TRENTON – Before dismissing an ethics complaint today against state Sen. – and Union City Mayor – Brian Stack regarding his use of a state legislative aide on Union City business, a state ethics committee wrestled with the problem of how to quantify how much work the aide did for the state and how much for the city.
In the complaint to the ethics commission, Joseph Blaettler alleged that Stack aide Brian Albiez, who is paid by Stack’s Senate office as well as by the Assemblyman Ruben Ramos, spends time doing Union City business though he is not employed by the city and collects a $75,000 salary for his full time work with the legislators.
In a response to the commission, Stack said Albiez does the Union City work as a volunteer and more than earns the legislative salary.
Committee members today discussed the problematic issue of how to discern how much work Albiez does in each role.
Stack, a dual office holder grandfathered under a 2007 law, said he was gratified the complaint was dismissed and said it was baseless to begin with and that the aide has been working for him since 2009.
Committee member John Harper addressed the complexities of the case. He pointed out that when one considers that the aide is working as a volunteer in the city that is part of the senatorial district and that he also works for an assemblyman in the same district, “you can’t clearly sort this out.’’
Committee Chairman Alan Rosenthal pointed out the overlapping constituencies as well. One-third of the legislative district is the city, he said. “Constituent requests are not always sortable as to who to address them to,’’ he said.
And Harper and committee member Mark Alexander said it would be difficult to separate out how much of what he does is for Sen. Stack and how much is for the city.
But committee member Peter Inverso, the lone vote not to dismiss the complaint, said he felt it warranted more investigation. He called it “baffling’’ that one person could work 80 hours a week for the senator and assemblyman, plus do volunteer work for the city.
In September, the committee had dismissed another part of the complaint involving Albiez’s use of an office in the Union City municipal building.