2/22/17 Council Meeting
PERTH AMBOY – During the Public Comments at the 2/22/17 Council Meeting, Resident Ken Balut still pleaded his case regarding Resolution R-88 on Michelle Roman’s appointment to Municipal Court Judge. “She donated $1,000 to your campaign (Diaz Team).”
Balut also brought up the actions of former Law Director Arlene Quinones Perez who left her seat and sat in the audience. “Quinones said she was here for the Mayor’s campaign. How much did DeCotiis donate? Fairview Insurance did the same. Every lawyer you’ve been talking to is from DeCotiis. We found at least $85,000 from a North Jersey PAC. Look at yourself in the mirror. You’re getting to be like Joe Vas. Money comes through you from a PAC and all these lawyers are billing you.”
Resident Jeremy Baratta spoke next in regards to monies given for the DeCotiis law firm. “Allocate the money when a contract comes in. A lot of the work for the cases have been done before.”
Resident David Caba came up to speak about Resolution R-89 also. He wondered why the Dixon Rodriguez Case had not been settled, “I know the taxpayers are paying for this.” Caba was also disturbed that the Business Administrator is constantly looking at his phone during the Meeting and he thought that this was disrespectful.
B.A. Adam Cruz addressed Caba’s concern about the Dixon Rodriguez case still going on. “There are 2 to 3 defendants. This law firm is defending a City Employee involved in the case.”
Councilman Fernando Gonzalez wanted to clarify the money spent on this case. “There’s a cap of $100,000. Then after that is exhausted it has to go to the insurance company who will continue to defend us (the City).
During the Public Portion, Resident Jeremy Baratta came up to speak again. He questioned, “Does the Law Director receive a check from the City?”
B.A. Cruz responded, “We (the City) must decide what we’ll be doing on March 1, 2017.”
Baratta continued, “The positioning of a Law Director is being farmed out to DeCotiis.” He then questioned, “Does any appointment (of a Law Director) after 90 days have to be approved by the Council?”
The Council nodded, “Yes.”
Baratta then questioned, “If the City is paying DeCotiis every 90 days, isn’t that a violation?”
Acting Law Director Judy Verrone responded, “No, it’s not,” and suggested that Baratta read the City Code on that matter (451-452).
Resident Ken Balut came up to speak, “She (Verrone) is getting paid by tax dollars. You all are. I also want to thank Mr. Pabon for disclosing that Michelle Roman contributed to his campaign.” Balut also told the Council, “One afternoon, someone came to my door to sell an alarm system. This salesman stated, “Didn’t you hear about all the crime going around the town?””
Balut then talked about the B.A. running around town with a police jacket on. “We have more cops, but they are leaving. Our police are working hard, but our Police Director is clueless about crime. We have the same amount of police that we had in 2003. Now were having an ordinance permitting bonfires during certain events.”
David Caba came up to speak. He had comments to make in regards to Developer Charles Kushner, “Do we want to move our City forward this way? Drive down Rector Street (near the Landings Properties) and see how bad the road is. It’s a disgrace. Wilda never went after Kushner. If I’m showing a house (as a realtor), I would not want to show this. Kushner changed his mind about some of that land and now wants to do 600 rental units. I remember when the late Richard Piatkowski and myself were appointed to the Budget Committee in 2008.”
Resident Sharon Hubberman came up next, “I remember when we recently had an open house at Olive Street about the bridge replacement. I was working on Wall Street when the planes hit (9-11-01). The previous Mayor (Vas) had a Perth Amboy Initiative Program about infrastructure protection with many agencies working together. Terrorism is a reality. They are here.”
Hubberman’s voiced her concerns, “How are we safeguarding the pipeline connections?”
Resident Susan Batista came up to speak and reminded the Council, “My lawsuit against the City is coming up to the two year mark.” She continued, “I’ve been working since around 2007-2008 with the FBI and they can take off all the communications on my computer. I also started keeping track of money spent on agenda items. Only one person knows what’s going on. The Mayor, Benny Ruiz and Jamie Rios abused their powers. All the Business Administrator does is write grants in Spanish. The police should have tracking devices on them. Goldy’s (CFO) numbers don’t add up. Things are changed on the meetings that are taped (when shown on TV). I offered many times to settle my lawsuit with you (The City).”
Resident Philip Clark came up to speak. He was concerned about the traffic light on the intersection of Compton and Convery Boulevard. He suggested, “Perhaps a speed bump to slow the cars down should be put there. You need to monitor that area because there are a lot of kids around there, too.”
During the Council Comments Fernando Gonzalez said, “We should not have cell phones or have texting going on while sitting up here during our Meetings.
Joel Pabon stated, “I’ve been to Rector Street (in response to David Caba’s comments about deplorable conditions.)” Pabon also wondered, “Do we still have a Code Enforcement Entity? There’s a property near the Post Office that has an over abundance of cars that spills over onto the streets. Code Enforcement has been absent and doesn’t even come here anymore. We can only do so much. Pabon also piggybacked on comments made by Councilman Caba about coaches needed for the softball league. “The City gives out a lot of money to this softball league.”
Councilman Fernando Irizarry thanked Business Administrator Adam Cruz for getting an ordinance to him that he had requested. He also stated, “I’ve seen lifts outside of service station repair shops that should be inside.”
Irizarry also wanted to extend condolences to the family of Austin Gumbs. “He was a role model, always a gentleman and served the City.”
Business Administrator Adam Cruz gave a brief report on the violations of an auto repair business that was mentioned previously.
Pabon had more comments to make about the auto repair shops citing one particular one on the corner of Maple and Fayette. “People have to walk on the streets to get around the cars. We put people out of their houses but we can’t do anything about these car shops? As far as the little league, the leaders should get their people to coach.”
When Council President Bill Petrick spoke, he also offered his condolences to the Gumbs family. “He was a much admired individual and contributed greatly to this community.”
Acting Law Director Judy Verrone cautioned the Council about pending cases, “And they are all court controlled. There is no mechanism for continuance. This is irresponsible.”