Friday, December 27, 2013

Must be something in the water

By this time, it is no secret that Trenton’s indicted mayor is no fiscal wizard. His personal financial problems have been discussed and dissected ad nauseum over the past few years.  His mismanagement of the city’s funds has incited outrage from the city council (at times) and the public (repeatedly).

In recent weeks we have been treated to reports about the hundreds of thousands of dollars owed contractors for work done for the city. 

The now out of business Jonico firm is suing for $600,000 for work done on South Broad Street, interest and attorney fees.

Diamond Contractors is owed $122,000 for the installation of handicap access ramps in sidewalks around town.

Kevin Moriarty addressed this in a recent blog post.  

Another contractor, Marshall Technologies, tried for years to collect a $19,000 bill for work done at the city’s main library. The city administration claimed it should be paid by the library out of the annual stipend received from the city. The library board felt differently and wouldn’t pay. While the two entities argued, the vendor didn’t get paid. After going through mediation, the $19,000 bill nearly doubled to $31,000.  The inflated amount could have been avoided if the administration had just paid the bill when due and worked it out with the library board.

Speaking of the Trenton Free Public Library, we noted this item in the correspondence section of the January 2, 2014 city council docket:
1n Letter for Katz & Dougherty, LLC copy of letter to Mayor Tony Mack, dated December 13, 2013, re: Todd Geter, R.A., Unpaid Invoices for Learning Center Improvements.

Mr. Geter was, ironically, a listed member of themayor’s committee that determined it would be best to reopen the four former branch libraries and keep them under city (as opposed to TFPL) control. Mr. Geter, as a licensed architect, apparently provided the necessary plans, drawings, etc. required to get the permits to allow vendors to do the work required to get the buildings up to code and reopened. But he hasn’t been paid.

A side point, Marshall Technologies did a lot of the work on the mechanical systems in the four buildings. They were paid on time…even though the city council questioned where the money was coming from to pay those bills.

These are just a few examples of the city’s (not just the mayor’s) fiscal failings.

Also on the docket for January 2 is this:
1g Tort Claim Notice filed against the City of Trenton for Damages by Frey Engineering, LLC, 1117 State Route 31, Suite 4, Lebanon, NJ 08833

According to prior newspaper reports, Frey did work for the city that was authorized by Charles Hall, III. Hall never got the proper city council approval for the contract with Frey. Frey did the work and expects to be paid over $43,000.  The city council has not approved the payment because they did not authorize the contract. Further, since the authorization came from Hall and he is a cooperating witness in the federal case against Mayor Mack, some members of council are reluctant to touch the matter.

The list goes on. Former recreation department “contract” employee Lisa Whittaker was essentially paid off in 2012. She performed work and submitted bills that had never been approved by the governing body, but the decision was made to pay her rather than go to court.

Michael Morris, the former lead park ranger, was laid off to make way for Mack confidant Chico Mendez. After a long, drawn out (and costly) fight through the civil service commission, Morris was reinstated, Mendez “removed” and back pay ordered.

And yet the city seems to have no problem paying expenses such as:
1) Former mayoral aide, Billie Hayes, received $250 for his work providing secretarial assistance to Councilwoman Kathy McBride
(Note: All council members are granted a stipend to pay for a clerical assistant. We just find it curious that Ms. McBride has retained the services of one of the mayor's former aides).
2) Flashing Blinky was paid $524.39 for what we presume to have been table decorations and favors for the "City of Trenton Senior Gala" held on December 9.
Who, one might rightfully ask, is minding the store? Who in the administration is it that continually makes these bad, too often expensive, decisions and why?


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Business Administrator was hired by DCA to scrutinize these matters. Unfortunately, this has not been done. Incompetent.