PASSAIC – The loss of one public contract this month and the anticipated loss of a second one tomorrow does not put longtime Democratic Party power player Donald Scarinci back on his heels or in a philosophical cast of mind.
His behemoth firm still has over 110 public accounts, which account for less than 25% of its revenue.
“They come and go,” he said. “When you do this much public work, you have no expectattion to keep a public account after an election. You prepare yourself mentally.”
To the notion that the Gov. Chris Christie era has thrown him into retreat, the onetime Union City street kid who grew up learning politics with U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez and Mayor Brian P. Stack says, “It’s not a secret that I have a lot of admiration for Chris Christie as a person. There is a lot of merit in Chris Christie’s ideals, in the sense that ‘I don’t care about a second term, all I care about is doing what’s right.’
“I admire his conviction,” Scarinci told PolitickerNJ.com. “Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m endorsing his philosophy.”
Scarinci Hollenbeck, LLC this month lost the legal contract for the City of Passaic, a contract Scarinci had for 16 years, which was frozen at $450,000 annually for the past six years. His replacement, former state Sen. Bernie Kenny (D-Hoboken), took the reins as part of a 90-day trial period, which sources say is almost certain to yield him a longer term contract at half the cost of Scarinci’s.
In another seeming jolt to SH, the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission tomorrow is expected to drop the services Scarinci provided since 2002.
“I never expected to stay there as long as we did,” said the power broker, resigned to the decision made by Wayne Forrest, appointed earlier this year by Christie to replace Bryan Christiansen at the authority, who infamously made $313,000 annually.
“This is a new executive director who’s looking to put his own team in place,” the attorney said of Forrest, the former Somerset County prosecutor.
While he’s leaving the city contract of Passaic, sources say he’s likely to absorb the school board’s $250,000 contract. Moreover, Scarinci said he is confident that key employee Joe Oxley, chairman of the Monmouth County Republican Committee, will especially prove his value if Christie continues to dominate the landscape.
“He’s doing a lot of work for the firm on the private side,” Scarinci said of the former Monmouth County sheriff. “He’s entrenched within the county. I’m sure you’ll see us emerge elsewhere because of Oxley. And we have other Republicans at the (50 plus attorney) firm.
“Also,” the attorney added, “one of my partners is on the Department of Environmental Protection Committee formed by this administration.”
Sources say Passaic Mayor Alex Blanco’s decision to hire Anthony Iacono as the city business administrator instantly pitted Scarinci against an old foe. The two men had uncomfortably shared space in three other towns. Now the city wanted to reduce its legal costs by 20 percent as it asked police brass to downgrade their ranks to alleviate the cost burden and enacted layoffs.
They couldn’t work together, the new BA and the veteran counsel; a situation worsened by the urgency of Iacono’s early city savings suggestions, which included himself shouldering some responsbilities to distribute costs. That caused the hair on the back of Scarinci’s neck to doubly rise.
Called for comment, Passaic City Council President Gary Schaer said, “They are both professionals. If they butted heads, it didn’t happen in Passaic. Donald Scarinci is an old and dear friend on whose authority on so many aspects of the law I have long depended.”
Forrest wouldn’t comment on what sources say is his imminent recomendation to change directions and dump Scarinci.
And although the Union City-schooled attorney and fierce behind-the-scenes politico admitted that lately much of his focus now is national as opposed to local and statewide, and more of his attention devoted to writing books than gaming politically, he laughed at reports of his firm’s demise as a consequence of these two contract losses.
“When you have 110 public accounts, you have a lot of competitors who wish that was true,” Scarinci said.