Armstead Assails Aid Cuts & Patronage

LINDEN—A $3 million cut in state aid should end discussion on whether to keep on the city payroll a part-time lawyer who costs taxpayer $100,000 a year, according to Councilman Derek Armstead.

Armstead, a Democrat, said John Hudak, the assistant city attorney whose wife is an influential member of the Board of Education, should not be allowed to continue receiving paychecks when police and firefighters could be facing layoffs.


Mayor Richard Gerbounka vetoed an ordinance that would extend Hudak’s term as assistant city attorney, citing excessive costs and a lack of accountability in the over-staffed law department. A majority of the council voted unsuccessfully to override that veto with former Councilman Ralph Strano and other political insiders speaking in defense of Hudak’s job.

Council members Michele Yamakaitis and Richard Puschel called the veto “a political witch hunt.”

Armstead argues, “In these tough economic times, I think the taxpayer of Linden would disagree, and I stand firm with my vote to eliminate an over-paid part time $100,000 position.

“We need to decide whether or not we’re going to be serious about eliminating wasteful spending in this town,” said Armstead.

“Gov. Chris Christie gave the state a budget proposal that not only cuts taxes on income over $400,000 for the rich but is an attack on the middle class,” Armstead said. “Democrats have to stop defending political patronage jobs and start protecting taxpayers.”

In addition to being assistant city attorney for Linden, John Hudak has his own law practice and holds multiple taxpayer-funded jobs, including city attorney for the Borough of Roselle and bond attorney for the Rahway Board of Education.

“Middle-class families deserve a break but Gov. Christie is going to get away with cheating them if local Democrats do not work to eliminate waste and corruption,” said Armstead, who is being encouraged by some party members to run against Council President Robert Bunk in the Democratic primary.

“The Democrats in this city are tired of outsiders and political leeches telling us what to do,” said Seventh Ward Councilman Jack Sheehy, who is urging Armstead to run for mayor. “With cuts coming down from Trenton, taxpayers can no longer afford wasting another $100,000 a year on the Hudak clan.”

Hudak’s job “is entirely unnecessary,” said James O. Moore, a former councilman and school board member who noted that the city was able to cut taxes during an economic downturn while he served on the governing body.

“This is not the time to pile extra tax burdens on taxpayers who are losing their homes,” said Moore. “People should confront Sue Hudak about this issue while she conducts her campaign for school board.”

In addition to the $3 million cut in state aid, Armstead says the city is faced with a $12 million dollar deficit due to budget gimmicks used in prior years.

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