Drama in Scotch Plains government

by Bruce Paterson

Nothing surprises me anymore when it comes to what I not so fondly call Soprano County aka Union County and those connected with it’s government. Last week, I noted one of their tactics, that politicians when caught in some alleged notorious act have damage control with false accolades while trying to reverse the tarnish of their station. This is all going on behind our backs, the self enrichment, the sticking it to the taxpayers, while we all live very busy lives working to pay taxes and sustain our families and homes.

There is drama certainly going on over in the Scotch Plains government chronicled weekly in the Westfield Leader, a must read. Freeholder Alexander Mirabella, who was given the double-dip patronage job of township manager is now under fire for allegedly colluding with the mayor to pocket even more money by getting a secret pay raise of $5,000 while other employees received none.

Of interest in the 9/22/2016 edition, the Scotch Plains township attorney, Mr Renaud, in researching the legality of the alleged secret pay raise announced that the salary increase was lawful. In reading the ordinance, it appears his legal opinion is incorrect, although I am not a lawyer. However, two previous mayors and even a retired beloved long time town manager, who obviously received plenty of raises and understood the process, had also contradicted the town attorney’s opinion.

So who is right and who has credibility? In a recent letter to the editor, regarding questionable politics, author John Thompson correctly observes, “Watch what they do, not what they say.” And just a note of irony, freeholder Mirabella at the county votes in the public forum on specific pay raises for the county key personnel so nothing is just given out without transparency.

Another more appropriate quote, this one a slogan from presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, (although i am wont to drag her into this), “I will have your back every day.” This explains a lot as it pertains to freeholder Mirabella, double-dip town manager Mirabella and town attorney Mr Renaud.

Let’s “follow the money” This is in 3 parts:

  1. As a sitting freeholder, Mirabella votes on resolutions down at the county annually awarding legal work to Mr Renaud’s law firm, Palumbo & Renaud. Resolutions to Palumbo Renaud total to date for years 2015 and 2016 is $310,000 all in non-compete six professional contracts and all approved by vote from freeholder Mirabella.
  2. Political donations by Palumbo & Renaud to the freeholders and their croneys’ campaigns total $40,000 in the last 4 years. In the last 3 cycles that Freeholder Mirabella was up for election, Mr Renaud and his firm have donated $9,700 just to Mirabella’s campaigns.
  3. And this is the whopper-In January, 2015 Mr Renaud became the Scotch Plains township attorney. Within the next month, Renaud formulated the contract for the hiring of freeholder Mirabella to be township manager of Scotch Plains.

Oddly, Mirabella, with no experience leapfrogged over 12 other candidates with experience, one even being a veteran. And Renaud in crafting the contract for the newly hired Mirabella, included an increase of $25,000 over the last township manager’s salary. This allows Mirabella to bump his pension up by 600%. And this week Renaud opined that the additional hidden $5,000 wage increase was lawful.

We are certainly looking at an incestuous relationship between these two, money flowing back and forth between them, all sanctioned and approved by each other. Is Mayor Glover complicit in all this? I like the guy, but maybe he is looking the other way, maybe Glover is being groomed for a freeholder seat himself. As the past political boss of the county, Charlotte DeFillippo, was heard to say, “You have to prove yourself.”

I do not live in Scotch Plains but I am vigilant to what goes on under the radar at the county. As usual the taxpayers are getting the shaft while those “politically connected” become richer. This incestuous relationship has a stench to it. A good suggestion is that someone in Scotch Plains needs to contact the Attorney General’s office to come down and investigate all these alleged improprieties and quid-pro-quos.

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