Cumberland taxpayers pay for a Magazzu/Norcross doublecross

I posted extensive articles on MagazzuWatch about the Comtec situation. The lowest qualified bidder, Comtec, a local company was awarded and then denied the contract after Geroge Norcross demanded that a Cherry Hill company be given the contract. The Camden County company came in third lowest, and as only two bids were awarded, one of the winners had to be kicked to the side.

Michael Vertolli told me that he had been approached during the process and asked to donate politically. He also received phone calls and was told he could have the contract as long as he hired his crew “from Camden County.”

This deal was orchestrated by Magazzu, but Bill Whelan rubber-stamped it all along, and never once raised any objection about our local jobs going out of town.

Freeholders James Dunkins, Bill Whelan, Nelson Thompson, Joe Pepitone and Louis Magazzu — all Democrats — approved awarding the work to NJ Business Systems and Aloha. Freeholder Thomas Sheppard, a Republican, voted against the measure; Jane Jannarone, a Democrat, abstained.

And now in order to avoid a costly lawsuit, where the county would most certainly lose, the county is settling. Of course the taxpayers are being forced to pay the cost of their political machinations. Cumberland County taxpayers lost when two out of county firms were awarded and our jobs were given away. And now we lose , I agree is it only $15,000 – but that is $15,000 that could have gone to benefit this county.

Cumberland County will pay $15,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by a Vineland electrical contractor who cried foul in 2010 when the county rejected his bid to do work.

The county risked paying damages and lawyer fees of more than $30,000 if the lawsuit brought by Comtec Systems Inc. went to trial, county counsel Brendan Kavanagh said recently in defending the decision to settle.

I love Brendan Kavanaugh’s double-speak in the article. It was he, after all, who came up with the distorted argument the county used to reject Comtec. If you want the details, type “Comtec” in the search bar on MWatch, and you will see copied of documents and the entire story. However, Matt Zager did a very nice job of reporting the facts.

Of course, if you wonder why the cost of government is so high, take a look at the salaries in question. The question was whether the successful bidder had to have a “certified apprentice program” in place. Of course, if that were actually the law, as Kavanaugh damned well knew wasn’t the law – nobody but union shops would be allowed to bid on any public contract.

This is the reason that the Vo-Techs do have certified apprenticeship programs in place – providing a workforce for non-union, smaller shops for projects such as this. The law only mandates that wages meet a certain level; which they did in every case.

However, am I the only person that finds a wage of $32.50 to $41.99 for someone that hasn’t been fully trained on a job, hence “an apprentice” is a bit extreme? Is it any wonder that projects such as the Prosecutor’s office cost us in the millions?

But that is the bigger picture, something that has to be addressed at a state level. What we can addresses at a local level, however, is a demand that our elected Freeholders put the companies and citizens of Cumberland County first – and hire us rather than third-place bidders falling  under George Norcross’s protective graces, in Camden County!

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5 Responses to Cumberland taxpayers pay for a Magazzu/Norcross doublecross

  1. Jennifer Swift says:

    One of Nelson Thompson’s last acts as a Freeholder was to present a “union package” to the board for approval. Among many requirements put forth in the resolution was that projects over a certain amount (not sure of the dollar figure) must be done by contractors that have “a certified apprentice” program. Of course, this assures that the labor unions will receive all the jobs. The board of the County Tech Ed. School voted to drop its “union package” to enable local smaller businesses to participate in building projects. If the Board of Freeholders rescinded their resolution, it would open up more opportunities to hire local contractors.

  2. Calhoun says:

    Great job Carl. Once again MWatch is way out in front of the papers. None of us should be surprised at Magazzu’s machinations on this or the fact that his D loyalists on the board (save for Jannaraone, who, for whatever reason, abstained) went along with it. However, the state does have laws (weak as they are) to at least try and prevent this kind of blatant cronyism. And it is here where our county counsel, Brendan Kavanagh failed big time.

    Kavanagh should have stopped this action; instead, he endorsed it. The County got sued and settled. So, it paid for the higher bids and is now on the hook for the settlement costs…all thanks to Brendan. The respect I have for Gary Wodlinger could fit in a thimble. However, at least when he was in Brendan’s position, he would occasional make Lou toe the legal line when Lou tried to do something out of bounds (like messing with the Clerk’s state mandated salary).

    Kavanagh’s defense for settling — it would cost the County more if it went to trial — should spark calls for his resignation. Tareyton smokers (like Elvis) would rather fight than switch (I do miss cigarette ads); however, Kavanagh’s would rather settle than fight. When the solicitor makes a statement like this he is inviting future lawsuits against the County as it projects the County as overly willing to settle.

    If the Rs take over after this election, the county will get new counsel and lose a politically-connected warden and public safety director. That’s good enough for me.

  3. wondering I says:

    The amount of money we pay for lawyers fees are very high. I think each lawsuit that is brought up against the county should be announced somewhere. The Freeholder board approved a settlement with a Vineland company at the end of the August meeting. How much was the lawyer’s fees for this particular case?

    > The costs for legal fees for the last few years is listed:
    > 2008 $744,867
    > 2009 $549,871
    > 2010 $648,598
    > 2011 (to May) $299,703
    >
    > Many questions come up about lawyers fees. Our total lawyers fees for the periods above were $2,243,058. Lipman Antolelli received $776,397 for their efforts. I would like to know just what they were woring on.
    Did you know they are appointed by Kavanagh since he is the county lawyer? How must approve the invoices from the various law firms?
    Mr Whelen has instituted a quarterly report on our financial, he should also have prepared a report on the suits against our county, why, for how much, and a progress report for the citizens to see. This is a part of the county workings that most people dont even hear of or know anything about. This is a good chunk of money and we must be aware of how it is being handled.

  4. Guess-Who says:

    Why has there been an out of Court Settlement of $15,000.00 on this matter with Comtec ?

    By NOT going to Trial the EVIDENCE as to WHO or WHOM insisted that the 3rd HIGHEST BIDDER (Aloha) be Awarded to CONTRACT.

    This is just another form of SUPPRESSION from the TRUTH and in a sense Pacifying the Company that should have been AWARDED the Contract in the first place with this SETTLEMENT of $15,000.00

    Remember that IF it had Proceeded to Court the CHAIN of COMMAND would have been REVEALED to the Public.

    Now the Tax-Payer[s] are PAYING a SETTLEMENT for the Actions of the County of Cumberland, NJ (Legal Council) 😦

    I believe that IT was Orchestrated from Camden, as to WHAT to do on this Situation to AVOID the TRUTH being known in Court.

    Occupy Cumberland County should be the 1st Location in the State of NJ to Hold the THIEVES Accountable for their Actions.

    It is time to OPRA every County of Cumberland, NJ Employee[s] EMAILS & PHONE Records!!!

  5. 2cents says:

    The Lipman Antonelli law firm is Wodlinger’s home turf and Magazzu’s old hang-out law office. Don’t think for a second that Wodlinger isn’t still getting trickle down from his old law firm through these directed legal issues from Kavanaugh. Also, keep in mind that lawyers get referral fees for directing potential clients to other law firms. Magazzu did very well with his “referrals” as did Wodlinger and now Kavanaugh. And guess what; it’s all legal.
    The out of court settlement was done because everything Magazzu and crew did was improper and hovering in the grayness of illegal. Plus, it was the County’s hired legal guns that gave it the green light. There was no way that the County was ever going to defend against something that they had no defense for in the first place. I also believe Jannarone may have abstained because there is some type of personal connection to Comtec, although I’m not really sure who or what it is. At least not yet.

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