Annual Appeal

By Tina Renna | November 25, 2014

ucwalogo2

YOUR GENEROUS SUPPORT
helps the County Watchers shine a light on Union County Government

Since 2005, the Union County Watchdog Association volunteers, along with our County Watchers blog, has provided the public with the most comprehensive, unbiased and independent reporting on the workings of Union County government, which accounts for approximately 1/4 of your property tax bill. We are the only media group consistently investigating Union County government. Without our diligence the public would primarily be told what the county wants you to know through their million dollar taxpayer-funded public information department.

Through your generosity we have made significant progress in chronicling and trying to explain the rampant waste, fraud and abuse with interactive budget presentations, investigative reports, and attending and taping every freeholder meeting and providing follow-up reports and commentary.

Please make your tax-deductible contribution to the UCWA on our website at www.unioncountywatchdog.org or mail a check to the below address. Historically we’ve asked for a $10.00 annual contribution per family. We ask for your continued support and that you be as generous as you can afford. Your generous contributions solely fund our efforts to keep watch over Union County government.

We look forward to watching Union County government in 2015 and it is proving to be even more challenging than the last 9 years. Taxes have risen over 100% since 2000 and show no sign of abating and county debt has ballooned with a freeholder board guaranteed election of whatever handpicked candidates the Regular Union County Democratic Machine throws out there gets a blank check written against your wallet.

There is no doubt that without the UCWA there as your voice and Union County government’s watchdogs taxes would have more than tripled over that time, none of their shenanigans would have been reported and shady officials like George Devanney would still be your County Manager and Theodore Romankow would still be your County Prosecutor.

Our work to educate the public and advocate for the elimination of waste, corruption and incompetence is far from over. Good government can only be achieved through a system of checks and balance – a system that includes the watchful eye of the people.

Please mail your tax deductible contribution payable to:
The Union County Watchdog Association, Inc.
1155 West Chestnut Street – Suite 2B, Union, NJ 07083
Or access our paypal account.

If you would like to become more personally involved in projects please contact Tina Renna at tinarenna@unioncountywatchdog.org or call 908-418-5586.

Help raise awareness by simply asking a friend to join our email list and/or like us on FaceBook.

UCCF 11/25/14: CBA with PBA 199A

By John Bury | November 28, 2014

2014-982: Authorizing the County Manager to sign any and all documents necessary to enter into a Collective Bargaining Agreement with PBA 199A–Correction Superior Officers, effective January 1, 2013 through December 31, 2016.
.

UCCF 11/25/14: More Pay-To-Play

By John Bury | November 27, 2014

2014-968: Amending Resolution Number 2014-493, a contract with Bauch, Zucker, Hatfield, Springfield, New Jersey, special counsel for labor negotiations to increase the cap for legal services in the amount of $36,000 for an amount not to exceed $236,000.

2014-969: Amending Resolution Number 2014-547, a contract with Roth d’Aquanni, LLC, Springfield, New Jersey, special counsel for personnel matters to increase the cap for legal services in the amount of $30,000 for an amount not to exceed $180,000.

2014-972: Amending Resolution Number 2014-398, a Professional Engineering Service Contract with Harbor Consultants, of Cranford, New Jersey, for additional design items for the Warinanco Park Sprinkler System at Chatfield Gardens, Warinanco Park in an amount of $11,500.00 for a new contract amount not to exceed $37,580.00. (Union County Engineering Project Number 2014-019)

2014-973: Amending Resolution Number 2014-502, a Professional Engineering Service Contract with Harbor Consultants, of Cranford, New Jersey, for additional design items for the Warinanco Park Tennis Clay Courts, Warinanco Park in an amount of $9,500.00 for a new contract amount not to exceed $36,200.00. (Union County Engineering Project Number 2014-023)

2014-979: Amending Resolution 2014-205 dated February 27, 2014 to increase the appropriation to Weber Dowd Law of Wooland Park, NJ in the matter entitled LaQuan Kearney v. UC, et als. in an amount not to exceed $10,000.00 for a sum not to exceed $26,956.48

.

UKCCF 11/25/14: Rahway River Park Stadium Update

By John Bury | November 25, 2014

There was criticism of the project:
.

.
and an update on the status:
.

Judge orders in camera review of Countywide Emergency Operation Plan

By Tina Renna | November 23, 2014

During the April 23, 2014 hearing for Union County Police Lt. Richard Puschel in the matter of his being disciplined for taking home a county generator during Superstorm Sandy, Andrew Moran, the county’s Public Safety Director, disputed officer Puschel’s claim that Union County had no emergency plan in place and he and other officers were left on their own to safeguard the public and public property. Even though county owned equipment was destroyed after Hurricane Irene, according to Lt. Puschel the county still had no plan in place to ensure it wouldn’t happen again. Moran stated that the county has a countywide emergency operation plan in place and it is located on the county x drive implying that there is no hard copies available. Who has access to the plan besides Moran is a mystery. As it stands the public has to take the word of Moran that a plan does in fact exist.

Excerpt from Puschel hearing transcript, cross-examination of Public Safety Director Moran:
Q. You said the County has a countywide emergency operation plan in place, correct?
A. Yes.
Q. Is that in writing anywhere?
A. Yes, it is.
Q. Where is it?
A. It’s on the — I believe it’s on the X drive, computer drive of the County.
Q. And how do you have access to that?
A. Through my Union County computer.

After attending this hearing which was opened to the public, I placed an Open Public Records Act request for the plan. The county denied access. I then sued the county for access.

During oral arguments held in Union County Superior court on November 21, 2014, Judge Camille M. Kenny ordered Union County counsel, Brian Trelease, to submit for her review the Countywide Emergency Operation Plan. Trelease principally argued that there is a basic plan in place with 16 annexes which deals with all emergency issues and is an internal guide for law enforcement. During oral argument, Trelease principally argued that the entire emergency plan could not be released because the Attorney General had not issued any regulations regarding the disclosure of emergency plans.

If Judge Kenny finds that some of the information in the plan is confidential, she may order that only the truly sensitive information be redacted and that the remaining information be produced.

While the Judge has not issued any decision, Judge Kenny appeared cool towards the County’s argument and observed there is a strong public interested to have access to the county’s plan to deal with emergencies given the fact that Union County residents have suffered through two hurricanes in recent years which had a devastating impact.

Union County has two weeks to produce the plan to the Court for review. The matter is scheduled for court January 16, 2015.

Renna Reply Brief
Renna Brief

What UCIA Is Up To Now

By John Bury | November 20, 2014

Based on the latest Bills for Approval the Union County Improvement Authority (UCIA) is only involved in building two county projects (a Family Courthouse and something at the UCC Cranford campus) since no other entity (not even Linden these days) seems to want to afford the vig that comes with building through the UCIA.  With so little activity it might have been difficult for UCIA counsel, DeCotiis, Fitzpatrick & Cole, LLP (DeCotiis), to get their million dollars in annual fees so what DeCotiis has steered the UCIA into is consulting on county projects which include:

  • Golf Course Project: $317,225
  • Runnells Specialized Hospital: $360,491
  • Renewable Energy (Solar Panels) and the Tioga Workout debt default that came with it: $2,807,203

Since 2004 UCIA fees for DeCotiis alone: $11,437,694

Yet Jonathan Williams of DeCotiis claims with a straight face (as he did on the Solar Panel fiasco):
.

.
And what do the freeholders get from DeCotiis?: $30,000 per election cycle (though the 18 DeCotiis lawyers donating in 2014 only gave $1,000 each, all reported on May 27, 2014, but since the NJ ELEC website has not been updated since about June we can expect each of them donated another $666.67 more in 2014).

UCCF 11/13/14: Election Congratulations – With Sound

By John Bury | November 19, 2014

.

UCCF 11/13/14: Lawsuit Money for Outside Counsel

By John Bury | November 18, 2014

Res…Case……………….Lawyers………….This Time….Total So Far
926…Laplolla v UC…..LaCorte Bundy………$10,000…….$40,000
927…Figueroa v UC…Bauch Zucker………..$25,000…….$190,000
928…Fowler v UC……Florio & Kenny……….$10,000…….$20,000
929…Fowler v UC……Antonelli Minchello…..$10,000…….$20,000
930…Figueroa v UC…Weber Dowd………….$20,000……$110,000
931…Fowler v UC…….Kologi Smitz………….$10,000…….$20,000
932…Fowler v UC…….Flori, Perrucci………..$10,000…….$10,000
.

UCCF 11/13/14: Kemper Golf Contracts

By John Bury | November 17, 2014

2014-881: Authorizing the County Manager to enter into contracts with Kemper Sports Management for Golf Management Services and Concessionaire for the Pro Shop and all Food and Beverage sales for a period of 60 Months (5 years), commencing on November 17, 2014 and ending on November 16, 2019 to provide the necessary golf course management services in the total amount not to exceed $509,724.00; and a concession fee to the County of Union of seven (7%) each year of the gross revenue from the Pro Shop and all of food and beverage sales.
2014-882: Approving the operational budget for golf course operations for Kemper Sports Management, for the period of November 17, 2014 through December 31, 2015 in the amount of $4,528,207.
.

.
Contracts to have Kemper Sports Management, Inc. (Kemper) run golf operations (GOLF) for the county and food/beverage/catering operations (CONCESSIONS) for themselves are dated today, November 17, 2014.  Highlights from these contracts:

Continue reading “UCCF 11/13/14: Kemper Golf Contracts”

UCCF 11/13/14: Employee Theft Policy – Rapuano

By John Bury | November 16, 2014

Union County landscaper admits bribing NJ Transit employee

Raymond Rapuano, 47, of New Providence, pleaded guilty to a charge of bribery during an appearance before U.S. District Court Judge William Walls. New Jersey federal prosecutors say Rapuano handed out some $3,500 in bribes to a NJ Transit employee prior to March 2012 to secure agency contracts for his company, RA Landscape & Design.