An Inside Game

That was the headline from today’s lead story in the Star Ledger which asks the question:

Was politics in play when public bidding laws were cast aside for a $123.8M project?

Yes it is about the pay-to-play cesspool that is Union County.

Notable excerpts:

There was no public bidding for the contracts, which went to a hand-picked group of companies at a cost to taxpayers of $123.8 million.

The project manager for the Union County Improvement Authority — who also serves as the county’s finance director — recommended the selection of one of the architects as well as the construction manager responsible for protecting the authority’s best interests during the project, according to court depositions. Those associated with the two companies later contributed thousands of dollars to her failed election campaign for state Assembly.

And a law partner of New Jersey Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-Middlesex, serves as redevelopment counsel to the authority. To date, the firm — whose members last year contributed $50,700 to the Union County Democratic Committee as well as several county election campaigns — has so far billed $312,116 for its work on the proposed new complex, records show.

….

Bruce Paterson, an outspoken critic of the county, called it “the biggest botched up bidding process ever,” charging that the project had been “left up to unknown people behind closed doors” to pick the winner. Paterson — with decades of experience in cost engineering and bidding — claimed in complaints filed with the state that the county specifically designed the project so that it could only go toward a favored contractor who was politically connected.

“They are running a con game with the politically connected at the taxpayer expense,” he said.

…..

Indeed, politics has long been part of the DNA of the Union County Improvement Authority.

For more than a decade, the agency was headed by the late Charlotte DeFilippo, who also chaired the county Democratic Committee and ran the UCIA from her home and was paid $160,000 per year.

Until his recent retirement, the county’s spokesman served as the authority’s chairman. A former freeholder replaced DeFilippo as executive director for a time. The UCIA is currently being run by Taylor, the wife of former East Orange Mayor Lester Taylor whose law firm also has contracts with the county. Also serving as the county’s finance director, she is paid an additional $5,000 a month to serve as the UCIA’s “project manager,” in addition her current $160,000-a-year county salary.

The UCIA by its nature is a confluence of lucrative contracts and contractors. It awards millions to retain construction and engineering firms, lawyers and architects — many of which would donate hundreds of thousands over the years to the coffers of the Union County Democrats under DeFilippo.

They still do.

5 responses to this post.

  1. The incredibly high levels of abuse and secrecy at the UCIA following Bibi Taylor’s excessive and obsessive control of the authority and the Union County Government Complex Project are the answers. And now it’s all just a muddy mess steeped in expensive litigation and massive controversy at the Union
    County taxpayer’s expense where neither Ed Oatman or Bibi Taylor reside. Disgraceful.

    Reply

  2. Bibi Taylor gets 2 stipends at the UCIA. One for $5K per month for “project management” and one for $5K per month for “financial management.” so her total UCIA stipend is $120K (not the $60K reported in the Star Ledger. Also, “Mrs.” Taylor receives $156K salary as Finance Director (with an 8% raise per paycheck in January),$4K a month as a member of the insurance committee, a cadillac health insurance plan, sick and vacation time benefits which she can cash in, a Ford Explorer leased by the taxpayers and paid gasoline/maintenance/EZPass by same taxpayers. Plus her free tuition at Farleigh Dickinson for her PhD in Education which has zero to do with her job at the Finance Division and is an out of network college costing taxpayer thousands. And of course, the contracts her husband gets from the County (17 at last count) for CaresAct and the County VoTech board counsel contract. Hmmmm, no wonder The Taylor’s of Watchung have permits in for an in-ground swimming pool. We’re in The Taxpayer’s Money” should be their theme song.

    Reply

    • Posted by qpat00 on December 12, 2021 at 6:04 pm

      Certainly agree-note how else could they afford a brand new $1.2 million house in Watchung, not even Union County, from such apparant ill-gotten gains.

      Reply

  3. Posted by qpat00 on December 12, 2021 at 5:39 pm

    What gets me is in Ted Sherman’s/Sunday Star Leger 12/12/21 great expose, he notes that Union County already spent $9 million dollars on the boondoggle…..FOR WHAT????? A pile of rubble at the property and a set of incomplete half baked archtiectural drwgs. Finance Director/UCIA Project manager obviuosly has no idea what she is doing, sstupidly wasting the $9 mill. Best guess, is she possibly should be jailed for criminal malfeasance. Luckily her BFF she donates to who is now senate president, Senator Nicholhead Scutari, will cover her ass and the rest of Union County govt which he controls as politcal boss of the county. Sad fact is we can’t get rid of these dingleberries either.

    Reply

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