A Good Man Runs a Nervous BOE Campaign

Retired teacher Pete Capitano is running this November for the Woodbridge Board of Ed. Why is he so afraid?

Peter Capitano has led a full life. The jovial, loquacious physical ed teacher retired two years ago from Iselin's , where by all accounts he was a popular teacher. Now he's running for the , and he's got few regrets.

One of them, though, is a handwritten letter he sent out, looking for support in his Board of Ed run. 

The contents of the letter cost him his place on a three-man slate of candidates running for three spots in this year's BOE race.

"Yeah, that was a mistake," Capitano said of the letter. Pete, as he's known to his many friends, sent the letter to Woodbridge resident Tom Maras, asking for his support. 

Maras, who ran for the BOE himself last year, brought the letter to the attention of the board and public, and it caused a firestorm.

"[Maras] ran to the superintendent [John Crowe], he handed it out at a board meeting. It caused all kind of problems," Capitano said.

'Get out' of the race

In the letter, Capitano did more than just ask for Maras' help in his BOE run. He predicts that two current board members running for reelection, Lawrence Miloscia and Judy Leidner, will both "get out" of the race if they get certain perks.

Miloscia "is looking for a watchmen's job in the town garage. If he gets it, he will get out of the race," Capitano wrote. He also refers to Leidner's husband, who is on the Woodbridge police department. 

Leidner "is looking for her husband to get a promotion from sergeant to lieutenant in the Police Department before he retires for his pension. If he gets it, she will get out," he wrote.

"I had no end of grief because of that letter," Capitano said, adding that if he ever wrote such a letter again, he'd type it - presumably so he'd have plausible deniability.

Neither Miloscia nor Leidner could be reached for comment.

The 'green light' to run

Capitano, who was going to run for the Board last year, dropped off at the last minute. In the undated letter, he writes that this time, he "got the green light" to run.

That's because last year, he was worried about his son, who holds a tradesman position in the school district.

Capitano was told "not to run"; if he didn't, he said, his son's job might be imperiled.

Peter Capitano Jr., his father said proudly, has been working as a carpenter in the district for 24 years. His last salary was reported at approximately $81,000.

Would his son be fired if Capitano didn't play ball?

"No, but they would just eliminate his position," he said.

Capitano at first wouldn't say exactly who gave him the 'green light' for a run this year, or who told him he couldn't run last year.

"I can't say that. You don't know what these people will do to you," he said, his voice in a panic. "The Democratic organization, the Democrats...I'm not saying who. You can guess who."

Mayor John McCormac, Capitano said, "was all upset with me because of that letter. He didn't like it. He was mad at me."

Right after the letter came out, Capitano said he was forced off the ticket that included incumbent BOE member Ezio Tamburello and Daniel Harris, a legislative aide who works for Assemblyman Craig Coughlin - who in turn serves as the Woodbridge Council's attorney. 

McCormac didn't return repeated calls for comment.

'They can make you do anything'

Capitano is popular in Iselin. He doesn't think that the fallout from the letter, or him being dropped from the three-man team, will affect his chances of winning in November.

"I got a little bit of an edge because I have a school background. A lot of people know me," he said, adding he'd be out stumping for support before the first week in September was out.

The only reason he had held off was because he was waiting for the deadline to pass in which he could voluntarily take his name off the ballot.

Why was that an issue?

"You don't know these people," Capitano said, referring to the same folks he feared might put his son's BOE job in jeopardy. "They can make you do anything. 

"If I wait 'til it's past the deadline, then they can't force me off the ballot."

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NotInKansasAnymore September 08, 2012 at 12:58 PM
Tom you never answered my question. Does a PTO putting out an election flier in school break any rules?
slyfox1961 September 08, 2012 at 01:45 PM
@deborahbell: I jave no doubt that the existance of the letter is true. What I am questioning is the CONTENTS of the letter. What have you been able to verify as accurrate and true?
Deborah Bell (Editor) September 08, 2012 at 01:55 PM
A copy of the letter is posted with the article. I suggest you read it for the contents.
citizens favorite September 08, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Problem we have is... NOT ENOUGH WILL SPEAK UP! People who have jobs within the BOE & TOWNSHIP will complain about how corrupt it is, but put them in front of a microphone or in the spotlight and there tail is between there legs and won't speak up afraid of the consequences of losing there job or position that the probably got by knowing someone or doing a favor for....
gam September 08, 2012 at 07:51 PM
I'm not getting the part about IF he knew the fallout he would have typed the letter? What exactly is he saying? And what in this article in any way makes him an attractive candidate? There is something to be said for having the courage of your convictions!
slyfox1961 September 09, 2012 at 01:31 AM
@gam: how do we kow what he wrote in the letter is true? I can write a letter and say that John McCormac shot JFK, and if so and so didn't drop out of the race I would go public. Just because the media snaps a picture of the letter and then posts it online doesn't make it true. The media is legallyt covered because all they are doing is posting a letter that the writer admits to writing. One would think that the media would make an attempt to validate the information contained in the letter, because If it is true, it is truly a legitiamte issue. Welcome to the modern media, where facts never get in the way of a story.
slyfox1961 September 09, 2012 at 01:32 AM
forgive the spelling, smartphone keyboard this posting.
Can't shut me up September 09, 2012 at 04:27 AM
Peter Capitano, Mac is mad at anyone who doesn't kiss is ring. You have one thing going for you that Mac doesn't......You are HONEST!!!!!
Can't shut me up September 09, 2012 at 05:00 AM
@slyfox1961 What part of "McCormac didn't return repeated calls for comment." did you not understand? "REPEATED CALLS" Why won't Mac explain himself? He's been given a chance to explain but Mac is remaining quite. What is Mac hiding? Why do you always defend this less then honest mayor? I sincerely think you ARE Mac. Is that why you're so concerned about Tom Maras finding out your IP address, because it will show 1 Main Street, the Mayor office? Isn't Mr Mayor born in 1961?
gam September 09, 2012 at 05:53 PM
I don't care if the mayor answered phone calls...the letter wasn't written to or from him and unless someone tells me the people mentioned received what they supposedly wanted "according to Capitano" and dropped out of the election what does it have to do with the mayor. I am more concerned with Capitano who would have happily run for school board if he could get the others out of his way! Someone who admits he would have typed the letter if he knew then what he knows now...mainly that there is no private correspondence with Tom Maras. A man that was retired and collecting all his benefits from the taxpayers in Woodbridge is now interested in serving their best interests??? I think not!
slyfox1961 September 10, 2012 at 02:00 PM
Wow! Someone with a brain! LOL
slyfox1961 September 10, 2012 at 02:12 PM
@Can't shut me up: I said I wrote a letter that says MAC shot JFK. Should the mayor respond to that letter also? This so called letter is nothing more than the opinion of the writer. Wrong doing, if true, should be prosecuted in a court of law, not in the media with unsubstantiated allegations. Mr. Capitano should be dealing with the county prosecutor, not local political and media activists. Whether I like MAC or not has nothing to do with adhering to the principles of our country and the system of laws and justice we have. Apparantly since you don't like MAC these principals don't apply to him. And why do you care who I am? Are you naive enough to think that MAC cares what you or I think? And that he would need to post anonymously to defend his positions when he could get an interview with any media outlet anytime? Sheeesh....
Tom Maras September 10, 2012 at 03:12 PM
@gam. You think not! Why, because you are incapable? Similar letters were also send to other people. McCormac has been seeking control over the BOE for years. He backs his candidates. It a $200,000,000.00 operation and he wants to control it. As to not answering calls, unless it is someone calling to praise CAESAR, he doesn't respond. And should one just happen th catch his majesty in the open, he'll either bluster or so what he usually does: I don't recall that! Think I'm kidding, Google his nibs and see how many times he ducked under that retort when questioned on his past performance as NJ Treasurer or his relationships with some of his convicted former cronies. As to sharing Pete's correspondence, it was not confidential! Moreover, it was a matter of concern to the entire community, both ethically and legally. There are many who know I don't share info that is confidential. That said, if the information was about an illegal matter, I would take it to the proper authorities. Frankly, since I view you as just one more of McCormac's jackasses, your opinion has little credence, at any level. Now go ask Foxxy (or is that... on another forum?) what you should say next.
Tamara Winfrey September 10, 2012 at 04:16 PM
@slyfox1961 Of course Me-Cormac care about all of us! He's always quick to point out how he's got that local connection with EVERYONE.
gam September 10, 2012 at 08:52 PM
@Tom Maras-I simply don't even know how to answer you. I'm "incapable"? I'm one of McCormacs "jackasses"?? Simply because I don't agree with you? I should ask "Foxxy" whoever that might be what I should say next? Really! What is wrong with you? I reread the letter posted above and stand by everything I have already written. No where in that letter is any proof of wrong doing or cohersion. Pete was given the "green light" by who? The 2 current BOE members are willing to step down if certain conditions are met....says who? [I'm sure both of those BOE members are thrilled to be dragged in to your personal drama with the mayor]. I am not saying these things did not happen, what I am saying is that one mans letter can be another mans fiction. Your desire to seek the truth which in reality is to try and bury the mayor has left another victim in your wake. Poor Pete, any chance he might have had to be elected to the BOE has been derailed by one Tom Maras. His choice in confiding in you is probably the worst thing he could have done. If you could control your schizoprenic personality you would remember that I have been no fan of the mayor. May I remind you that as a homeowner and taxpayer in Woodbridge I too am entitled to my opinion, and regardless of what you think it has no less value then your own.
slyfox1961 September 11, 2012 at 11:04 AM
@gam: I'm Foxxy. Apparantly Maras thinks I tell you what to post. Let's see if Deborah Bell scolds him for name calling like she does everyone else. I doubt it. Wonder why.
Tom Maras September 11, 2012 at 01:20 PM
@slyfox1961. Only Foxxy? Or is that just for here? Don't you transform when you jump from one fox whole to another? When it comes, I'll take my admonishment like a man, not wimp. Loved your comments to Can't shut Me Up, especially, "...he would need to post anonymously to defend his positions when he could get an interview with any media outlet anytime? Sheeesh..." Haven't you noticed McCormac tends to keep his interviews limited to media he controls or strongly influences, like the taxpayer funded Woodbridge News, TV 35 or The Colonia Corner, and eschews questions from media he feels are not in his "corner". As for "gam", one need not be a home owner or taxpayer to speak their mind, even in Woodbridge. They just have to be a resident. Even better yet, a 'voter' that is a real resident of the township. But even that does not always apply to certain people who get paid here, vote here and live somewhere else. The "Magic Kingdom" does have its rules, but their application can truly be mystifying.
Katy Lake September 11, 2012 at 01:34 PM
gam, don't be absurd. The conclusions are obvious. All you have to do is see who stands to benefit. What did Capitano have to gain by saying these things if they weren't true? You admit his chances now of winning are zilch. He had nothing to gain by lying about it, and he had a lot to lose by this information coming into the open. The mayor himself has a lot to gain if things are as Capitano said they are: control of the school board by his handpicked candidates.
gam September 11, 2012 at 08:36 PM
@ Tom Maras-I don't recall being confused about anything. However I will add,certainly not because you deserve the courtesy of a response, that I am a registered and active voter here, a resident of 50 years, have children that attended public school here, and attend a local church here. I am not involved in any political organizations, I work full time, go to the gym and have a busy active life. What exactly do you do besides bad mouth people here on this forum?
gam September 11, 2012 at 08:43 PM
@slyfox-please don't tell me that Maras frequents Moby Dicks!? They have some good bands there on the weekend and I like to occasionally stop in.
Deborah Bell (Editor) September 11, 2012 at 09:04 PM
OK, everyone: it's a beautiful day out. Take a break. Take a walk. Get away from the computer for awhile. I don't want to lock comments on this article, but I will if you all can't get control of yourselves. Enough with the slams. Stick to the facts.
Tom Maras September 11, 2012 at 10:07 PM
@slyfox and gam, so, which BOE candidates are you voting for? What's your opinion on the test cheating at the schools? Should John Crowe have his $210K+ contract renewed?
gam September 11, 2012 at 10:33 PM
gam-haven't decided who I am voting for-do not really care for any of the candidates. The test cheating is a bad thing...I would hope we all agree on that. Was not a surprise to me as I first heard about it 2 years ago. There are teachers that requested transfers out of one of the schools and the requests were directly related to what was going on in those schools. John Crowe should be fired. Since the BOE is unwilling to do that they should at least start interviewing candidates for the job, find someone and send Crowe back to the classroom as an overpaid teacher until his contract is up. Now it's my turn...still waiting....What exactly do you do with your time besides bad mouth people here on this forum?
slyfox1961 September 11, 2012 at 11:43 PM
@maras: You won't agree with me here, but I believe the BOE should be taken over and consolidated into the township administration. It is more cost effective for the taxpayers. I was for it when McGreevy put it to vote years ago. Having an effective administration to run the town is another argument. Until that happens, I will vote for anyone new, but they have to have experience running and administering a business, and be qualified. I am not sure Mr. Capitano fits that bill. The vast majority of the tax increases are a result of sky rocketing legacy, payroll increases, and benefit costs, not mismanagement. The salaries I see you throw around on the forums amount to an infinitesimal amount of the nearly 200 million dollar budget. I am not saying it should not matter, but it is not addressing the core issues, which Mr. Christie has started to. It will take time for the results to be truly seen. The cheating is a result of teaching for the test. All involved should be fired. Now I second Mr. GAM's request: ....What exactly do you do with your time besides bad mouth people here on this and other forums?
cheryl witkowski October 16, 2012 at 02:52 PM
AMEN! I know many on the BOE. Time for a change. Everyone knows someone either has someone employed in the township or a child in the schools. And yes the BOE are not supposed to be affiliated with any political party. But alas that isn't true. Time for a change Woodbridge, wake up and go cast your vote. Re PTO handing out flyers for BOE elections -- yes they can encourage you to vote but they CANNOT TELL YOU WHO TO VOTE FOR.
Tom Maras October 16, 2012 at 10:47 PM
Dear NotInKansasAnymore, God knows, this isn't a popularity contest with me. So you think of me what you will. As I have posted in the past, what is this silly squealer nonsense? If a politician was being a puppet master and interfering with a "non-political" election, I wanted it stopped. John Crowe was only my first stop and it proved a point about the 1 Main St. and School St. connection. So, just out of curiosity, were you squealing on anyone when you went to John Crowe? Cheating is cheating, and wrong is wrong, even when it goes beyond school ground borders. Calling someone out on it isn't squealing, is it? Still friends?
grampam October 17, 2012 at 12:42 AM
Just to answer the question that was never answered...the PTO definitely went against election laws and board policy by sending a flyer home with children. They had a right to take a vote to back candidates and then make the contact via parents (phone, emails, letters) but sending it home in backpacks...that's a big NO!!!
grampam October 17, 2012 at 11:54 AM
Sly fox...what are you talking about? By law the school district cannot be run by the municipal government. There are state codes that refer directly to education, perhaps the Patch should make these known. Apparently few people are aware of these.
cheryl witkowski October 17, 2012 at 02:24 PM
crowe is gone as of December 1; going back to be a principal. they are in the process of looking for a new Superintendent. Read the BOE website for updates.
cheryl witkowski October 17, 2012 at 02:28 PM
what did the flyer say? did it tell parents who to vote for? if so that is A NO NO. Only thing PTO can do is tell people that election is coming up, please go out and vote etc. We cannot tell them who to vote for or encourage them in any way. As for sending home letters with the "going green" campaign most things are just word of mouth or by emails now. And only by email if a parent supplies them. Many don't and some don't have an email, yes even in this era there are many who don't have computers still. I know this as I have been doing it for years sending emails to parents at PTO in both middle and high school levels for various things. At elementary level we had no emails and weren't allowed to ask for them. We had to send home paper flyers, but now can't send anything home at most schools as not allowed to use the paper saving on paper etc. PTO CAN ONLY SEND HOME A NOTE TO MAKE SURE TO GO OUT AND VOTE but not encourage a parent who to vote for at all.


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