Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Roselle & The Rushed Solar Panel Project

Last night I caught a portion of the Borough of Roselle's December 15th Council meeting on TV-34.  When I tuned in, Council was getting reading to vote on a Resolution authorizing the Mayor and Council President to execute Agreements in connection with the Union County Improvement Authority's Solar Panel Project.  It was very clear that the legal Agreements were not fully understood by or adequately explained to the Borough's Council members.  Some Council members wanted clarification of some aspects of the Agreements.  A question arose as to what the Borough's obligation would be if any of the roofs were later determined not fit by the vendor who will actually be installing the solar panels.  A good question.  Borough attorney, John Hudak, could not assist the very Borough he works for because Hudak is also attorney to the UCIA.   Attorney Gina Bilangi, of the DeCotiis law firm was on hand, but unable to give a firm answer to that question.  Bilangi explained she was in attendance for other business and that she is not familiar with this specific project.  It is apparent that there is no clause in the Agreements addressing this potential scenario.  Bilangi offered that if there was such an issue with a roof, that that building come be put in with the next round of solar installations.  That's a heck of an answer.  Is Council really expected to rely on the verbal representation by an attorney who admits she is not all that familiar with the project?

Not only that, what if the Borough cannot afford to get a roof compliant before the next round?  What then?

A discussion commenced as to how the two Borough buildings were selected by the handsomely paid engineering firm hired by the UCIA.  It was indicated that a visual inspection was done in addition to measuring and assessing obstructions, the tilt of the roofs and shading.  The Mayor asked if there was any type of certification by that engineering firm that the Borough could rely upon that the roofs are qualified for solar panel installation.  The answer to that question was no.

At some point during the discussion, a council member displayed his exasperation by mumbling "What is the friggin problem" or words to that effect which was picked up by his mic.  Remarkable. 

Another person (whose name I believe is Dowd) approached the mic and indicated that the Resolution was only to authorize Council to authorize the signing of the Agreements.  He further indicated that the Agreements were not necessarily in final form and may later be "tweaked".

Council is expected to authorize the signing off on Agreements that may later be changed?   Incredible. 

IMO, this is a slipshod way to conduct taxpayer business.  Legal Agreements should be reviewed with a fine-toothed comb and it is incumbent upon elected officials to do so.  Not only that, it doesn't appear that Council is being afforded ample time to do its due diligence nor does it appear to have independent legal advice to fully understand the legal terms of Agreements they are being asked to sign off on.

Since both attorneys in Linden's legal department, John Hudak and Dan McCarthy,  do work for the County,  who did Linden Council members rely upon for legal advice on the UCIA Solar Panel Project Agreements it authorized be signed at last month's meeting?  Overtaxed taxpayers cannot afford any more screw-ups.


Anonymous said...

What other business was the lady from the deCotiis law firm there for?

NFS said...

I've only watched a few Roselle council meetings, but the best I can make out, DeCottis is "assisting" Roselle in a potential re-development plan for an area located on First Avenue over by where the Victory Box Co. was located. The Roselle Council has enough Union County Dem. machine members on it to go along with this. I think they are either nuts, ignorant or just don't care and they will do whatever the County wishes. Sad. There is no way Roselle Council members can be ignorant to failed Linden-UCIA projects.