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Guest What Harrison should do

This article was recently printed on www.northjersey.com - I believe Harrison should follow Bergenfield's choice - this would eliminate a big mess in the town.

Family members need not apply

Wednesday, May 5, 2004



BERGENFIELD - It has been called local politics as usual in New Jersey.

John Doe is elected mayor. By the end of the year, there are Does all over the borough payroll. Doe's brother is the new fire chief. His son-in-law is the building inspector. Half the DPW workers now have uniforms with Doe monogrammed on the breast.

But it won't be that way in Bergenfield.

On Tuesday, the all-Republican Borough Council approved an anti-nepotism ordinance in a 5-0 vote, with Councilwoman Rose Henn absent. The ordinance will bar elected officials from hiring or promoting immediate family members.

"The mayor and council should not have our families working in town," Mayor Richard Bohan said.

The ordinance prohibits the mayor and council members from hiring their spouses, parents, children, siblings, or spouse's immediate family members to salaried borough positions while they are in office.

Under the ordinance, such family members would not be considered for employment as the borough administrator, chief financial officer, fire chief, police chief, a certified public works manager, or a construction code/building department official, as well as other jobs. They could apply for volunteer positions, such as a zoning board membership.

Relatives of government officials who are currently employed by the borough are excluded from the ordinance. Neither the council members nor Bohan have family members serving in salaried borough positions.

An employee who holds a borough position before a relative is elected to the council would be allowed to retain his or her job. In such cases, government officials would be excluded from votes concerning the pay or promotion of relatives.

The ordinance was proposed twice before by Councilman George Williams but never made it to a public vote until Tuesday night.

"I think its important for the integrity of government," Williams said.

Williams, a Republican, has blamed first failure, in part, on Democratic Councilman Thomas Sullivan, who was serving on the council when his brother was hired by the Department of Public Works. Sullivan lost his reelection bid in 2002. His brother still works for the DPW.

Sullivan spoke against the ordinance at Tuesday's meeting, arguing that qualified people should be able to apply for borough positions regardless of whether they are related to a council member. Sullivan also defended his brother's hiring, saying that he abstained on the vote.

Sullivan criticized the ordinance as targeting family members but ignoring political appointments of friends and personal attorneys.

"Basically, we would be shutting out someone from anybody's family [on the council]," he said.

In the second instance, the ordinance was sent back to the drawing board so the language could be strengthened.

Some at the meeting wanted the ordinance strengthened to include seasonal employment and other temporary or part-time positions.

"I'm very happy to see this ordinance," said Vernon Cox, a former Republican councilman. "The people deserve to be represented, and you people should be beyond reproach. ... No stuffing the borough payroll with family members."

The council studied similar nepotism bans in Tenafly and Emerson before drafting its own ordinance, Borough Administrator Joseph Hess said. Much of what is covered in the ban is covered in the civil service regulations. However, the regulations are largely silent on what to do when a relative of a government official is up for a promotion.

In January, Governor McGreevey signed a law that prohibits legislators from hiring relatives in the 2004-05 session.

E-mail: holahan@northjersey.com

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Guest Guest

You are living in some fantasy world if you think that this will ever happen in Harrison. The same few families will just get wealthier and wealthier. Jobs in Harrison are based on who you know and support. Most jobs go to people without being posted for applicants or any review of their capabilities. If you are white, complain at the council meetings, buy event tickets, and put the signs up at election time you will be given a job. Look at Powell, he used to be the biggest mouth trying expose corruption at the council meetings and they gave him a six figure job to shut him up. Then he gives the mayor a $90,00.00 job at Passaic valley a year later. Just follow suit. Do you really think we need 10 janitors at town hall making as much as the cops. you dont even see them. Does everyone in the Health dept. need a car to take home with municipal plates. No car payment, no insurance payments, real nice. THE PVSC NEEDS TO BE INVESTIGATED FOR CORRUPTION AND NEPOTISM. THE AG SHOULD START THERE AND WHO KNOWS WHERE IT WILL TAKE THEM. We also have a part-time Mayor with three full-time secretaries. It never ends.

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I bet you also are a supporter of affirmative action, becareful of the rules you want , you may live by them and you could die by them , deneing people the right to seek employment wherever they choose may infrienge on their rights to persue happiness, which maybe you would like to deny. Too many regulations impead progress, even if the people who are progressing piss you off. Apply yourself for employment , if you are qualified reach for the gold ring, if you are content on sitting on you asses and complain about the haves and have nots, look in the mirror and blame the person you are looking at,only that person is responsible for your own situation, stop blaming others.

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