July 23, 2005

"Do the Hustle"

Does your employer know your name?

Does he/she know what 'paid' days you took off in 2003 and 2004?

Have you been given a $27,447.16 pay hike within four years?

Being more than a little bit suspicious of county employees working on freeholder campaigns during working hours, I placed an Open Public Records request for the paid days off in 2003 and 2004 of the Union County Manager and his wife. Six days later, the county responded in a letter dated July 21, 2005, that they needed more time to compile the data.

Hmmmmm What are those well paid, crazy kids trying to hide from us now?

In 2004 I asked for the county's employee list. I noticed that the county manager's wife, who was then the administrator of the county's Open Space Trust fund, was not on the list. She had been quoted in the press about the fund on several occasions going by the name Angie Devanney. When I saw no Angie Devanney on the payroll I asked the Clerk of the Board for her employment information. The clerk replied in a letter that "Ms. Devanney's information was there all along."

You see, there is a clause in OPRA which states the government doesn't have to give you information - only existing records, so you must know what to ask for. I did not know what name Mrs. George Devanney, who is Senator Raymond Lesniak's niece-in-law, was using on the payroll, therefore the county was not required by law to tell me; and they didn't.

Not being one to be put off, as my nine OPRA complaints against the county can attest to, I did a Goggle search on the county manager's wife and came up with two articles. One was about a Angela Bowen and then husband Doug Placa being named #20 on the PoliticsNJ.com list of New Jersey's Most Powerful Political Couples; the other was a story about an Angela Bowen who was running the congressional campaign of then-County Manager Michael LaPolla while holding a full-time county job. After people raised their suspicions about her work load, Ms. Bowen took a leave of absence from her $54,337.40 county job to run the campaign 'full time.'

No lesson learned there by the Democrats or the voters because four years later, another marriage and a $27,447.16 pay hike, while Angela Bowen (d/b/a/ Angie Devanney) was on the county payroll with a $81,784.56 salary, Angela Devanney was listed on the Union County Democratic Committee ELEC reports with a $2,600 payment for GOTV (get out the vote) efforts.

Too bad Union County taxpayers lost such a good hustler, as of January 2005, Mrs. George Devanney d/b/a/ who knows who now, is currently employed by Berkeley Heights as their City Administrator. With all she had on her plate with her $81,784.46 county job and her $2,600 worth of GOTV efforts for the county Democrats she still found time to campaign for the Republican Mayor David Cohen in Berkeley Heights.

Most women would find one husband, one job and one campaign more than enough to keep them busy at one time but Mrs. Angie Bowen/Placa/Devanney managed to do all two at a time. What a hustler.

PoliticsNJ.com New Jersey's Online Political Network
New Jersey's Most Powerful Political Couples
20. Angela Bowen and Doug Placa
Angela Bowen is the Campaign Manager for Michael Lapolla's campaign for the Democratic nomination for Congress in the 7th district. Doug Placa, a rising star among political operatives, managed the successful 1999 campaign of Glenn Gilmore for Mayor of Hamilton Township. 21. Sara and Fred Bost

Golkin Seeks Disclosures From County Manager
While Lapolla Calls for Clean Campaign Pledge
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader and The Times

The primary battle among Democrats seeking the nomination to represent the party in the Seventh Congressional race in November continued to heat up this week following the resignation of candidate Michael LaPolla¹s campaign manager from her job with Union County. Mr. Lapolla has been questioned as to whether he or any of his campaign staffers have been running the campaign during regular work hours. Warren Township Committeeman Jeff Golkin, a Congressional hopeful who gained the party line in Somerset County, has questioned what he believes is the ³improper use of Union County facilities and employees at county expense and on county time for the benefit of his (Mr. Lapolla¹s) Congressional campaign.² Mr. Golkin specifically mentioned Angela Bowen, Mr. Lapolla¹s Campaign Manager and Executive Director of the Union County Democratic Committee, who has been employed by Union County as Director of Constituent Services for the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders. Sarah Dowling, a spokeswoman for the Lapolla Campaign, confirmed on Tuesday that Ms. Bowen has announced her resignation from the county effective tomorrow, Friday, March 31. Sujata Tejwani, Campaign Manager for Mrs. Connelly, said originally Ms. Bowen indicated she had been on vacation leave since January and would resign after that time. ³If she was working on vacation leave since January than I want to work for Union County,² Ms. Tejwani responded. Rather than specifically address the charges by Mr. Golkin. Mr. Lapolla issued a written response this week calling for Mr. Golkin and Mrs. Connelly of Fanwood to join him in signing a ³clean campaign² pledge. Mr. Lapolla has signed the pledge. The fourth candidate in the race, Civil Rights attorney Joel Farley of Westfield, name was not listed on the pledge. Citing the Golkin and Connelly campaigns, Mr. Lapolla¹s pledge states that, ³the only people who will benefit from a nasty, personal negative campaign in this primary are the Republican extremists in Washington and their Congressional candidates.² Instead, Mr. Lapolla said the candidates should focus on discussing issues that Democrats are ³advocates² for such as helping ³working families,² securing Social Security, protecting children from gun violence, a clean environment and access to quality, affordable health and longterm care and child care. ³Sadly, up to now, both Mrs. Connelly and Mr. Golkin have run negative personal campaigns. The Lapolla campaign has stuck to the issues and not responded to these petty attacks. It is time to move forward,² Mr. Lapolla said in the pledge. Mrs. Connelly went public last week with accusations that she was offered political jobs in exchange for her dropping out of the Congressional race. One position in fact was said to be a $130,000 position with the federal or state pension board. The job was said to be for just five to seven days a month and comes with a government car. She also charged that positions were said to be available with United States Senate candidate Jon Corzine, Woodbridge Mayor and 1997 Democratic Gubernatorial candidate James McGreevey or Vice President and the party¹s unofficial Presidential nominee, Al Gore. All the apparent job offers were said to have come from Jerry Free, a friend of State Senator Raymond Lesniak. The Senator and Mr. Corzine have denied the charges waged by Mrs. Connelly although Mr. Lesniak has confirmed in media reports he did try to get Mrs. Connelly to quit the race. Ms. Tejwani confirmed the news reports. In his campaign statement that accompanied the copy of the pledge, Mr. Lapolla stated that Republicans ³would love for Democrats to wage a divisive primary. Let¹s serve the voters and run a campaign based on issues instead of innuendo.² ³When they have hurled insults and made false charges I have not responded by getting down in the gutter. It is time to move forward and put the voters interests ahead of our own,² he stated. Ms. Tejwani responded that the Connelly Campaign has stuck to the issues. She said the job offers Mrs. Connelly spoke of did not mention Mr. Lapolla. Mr. Lapolla, Union County Manager since 1997 and who entered the Congressional race in late January, has received the Democrat organizational ballot lines in Union and Middlesex Counties. ³I do not know how it is possible for two fulltime employees of Union County, Mr. Lapolla and Ms. Bowen, to be working full days for the county simultaneously with doing all the things that are required in running a Congressional campaign,² Mr. Golkin said in a statement released to the press on Monday. Mr. Golkin has said he will seek immediate disclosure of all records for the past six months of Mr. Lapolla¹s county office phone and cellular telephone, daily log and time sheets, travel and disbursement reports as well as his mileage logs and gasoline usage. He has called for submission of similar records from Ms. Bowen and other county employees on Mr. Lapolla¹s campaign staff. Mr. Golkin also wants all records of campaign contributions to the Lapolla Campaign from Union County vendors. ³The acceptance of contributions from such sources by Mr. Lapolla, at a minimum, gives the appearance of impropriety because of his position as Union County Manager and may very well be even a more pervasive problem than originally thought,² Mr. Golkin stated. Ms. Tejwani said she found it ³interesting² that in a response to a request to release public documents the Lapolla Campaign instead issued a clean campaign pledge. She said other than report what Mrs. Connelly maintains were job offers made to her, the candidate has focused on the issues. Ms. Tejwani said voters need to look at the public records of the three candidates who have elected office experience: Mr. Golkin, Mr. Lapolla and Mrs. Connelly. Mr. Lapolla served on the Union County freeholder board in the 1980s while Mrs. Connelly just concluded a long tenure on the Fanwood Borough Council, including a term as mayor. In his press release, Mr. Golkin added that since Mr. Lapolla did not enter the race until January 24 he did not have to file an endoftheyear report with the Federal Election Commission. The next filing date is March 31.