A press release issued today by the Hudson County Democratic Organization, which is backing Assemblyman (and West New York Mayor) Sal Vega for State Senate against Assemblyman (and Union City Mayor) Brian Stack, is worth reading:
FOUR TOP FIRE OFFICIALS SAY $75,000 PART-TIME DIRECTOR JOB WAS CREATED FOR UNION CITY MAYOR BRIAN STACK
Two other Directors Received $19,000 pay raises to get Stack the salary he demanded.
A $75,000 part-time “Executive Director” job created by a regional fire department was intended solely for Union City Mayor Brian Stack, according to four top ranking officials of the North Hudson Regional Fire & Rescue.
Late last year, the NHRFR created a third part time Executive Director position in a planned reorganization.Because Stack insisted on making $75,000, the fire agency gave the two current Directors 34% pay increases, raising their salaries by $19,000, from $56,000 to $75,000.The pay increases took effect January 1, 2007 but the new position remains unfilled.
At an NHRFR meeting on Monday, Management Committee Chairman Richard Turner admitted that he recommended Stack for the new post over a year ago but that “many individuals” were also considered.Turner’s remarks were videotaped.
But Management Committee Members Frank Bruno and Robert Aiello, Executive Director Mike DeOrio and Chief Financial Officer Christopher Pianese all say that Stack was the only candidate they heard mentioned for the position.
Bruno, who is one of five Management Committee Members, said that he had heard Stack’s name mentioned for the new job, “five or six times during meetings with NHRFR officials.” Bruno said that it was Turner who brought up Stack’s name every single time. At one meeting at the end of last year, as the job was being created, Bruno said Turner referred to Stack as “you know who from Union City.”
DeOrio said that Turner told him to ask for the $19,000 raise during a management committee meeting. “I believe that my salary is appropriate for my responsibilities, but also that it was increased to $75,000 because that’s the amount Brian Stack wanted to earn,” said DeOrio.
CFO Christopher Pianese said that he had heard discussions about creating the new job for well over a year, and that he always believed the job was for Brian Stack. “Brian Stack was the only name I ever heard mentioned for this position,” he said. Pianese added that Turner asked him if he could find money in the budget to support the $19,000 pay raises.
Management Committee Member Robert Aiello, a retired Fire Chief, told West New York Mayor Silverio ‘Sal’ Vega that the job was created for Stack.
“Chief Aiello is a man of integrity and he clearly told me that it is a known fact that this position was for Brian Stack,” said Vega.”Chief Aiello would not lie to me or anyone else.”
Vega attended Monday’s NHRFR meeting and challenged Turner about the new job. Turner denied that the job was solely for Stack. He said that “many individuals” have been discussed as candidates. He justified the $19,000 raises for the two existing directors by claiming several times that they had not received any increases in the last four years. None of Turner’s statements are true.
“Despite Mayor Turner’s claims, the truth is that this job was planned solely for Brian Stack, that both Directors received $19,000 raises to bring them up to the same $75,000 salary level that Stack demanded, that there were never any other candidates considered, and that the two Directors had received 4% pay raises in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006,” said Mayor Vega. “The master plan was to create this job late last year and give it to Stack in January.Only the Democratic Primary fight got in the way.And the architect of this plan is none other than Richard Turner, the man who repeatedly lied during the meeting yesterday.”
Vega called creating the $75,000 part-time job for Stack, “a slap in the face to taxpayers” and said that the blatant patronage move could jeopardize state funding that gives every North Hudson homeowner an annual property tax credit of almost $500. “The state is about to go through a contentious budget debate,” Vega said. “A scandal like this could cost us our funding.”
Vega adds that Stack is “grossly unqualified” to be a Fire Director. “He has no fire department experience whatsoever,” said Vega.The third Director’s job was part of a reorganization plan that the NHRFR asked the five member towns of WNY, North Bergen, Union City, Guttenberg and Weehawken to adopt by resolution. Several towns adopted the resolution but the reorganization plan was put on hold when the Democratic Primary fight erupted. Stack and Vega are opposing each other for the District 33 State Senate seat and both are part of a countywide political battle.