On February 12, 2014 I attended a Union County Utilities Authority meeting and questioned their board as to why their Executive Director, who is former Freeholder Daniel Sullivan, and other employees were receiving monthly stipends. I was met with silence, which is sadly what we county watchers have come to expect of our government officials.
However, I was surprised when the UCUA board later claimed total ignorance when they called a special meeting on February 27th and past a resolution hiring outside counsel to investigate the stipends which they claimed to have known nothing about until I brought it to their attention.
The UCUA meeting minutes show every commissioner of the authority who voted to pass payment of the bills, where I found out about these bills from August 21, 2013 through January 2014, should have known that Executive Director Sullivan was receiving a monthly check of $2,500; Deputy Director Brennan $1,000; and other employees $500. If the board is not legally required to be responsible for knowing what bills are being paid, then why do they bother to vote on it?
Since I brought these stipends to public view, it has come to my attention that other authorities are now looking into this matter. However, the Union County Watchdog Association will continue to conduct our own investigation because we want to uncover the truth and report it. Chances are the other investigative reports will be kept confidential indefinitely, just as generatorgate has been. We will rely on New Jersey’s Open Public Records act and Open Public Meetings Act to gather information and question officials. And as we demonstrated with our Musicfest investigation, only through our own investigative efforts can we force official investigations, and expose flim flam official investigations for what they are.
An OPRA request seeking many documents from the UCUA is pending. For now, I’d like you to focus just on the fact that a review of the 2013 meeting minutes, shows the Finance and Budget Committee meets and recommends payment of the bills. The minutes list Commissions Kulish, Huff and Lombardo alternately reporting for the Finance & Budget Committee. Some excerpts:
1/16/13 meeting minutes clearly state “Commissioner Kulish reported that the Finance & Budget Committee had met and recommended approval of the bill list.” I offer these specific minutes as an example because the language changes from minutes to minutes, but it clearly means the same thing.
8/21/13 meeting minutes state “Kulish recommended payment of the bills for the authority.” Included with these bills is a sheet of paper Summary of Compensation Payments hand written: Staff Services and stamped Sep 6, 2013.
On 8/22/13 Sullivan’s first of 4 monthly payments payment appears along with Brennan $1,000; Nefsey, da Silva, Kinloch, Rosa, Hummel and Gregordy each receiving $500
In January 2014 employees Gorgano, Fernicola, Davis and Dagget were added to the list and also received $500 each.
Previously reported (And it is also in the publics interest to note that although other media have picked up on this story with not as much detail as first reported here, they have thus far refused, including the Star-Leger, to acknowledge that the stipend payments were first reported on the County Watchers blog and were brought to the UCUA attention by Tina Renna and the Union County Watchdog Association.): Secret payouts to former Freeholder Sullivan and other UCUA employees uncovered
By Tina Renna | February 13, 2014