UCCF 9/18/14: $20,000 for Live Theater in Rahway

By John Bury | September 30, 2014

2014-771: Authorizing the County Manager to enter into a contract with the Union County Performing Arts Center, Rahway, New Jersey to work with the County of Union to assist in developing, expanding and strengthening community arts groups in Union County through the support of live theater, in an amount not to exceed $20,000.


Payments made by Union County directly to the Union County Performing Arts Center since 2004: $1,833,751.

Union County Prisoners to Hudson County

By John Bury | September 28, 2014

The idea germinated in late 2012 and the excuse was that the showers in the Union County facility had to be fixed:

2012-1066 (December 22, 2012): Authorizing County Manager to enter into a Shared Services Agreement with Hudson County for the relocation of inmates from Union County to Hudson County for a period of January 15, 2013 to December 31, 2013 for an amount not to exceed $3,750,000.

Such resolution being explained at the time:

According to check registries almost $2 million has been paid to Hudson County Correctional Ctr from April 10, 2013 through June 11, 2014.

On February 27, 2014 there was no talk about fixing showers but the Shared Services Agreement was extended:

2014-191: Authorizing County Manager to enter into a Shared Services Agreement with Hudson County for the relocation of inmates from Union County to Hudson County for a period of March 14, 2014, to September 14, 2015 for an amount not to exceed $2,100,000.

Hudson County passed its own resolution the same day, also without bothering to make up a reason this time.

Campaign Directions

By John Bury | September 26, 2014

For those of you eagerly awaiting the next election (and your next issue of Union County Directions) you should be aware that:

Ronald DeFilippis, the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission’s chairman, outlined New Jersey’s rules on sending newsletters close to Election Day in February 2011, using a hypothetical case of a mayor.

“Take the case where a newsletter is distributed by the municipality to residents in the weeks prior to the primary or general election but contains no direct appeal for
votes. The newsletter, however, touts the goals and achievements of the mayor and has been consented to by the mayor,” DeFilippis said. “Are there ramifications to this course of action involving the Campaign Act? The simple answer is yes.”

DeFilippis said the rule applies if the newsletter is distributed within 90 days of the election, if the recipients are “substantially” people eligible to vote for the candidate, if it refers to governmental achievements or objectives of the candidate and is sent with “cooperation or consent” of the candidate.

No, this does not mean that your next issue of UC Driections won’t be coming.  This happens to come from Bergen County where County Executive Kathe Donovan is running for reelection while being prominently featured in the current issue of the “Bergen Blast”. Recognizing  the obvious conflict:

Donovan’s office has dropped its plans to distribute the newsletter and is removing it from the internet. And Donovan is personally reimbursing the county the roughly $800 it cost to print it, according to her campaign manager, Mark Campbell.

As for UC Directions, which is the main activity of the Union County Alliance, were anyone to reimburse taxpayers for that piece of electioneering it would take, since 2004 according to the check registries, $2,861,915.

UCCF 9/18/14: CBA with Parks Maintenance Association

By John Bury | September 25, 2014

2014-786: Authorizing the County Manager to sign any and all documents necessary to enter into a Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Parks Maintenance Association, effective January 1, 2012 through December 31, 2015.

Our Organ Works

By John Bury | September 24, 2014

organ opening

In a ceremony yesterday the newly restored UCPAC organ was unveiled to a gathering of what look like a couple dozen select county employees and, with everything that’s going on in the county from jail closings  to not knowing where you want the stairs, the Star Ledger chose to cover the festivities:

After two years of restoration work, the organ with dozens of mechanical pieces and pipes, came back to life today in the theater that is now home to the Union County Performing Arts Center.

“Today’s event celebrates the preservation of musical history and traditions and craftsmanship of the 1920s,” Freeholder Chairman Christopher Hudak said during the ceremony unveiling the restored instrument.


“Theater chambers have a terrible habit of leaking over pipe organs,” said Gary H. Phillips, owner of GHP Associates, the Attleboro, Mass. that restored the Rahway organ.

County officials spent $270,000 to restore the Wurlitzer, which the American Theatre Organ Society placed on the National Registry of Significant Instruments.

According to check registry data GHP Associates was paid $239,317 though a resolution passed August, 2013 and covered here had a higher amount:

2013-662 FREEHOLDER ALEXANDER MIRABELLA: Amending Resolution #2011-683 through Change Order #1 for an additional sum of $68,000 to GHP Associates, LLP, 84 Dunham Street, Attleboro, MA 02703 for the expert repair, remediation and restoration of the Wurlitzer Pipe Organ in the Union County Performing Arts Center auditorium, for a total contract amount not to exceed $266,516.90. This Change Order is necessary because of unforeseen conditions found when the organ was opened for restoration and repair.

The payoff:

The Friends of The UCPAC present Classic Film Series featuring THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
Come in costume to draw from our free prizes in the lobby!
Venue: Mainstage
Saturday • October 25, 2014 • 8:00 PM
Ticket Price: All Seats/All Ages: $7 General Admission
Cash or credit card at the door

All they need is for 39,000 people to show up for these types of events and it practically pays for itself.

UCCF 9/18/14: Trust Fund Not for Open Space

By John Bury | September 24, 2014

Why is a $432,000 house in Scotch Plains adjacent to a county park not being purchased with part of the $9 million collected annually through the Open Space trust fund tax?

The true answer is that the Open Space trust fund money is being misappropriated but that’s not something that can be admitted in public so what we get by way of explanation (from the 9/11/14 freeholder meeting) is this:

If anyone can make any sense out of that explanation please clue the rest of us in.

Union County Jail On the Block

By John Bury | September 23, 2014

nj.com just posted the story which summarized our coverage and added some things:

Hudson County spokesman James Kennelly confirmed there have been talks between the two counties, but said he could not comment further.

Word of the discussions and the possible impact on the Union County jail has corrections officers wondering about their jobs.

“Our position is the [Union County] jail should stay open,” Officer Ken Burkert, a union representative, said today.

Burkert, who is the state delegate for PBA local 199 that represents about 290 county corrections officers, stressed he has received little information from Union County officials.

“We’ll wait and see the dollar amount that Hudson has,” Burkert said, referring to the what it might cost Union County to have its prisoners incarcerated in Hudson County.

At the county freeholder meeting last week, PBA representatives read a letter sent from their lawyers to the county stating their concern about the discussions with Hudson County.

“PBA Local 199 continues to work to try to resolve this matter with the county in a professional manner,” said James Mets, the PBA lawyer, in a letter to a lawyer for the county. “However, do not let the PBA’s negotiations posture to be taken as a sign of weakness. If an amicable solution cannot be reach between the PBA and the county, the PBA will take all necessary and legal steps to protect the rights of its members.”

Faella, in his message in the county’s fiscal year 2013 budget, said the county was then spending $50 million annually, including fringe benefits for staff.

And left out some things like, for instance, the full text of that letter:

UCCF 9/18/14: Kemper Running Golf For Five More Years

By John Bury | September 22, 2014

Presenting an Evaluation Report on who to hire to run golf operations for the next five years:

Citizen response:

Through August, Union County Improvement Authority bills for the Golf Course Project: $266,679:

ucia golf

UCCF 9/18/14: Runnells Amendments

By John Bury | September 21, 2014

runnells amendments


runnells ucia bills

UCCF 9/18/14: Courthouse Staircase Escalating Costs

By John Bury | September 19, 2014

staircase courthouse
Agenda Meeting explanations:

Questions and Answers from the Regular Meeting:





Payments to Mast Constructions from check registries: $603,892
mast const
Campaign contributions by Mast Construction to Union County Democrats: $9,300

mast contributions