I just learned today that Roy Rogers, the Gloucester Township Housing Authority's (GTHA) former director, filed a lawsuit against the Authority earlier this year alleging that he was improperly fired on February 27, 2013 and that he "was terminated for his objection to unethical GTHA policies and actions." The lawsuit is on-line here.
The most specific allegations start on page 9 and include charges that Mayor David Mayer "became visibly angry and frustrated" when Rogers objected to awarding a contract for a development project to a person who did not submit a bid. He also charged that he upset Township officials when he "refused to request campaign donations at fundraisers from private contractors for GTHA commissioners and Township officials and candidates." He also claimed that he verbally objected to a land transfer made by GTHA Commissioner Cindy Carlamere and her husband, who is Gloucester Township Attorney David Carlamere, stating that it was "unethical and procedurally improper."
On August 29, 2014, I blogged an entry entitled "Thirteen recent ethics cases against Perth Amboy school board members" concerning several school ethics matters filed by former Perth Amboy school superintendent Janine Walker Caffrey and former elementary school principal Alvaro J. Cores against members of the Board of Education.
In my blog, I noted that there were two other ethics matters, bearing Case Nos. ECC-11709-13 and ECC-00806-14 that had been " withdrawn by agreement of all parties in anticipation of settlement or mediation." I promised to submit an additional OPRA request for records pertaining to those two cases.
State Open Government Activist is 2014 FOI Hall of Famer
Well known for his public advocacy and a frequent panelist and speaker throughout New Jersey, John Paff this year becomes the 15th inductee into the State Open Government Freedom of Information Hall of Fame. Known as the “Heroes of the Fifty States,” the joint initiative of the National Freedom of Information Coalition (NFOIC) and the Society of Professional Journalists recognizes the recipient’s “long and steady effort to preserve and protect the free flow of information about state and local government that is vital to the public in a democracy.” Formal induction takes place on October 24 at the 2014 NFOIC Freedom of Information Summit in St. Petersburg, Florida.
The recent news that the ISIS terror group has among its ranks Americans and citizens from other western nations forces two questions to be asked: What would make an individual join a terrorist group and what do these groups look for in a recruit? While I believe that the answers vary, the main twelve reasons, in my view, are the following that a terrorist group would look for:
- A person who has a sense of emptiness, who is going through a challenging time and has a yearning to find meaning in his or her life.
On August 5, 2014, West Berlin attorney Donald M. Doherty, Jr. filed an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) lawsuit on my behalf against Gloucester Township (Camden County). The lawsuit, John Paff v. Township and Gloucester and Rosemary DiJosie, Township Clerk, Docket No. CAM-L-3147-14 is on-line here.
The lawsuit's basis is a tip from an informant that those in power in Gloucester Township government sought to remove a high-ranking employee from his position so that they could give the job to another person who was politically connected and favored. In order to prod the employee into leaving his position, those holding political sway allegedly arranged for the employee to be caught doing something illegal and then used a threat of arrest and prosecution to coerce him into resigning.
While our property taxes and debt climb, the Mercer County freeholders are focused on other things. What could be more important than making living here more affordable? Plastic shopping bags and new taxes.
Our freeholders want to levy a 5-cent per bag tax on each plastic shopping bag used here in Mercer County. First, I consider it a waste of time, when there are more important things to be done. Second, let the actual stores worry about their shopping bags. The freeholders should mind their own business; the stores can charge a fee if they deem it necessary. Most grocery stores already sell reusable shopping bags and some offer a discount to those who use them. I've never seen any reason that the county government had to step in.
The NJ state Casino Reinvestment Development Authority is attempting to seize private property once again. They are attempting to use eminent domain to seize the home of Charles Birnbaum in Atlantic City. Mr. Birnbaum’s parents purchased this home in 1969. Mr. Birnbaum uses the home as a base for his piano-tuning business and rents the apartment in the house. The Declaration of Taking filed in February by the CRDA presents Mr. Birnbaum with a sum of $238,500 for the taking of his property. Zillow estimates the house worth to be $381,161.
The filing indicates that the property is being condemned, yet the property is in excellent condition.
New Jersey is slowly rejecting the two-party system. Voter participation and congressional approval ratings are both at record lows. Yet the courts have issued interpretations of election law that discriminate in favor of the two establishment political parties.
The establishment political parties are guaranteed the first two columns on every ballot. Meanwhile, the Libertarian Party (the third-largest and fastest-growing party) is “lucky” to receive the third column and is often relegated to the fifth or sixth column. This is unfair. All political parties should be treated equally under the law during the construction of the ballot.
On July 12, 2013, the Township of Gloucester (Camden County) agreed to pay $167,765.38 to two roommates who sued members of the Gloucester Township Police Department for allegedly entering their home without a warrant, falsely charging and beating them.
In their suit, Marc Pizzo and Jamie Slimm said that on October 17, 2010, Slimm had called the Gloucester Township Police Department's non-emergency number to make an inquiry "regarding Pizzo including but not limited to the status of a past citation." This call allegedly caused Sergeant Mark Benton and Police Officers Dwayne Pietzsch and Paul Bertini to respond.
On July 21, 2014, the insurer for two Waterford (Camden County) police officers agreed to pay $260,000 to a father and his parents who sued them for alleged harassment, unlawful arrest and use of excessive force.
In their separate suits, Tracey Miller and his parents Ronald and Lavina Miller said that Waterford Police Sergeant Joseph McNally is a "very close friend" of Thomas Watson, who is the father of Tracey's ex-wife Jennifer Miller. According to the complaints, the divorce between Tracey and Jennifer was "highly contested" and involved a domestic violence complaint and custody of the couple's child.
Among the many advantages the Republicans and Democrats have conferred upon themselves is their privileged position on the voting ballot. The establishment political parties are guaranteed the first two columns on every ballot. The other political parties, such as the Libertarian Party, are then put in lottery drawing for columns three and above.
According to state election law, the Republicans and Democrats lose their special columns on the left of the ballot if neither can "poll" at least 10 percent of the votes cast in the previous Assembly election. In 2014 only 8 percent of eligible New Jersey voters participated in one of the two taxpayer-funded primaries. Some 10 percent of 3.7 million votes is 370,000. The law is clear. Neither party even came close.
A recent letter to the Suburban Trends expressed outrage that some business groups take their holdings offshore to avoid U.S. taxes.
The writer shows a complete ignorance of economics and a hostility to private business.
Business and industry flee America because of the anti-free market environment they have to deal with thanks to the politicians and unelected bureaucrats. No business leader in their right mind would want to set up shop where they will be penalized for being productive.
New OPRA lawsuit: Chatham Township keeps police officer's claim and two settlement agreements secret
I am accustomed to public bodies claiming that their executive session minutes are confidential. It is not so typical, however, for the public body's reasons for wanting to keep its executive minutes secret to also be kept secret. Not knowing a public body's reason for keeping a document secret makes it very difficult to challenge its claim of confidentiality.
On May 13, 2014, Passaic County Superior Court Judge Ralph L. DeLuccia told the Clifton Board of Education to provide him with some additional information so that he could decide whether or not certain portions of the Board's June 19, 2013 executive session meeting minutes should or should not be disclosed to the public. So, the attorney for the school board, Donald K. Okner, wrote up a certification dated May 20, 2014 and sent it to the court without sending a copy to my lawyer. Judge DeLuccia, based on the lawyer's secret certification, decided that the executive session minutes need to be kept secret.
On August 22, 2014 at 9 a.m., Judge Thomas F. Brogan will hear my motion, filed by Clinton lawyer Walter M. Luers, seeking to unseal the May 20, 2014 certification that convinced Judge DeLuccia to keep portions of the June 19, 2013 executive session minutes confidential.
On Wednesday, October 8, 2014 at 3 p.m., the Hon. Mary C. Jacobson, A.J.S.C. will hear argument in my Open Public Records Act (OPRA) case against the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission. My order to show cause, civil complaint, exhibits and brief, filed by Walter M. Luers, Esq. of Clinton, are are on-line here.
My lawsuit challenges the MVC's denial of my request for "all OPRA requests submitted to the MVC between 05/05/14 and 05/12/14." The MVC oddly denied my request on the basis that disclosure would give "an advantage to competitors" and because "there is an interest of third parties in protecting the confidentiality of their requests for access to public documents"
On June 18, 2014, the Borough of Penns Grove and the Township of Carneys Point (Salem County) agreed to pay $2,000,000 to the four minor daughters of a man who died while in police custody.
In her suit, Judith Mincey, the mother of MoShowon Leach, claimed that Penns Grove Police Officers Raymond Rinnier and Joseph Schultz choked Leach to death during his arrest on March 21, 2010. According to the complaint, Leach was disoriented and "fighting the air" when police were called to the parking lot in which he was located. Leach allegedly ignored the officers' requests for him to stop and while he was entering the residence of a relative, Officers Rinnier and Schultz allegedly "descended upon him, maced him and took him to ground." There, Schultz allegedly told Rinnier to "choke him out." Leach was pronounced dead a short time later. Schultz allegedly said at the scene that “Ray [Rinnier] had to put [Leach] to sleep.”
Libertarian congressional candidate Dorit Goikhman’s campaign team discovered unlawful practices in vendor admission to Marlboro Day. When the Marlboro Day staff was contacted about setting up a stand at the event, the township representative denied access on the grounds that political candidates could not attend the event, unless “you’re with the mayor.”
Several days prior, a representative from Goikhman’s campaign was told that political parties could attend Marlboro Day, but that individual candidates were barred. Such regulations violate the First Amendment of the Constitution, as all political entities should be allowed equal representation in public forums. Independent candidates, who are unaffiliated with a specific party, are automatically denied access by this requirement.
On Wednesday, August 27, 2014 at 9 a.m., the Hon. Travis L . Francis, A.J.S.C. will hear argument in my Open Public Records Act (OPRA) case against the City of Perth Amboy (Middlesex County). My civil complaint, exhibits and brief, filed by Walter M. Luers, Esq. of Clinton, are are on-line here.
I am seeking records regarding a lawsuit that a Perth Amboy teacher filed against the school district for mishandling her report that she was sexually assaulted in her classroom by another teacher. That lawsuit, which settled for $199,000, is discussed on my blog here.
For Immediate Release
Contact: NJLP State Chair Patrick McKnight 609-915-7200
July 31, 2014
Old Established Political Parties Have Lost
Their Preferential Ballot Position
For far too long the old established political parties have enjoyed preferential ballot placement. The two left-most columns have been reserved for the Democrats and Republicans. This year the Democrats and Republicans will be losing this discriminatory electoral advantage as a result of the failure of the old parties to maintain support with the public.
New Jersey law requires that to have a party column, a political party must “poll at any primary election for a general election of at least ten per centum (10%) of the votes cast in the State for members of the General Assembly at the next preceding general election.”