Sunday, September 13, 2015

Wall and nine other towns, six housing authorities and 3 other agencies being penalized by their insurers.

On August 30, 2015, I posted an article showing that three South Jersey townships (Fairfield Township in Cumberland County, Upper Pittsgrove Township in Salem County and Elk Township in Gloucester County) were being penalized by their insurance carrier for not conforming to the insurer's requirements related to having updated written policies governing matters such as sexual harassment, employee complaint investigations and conflicts of interest.  As described in that article, these townships' noncompliance is exposing their taxpayers to up to an extra $430,000 loss for each lawsuit for wrongful termination, sexual harassment, discrimination, invasion of privacy or similar claims.

Today, I learned that the following municipalities and other agencies are also non-compliant:
Wall Township (Monmouth)
South Amboy Borough (Middlesex)
Roosevelt Borough (Monmouth)
Spring Lake Borough (Monmouth)
Downe Township (Cumberland)
Egg Harbor Township (Atlantic)
Bass River Township (Burlington)
Florence Township (Burlington)
Wrightstown Borough (Burlington)
North Bergen Township(Hudson)
North Hudson Fire & Rescue (Hudson)
Carteret Housing Authority (Middlesex)
Morristown Housing Authority (Morris)
Neptune City Housing Authority (Monmouth)
Neptune Housing Authority (Monmouth)
Orange Housing Authority (Essex)
Summit Housing Authority (Union)
North Bergen Municipal Utilities Authority (Hudson)
Evesham Township Fire District (Burlington)
I have identified these municipalities and agencies by examining the Municipal Excess Liability Joint Insurance Fund's compliance lists and determining whether there is a "yes" or "no" in the compliance field.  In the following case, neither a "yes" nor a "no" appears in that field--rather the field is left blank.  I am looking into what this means and will report on it in a future blog article.
Update 09/28/15.  I was informed by Bradford C. Stokes, Account Executive for PERMA Risk Management Services that the agencies listed below which have neither a "yes" nor a "no" in the compliance field only have coverage for workers compensation from their respective joint insurance funds and have secured their Employment Practice Liability (EPL) coverage elsewhere. For this reason, the $20,000 or $100,000 deductibles are not applicable for these agencies.  The lack of a compliance field entry for these agencies should cause no negative inference to be drawn.
Atlantic City Housing Authority (Atlantic)
Boonton Housing Authority (Morris)
Camden Housing Authority (Camden)
Collingswood Housing Authority (Camden)
Dover Housing Authority (Morris)
East Orange Housing Authority (Essex)
Irvington Housing Authority (Essex)
Jersey City Housing Authority (Hudson)
Long Branch Housing Authority (Monmouth)
Penns Grove Housing Authority (Salem)
Perth Amboy Housing Authority (Middlesex)
Plainfield Housing Authority (Union)
Princeton Housing Authority (Mercer)
Trenton Housing Authority (Mercer)
Union City Housing Authority (Hudson)
Nutley Board of Education (Essex)
Manchester Regional High School District (Passaic)

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Hudson County has a StingRay.

According to a September 4, 2015 Reason.com article, police nationwide are using a device called a StingRay that can, by impersonating a cell tower, collect location data from virtually all cell phones within the area where the StingRay is deployed.  In a February 2013 article, the Electronic Frontier Foundation referred to StingRays as "an unconstitutional, all-you-can-eat data buffet."

After I read in an ACLU report that said that the extent of New Jersey's use of StingRay devices was "unknown," I submitted OPRA requests to two county prosecutors--Atlantic and Hudson--to test the waters.  Atlantic claims to have no StingRays while Hudson admits that it has one.

According to documents Hudson provided in response to my request, Executive Assistant Prosecutor Gennaro Rubino on April 16, 2015 sought $215,909.02 to buy a StingRay.  In his requisition paperwork, Rubino said that while "the equipment does not record the content of any transmissions," the StingRay, which is made by the Harris Corporation of Melbourne, Florida "will assist . . . in locating fugitives and similar violent offenders."  On May 14, 2015, the Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders unanimously approved the expenditure.

In response to my request for records showing what the StingRay is used for, Assistant Prosecutor Leonardo V. Rinaldi denied access claiming that disclosure "would materially increase the risk or consequence of potential acts of sabotage or terrorism."

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Citizen files suit to compel Zoning Officer to enforce the Zoning Code.

Updated on March 21,  2016.  Click here.

A Bridgewater Township (Somerset County) man has filed suit against the Township's zoning official seeking to compel her to enforce the Township's zoning ordinance against his neighbor.

In his lawsuit, Thomas Coulter v. Zoning Officer Marie L. Broughman, et al., Docket No. SOM-L-279-15, Coulter alleges that a property that abuts his "is littered with dead and dying trees, stumps, roots and obnoxious growths."  He claims that the presence of the dead vegetation "tends to depress the aesthetic value of the neighborhood" and constitutes "a clear violation of the [Bridgewater Township] Code."

Coulter claims to have repeatedly asked Township Zoning Officer Marie L. Broughman to enforce the Code.  According to the lawsuit, Broughman sent him a two-sentence letter on February 9, 2015 in which she said that the Code "is not intended to be applied to fallen trees resulting from a hurricane."

Broughman filed a motion to dismiss the complaint but that attempt was rebuffed by Assignment Judge Yolanda Ciccone on May 29, 2015.  The next action currently scheduled for the case is a Case Management Conference on December 8, 2015.  Coulter is represented by Robert J. Beacham of Nee Beacham in Hillsborough and Broughman is represented by Alexander G. Fisher of the Mauro, Savo, Camerino, Grant & Schalk law firm in Somerville.