Monday, June 15, 2015

Passaic and Bergen Counties urged to inform citizens of ethics complaint procedures.

It seems obvious, at least to me, that if a county or municipality has established an ethics board to receive citizens' Local Government Ethics Law complaints against county or municipal officials, it should make contact information for the ethics board readily available on the county or municipal website.  Unfortunately, Bergen and Passaic Counties, both of which have established their own ethics boards, provide the public with no on-line information on how to file and ethics complaint or whom to send it to.

On June 12, 2015, I endeavored to file ethics complaints against officials in both counties who reportedly failed to file their Financial Disclosure Statements (FDS)  My complaints against a Passaic County Freeholder and a Bergen County Planning Board Secretary are here and here, respectively.  However, neither county's website provided contact information for their ethics board which required me to search Freeholder Board minutes and rosters of FDS forms on file with the Local Finance Board (LFB) in order to identify members of both ethics boards who happened to be attorneys.  From there, I wrote to each attorney (see my complaints at the link above) and requested that my complaints be submitted to the correct party.

I don't think that most citizens would be willing to go through the trouble I went through and would probably have given up.   I am not certain whether the lack of information is a mere oversight or a deliberate effort to dissuade people from filing complaints.

Today, I received correspondence from both attorneys (Passaic's and Bergen's responses are here and here, respectively) advising me of the correct person to whom ethics complaints should be directed.   Given that this information is apparently nowhere else to be found, I have listed it below, as a public service:

For Bergen County, complaints may be e-mailed to Ethics Board Attorney Frank Kapusinski, Esq., at FKapusinski@co.bergen.nj.us with a copy to Board Secretary Roseann Fatigati at RFatigati@co.bergen.nj.us.  Those who would rather mail or fax their complaint, should mail it to Kapusinski in care of the Bergen County Counsel's Office, 1 Bergen County Plaza, Room 580, Hackensack, NJ  07601-6176 or fax it to 201-336-6966.

For Passaic County, complaints may be e-mailed to Ethics Board Attorney Laurence R. Maddock, Esq., at lrm@lawwmm.com.  Those who would rather mail or fax their complaint, should mail it to Maddock in care of Waters McPherson McNeill PC, 300 Lighting Way, 7th Floor, Secaucus, NJ 07094-3647 or fax it to 201-863-2866.