Posts Tagged ‘Kenilworth’

UCCF-12/19/13: Dispatching Taxpayers

2013-1088 CHAIRMAN LINDA CARTER: Authorizing the County Manager to enter into a Shared Services Agreement with the Borough of Kenilworth to provide 911 Emergency Medical call screening services in an amount not to exceed $6,500 for the first year, with a subsequent two percent (2%) increase in each additional year for the remaining two (2) years of the three (3) year term of the agreement.  (Revenue Generating)



Breaking News: Union County Folds on Galloping Hill Tax Appeal

At the December 5, 2013 freeholder meeting there was an executive session to discuss Kenilworth taxing the Galloping Hill clubhouse/banquet center/office complex:

Based on an interview with Kenilworth tax assessor Paul Parsons on the situation this is likely what went down:

  1. Kenilworth levied the $120,000 annual tax on only the third floor of the clubhouse with a real value of about $5 million.
  2. There is precedent for this tax as Ursino restaurant on the campus of Kean University was taxed by Union Township.  Kean’s appeal of the $50,000 amount is in tax court now.
  3. The county appealed Kenilworth’s tax and assessment for Galloping Hill on December 2.
  4. Kenilworth immediately filed a counter-appeal looking to levy the  tax on the entire $15 million building.
  5. On Wednesday Kenilworth received a call from County Counsel Robert Barry that the county was withdrawing their appeal on the condition that Kenilworth withdraw their counter-appeal.
  6. On Thursday it was done.

Union County, like any other taxpayer, can still appeal the tax in future years but there are bigger questions:

  • How is Union County even allowed to set upon a venture susceptible to taxation?
  • Are those bonds used to build the Galloping Hill clubhouse now taxable also?
  • Can other towns now tax selected county property that has nothing to do with proper governing and is being used for the private gain of selected insiders instead of for the general welfare of the public?  For example, if Kenilworth can tax the third floor of the Galloping Hill clubhouse would the city of Elizabeth have a case for taxing the sixth floor of the Union County Administration building?

Behind the UCUA/Covanta Deal

Aside from extending the debt from which the initial bribes derive, having the UCUA be on the hook to Covanta for 430,000 tons of waste when in 2010 they delivered less than 320,000 tons is sheer lunacy – for the UCUA and Union County taxpayers, that is. For Covanta it’s a godsend. Here is my theory.

In 2010 all of the towns in Union  County delivered 319,461 of waste (175,516 coming from the 14 towns who signed waste agreements).  That number has been steadily declining from 404,419 and 195,417 respectively in 2005.  However, total tonnage at the facility has been around the maximum of 550,000 since Covanta has been charging low-ball rates ($45-$50?) to out-of-county haulers and ignoring their obligation to pay the city of Rahway $4.50 per ton on anything over 446,760 tons.

Covanta got worried about the declining tonnage coming in from Union County and sourght to restructure debt and lock in revenue at elevated levels.  So they went to Kenilworth dangling savings of $12 on 2,673 tons (2009 amount) while locking in that new rate at a Guaranteed Tonnage amount of 3,000 through 2050.  That is, even if Kenilworth were to bring in one ton of waste in any year they could still be obligated to pay for 3,000 tons.

According to the Kenilworth work session minutes of October 26, 2010 Gina Bilangi, Esq. of DeCotiis, Fitzpatrick:

stated that Kenilworth entered into the original Agreement in 2003 which expires in 2023.  The amendment would extend the Agreement to 2050; and, as of January 1, 2011 there would be a rate reduction of no less than $12 per ton (Kenilworth disposes of 3,000 tons a year); we would have the ability every 5 years to look at the tonnage if there is a need to increase it; there would be a 276 million dollar benefit expected by the county; and Kenilworth can save approximately $32,000 a year.  She stated she hopes Kenilworth will sign the Amendment.

Kenilworth did sign but since the NJ DEP disapproved that deal UCUA/Covanta needs to go back and resign them. Maybe this time they will consider:


Where is the UCUA going to come up with 100,000+ in waste from out-of-county, especially in light of the NJDEP requirement of that waste having to come from within New Jersey? They’re not. In some year when the UCUA gets credited with only 300,000 tons (as the projections indicate) then Covanta will charge the UCUA for the additional 130,000 tons that were never delivered ($8 million?) and the UCUA will have to enforce the Guaranteed Tonnage that the municipalities signed on for to mitigate their own damages.

There are two ways out of this mess. First, the towns must insert either a reasonable Guaranteed Tonnage amount or, as Kenilworth did in 2003, leave that part of the Agreement blank. Secondly, as regards the county, secession. Failing that, the next time a DeCotiis, Fitzpatrick partner wants you to sign something involving Union County that will save you money, remember.

Help Hunt Nazis in Union County

krugerFriedrich Wilhelm Kruger (1894 – 1945) was a Nazi official and high-ranking member of the SA and SS serving as Adolf Hitler’s personal representative at a variety of formal and informal NSDAP events. I believe he served under Field Marshall Modell of the German army during World War II.

I bring this up because Herr Kruger’s name has been appropriated for a mailing that came to my home on Friday. It was one page in a greeting card envelope with no return address. It was titled The Kruger Report and subtitled A View of Union County “A Renna Vendetta”. This was Vol. 1, Ed. 2. Here’s Vol 1., Ed. 1 that came out late last year.

It’s basically an anonymous hit piece on Tina Renna that a modern day SS would endorse. Frustrated at not being able to send people off to gas chambers anymore they would adapt their tactics to ruin lives. Since no respectable newspaper would print such malicious vitriol they resort to the mails.

Whatever motivation the publisher of The Kruger Report might have for attacking Tina Renna, it’s obvious that this venture is looking to damage her both in her activities as a critic of Union County government and financially. Why financially? Well, her job involves selling newspaper advertising. Were the underlying mindset of The Kruger Report to infiltrate the local community it could turn off advertisers and damage her livelihood. That seems to be the idea.

But who would do this? Here’s what I have so far.

The letter was probably mailed to every registered Democrat in Kenilworth. I deduce this because I am a registered Democrat, I live in Kenilworth, and my connection to Tina Renna is fairly well-known in county government circles so nobody would have singled me out for this mailing.

With all the errors in grammar and composition it had to be the work of one person. Had anyone else (with at least a second-grade reading level) reviewed these missives they would certainly have alerted Herr Kruger to some of the sillier mistakes.

The letter cost 42 cents to mail and if even 1,000 went out that’s a $420 investment. Who would have the wherewithal and motivation to pursue this vendetta or even have ready access to a mailing list?

That’s as far as I get. Seriously, let’s investigate. Pretend you’re Simon Wiesenthal and smoke out this modern-day Kruger who seems to have escaped death in that bunker with his brethren. Any ideas?

I can be reached at
Next post on this issue I’ll name my top three suspects.

UPDATE: UCWA Public Event

This event has been rescheduled for October 4th.
Union County citizens are invited to attend a screening of the PBS Point of view Documentary “Thirst” Fighting the Corporate Theft of our Water, on Thursday, October 4th, 7pm, at the Cranford Community Center, 220 Walnut Avenue, Cranford, NJ.

The free event is being sponsored by the Union County Watchdog Association (UCWA) in response to the Rahway Valley Sewerage Authority (RVSA) entertaining the possibility of privatizing its Cogeneration Facility that is currently under construction. The RVSA serves the communities of Clark, Cranford, Garwood, Kenilworth, Mountainside, Rahway, Roselle Park, Scotch Plains, Springfield, Westfield, Winfield Park (a customer to Clark) and Woodbridge.

Privatization of essential public services such as wastewater treatment may be contrary to the best interests of the ratepayers it serves. This fact has been very well documented in the documentary “Thirst” and the book “Thirst” by Alan Snitow & Deborah Kaufman. The main adverse impact to the ratepayers is increases in user fees which may be accompanied by a reduction in the quality of service. Based on the information presented in the documentary film and book “Thirst”, the viewer (or reader) may likely conclude that the main benefit of privatization is kickbacks and payoffs for the politically connected.

Preceding the documentary will be a presentation of the facts pertaining to the actions of the Authority regarding privatization to date including the Authority’s General Counsel (Weiner-Lesniak) and financial consultant (NW Financial Group) have already issued a preliminary facts report on privatization at RVSA. The report itself has cost tax-payers $40,000, and has indicated that the “procurement costs”, i.e. costs for work performed by the legal, financial and other consultants, will run about $500,000 regardless of whether or not the Authority enters a contract with a prospective vendor.

“Hosting events such as this one in Union County gives us the opportunity to educate the public and give them the necessary tools to participate in the legislative process thereby holding elected officials accountable at all levels of government” explained Tina Renna, President of the UCWA. “The decision to privatize the RVSA not only will affect our water rates but our drinking water as well. Citizens need to arm themselves with the facts and participate in this important decision.”

Space is limited. Reserve your seat early by calling (908) 709-0530, or email at

The Union County Watchdog Association believes that good government can only be achieved through a checks and balance system that includes the watchful eye of the people. They strive to make county government more transparent by gaining access to public records and being a public resource for information.

The negative impacts of privatization can be summarized as follows:

• Rate Increases. (When Rahway Water was privatized by United Water in 1999, the rates went up over 56% in the first year alone.

• Reduction in life expectancy of process equipment as a result of deferred maintenance. Privatization firms skimp on required maintenance in order to increase their profits. The result is a reduction in life expectancy and an accelerated schedule for capital replacement. Capital replacement is at the expense of the ratepayer not at the expense of the privatization firm.

• Privatization firms reduce costs by reducing staff, which usually has a negative impact on the quality of service.

• Privatization firms address certain operation and maintenance needs on a regional basis in the name of efficiency and reduced costs. This results in reduced response time and a reduction in quality of service. If you are experiencing a sewer back up or discolored potable water do you really want to wait for someone to respond from several counties away?

• Loss of direct control and operating philosophy. If you let a private, for profit firm run your essential utility, you are at their mercy to a very large degree.

• Additional charges for out of scope work. This includes equipment replacement costs. (A privatization firm will be more inclined to replace equipment than repair it. Repairs are at their expense, replacement is at your expense.) This is very significant in a poorly written contract. In Rahway, the City is liable for any maintenance amount in excess of $5,000.00. In addition, the Water Agreement between the City of Rahway and United Water provides for a 15% profit on top of their costs to deliver all water in excess of 5.109 million gallons per day. On their web site they claim that they are currently delivering 5.5 million gallons of treated water per day. This means that they are receiving 15% profit on 142.7 MG. They are currently treating 7.7% more water then the threshold amount. This additional fee is in addition to their fixed management fee. If the markup in their fixed management fee is 15% of their total costs, then the excess water that they are treating increases their profit by 7.7%.

Have the freeholders found religion?

Five months ago the Union County Watchdog Association asked the Union County prosecutor’s office to investigate the Union County freeholder board for routinely violating the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA). I know what you’re thinking about the probability of anything coming out of that compliant; but consider that in the past the Prosecutor’s office has determined that the Elizabeth Board of Education, the towns of Roselle Park and Kenilworth and the Union County Improvement Authority had violated the OPMA.

The last update I received from the prosecutor’s office was four months ago. They informed me that they were waiting for the county to send them documentation. Apparently the prosecutor’s office has to wait patiently for the county to hand over their public records just like the public does. Oddly I find it comforting to know that the county has contempt for everyone, not just the average tax-payer off the street.

The Freeholder Board had been routinely violating N.J.S.A. 10:4-13. That statute requires a public body, before going into closed or executive session, to first adopt a resolution, at a meeting to which the public shall be admitted: a. Stating the general nature of the subject to be discussed; and b. Stating as precisely as possible, the time when and the circumstances under which the discussion conducted in closed session of the public body can be disclosed to the public.

Rather than pass the required resolution, the Chairman of the Board simply “calls for a motion” to go into executive session which is then approved unanimously. As a result, the public is deprived of any knowledge of the topics that the Freeholders are privately discussing or when those discussions will be made public.

A recent example of the consequences this has on public information is the law suit that’s been filed against Freeholder Rick Proctor. Scala v. County of Union. The suit alleges that the defendant, Denise Santiago, an official within the County, refused to hire plaintiff, an attractive 33-year old woman, because Santiago, who was having an extra-marital affair with Freeholder Rick Proctor, viewed plaintiff as a threat to her romantic relationship with Proctor. (See previous post: Dontcha wish your girlfriend was hot like me?)

It was serendipitous that the minutes I chose at random to file the complaint with the Prosecutor’s office, as well as the States Government Records Council, happened to include the discussion of this case. The executive session minutes originally released to me simply stated:

9. Minutes redacted under Attorney-Client privileged communication in a matter involving on-going litigation. Minutes redacted under Attorney-Client privileged communication.

When the county responded to my complaint the minutes they gave the GRC stated instead:

9. Alyssa Scala v. The County of Union, v. Rick Proctor, v. Denise Santiago.

These minutes were dated February, 2005. Proctor was up for re-election that year. The county has managed to keep this from the public to date. This story is an exclusive of the County Watchers.

The Open Public Meetings Act N.J.S.A. 10:4-17 empowers the prosecutor’s office to enforce the act. Private citizens cannot enforce the provisions of the OPMA except through a civil action. The vast majority of citizens, unfortunately, do not- and cannot realistically be expected to have the time or resources to bring suit on their own. The Legislature, apparently contemplating this problem, vested county prosecutors office’s, with the power to impose the civil penalties.

While I’m disappointed that justice seems to be dragging its feet in this case, I am happy to report that recently the freeholders seemed to have found religion in that they have been adopting the required resolutions and keeping executive minutes somewhat up to the standards that is required by the law.

We’ll say Amen to that for now; but we’ll keep praying the prosecutor’s office does their job and holds the county accountable for their past transgressions; or the sinners will surely fall from grace again. The minutes suggest they are already tethering on the brink.

The county doesn’t post freeholder meeting minutes on their tax-payer funded website; but we do you can view them by clicking here.

The banana republic of Union County

The numbers in Union County freeholder races don’t change much from year to year. The Democrats win by the same margins. The only thing that causes a fluctuation in freeholder race numbers is the top of the ticket; presidential and gubernatorial elections bring out more voters who more than likely will vote straight down their party line.

The Democrats don’t win because of “their services”; they surely don’t win because of their charming personalities, or good looks for that matter. They win because all nine freeholder seats are at-large and Union County is overwhelmingly Democratic. The Republican freeholder candidates win the race in most of the towns but the large population of just a few cities outdoes the efforts of the rest of the county.

Using 2003 numbers:

Towns in which Republican freeholder candidates won the election were:
Berkeley Heights, Clark, Cranford, Fanwood, Garwood, Kenilworth, Mountainside, New Providence, Roselle Park, Scotch Plains, Springfield, Summit and Westfield.

A breakdown of registered voters of the above towns by party affiliation is: 54 percent unaffiliated & independent; 22 percent Democrat; 24 percent Republican. With a combined total of 106,306 registered voters.

Towns in which Democrat freeholder candidates won the election were:
Elizabeth, Hillside, Linden, Plainfield, Rahway, Roselle, Union and Winfield.

A breakdown of registered voters of the above towns by party affiliation is: 49 percent unaffiliated & independent; 41 percent Democrat and a paltry 10 percent are Republican. With a combined total of 142,600 registered voters.

It’s not just the numbers that are stacked against the chance of ever having a watchdog on the nine-member freeholder board. There’s the pay-to-play money and misappropriation of tax dollars for freeholder campaigns. There’s also the county employees being used to work on campaigns. These campaign abuses are what make Union County a banana republic.

This year it was politics as usual around the county with the Democrat machine getting out the vote in the urban areas. They rent white passenger vans and stick Column ‘B’ posters in the window and drive people directly to the polls. They probably give them lunch or a light snack on the way.

In many places like School Nos. 1 and 3 in Elizabeth there were election board workers who steadfastly marched voters into the booths and told them to vote the Democrat line. In spite of a large Republican poll challenger presence. The workers were written up and we’ll soon find out if it was worth all the bother. Nothing less than these workers being bared from working the polls ever again would be an acceptable outcome. Including Freeholder Dan Sullivan’s beastly mother-in-law who relentlessly harassed the poll challenger assigned to her booth. Sullivan family gatherings must be a delight with that cast of characters.

There were the usual literature hand outs outside of the polls. Most likely if you approach a polling place in one of the urban areas you will be approached by some greasy looking goon trying to hand you a card with the local Democrat candidates’ names on it. The goon will say something to the effect of “Don’t vote for George Bush – Vote the Democrat B Line”.

George W. Bush has been a favorite campaign tool for the Democrats these past two years. Apparently New Jerseans aren’t taught in school that there are several layers of government with the federal government having all but nothing to do with freeholders or local municipal governments.

In Union County, the dead people apparently have suffrage.

Its been reported that 325 dead people voted in Union County last year. At this writing there is no count on how many rose from the grave to cast their votes this year. People being marched into voting booths and told how to vote might as well be considered dead voters.

This year’s election has convinced me that people aren’t reading newspapers much. However, the apathetic media always takes its toll on Union County elections. The Star-Ledger’s county coverage has been awesome as of just recently, but Worrall’s has slipped way down with its endorsement of powerbroker/Linden Mayor John Greggorio’s appointment of Nancy Ward for freeholder.

The highlight of the debate this year was Nancy Ward responding to the question, “What is a freeholder’s salary?”, she replied in that little blonde way of hers, “I don’t know, I have direct deposit.” This little cutie replaced John Wohlrab after his arrest for domestic violence, almost a year ago to the date, and has supposedly been making decisions about the $390 million county budget ever since.

Worrall endorsed Daniel Sullivan last year. I don’t know what criteria they use for endorsements but if they are going to continue to endorse these empty-heads (Ward), who have utter contempt for the public (Sullivan), who are the powerbrokers’ puppets – I’d like to see Worrall ask and then publish the response to the question “Which powerbroker anointed you and what will you be expected to do for them in return?”

County employees, including the million-dollar taxpayer-funded public information department, were seen out and about on Election Day as well as on the campaign trail. I counted at least ten county employees at the Cranford freeholder debate where they behaved like the low-class baboons that they are.

The room was packed with spectators and several reporters, yet this didn’t cause the county employee/campaign workers to act like they deserve their blotted taxpayer funded salaries. For my entertainment, they placed a stooge right behind me to make comments and cough throughout the debate. I easily ignored him, after all I have teenagers and can block out juvenile girlish banter. Afterwards he was seen running to his car and locking the door behind him.

I considered it an honor when the Public Information Department took souvenir photos posing behind me. Next debate I’m going to wear my F.B.I. hat for their photo shoot.

I was amused at all the attention I received, so I was a good sport about it. I even wanted to join in the fun. I thought a swift knee in Seb D’Elia balls in a crowded room full of people would be hilarious. This isn’t cruel or violent on my part, because I don’t think it would hurt him much as apparently he doesn’t have any balls, seeing as he sent his underlings to harass me while he kept himself clear across the room from me. Funny, but I didn’t see him leave the building. He must have been hiding in the ladies’ room ’till the coast was clear.

Then there was the pay-to-play (extortion) money – Republicans were outspent 42 to 1 according to a recent Star-Ledger article.

The taxpayer-funded commercial and mailers kept pace with what the Democrats spent of our dollars on their campaigns in past years. They’ve spent upwards of $327,769.85 to date this year. This year, the Republican County committee has filed ELEC complaints. Good for them – and me. They saved me all the paper work of having to file a complaint for the Watchdog Association.

The Democrat freeholders win in landslides in the banana republic towns. No wonder between the sheer number of registered Democrats and the way they are manipulated by the machine.

This was my second year working as a poll challenger in Elizabeth. Elizabeth’s polls are lawless in many spots. Without the poll challenger presence it would have been much worse. No doubt Plainfield, Union, Rahway, Linden, Hillside and Roselle were just as lawless.

Of course it’s illegal to use taxpayer’s money to promote campaigning freeholders; county workers working on campaigns during working hours; marching people into voting booths and telling them how to vote; pay-to-play is a nice term for extortion which is highly illegal in the business community; and the rest of the shenanigans that go on Election Day. But this is New Jersey and our tolerance for corruption hasn’t changed much in the past 100 years since the days of Frank Hague.

Despite all of the major newspapers and talk show radio hosts warning about Corzine, we now have another governor who is a friend of the powerbrokers and, barring a scandal, he’ll be in office for the next four years. Don’t expect a thing to change in the banana republic fiefdom of State Sen. Raymond Lesniak under Corzine. In fact, if the county follows the same course as previous years, they will up it another notch and be even more arrogant than ever.

They’ll be upping our taxes another notch too. Somebody’s got to keep feeding the baboons their bananas.