Monday, January 9, 2012

Attorney representing TOMSA and the Township also seeks appointment as Library Attorney at the January 18th Meeting of the Library Board

by guest blogger Linda Baum

In my 12/19/11 post, “Middletown Sewerage Authority (TOMSA) Board Member Soon To Join The Library Board??”, I mentioned there was an attendee at the 12/14/11 Library Board meeting whom I recognized from the TOMSA Board meetings. I didn’t know his name and he wouldn’t provide it. I speculated that he was one of the new Library Board appointees.

That man was also in attendance at the January 1st Township Reorganization Meeting, and I heard someone call him “Rich”. I’ve learned he is Richard Leahey, TOMSA attorney. Mr. Leahey -- spelled also as “Leahy” on some Township resolutions -- received several Township appointments for 2012, including Workers Compensation Counsel and Tax Appeals Counsel. In addition, Mr. Leahey works for Bernard Reilly’s law firm, which was awarded a Township contract to provide legal services as Conflicts Counsel. Bernard Reilly’s name should be familiar. Mr. Reilly, a prominent member of the republican party, is former Township attorney and is currently representing the owners of the Avaya site.

As it turns out, Richard Leahey is not one of the four people appointed by the Township to the Library Board. The School Superintendent’s appointee is still unknown but I’m told that historically the person selected is an educator. The Township appointees are Committeewoman Stephanie Murray (the mayor’s alternate replacing Committeeman Kevin Settembrino), Brock Siebert, Larry Nelsen, and Michael Convery, all registered republicans.

In my December 19th post, I mentioned that Mr. Leahey, then un-named, had visited the Library the day before the 12/14 Library Board meeting to obtain a copy of a resolution. He didn’t provide his name, or his motive, to Library staff at that time. I telephoned the Library last week to find out which resolution he requested and to provide them his name. I spoke to Wendy Latona, Library Administrator, who said she already knew his name because Mr. Leahey had come in to the Library a second time after the 12/14 Board meeting to introduce himself and express his interest in being appointed Library attorney. The resolution he requested provided some specifications for that role.

That I didn’t see coming. The conflicts of interest are numerous, and I am amazed that Mr. Leahey is so ethically challenged as to overlook them or to expect that the Library trustees would. It is not a secret that the Township Committee and the Library Board have been placed in an adversarial position as a result of what transpired last year. If Mr. Leahey has an eye on retaining his coveted Township appointments, how can he be counted on to fairly represent the Library’s interests? And is it proper that Mr. Leahey should represent both the Library and TOMSA, whose funds are also of interest to the Township, when more monies transferred to the Township by one client may mean less required by the other?

Maybe Richard Leahey knows something that we don’t know about his chances for appointment. I think he must or he would not have applied for the job in the first place. My concern is that the newly re-configured Library Board will appoint Mr. Leahey, regardless. If they do, it adds a whole new dimension to the game plan by Township officials where Library money is concerned. The first move was appointing a sitting Township Committee member as a Library trustee – that person cannot act in the best interests of both the Township and the Library. The second was politicizing the Board by appointing close party ties and increasing the Board’s size in a bid to gain control. Now, if Mr. Leahey is appointed as Library attorney, we can add pocket-lining to the list of offenses.

I’m told that the resolution Mr. Leahey requested specifies that legal experience with library matters is a criteria for appointment. If he doesn’t have that experience, it is enough to prevent his appointment, the conflicts aside. But Mr. Leahey must feel he is qualified, or else he would not have visited the Library a second time to formally present himself.

The Library Board holds its annual reorganization at its regular meeting on Wednesday, January 18th at 7:00 p.m. If you can attend, please do. There should be a strong public presence there to watch how this all plays out.


Anonymous said...

Why submit an application when half of the people appointed in the township don't file applications?

Anonymous said...

This "Linda Baum" cracks me up! If Democrats were in control they would appoint all democrats, as they do wherever they have control. Also how do you know who is registered what? Linda how many Democrats put in an application for appointment?

Legion said...

Linda -

Just because you think that there are these "adversarial relationships" and "conflicts of interest" doesn't mean that there are.

The TOMSA Board and the Library Board are both boards appointed by the TC, and their relationship to one another is NOT adversarial.

While some members of the Library Board might think that they are in such a relationship, that is not legally the case.

In any event, the professionals know what's what, and I am certain that Mr. Leahey is aware of what is appropriate professionally for him.

Stop trying to create issues where none exist!

Anonymous said...

Anyone who has lived in Middletown and paid attention knows TOMSA is a parking lot for Republican political hacks and now that the feed for the piggies is in short supply, they have decided the library makes very nice grazing area.

Of course certain people who are themselves appointed hacks will do their level best to claim this is fiction, but the sad truth is, a well timed donation to Republican interests means more than any educational or intellecutal qualification.

Anonymous said...

Simple reasoning can also lead one to believe that there are conflicts of interest -- no matter what Ms. Baum's opinion is, or what yours is. An adversarial relationship is broadly a state of mind not a narrow legal perspective. It is not about the "professionals" knowing what is what; it is about what is ethically appropriate.

Anonymous said...

Simple reasoning can also lead one to believe that there are conflicts of interest -- no matter what Ms. Baum's opinion is, or what yours is. An adversarial relationship is broadly a state of mind not a narrow legal perspective. It is not about the "professionals" knowing what is what; it is about what is ethically appropriate.

Anonymous said...

If you are telling Baum not to create issues where none exist, then there must be issues that exist that you don't want the public to be made aware of.

Legion said...

Okay, perhaps I should have told Linda to not make mountains out of molehills?

Do you like that phrasing better?

The point is that the Library Board and the TOMSA Board are appointed by the TC - they don't have an adversarial relationship with either of those boards - they just don't.

Anon at 3:55, you wrote: "now that the feed for the piggies is in short supply, they have decided the library makes very nice grazing area..."

What the heck are you talking about?

What feed? What piggies? What grazing is there to be had at the Library?

Maybe you should run for TC next time, you, uhm, have a way with words! LOL

General Mills said...

Who approved of the RFP's to go out to the public???

I didn't find that in the December minutes. I did find that the budget was passed for 2012 in the December 2011 meeting with trustees whose term expired at the end of the month.

What was the motivation for passing a budget before the new trustees are appointed???

Why the rush??? This all seems sketchy and undermining of the board and director? Probably not a good way to start the new year off.

Legion said...

Yeah GM -

Why hasn't Linda, or Mike for that matter, raised a hue and cry against this extraordinary approval of the Library budget for 2012 before the new Library Board is even convened for the first time?

What is there in the 2012 budget that they rushed to do? Raises perhaps?

Spending on conferences perhaps?

Vehicle allowances?

Why aren't the DHB all over this?

Anonymous said...

A budget usually covers the whole year. Is it ethical to vote on a budget when half of the year is gone and 3/4 of the money is spent? Oh yea, that is common practice in Middletown. Why should a fiscally sound operation like the library do something that deviates from what the Township does?

General Mills said...

If you think the library is fiscally sound, you need your head examined. They spend every drop of the money they get just because they get it. That is fiscally irresponsable to the taxpayers of Middletown. The library forgets that the money is from the taxpayers, not the township! Don't wage war with the TC just because they are making you accountable for the money that is spent foolishly.

Anonymous said...

General Mills,
If the library wasn't or isn't fiscally sound then how do you explain having surplus money available approximately $500,000 that the not so fiscally sound township committee appropriated to balance the 2011 municipal budget?

Anonymous said...

General Mills,

"They spend every drop of money because they get just because they get it"...

If the Township doesn't do exactly the same thing, then my property tax refund must be lost in the mail.

General Mills said...

Anon 6:18,
The library by law is allowed to keep a percentage as reserve, so they maintain that percentage each year some years it is inflated mroe than others. The library spends its money very foolishly and frivilously because of lack of someone steering the ship.

Anon 7:14,
How come when the township was not giving raises and unions were giving concesions on health benefits the library was giving 6% raises across the board to all its employees??? You must be really brainwashed...people are losing their jobs, the economy is in the toilet and the library employees are getting 6% raises. Does this seem a little out of touch with reality??? Maybe I am seeing this worng, but please somehow explain this one to me, I can't wait to hear it...

General Mills said...

Also Anon 6:14,

Being fiscally sound doesn't neccessarily mean just spending less than your income, but also means spending in a way that you get the most for your money. Being efficient with the allotted money is included in my definition of being fiscally sound, hopefully yours too! You don't see the millionares eating filet minion and lobster washing it down with Dom Perrion every night...

Anonymous said...

Hey General,

First you say the library spends every cent then you say they have a half million surplus.

Which is it?

You sound like someone with an axe to grind, soldier.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the time has come to have the Monmouth County Library system take over Middletown's Library to protect our library from the TC raid on it's funds. Then library money would remain library money as the law directs.

The bottom feeders that are looking for funds for their patronage payouts would have to look elsewhere.

Keep the goons out of our library.

Since the library board was expanded to "better manage" the funds of the library, when do we EXPAND the TC to BETTER MANAGE the TC funds ?? Can't wait !!

General Mills said...

Anon 9:37,

I repeat-

"How come when the township was not giving raises and the police union was giving concesions on health benefits the library was giving 6% raises across the board to all its employees???"

Please answer that one...

Anonymous said...

Middletown would be far better off if the Middletown Library became part of the Monmouth County Library System.Then we would have access to the county system without paying for membership which a Middletown resident must now do to enjoy all the privileges of the county system.

Best result of all ,the goons on the TC would have NO CONTROL over library funds...none...zilch.

These comments are no reflection on our Library Board,they are a reflection on the inept,incompetent TC and their interference and interjection of politics in our library in this township and also our schools. These goons are totally unqualified in these areas and too stupid to acknowledge their lack of expertise and violation of the laws governing these bodies.

The facts speak for themselves !!

Anonymous said...

General Mills,

You need to pay closer attention to raises and bonus approved and then implemented by the T.C. In recent years some contractual raises were "backloaded" and retroactive. An example would be no raise in year one for police followed by 3.5% in year two and year three for a total of a 7% increase that was retroactively paid and forwarded into the next contract negotiation and all future budgets.

Keep in mind that a 3.5% increase can be much larger than a 6% increase based on the base rate of pay used: 3.5% of $30 is greater than 6% of $5.

There was also a large bonus given to our tax assessor for doing the job that he gets a salary for. This is the same guy that screwed up the property evaluation in 2008. His error in judgement cost him what amounted to a two week suspension without pay. This was a first time event in New Jersey history -- only in Middletown could this happen

I agree that being being fiscally sound includes carefully planned and appropriate spending. Prior to the township committee raid on library funds last year, the library board was planning to use a lot of the "surplus" funds for a capital spending project (parking lot) so they would not have to bond (borrow with interest) money (my taxes and your taxes)to pay for this planned capital expense. The township committee, with the approval of a majority of sheep who didn't want to jeapordize their chances of being reappointed to the library board, took most of this surplus. So now the capital improvement will cost more because of the additional interest associated with bonding, or notes. Does this fit your definition of sound fiscal management?

For most of 15 years the "ship" was steered just fine, not all of the time but most of the time. Last year when Committeeman Settembrino became a crew member he instigated a mutiny that will have a lasting impact on library leadership and library management and library services and your tax dollars.

Finally, this isn't about what the new law governing library surplus allows, or doesn't allow. It is about how the law is exercised and the results produced by how it is exercised. Because something is allowed and can be done doesn't mean that it should be done. It is about judgement, accountability and responsibility

By-the-way the maritime analogy of "steering the ship" that you chose to use has been used by Mayor Tony Fiore in both the distant and near (recent Patch article) past. You might want to try a different metaphor to avoid being confused with the mayor, unless .....

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:02

LOL. Frosted flakes, is it General Mills or Kelloggs with the Tony the Tiger logo?

Anonymous said...

Woohoo! General Mills. Best comment in a long time. Gotta love the logic: If the library is successful and prudent with how it conducts it's business, saves enough money to fund it's own capital projects that is now considered fiscally "unsound". Can you believe it gave it's $12/hour employees .96 cents raise, but didn't give the $25.00/hour cops their health concessions? No real comparison here folks.

One last thought: from Anon:
"people are losing their jobs, the economy is in the toilet and the library employees are getting 6% raises. Does this seem a little out of touch with reality??? "
Well, not all business are doing badly and cutting jobs. The FISCALLY SOUND and SUCCESSFUL companies/businesses/Libraries (LIKE OURS IN MIDDLETOWN) can still actually award good work....That is "American" and should be a bar to achieve not the 'norm' of all of society. Dope. Your thoughts are in a low & unsuccessfuly downward spiral.

My own business has grown the past two years, I gave raises and hired 2 new employees (I even gave bonuses) nothing extravagent but THAT IS RIGHT ACTION. If I did not do well then I would have done the opposite. See that's how it should be done.

Thank you Library of Middletown, you are truly the gem of our town and most of us adore what you do.

General Mills said...

I am not Tony Fiore, I promise you that. I use the phrase steering the ship because I am a manager by trade and have to "steer the ship" in the path that the owner has set. I think that is not really that uncommon of a phrase to use when talking about a company or business or anyone in a position of leadership. You are right about %'s. Alot of people are blind as to what is negotiated or deals made. I am not going to say I agree with everything the TC has done, but I think they made a step in the right direction by shrinking the number of employees and health costs. Government should ebb and flow with the economy.

If you think I have an axe to grind, go take a look at Linda Baum...

I do like frosted flakes but they are too sweet for me...

Anonymous said...

Hmm, quiet since 6PM here. The entree must have come out at the Lincroft Inn.