Posts Tagged ‘employees’

Freeholders take care of their drunken driving employees

Freeholder Chairwoman Deborah Scanlon is quoted in a Star-Ledger article today about Union County Manager Alfred Faella being charged with driving drunk while traveling in his work-issued vehicle “our first concern is for Al’s personal health, and we will support him in his efforts to seek any counseling.”

This isn’t the first time the freeholders have been concerned about the health of a drunk driving employee.

When county employee Thomas MacDermant was convicted of a 3 time DUI and locked up in the Union County jail, he was held on the medical floor the entire time. According to a court transcript his attorney lamented he was “not even released to the population.”

And then they allowed him to go home.

The County Watchers reported that the county inappropriately allowed him to go home on a wristlet, before being found out by his sentencing judge and dragged back to jail.

The freeholders also allowed MacDermant, who is said to be a close friend of former county manager George Devanney, to keep his job which requires him to travel between county buildings and he no longer had a liscense to drive.

When George Devanney, was appointed County Manager in 2002, Thomas MacDermant was employed by the county as a carpenter his salary was $40,779. Presently MacDermant is a Department Head and his salary is $80,073.

Previously reported: Friend’s don’t let friend’s drink and stay in jail for D.W.I. convictions

One Tent

I will go through a list of Union County employees by salary until I find one who has made a contribution to any Republican party, committee, or candidate:

Lanza, Raymond $205,026
Hua, Zhongxue $192,847
Barnas, Matthew $185,000
Huang, Bei $176,800
Devanney, George $168,336
Chowdhury, Amina $165,000
Romankow, Theodore $165,000
Shaikh, Junaid $164,800
Cernadas Jr, Albert $164,000
Frawley, Anne $162,008
Buccino, Robert $160,000
Isenhour, Thomas $152,293
Hancock, David $152,020
Barry, Robert $149,514
DeFilippo, Charlotte $147,712
Caulfield, Regina $147,517
Genievich, Elizabeth $146,357
Rubin, Ann $145,464
Clay, Gregory $144,963
Froehlich, Ralph $142,728
LaCorte, James $142,728
Rajoppi, Joanne $142,728
Zabady Jr, Albert $142,142
Reale, Ronald $139,230
Luvera, Ann $137,456
Caroselli, Lawrence $132,771
White, Deborah $131,935
Guzzo, Frank $131,340

I think I found one.

In 1981 this person might have given $50 (a lot of money in those days) to Republican Thomas H. Kean’s primary campaign as an individual.  I say ‘might’ because it could well have been their father or mother.  Or, if it was that person, it could have been a youthful indiscretion of someone caught up in the Reagan revolution though that argument is likely not going to fly with the higher-ups today.  I won’t out that person for fears about their job security and/or safety but I assure you it is not the next name on the list.  I have eliminated a substantial number going down from my tally to protect their identity.

My point here is that it’s not only the money coaxed out of county employees going to democrats but also the money not being given to republicans by the odd county employee who may be closer ideologically to perceived replication principles (i.e. support fiscal restraint and oppose babykilling) for fear of retribution.  Just add torture rooms (assuming the 6th floor freeholder meeting room not to be one) and you’ve got a political climate akin to Saddam’s Iraq.

You’re invited to participate in the freeholder debate without having to attend!

Union County employees are sprinkled throughout the audience during freeholder debates.

Union County employees are sprinkled throughout the audience during freeholder debates.

Candidates for freeholder will face off in a candidates forum hosted by the League of Women Voters on Tuesday, Oct. 19 at 7 pm in the Cranford Administration Building located on Springfield Avenue.

This year the public is invited to join the taxpayer-funded Union County Public Information team and submit questions to subnews@njnpublishing.com and they could be asked of the candidates during the forum.

In the past the audience would submit questions on queue cards before the debate began, the process was hijacked by dozens of county employees stuffing the question box and finally the format was changed last year and the questions will be fielded by media representatives. Hopefully this will ferret out questions like “what will you do to improve safety on the route 22 corridor” which of course only a sitting freeholder holding a responding queue card to the public information department’s question could answer.

But, it’s up to you to challenge the public information department. Submit your questions!

Feel free to copy me, I’ll keep your identity anonymous and will post your questions. It’s only fair that ALL the candidates have a chance to prepare their answers.

Here’s one of mine off the top of my head:
Q. How many of your family members does the county employ?
A. Freeholder Sullivan: I think about 29 but I’ll have to check with my mom.
A. All others: none.

tinarenna@unioncountywatchdog.org

You're invited to participate in the freeholder debate without having to attend!

Union County employees are sprinkled throughout the audience during freeholder debates.

Union County employees are sprinkled throughout the audience during freeholder debates.

Candidates for freeholder will face off in a candidates forum hosted by the League of Women Voters on Tuesday, Oct. 19 at 7 pm in the Cranford Administration Building located on Springfield Avenue.

This year the public is invited to join the taxpayer-funded Union County Public Information team and submit questions to subnews@njnpublishing.com and they could be asked of the candidates during the forum.

In the past the audience would submit questions on queue cards before the debate began, the process was hijacked by dozens of county employees stuffing the question box and finally the format was changed last year and the questions will be fielded by media representatives. Hopefully this will ferret out questions like “what will you do to improve safety on the route 22 corridor” which of course only a sitting freeholder holding a responding queue card to the public information department’s question could answer.

But, it’s up to you to challenge the public information department. Submit your questions!

Feel free to copy me, I’ll keep your identity anonymous and will post your questions. It’s only fair that ALL the candidates have a chance to prepare their answers.

Here’s one of mine off the top of my head:
Q. How many of your family members does the county employ?
A. Freeholder Sullivan: I think about 29 but I’ll have to check with my mom.
A. All others: none.

tinarenna@unioncountywatchdog.org

UCWA factors into campaign season

The county has launched a $136,600 taxpayer funded website prominently featuring freeholders who are up for reelection and simultaneously the Union County Democratic Committee, whose chairman is Charlotte DeFilippo, a county employee salary $147,712.19, that’s an increase of $100,000 from the last guy to hold her job, has launched a website attacking me and the Union County Watchdog Association.

Don’t be fooled …. There interests aren’t ours “Let’s impound these watchdog’s once and for all”.

Who is this “let’s”? The prosecutor’s office, the sheriff’s office? Charlotte DeFilippo controls them all at her dining room table. Threat noted and taken.

The UCWA’s interests certainly aren’t “theirs”. We are the third highest taxed county in the NATION. Democrat Committee freeholders have raised taxes almost 100% since they’ve taken absolute control of things in Union County and all we get for it is harassment and disrespect. And, let us not forget that people are dead because of their mismanagement.

Anyhow, Charlotte, guys, I’m grateful for the complement of your attention, this really validates the UCWA. I’m proud of the job we are doing shining a light on Union County Government, which is the Union County Democrat Committee.

Maybe next year we’ll get some cable time. Woof, woof, woof.

Thanks to all who contribute and thank you for watching Union County Government with us.

At Union County government reorganization meetings the Union County Democrat Committee Chair is the mistress of ceremonies every year. Must see clip on how the freeholders have “respect for residents”. Whose trying to fool you?

Tina Renna is president of the Union County Watchdog Association. She can be reached at tinarenna@unioncountywatchdog.org

Report on the 2010 Union County Budget – Personnel


This report continues a study of the 2010 Union County Budget and is divided into the following sections:
  

A      Introduction

B      Comparisons: 2000 – 2010

C      Administrative Services

D      Clerk of the Board

E       County Clerk

F       County Counsel

G     County Manager

H      Elections

I         Engineering/Public Works/Facilities Maintenance

J        Extension Services

K      Finance/Taxation

L       Freeholders

M    Hospital/Runnells

N      Human Services

O     Parks & Community Renewal/Economic Development

P       Prosecutor

Q     Public Safety/Corrections

R      Schools Superintendent

S       Sheriff        

T      Surrogate

U      County Employees with Second Jobs

 

Payroll increased $1,912,482.00 in 3 months

When our trusty county manager announced recently that non-contractual employees making over $90,000 would not receive raises in 2009 I didn’t blink an eye. Their cost savings announcements are always PR gimmicks attempting to grab a cheap headline – unlike the one above. I knew I’d have to take a look at the payroll.

The latest employee list was obtained on January 8, 2010. The list prior to that was obtained in October 2009. A comparison shows that in three months the payroll has increased $1,912,482.00 (one million, nine hundred twelve thousand, four hundred and eighty two dollars).

The payroll has increased $5,216,505 since this time last year while the employee count has gone down 161 people (according to the lists obtained through OPRA).

It looks like the assistant county prosecutor’s and investigators were given raises, perhaps through arbitration, although some were through position change controls. The highest raises for employees making over $90,000 were $13,943, followed by 3 @ $10,000, and several just under $7,000.

The most interesting position control changes I viewed were the ones that showed that employees would go from working a 40 hour week to 0 hours. The paperwork is that sloppy and George Devanney signs off on every one of them. If these employees take county communications literally they can stay home.

Which reminds me of the most interesting pay increase that was given to Charlotte DeFilippo who serves as the county Democratic Party chair and as the executive director of the Union County Improvement Authority. Her salary increased by $4,302 bringing it to $147,712. DeFilippo negotiates her employment contract with the UCIA board. The freeholders appoint the board, and DeFilippo appoints the freeholders.

Union County Payroll Analysis:
…………………….Jan 2009……Oct 2009……Jan 2010
Over $100,000……….126………….155………….162
Over $ 90,000………. 102………….158………….156
Over $ 80,000………..151………….338………….339
Total Employees…….3202…………3042………..3041
Total Payroll…..166,572,977 ….169,876,999…171,789,482

Union County Employee Lists
Position Controls from October 2009 through early December 2009

Another bloated Union County Democrat powerbroker-controlled budget is passed

The following are Garwood resident, Bruce Paterson’s comments during the Union County Budget commentary session held on May 24, 2007.

Last year Union County finally got a dubious distinction of being in the top 10 of American counties with the highest taxes on its residents. And what did the freeholders do? They increased the budget 3.4% and raised county taxes 5.9%.

I went to a budget meeting back in February. Certain freeholders asked questions. The public could not. Any financial concerns that were brought up and odd it was minimal, was answered by department heads with a “next year we will do this” or next year we will do that”.

Next year is NOW! Over 5 years the taxes skyrocketed putting us in the 10 worst counties for taxes.

Freeholder Adrian Mapp, when he ran 3 years ago said in a publicized debate that he wanted to be part of the budget process. Mapp has a degree and is strong in accounting. He is the only one with accounting and financial experience. But you wouldn’t let him on the budget committee for the 3 cycles he has been on the Board. And now you are dumping him from this next election.

The taxpayers are now on life support! For 5 years we have faced financial disaster and fiscal mismanagement. Now we are in the top 10 worst taxed counties in the nation!

I’m not going into depth in the budget since I only have 5 minutes to comment, but some items that would start us on the road to fiscal integrity:

1) Dump the taxpayer funded booze at the freeholder VIP tent during county events. You’re already drunk with power.

2) Cut down the county car fleet. We had a freeholder who put 30 thousand miles on his vehicle in one year and he lives 4 miles from this Administration Building. A county director uses his to go to exercise class. (This is where Chairwoman BJK leaned to Attorney Barry and BJK said that I am getting “close to the line”.) (After this comment it was reported in the Star-Ledger that photos were taken of a Linden Councilman, who is also a county employee, using his county vehicle on the campaign trail.)

3) Make sure part-time jobs are part-time jobs. Your Union County improvement director sits at home making $140,000 a year for nothing. Stop mailing her the check. She’ll get the message.

4) Make sure the full-time jobs are full-time jobs. You finance director works also as finance officer of Linden. This is disgraceful. And many financial errors have been made since he’s had these 2 jobs.

5) Pay to play- Pass a resolution to stop the millions of dollars that go to professionals who donate money to your political pockets. Since the contracts are non-competitive, it’s easy to fatten up with extra dollars in order for the professionals to donate to your political campaigns. No more dealing with these types of people.

6) Get rid of the retroactive raises and 4-5% raises. For a 400-million dollar budget, I have a hard time seeing any county employee results that are stellar and deserve raises like that.

7) Stop giving out “health benefits for life”. You offered early retirement and about 150 people took it, with “health benefits for life.” You have lost control of benefit costs with this type of mismanagement.

The taxpayers of Union county got big problems and you created them. There is no more future; the future is here and now.

You just can’t make hard financial decisions. Everything’s a mess. The only accountant on the Freeholder Board you are throwing off the Board.

The only choice now is to vote down the budget and vote down the tax increase. Then start again with a zero increase.

Thank you.

Notes: The budget that evening was voted on unanimously with the exception of Freeholder Adrian Mapp who abstained from voting.

The 2007 Budget Hearing’s can be viewed on-line at the Union County Watchdog Association’s Veotag account HERE.

County taxpayers have nothing to celebrate on 150th anniversay

The County of Union will be staging a 150th Anniversary celebration on Saturday. The only history mentioned in their press release is the county’s creation.

The county hasn’t mentioned the most famous part of its recent past, the creation of the county manager plan. This has been referred to by historians as the biggest mistake in county government history (reference New Jersey Politics and Government).

In 1976 The Elizabeth Daily Journal let a crusade to endorse this form of county government to of all things, end widespread patronage. County charter reform forces won in a close race and George Albanese was named the first county manager. Historians have noted that Albanese was a respected and talented administrator who swiftly restored fiscal responsibility and they fretted that he would be hard to replace.

Thirty years later we have State Senator Raymond Lesniak’s nephew appointed as the county manager. A 2006 study conducted by the Union County Watchdog Association found that 542 county employees have the same surnames of elected Democrat officials. We can’t say for sure that all these people are related, but we can say that we have no idea of knowing how many employees don’t share the same surname, such as in-laws and cousins. For instance, Senator Lesniak’s nephew’s name is George Devanney. Devanney’s mother-in-law is on the county payroll, all three have different surnames – So much for ending patronage.

Union County is the only county in New Jersey which adopted the county manager plan of government. It was considered a mistake and has become the poster child of bad county government.

Senator Tom Kean, Jr. introduced a bill in 2004 to study the effectiveness of county government. With the 21 counties in New Jersey being under home rule of one powerbroker or another who dole out patronage and contracts to political contributors who keep them in power it is little wonder that this bill didn’t get far. Other states have had recent success with getting county governments off of their tax backs. Connecticut got rid of county government in the 1970’s. In 1997 Massachusetts abolished 8 of its 14 counties.

While the freeholders and politically connected in Union County have plenty to party about on Saturday, property tax payers, who will be no doubt picking up the catering bill for the festivities, have nothing to celebrate to date.

Holding the Line

Most everyone passing through Westfield using a cell phone has had the experience of losing a bar or two.

The husband of a friend of mine does a lot of outdoor work in town and she finds herself usually amused but admittedly sometimes annoyed as her spouse attempts to remedy the situation by raising his voice considerably. She tells him to stop yelling and wait till he gets home however more often than not he persists but we know that that is futile.

We have found ourselves living our lives “wired”. Cellular phones, PCs, lap tops, Blackberrys, answering machines, cordless phones and the like, we are in an age of “immediate communication gratification”. We can’t seem to wait to get our message out or learn who has been trying to get their message to us regardless of where we are, who we are, and in some cases who is picking up the tab.

Union County government has armed it’s employees to the hilt with land lines, cell phones, Blackberry’s, Nextels, pagers, PCs, home internet service, via cable, dial-up and DSL with the bill being fully footed by the taxpayers.

One Verizon bill, in May of 2005 for Freeholder phone service and charged thru the county Communications Dept. showed $459.69 for long distance charges alone. It is no wonder that the Board of Chosen Freeholders voted affirmatively to have the county telephone service audited to uncover areas that the county can save money.

Certainly a step in the right direction but there is however one little thing missing from the plan. The firm conducting the audit, XTEL Communications, of Marlton, will only be looking at the “land lines” service and equipment and not the cellular phones or Blackberrys.

On Election Day 2004, I spent the morning outside the polls in my hometown.

I shared my station with a representative of the opposing party, a county employee who works in the Division of Information Technology. She indicated that her party candidates on the ballot for the local election had to work and since the county employees had the day off, she was available to greet the incoming voters working the polls on their behalf.

At that time Blackberry’s were the newest gadget in the form of wireless communications and I watched as she took one in and out of her pocket all morning. Not having actually seen one before I felt compelled to inquire about it.

She related that the county had given it to her “for work” as she happily checked Emails, sent communications, and answered calls all while stationed outside our borough hall.

Later that day, I pondered the Blackberry. Since it was for work, and she worked for the county and the county was closed for business, who was she communicating with?

I can only speculate, but I later learned that a national campaign was using just this type of technology to heavily monitor and direct election day GOTV activities.

One of the fastest growing companies in NJ, XTEL according to their website, has been providing business customers, municipalities and townships nationwide with telecommunications services such as long distance, toll free numbers, local service and DSL. Contracted by the county they will only get paid if they find ways to save money, their fee is 35% of the savings realized. This is very nice but still does not address what can be a very large expense and one very easily and widely abused, as evidenced last year when someone racked up the over $400 bill.

Seems it is time to bring in an outside company to audit this area of communications as well. A company that can review the entire shebang and be capable of crafting an all-comprehensive package deal too good to pass up.