The Hackensack Scoop broke the first story regarding potential conflicts of interest that arose out of Thom Ammirato's multiple public employments (North Arlington, Hackensack, and the County of Bergen). The issue quickly unraveled into an investigation by the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office which concluded with an agreement not to prosecute Ammirato in exchange for his resignation. Last week, as this information regarding the agreement not to prosecute came to light (again uncovered by The Hackensack Scoop), the Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders demanded that Kathe Donovan appear to answer questions regarding Ammirato's "no show" job.
Despite acknowledging that the Freeholders have the right to summon her before the board to answer questions, Donovan appeared only briefly today to provide information which was already available and to advise that she would not participate in person with their inquiries. Donovan's cohorts (Baratta, Kornfeld, and Kezmarsky) who were all served with Rice Notices were no shows for the hearing (they sent attorneys in their place).
Donovan and her cohorts, rather than facing the music, have done nothing more than attempt to delay until after the election. Today, the group's non-compliance forced the Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders to pass a resolution authorizing county counsel to go to court seeking an order to show cause (wasting more tax dollars) to compel Donovan, Baratta, Kornfeld, and Kezmarsky to comply with their legal obligation to answer the board's inquiries.
Freeholder Tracy Zur called the need for legal action to compel the County Executive to comply, "so unfortunate." Zur went on to say that whenever the board seeks information from the County Executive they are "encountered with a stonewall." Zur, who offered the motion, says she did so with frustration and in an attempt to "engage in an inquiry on behalf of the taxpayers of Bergen County."
Denicola, in an apparent attempt to diminish the importance of guarding the taxpayers' purse, called the move political and deflected the focus of the meeting to no bid contracts and public relations fees. Denicola was the lone no vote in compelling Donovan to answer the board's inquiry and was again the lone no vote in the resolution to authorize county counsel to seek legal remedy for Donovan's noncompliance with her duty to participate in the Freeholder Board's inquiry.
What I am having a hard time reconciling is if Denicola's no votes were more for the political protection of Donovan, or Ammirato. Denicola has a professional relationship with Thom Ammirato. Denicola paid Ammirato's firm (The Write Associates) more than $5,000 in consulting fees during last year's election season (while Ammirato was under the controversial employ of the County of Bergen)... With this professional relationship, how could she not have abstained?
Denicola did not answer a request for comment as of the publishing of this story.