Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Judge Offers To Lower His Salary

In what I view as a shady maneuver, Councilman Peter Brown, brought a surprise Resolution from the floor to lower Judge DiLeo's salary from $127,000 to $95,000.  The reasons given for the last minute Resolution were two-fold; that DiLeo's letter offering to take a pay cut was just received and that legal counsel had to seek permission from DiLeo to publicly discuss the proposed pay cut.  I'm not buying any of it.

The pay cut offered would not go into effect until April 30.  Therefore there was no urgency or reason for Brown to bring a Resolution at last night's council meeting.  It could and should be placed on next month's agenda so that it could be discussed at the next caucus meeting.  Instead, Brown's ill conceived method of carrying out City business ended up in chaos and was disrespectful to those Council members who are asked to vote on a matter for which they have no prior knowledge. 

The Mayor questioned whether a Resolution was even needed to lower the Judge's salary.  What's to stop the Judge from simply contacting the Treasurer's office and requesting a smaller paycheck?  In fact, why defer the pay cut to April 30 instead of immediately?

Because the Motion for the Resolution to lower the Judge's salary was already on the floor, Council President Moore denied Councilwoman Cosby-Hurling's sensible suggestion that the Resolution be tabled.

While elected officials should embrace public comment, Councilman Puschel questioned the legality of allowing public comment before the vote on Brown's Resolution. Council President Moore allowed it.

A vote was taken whether to accept the salary reduction.  The initial vote went like this:

Pushcel - Yes
Frazier - No
Sheehy -No
Yamakatias - Yes
Sadowski - Yes
Cosby-Hurling - Abstain
Armstead - No
Brown - Yes
Koziol - Yes
Kolibas - No
Moore - Abstain

After the vote, the Mayor asked legal counsel for a ruling or opinion on how the abstention votes would be treated.  After a five minute recess, counsel advised that the abstention votes would be treated as yes votes.  Moore and Cosby-Hurling changed their votes to no.

Councilmen Puschel and Koziol glossed over Judge DiLeo's conduct where the Judge was deemed to have overstepped his legal authority by acting as Judge and Prosecutor in a recent case as if that conduct was no big deal.  It is a big deal. 

It was again noted that Dan Roberts, who is the Mayor's choice for Judge, has no experience as a public defender or prosecutor.  Again, Council seeks to impose its own requirements over New Jersey statutory requirements.  Council's refusal to consent to the Mayor's appointment is not legitimate IMO because Roberts meets State Statute.  It's getting tiresome. 

Another contentious issue arose regarding the funding of Pop Warner.  Councilman Armstead accused Councilman Brown of attempting to defund Pop Warner because Armstead is personally involved in Pop Warner.  Brown insisted that his intention was to make sure the City was funding the organization in a proper manner.  However, others now question why some sports organizations receive taxpayer money and others don't.  

The disbandment of the budget committee was another hot topic.  Council President Moore stated that he disbanded it because the committee was working outside the perimeters he set.  Councilman Koziol asked for clarification, but received little explanation from Moore.  Who knows what to believe.  What is clear is that Council is severely disjointed.

One laid off fireman was re-hired due to a firefighter retiring for that purpose. 

Apparently Council President Moore campaigned that he wasn't going to take a salary.  When questioned that he is indeed taking a salary, CP Moore said he changed his mind.

Morning Star has until May 1 to secure financing and proceed with the St. George Avenue project.  If it fails to do so, it looks like that project will end up in litigation.  Significant sums of money have been advanced by Linden taxpayers, via the Union County Improvement Authority.  Since there is a real possibility that Linden taxpayers may end up holding the bag on this project, Council should insist on reviewing bills submitted to the UCIA on this project.


Anonymous said...

Why is Peter Brown concerned about $15,000 or how it is allocated when we have a a CFO?

NFS said...

With regard to Morning Star, the man had to fight eminent domain to rightly keep the properties he owns.

NFS said...

To the person who left a message about Brown, I am fully aware of it, but I cannot publish that comment for reasons you must realize. It's funny though and I wish I could. People are catching on.

just Ed said...

catching on is good

Anonymous said...

I finally had a chance to watch the last council meeting. Why did the Judge submit a letter to the budget committee instead of the personnel and finance committee? It seems to me that the budget committee is taking on the role of the personnel and finance committee or at least attempting to. I can now see why Moore shut down the budget committee.

NFS said...

The Resolution to lower the Judge's salary was silly, besides being a disgrace in how it was brought to the floor. In it, Brown, or whoever drafted the Resolution, stuck a line in there that "Linden is grateful to the Budget Committee and acknowledges their hard work" or some b.s. words to that effect. First of all, the Judge is OVERPAID so thanks for nothing. Second, why isn't the pay decrease IMMEDIATE? Regardless of any pay decrease, the Judge should just hit the road.

Koziol announced that the budget committee is also working on an anti-nepotism policy. Decades too late mind you. He also said that council has been talking for a couple of years about an anti-nepotism policy. Oh really? When? In their sleep? Such horseshit.

Melinden said...

I was told by a city worker that Dileo will be getting some lifetime benefits at the end of April-10 years.

NFS said...

Superior Court judges need 10 years to qualify for a pension, but I think more for a Municipal Judge. I was told DiLeo will be eligible for his pension during the first half of this year ... not sure of the exact date.

These professional appointments have turned into life-time pension and health benefit achieving positions, clearly not what an appointment was meant to be IMO.

The Mayor should file an Order to show Cause and let the Court decide whether Council has the right to block his appointment based on Council's opinion that Roberts is not qualified. Let Council prove that in Court.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what made DiLeo think he could get away with acting as both judge and prosecutor and denying the defendant an attorney. Something to think about.

Anonymous said...

this last council meating was truly great (by great i mean riveting, like watching a train wreck)
i am not sure how these are 'supposed' to go, but it seems like they never know the rules; they are always checking with someone who has to research and interpret procedure...

and dont get me started on their butchering of the english language !

NFS said...

@ Anon 8:15. This meeting was one of the most chaotic I've ever seen. It's not solely the fault of the new C.P. Certain council members should take a good long look in the mirror.

Some speakers were upset with the conduct of the Mayor and and some members of Council. Except for the sneaky way Brown brought the DiLeo resolution, and Armstead may have gone a little too far, all in all I wasn't phased by any of it. I rather see the true dynamics behind Council's actions rather than Council duking it out behind closed doors and then putting on a false front for the public.

NFS said...

I recall Councilman Brown stating he is taking a salary 10% less than what the position pays.

When was that resolution passed?

Anonymous said...

You make valid observations NFS. About the Morningstar disaster. How in the heck did we get into this mess? Who is going to court? If anything they should have agreed to pay the city back in full for all the wasted money. What bills I only know of legal fees that are being paid@ legal fees for what?

NFS said...

How did we get into this mess? My guess is that we have an Improvement Authority that takes on projects that are too big for the politically connected hacks running the joint.

How many UCIA projects are screwed up in Linden? Let me count. The first one was ISP/Dupont and the eminent domain attempt by the County that set that project back by years.

The second is South Wood Avenue. Verge (Valvano) didn't learn his lesson the first time he attempted to build next to the train station? If my memory is correct, Valvano went bankrupt building the Linden Tower. This time he expected to successfully build blocks and blocks of development when he couldn't even get one building (Linden Tower) without going going bankrupt?

The third is Morning Star. While I stated back in January that demolition had begun, the buildings are still standing. The insides look like they have been gutted, but who knows when the actual demolition will take place and what that cost will be. Wasn't demolition promised to be completed last year?

According to the UCIA website, Paid Bills on Morningside, since 2004, are:

Legal: $430,131.40*
*of which $9,268.03 to Gluck Walrath Lanciano; $70 to McCarter & English, $12,032.28 to Gibbons P.C. and the rest to the darlings at DeCotiis

PMK: $111,022

Value Research: $58,000

$21,445 for appraisals & relocation consultant

That totals $620,598.

The annual service charge on the first $3 million of the taxpayer backed bonds must be over a million by now. Then there was another million bonded last year for demolition. Years of lost property taxes too.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info. This is so sad. The "developer" is trying to buy up Linden and for what? For profit od course. They even have a senior housing that is not rent subsdized>>>They also have the apartments and they only rent a ceretain # to low income>>>> I wonder what else he developer owns here in Linden. They should neveer have been allowed to get such a sweet deal with no money on the table with all the money that they have comming in every month

NFS said...

@ Anon 7:49. The original agreement, based on an estimated budget for acquisition costs prepared by the UCIA, called for the developer to establish a $750,000 credit line as well as $46,240 . The City (taxpayers) would put up the initial $3 million bond. These monies were to cover acquisition (estimated at $2,846,250) and project costs (legal, appraisals, title & other soft costs, estimated at $250,000). I think the demolition costs (estimated at $500,000) was suppose to be part of the construction loan, not the acquisition budget. Therefore, M.S. did have to bring some money to the table.

Anonymous said...

that last comment of Mar 25th 7:18am- was for the MorningStar project- do you have similar typ information/details for the S Wood ave project ?

NFS said...

@ Anon 12:49. I'd have to go look. However, if you want to see what has been expended by the UCIA for South Wood Avenue, visit the UCIA website and go to "Paid Bills". I'll post later any details I have for S. Wood. You can also OPRA the UCIA or City for copies of all contracts with Verge.

Anonymous said...

linden is going down.
It bad what brown doing.

LOOK WHAT the mayor did for linden.

Not a thing

Anonymous said...

any idea if linden has a public version of their check register - similar to what UCIA has ?

NFS said...

@ Anon 8:25. There is no check register on the City website.