Friday, January 13, 2012

Apparently, Crime* does pay

You remember back in November when the story broke that long time City of Trenton employee and AFSCME local president Dave Tallone was charged by the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office with fraudulently obtaining city contracts, right?

You don't?

Then read Lisa Coryell's article from the Times, November 11, 2011.

And you remember when, on the heel of those charges, the City of Trenton issued a release stating that Mr. Tallone was to be suspended immediately without pay?  If not, here's the press release on the city website.
 Well, what if we told you that Mr. Tallone has not missed a day of pay in the past two plus months?

We didn't either. that is not until we checked his payroll records and discovered that Mr. Tallone has been collecting "sick pay", "holiday pay" and, of course, his "longevity pay" ever since his alleged suspension. 

Seems as though Mr. Tallone was never technically suspended. Sources are saying the city, in the persons of acting Business Administrator Anthony Roberts and/or acting Public Works Director Harold Hall, never provided Mr. Tallone with the required Loudermill hearing and notice of suspension.  There doesn't seem to be any reason to not have provided this "due process" to Mr. Tallone. He didn't even have to be present for them to hold a hearing and draft a notice to send to him.

The city just didn't seem to do it in the 30 days allotted.  So now Mr. Tallone enjoys a taxpayer paid vacation while awaiting the disposition of his case.

Was this by design or default?  Maybe Mr. Bocchini or the new state Attorney General should seek answers to that question.

UPDATE: The Trentonian has posted a story on line here wherein highyl paid contract labor attorney for the city Steve Glickman claims that Tallone's charges were not serious enough to allow suspension without pay.  Glickman goes on to explain that Tallone could be suspended with pay, but that would be like giving him a "paid vacation." 

Mr. Glickman, what is Mr. Tallone getting now but paid for not doing anything?  Sounds like a paid vacation to us.
*We use the term "Crime" here to make the reference to the old saw that crime doesn't pay. We fully recognize that Mr. Tallone was only charged with criminal acts and as yet has not been found guilty of any crime.  Innocent until proven guilty and all that.


Anonymous said...

Wow. Thanks for keeping track of city hall antics and holding several pairs of feet to the fire. This is appalling!

Greg Forester said...

What's really horrible is what the long line of stories like this says about the broken nature of Trenton gov't. Too many elected officials accept the pillaging of the treasury by themselves, or others. I think this makes a powerful case for what many have been saying recently - maybe its time to change the city's form of government.

In Trenton, there is a total lack of the checks and balances needed for a functioning strong-mayor system. Not sure what the answer is --- I don't really like Many of the alternatives offered in NJ law, such as electing council persons who select a chairman with mayoral powers.

Generally, I believe the soluton lies in political insulation. Theft and incompetence could be negated in a system that tasks hired, resident professionals with day-to-day city operations who are directed by council persons elected to short, staggered terms and responsible for setting broad budgetary and policy priorities.

Trenton needs jobs! Anything that doesn't create jobs and ratable - including wasteful, incompetent mayors who empower crooks - is a waste of time.

Old Mill Hill said...

Greg, there are two forms of Council/Manager government available to Trentonians if they want it. In one, the "Mayor" is chosen from amongst the elected councilpersons much as our current council chooses its presiding officer. And in fact, that is really all that the "Mayor" is under the council/manager form of government. The other option is to have the "Mayor" directly elected by the voters, but said person is still little more than a presiding officer and ceremonial figurehead.

At the very least, in either of the above cases, we minimize if not eliminate all together the probablity of an elected mayor running and controlling a slate that is the majority on council.

More important is your suggestion that the council go on staggered terms. We agree wholeheartedly. It not only allows for fresh blood and the elimination (or reduction) of political dynasties, it also is a guard against the situation we had in July 2010 with essentially an all new council of inexperienced neophytes (Councilman Muschal having only served a few months with the prior body).

One of the big problems is that the elected positions have become more status symbols than change agents and the city suffers for it.