Bergen Republicans ask feds to probe improvement authority

Bergen County Republican Chairman Bob Yudin today sent a letter to U.S. Attorney Chris Christie asking him to expand his probe of Bergen County officials to the operations and fee structure of the Bergen County Improvement Authority (BCIA).

Yudin pointed to County Executive Dennis McNerney’s appearance at a Glen Rock school board meeting, during which he urged members to use the BCIA to issue bonds for school expansion projects. Members of the school board, however, decided to seek the bonds on their own.

Yudin said that McNerney wanted to strong-arm the school board into accepting the bonds from the BCIA so that Bergen County Democratic Organization (BCDO) allies would stand to earn thousands of dollars in fees.

“The BCIA is at best, a shadowy organization that exists, as far as I can tell, primarily to generate fees from the sale of bonds for donors to the Bergen County Democratic Organization and to the BCDO attorney Dennis Oury, who is also the attorney for the BCIA,” wrote Yudin in the letter.

The BCIA was subpoenaed in May by federal authorities regarding a probe of BCDO Chairman Joe Ferriero and BCDO counsel Dennis Oury. Dozens of Bergen County towns were also subpoenaed.

Yudin said that, since taking office in 2003, McNerney has pressed many towns to use the BCIA for financing, and noted that the BCIA also made a $103 million loan to the ill-fated EnCap project.

“There are a great many things the public does not know about the operations of the BCIA that I am sure would be of extreme interest to taxpayers. The BCIA seems to operate with little oversight by the county’s elected officials and with practically no transparency whatsoever,” wrote Yudin.

Bill Maer, a spokesman the BCDO, said that the attack was a “a different bow on the same package.”

“It’s good to see the Republicans are continuing to come up with campaign issues by reading the newspaper. It’s their standard read the newspaper, send a press release, try to get cheap press,” he said. “You would think that after all these years of defeat they would know that people are smarter than that, and do not listen to their typical campaign rhetoric.”

McNerney Chief of Staff Brian Hague said that the issue was simply a matter of finding a way for the school to save money based on the county’s superior bond rating.

“We’re doing our part to save the taxpayers’ money, and one way is to use our AAA bond rating as opposed to the borough’s AA bond rating,” he said. It would be a shame for the residents to have to pay more than is necessary because a school board needs to consider better financing alternatives.”

 

Bergen Republicans ask feds to probe improvement authority