south west corner of the property shows that the "workers" never touched this area, and there's a bit more litter that has been added to this "dumping ground." So now you know where your hard earned taxes are going.

You may wonder why I don't point these things out on the Facebook pages of the "high and mighty wannabee rulers" of East Orange. I do try, but they are employing automatic Flappers to silence me on their pages. To learn the truth, you must actively seek it for yourself.


I heard the street sweeper go by last night, so this morning I took a photo of what was accomplished in front of 121 Sanford Street.

The city worker who operates the street sweeper seems to be in need of training and supervision. In fact, I believe that is the main problem at the Property Maintenance Department of the City of East Orange - there is NO supervision, just "inspection" from an inspector who sits at a desk and requires a phone call before he'll take any action, and a director who does the same. This is something that will NOT be solved by the June 2nd Primary Election, no matter who wins or loses.

This is the view of the north side of Melrose Avenue, looking up the hill to the west. You can see by the faint pattern in the leaves in the foreground that the sweeper might have come down this side of the street last night (I did not see it, only heard it), but if so, the operator completely missed the large pile of leaves (red arrow) in the street opposite the post box (Problem #4). Either it crushed a glass bottle beneath its wheels or it never touched the pile of crushed glass in the road (yellow arrow). Training and supervision needed.

Both of the people in charge at the Property Maintenance Department claim to have served in the military. All persons who enlisted in the military took an oath on enlisting: "I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God." That oath is very similar to the one taken by the mayor and council members after they are elected to office. Note that it has no expiration date. It does not say, "until I am discharged from military service" or anything like that.

Officers take the oath again upon becoming an officer: "I, _____ , having been appointed an officer in the Army of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of _____ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God." Again, there is no expiration date.

My point: Tomorrow (5/25/15) is Memorial Day. It's a good day for all veterans of the military to reflect on the oaths they took upon enlisting and determine if they are continuing to keep that same constitutional "faith and allegiance" today, in whatever they do as civilians, whether it is working at jobs for the city, or just keeping watch on the neighborhood from the front door. I see the condition of this house and grounds at 121 Sanford gradually becoming an enemy of the Constitution, endangering the lives and property of those who live near it. Those who are enabling this to happen by ignoring it, or mocking it, or giving it only half-hearted attention are in danger of becoming enemies of the Constitution. Not on my watch.

My e-mail: [email protected]


About 1:00 AM I heard the street sweeper working, so I went out to watch and see if he would correct the mistakes of his last pass of this area on 5/24/15 (see above). After watching this operation, I am convinced that there is no supervision of street sweepers. It is the dirtiest, dustiest operation I have ever seen. Huge clouds of dust follow the sweeper wherever it goes. It can't be at all healthy for the operator unless he is wearing a dust mask at all times, but a dust mask would also interfere with vision. The dust cloud is not good for the inhabitants of the city, either. When they see this huge dust cloud coming down the street at them, they have to cover their noses and eyes until it goes past, or turn around and run. I saw pedestrians doing both. Sorry- it was too dark to photograph.

At about 10:15 AM I heard some trucks on the street, and the above is what I photographed. Three city trucks came by, five or more workers got busy with shovels, rakes and barrels, and the mess that should have been cleaned up a long time ago, was cleaned up in about two hours.

Problem 3 Solved Problem 2 Solved Problem 1 Solved

Click on any of the small photos (& F5) to enlarge them.

Problems 1, 2, and 3 were solved with rakes, shovels and brooms.
At the end, there was some foolishness with a gasoline powered leaf
blower that was used to blow a few leaves back and forth until they
were finally sent off down the street to ruin someone else's day, but
as far as the lone clean-up worker was concerned, out of sight, out
of mind. May I remind the DPW that a leaf blower can also be used
as a leaf vacuum and the job would have been done more efficiently
and with less gasoline wasted by sucking up the few final leaves and
dumping out the bag into one of the many trash cans of leaves already
collected. But if the idea is to try to drag out the work time into overtime
work pay...

Problem 4 - the open cellar window - is a problem for the police,
or the current homeowner/bank to seal up.

The gutter opening in front was finally cleaned correctly, not by an
overgrown sweeping machine, but by a little shoveling and raking.

So, class, what have we learned today about getting action from city hall? Send me your photos of the worst hellholes in East Orange and perhaps we can put some feet to the fire to actually get them taken care of.

My e-mail: [email protected]

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