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Butting Heads: 6/8/16 Council Meeting

PERTH AMBOY – Ordinance No. 1 – An Ordinance adopting an amendment of Article II of Chapter 98 of the Code of the City of Perth Amboy: Public Contracting.

Resident Stanley Sierakowski requested that the Council please vote against this. “Kushner and the Mayor will benefit if this is passed. The Mayor is the chair of the Redevelopment Agency. Kushner’s associates and friends will benefit. He (Kushner) owes the City $5 million plus interest. He want’s to circumvent what is owed to the Landings Residents. Kushner will devalue the properties of the Landing’s Residents with the new development, Sea Gate, which will be rentals.”

Resident Alan Silber came up to speak about the same ordinance. He asked, “Why is this being resubmitted after 8 years? Maybe because it’s the developer who contributed $15,000 to the Mayor’s campaign now wants to build. Why do people give money? It’s because they want favors. There is no reason for this ordinance. It should be made tougher. Developers and Contractors contribute money so they can own politicians. Wait until after the elections.”

A Resident from the Admiral Building at the Landings came up to speak and simply said, “After 10 years, please do the right thing for us.”

Resident Gregory Pabon spoke next and stated, “Who doesn’t get donations to run? From the President on down, they get donations. Is it because of politics? And why is it always the Mayor that people are putting down?”

After Gregory Pabon, another Landings Resident came up to speak about the ordinance. “You have people making donations who have lawsuits filed against them. They changed plans from what they originally said. You have heard from both sides and so far have held off (making a decision). Developers have made numerous changes. He (Kushner) said the economy was bad, but bought prime real estate property in New York at the same time.”

After the public spoke about this ordinance, Council President Lisa Nanton said, “We want to make this ordinance congruent with the City Ordinance. I want Mr. Maraziti (from the Maraziti LLP law firm) to compare Ordinance No. 98-13D with other cities.”

Councilman Fernando Gonzalez stated that the language is not clear on this ordinance. “After the 2008 election is when the ordinance was changed to a dollar donation where a developer cannot participate in any redevelopment projects. This ordinance was challenged in court. Just get rid of it or replace it. The Redevelopment Agency didn’t have an ordinance in place for developer contributions.”

Law Director Arlene Quinones spoke and cautioned the Council, “We will still have the State Pay to Play.”

A motion was made by Councilman William Petrick to table or postpone the ordinance.”

During the last public portion, Resident Ken Balut made reference to Harry Pozycki from the Citizen’s Campaign. “This ordinance (Public Contracting) was passed in 2008. Pozycki was involved in this. Do it (adopting the Article 2 of Chapter 98) after the elections.”

R-268 – 6/16 – Authorizing a professional services contract  with Robert L. Tarver, Jr. for the purposes of investigation of the appointment in compensation of the Assistant Business Administrator and related issues in an amount not to exceed $17,499.00.

Resident Alan Siber came up to address this resolution. He stated, “17,000 to pay a lawyer. Nothing pertains to us. What about other Directors? This is pitiful? They couldn’t ask you (the Council) for an extension for this Business Administrator? We need to get all this money back (paid to former Assistant B.A. Pelissier). Are we going to sue ourselves? We need to get a resolution besides just compensation.”

Resident David Caba commented about the price tag of $17,000 and wanted to know, “What are they hiding (the Administration)? The previous administration did theft by deception. In the town of Orange, New Jersey, the Business Administrator had to return money to that city. Let’s see if the Corporation (The  Council) will hire an attorney to get the money back. Did the lawyer who spoke here look up the case that happened in Orange? Also, the Mayor needs to ask permission to speak and the clock should run when she speaks.”

Before the Council voted on the Resolution, Business Administrator Adam Cruz read a lengthy statement pertaining to the Council hiring an independent attorney (see statement below)

The Council voted “yes” on Resolution  R-268.

Resident Alan Silber was astonished that the Business Administrator would make a statement at the last minute regarding this resolution. Silber stated, “We are playing loose cannons and it’s proliferating. Remember Tony Jones (Joe Vas’ personal driver and bodyguard who was involved in a fraudulent housing lottery scheme). Now that people have access to the building (City Hall Offices) they feel they can do whatever they want.”

A Landings Resident came up to speak and also questioned B.A. Adam Cruz last minute statement. This Resident also had words to say about Attorney Arlene Quinones-Perez. “This Attorney is very arrogant. We are tax paying citizens. We need to be shown respect. The Council is polite and respectful.”

Resident Stanley Sierakowski came up to speak. He said, “The statement that B.A. Cruz said should have been in the communication section on the agenda. Anybody can be investigated. Legally the Council can hire an attorney. In my opinion the Mayor and Law Director did unethical things. The committee that was formed to hire a lawyer has to hold a public meeting a bout that.”

Perth Amboy Democratic Chair Billy Delgado stated, “Two wrongs don’t make a right. The Lawyer (Arlene Quinones-Perez) is highly regarded except in Perth Amboy where she is always slammed. If you (the Council) are using politics for this, then use your own money. This is a travesty. Put things on the table correctly. Use City (Perth Amboy) attorneys; they can all use the work. The $17,500 (for the Council’s Counsel) can be used to improve our education. Our taxes are still high.”

Businesswoman Virginia Lugo questioned why the Council had to go to Clifton to get an attorney. “Our Council wrote an improper document.”

Lugo also questioned 3 resolutions on the agenda: R-256; R-257; R-258 authorizing the reduction of monies for the legal defense of 3 different Police Officers. She wondered, “What account will the surplus money totalling $126,000 be given to?”

“It will go back to the general account.”

At the end of public comments, Council President Lisa Nanton asked for Council Comments.

Before any of the Council Members could speak, Law Director Quinones-Perez said she would like to address some of the comments made by audience members.

This irritated Council President Nanton who told Quinones-Perez, “I asked for Council Comments. I let some things slide, which you did because you were new.”

Quinones responded, “So you won’t let me speak at all?”

Nanton responded, “I’ll see.”

Councilman Fernando Gonzalez comments were: “I want a written statement from the Law Director what the Superior Court Judge said in his ruling (in reference to the Board of Education wishing to have their election moved from November to April of this year.) I have a fiduciary responsibility to the citizens to protect their money and I will do so even with any obstacles thrown before me.”

Councilman Fernando Irizarry was concerned about work being done on Watson Avenue.

B.A. Cruz said, “The water company is replacing 1.3 miles of piping to give better water pressure. Each homeowner will save $2,000 a year.”

Irizarry was still concerned, “We paved that street a year and a half ago and now work is being done again. Tearing up the street and just patching it up again is wasting money. We need to have better coordinations.”

Irizarry also wanted B.A. Cruz to ask Mr. Maraziti, “Why are we doing the Pay to Play Ordinance now?” He also requested that a letter be drafted to the Attorney General to have the upcoming elections monitored.

Councilman Joel Pabon had concerns about the Pay to Play issues also. “We don’t want to prohibit developers from building here all over just a dollar donation.”

Councilman Bill Petrick agreed with Councilman Irizarry about repaving of the same streets. “We should look at a 5 year plan for this. Also, having an Attorney General looking at some cases is good. The person we are hiring (R-268 – Robert Tarver) is doing fact finding.”

Council President Lisa Nanton made this statement: “In February 2016, I was asked by the Council to look for a lawyer. We vetted firms and attorneys who were non-partisan. Everything was done legally. It’s a payment and salary issue (that needs to be addressed). The lawyer we hired said that this should take a few weeks (the investigation) and it should not be that expensive.”

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