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The Grill Team, Part 2 & Clarifying Crime Stats

11/8/17 Council Meeting

PERTH AMBOY – During the first public comments section, Resident Stanley Sierakowski came up to speak about R-431-11/17 Authorizing the City of Perth Amboy to join the Public Entity Joint Insurance Fund for three years, commencing January 1, 2018. Sierakowski wanted to know the cost to the City and who has the contracts now.

He then had a question on R-433-11/17 Authorizing an interlocal service contract with the County of Middlesex for Health Department Services commencing January 1, 2018 and terminating December 31, 2018 in the amount of $238,913.10. “Why don’t you hire four in-house employees instead? They have not given you any reports, and the cost was then $200,000.”

Council President Bill Petrick responded, “We have gotten reports from this agency in the past.”

His other questions dealt with R-435-11/17 – Awarding a two-year service agreement to Joseph Chiosi DCM for Veterinary services commencing November 1, 2017 through October 31, 2019 in an amount not to exceed $132,608.10. R-436 – 11/17 – Rescinding R-295-8/17 authorizing the five-year lease purchase agreement with Aspire under NASPO87720 for body worn and vehicle mounted cameras for the PAPD in the total amount of $100,000 and on R-437 – 11/17 Entering into a five year lease purchase agreement with Fulton Bank in the amount of $250,540.00 for body worn and vehicle mounted cameras purchased through Aspire.

Sierakowski wanted to know the cost, “And why are we giving money to the bank when we have a surplus?”

Law Director Peter King answered regarding R-431. “This is a joint insurance fund. It’s the same carrier that we’ve had for three years and their contract was up. They take care of our general liability and lawsuits. It’s just a renewal.”

Petrick responded to the question on R-433, “We’ve had the same health department for years.”

Business Administrator Adam Cruz explained, “This was a three-year contract in the past and was cut down to one-year.”

Cruz then responded to R-434, “The services were more than what was previously allocated.”

Petrick responded to R-436, “The bank is paying for the second portion of the contract.”

Resident Ken Balut came up to speak next who also had a question regarding R-433, “This is $238,000 for one employee?”

Petrick responded, “This is for more than one person.”

Balut continued, “The City has had the same auditor for ten years. Best Practices says we should change the auditor every three years.”

Petrick spoke up and reminded Balut, “The auditors are not related (referencing an auditor that had made a campaign contribution to a Perth Amboy candidate that had the same last name as the Perth Amboy auditor).”

Balut remained undeterred, “We should bid out for auditors. Are you bidding out these contracts? The last auditor didn’t catch the money that was lost.” Balut then had a question in regard to R-438-11/17 – The transfer for assignment of a financial agreement regarding the BRIDGE 1 Project and approving the sale of the BRIDGE 1 Property to Duke Realty to continue the operation of the project and allow the investment in the BRIDGE 2 Project to proceed. Balut continued, “We gave them a PILOT.  Now they don’t want it? You (the Council) can’t remember the amount of monies that were in the contract.”

Councilman Irizarry responded to Balut, “Can you remember all of the numbers of all the contracts that you looked at (back when Balut was a Councilman)?”

Balut continued, “Is the Board of Education getting all the money promised by the PILOT? Insurance pays the cost. It’s taxpayers’ money.”

Petrick responded, “There’s a 2% increase in the PILOT.”

Councilman Joel Pabon questioned R-435, “Is there anything we can point to find additional cost to the Veterinarian services?”

Police Chief Roman McKeon came up and said, “Spaying and Neutering will be done, which wasn’t done before.” He then spoke about R-436, “The bank bought the $100,000 mortgage.”

Resident David Caba came up to speak. He had questions about the body worn cameras. “Will all the police be wearing them?”

Law Director Peter King responded, “All the police will have some kind of cameras.”

Caba said, “I think it’s a good idea. Cameras will also protect the citizens, besides the police officers.”

The consent agenda R-417 thru R-422 and R-424 thru R-443 was moved by Councilman Fernando Irizarry and seconded by Councilman Helmin Caba. R-423 was voided.

During the second public portion, Stanley Sierakowski came up again and talked about the PILOT Program. “The first proposal was 2½ years ago. The City was given a tax abatement of $2 million. How much is this costing percentage wise? You have to give approval of the transfer of rights. Do you know the subsidy? The taxpayers are subsidizing this. You (the Council) lack critical thinking. Blue Collar Towns are being bamboozled.”

Business owner Virginia Lugo spoke next, “The Mayor has five people sitting on the Board of Education. I believe more money was spent on the School Board Election than the Mayor’s Election. What is the Mayor’s target goal for getting these people in? This is a conflict of interest with the Mayor controlling the schools.”

Ken Balut came back up to speak, “You don’t have that number (referring to the PILOT Program). They gave it to you, big time. The schools didn’t get anything.” Balut then talked about the additional Veterinary services, “The neuter and spay money was supposed to be paid with grants. I heard a City employee is running a lottery to sell a dog. I think it’s illegal. A lot of sexual comments are being made.” He then asked, “What is Ed Troche’s job? Is it with the Vital Statistics Department or the Police Department?”

After Balut’s last comment, Council President Bill Petrick asked the Law Director if an employee has to be given a Rice notice.

Balut continued, “According to reports, there are over 4 crimes committed a day. We had a kidnapping and a shooting. Are we protecting criminals? Why is the public not being told? There are no traffic updates.”

Law Director Peter King reminded Balut, “The Vital Statistics Office is at Olive Street.”

Petrick commented, “You can OPRA the information.”

City Clerk Elaine Jasko then spoke up, “OPRA is for providing documents and not to ask questions.”

Resident David Caba came up, “I’ve been a resident for 40 years. I’ve walked the streets and have seen the good and the bad. We are getting disrespected. You have smart answers, but not correct answers. Did anybody call the State Police or the FBI about the crime stats? We are Number 5 in violent crimes in the Shore and Central Jersey area. You need to question the Administrators and the City Directors and stop disrespecting the citizens.”

Chief Roman McKeon came up to respond to Caba, “I never argued with Mr. Caba’s statistic numbers. I have the breakdown. A lot of the crime is self-initiated. The problems are aggravated assaults. A lot of assaults are alcohol induced. There was one robbery where a victim was set up by a friend and a fake gun was used. When we go to investigate, some people don’t want to give the information. Sometimes there’s conflicting information and some people don’t want to testify, especially if drugs are involved. The violent crime stats are not accurate. I don’t like people portraying a negative image of the City unwarranted. Earlier it was said there was one murder; there were actually two murders that were both solved. In the case involving the M-13 Member, that person was actually the roommate of the person he’s suspecting of killing. It was a dispute over rent money, and not a random attack. In the case of the second killing, it was a brother who killed his sister. The brother fled to Canada and was caught there. There is crime in every city. July is the month we have the most crime because the weather is warmer, and people are outside longer. If you don’t report your crime stats, then you don’t get State money.”

A Convery Boulevard Resident came up to speak to complain about Code Enforcement. “A Code Enforcement Agent came up to my property and took pictures of my ladder and shingles and said I committed violations. He also took pictures of my property from one of our neighbor’s backyard.”

Law Director King responded, “He (the Code Enforcement Agent) acted correctly based on health issues.”

Council President Bill Petrick told the Resident, “You can fill out a complaint.”

King added, “Send the complaint to the City Clerk or the Business Administrator with pictures or anything else you would like to provide.”

Resident Vince Mackiel came up next. He thought it was a good thing having a warming center (and the YMCA’s involvement). “The homeless people need to have a roof over their heads. There’s a lot of benefits to having a site here.”

Next were the Council Comments.

Helmin Caba said, “I thank all the Veterans and all the candidates who ran for office. It took courage and sacrifice.”

Fernando Irizarry said, “I need to get a count of the homeless population.” He also thanked the Veterans for the service they provided to this Country and wished blessings to them and their families. He also thanked all who participated in the democratic process. He then made comments about those who question the crime statistics. “I just want people to let us know where they get the information from. It’s not being disrespectful. It’s damned if you do – damned if you don’t. Crime went down in New Jersey overall. This is all about perspectives the way you look at crime statistics. I’m looking at it as a glass half full. Crime is nothing new. It happens everywhere. It’s human nature.”

Joel Pabon said, “I just want to thank the candidates and the voters who came out in the horrible weather. I’m also glad they are repairing Hall Avenue, especially while school is out. The parents will be happy. I’m glad that the Police Chief explained the crime statistics. The breakdown was educational. We are feeding the homeless at Olive Street. Thank you for the people who volunteer and supply the food. There are different organizations doing this and you can volunteer your time. I want to thank those who served, are serving and who are going to serve our Country.”

Bill Petrick was the last to speak, “I want to congratulate the winners and those who participated in the election. It took a lot of drive, effort, and expense. Some will try again. At the last Community Dinner, the Mayor’s sisters did the cooking. We can only have a strong Democracy if you vote. I also want to remember the victims of the Church Massacre in Texas. I thank those serving and those were lost in combat.”

Councilman Fernando Gonzalez was absent.

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