April 29, 2008

Improvement Authority Legal Bills Sought


Contact Tina Renna, President
Union County Watchdog Association
Phone: 908-709-0530
Email: tinarenna@unioncountywatchdog.org

Walter Lauers, esq.
Phone: 908.453.2147
Email: wluers@luerslaw.com


The Union County Watchdog (“UCWA”) announced today that it has retained attorney Walter Lauers, to file a complaint with the states Government Records Council against the Union County Improvement Authority (“UCIA”).

This action has been brought because the Records Custodian of the UCIA, Charlotte DeFilippo who is the Executive Director of the UCIA as well as the Chairman of the Union County Democratic Committee, has violated the Open Public Records Act (“OPRA”) by redacting nearly all of the information in law firm invoices totaling $64,624.96 for UCIA’s legal work and by not providing a specific, legal basis for doing so.

The Union County Watchdog Association routinely obtains the UCIA’s bills lists and posts them on their website for free public access. “We ordinarily don’t ask to review legal bills, there are so many of them, but these two submitted at the end of the year caught my eye” said Tina Renna, president of the UCWA. “The amounts $28,529.66 and $36,095.30 respectively for a total of $64,624.96 seemed rather high to be marked “general file” and not assigned to a specific UCIA project.”

“Given the knowledge that the taxpayers are footing the bill for DeFilippo’s lawsuit, which was brought by a county employee who alleges DeFilippo routinely intermingles her political business as the Union County Democratic Chairman (She prefers to be called Chairman) with the management of county government, I thought a closer look at these legal bills was in order” Renna explained.

Records obtained from the UCIA through the Open Public Records Act show that the law firm DeCotiis, FiztPatrick, Cole & Wisler was paid $1,306,634.35 in 2007 and $1,085,552.68 in 2006. This includes $41,879.40 to defend Charlotte DeFilippo in the employee lawsuit which is ongoing.


On March 10, 2008, the Union County Watchdog Association, acting through its President Tina Renna, requested certain legal bills from a UCIA law firm, DeCotiis, FiztPatrick, Cole & Wisler. On March 17, 2008, the UCIA records custodian responded to the request, and provided two heavily redacted invoices. Specifically, the “Date,” “Description,” and “Hours” fields were completely blotted out. Other information may have been blotted out too, but that is impossible to determine. In a rather obvious violation of OPRA, the Records Custodian did not say why the records were redacted, she merely stated that “You will note that information has been redacted.”

Presumably, if the UCIA had given a specific, legal reason for its redactions, it would claim that such information was redacted pursuant to the attorney-client privilege exception in OPRA.

Only communications between a lawyer and client “in the course of the relationship and in professional confidence, are privileged[.]” N.J.S.A. 2A:84A-20. The privilege is limited to “those situations in which lawful legal advice is the object of the relationship.” In re Gonnella, 283 N.J. Super. 509, 512, 570 A.2d 53, 54 (Law Div. 1989). Therefore, not every communication between a lawyer and her client is privileged; rather, only those communications that are in confidence and where lawful legal advice is given.

Under New Jersey law, “the attorney-client privilege . . . does not apply to insulate billings from disclosure.” Hunterdon County Policeman’s Benevolent Association Local 188 v. Township of Franklin, 286 N.J. Super. 389, 394, 669 A.2d 299, 302 (App. Div. 1996) (affirming trial court’s holding that billing records are not privileged and are, therefore, accessible under former Right-to-Know law). Rather, legal fee invoices are only privileged if they reveal client secrets or would reveal strategy. Mundane statements that appear in typical invoices, such as “conference call with client” or “review and digest Smith deposition” are not privileged. “In the experience of this court, [attorney billings] will contain a few word description of the general category of the work performed, the number of hours required to perform the work, the date of the performance, and the total cost to the client.” Id. (quoting lower court). In addition, no privilege would attach to the dates on which work occurred, who performed them, or the time spent on those tasks.

Therefore, the Records Custodian violated OPRA because she did not give a specific, legal basis for redacting the records she produced. In addition, assuming that the basis for the redaction is the attorney-client privilege, that privilege does not apply to legal billings unless they reveal client secrets or reveal legal advice or strategy. Therefore, we request that the GRC review the redacted documents in camera to determine whether the redactions were proper.

Redacted Bills HERE

Travisano lawsuit HERE

Very interesting inside view of the players in the Union County Courthouse View Travisano change of venue request HERE

April 26, 2008



A press release popped up about two weeks ago on the Union County Government’s website that has confirmed my belief that there are just some people in this world that one can always count on to be consistent and predictable. I am of course referring to the all Democrat Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders and George Devanney, our beloved County Manager. The press release is about the new and improved Musicfest 2008 taking place in September at Nomahegan Park in Cranford.

I say new and improved because this year’s invasion of a quiet residential neighborhood will not only feature a repeat of last years Rock On!! Walkathon but a 5K Rock N’ Run, a third stage is being added for your musical pleasure and the event will take place on Friday night as well as the traditional Saturday from dawn till whenever. You have to hand it to these guys they just won’t give up a great free reelection campaign event when they see one.

I am sure that the local residents can hardly contain their enthusiasm at the prospect of having cars blocking their driveways on narrow residential streets for two days and nights instead of the usual one on a lovely fall weekend. And even better yet excitingly anticipating the possibility of finding some devoted concert attendee camping out under the shrubbery on a finely manicured front lawn because they didn’t want to spring for a hotel room at the Springfield Holiday Inn and loose their much coveted parking space.

This year the walkathon and newly added 5K run will again raise money for the Love Hope and Strength Foundation, “Nephew George’s” favorite charity, and it looks like Devanney will once again benefit with an opportunity to travel to the far reaches of the globe. Last year he was with the help of sponsors, able to climb with his “teen idols” to the Mount Everest Base Camp in Nepal this year they will be sending him off to Machu Piccu in Peru. (Inquiring minds can check it out here for details http://www.perurocks.org/ and click trekkers, you will find George there).

Part of the proceeds raised from the walk will be sent off to Peru but at least the Freeholder Board wised up this year and the second charity that will benefit is The Valerie Fund; a venerable New Jersey organization that supports children stricken with cancer and blood disorders and their families. "Atta Boys" go to the board for making a good choice this time around and keeping at least part of the money here in the states.

Last year you will recall they turned over thousands of dollars to an organization that in essence was a group that lobbied for our tax dollars to be spent on embryonic stem cell research. The ill fated effort was defeated at the polls last election day when wise NJ voters decided that the state shouldn’t plunge deeper in debt by pursuing this controversial science.

What looks like a serious effort to legitimize the two day campaign event the Freeholders have managed to suck Overlook Hospital into the mix as their main sponsor. Hopefully the hospital hasn’t dug too deep into their pockets to lend financial support to recreate “Woodstock in Cranford” as even a few grand could go toward a charity care bill for someone who cannot afford health insurance.

The Freeholders claim that they are merely giving the taxpayers what they want and as a side bonus they are showcasing Union County and contributing to the local economy as they say concert goers are likely to shop and eat dinner in downtown Cranford.

They also point out that last year the event drew 50,000 attendees and this year even more are expected to come making Musicfest one of the fastest growing events of this type in NJ. The press release encourages that lawn chairs, blankets and picnic baskets be brought along but what the heck why doesn’t the “Gang of Nine” just go for it and erect a tent-city on the campus of Union County College.

Could this be Saturday Morning at 'WOODSTOCK IN CRANFORD' ?

April 23, 2008

County can’t spin a live performance

On January 31, 2007 the Union County Watchdog Association announced that it will be posting complete video coverage of Union County Freeholder’s meetings on its website. A press release stated: “Union County government accounts for 1/4 of our property tax bills and constituents have a right to see and hear what goes on during local government meetings,” said Tina Renna, president of Union County Watchdog Association.

In January 2008 we announced that we would be lobbying towns to show freeholder meetings on their local cable access channels. The freeholders stopped distributing meetings to towns a few years ago. We have been very successful and most cable viewers can now access freeholder meetings on at least one channel.

Our website has always been a model of which we would hope that county government would want to emulate. When we started obtaining public records and posting them on the Internet the county did not post any public documents on their taxpayer funded site. The county now posts their meeting minutes and past meeting agendas on their site.

Big whop-de-do and I’ll tell you and show you why I believe that.

The county controls what is recorded in their meeting minutes. The last meeting I tagged for our Veotag account, a video enhancement service, was a good example of how the county twists words made by residents who are critical of them. As with everything we post on our website, it is hoped that the county would get the message and use their million dollar public information department and post this information themselves. This will never happen because even if they spent a hundred million dollars on public information they can never spin a live performance.

Here is two examples how the county is dis-informing the public with their meeting minutes.

Union County Freeholder meeting March 13, 2008:
The official meeting minutes state: Tina Renna, Cranford, New Jersey, does not support the idea of the Board sponsoring and attending the African Heritage Parade and other Parades. She also commented on the Presentation to Mr. Lynch and said that although he is a great guy, he should not be honored at Freeholder Meetings.


The official meeting minutes state: Tina Renna, Cranford, stated that she is the President of the Union County Watchdog Association and commented about the audio equipment for Freeholder Meetings, she spoke about the proposed budget and quoted County Manager Devanney who stated that the increased budget is due to mandated expenses, such as health insurance, pensions and increase in salaries for the Union County Sheriff and Police Departments.


April 20, 2008

Indictments are my end game

I receive anonymous mail often which obviously comes from people on the inside of the Democrat machine. I appreciate the tips, but don’t think this is enough to bring indictments. You need to find the courage to trust the State’s Attorney General’s office and not only send them this info, but call them and give your name in complete anonymity.

If you’ve wondered why your information about criminal activity doesn’t appear on this blog it’s because this blog isn’t my end game. Posting this information would be more helpful to the criminals than it would be to law enforcement. Don’t expect me to take your tips about criminal activity and go poking around into documents either. I accept that I am an amature. Telling them what we’re looking at will only set the paper shredders on overdrive.

These tips have to be followed-up with information. Information that can only come from the person on the inside, sure I pass the info you send me on to the State and Federal Attorney Generals’ office, but I doubt its much help.

You also have to remember that corruption is rampant across this state. If we want law enforcement to spend their precious resources to clean up Union County Government than we have to earn their attention. Chris Christie has a great track record for convictions, but that is more likely do to his office going after strong cases that he can win. That takes people on the inside that are willing to help. Neither attorney generals office has unlimited resources.

These days I think our best bet for indictments in Union County will be from the State Attorney General’s office. I implore you to trust the *State’s Attorney General’s office. If you really want to clean up Union County government, you’ve got to step up and trust law enforcement with your tips about what’s going on behind the administration buildings doors and know that they will protect you.

And you – yeah you with the smirk on your face, you think you’re an insider and your safe. I firmly believe that you have to watch how people treat others, because sooner or later they are going to treat you the same way. I don’t care if you think you're the nephew’s best friend, how stupid you are to think that a man with the morals of a flea that can leave his pregnant wife and young children could ever remain loyal to you. Look at the people who came before you and protect yourself.

*Note that I am not telling you to trust the Union County Prosecutor’s Office.

If you suspect criminal activity in Union County Government please contact:

NJ State Attorney Generals Office
Detective John Pizzuro
(609) 984-7032

April 15, 2008

Union County Government & Illegal Immigration

Submitted by:
Joseph P. Doherty
Elizabeth, New Jersey

On April 10, I appeared before the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders to express my opinion on the subject of Union County Government and its lack of involvement in the illegal immigration crisis. Unfortunately, I was not able to deliver the entire text of my prepared statement, as the Board Chairman claimed I had exhausted my five minutes of "public comment" time. I did not get any satisfaction when I wondered aloud..."by whose watch?" The following is the complete thrust of my remarks:

I would like to preface my remarks by saying that my comments are critical of county government and may be considered "offensive" to the delicate sensibilities of some listeners.

As a concerned citizen I would like to know what this Board, the Prosecutor's Office, the sheriff's Department and the County Police are doing to address the illegal alien crisis that is impacting the quality-of-life in this city (Elizabeth), county, state and nation. Allow me to answer my own inquiry....little, if anything, and not enough! It is a well-known fact that this issue has reached the critical stage and the majority of American citizens want a comprehensive immigration reform initiative that includes border security, no amnesty and an aggressive campaign against the illegal interlopers who plot, plan, scheme and scam their way into this country, using forged documents and stealing the identities of American citizens in the process. The smuggling of people, weapons and drugs into America has reached epidemic proportions. The violence associated with such activity is staggering! Murderous cross-border drug wars have engulfed once-peaceful sleepy towns, turning them into killing fields and are spreading throughout the land at an alarming rate. While the local scene in Union County has yet to rise to the level of murder and mayhem I just described, it has the potential to do so, as we are plagued with gang and drug-related violence on an almost daily basis. Take Elizabeth, it is a prime example of a dying city, that despite the political propaganda spouted by its defenders to the contrary, has been transformed from a once-upon-a-time typical American city into a seedy, shabby, trashy environment, thanks in part to the scourge of illegal immigration. Let us not, however, ignore the generous contributions of that certain home-grown element amongst us who also bear a huge responsibility for this disgraceful destruction and downfall of a once-clean and wholesome city.

Let me cite just one local example of the negativity involved as it pertains to the abuse of county property. Some people may regard this example as trivial, irrelevant and even silly, but in fact, it is a vital snapshot of a much broader picture. Warinanco Park, a tax-payer funded facility is being transformed from a reasonably well-maintained facility into an abused stomping ground by hordes of soccer players, many of whom are, I suspect, much like the congregating day laborers we see and hear so much about, of questionable legal residency. On any given weekend hundreds running, romping, stomping and scampering feet scar the landscape, laying waste to everything in their path. They pick their spots, set up shop and proceed to destroy public property with impunity, content in the knowledge that they will not be challenged by any authority. In short, they come, they see, they conquer! Once pleasant and serene fields of green are now "brown and bald" as a result of this relentless onslaught. Hastily constructed goal posts dot the landscape, cutting across the domain of once-manicured baseball fields, resulting in a sloppy, shabby, ghetto-like atmosphere. allowing such conditions to take root, flourish and become accepted routine is just another example of the lunacy that reigns supreme in our politically-correct "New America," where illegal alien invaders are treated with a "DO NOT DISTURB" attitude by public officials and law enforcement agencies, who, by their failure to act for the common good, are granting rights and privileges to foreign nationals that are generally reserved for American citizens. Such outrageous conduct poses a potential threat to our national security, while assaulting our sovereignty, ignoring the rule of law and abusing the American values of honesty and fair play. By not acting, the peoples' elected representatives, along with bureaucratic civil servants and "selective" law enforcement officials are lending credence and legitimacy to the presence of foreign feet on American soil. The day I saw a county police officer standing on the sidelines watching a soccer game with his hands in his pockets and cheering, while a cast of questionable characters ran circles around him, I knew we had gone from the ridiculous to the sublime on the illegal immigration issue.

It is time for the mute and mummy-like amongst us to rise up and demand action on this issue. It is time to cast off the yoke of political-correctness, servitude and repression and put a stop to this foreign free-for-all! Do not allow the white flag of surrender to be raised over Warinanco Park or any other part of Union County! Stop embracing a sanctuary-like philosophy! Help enforce immigration laws! I may be old-fashioned and naive and in some ways even corny, but I still believe that politicians are elected by the citizenry to represent the people and conduct the peoples' business in a manner consistent with the wishes and best interest of their constituents, and that discharging those responsibilities in an honest, forthright manner is paramount, and must trump all other conditions and influences that might bring pressure to bear to do otherwise.

In conclusion, may I be so bold as to say that if this Board spent just a fraction of the time on the illegal immigration issue as they do on figuring out ways to raise taxes, Union County might be a better place.

P.S. Why is the Warinanco Park "water works" project taking so long to complete?

NOTE: The above commentary may be considered somewhat lengthy by some standards, but in order to get the "full meaning and flavor" of the words and appreciate the emotional passion and impact of same, one must deliver them in an inflective manner, not in a "rapid fire" voice that is more like hurry up and "beat the clock." While the Board Chairman exercised his right to restrict my comments, it is my opinion that he did so because he heard enough truth for one evening and did not want to hear anymore. His utterance of a few Spanish words to me as I prepared to leave the podium was an obvious "dig" and a feeble attempt to ridicule an American citizen who was exercising his right to free speech and expression, as granted by God and the founding fathers of this great land. A Board member also displayed contempt for my presentation by laughing as I neared the exit door. Such a public display of mocking ignorance and arrogance directed towards a concerned citizen with a legitimate complaint is a prime example of a political coward, who lacks the courage to confront an "adversary" to his face, opting instead to snicker and sneer when his back is turned.

This one-party lock on the Board of Freeholders has dealt a death blow to true democratic representation and produced a breed of politician that stifles dissent and is not responsive to the will of the people.

April 13, 2008

nonpartisan, nonpartizan (free from party affiliation or bias)

When are nonpartisan elections really nonpartisan?

About 85 of New Jersey’s 566 municipalities have what is known as the nonpartisan system of local government and most hold their elections in the spring rather than in November. The municipalities range in size from large like the City of Newark to small as is the case of Hillside here in Union County. What makes their elections nonpartisan is that the candidates do not declare or do not formally have a political party affiliation. Though one can say that traditional party politics has been officially banded from the electoral process in these communities the reality of the situation is that partisan politics is actually alive and quite well.

In some towns it is not a secret which candidates are members of and supported by which party; these are “shadow organizations” of Democrats, Republicans and independents who support opposing candidates or slates of candidates. Sometimes coalition slates of candidates come together when there is a specific hot issue that is polarizing the community however even without Democratic and Republican Party lines on the ballot the level of squabbling can still be excessive. Dr. Ray Bodner, professor emeritus of political science at Rutgers, said in a 1993 NY Times article that nonpartisan elections were the byproduct of a political reform movement that appeared on the national scene in about 1900 as a response to rampant political corruption. Further, Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson were among those who sought ways to make the electoral process more “open and honest”, terms we still hear frequently today.

A definite point of interest regarding nonpartisan towns is that Republican and Democratic county organizations may not contribute to those local races however individual political clubs can make such contributions. And in Union County’s own “nonpartisan” Hillside Township contribute they do based on filings with NJ Elec.

The 2007 elections in nonpartisan Hillside had no less than 14 residents filing to be on the ballot competing for council seats representing various wards. Three incumbents formed a Joint Candidate Committee shown as – CTE Brewer Stroud & Kulish with the treasurer being one Rosemary McClave. Though the Hillside Council has been under Democratic control for a number of years, one name on the slate of incumbents jumped out, John G. Kulish.

The following is taken directly from a 2006 newspaper article quoting Councilman John Kulish regarding the discord between Hillside’s mayor and the council: Kulish stressed that residents are not complaining about the mayor, but that the criticism is coming from people in town hall."A recall is normal when there's friction between the mayor and departments, or when a mayor is performing what she feels are her duties and rights and someone disagrees," said Kulish, the only member of the GOP on the council. "The only option is, don't vote her in or have a recall.""But they don't tell me anything," Kulish added. "I'm a Republican."Published in the Star-Ledger, Sunday, February 12, 2006, page 39.

Kulish and his running mates showed total receipts of $25,717.80 of both “In-Kind” and Monetary Contributions coming from the Hillside Democratic Campaign Committee and the 20th Legislative District Committee, both by the way show the same Virginia Street address. The address is also listed for the CTE Brewer Stroud & Kulish committee and unsurprisingly Rosemary McClave is also listed as the treasurer of the Hillside Democratic Committee.

Mr. Kulish has what appears to be a distinguished career in public service; the following is taken directly from the Hillside Township website:

3rd Ward Council

John G. Kulish

John has been a resident of Hillside for 53 years. John has been a former Hillside Township Mayor in addition in being a former municipal clerk. He has been a past president of both the Hillside Board of Education and the Hillside Board of Health. John has served Hillside as Commissioner of the Police, Fire, Recreation, and Finance Departments. Additionally he has been a commissioner of the Joint Meeting of Essex and Union Counties; he presently serves as a commissioner of the Union County Utilities Authority

However the following appointment from the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders has been omitted from that bio:

60-2004 FREEHOLDER SULLIVAN, appointing the following individuals as
to serve on the Union County Open Space, Recreation and Historic
Trust Fund Public Advisory Committee:
John Kulish, Elected Official

George Jorn, Elected Official (Democrat)
1/1/05 to 12/31/07.

And most recently:

2008-47 CHAIRMAN ESTRADA, appointing the following as members to the Open
Recreation and Historic Preservation Trust Fund Public Advisory
January 1, 2006 through December 31, 2008: Environmental: James
Environmental: Joseph Spatola; Historic: Michael Yesenko; Labor: John
Business: Ralph Salermo; Education: Dr. Frank Deo; and January 1,
2008 through
December 31, 2010: Elected Republican Official: John Kulish;
Elected Democrat
Official: Brenda Restivo; Public Member: Clarence
Cunningham; Public Member:
Oscar Ocasio; Public Member: Ruby Green; Public
Member: Pete Corvelli, Jr.

Click here for freeholder minutes

What a Sham!!!!

nonpartisan, nonpartizan (free from party affiliation or bias)

Mr. Kulish’s appointment by the Freeholders to the Open Space, Recreation and Historic Preservation Trust Fund Committee is outrageous, he is a NOT an Elected Republican Official, he is an elected official to a nonpartisan governing body, so it would appear that he does NOT fill the bill even if his voter registration is Republican.

Further, he was elected on a slate whose campaign has been totally funded by Union County Democrats to include state legislators and coincidently the Hillside Democratic Committee just so happens to have one vacancy and it is not at all a surprise that it is for a male committee member in his, Kulish’s, ward/district.

It would seem that Mr. Kulish being a Republican is an absolute joke.

I will not allow them to lie to the public without speaking out

From: Nicole Dirado [mailto:ntedeschi@ucnj.org]
Sent: Friday, April 11, 2008 2:09 PM
To: tinarenna@unioncountywatchdog.org
Subject: RE: Open Space

Pursuant to OPRA, kindly submit a request form for the audit report which you have requested below. Thank you.

-----Original Message-----
From: tinarenna@unioncountywatchdog.org [mailto:tinarenna@unioncountywatchdog.org]
Sent: Friday, April 11, 2008 11:49 AM
To: Nicole Dirado
Cc: union@starledger.com; jcasiano@starledger.com; dwalsh@starledger.com; union@njnpublishing.com; editor@goleader.com; press@goleader.com; subnews@njnpublishing.com; letters@thnt.com; ipeditors@njnpublishing.com; cnletter@c-n.com; editorial@thelocalsource.com; Jersey@nytimes.com; letters@thealternativepress.com
Subject: Re: Open Space

Dear Mrs. Dirado,

Please forward this to your freeholder board:

My comments were in response to Freeholder Chairman Angel Estrada's comments to John Bury who inquired, forgive me for not recalling the exact words "what has the open space trust fund accomplished to date". This is the second meeting where Mr. Bury asked this question and Freeholder Estrada replied ,if not word for word than it was implied, “I will be happy to get you that information”.

I am requesting Freeholder Estrada hold true to his offer to Mr. Bury. Asking me to now place an official OPRA request in which I now have to fish for this information is disingenuous and business as usual for a one party ruled freeholder board who has proven time and again that it answers to no tax-payer.

I respectfully request that Freeholder Estrada keep his word and not waste any more of my or Mr. Bury's time. Since this fund has spent millions of tax-dollars, as well as created dozens of new county jobs, there should be some form of audit that accounts for every dollar. As to how much came in, and how much went out, how much debt has been incurred and how Green Acres funds intermingle with the funds expenditures.

I refuse to waste my time on playing these unprofessional if not outright childish games in my quest for how approximately ¼ of county taxpayers property taxes are spent. I am also tired of the outright lies that are told during freeholder closing comments to dispel any questions the public asked during their alloted 5 minutes speaking time. Freeholder Sullivan surely remembers every election where at least one candidate not on the power broker appointed Democrat party line suggests that this fund be put on hiatus as well as the complaints that this fund is being used for brick and mortar projects rather than open space. There has been numerous letters to the editor written about this as well as public comment during freeholder meetings. There has also been numerous editorials written about such things as using this fund to purchase the Arts Center as well as to hire employees is not in keeping with the meaning of the fund.

If there is no documentation to which Freeholder Estrada eluded to than that would be an answer as well. More lies and smoke and mirrors, I've come to expect nothing better of this freeholder board and I will not allow them to lie to the public without speaking out.


Tina Renna
Union County Watchdog Association, Inc.
cc: UCWA Member list
------Original Mail------

From: "Nicole Dirado"

To: "Tina Renna" ,


Sent: Fri, 11 Apr 2008 10:04:17 -0400

Subject: Open Space
Mrs. Renna:

As per your comments last night, kindly submit an OPRA request for the

documents you seek relative to the Trust Fund.

April 12, 2008

The water expert

Submitted by:
Anthony Gencarelli
N.J Licensed Professional Engineer

It is with both disgust and dismay that I read the main headline story in the Union County Section of the April 6, 2007 Sunday Star Ledger. I was truly astounded how a newspaper that is supposed to provide unbiased information as a public service could publish such a once sided and, in my opinion, misleading article.

The article implies that the Rahway/United Water privatization deal has been benefited the City’s ratepayers. This claim has certainly been made publicly by Mayor Kennedy and his administration, but based on my investigations, nothing could be further from the truth. I have a copy of the privatization contract that I am willing to share with anyone interested. You don’t have to be a lawyer to understand from reading this contract that the citizens of Rahway are being taken for a ride and not a pleasant one. Also, the unwillingness or inability on the City’s part to provide billing information that I requested under OPRA also speaks volumes about this deal. Despite their recalcitrance in providing the requested information, I was able to review the City’s bills list which clearly document that United Water is receiving payment for a lot more then indicated by their contract. These are “extras” that the City fails to consider in their financial analysis of the benefit of the privatization contract. Anyone who takes the time to investigate the privatization deal for Rahway’s public water supply will have to conclude that it has actually been more expensive then it would have been to continue operating as a public utility.

Is it really believable that Mayor Kennedy is traveling oversees on this own dime to profess the benefits of privatization and for no personal gain? How many of you spend your own time and money so that corporations that you have absolutely no financial interest in or connection with can profit? Is there anyone besides me who finds it interesting that Mayor Kennedy draws an annual salary of over $60,000 from the City of Rahway, but is willing to incur travel expenses and spend his own time promoting privatization overseas without any compensation? If he is such a generous guy and so interested in doing what’s right for the public, why doesn’t he serve as Mayor of Rahway for $1.00 per year? Why doesn’t he volunteer his time for the benefit of U.S. citizens? Governor Corzine serves as Governor for $1.00 per year. Clearly privatization firms profit by taking over public utilities. There is something about this that just doesn’t seem right.

The most insulting remark in that article is where it says “Kennedy is happy that he’s able to see so many parts of the work and help people solve their water and waste problems.” If you want to learn about people helping others solve their water supply problems go to the Web site for “Water For People” at www.waterforpeople.org. There are people that are donating time and money to help the less fortunate have safe drinking water. Those are the real heroes.

If you would like to learn more about the Rahway Water privatization, or are interested in the supporting documents for my conclusions, please contact me at Gencare_97@yahoo.com.