Categorized | News

Pay to Play: Campaign Contributions from Developers Addressed

5/23/16 Caucus Meeting

By: Katherine Massopust

PERTH AMBOY – Ordinance #2 on the 5/23/16 Agenda: An ordinance to adopting an amendment of Article II of Chapter 98 of the Code of the City of Perth Amboy. Re: Public Contracting.

Former Council President Ken Balut

Former Council President Ken Balut

Council President Lisa Nanton’s main concerns were how the ordinance was explained to the Council. “Any developer who contributes to a campaign can never develop in Perth Amboy.”

B.A. Adam Cruz explained, “You can’t separate contracts if you contribute – if you give one single dollar (to a political campaign).”

“This is how it reads now?” Nanton asked.

Andrew M. Brewer from the Maraziti LLP law firm  who was present at the meeting came forward to speak about the Pay to Play Ordinance, “For Pay to Play in 2008 you if you contributed or gave anything you can’t develop in that municipality for a 12 month period. It’s pretty standard. That I’ve never heard of (not being able to develop in a town forever). There always is a defined period of time. Right now there is only a City Ordinance for your contractors. The proposed ordinance is for less than $300. Theoretically there is a certain aggregate you can give. You don’t have to file for contributions under $300 – not in an election report. The time period is a judgement call. The time frame is 12 months standard. When you give money, you influence officials.”

Resident Alan Silber

Resident Alan Silber

Councilman Bill Petrick asked, “Is there a blanket policy for the City? Can there be one pay to play?”

The attorney answered, “The city I dealt with, there was more pay to play with developers.”

Petrick asked, “Does it cover all of the City?”

“Separate from the City,” answered Brewer.

Petrick continued, “I didn’t look at a time period to appear to be the same?”

“Is the City the same as the State which generally has a $300 threshold?” Council President Nanton asked.

The attorney continued, “In Perth Amboy, if you give $1 towards a political campaign you qualify.”

Councilman Fernando Irizarry added, “It’s a little vague.” (when referencing interim contractors). Once you start talking about it, you can’t contribute anything.”

Law Director Arlene Quinones Perez said, “When contractors come, is this the language you want to keep?”

Councilman Fernando Irizarry demanded to know, “Can they or can’t they? I’m asking for clarification.”

“They can contribute under $300. A lot of Pay to Play Ordinances have an allowable contribution. $300 is a blanket,” Brewer answered.

“This is the current law – that’s the amended?” Nanton wanted to be certain.

Councilman Fernando Gonzalez said, ‘This is the First Reading. By the Second Reading, we should get this cleared up.”

During the Public Portion, Resident Ken Balut spoke about the Pay to Play Contract. “It’s the same law firm on PARA. We’re going to have money and reduce the deficit. Eliminate the Pay to Play contract. Politicians go to jail all the time. It’s got to stop. How many lawsuits are there in the Police Department? You’ve got to do something. You should rule on this for your own benefit. The Administration did that. One of the Mayor’s Staff – is he going to benefit from the Dominican Festival? It really has to change – The Mayor is Acting Police Director. Lawsuits are coming down.”

Resident Alan Silber came up to speak. “Pay to Play is not on the agenda. (questioning the presence of the lawyer in the audience) Ali Rada made a $15,600 contribution to the Mayor (in 2012). He is redeveloping a project right now. In August 4, 2015 PARA Meeting, the Chair of PARA (Mayor Wilda Diaz) recused herself along with Joel Pabon (a member of PARA at the time who also received campaign contributions from Ali Rada) citing potential conflict of interest. There are lists of proposals made by George Otlowski (who was representing Ali Rada who is developing 44 units of apartments 418 Washington St.). At the August 4, 2015 PARA Meeting, Rada requested 15 parking spaces in the hospital parking deck and 12 spaced from the Public Safety Complex parking lot. The City was working out for 12 spaces already. When the Mayor came up, and said what I said was all twisted. Since that ordinance was passed on November 9, 2015, not one person applied for those spaces.”

Comments are closed.

Browse Current Issue - Click Here

Perth Amboy Calendar

MON. Jan 22
• City Council, Caucus,
4:30 p.m.
City Hall, High St.

WED. Jan 24
• City Council, Regular,
7 p.m.
City Hall, High St.

THURS. Jan 25
• Historic Preservation Commission
7 p.m.
City Hall, High St.

MON. Jan 29
• Special Public Meeting, RE: Discussion of Rezoning Ordinance
6 p.m.
City Hall, High St.

 

Stay informed! Attend public meetings. All are welcome!

South Amboy Calendar

WED. Jan. 31
• City Council, Regular,
7 p.m.
City Hall, N. Broadway

WED. Feb. 7
• City Council, Business,
6 p.m.
City Hall, N. Broadway

Stay informed! Attend public meetings. All are welcome!