To the Editor:
On Sept. 21, I questioned an item on the City Council agenda at their monthly meeting. A contract was awarded for up to $87,000 to Millenium Strategies LLC for Professional Grant Writing and Management Consulting Service. This company was also awarded a $75,000 contract in August of 2010. I questioned whether the City Council felt that this was a conflict of interest since the current Director of Municipal Services Joseph Waks had an ownership interest in the same company. I was told by Charles D’Amico, legal counsel to the Municipal Council, that Waks does not own shares of Millenium Strategies LLC. When I pushed further about his prior ownership and the possible conflict, I was attacked verbally by Mr. D’Amico. The meeting was a disgrace.
Neither grant writing nor management consulting services is a profession that requires a state license. It is also public record that Waks and Edward Farmer, of Millenium Strategies, both gave recent donations to Mark Smith’s campaign, as did Charles D’Amico.
There have been many so-called “professional service” contracts since Mr. D’Amico has been corporate counsel. A large number of these contracts have been awarded without competitive bidding as a professional service where bids are not required. Lower bids may have been able to be attained if these contracts went out for an actual bid. N.J. law also requires any contact that exceeds $50,000 be reviewed and approved by the State of N.J. Division of Community Affairs. These approvals have never been mentioned. The City of Bayonne has a department which handles grants.
As I was one of the only people to speak at this meeting, I found it amusing that Councilman Greaves would accuse me of political grandstanding. Maybe Ray Greaves doesn’t think spending $87,000 of the taxpayers’ money is important. These contracts are what makes the taxes in Bayonne go up. Many of the legal contracts down at the Penninsula that are up to $250,000 and $300,000 add up to extra money being spent. I mention these contracts because I am concerned as a taxpayer and I am looking out for others.
The deep spending of money on so-called “professional services” contracts and the selling of the Penninsula at Bayonne Harbor are the two major reasons. The Port Authority of N.Y. and N.J. does not pay taxes, and will not pay a dime on the over 200 acres that they acquired last year. Remember, the City Council approved the deal with the Port Authority of N.Y. and N.J., and this is without a doubt the worst deal in the history of Bayonne.
Remember this the next time you’re paying your tax bill and ask yourself, “Who is looking out for me?” It certainly is not the current administration, especially since they raised your taxes for the last two years and sold off our largest asset without getting tax ratables for our future.
FORMER COUNCILMAN GARY LA PELUSA SR.