July 21, 2006

Dontcha Wish Your Girlfriend Was Hot Like Me?
Freeholder in jealous workplace triangle: lawsuit

Are you young and sexy? Than don’t apply for a job with the county’s LINCS program where the boss is allegedly the jealous lover of a married freeholder!

Applicants at least 70 years old, and live out of county, need only apply. And being related to a freeholder or another county politician is also a plus.

In documents obtained using the Open Public Records Act, the Union County Watchdog Association has learned that a law suit was filed in Superior Court of Passaic County by a perspective county employee way back on January 26, 2005.

The UCWA found out about this suit only because it filed a complaint with the Government Records Council and the County Prosecutor's Office charging that the county routinely excessively redacts their executive meeting minutes.

Executive Session Minutes dated February 10, 2005 obtained by the UCWA had an item which only stated that a redaction was due to attorney-client privilege. The minutes the county turned into the GRC in response to our complaint showed: Alyssa Scala v. The County of Union, v. Rick Proctor, v. Denise Santiago.

Intrigued by a freeholder as well as a county employee being named in a law suit which apparently the county went to pains of keeping out of the public eye, the UCWA figured it had better keep digging.

Dig it

Alyssa D. Scala alleges in her complaint:

In July 2003, Ms. Scala worked for the Township of Union with the title of Health Educator/Risk Communicator for the Union County LINCS. In her position Ms. Scala trained local emergency responders to protect themselves from, and recognize the signs of, terrorist attacks using biological and chemical agents.

The Union County LINCS is a central network of health departments designed to protect the public and first responders from terrorist attacks. The program is funded by a Federal grant.

The county takes over LINCS

In March 2004, the county began negotiating with the Township of Union and the state of New Jersey to assume all control of the LINCS that was being administered by the town.

At several meetings Freeholder Rick Proctor and Denise Santiago told employees that they would keep together the entire LINCS team and offer employment with the county to all LINCS team members. (There is no specification of physical attributes or age restrictions but plantiffs had to reside in Union County.) Ms. Scala relocated from her home of Wayne in Passaic County to a $1,400 a month rental in Westfield on July 16, 2004.

The State approved the county’s takeover of LINCS on August 13, 2004.

The young and sexy need not apply

On August 17, 2004 Ms. Scala received a letter from the county informing her that she would not be hired.

Ms. Scala alleges that she asked Denise Santiago why she wasn’t being hired as promised. In response, Santiago informed Scala that she wasn’t hired due to an administrative decision to hire a 10-hour-per-week Health Educator/Risk Communicator for the LINCS program. Instead of hiring Scala the county filled the position with Lorraine Kowalski, a 70-year old resident of Morris County.

There are two other Kowalski’s on the county payroll:
Freeholder B.J. Kowalski, and
John Kowalski, Public Safety

As the county turns

Scala alleges in her complaint that she later learned that the county did not hire her because Santiago viewed her as a rival for the affections of Freeholder Rick Proctor. Freeholder Proctor was intimately involved not only with Santiago but with the LINCS takeover negotiations.

Scala further alleges that it is an open secret that Defendant Denise Santiago and Defendant Rick Proctor have and/or had an ongoing romantic relationship that remains secret due to the Defendant Rick Proctor’s marriage to another woman.

The allegations continue by Scala… Defendant Denise Santiago expressed her sexual jealousy of Plaintiff by telling others that, among other things, Defendant Rick Proctor looked suggestively at Plaintiff and that Santiago envied Plaintiff’s youth and physical attributes.

Scala who was 33-years old when she applied for the position, alleges that despite her qualifications for the position she was denied employment by the county and soon afterward the county hired a 70-year old woman who Denise Santiago did not view as a sexual rival for the attention of Freeholder Rick Proctor.

The potential bill this drama will cost the taxpayers:

County resolutions show that $25,000 has been appropriated for this suit to date.

Scala seeks compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorney’s fees, costs of suit, pre- and post-judgment interest, all other relief that the Court deems equitable and just.

Scala, you go girl!

View the complaint