Friday, May 23, 2014

Bridgeton mulls reestablishing long-revoked corporate entity.

Here's a story about a municipal government losing track of an entity it formed for real estate development purposes.

Under the authority of N.J.S.A. 52:27H-67, the City of Bridgeton (Cumberland County) created a nonprofit corporation called the Bridgeton Development Corporation (BDC).  The BDC was created by City Ordinance § 64-2 which was enacted in 1997 and remains in force today.  The purpose of the BDC was to act as the City's "zone development corporation" which would develop real estate in the City's depressed areas and receive financial aid and technical assistance from the State of New Jersey.  According to the statute, the the BDC is required to maintain an Internet web presence and post financial and operational information on the site to provide increased public access to the zone development corporation's operations and activities.

When I could not find the BDC's site on the Internet, I visited the City's Office of Development & Planning to inquire about it.  I was a bit surprised when the Director of that office sent me an e-mail stating that "I am looking into status of BDC to respond back to you . . . it was a little before my time, but it is nonfunctioning entity . . . I do not know if it was previously dissolved via resolutions etc., so I will attempt to get definitive answer for you."  The City official who dealt with development and planning was simply not aware of the BDC's existence, even though the BDC's existence was mandated by a a currently in force provision of the City Code.

After receiving the City's response, I reached out to City Attorney Rebecca J. Bertram.  After investigating the matter, Mr. Bertram informed me that "the corporate charter for the BDC was revoked by the state of New Jersey for failure to file annual reports and the City has not appointed anyone to the board in recent years." 

Of course, the easiest solution would be to simply repeal the section of the City Code that requires the BDC's creation and continued existence and official assign the BDC's supposed functions to City's Office of Development & Planning.  But, according to Ms. Bertram, the matter is complicated by the fact that "one small parcel of property is titled in BDC." 

So, in order to dispose of this property, Ms. Bertram speculates that the City might have to reestablish the BDC by paying off its back corporate report fees and staffing it with members.  The corporation could then hold a meeting at which is could, as its only and final act of business, transfer title to its property to the City itself.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Irvington appeals from $266,200 verdict in cop car crash.

On April 9, 2014, the Township of Irvington appealed from a Essex County jury's March 5, 2014 verdict in favor of an East Orange man who claimed to be injured in a March 31, 2010 car accident with a vehicle driven by an Irvington police officer.

Albert R. Patterson claimed that Officer Shaun R. Green's negligence in the accident caused him to suffer permanent injuries.

Patterson's attorney is Phillip C. Wiskow of Sparta and case documents are on-line here.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Court to hear EHT school custodian's claim that she was discriminated against based on her weight.

On June 6, 2014, 1:30 p.m., Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Allen J. Littlefield will hear the Egg Harbor Township school board's motion to dismiss a former school custodian's Law Against Discrimination lawsuit against the school board and the custodian's supervisor.  The custodian claimed that she was discriminated against and ultimately discharged from employment because of her weight. Some of the court filings are on-line here.

In her suit, Barbara Sheridan, who claimed to have performed her duties in a satisfactory manner since 2004, claimed that she was repeatedly pestered and humiliated by supervisor Terri Chase about her weight.  As an example of the humiliation she allegedly suffered, she claimed that Chase, seeing her on a six-foot aluminum ladder, said "Get off the ladder, you are going to break it."

If the lawsuit survives the school board's motion to dismiss, a trial will be held on July 7, 2014. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Judge chastises City for misusing subpoena power.

"Haste not only makes waste, but can trample citizens' rights. In their apparent need to move quickly to investigate the purported misuse of a City-owned vehicle, two members of the [Estell Manor] governing body — with no prior notice or approval from the other members of City Council - convened a meeting and directed the issuance of subpoenas, compelling citizens, under penalty of arrest, to appear at a hearing and provide testimony under oath.

"Such actions display ignorance not only of the requirements of N.J.S.A. 40:48-25, but also of the need for the respectful and restrained use of subpoenas by government. Issuing a subpoena is serious business; no citizen should be compelled to leave their home and give of their time to answer questions of a government investigation."
Nelson C. Johnson, J.S.C.
Johnson v. City of Estell Manor, Docket No. ATL-L-7617-12

Monday, May 12, 2014

Lower Alloways Creek police officer contests suspension.

On March 11, 2014, a Lower Alloways Creek Township (Salem County) police officer appealed a Superior Court judge's January 30, 2014 Order that affirmed the Township's decision to suspend him for two days.

In his Notice of Appeal, which is on-line here, Police Officer Donald Rambo claimed that he was originally served with a notice of discipline for failure to do proper background checks on firearm purchaser cards.  After a departmental hearing, the hearing officer recommended a letter of letter.  The Lower Alloways Township Committee, however, imposed a two day suspension.  After Rambo appealed, the two day suspension was affirmed by Superior Court Assignment Judge Georgia M. Curio.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Is a Galloway Township school principal's leave of absence related to an Ocean County Prosecutor's investigation?

According to the GallowayTownshipNews, John J. Gibson, the principal of two Atlantic County schools, the Arthur Rann Elementary School and the Pomona Preschool, has been out on paid leave since January 30, 2014.  A February 20, 2014 letter from the school superintendent Annette C. Giaquinto to parents, obtained by Galloway Township News and on-line here, states that "because this leave is of a confidential nature, I am not able to provide you with any other information at this time."

Acting on a tip that Gibson's leave might somehow be connected to an incident in Ocean County, I sent an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request to the Ocean County Prosecutor's office (OCPO) on April 16, 2014 and have placed correspondence between me and the OCPO on-line here.  In his April 29, 2014 response, Assistant Prosecutor Nicholas Monaco referred to the alleged incident as having "occurred in Little Egg Harbor Township" even though my OPRA request did not specify the municipality in which the incident allegedly occurred.  Mr. Monaco's response went on to note that a "detective [has] investigated this incident but has not yet completed his report."

On April 29, 2014, I submitted another OPRA request to the Monaco for "[a]ll documents that are in the file that the detective is working on to create his report, as referenced in [Monaco's] April 29, 2014 e-mail."  On May 2, 2014, I received Monaco's response, which he copied to Atlantic County Assistant Prosecutor Pamela D'Arcy, in which Monaco advised me that he "cannot release a the contents of this file without a protective order" having been issued by the court.

Monaco's correspondence, which confirms the existence of a file related to Gibson that a detective is working on, together with Gibson abruptly taking a leave of absence from his position as principal, strongly suggests that some incident involving him is under investigation and that this incident or the investigation is connected to his reasons for taking his leave.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Assault and harassment complaints involving Mayor Troiano's son's brother-in-law will be heard June 5th.

On Thursday, June 5, 2014 at 12:30 p.m., the Stone Harbor Municipal Court will hear the harassment/simple assault cross-complaints filed against each other by Michael A. Blanda and Jack Gallagher arising out of a July 25, 2013 incident at Billows Electric at 3901 New Jersey Avenue, Wildwood. 

Blanda is Mayor Ernest Troiano Jr.'s son's brother-in-law.  Blanda evidently overheard a comment Gallagher publicly made about Troiano and allegedly grabbed Gallagher's throat and stated "I am going to kill you." More information and case documents are on-line here.

The public and media is invited to attend the hearing.  It will be held at the courtroom at 9508 Second Avenue, Stone Harbor, NJ 08247.  Those who wish to attend should call the court at 609-368-2411 the day prior to ensure that the hearing hasn't been postponed.