Categorized | News

“Maybe I Was Violating a Law?”

2/21/17 Caucus

PERTH AMBOY – During the Public Portion of the 2/21/17 Caucus, Resident Ken Balut addressed a couple of Resolutions. Before doing so, he commented about a lawyer who spoke at a previous Council Meeting about the Buckeye Scope Hearing. He stated, “That was a DeCotiis lawyer.”

He then went on to mention Resolution R-88 – Consenting to the appointment of Michelle Roman as Judge of the Municipal Court in the City of Perth Amboy for a term terminating March 1, 2020.

“Michele Roman should be voided. She donated money to the Wilda Diaz campaign.”

He then asked Councilman Irizarry, “Do you know if any contractors gave to your campaign? I also think that one of those contributors of the money that came from Jersey City is the brother of someone that the Council just hired as an auditor. You don’t even see all the lawsuits and Fairview Insurance is a donor, too. You got rid of a long time City Insurer for Fairview. You’re the ones not telling the public where the money is coming from.”

Resident Alan Silber came up to speak and questioned the law firm that the City is hiring. Silber also mentioned, “The reason why the Mayor stated she ran for a third term was because of unfinished business. There will always be unfinished business. They got rid of Blunda (Former Law Director) very quickly. The reason that there are so many cases is because Blunda wasn’t allowed to finish them.”

Acting Law Director Judy Verrone addressed the concerns of those who asked about the attorneys representing the Mayor in her lawsuit against the Council, “The court will decide who pays for what.”

Silber continued, “The Auditor’s brother made a contribution to Wilda. Fairview gave money to North Jersey. The Auditor gives money to his brother who in turn gives it to the Mayor’s campaign. You can’t give contracts to people without knowing if they gave political contributions. This is going around the Pay-to-Play Ordinance. That’s why our debt keeps going up – because of all the lawsuits.”

Resident Jeremy Baratta came up and stated, “We do have Pay-to-Play. There was a request of $225,000 for legal fees from the Law Department  and they were given $250,000. Now, it’s $150,000. It seems that whatever the DeCotiis Law Firm asks for, it’s what they get. For some reason, Wilda can’t find other lawyers in the State. Are we paying these lawyers travel time?”

Acting Law Director Verrone answered, “No.”

Baratta’s final remark was, “The Resolution R-93 doesn’t spell out the entire contract.”

Councilman Fernando Gonzalez said, “I don’t know if the pay-to-play law exists because PACS can go around the law. I was given money through a PAC, so maybe I was violating the law. The City of Plainfield was trying to get a Pay-to-Play law. That way, they can get money through a PAC. The new Council may not be aware of money they got because that money went through the Mayor.”

Resident Sharon Hubberman came up to speak next, “I commend you (the Council) for trying to curtail the money spent by lawyers. Look at Council Meetings in other towns. They are very detailed when it comes to lawyers fees.”

David Caba came up to speak, “The Residents don’t get informed of important projects coming up. The room is packed with people who are interested on the Contractor’s side. Why are we hiring 150 police officers if we have no crime? Caba then said, “I’m being serious  here. I suggest that each resident be given $200 to buy a pit bull for protection instead of hiring more police. The police are doing their job, but the crime is not being reported.” He suggested, “Draw up a resolution to give a pit bull to each resident. The system is made for us not to be informed. No one is given the right information. Our City is split. Just give us the right information.”

Susan Batista came up to speak and read a letter that called for the Mayor and B.A. to resign, “Because they are aiding and abetting illegal aliens.”

Resident Virginia Lugo came up to speak, “I saw people in Perth Amboy getting rounded up. There should be a process before people get deported.” Lugo continued, “Former Law Director Quinones was not working for us, but for people out of the City. We should put more information online, especially when it comes to money spent on contracts. It should state who are behind the LLC’s. As far as legal representation, the Council depends on advice from the Attorney. There is a budget and it all doesn’t have to go to the DeCotiis Law Firm. If you don’t have the correct legal representation, then you need to have your own separate Attorney.”

Resident Maria Varela came up to speak, “I see the Council Members are doing their due diligence. I’m a resident and homeowner. I thank you (the Council) for asking questions, especially about Buckeye. I don’t see Buckeye as a friend. They are doing it for their own financial gain. I commend this Council on your hard work.”

When it came time for  Council Comments, Jelmin Caba remarked, “The Little League is looking for coaches.”

Councilman Fernando Gonzalez talked about being in court for the hearing on the Mayor’s law suit against the Council. “Taxpayers will pay for the suit. We have to go back to court on Thursday to see if the lawyer (that the Council hired in regards to the Pelissier case) can also represent us on this case (lawsuit that the Mayor filed against the Council). We have a right as your representatives to see if money can be returned to the City. I hate to see all this money spent by the Citizens of Perth Amboy. Something went wrong and needs to be corrected. We did an override of the Mayor’s Resolution, but the law we passed was not obeyed.”

Councilman Joel Pabon remarked about receiving 2 letters from the Redevelopment Agency today (2/21/17). “I don’t know what’s going on. We tried to rectify what we thought was incorrect, but we still got sued. People are complaining about cars being piled up by the old Police Department Property.”

Acting Police Chief Roman McKeon came up to answer this complaint, “They are confiscated cars that are on that property until we can dispose of them, but it’s not permanent.”

Pabon questioned, “How long will the vehicles be there?”

McKeon, “I will talk to the Deputy Chief about this and get back to you.”

Pabon continued talking, “At the last few meetings, we authorized some items and I want to know when are our Budget Hearings? I also agree with Councilman Fernando Gonzalez that anything coming out with monies from the Attorney, I’m voting, “No.””

B..A. Cruz responded, “You  (the Council) are trying to deny the Mayor’s rights under the Faulkner Act. This is not right.”

Councilman Fernando Irizarry commented, “Sometimes disagreements have to be settled in court. The government is still functioning despite this, and unfortunately it’s going to cost money. I did research on crime statistics. No articles mention crime stats. They have Police Blotters. They (the Police) should reinstate the Police Blotter with the local newspaper. Also, is there a specific ordinance stating how many cars can be parked on lots (repair shops)?

Councilman Fernando Gonzalez questioned the buses parked at the train station. “An Ordinance should be prepared to get rid of the buses there. I get calls every week about this.”

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