January 18, 2007

The Laws of Union County - NOT

The Freeholders list their policy and procedures in a document called “The Laws of Union County”. In the preface it declares ….. Legislation must be more than mere chronological enactments reposing in the pages of old records. It must be available and logically arranged for convenient use and must be kept up-to-date. It was with thoughts such as these in mind that the Board of Chosen Freeholders ordered the following codification of its Administrative Code, general ordinances, resolutions, and policies in this Volume.

I’ve only referred to this document on two occasions and on both I found that the freeholders and county manager are blatantly breaking their own laws. How convenient for a government body to enact laws but put no one in charge of law enforcement.

What county police officer is going to walk into the freeholders VIP tent at a taxpayer funded concert and ask to see a permit for the alcohol and then fine the freeholders and county manager when they don’t have one?

The second time I referred to the so called Laws of Union County I was researching the employee portal to portal vehicle policy. Apparently there is no one that follows or enforces county vehicle policies.

Hear ye! Here Ye! It is recorded in the Laws of Union County, it shall be the policy of the County of Union that the use of a County-assigned vehicle by an employee shall be limited to official County business, and said vehicle shall not be used for personal purposes with the exception of authorized community use to and from the employee’s workstation.

Hear ye! Here Ye! It is recorded in the Laws of Union County; all County cars assigned to those individuals who reside outside of Union County will be restricted to Union County.

Well isn’t it ironic that Union County Counsel Robert Barry lives is Essex County? If his car is restricted to Union County how did he rack up 6,946 miles and 463.1 gallons of gas in 2006 by driving across the street to the Court House?

The county’s Building Facilities Management Director racked up 17,453 miles last year. I’m not aware of any county buildings or facilities that are located in Monmouth County where the director allegedly lives. This is the same employee who was renting a county house for several years for a few hundred dollars a month. He consumed 1,034.8 gallons of gas in 2006 and is rumored to be a very good bathroom and kitchen tiler.

The county manager racked up 27,247 miles and consumed 692.8 gallons of gas for his Suburban which, according to their advertisements, is designed for heavy hauling. This doesn’t add up. Many of the employee’s mileage and gas usage don’t add up. Perhaps they are justifying their personal vehicle use, which is against their policy, by claiming they are partially purchasing their own gas for personal use.

Last year I placed an Open Public Records Act request for credit card information. I was told that there were no county credit cards issued to employees. There are no payments to credit card companies in the check registries and I haven’t come across many reimbursements, as of yet, in employee’s personal expenses for gas. Ahhhh but that petty cash that fly’s around sure is a mystery.

Hear ye! Here Ye! It is recorded in the Laws of Union County, Vehicle Distribution within the law enforcement area shall be to: Sheriff: two; Undersheriff: two; two plus two usually equals four, but according to the county’s vehicle portal to portal list Sheriff Department personal have 6 vehicles assigned to them.

Last year Sheriff Froehlich used 17,339.00 miles and 1,140.4 gallons of gas and Undersheriff, Assemblyman Cryan used 22,821 and 1,194 gallons of gas. Undersheriff Green, who is Assemblyman Green’s son (there are 8 employee’s named Green on the county payroll), used 8,854.00 miles and 619.8 gallons of gas. Undersheriff Detrolio used 10,364 miles and 651.5 gallons of gas. Are undersheriff Cryan’s duties causing him to travel over twice as much than his fellow undersheriff’s?

All of the Sheriff Department management mentioned above combined salaries add up to over ½ million dollars a year. Is it too much to ask that someone, somewhere, within county government enforce county laws?

A model of shared services

The latest vehicle list I was given by the county listed Frank Dann being issued a vehicle even though he retired last year. I had noticed several months ago that Michael Murray who is the president of the supposed separate entity, the Union County Alliance, vehicle number had changed. I checked past vehicle lists and it showed that he was issued the newly retired Frank Dann’s vehicle. When I questioned whether Murray was given a new vehicle I was told that he wasn’t issued a new vehicle. See OPRA docs by clicking HERE

The latest portal to portal list shows Murray and Dann driving the same vehicle. Are they sharing it? Murray racked up 13,126 miles with 506.8 fuel usage. What makes this even more interesting is that this switch occurred sometime this past summer when Murray allegedly married the county manager’s ex-wife. This would make Murray weekday daddy to the county managers children. Weekday daddy's usually spend more time with children then their biological daddy's who would generally get to see their children maybe every other weekend. Therefore, weekday daddies are usually the ones driving step children to and from scool, activities, etc.

Hear ye! Here Ye! It is recorded in the Laws of Union County, Where determined by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to be appropriate, economy cars will be utilized by the County of Union.

The Crown Victoria is a full size car and represents the top-of-the-line sedan in the Ford lineup. There are 70 portal to portal vehicles issued to employees and no economy cars are on the list. The other models issued are: Suburban 4WD, Dodge Stratus, Explorer XLT, Durango, Intrepid, Blazer LS, Jimmy 4X4, Jeep Cherokee, 2500 Pickup, Sierra Pickup;

The Prosecutors office is excluded from having the public review their vehicle list. It is rumored that there is wide-spread abuses in the vehicle policy. With all the money the taxpayers pay for county law enforcement, there is no one to enforce the Laws of Union County.

More irony:

Three Runnels Hospital employees have portal to portal vehicles and the Director, Joseph Sharpe, isn’t one of them.

In sharp contrast to the “Laws of Union County” Federal government vehicle policy is strictly overseen and enforced. Federal employees are responsible for paying for their own gas between their residence and place of work. Only Federal employees are allowed in Federal vehicles. They are not allowed to drop their kids off at school or stop at the store for a gallon of milk on the way home. If caught the Federal employee is fired immediately.

Heads up for 2006 tax returns!

According to a new IRS policy which limits vehicles for which cents-per-mile may be used to value personal use. When an employer provides an employee with a vehicle that is available for personal use, the value of such use is includable in the employee’s wages. The simplest cents-per-mile valuation method may be used only for vehicles not exceeding a certain value. The IRS has now announced that for new vehicles placed in service in 2006; this value is $15,000 for a passenger automobile and $16,400 for a truck or van. Note: Special rules apply for firms with fleets of 20 or more vehicles.

For instance the appointed county manager, who is Senator Raymond Lesniak’s nephew will have to claim an additional $16,400 of income on his Federal Tax returns. That’s in addition to his $157,530 county salary (he is currently the second highest paid county administrator in the state behind Camden by just $669) and his $6,000 state salary for being an Advisor to Senator Scaturi.

Which makes George Devanney a double-dipping pension padder just like county employee Assemblywoman Linda Stender the spender. Actually, Devanney’s wife is also in the pension system at least once. Therefore his family will be receiving, at the very least, a triple dipper pension.

Senator Raymond Lesniak has been publicly demanding that Boards of Education make neoptism policies mandatory. Is it too much for the taxpayers to ask of Lesniaks nephew that he drive his family around in his own vehicle?

If you suspect a county employee isn’t reporting his vehicle as income you can send an anonymous tip to:
Internal Revenue Service
Information Referral
Fresno, CA 93888

View the Laws of Union County by clicking HERE

View county employee vehcile list by clicking HERE