Tuesday, October 18, 2016

John P. Labrosse- Is the P for Perjurer?

This evening, Richard Salkin, Esq., a frequent critic of the City administration (former City Attorney and former Municipal Prosecutor) took Mayor Labrosse to task on his potential perjuring of himself at depositions in the Heck V. City of Hackensack lawsuit and potential misconduct in office in his relations with his employer, Hackensack University Medical Center, and the City of Hackensack.

Earlier in their tenure, the City Council, through City Manager David Troast and Art Carslon (City Tax Assessor), renegotiated the 2008 Developers Agreement with the Hackensack University Medical Center.  Critics of the Council hotly debated the renegotiation.  The City Council gave on tax appeals, reduced future air rights payments from the hospital, and hosed residents ending a long-standing agreement that residents would not be billed for emergency ambulance use.

Salkin sued the City over that agreement and, as part of a settlement, it had to be voted on again by the Council.  Mayor John Labrosse inappropriately did not recuse himself from a conversation regarding that renegotiation, which was a conflict of interest due to his employment with the Hackensack University Medical Center.

During depositions in the Heck V. City of Hackensack case, Jason Nunnermacker, Esq., asked John Labrosse if he obtained assistance from Anthony Rottino in obtaining his promotion at the Hackensack University Medical Center, or a raise.  Labrosse answered "not to my knowledge." 


Richard Salkin, Esq. asked him again at the September 27, 2016 meeting if he obtained assistance getting his promotion at the hospital.  Labrosse acknowledged then, and again tonight, that he simply applied for a job and got it, and that no assistance was given to his knowledge.  Unfortunately, there is documentation to the contrary.

In November 2013, John Labrosse sent text messages to Anthony Rottino, then Economic Development Coordinator, for the City of Hackensack, asking if he had spoken to “Jose” yet.  Jose, is, based on information, belief, and representations, Jose Lozano, the Chief of Staff of Hackensack University Medical Center.  This went on again in January of 2014, when text messages were exchanged between Rottino and Labrosse following up on whether Rottino and Jose had spoken as Labrosse needed to "make a decision."  Rottino then followed up in text messages to Jose asking if there was wiggle room on salary.  Jose advised "no," and said he would explain later.  Rottino then let Labrosse  know he spoke to Lozano and would let him know of the conversation.  Salkin shared with the audience that Rottino had represented to him that Lozano was not happy with promoting Labrosse over "two more qualified candidates at a steeper cost."






Perjury, also known as forswearing, is the intentional act of making a false statement under oath.  While Labrosse can lie through his teeth at council meetings, his statements at the deposition were sworn under oath.  Under NJ Statute 2C:28-1, perjury is a 3rd degree crime and such crimes are punishable by up to five years imprisonment. 

What is even more troubling than Labrosse’s apparent potential perjuring of himself is the timing of the promotion and the many subsequent breaks that HUMC received.  Labrosse has, since his promotion, had seemingly unlimited personal time to attend ribbon cuttings, ground breakings, and other events in the City of Hackensack during a “regular 9-5.”  While I do not know Labrosse’s work arrangements, it seems nearly every time I open Facebook, The Record, or other media outlets, I see pictures of Labrosse at events and City functions.  I seem to remember another employee of HUMC who had flexible working hours and held a position of political decision making that influenced the hospital.  His name is ex-Senator Joseph Coniglio, and he did a stint in prison. 


Hackensack Scoop contacted Jose Lozano of HUMC during the morning of October 17, 2016 citing these issues and asking for any comment or clarification that he could offer.  Lozano has not responded.  John Labrosse declined to retract his previous claims, and declined the offer to comment or clarify what is in the text messages. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Mayor and Deputy Mayor Engage in More Pay to Play, Potentially Violate Criminal Code



DISCLAIMER: I am NOT an attorney or law enforcement officer.  The following is written based upon the perception of the council's actions and my interpretation of New Jersey's criminal code.


Mayor Labrosse and Deputy Mayor Canestrino are no new comers to the political process, or the dirty games of New Jersey "pay to play."  After their election, they swiftly took care of their supporters (Rottino, Ammirato, Catania, and on and on..... SEE: Out with the Patronage, or is it?) with patronage jobs and made up titles.  It all back fired costing the city hundreds of thousands, potentially millions, in lawsuits.  Not to mention the egg on everyone's face when their city funded campaign manager under the guise of being the city's public relations consultant was the recipient of a deal by the prosecutor's office to give up his public employment not to be prosecuted (See: Political Consultant Escapes Potential Criminal Prosecution).  But in this, their latest stunt, they may have potentially crossed the line into political bribery.

After the 2013 election, the council took care of their friend and politically ally Thom Ammirato rewarding him with a contract as the city's PR firm.  He quickly began making press releases and news bulletins on the city tax payer's dime boosting the Mayor and Deputy Mayor (you know, campaigning on your dime!).  Well, that all ended terribly.  HACKENSACK SCOOP uncovered that Ammirato had a full time (no show) job with the County working for Dirty Donovan and Ammirato's public employments came to a halt after his signing an agreement for no prosecution with the Prosecutor.  Something about these PR consultants is fishy, because they are at it again, but this time I think it may be worse!

On June 14, 2016 the City Council voted to approve the qualifying of Visions Media.  Then a month (give or take) later, they hired them as the city's PR firm.  Visions quickly reinstated those shameless pandering "bulletins" that are mailed to the residents and sending press releases to the local media highlighting the "achievements" of the council.  You know, free campaigning in this the last year before a reelection bid.

On June 14, 2016 at the same meeting that they qualified Visions Media, the Mayor admitted that Visions Media's principal was involved in the creation of the now nationally disseminated press release that highlighted Labrosse and Canestrino leaving the GOP over Trump's "racist" commentary.  Despite of course that their own Request for Proposal forbid contact with anyone other than the City Clerk during the hiring process!



Labrosse exclaimed (in defense of the PR stunt) that the charade was AT NO COST TO THE CITY.   Rightfully so, as it was not in the interests of the City.  But who paid for it?



I have been anxiously waiting for Citizens for Change to release their second quarter campaign filings.  I have been hoping that they paid Visions Media for that press release.  Well, they didn't!  Seeing how the press release was completed BEFORE the hiring of Visions Media by the city, and Citizens for Change did not pay for the press release out of their campaign PAC, there is only one logical explanation--Visions Media did this press release gratis ahead of a lucrative contract with the City of Hackensack.  Now you may morally question this.  You may shake it off and say "typical New Jersey politics."  My intuition instead makes me question how could this be legal?

I took a few minutes and looked up New Jersey's criminal code trying to gain a better understanding.

I found three areas of the New Jersey Criminal Code that peaked my immediate interest.

2C 27-2 Bribery in official and political matters:

A person is guilty of bribery if he directly or indirectly offers, confers or agrees to confer upon another, or solicits, accepts or agrees to accept from another:
a. Any benefit as consideration for a decision, opinion, recommendation, vote or exercise of discretion of a public servant, party official or voter on any public issue or in any public election; or b. Any benefit as consideration for a decision, vote, recommendation or exercise of official discretion in a judicial or administrative proceeding; or
c. Any benefit as consideration for a violation of an official duty of a public servant or party official; or
d. Any benefit as consideration for the performance of official duties.

I leave it up to you the reader (and the Prosecutor) if it looks like Visions Media's assistance in the campaign press release regarding the Mayor and Deputy Mayor's disavowing of Trump can be viewed as benefits in exchange for a vote for a contract.......

2C 27-10 Acceptance or receipt of unlawful benefit by public servant for official behavior

Acceptance or receipt of unlawful benefit by public servant for official behavior.
a.A public servant commits a crime if, under color of office and in connection with any official act performed or to be performed by the public servant, the public servant directly or indirectly, knowingly solicits, accepts or agrees to accept any benefit, whether the benefit inures to the public servant or another person, to influence the performance of an official duty or to commit a violation of an official duty.
b.A public servant commits a crime if, under color of office and in connection with any official act performed or to be performed by the public servant, the public servant directly or indirectly, knowingly receives any benefit, whether the benefit inures to the public servant or another person, to influence the performance of an official duty or to commit a violation of an official duty.
c.In addition to the definition set forth in N.J.S.2C:27-1, "benefit" as used in this act includes any benefit from or by reason of a contract or agreement for goods, property or services if the contract or agreement is awarded, made or paid by the branch, subdivision, or agency of the government that employs the public servant.
d.The provisions of this section shall not apply to:
(1)Fees prescribed by law to be received by a public servant or any other benefit to which the public servant is otherwise legally entitled if these fees or benefits are received in the manner legally prescribed and not bartered for another benefit to influence the performance of an official duty or to commit a violation of an official duty;
(2)Gifts or other benefits conferred on account of kinship or other personal, professional or business relationship independent of the official status of the recipient if these gifts or benefits are within otherwise legally permissible limits and are not bartered for another benefit to influence the performance of an official duty or to commit a violation of an official duty; or
 3) Trivial benefits the receipt of which involve no risk that the public servant would perform official duties in a biased or partial manner. e.An offense proscribed by this section is a crime of the second degree. If the benefit solicited, accepted, agreed to be accepted or received is of a value of $200.00 or less, any offense proscribed by this section is a crime of the third degree.

I leave it up to you the reader (and the Prosecutor) if it looks like Visions Media's assistance in the campaign press release regarding the Mayor and Deputy Mayor's disavowing of Trump can be viewed as benefits in exchange for a vote for a contract....... 

2C:27-11 Offer of unlawful benefit to public servant for official behavior. 

Offer of unlawful benefit to public servant for official behavior.
a.A person commits a crime if the person offers, confers or agrees to confer any benefit, whether the benefit inures to the public servant or another person, to influence a public servant in the performance of an official duty or to commit a violation of an official duty.
b.A person commits a crime if the person, directly or indirectly, confers or agrees to confer any benefit not allowed by law to a public servant.
c.In addition to the definition set forth in N.J.S. 2C:27-1, "benefit" as used in this act includes any benefit from or by reason of a contract or agreement for goods, property or services if the contract or agreement is awarded, made or paid by the branch, subdivision, or agency of the government that employs the public servant.
d.The provisions of this section shall not apply to:
(1)Fees prescribed by law to be received by a public servant or any other benefit to which the public servant is otherwise legally entitled if these fees or benefits are received in the manner legally prescribed and not bartered for another benefit to influence the performance of an official duty or to commit a violation of an official duty;
(2)Gifts or other benefits conferred on account of kinship or other personal, professional or business relationship independent of the official status of the recipient if these gifts or benefits are within otherwise legally permissible limits and are not bartered for another benefit to influence the performance of an official duty or to commit a violation of an official duty; or
(3)Trivial benefits the receipt of which involve no risk that the public servant would perform official duties in a biased or partial manner.
e. (1) An offense proscribed by subsection
a. of this section is a crime of the second degree. If the benefit solicited, accepted or agreed to be accepted is of a value of $200.00 or less, any offense proscribed by subsection a. of this section is a crime of the third degree.
(2)An offense proscribed by subsection b. of this section is a crime of the third degree. If the gift or other benefit is of a value of $200.00 or less, an offense proscribed by subsection b. of this section is a crime of the fourth degree.

I leave it up to you the reader (and the Prosecutor) if it looks like Visions Media's assistance in the campaign press release regarding the Mayor and Deputy Mayor's disavowing of Trump can be viewed as benefits in exchange for a vote for a contract....... 


Resident files suit to have Visions Media Disqualified as the City's PR Firm

Today, Richard Salkin, Esq., a resident and tax payer (former City Attorney, former Municipal Prosecutor, current Board of Education Attorney) filed a lawsuit attempting to have Visions Media disqualified as the PR firm for the city.  In Salkin's suit, he cites potential criminal and ethical issues with the contract award and calls for the contract to be nullified.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Demarest Place Mural Gets a Facelift

When driving up Main Street you may have noticed an old faded and peeling mural on the side of Tati's Beauty Salon (along the Demarest Place side of the building).


Well, thanks to Stephanie O'Connor, a local artist and the owner of The Artistic Giraffe (A local business offering paint parties and art classes), this mural recently got quite the facelift!  O'Connor has named this mural "What Lives Matter."


O'Connor has worked with the City and local landlords to bring color and spirit to the community through several murals and projects, including another mural featuring several local artists at the corner of Bridge and Main Streets.  Of the murals O'Connor says,  "the City of Hackensack is strongly working towards bringing the arts back to Hackensack, and I am proud to be part of the strength and history."

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Adult Co-Ed Kickball Comes to Hackensack


Kickball for adults? What could possibly make that even better?

When your registration helps to support a charity!

For every new player to register between now and midnight on July 31, 2016, $5 will be donated to the Alzheimer's Association!



CLICK HERE TO REGISTER


If you have already registered, be sure to share this special with your friends and teammates!  
     
Help us to help put an end to Alzheimer's Disease!

Don't have a full team? Don't worry!
Register by yourself and we will add you to a team. Register with a small group of friends and we will make sure you all play together.  We have plenty of free agents and small groups to pair up!



Season will run September 10, 2016 - October 29, 2016
8 regular season games, plus playoffs (November 5, 2016)!
Games will be held on Saturdays between 10:00 am and 1:00 pm
Great drink and food specials after every game!  


Registration is closing soon, so don't delay!







A $5 donation will be made to the Alzheimer's Association for every new full priced registration between now and midnight on July 31, 2016

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Council Runs Afoul Again... The Rules Don't Apply To Us!

The City Council has a history of not following the rules.  Whether it is not filing financial disclosures, not filing campaign reports, interfering with employees, but now, the ill advised Council is not following state statutes or NJDEP regulations.

Earlier this month the Council was questioned by residents Richard Salkin and Regina DiPasqua regarding the canceling of a July and August council meeting.  State statutes, and previously passed resolutions (by this Council), require there to be two public meetings per month.  When the resolution was brought to the attention of the Council and City Attorney by Regina DiPasqua, it was brushed aside.  When Former City Attorney Richard Salkin came to a meeting and read the state statute requiring that the City hold two meetings per month, City Attorney Carver rejected his assertions and smugly exclaimed that there would be no further discussion on the topic.  Well an Order to Show Cause was filed by Richard Salkin and the City Attorney's response?..... "We stand corrected," as reported by The Record.  Well, a question for Kathy the money girl, how much did that bad legal advice cost the tax payers?  The Council should be more concerned with listening to ALL of their constituents than playing politics and brushing off all comments from those who they see as "adversaries."


Council attempts to restrict use of new Splash Park 


The City recently opened its second "Splash Pad" for children to cool off in these blistering hot summer days.  This second water park is now opened at Carver Park.

The City requires that residents register with the Recreation Department to obtain an identification card to use the facilities.  When questioned about the use of identification cards and why the existing Splash Park does not require them, city officials advised that the Polify Road water park does not require identification cards because the splash pad was built with Green Acres funds, while Carver Park's was not.

Green Acres grants are available to help preserve and make available open space for public enjoyment.  Hackensack has several Green Acres projects.  Hackensack's Green Acres projects include:
  • Hackensack River Waterfront (development of waterfront) 
  •  Carver Park (Between First, Second, Clay and James Streets; acquisition and development)
  • Columbus Park (development) 
  •  Union St Park (development) 
  •  Baldwin Park (development) 
  •  Hackensack High School Athletic Field (development) 
  •  Second Ward (Polifly) Park (development) 
  •  Downtown Walkway (development)
What is important about this distinction of Carver Park being recognized by Green Acres as a "funded project" is that restricting use to only residents of Hackensack is a violation of Green Acres rules and regulations.  Unfortunately, whether bad advice from the City Manager, City Attorney, or CFO, what someone does not understand (including the City Council, despite being told by resident Regina DiPasqua) is that when any project or park is funded through even one dollar of Green Acres money, the entire park falls under Green Acres regulations.

Documentation obtained by Hackensack Scoop evidences that the NJDEP believes "having the splash park at the Green Acres funded Carver Park be residents only is in violation of Green Acres rules" and the NJDEP has turned the matter over to their compliance department to ensure that the park can be enjoyed by all residents of New Jersey.

Hey Council, START LISTENING TO YOUR CONSTITUENTS! You are only costing more legal fees and embarrassment when these blunders are in the newspaper.  I can see the headline now "City of Hackensack Improperly Denies Children Access to Public Parks."

Thanks to Nixle we know that the Splash Park will be opened tomorrow!  To heck with identification cards, if you are hot and want to enjoy some fun in an open park with friends, family, and a splash park, GO TO CARVER PARK.  If anybody asks for an identification card,  know your rights!  Advise them that Carver Park is a Green Acres funded park and that not one square inch of the park can be restricted from general public use! Don't take no for an answer!


Saturday, July 9, 2016

Hackensack Rotary feeds 100 in need at annual Christmas in July

HACKENSACK– On Saturday July 9th, the Hackensack Rotary Club, Rotary District 7490 Governor Stephen Jarahian, the Christ Church and the On Our Own Self Help Center joined together to feed those in need at the Christ Church on State Street in Hackensack. Over 130 guests were provided a hot meal with a warm, friendly smile.

Hackensack Rotary’s club President Steve Koestner, Christ Church Warden Lou Knaub and On Our Own Self Help Center Program Coordinator Judy Banes saw a great need in the community and joined forces to build on what was historically a once annual project of the Hackensack Rotary. The Rotary Club has partnered with Judy Banes of the On Our Own Self Help Center (179 Main Street) to spread the word to those in need and help make this a successful project.








Rotary is a worldwide organization of more than 1.2 million business, professional, and community leaders. Members of Rotary clubs, known as Rotarians, provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the world. There are 33,000 Rotary clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas. Clubs are nonpolitical, nonreligious, and open to all cultures, races, and creeds. The Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation supported solely by voluntary contributions from Rotarians and friends of the Foundation who share its vision of a better world. Anyone interested in joining is encouraged to contact Richard Gelber @ phone: 201-343-5600 or email: rich@gelber.net.


Sunday, June 5, 2016

Petition Circulating to end Unfair Labor Practices by City Manager David Troast and the City Council


The Hackensack City Council, and their 4th City Manager in under 4 years, have taken to bullying and intimidating city workers.  This is resulting in lawsuits on your tax dollar, and a decline in city services.  Members from each of Hackensack’s collective bargaining units have complained that morale among their collective bargaining units are at all time lows.  Generally, I would brush it off as sour grapes or silly complaints, until I really listened.   

Councilmen Sims and Battaglia have bullied and harassed DPW workers since their coming into office (http://hackensackscoop.blogspot.com/2014/09/department-of-public-works-requests-end.html).

Deborah Keeling-Geddis came on to the council already showing her animus and hatred towards our uniformed services having gone to Trenton to attempt to block the approval of a bond issue citing reckless spending in giving the PBA modest 1% and 1.5% salary increases (despite the PBA contributing back up to 35% of the cost of their health insurance coverage).  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khsPjECyebw

Deputy Mayor Canestrino and Mayor Labrosse led the charge in hiring their campaign manager Thom Ammirato to be their city paid campaign manager while hiring their campaign fundraiser Anthony Rottino to a made up position (before making him the City Manager).  Well, Ammirato left Hackensack in disgrace losing two public jobs in exchange for an agreement with the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office not to prosecute him (http://hackensackscoop.blogspot.com/2014/10/politically-affiliated-county-employee.html).  

After Labrosse and Canestrino fell out with Rottino, they pleaded behind closed doors with residents to help run him out of town. The result of the bullying of Rottino? A big fat settlement and lawsuit at the tax payers expense! And what are they doing now?  They have brought back a city funded public relations firm in this, their last year in office, to try to make themselves look good going into campaign season.   

Canestrino took it on herself, along with Rose Greenman, to harass and intimidate the City Clerk out of her job (http://hackensackscoop.blogspot.com/2014/08/you-read-it-here-first-former-city.html) due to her perceived “political affiliations. The result? Another big fat civil rights violation lawsuit that continues to be ongoing. 

The City Manager, in the last 6 months, has:

1) Negotiated a contract with the white collar employees which was finalized in January.  Despite the contract terms being complete, he will not sign the contract and according to a union member is “holding it over every worker’s head that they are working without a contract as a scare tactic.” 

2) Frozen steps for our police officers, despite a judge’s ruling that you cannot freeze steps because a contract has expired.  The City Manager refuses to give the young police officers their contractual steps.  What most people do not know is that police officers start at very modest salaries (approximately $36,000) before rising over a nine year period to a salary of $100,000+.  These young officers with families are struggling to make ends meet and the City Manager refuses to honor their existing contractual step increases. And why is he holding up the steps stubbornly?  Presumably because if an unfair labor practice complaint is filed the current contract negotiations are forced into arbitration (see 3 below).

3) Will not give the PBA a contract.  The PBA during the last contract negotiation accepted 1% and 1.5% salary increases while giving back up to 35% of their cost of health insurance benefits.  The result was a net negative increase in take home pay for every officer.  In this new contract negotiation, the PBA offered the city a 2-year contract with NO SALARY INCREASES.  The City Manager’s response? He FILED FOR ARBITRATION!

4) Started discussions on the privatization of the sanitation department which will result in a decline in services as a private contractor comes in and many hard working city employees losing their jobs!

While all of this was going on, the City Manager and CFO received $7,500 and $7,900 raises and the City Manager reinstated a 21% raise for Councilman Battaglia’s wife (http://hackensackscoop.blogspot.com/2015/04/councilmans-spouse-has-rescinded-raise.html). 

I implore you to please consider signing the below petition and telling your City Council to stop these unfair labor practices, treat our workers fairly, honor their existing contracts, sign the contracts they have negotiated, and give all of our collective bargaining units contracts!  The result if they don’t? A decline in city services and undoubtedly more lawsuits and shame brought to our City.  If they can give a councilman's wife a 21% raise, the City Manager and CFO a $7,500 and $7,900 raise, the HR manager a city car, spend $21+ million on pet projects, and hire their own campaign manager on the City's dime, they can give our policemen their steps, all of our collective bargaining units a fair contract, and keep all of our city services intact!

Petition:

Please feel free to forward this to your friends, family, and coworkers, should you feel so moved.