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The Breakdown: Law Director Gives Report

PERTH AMBOY – 3/21/16 Caucus Meeting – Exasperated by constant questioning of her legal abilities and billing methods, Law Director Quinones-Perez decided to lay everything on the line.  She had given the Council Members that were present at the meeting a detailed record on how she bills the City for her services.

Quinones said, “We get many OPRA requests.” She asked City Clerk Elaine Jasko, “How many OPRA requests do we receive a week?”

Jasko responded, “Between 20 and 30.”

Law Director Arlene Quinones-Perez *File Photo from DeCotiis

Law Director
Arlene Quinones-Perez
*File Photo from DeCotiis

Councilman Joel Pabon, who was acting as Council President in the absence of Lisa Nanton asked Perez, “Why did you not advise the Mayor when Pelissier’s time was up?”
Quinones responded, “It was my mistake, and I apologize for that and also for the residency requirement. Adam (Cruz) worked with Peter Pelissier for 2 weeks. You have to understand – this is a huge corporation (the City). We were doing a lot of litigation and working on a lot of cases. Some of this included: the Sergeant’s list and YMCA litigations which I am pleased to say we’re at the tail end of that one. I put in 75 hours a week.”

Quinones gave each Council Member a memo which was a breakdown of her responsibilities. “I do extra billing for litigation. I will not do anything to lose my license.”

On the particular sheet of paper provided by Quinones there were different columns. Quinones stated, “I will be glad to discuss my bills in public if you want.”

Councilman Fernando Gonzalez had a couple of question  about the billing paper supplied by Quinones.

Quinones stated, “The Decotiis firm set up its own number system for different cases which included: the lawyer’s responsibilities on each particular case and anyone else who did work on the case.

Gonzalez questioned where it said, “There is a bill for $600 for a Caucus Meeting. You are supposed to be working only 18 hours a week.”
Quinones responded, “If you want to pay me for work done after my regular hours, then my cost will be triple the amount.”

Gonzalez responded back, “I thought that Department Head should go through the B.A. for any questions that they needed answered.”

Quinones responded back, “I am also a Department Head. I will not risk losing my license for you, the Council or the Mayor. Your City Code is clear on what is billable. The rate is $175/hr.”

Fernando Gonzalez stated back, “I’ve talked with the City of Patterson. (on how their City Lawyers do their billing)”
Arlene Qinones-Perez responded back, “Their (Patterson) City Budget is much bigger than ours.”

Acting City Council President Joel Pabon said, “The Customer is a Director for Arlene Quinones. I can see how she is breaking the bills down.”

Business Administrator came to the defense of Ms. Quinones, “I asked Ms. Quinones for a breakdown of her billing (to present to the Council). No other Director has done this. The memo you are looking at is a 72 hour report and is just an example. She (Quinones) is not charging $600 for a Caucus Meeting. This is what the cost will be if she had to bill for it.”

Stricken

PERTH AMBOY – For the closed session pending litigation, Law Director Arlene Quinones-Perez took one of the items off of that session. The Board of Education vs. The City of Perth Amboy. She explained the reason for this: “The judge determined that the Board of Education failed to issue and send proper notice of the proposed change the date of their Election from November 8, 2016 to April 19, 2016.  Therefore it was voided.”

Quinones added, “On the City’s part, $10,000 was spent for this specific litigation. Part of this cost was for briefs and certifications.” Ms. Quinones thanked City Clerk Elaine Jasko for her help in this matter.

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