UCCF 7/17/14: Department Head Raises

By John Bury | July 22, 2014

757-2014 AN ORDINANCE FIXING THE SALARIES OF DEPARTMENT HEADS AS AMENDED

The ordinance was questioned though not without some back and forth:
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Details as previously reported and discussed:
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Sheriff Ralph Froehlich Dies

By Tina Renna | July 21, 2014

Sometime during the night Union County Sheriff Ralph Froehlich passed away. He was suffering from cancer, and was very ill for the past 6 months. Two weeks ago the Sheriff’s PBA held an event honoring him for 55 years in law enforcement. He did not attend.

Sheriff is a constitutional office in the state of New Jersey. A member of the same party will be appointed by the governor with the consent of the Senate Judiciary Committee. There will be no special election. The appointed sheriff’s term will end 1/20/17. There are three undersheriff’s: Joseph Cryan, Gerald Green and Vincent Detrolio. If Assemblyman Cryan should become Sheriff he would have to give up his assembly seat.

Biography from the Union County website:

Ralph Froehlich, a Union resident, was first elected Sheriff of Union County in 1977 and is beginning his 13th term. He is the longest-serving County Sheriff in New Jersey history.

A career law enforcement officer, he was a member of the Elizabeth Police Department for almost 20 years, attaining the rank of lieutenant. He received numerous commendations, including the New Jersey PBA Valor Award, Policeman of the Year and the Elizabeth Police Merit Awards. He is also a U.S. Marine Corps veteran.

A 1975 graduate of Kean College, he attended the Northwestern University Traffic Institute in 1968 and is a member of Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Honor Society.

During his tenure as Sheriff he instituted a nationally recognized fingerprinting program for children and launched a K-9 Search and Rescue Unit and a Domestic Violence Unit. He has received six national awards for administrative leadership.

In December 2010, the Union County Sheriff’s Office received national accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA) through the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police Accreditation Alliance Program.

In an effort to share services with other law enforcement agencies, Sheriff Froehlich implemented a Municipal Transportation Program to assist local police departments in transporting their prisoners to and from jail allowing local officers to remain in their communities.

Sheriff Froehlich also launched the Sheriff’s Labor Assistance Program (S.L.A.P.), an alternative to incarceration for non-violent offenders to work details supervised by the Sheriff’s Office in all 21 Union County municipalities. The program, started in 1993, has save Union County taxpayers millions of dollars through labor hours and the costs of incarceration.

The Sheriff has been responsible for distributing the “Play It Safe” booklet designed to educate adults and children of the dangers which exit in society today. He has also implemented several gun safety programs for children and teens including three educational videos available in schools throughout the county. The Sheriff also assisted with a state-sponsored gun buyback program for the residents Union County.

Each summer, Sheriff Froehlich hosts the Union County Sheriff’s Youth Academy for students to learn about law enforcement.

The Sheriff has served four terms as President of the New Jersey Sheriff’s Association, is a member of the board of the Salvation Army, and Urban League. He has been President of the New Jersey County Officers Association and member of the Sheriff/Judicial Liaison Court Security Committee.

UCCF 7/17/14: T&M Payoffs

By John Bury | July 21, 2014

2014 – 588 Authorizing the County Manager to award a contract to T&M, Middletown, New Jersey, to provide Workplace Health and Safety Compliance and Consulting Services for the period of August 1, 2014 through July 31, 2015 in an amount not to exceed $136,000.

Union County could be paying to secure their Juvenile Detention Center so there would be less chance of alleged sexual assaults but priorities necessitate:
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The NJ Election Law Enforcement website shows T&M Associates making over 1,200 political donations (hit ‘Display 100 at a time’) around the state while employees of T&M have made hundreds more.

Since 2004, according to check registry data, T & M Associates has been paid over $4.4 million by Union County.

UCCF 7/17/14: Plainfield Amubulance

By John Bury | July 19, 2014

2014-607 Authorizing the County Manager to enter into an agreement with Plainfield Rescue Squad Inc. for the provision of an ambulance facility for the period of August 1, 2014 through July 31, 2019.
2014-608 Authorizing the County Manager to enter into a Shared Services Agreement with the City of Plainfield to provide Emergency Medical Services effective August 1, 2014 through July 31, 2019.
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and in open comment time:
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Union County utility agency director, deputy must repay thousands in stipends

By John Bury | July 18, 2014

That’s the headline of a story that nj.com finally got to today regarding the Union County Utilities Authority meeting last Wednesday which included an executive session of over two hours on the unauthorized stipend payments that cost taxpayers over $82,000 (that’s in legal fees so far and does not include the actual stipends which amounted to $36,000 to seven people, two of whom have to repay $21,000 of those stipends though apparently they have no obligation to cover the legal fees their malfeasance resulted in).  Here are the pertinent excerpts from that UCUA meeting last Wednesday:
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and here is Tina Renna at the freeholder meeting last night:
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UCCF 7/17/14: Paying for Bad Management

By John Bury | July 18, 2014

The Star Ledger reported that Union County is being sued over alleged sex assaults at the juvenile center but what they did not report is that, because of the county’s participation in New Jersey’s flourishing pay-to-play system, county taxpayers are already on the hook for up to $100,000 in legal fees to mostly connected law firms as county counsel determined that the fourteen defendants in Fowler v. UC, et als need different outside law firms to represent them with each of the firms starting the meter at $10,000, an amount that, based on past experience, will escalate regularly over the course of the case to what should eventually hit six figures for each in legal fees alone.  Those firms:

LAW FIRM……………………………………….DEFENDANT

Palumbo & Renaud…………………………….Union County and County Detention Center

Antonelli Minchello, PC………………………..Carl Cunningham and Alberto Rodriguez

Kologi Simitz…………………………………….Edward Koon

Florio Perrucci Steinhardt & Faber……………Rebecca Mentor

Weber Dowd Law……………………………….Owen Williams

Cottrell Solensky & Semple……………………Tekki Allen and Antonio Hinojosa

Florio & Kenney, LLP…………………………….Thelma Abney

Jardim, Meisner & Susser, PC…………………Douglas Polk

Shain, Schaffer & Rafanello……………………Sherita Lawson and Shavona Holiday

LaCorte, Bundy, Varady & Kinsella…………….Greg Lyons

Also on this night there was a separate lawsuit, Barbara Egger, et als v. Runnells Specialized Hospital that put one of Union County’s most connected law firms on the meter starting at $10,000

Bauch Zucker Hatfield, LLC……………………..Runnells

The official rationale for hiring outside counsel, as partially explained in the video below, is that there are conflicts among the defendants that the county’s many in-house lawyers can’t handle and require the services of outside counsel, preferably democratic campaign donors (though that last part was not in the official explanation but everyone took that for granted).
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Need further explanation?

It’s legal. It’s New Jersey.  It’s Union County.  This is how we allow ourselves to be governed.

UCCF 7/17/14 – Guzzo Attacks

By John Bury | July 17, 2014

In response to what seemed like an innocuous question Union County Human Services Director (and new raise-getter) Frank Guzzo attacked, not so subtly, Tina Renna’s integrity
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More on Sullivan and the UCUA in later blogs but, for now, Tina Renna responds further to Frank Guzzo:
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UCUA Stipend Investigation Conclusion

By Tina Renna | July 17, 2014
The UCUA singed a shared services agreement almost a year ago, on 8/21/13, with the UCIA which had Daniel Sullivan become Executive Director of both agencies, boxes of UCIA documents are still being stored in the reception area of the 3rd floor of the UCUA.

The UCUA singed a shared services agreement almost a year ago, on 8/21/13, with the UCIA which had Daniel Sullivan become Executive Director of both agencies, boxes of UCIA documents are still being stored in the reception area of the 3rd floor of the UCUA.

Although the resolutions adopting at their meeting last night were not made available to the public, the UCUA did release the resolutions this morning after receiving an Open Public Records Act Request.

The Report was also requested, no reply has been received as of this writing.

Resolution No.: 62-14
Resolution of the Union County Utilities Authority Accepting PPi Committee’s recommendations regarding discipline of certain employees following fact-finding inquiry concerning stipend payments made to certain authority employees in 2013 and 2014.

The Authority directed that Daniel P Sullivan be formally reprimanded for his actions in this matter and that the reprimand concerning his actions be placed in his personnel file; and he will have to pay back all monies received in accordance with a schedule to be determined between Mr. Sullivan and the PPI Committee. The payments include 6, two-thousand five-hundred dollar ($2,500) payments during the time period covering 9/6/123 through 1/30/14 in the total amount of fifteen-thousand dollars ($15,000)…..

The Authority directed that Thomas Brennan, Deputy Director and Comptroller, be formally reprimanded and suspended, without pay, for five (5) days, such suspension to be coordinated with the Executive Director and the PPI Committee, and that the reprimand and notice of suspension concerning his actions in this matter, reviewed by the Board in Executive Session be provided to Mr. Brennan and placed in his personnel file; the Authority further directed that Brennan pay back all monies received by way of the subject payments in accordance with a schedule to be determined between Brennan and the PPI Committee. The payments included six (6), one-thousand dollar payments during the time period covering 9/6/13 through 1/30/14 total amount six-thousand dollars ($6,000).

The other 5 employees (da Silva, Hummel, Kinloch, Neafsey, Rosa) were found to have no role in the determination and unauthorized payments and were found to have provide valuable services on behalf of the Authority in this matter, the Board ratified the payments made to the employees and determined that these employees are not required to pay back the monies received. The payments include six (6), five-hundred dollar ($500.00) payments, issued to each employee during the time period covering 9/6/13 through 1/30/14 total amount fifteen-thousand dollars ($15,000).

The Resolution mentions the PPI Committee and Commissioners of the UCUA approved and accept the Report with the exception of one specific recommendation made by Mr. Pawar, as it was beyond the scope of his assigned inquiry. The Resolution does not list the recommendation.

Legal fees approved during last night’s meeting pertaining to this matter:

Saiber LLC $32,308.25
Pawar Gilgallon & Ruddy LLC, $17,500
Bauch Zucker Hatfield LLC, 25,532.76, $2,187.86, and 5,154.37

Total: $82,683.24

Not provided to date are the legal bills For Executive Director Daniel Sullivan, Deputy Director and Comptroller, Brennan & Clerk daSilva who were allowed to retain counsel to cooperate with this inquiry at tax-payer expense.

Also not mentioned in the resolution, or during last night’s meeting is Daniel Sullivan’s work load and if this had any thing to do with the stipends. On 7/2/2014 Under Resolution 66-2014, the UCIA Commissioners voted to create a new UCIA officer position, a Deputy Director/Project Manager, “to work with the Authority and the Executive Director to assist, manage, supervise, and oversee the projects and future projects of the Authority.

Also not provided to date is a thank you to the Union County Watchdog Association for bringing this matter to the attention of the Union County Utilities Authority.

UCUA Stipend Investigation

By Tina Renna | July 16, 2014

With no public discussion, comment, or statement, the Union County Utilities Authority voted during tonight’s meeting to accept the report of the fact-finding inquiry concerning stipend payments made to Authority employees in 2013 and 2014.

The report was not made available to the public.

Document shines light on UCUA stipend inquiry direction

By Tina Renna | July 13, 2014

On June 18, 2014 the Union County Utilities Authority (UCUA) voted to increase the appropriation to the firm who is conducting a fact finding inquiry into stipends paid to the UCUA Executive Director and staff. There was no end date given. Commissioners Jackus (and Peoples) voted no. Jackus commented during the meeting that he wanted a quick end to the inquiry and seemed be a bit outraged about its cost to taxpayers. No one present mentioned that it was Jackus that had signed the stipend checks. To date, no UCUA commissioner or staff, including Jackus, has offered the public an explanation about these stipends.

John Bury was the only journalist present and he memorialized the meeting on film. I followed up by placing an OPRA request to get some insight into why the inquiry was taking so long, and what direction it was taking.

The UCUA won’t turn over any legal bills (not even redacted bills, leaving some insight into how much time they spent on who they spoke to, etc., which they are required to do by law – but I will put that aside for now).

They did turn over an email which indicates that the firm is focusing on the Shared Services Agreement between the UCUA and the Union County Improvement Authority (UCIA) which went into effect when the UCUA took over management of the UCIA. The email states in part “they reached 80% of the contract cap of $25,000 set forth in their agreement and asking for an increase: Virtually 100% of this billing occurred as a result of the extraordinary services required by the controversy and subsequent fact-finding surrounding the non-union employee stipends relating to the Authorities providing services and office space to the UCIA.”

I have been investigating this in my spare time, free of charge to the taxpayers and like our Musicfest investigation, our only short fall is that we don’t have the power to force public officials and employees to answer our questions. The OPRA allows us to follow a paper trail and it’s pretty clear. I can’t understand why a legal firm, which has access to commissioners and employees to answer any questions, can’t do this in a reasonable time frame.

Hopefully the final report will be made available to the public without an expensive taxpayer funded OPRA lawsuit and at the very least it will explain fully why:

Sullivan and other staff were given pay raises when the UCUA took on the UCIA. This was in addition to the stipends Jackus (who signed the checks), and the other commissioners claimed to have no knowledge of until February 12, 2014 when I attended a UCUA reorganization meeting and asked the commissioners about the stipend pay outs which I found doing routine UCWA investigative work which includes monitoring the UCUA check registry.

Besides Jackus who signed the checks, I can see how the other commissioners may have been in the dark about the stipends, however, they should be looking at the check registry routinely, as I do, to get a clear picture of the UCUA’s workings. The stipends appeared on the check registry, but not the monthly paid bills list which the commissioners approve for payment.

Meeting minutes reflect no discussion of stipends being approved.

What is the criteria for a payment to make the paid bills list submitted for approval and who is responsible for deciding? Did management, who were benefiting by the stipends, not report it correctly? Is Jackus required to review any paper work before he signs a check for payment?

Nor have their Executive Director, Daniel Sullivan, or their Deputy Director and Comptroller Thomas Brennan, given the public an explanation to date despite being publicly asked for one. To the contrary, Sullivan complained that he wasn’t given a chance to tell his side of the story. The February 26, 2014 UCUA meeting minutes quote Sullivan stating “…that he was disappointed that, for whatever reason, they (he and Mr. Brennan) did not get a chance to speak on the issue” and he did not believe he had done anything to “shake the faith” the UCUA commissioners had placed in him in his two years as executive director. He added that the fact that he did not even get a chance to explain what happened is beyond him. He wished someone would explain that to him and that he thought the commissioners would have wanted to hear from him about what happened.”

According to the UCUA website the Comptroller’s office is responsible for the everyday management, operation & oversight of the Union County Utilities Authority (UCUA) financial activities. These duties would include revenue, expenses & tonnage reports, monitoring general accounting records, payroll, pension budget preparation & management and insuring that all regulations and proper accounting procedures are followed to insure the UCUA is in full compliance with certain laws, contracts and general auditing standards.

What are Commissioners responsible for?

Aside from the stipend payments, Daniel Sullivan was given a pay increase when he assumed the duties of UCIA Executive Director, as was UCUA employees Brennan and Da Silva for taking on “additional duties”. The Executive Director was the only staff replaced at the UCIA. The only other two employees of the UCIA remained on payroll and were also given raises: Mark Brink as Project/Financial Specialist $83,315.23, and Jennifer Erdos as Project Manager/ Events Coordinator $74,426.54.

OPRA requests have revealed many things, including the fact that no time sheets were kept by the people who were receiving stipends for UCIA work.

Shared Services Agreement & Addendum
Email indicating that the fact finding inquiry is focusing on the Shared Services Agreement

Timeline:

Union County Improvement Authority
Former Executive Director Charlotte DeFilippo last salary $147,712, was allowed to maintain a home office.

5/3/13 DeFilippo announces during a Union County Improvement Authority meeting that she will be stepping down as Executive Director of the UCIA effective August 1, 2013. She also announces she is stepping down as Chairman of the Union County Regular Democratic Committee. During the same meeting, in so many words, she credits the scrutiny of the Union County Watchdog Association as being too much to bare.

UCIA doesn’t lay off any employees despite being taken over the UCUA. They maintain employees: Mark Brink, Jenifer Erdos were were given 2% raises bringing their salaries to: Erdos as Project Manager/ Events Coordinator $74,426.54; Brink as Project/Financial Specialist $83,315.23

Union County Utilities Authority

8/11 Sunil K. Gargil, Ph.D, Esq., steps down as Executive Director of the UCUA, his last salary was $153,000. He held the position for 6 years.

8/17/11 Freeholder Daniel Sullivan, former Department of Motor Vehicles manager, is appointed Interim Director of the UCUA. His salary is set at $130,000 (UCUA employee lists show Sullivan’s start date as August 11, 2011).

4/18/12 Union County Freeholders appoint Sullivan as Executive Director of UCUA by resolution effective 4/19/12

11/29/12 Employment contract obtained through OPRA is signed by Sullivan on 11/29/12 (not signed by Jackus, chairman of the board of commissioners)

$150,000 per annum in weekly installments
20 vacation days
15 sick days (which can be carried over)
There is no mention of an extra monthly stipend

8/21/13 UCUA signs shared services agreement with UCIA and Sullivan becomes Executive Director of both agencies

8/21/13 UCUA passes resolution increasing Executive Director Sullivan’s salary to $153,000 ($23,000 increase)

8/22/13 First monthly payments to Sullivan and other UCUA employees show up on the UCUA  Check Registry

Director Sullivan receives an additional $2,500 per month
Deputy Director Brennan receives $1,000
All other employees receive $500 per month

8/22/13 Sullivan announces during a freeholder meeting that he is resigning his freeholder seat to head the Union County Improvement Authority, he signs an agreement with the UCUA setting his salary at $153,000.

8/21/13 UCUA Resolution 49-2013 was passed increasing Lisa da Silva’s salary by $5,000. She is described as the Office Manager/Deputy Clerk; and …. Is expected to take on additional responsibility in connection with the Authorities programs in the coming months; and after consultation with the Authority’s General Counsel and the Executive Director, the Personnel, Insurance and Procurement Committee recommends that the Authority provide additional compensation to Ms. Da Silva….

http://www.unioncountyutilitiesauthority.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/49-2013-Adjusting-the-Annual-salary-of-Lisa-da-Silva.pdf.pdf

8/21/13 Resolution 50-2013 was passed amending Daniel Sullivan’s Employment Agreement to provide for 2% increase in his annual salary bringing it to $153,000 (no explanation of additional job responsibilities was listed).

As of 1/27/14 Sullivan’s salary is listed as $156,060 (in addition to an unexplained $2,500 monthly stipend paid directly to him through the UCUA check registry) bringing his total annual compensation without benefits to $186,000.

2/12/14 Tina Renna attended a UCUA reorganization meeting and asked the commissioners about the stipends which she had found doing routine UCWA investigative work which includes reviewed the UCUA check registry payments. The stipends do not show up on the paid bills lists which the commissions are given in their packets for approval.

February 2014, the stipends are suspended and the UCUA hires Pawar Gilgallon & Rud to conduct a fact-finding mission. The firm later resigns stating a conflict of interest. The UCUA then hires Bauch Zuker Hatfield LLC as a replacement for a contract not to exceed $25,000.

4/19/14 the UCUA passes a resolution “Indemnifying Executive Director’s Counsel Fees Pertaining to his Defense in the Fact-Finding Inquiry Concerning Stipend Payments Made to Authority Employees in 1013 and 2014.”  No amount is set. Sullivan, retains an attorney who is well-connected to the Union County Prosecutor’s Office: http://www.countywatchers.com/?p=10985

5/21/14 the UCUA passes resolutions providing “reasonable attorney fees” with no set amount for Lisa Da Silva and Thomas Brennan

6/18/14 the UCUA increases the Bauch Zuker Hatfield LLC contract to $50,000 to continue to inquiry.

12/19/13 In the midst of the period during which he was personally signing unauthorized UCUA stipend checks to himself, UCUA Executive Director Daniel Sullivan takes the podium at the Union County Freeholder regular meeting, identifying himself as “the little guy who runs the UCIA”, and smugly tells the Freeholders not to listen to the members of the public commenting at the meeting whom he says are the “league of whiners” and “idiots”.