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Mayor’s Determination Wins Out: Trumps Other Topics

  11/9/15 Perth Amboy Council Meeting

PERTH AMBOY – Ordinance NO. 1 – Establishing a Trap/Neuter/Release Program.

Resident Reinaldo Aviles wanted to know about the implementation of this program and who will handle it.

Law Director Arlene Quinones Perez

Law Director
Arlene Quinones Perez

Council President Lisa Nanton said, “It will be grant money and the program will be handled by Animal Control.”

Interim B.A. Peter Pelissier said, “It will be Animal Control Officers who are certified and licensed by the State. There is $10,000 of funds available. 55 cats were handled this year at the shelter. Volunteers who are colony caretakers will also participate in this program.”

Resident Ken Balut gave everyone a lesson about the feral cat population: “They will die out because they will only live 5 years; then the rats and mice will take over. Then you will wish the cats were back.”

The Ordinance was moved by Councilman Bill Petrick and Seconded by Councilman Joel Pabon. It passed.

Ordinance No. 4 – To Amend an Ordinance Entitled “Vehicles and Traffic.” (Ordinance 194 – 78 as Amended) adopted September 19, 1978 also known as Chapter 414 ET SEQ of the Code of the City of Perth Amboy RE: Parking by Permit Only in designated areas – Portion of Safety Complex Parking Lot.

Resident Ken Balut said, “Is this being done because housing is being put up by the Flat Iron Tavern? We need businesses – not housing. People don’t want to walk 2 1/2 blocks to work. You should build a parking deck.”

Resident Alan Silber said, “I believe it is going to be a developer who gave campaign contributions to some of the Council. Maybe you shouldn’t be voting on this.”

Resident Reinaldo Aviles was the last person to speak about this ordinance, “They are going to pay for these spaces. We’re not giving anything away. It’s a business and they’re bringing in workers.”
Councilman Bill Petrick moved the ordinance, seconded by Councilman Joel Pabon. Council President Lisa Nanton voted “No.” The ordinance passed: 4-1.

R-495 – 11/15 (See Page 2) – Council President Lisa Nanton asked for this item to be removed from the Agenda.

Councilman Fernando Gonzalez said, “The DeCotiis Firm is being hired because Quinones Perez is being hired.”

The Resolution was removed from the Agenda.

When it came to R-500-11/15 Consenting to the appointment  of Arlene Quinones Perez as Director of Law effective September 1, 2015 and waiving the residency requirement, Council President Lisa Nanton and Councilman Fernando Irizarry voted, “No.”

The appointment of Quinones was approved.

During the first public portion Resident Stanley Sierakowski had a question about Resolution R-501-11/15 (see Page 2). He wanted to know who made a decision how many law firms bid and what were their rates per hour.

Resident Ken Balut reiterated to the Council, “These are rebid contracts and this law firm has been involved in a lot of scandals. This law firm is taking all this business.”

Another thorn is Balut’s side was R-492-11/15 – Authorizing a contract with the Rodgers Group, LLC for the purchase of the 2016 Subscription  of the Online In-service Training Module Program in an amount not to exceed $16,366.12.

“Police work is not done on a computer. You need to do real interaction with other agencies such as the Prosecutor and other government departments. You are locking into one law firm. I saw Mark Blunda at a very cheap rate take on law firms by himself and win.”

David Caba came up to speak next and addressed Councilman Fernando Gonzalez, “You said we were not hiring the firm, but her (Quinones). You did your research on her, but not the firm. This firm tells politicians what to do. You have the opportunity of hiring just her and not the firm.”
Alan Silber referenced R-500: “We should have 2 Resolutions, then Mr. Gonzalez could split the decision. He did not vote for Fehrenbach (Former B.A.) because he did not live here. I nothing bad to say about this lawyer (Quinones) but her judgement was bad in hooking up with this law firm.”

Landings Resident Daniel Santo Petro heaped more praise at Arlene Quinones, “I know she is committed to the City. She implemented the Municipal ID Program in the City and did well against Kushner (Landings Developer).”

Resident Reinaldo Aviles stated, “I know people who know Quinones and they said she gets things done. We will have issues with hirees. Look at her work with the Unions and public employees. She’s young with a lot of experience compacted into a short period of time.”

Councilman Fernando Gonzalez clarified exactly why he voted against Greg Fehrenbach: “Fehrenbach was a double dipper, which weighed more on my mind than him not being a resident.”

Mayor Wilda Diaz showed her displeasure with some of the residents who spoke at the Meeting. “A lot of people (appointees) left, but a lot of Perth Amboy long term employees got promoted in these Departments. They live, shop and eat in Perth Amboy. I did what people wanted. They have been bashed by people. I have been disappointed. You have spoken to  County Officials. Why don’t you tell these people to come and live here? I picked an individual who is dedicated (Quinones Perez) You get on the phone tonight and tell those same County Officials that Arlene is now our new Law Director.”

Ken Balut spoke next, “We didn’t say anything about Blunda’s law firm or question the last Business Administrator Jillian Barrick because they came from clean firms. We are just asking for transparency. When people call me, I gave them information. EPort and the Train Station started with Joe’s (Vas) administration. Fehrenbach and CFO Jill Goldy had the guts to stand against wrongdoings. I didn’t always agree with him (Fehrenbach), but he did the job. Mr. Blunda didn’t quit. He was forced to resign. I want to thank them for thinking about the taxpayers.”

Resident Alan Silber echoed some of the same sentiments, “First off, I congratulate the Board of Education victors. Blunda was a person of integrity. Although I did argue with him a lot. The big ticket item was the law firm. Fehrenbach was highly qualified. I also argued with him a lot.”

Resident David Caba went up to speak. He addressed each Council Member: To Irizarry and Nanton, he told them: “You stood by your principles. I respect you for that.” To Pabon: “You live by your decisions. Petrick: “You voted by your conscience.” To Fernando Gonzalez: “You and I have issues.”

Caba continued, “I would like to thank those who voted against this firm (DeCotiis, FitzPatrick & Cole, LLP). We are Number One in New Jersey in foreclosures. The Mayor got her attorney. I defend the people of Perth Amboy.”

Resident Reinaldo Aviles reminded the Council, “You have to be specific when you go into closed session. You voted the way you were most comfortable (appointment of the Law Director). Addressing Council President Lisa Nanton: he thanked her for explaining why she voted the way she did and everyone should have done the same. “I respected that you (the Council) decided to vote up or down today. We need stability in the City. The last person who held the position of Code Enforcement, there were a lot of complaints. Maybe it’s good they’re gone.”

Resident and Business Owner Susan Batista said she wanted to give an update on her lawsuit. “I’m on our third law firm. It was Blunda’s but there was a conflict since Blunda was the Law Director. Now I have another lawyer and he’s doing discovery. Now he’s gone. Another lawyer said we should drop the charge against the Police.”

After Susan Batista spoke and the public portion was closed, Interim B.A. Peter Pelissier made a report, “Crime is down.” He provided some statistics. He spoke about the importance of the EPort Logistics Center (which recently had a ground breaking – see the 11/11/15 issue of the Amboy Guardian (Page 1)).

“The City has acquired Sustainable NJ Bronze Status. (for more info go to NJDOT grants are coming through for the train station in 2016. 30% of the conceptional design will be completed by then.”

He reminded everyone that Small Business Saturday is coming up (November 28th.)”

Newly appointed Law Director Arlene Quinones Perez said she wanted to set the record straight. “My record has been distorted by many. My credentials and my qualifications have been attacked. I look forward to serving with this Council and the Mayor and proudly will do so. It’s an honor to serve with Peter Pelissier (see her full statement on page 7).”

Councilman Fernando Gonzalez spoke next. He welcomed Arlene Quinones Perez as the new Law Director. He also thanked the Mayor’s Aide Irving Lozada for arranging a visit from a delegation from LaVega (a city in the Dominican Republic). “It was a very enjoyable visit.”

Councilman Fernando Irizarry said, “I need to be able to live with myself and follow my conscience and work for the best interest in the City. The Mayor has a right to nominate someone. But I can disagree with the Mayor. I do not base my opinion on politics. I follow my conscience.”

Councilman Joel Pabon praised Deputy Chief Larry Cattano for all that he’s done for the City and was pleased about the delegates that came from the Dominican Republic. “There are lots of positive things happening in the City which includes a lot of recreational activities. I never feel pressured to vote certain ways. I urge people to volunteer. I will talk and listen to anyone. When I close my eyes at night to go to sleep, I’m out, because I know that my conscience is clear.”

Talking to Peter Pelissier, Pabon stated, “I know you’re trying to help us out. We have some great people here and I respect the people who speak, but try not to take everything to heart.”

Council President Lisa Nanton stated, “Some of us were pressured. We are limited what we can say publicly about employees.”

Earlier in the Meeting Council President Nanton read a lengthy statement as to why she voted no to the appointment of Quinones. She mentioned the various exits of many Department Heads or Appointees in a short time frame which gave her cause for concern.

The Amboy Guardian asked for a copy of this statement after the 11/9/15. As soon as it is available, it will be posted online and in print.

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