Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Are political intimidations, not just hirings, coming out of County Executive Donovan's office?

Today, John Ensslin of the Bergen Record reported on a threat of suit received by the County of Bergen as it pertains to the demotion of Jane Linter.  Linter, who had civil service protection was demoted from Director of Human Services to her protected civil service position as coordinator of child care services.

The move is alleged to be retaliation for not supporting County Administrator Ed Trawinski and County Executive Donovan's Chief of Staff Jeanne Barrata in their removal of former Director of Community Transportation, Rudy Pastercyzk, from his job.  When asked by Linter why she was being demoted, Barrata allegedly offered the explanation that she served at the pleasure of the County Executive.

I have already reported on the questionable political hirings of Joe Scarpa and Thom Ammirato by the County of Bergen under the reign of Kathe Donovan.  Further requests for documents pertaining to the hiring of employees (that I believe to believe to politically motivated), including Barrata, have been denied by County Counsel.  But is political retribution, arguably a worse offense putting the tax payer on the hook for legal fees and settlements, also oozing out of Kathe Donovan's office?

I commend Ensslin for putting these questions forth.  But is Linter's demotion an isolated event?  A police report filed in Fair Lawn this summer, may support the allegations of strong arm tactics and bullying emanating from Donovan's camp.

Barrata, Donovan's Chief of Staff, allegedly wages war on retired veteran

Jeanne Barrata
In August of 2013, a highly decorated retired-veteran and active community leader, Michael Agosta, was allegedly met with threats and intimidation by Jeanne Barrata at the Fair Lawn Athletic Club.  The police report alleges that Barrata used threats and intimidation against Agosta.

The report, made on August 2, 2013, alleges that Barrata told Agosta to "watch your ass" as "the police have you on their radar."  Agosta indicated he had fear as Barrata was the Deputy Mayor of Fair Lawn and had a perceived influence over the Police Department.

The report also includes reference by an independent witness that an intoxicated Barrata made unprovoked threats to Agosta through third parties at fundraising events.  The independent witness alleges her actions to be retaliation for Agosta's perceived alliance with Sheriff Mike Saudino who Donovan's office has sparred with over several matters including the controversial proposed merger of the Bergen County Police Department.

Barrata's alleged retaliation of Agosta extends to as early as 2011, which coincides with the time that Saudino and Donovan's feud commenced.  In November of 2011, Agosta returned from Afghanistan, where he was serving his country, to find a Bergen County Military Service Medal in his mailbox in an unmarked envelope.  These medals are typically presented to veterans in a public ceremony.  Agosta feels that the receipt of this medal in an unmarked envelope via postal service was further retaliation and insult from Barrata.

With all of these alleged political hirings, demotions, and intimidation by members of the County Executive's office, I can only wonder during this election season if these individuals and practices are endorsed by Kathe Donovan.