Cover Up Of A Crime? Salary Ordinance Revised; 3-2 Vote on First Reading

Vice President Robert Peluso and Councilman Paul Carifi voted against the passage of this Ordinance

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Parsippany-Troy Hills Council President Dr. Louis Valori and Mayor James Barberio

PARSIPPANY — Four days after Democratic activist and candidate for governor Bill Brennan filed a citizen’s complaint against Parsippany-Troy Hills Mayor James Barberio and Business Administrator Ellen Sandman in Parsippany Municipal Court, Parsippany-Troy Hills Council President Louis Valori called a special meeting to introduce an ordinance establishing White Collar Salary Ranges.

Both defendants must appear in Morris County Superior Court on Wednesday, April 19 at 11:30 a.m.

This is clearly a salary ordinance, and not a payment ordinance.

The Ordinance, #2017:05, shall be retroactive to January 1, 2017 for all employees active on the date of introduction of this ordinance. The salary in this ordinance for Keyboarding Clerk 1 will have a minimum starting salary of $17,000 annually to $55,000 annually. (Note: A copy of the Ordinance was not available to the public during the special meeting, Parsippany Focus obtained a copy through Open Public Records Act (OPRA). Click here to see the complete White Collar Salary ranges.

Retired Police Sergeant Eugene Natoli

According to New Jersey Civil Service Commission, the definition of a Keyboarding Clerk I is “Under close supervision, performs routine, repetitive clerical work involving the processing of documents in a variety of functions; formats and key enters/types correspondence, documents, reports, charts and other materials on a computer console, typewriter, or other key entry device used by the agency; does other related duties as required. Keyboarding clerks typically spend a majority of their work time (more than 50%) typing or operating keyboard equipment. Speed and accuracy are essential for all keyboarding positions.

The complaints stem from a series of articles published in Parsippany Focus earlier this year. Barberio authorized the hiring of Retired Police Sergeant Eugene Natoli on December 19, 2016 at an annual salary of $50,000. The “Request for Personnel Action” report indicates he works in the “Administration Department” as a “Keyboarding Clerk 1.”  The position is a full time, permanent position. It is evident that Mayor Barberio hired Mr. Natoli in clear violation of the law.(click here to read article).

The Personnel Action form was signed by Business Administrator Ellen Sandman.

Natoli’s Request for Personnel Action form obtained through an OPRA request
Ramona (Jackie) Ortiz

Then in an article published in Parsippany Focus on March 7, “Barberio Breaks Township Ordinances Elected to Enforce, Again,” a source inside Town Hall told Parsippany Focus that Barberio hired Ramona (Jackie) Ortiz effective December 5, 2016 as a Keyboarding Clerk I, at an annual salary of $54,000.

The salary ordinance for white-collar workers, specifically Keyboarding Clerk 1, Ordinance 2016:22 states the salary is a minimum of $17,000 with a maximum of $48,000. She was hired at $6,000 more than the maximum amount allowed by Township Ordinance. It is evident that Mayor Barberio hired Ms. Ortiz in clear violation of the law. (click here to read complete Personnel Action form)

The Personnel Action form was signed by Business Administrator Ellen Sandman.

Ortiz’s Request for Personnel Action form obtained through an OPRA request

Both individuals were hired as a “Keyboarding Clerk I.” At the time they were hired the salary ordinance for white-collar workers, specifically Keyboarding Clerk 1, Ordinance 2016:22 states the salary is a minimum of $17,000 with a maximum of $48,000. Natoli was paid $2,000 over the ordinance while Ortiz was paid $6,000 over the ordinance.

Ordinance 2017:05, read on first reading on Tuesday, April 12 was voted 3-2. Council President Louis Valori and Michael dePierro voted in favor of the ordinance. In addition, Concilwoman Loretta Gragnani voted in favor of the Ordinance by telephone since she was not present at the meeting.   The first reading passed 3 – 2.

Council Vice President Robert Peluso and Councilman Paul Carifi, Jr. voted against the passage of this Ordinance.

“I find it kind-of comical that we had to have this special meeting, at the last second, right after this gentlemen who you claim files this bogus claim,” Councilman Paul Carifi told Parsippany Focus. “Again, the mayor hired these people at a higher rate than what the salary ordinance allows. That is a fact. This is a knee-jerk reaction, as usual, by the mayor.”

“I’m voting with my conscience, no,” Council Vice President Robert Peluso said.

It was reported that Brennan and Barberio did not attend the special 5:00 p.m. meeting, during which Township Attorney John Inglesino read a statement accusing Brennan of politicizing township business and criticizing Parsippany Focus Publisher Frank Cahill.

“Mr. Inglesino appears to be speaking out of both sides of his mouth. On one hand he claims there is no salary cap violation but on the other, he’s recommending that the ordinance be changed now with an unscheduled, last minute special meeting. If Mr. Brennan’s complaint is bogus, why is Mr. Inglesino in such a hurry?” stated Democratic Mayoral Candidate Michael Soriano.

Bill Brennan told the Daily Record, “I am beginning a legal campaign against these lawless abusers. Inglesino is my ultimate target. I investigated the perpetrators and started with Inglesino’s cronies, and am working my way up.”

The meeting drew a small public audience including Michael Soriano, who is running for mayor in the June Democratic primary. Barberio is running for re-election in the June GOP primary against Peluso. The audience also included former Councilman Jonathan Nelson, Former Mayor Mimi Letts and Current Council Candidate Janice McCarthy.

“These salary ordinances should be reviewed in October or November of the previous year, and adjusted at that time, not after the mayor goes and hires people above the salary ordinance,” Paul Carifi said. “He continues to do this. But in the past, for certain people that he’s hired for certain positions, we’ve been told that the promises and/or the negotiations the mayor has engaged in, that if we did not give them those salaries, we could be sued. And at that point, we had no choice. That’s why we did it in the past.”

The ordinance will be further considered for second reading and final passage on Tuesday, April 25.

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