June 28, 2006

Rubbing out a Freeholder

The publication “Union County Directions” is published by the County of Union through the Union County Alliance (UCA) using tax dollars and county employees. There is a mound of evidence that the publication is being used as campaign literature for the all-Democrat freeholder board to promote candidates supported by the Union County Democratic Committee.

The Union County Watchdog Association (UCWA) argues that the Committee should reimburse the taxpayers for the cost of the newsletters, which are mailed to every postal patron twice a year just days before the primary and general elections, which we believe is a violation of Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) laws.

The Union County Watchdog Association has documentation to support their claims. This is the first in a series of findings.

When sitting Freeholder Don Goncalves was up for re-election in 1999, he had fallen out of favor with the Union County Democratic Committee and did not get their support for the party line. His image was digitally removed from a photograph that appeared in the Directions Newsletter. This was done so it would not give Goncalves any publicity that may have helped his campaign. The before-and-after photos appear below.

Original photo of incumbent Democrat candidates for Freeholder Chester Holmes, Assembly Candidate Linda Stender, Freeholder Don Goncalves and Union County Alliance Director and Kean University president Henry Ross.

The photo as it appeared in the Directions Newsletter which was mailed to every postal patron before the election with Freeholder Don Goncalves rubbed out. Goncalves’ arm was made to look like it belonged to Ross.

June 25, 2006

An “Homage” to the Freeholders

Union County Directions - A Taxpayer Funded Campaign Piece

Two scant days before last week’s Primary Election, the “Union County Directions” arrived in my mailbox. Though they will deny it, this publication is an homage to the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders as well as other UC public officials who just so happen to be of the same political persuasion and are seeking reelection.

Lets not tiptoe around and get real here. Featured on the cover is Mayor John T. Gregorio of Linden, with a story about all of the wonderful things he is doing for the city.

The bottom half of page one is comprised of an article about the Union County Arts Center, located in Rahway and recently purchased by the Board of Chosen Freeholders. The article is accompanied by a picture of Rahway Mayor James Kennedy, Freeholders Deborah Scanlon, Chester Holmes and Al Mirabella.

The oddest thing about the picture is not that the president of the UCAC Board of Trustees, Richard Stender (ex-hubby of candidate Linda) is in the center of the pic, but that the Stender name is first rather than a “L to R” listing.

So, on the front page the sea of six smiling faces are those of five elected officials all with the same party affiliation and all on the ballot in November as well as the former spouse of another currently campaigning for a seat in Congress.

Freeholder Mirabella appears in six of the group shots accompanied frequently by Freeholders Scanlon and Holmes. It would appear that to cover their posteriors and not risk violating campaign laws that they threw in one picture each of Freeholders Sullivan, Ward, Estrada and Kowalski but for the second year in a row Freeholder Adrian Mapp of Plainfield was MIA. Mapp I understand is Chairman of the rival “New Democrats” party in his community and I imagine on the “outs” with “official County Democrats”. If I recall correctly the only time Mapp was in the publication was in the fall edition as a Council member in Plainfield when he landed on the Freeholder ticket in 2004. His term up next year it will be interesting to see if he is given prominence in the publication at that time. In view of present circumstances, however, that is doubtful.

The late Ann Baran, who held the position of county manager with both Republican and Democratic-controlled boards, was a co-founder of the Union County Alliance and an Executive Board member until her death this year. She worked tirelessly to foster the intent of the Alliance. This latest edition cannot be what she had in mind as a vehicle to promote an organization billed as a “bi-partisan coalition focused on economic revitalization and improving the quality of life for people who live and work in the region.” Rather it has turned into a thinly veiled campaign piece funded with tax payer’s money featuring incumbent freeholders patting themselves on the back just days prior to an election. In 2006 alone checks totaling $130,850 have been paid out to the Alliance which includes advertising.

It is puzzling that the corporations in the county affiliated with the Alliance aren’t miffed about being dissed. Perhaps they realize the futility of objecting and have settled on taking a backseat to the Gang of Nine. Only three companies purchased ad space of less than a quarter page each. What happened to PSE&G, Elizabethtown Water and Maher Terminals and what about the Bank of America, Wakefern or Wachovia surely they all have something to crow about? And wouldn’t the residents in towns such as Westfield, Scotch Plains, New Providence or Clark just love to see their Republican Mayors on the cover just once.

Chances of that happening are slim to none.

June 18, 2006

Rocks in our Heads
The 'Open Space' fund 6 years later

Above: Worker installing a fiberglass rock in the Trailside Museum. The real rock can be found in the open space outside of the Trailside Museum.

Union County voters approved the Open Space Trust Fund by a 60-to-40 percent margin in a November 2000 referendum that established a tax of $0.15 per $100 of assessed value dedicated to open space, recreation and historic preservation purposes.

Voters, myself included, must have had rocks in our heads when we voted to be assessed an extra tax by the Union County Freeholders. I doubt any one of us could have imagined some of the questionable uses of this fund.

One use would be the renovation of the Trailside Museum building which is located in the Watchung Reservation, a 2,000-acre preserve containing forests, three ponds, swamps, streams, springs, fields and more than 13 miles of color-coded hiking trails.

The museum is being renovated to be three times its original size so it can be more open and filled with natural light. Along with the natural light it will be filled with $1 million worth of exhibits including fiberglass replicas of rocks and trees that can be found in the open space right outside the building’s doors. The county boasts that visitors to the museum will be able to look out of large windows which will provide a view of the reservation's surrounding 2,000-acre forest.

The trust fund will also be used for the planned Children’s Museum of Central Jersey, the progress of which has had a long delay and is slated to be located on the Kean University campus.

Earlier this year residents of Scotch Plains were able to rally and block the county from building a petting farm, which would have included a paved black top parking lot for visitors on open space that was acquired by the fund.

The fund is also used to award one-time grants to municipalities of about $50,000 in Field of Dreams funding which is used to update playing fields. These grants are given out with much fanfare during the campaign season.

The taxpayers can easily spot these fields because the county places a billboard-sized sign on the entrance to all of them featuring their slogan that was designed for their image building campaign which reads “This is a service of the Union County Board of Freeholders. We’re connected to you!” If the municipalities charged the county for the campaign advertising space they’d easily recoupe $50,000 a year.

In 2002 the fund was used to get Union County taxpayers into the entertainment business by purchasing the Union County Arts Center in Rahway. At the time of the purchase, the Arts Center was running deficits of over $100,000 a year. Freeholder Mingo was quoted as saying, “Rahway needs this renovation for the revitalization of their downtown." The arts center Interim Executive Director Donna Sandorse was reported to have said, “by the county taking over the center it can pour in money to refurbish the facility."

The first of three phases of renovations to the Arts Center is projected to cost $6-million. It will include the installation of air-conditioning, the expansion of the stage and contruction of a new load area among other things such as the upgrading of plumbing, electrical and fire protection equipment, the modernization of the dressing room areas, the expansion of the lobby, the creation of an organ lift and the relocation of administrative offices in the 75 year old facility.

It’s no doubt that the 4,000 patrons who attend performances at the arts center yearly are seen as 4,000 voters in the eyes of the all-Democrat freeholder board. This was evidenced in a taxpayer funded 2004 pamphlet mailed to residents featuring a campaigning freeholder. The mailing asked residents to fill out a form with their name and address, as well as mark off a corresponding box relaying how they felt about the county’s no- yet-proposed plan - but obviously done deal - to acquire the arts center with trust fund money. The two choices were:

( ) YES! I enthusiastically support the plan to revitalize the Union County Arts Center as a premier performing arts destination!

( ) I would also like some more information.

There was no box that said:

( ) “No! Stop spending my money. We’re not stupid. We’ve caught on to this Trust Fund Scam and it’s not what I voted for".

Below: Union County Staff and The Holbek Group, the designer of the exhibits for the new Visitors Center at Trailside Nature and Science Center in Mountainside, discuss progress on the 34-foot tall American Beech Tree that will be the focal point at the renovated Center. The Holbek Group is fabricating the elements of the exhibits at their studio in Orange, Mass. A fall 2006 opening is anticipated.

June 17, 2006

Welcome to UC Freeholder Land
Leave your freedom of speech at the door

As my children have been growing up, there has always been one “smart little you know what” in the group who thought he/she had everything all figured out and attempted to share his newly gleaned knowledge of what democracy means.

Most parents have encountered this scenario usually around the sixth or seventh grade. “It’s a free country you know, I have rights, and I have freedom of speech”. My response usually went something like, “Yes it is a free county, and yes you have rights, however, they end at that door, in here it is Mommy & Daddy Land, a benevolent dictatorship, and guess who is in charge.”

Being extremely fortunate that all five boys and two girls got the message at the time of this initial exercise, we haven’t had any repeat performances. Actually, that was also about the same time that they learned about diplomacy and to their credit wisely choose that alternative route to express future opinions. These early civics lessons came flooding back to my mind last Thursday after attending a meeting of the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders.

The freeholders were slated to vote on accepting the county budget, totaling $409 million, so it is understandable that this meeting would attract a number of county residents who felt the need to speak out on the budget.

Residents are allowed to address the board at certain points during the meetings prior to when votes are taken regarding ordinances and resolutions. Questions are frowned upon, although grudgingly answered. At the end of the meeting a time is provided when attendees are allowed to address the board by way of “comments only” on any topic they care to discuss.

Residents are limited to five minutes each. A green, yellow and red light system is used to control the session, and I have noticed that the lights are generally in play when “certain” individuals approach the podium. When the yellow light goes on the speaker is alerted that their allotted time is almost up, reminding me of the old TV game show “Beat-the-Clock”. Should the red become lit the speaker is told, “Thank you, your time is up”. Refusal to leave the podium can lead to ejection, which has taken place. There are also restrictions regarding content and language.

One would think that this is a great opportunity to get what is on one’s mind off one’s chest by making a comment or two about the budget, no-bid contracts or hiring practices. However, just mentioning the word nepotism in relation to county government elicits a stern warning from the county counsel that the speaker is getting “dangerously close to crossing the line.”

Attending these meetings for three years now has made me acutely aware that those who offer kudos can go on forever well past the allotted five minutes. While it seems that those who speak of their disappointment in the freeholders performance are “crossing the line” this could translate into: “You are out of order and had better sit down before we throw you out for criticizing us."

In his closing comments during last Thursday’s public meeting, Freeholder Chester Holmes reminded residents in the audience that “Our chairman here has his attorney sitting next to him. You need to ask yourselves do you have your attorney sitting next to you? You should keep that in mind when you cross the line while addressing this board."

So much for freedom of speech, freedom to posses a differing opinion and thinking that we are participating in the democratic process here in Union County.

I have given great consideration to doing just as Freeholder Holmes has suggested and perhaps I'll be flanked by my attorney the next time I go to the next meeting as it appears that one must leave one’s Constitutional rights outside like children when we cross the threshold into “Freehholder Land."

June 11, 2006

The Freeholders Are Just Eating it Up

There is one thing that the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders does really well. They eat.

Entering the Freeholder meeting room just prior to meetings I have detected the aromas of tomato sauce, pickles and Cantonese cuisine.

Checking into these expenses proved to be quite interesting. The county check register provided the answer not only to “what are they eating in there” but what it cost all of us as well.

On average there are two regular freeholder meetings each month and two agenda planning meetings as well, or roughly 32 meetings each year plus committee meetings and budget hearings. Refreshments are served prior to all of the meetings with the tabs running $260 to $350 a pop.

The 2005 check register clearly contained 19 entries indicating “refreshments for F/H mtg” with establishments such as Costa’s Ristorante, the Red Parrot CafĂ©, Napoli Deli and Michelino’s Pizzeria providing the fare of the day. These 19 meetings cost taxpayers close to $6000, and let’s not forget the check entries that just say meeting but not F/H.

But that’s not all, the Red Parrot catered refreshments for a budget hearing, at $325, the Napoli Deli for $835 for who knows what and during the ‘05 Topoff drills, one group dined at Costa’s for a total of $500.

There is no doubt that our freeholder board likes to put out a healthy spread evidenced by a $1239.56 check for food at the Musicfest in ’05. So far this year they have spent $7,655 on meeting “refreshments." this figure does not include special events or the county coffee services, bagel runs for breakfast meetings or luncheons including “assorted wraps” from Leon’s Catering Service which run in the neighborhood of $400 to $500.

Having been around awhile I do realize that there are usually some perks that come with power, but this is just a bit much. Haven’t these people ever heard of brown bagging it, or better yet, eating at home? There are times when a meeting will run long and in the private sector, the boss occasionally kicks in for dinner for every one usually from the corner sandwich shop.

But it is doubtful that the residents of Union County intend for their hard earned tax dollars to be used to feed the masses on the 6th floor. I say the masses because on agenda nights the department heads are seen coming and going from the private diner party as well.

An on-the-ball county resident recently pointed out that in view of the fact that this is a single political party board and that all nine of the freeholders are generally in attendance as well as the department directors and that they are dining together just prior to the meetings, it stands to reason that they could find themselves discussing what was on the agenda or other matters that are being considered.

Could this activity then be considered a meeting of this governing body, as a quorum is present, and would this than be a violation of the Open Public Meetings Act?

I cannot answer those questions, however I do know that too much money is being spent on these dinners. I also think that the freeholders should be climbing on the “cut the unnecessary expenses" band wagon by starting with themselves and reining in these catering costs.

June 09, 2006

Freeholder Threatens Residents with Arrest at Public Meeting

In his closing comments during last night's public meeting, Freeholder Chester Holmes reminded residents in the audience that “Our chairman here has his attorney sitting next to him. You need to ask yourselves do you have your attorney sitting next to you? You should keep that in mind when you cross the line while addressing this board”.

Dear Freeholder Holmes:

I will pick up brochures outlining the First Amendment when next I visit the NJACLU and will pass them on to the board for reference. In light of the fact that there is a resident, Toy Ling Washington of Hillside, who is alleging she is being harassed by the Union County Prosecutor’s Office because of her political efforts against the Democrat machine there…and In light of the fact that an ex-girlfriend of Assemblyman Joseph Cryan was arrested using 19 officers from the Prosecutor’s Office for the crime of putting a note in his car……I find your threats to be credible. I am perfectly aware that the County of Union, with your absolute power and infinite connections in the State of New Jersey can do just about anything you’d like to a citizen who dares speak out against you.

Bring it Chester. You’re not shutting me up. We have soldiers sacrificing their lives to bring democracy to the Middle East. I am proud to join them, in this very small way, to ensure New Jersey remains free from tyranny.

Tina M. Renna
Union County Watchdog Association, Inc.

US Attorney General's Office
NJ Attorney General's Office
NJ American Civil Liberties Union

The County of Union passed a whopping budget last night. There were reporters from 2 weekly newspapers there and they won’t report on this until next Thursday. The Star-Ledger was not only absent, but today they ran what was obviously a statement from the county’s Public Information office which was inaccurate and misleading. It should have had the disclaimer above it THIS IS AN ADVERTISEMENT PIAD FOR BY THE UNION COUNTY DEMOCRATIC COMMITTEE.

There were about ten residents that spoke on the budget and items on the agenda. I believe that is a record number. Needless to say, none were happy about it. I will attempt to document it here. I didn’t plan on covering this meeting so I did not take notes. If you would like to correct me and add to this record please send the info and I will update this blog. In light of the Star-Ledger’s outrageous disregard for the enlightenment of their readership I felt I needed to try, and will do my best to give a voice to the citizens that took the time to come out and denounce actions of a governing body that is out of control, and the major media – The Star-Ledger wasn’t there and worse – they ran a propaganda piece for the government. Too bad the Ledger doesn’t have meetings where the public can tell them off. I’d gladly get arrested for crossing the line there.

Elizabeth Cox of Summit:
She had read through the county employee list on the Union County Watchdog Associations website and found many instances where the county was not following civil servant’s rules. There were employees making more money than employees who had a higher title. When the freeholders next give themselves a raise they should consider these hard working employees.

Tina Renna:
The Union County Watchdog Association came up with a top 10 list of things taxpayers can do without. The county public information department complained to editors that our claim that you spent over 7-million dollars on phone services in 2005 was inaccurate. D’Elia’s number – which I didn’t see any documentation for – was more like 1-million dollars.

At first I thought it was the usual PI Department strategy to discredit me. Tina Renna get’s her numbers wrong bashing – but then I thought better of it. I realized that we had put a considerable amount of time and energy into this research, which was conducted by using the 2005 check registry, and it is quite possible that you have no clue that you spent 7-million dollars on phone services in 2005 spread over 18 vendors. It will be a priority for the Watchdog Association to analyze your purchasing habits this year and we will of course share all our findings with the public.

I find it absurd that the public has to purchase your Audit, which will cost about $40.00. To claim that this document is not available digitally is a lie. If you don’t have it digitally it is because you are requesting that your auditor not give it to you in that form so you don’t have to release it that way. I would encourage you to put this information on your website like many open government bodies do today and demand that your auditing firm produce this document in electronic form. If they don’t you can simply scan it as the Union County Watchdog Association is going to do it for you. We will purchase your audit, scan it and put in on our website along with your minutes, budget, and vouchers because people need to keep an eye on you. We can no longer afford your back room politics.

Bruce Paterson spoke: Bruce brought up the fact that Senator Raymond Lesniak used the word Corrupt in his article referring to another governing body in the taxpayer funded newsletter “The Union County Directions”. He also reminded the board that they used similar disrespectful language in their last publication in relation to the President of the United States of America. Mr. Paterson asked the board to reconsider their rules for conduct during their own meeting as whenever he referred to the board being corrupt they gavel him and threaten him with removal. This is clearly a double standard.

Pat Quatrocci of Garwood spoke: Part one:

I intend to make this short. To say I was disappointed with this budget would be an understatement. Being well aware that the boards hands are tied when it comes to certain increases which are just facts of life and agreeably make up a large part of the increased tax levy on the residents, I still fail to see how this budget can go forward to approval.

In my own way, I have been urging the board for the last 3 years to reign in frivolous spending, though some items may on first blush appear to be minor in nature when taken in full context they cumulatively become 10’s of thousands of dollars. Even a novice reviewing the paid bills could detect many areas that they would nip, tuck and consolidate.

I ardently believe that the best interests of the hard working residents of Union County will not be well served by this budget and request that you return to the drawing board revaluate it, and make some cuts. So I ask that this evening you vote No on the budget.

Comments on anything:

As I am sure you recall a couple of weeks ago I asked that this board to take a position on the governors proposed tax increases, including the sales tax increase, I have to say that again I was not disappointed as this board did exactly as I had expected, Nothing. I honestly don't know why I expected more for the hard working taxpayers of Union County.

Chairman Mirabella’s reply as I walked away from the podium:
" Hey Pat,.... I thought you were running for freeholder NOT Governor!"

A man from Roselle Park spoke: On the budget

A woman from Plainfield spoke: On the dilapidated condition of a county park their

Mayor Diorio of Roselle Park: Asked the board to study a heavily trafficked street which was a public safety concern.

A woman from Roselle Park: Asked the board the same.

(I myself live on Walnut Avenue in Cranford and know that residents have had the same safety concerns and have spoken with – and perhaps met – with freeholder B.J. Kowalski on this – Kowalski did not mention the Cranford concerns during last nights meeting which leads me to believe she could care less about Walnut Avenue and the people who contacted her wasted their time.)

Tina Renna: I mentioned earlier that the UCWA released a top 10 list and I don’t have time to mention the entire list but I would like to bring up county nepotism. The Union County Watchdog Association inputted all Democrat municipal chairs and Democrat elected officials and blended it in with the Union County Employee list in which showed that 542 county employees have the same surnames of elected democrat officials. We can’t say for sure that your all related but we can say we have no idea of knowing how many people are on their that don’t share the same surname such as in-laws and cousins – gumadas(sp) (At this point I was told I was crossing the line – meaning I was being disrespectful and could be stopped – even forcibly from speaking – Apparently you can talk about their mother-in-laws and cousins on the payroll but leave their gumadas out of it – they don’t want you picking on them) Employees are making a lot more money today than they were just 5 years ago. And this is an embarrassment to the taxpayers as is this taxpayer funded newsletter. ELEC complaints last year, that are still pending, didn’t keep you from using tax dollars for your campaigning. Although I will admit I enjoyed this one very much especially Senator Raymond lesniak’s piece in which he rants "There must be nepotism policies put in place in the Elizabeth Board of Ed Immediately!!!"

This paper’s finances go through the Union County Alliance which claims it is exempt from the OPRA. We are challenging that with the State’s Government records counsel. The public needs to know if politicians relatives are making money off of this publication that is funded by tax dollars. For instance, I have print bills which show while Assemblywoman Linda Stender was a sitting freeholder her husbands print shop was given this job and overcharged $20,000 more than the next lowest bidder. She did this 2 times. With the fiances going through the Alliance the public has no idea who is getting their money - it’s the perfect crime.

I see Stender changed her title about the same time she announced her run for Congress – She no longer gets paid to supervise volunteers who are selflessly working for free. She is now the fund Raiser and Foundation Director – a new position @ $70,000.

During the budget hearings it was announced that Runnells will be running a ½ million in the red this year. Yet that didn’t keep you from putting the county manager’s mother-in-law on the payroll. She makes $40,000 to be Linda Stender’s assistant. That’s $110,000 for fund raiser employees that haven’t raised one dollar to date.

Isn’t having an assemblywoman and a mother-in-law, who is a relative of Senator Raymond Lesniak, on the payroll @ $110,00 plus benefits a bit nefarious? Who are they going to fund raise from? Vendors another form of pay-to-lay and political shenanigans? Something not covered by ELEC laws?

Willie Sutton is one of the most infamous criminals of the 20th Century, best known for daring robberies in the 1920s and 1930s and as a master of disguise. When asked why he robbed banks, Sutton quickly responded, "Because that's where the money is."

Tina Renna: Resolution 2006-568 was regarding increasing some liability insurance.

With all of the recent employee law suits stemming from nepotism and harassment costing millions of dollars in the last few years – especially the Finelli case which the legal fees along will be about 2.5 million dollars - I asked if they could take note of my question and write a letter back informing me of how exactly liability insurance works. The county had to sue their insurance companies in order to have some coverage of the Fanelli suit because it wasn’t reported properly. How much does a 4 million dollar legal settlement actually cost the taxpayers? Is it like car insurance? If you total your car does your insurance premium go up – like getting points on your license? Etc.

(I eagerly await their response. But will not hold my breath.)

Frank Prather of Vauxhall: He said everyone in Union County received this newspaper – in which he held up the UC Directions – and Freeholder Mirabella eagerly answered that question with a resounding yes. Prather then told the board that no-one in Vauxhall received it – in which Mirabella looked concerned and made note of that complaint and will look into it immediately.

Prather than mentioned the Battle of Springfield and that Vauxhall was involved in that battle and would like to see a sign erected honoring the people of color who sacrificed and fought in that war. Freeholder Holmes mumbled something about it and Freeholder Debra Scanlon, who is from Union, had absolutely nothing to say.

There was much more. I didn’t plan on covering this meeting……I just wanted to document that citizens took the time to come out and denounce actions of a governing body that is out of control and the major media – The Star-Ledger wasn’t there and worse – they ran a propaganda piece for the government.

June 05, 2006

Read this closely and you'll hear slap happy polka music playing

The Union County Directions ‘Newsletter’ hit the mailboxes just in time for the Primary Election Day which is tomorrow. It’s the usual promotion of freeholders who are up for re-election on line B with a comic section on page 3 featuring Senator Raymond Lesniak ranting against the Elizabeth Board of Education. The one budget in Elizabeth that he doesn't have his greedy fingers on. While reading his article I could have sworn I heard Polka music being played on an accordion.

What makes Lesniak an authority on this subject I suppose is the fact that Lesniak was recently appointed by Senate President Richard Codey to serve on the Legislature’s Joint Committee of the Public Schools. It was just last year that the county of Union under the direction of Lesniak’s nephew, the appointed county manager, hired Richard Codey’s brother and padded his pension quite nicely.

Lesniak leads off his moral tirade, which is humorous considering the author and his partners in politics including a very close relationship with James McGreevey who is quite possibly the most corrupt and unethical governor in New Jersey history, by telling us ……“Willie Sutton being one of the most infamous criminals of the 20th Century, best known for daring robberies in the 1920’s and 1930’s and as a master of disguise. When asked why the robbed banks, Sutton quickly responded, “Because that’s where the money is.” The State of New Jersey today needs to curtail waste and mismanagement of its resources and the place to start is where most of the money goes – to fund public education.”

I’ve noticed this trend in New Jersey. It’s a public relations theme that’s been picked up from the cooked up need for a property tax convention. The unsavory political types insist a convention is the only way to curtail property taxes because the schools are out of control. Not the municipalities – which Democrats run most of in New Jersey, and not the County of Union which is the true New Jersey poster child for waste and mismanagement – and corruption - where Senator Lesniak’s nephew is the appointed county manager and all 9 freeholders are hand picked by Lesniak and Charlotte DeFalippo - who is also on the Union County Payroll with a salary of $132,910.

Lesniak goes on to rant about …..

1) School board members having relative(s) hired by the Board after they were elected.
542 Union County Employees have the same surnames as elected Democrat Officials. There is even a Lesniak on the list. We can't say for sure that all of these people are releated but we can say we have no way of knowing how many in-laws and cousins - people who have different surnames than elected officials are on the payroll. And just recently a Union County Employee, who was supported by the Lesniak Democrat machine, was elected to the Elizabeth School Board.

2) New Superintendent of schools permits his confidential secretary, and other employees to work on fundraising activities during school work hours, using school equipment and facilities, for the election campaign of Board members.

I guess nobody told Uncle Ray that the Union County Directions newsletter, the very paper he is photographed in along with this article, was produced by the county Public Information Department right down the hall from his nephew, the Union County Manager’s, office and that the postage and printing is paid for with tax dollars.

Lesniak goes on to state that nepotism policies must be made mandatory in Elizabeth schools. He’s concerned with school children being shortchanged by board members who look out for themselves and not for them.

Now can you hear that Slap Happy Polka music playing?

Also on the county payroll along with his nephew being the appointed Union County Manager, is an Alec Lesniak; the county manager’s mother-in-law who is Assemblywoman Linda Stender’s assistant; the county manager’s wife, who used to work in Senator Raymond Lesniak's Legislative office, recently left county employee for public employment in the town of Berkeley Heights; the county manager’s ex-wife and his mother (Lesniak’s sister) are on the Kean University Payroll; and there are two other nephews who are the county manager’s brothers also on public payrolls.

What Lesniak doesn’t tell every postal patron that received this publication, which was paid for with tax dollars, is that he himself made his fortune by billing poor school districts for legal work. In January 2006, according to then Hillside Board Member Sergio Bichao, “three years ago Mr. Lesniak’s firm billed our school board three times as much as was spent on legal fees prior to hiring him and after we fired him when I won a seat on the board.”

Lesniak is so concerned about the ‘poor’ school children why doesn’t he offer his services to poor districts pro bono instead of over billing them and getting rich?

Here are highlights of a New York Times article published in January 2006, about Lesniak who blasphemously calls himself a born again Christian:

Days before his announcement, Mr. McGreevey sought out Senator Lesniak and confided that he was gay - an admission the governor made to the senator even before he told his wife, Mr. Lesniak later recalled. And it was the counsel of Mr. Lesniak, a born-again Christian and a friend from Mr. McGreevey's days as the mayor of Woodbridge, upon which the governor relied while weighing whether to leave office....

In many instances, the contracts awarded to Mr. Lesniak's firm came after the senator or his allies offered campaign contributions or other political support to local officials who decide who will get the work, a fact that Mr. Lesniak acknowledges...

"I don't deny that," Mr. Lesniak said of connections between his support and contracts for his firm. "People say, 'You raise money for people who get elected and then they hire your law firm.' I go, 'Shocking, isn't it?' Are you supposed to hire people who donated to your opponent?"

By Mr. Lesniak's estimates, government work accounted for as much as a quarter of his firm's business in recent years. Currently, he said, it accounts for about 10 percent...

During the 1990's, when Mr. McGreevey was the mayor of Woodbridge, Weiner Lesniak collected more than $5 million in fees from the municipality. At the same time, the firm contributed about $41,800 to Mr. McGreevey's campaigns, according to public records....

"I operate within the law totally and exclusively," he said. "But I'm not going to unilaterally disarm myself or the people that I support."

A bachelor bon vivant who dispenses advice with the enthusiasm of a self-help guru, Mr. Lesniak, 59, cuts a distinctive figure in the Senate, with his gravelly baritone and his eagerness to seize the spotlight....

After leaving the Army in the late 1960's, he played accordion in a polka band, Jolly Rich and the Polka Stars, to help pay his way through Rutgers.

A framed copy of one of their albums, "Polkas With a Kick," is on a wall in his office. "Can you pick me out?" he asked, pointing to a band photo on the back cover. "It isn't easy." As if trying to read a born-again, polka-playing political boss would be.

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