Tuesday, October 30, 2018

City Tax Payers Footing MASSIVE BILL to Defend Labrosse on Defamation Case

On September 14, 2018 Rick Salkin filed suit against John Labrosse, Frances Cogelja, Lance Powell, Carlos Velez, and Wendy Martinez (the three candidates for Board of Education and their campaign manager) in their individual capacities and Visions Media and Philip Swabinski (Labrosse's campaign consultant that you the tax payers are funding....), the City and the Board of Education.  His complaint stems from their attack ads against Salkin (despite his not being a candidate for Board of Education) in the April 2018 school board election.  His complaint, among other things, allege a violation of the First Amendment, the NJ Civil Rights Act, and Defamation.  This evening, the city council voted to hire an attorney to defend John Labrosse.

What is interesting of course is that John Labrosse is being sued in his individual capacity on certain claims, yet the City (we the tax payers, of course) appear to be affording him a defense on all claims (I say this because Thomas Cafferty the attorney for Labrosse filed that he is representing Labrosse on October 24 and no other attorneys have done so on the case--funny thing he did that on October 24 but wasn't authorized by the council until this evening).  What is more interesting is that the city council authorized the hiring of an attorney at more than 3 times the standard rate that municipal attorneys are awarded.  The city council authorized an attorney to defend John Labrosse at a rate of $500 per hour! The resolution authorizes up to $50,000 to be spent on Labrosse's defense before further authorization is needed.  When questioned about why they are authorizing an attorney at such a rate that is inconsistent with rates for other attorneys on the city pad, City Attorney Steve Kleinman tipped his hat that it is out of not logical sense but an apparent personal vendetta against Salkin.  Kleinman has advised that they have hired the best to attempt to have this case deemed frivolous and recover all costs from Salkin.  

Everyone knows I am not often short of two cents to spare, so.... 

If this lawsuit is disposed of in Labrosse's favor, the quickest way to do so would be a motion seeking an order of summary judgment.  In this case, it is really up in the air in my eyes as to whether or not Salkin would be considered a "public official."  If he was considered a public official, the chances of being granted summary judgment are higher as the burden to prove defamation against a public official is so very high.  In order for fee shifting to come into play, the judge's order granting summary judgment would need to definitively state that the lawsuit was frivolous.   Now I am no lawyer but I have been involved in defamation claims (ironically, with Salkin) and have read hundreds of defamation cases, if I were a betting man I would not be betting on a judge penning "frivolous" into any order.

Rather than guide the course of litigation and make logical decisions in the best interest of the parties (mainly to my concern we the tax payers' purse) involved, we are going to try to rack up the biggest bill on the hope and prayer we can stick the highest bill to Salkin on a fee shifting decision.  I am sure the canons of ethics say something about this type of apparent "strategy."

Rather than wasting all of that $50,000 with inevitably more to be spent of our tax payer dollars when we are critically short police and fire personnel (whilst trying to jam an unfair labor contract down their throats as the bargaining chip to restore manpower and hire, yes... more on that coming in a subsequent story), maybe John Labrosse should put his homeowner's insurance on notice of claim.  Defamation is covered under personal injury and homeowners and umbrella coverage would afford a defense to Labrosse under a reservation of rights.  Why would Labrosse accept his insurance company's defense, and potential forced settlement, when we the tax payers can foot the bill?

Oh the Irony....

When I heard of this $500 per hour rate, I couldn't help but think that the attorney being hired was shaken down by the Labrosse team's bag man for campaign donations.  I couldn't help but look up the attorney and the firm on NJ ELEC to see if they donated to Labrosse's campaign.  Well, as far as I can tell they haven't (yet!).  But what I do find hysterically ironic is the only campaign I can find that the firm donated money to was Joe Coniglio.  Why do I find this so hysterically ironic?  Because of course by this time next year they will also have donated to Labrosse and will then have donated to two Hackensack University Medical Center employees with very lenient work hours and schedules.  I can't help but wonder every time I open the newspaper or the Labrosse facebook page, how can anyone with a regular work week (especially on the nice promotion and raise that was brokered by for Labrosse by the City Manager) never miss a ribbon cutting or other photo opp?

Welcome to John Labrosse's Hackensack....

Monday, October 15, 2018

Hackensack Rotary's Annual Food and Coat Drive

The Hackensack Rotary is holding their annual food and coat drives.  

Non-Perishable food items can be donated at the Hackensack Police Station, City Hall, and the Poitin Still Restaurant and Bar now through November 15th.  

New and lightly used coats, hats, scarves, and gloves can be donated now through December 14th at the Hackensack Police Station and Poitin Still Restaurant and Bar.

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to HACKROTARYTIX@gmail.com.