LINDEN – Mayor Richard Gerbounka vetoed an ordinance to re-appoint assistant city attorney John Hudak, saying that Linden spends too much on an overstaffed legal department.
“I feel we have an excessive amount of lawyers in our legal department,” Gerbounka wrote in a letter to the city clerk rejecting the ordinance passed by the council on Feb. 16.
Council President Robert Bunk led the 7-4 council vote to approve the ordinance, which was opposed by two Democrats—Derek Armstead and Jack Sheehy—and two independent councilmen—Joe Harvanik, Robert Fraiser.
Hudak is one of three part-time city attorneys, earning a salary of $71,822 and benefits that bring his total compensation to $102,464. City Attorney Edwin Kologi earns $130,749 in salary and benefits, and a second assistant city attorney earns $97,547 in salary and benefits.
The lawyer’s son, Christopher Hudak, who is the chairman of Linden’s Democratic Party, has selected Council President Robert Bunk to run against Gerbounka for mayor, although there is considerable opposition to that maneuver within the Democratic Party (see related story).
The mayor’s veto sends the ordinance back to the council, where eight votes are necessary to override it. However, it does not eliminate the position or remove Hudak from the city payroll.
According to Kologi, the original ordinance appointing Hudak states that he will remain in the position “until his successor or successors has been appointed.”
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