|All interviews were taped and documented. They are available through the Reference Department of the Teaneck Public Library. The Library is not responsible for the accuracy of the statements nor does it necessarily endorse the opinions expressed.|
Audio recording of the interview with Bernard Brooks
(Interviewed by June Kapell on 4/14/1985. Transcription: 34 pages)
The narrator is currently the mayor of Teaneck at the time of this interview. The Honorable Bernard Brooks moved to Teaneck in 1963. He has a degree in Accounting from Fairleigh Dickinson and a masters in management from Pace University in New York City. In 1960, the narrator was predominately involved in computer sciences and later joined the consulting firm, Arthur Young & Co., for twelve years. Recently Mayor Brooks started his own firm, Bernard E. Brooks & Associates, it is a management consultant firm specializing in searching for executives (p. 1-3).
Some early civic involvements include Friendship Day, a program where white families and black families would visit one another. He supported school board candidates and in particular the Coffee, Greenstone, Sather campaign by holding cottage parties and distributing literature door to door (p. 3-4). Mayor Brooks has been active in his parish at St. Anastasia's with some of the men's groups and as a scout leader. He has also coached Little League baseball (p. 3-5). Bernard Brooks was involved in St. Anastasia's first parish council and headed their Community Action Committee. The committee looked at the social needs of the parish as well as the greater community of Teaneck; it also joined with groups of other religious institutions, such as Temple Emeth, St. Mark's and the Rotary, to do a number of programs. This included the formation of a senior citizen housing development on East Cedar Lane. The committee was also very instrumental in creating a townwide senior citizens group; it is now a senior citizens center in Teaneck (p. 6-7). Mayor Brooks discusses low cost housing and rent stabilization in Teaneck on pages eight through eleven.
For many years, Mayor Brooks, had been active on the Youth Adjustment Committee. The committee, comprised of twelve to fifteen members and headed by a psychiatrist, attempts to deal with problems of youngsters outside of the courts with the exception of felonies or other criminal behavior (p.12-13). He has also been on the board of directors of the Urban League and of the N.A.A.C.P. and had been active in a civic organization called the Northeast Community Organization (NECO) . In this regard, as an officer, he was involved in screening candidates, encouraging them to run, then working for that candidate. He developed programs for young adults in Teaneck and at times physically worked with the youths in these programs (p. 13-14). Bernard Brooks had served on the board of trustees at Holy Name Hospital for six years; and at the time of this interview, is currently on the board of trustees at St. Vincents Hospital in New York. The narrator was a members of the board of trustees at the Bergen County Girl Scout Council, and he also teaches school in black colleges for the Urban League through a program called "Black Executive Exchange Program" (p. 14-15).
Mayor Brooks says the I-95 redevelopment was the issue that caused him to run for politics. He had been on the Planning Board at the time he first ran for council in 1972. He lost by ten votes. Four years later, however, he ran again and won the council election (p. 17). Mayor Brooks recalls that the emotionalism of that first campaign focused primarily on the fact that for the first time in Teaneck we were going to have buildings higher than three and a half stories. He concludes in retrospect the Glenpointe hotel and office buildings are a success, the residencies are a total failure (p. 17-20).
Bernard Brooks served four years on the council before becoming mayor of Teaneck. He states the issues that concerned him the most were the quality of life in Teaneck and efficiency in government. As to efficiency, when he became mayor he instituted a series of management consultant reports, studying the Fire and Police Departments, the Department of Public Works, the Recreation Department and others. As a result, changes were made where needed to increase the efficiency of the various municipal departments (p. 20-22). The mayor then continues about quality of life and credits Teaneck as a great community, where people respect you for what you are. However, he discusses some of the challenges we are still facing (p. 22-28).
Mayor Brooks talks about the conference of mayors, a forum where the seventy area mayors could get together to discuss issues common to all--senior citizens, young people, safety, taxes. From this conference, a reference directory, providing information concerning sources available to residents from the county, state or Federal governments, will be developed (p. 28-30).
Concluding with a discussion about taxes, Mayor Brooks states that tax records and actual assessments are now computerized. No longer subject to a five to ten year master assessment, houses are assessed constantly and basically done by the market value. He adds that Teaneck has about 350 houses per year that sell (p.30-33).