Breaking News Mayor (sammy) Samuel Rivera to plead guilty tomorrow

8 05 2008

Passaic New Jersey   Mayor Samuel Rivera will plead guilty on Friday tomorrow ( 05/09/2008 ) to taking bribes last year.

 The mayor will be resigning from his office tomorrow. He will plead guilty for a plea deal. As more will come we will update you.

You heard this story first from P.C.J.N 


Passaic City Councilmen Munk,Schwartz,Schaer Skip Council Meeting For Their Own Agenda

25 01 2008

PASSAIC — The City Council will try again next week to fill a vacancy left by the resignation of a disgraced councilman.

Mayor Samuel Rivera said he will call a special meeting for Monday so the council can vote on the appointment to the seat formerly held by Marcellus Jackson, who resigned in December after pleading guilty to a federal corruption charge.

The council had put the appointment of Terrence Love, a teacher at School 8, on the agenda for Tuesday’s regularly scheduled meeting, but the absence of three council members forced the meeting to be canceled for lack of a quorum.

Absent were Chaim Munk, Daniel Schwartz and council President Gary Schaer.

Munk said Wednesday that jet lag prevented him from attending the meeting.

“I just got back from Israel. … I was knocked out,” he said, adding he had returned home Friday.

Schaer and Schwartz did not return phone calls for comment.

Their absences angered fellow council members and some city residents, who felt their lack of attendance was an attempt to thwart Love’s appointment. On Jan. 8 the council deadlocked on Love’s appointment, with Schaer, Schwartz and Munk voting against it. If the council deadlocks in a 3-3 vote on Love’s appointment, the mayor must cast the tie-breaking vote, according to municipal law. Rivera attended the meeting ready to cast a vote.

On Wednesday, Rivera said he believed Schaer wanted to avoid making a decision about the appointment because he feared controversy. Many in the African-American community support black activist Jeffrey Dye’s bid for the seat. At the Jan. 8 meeting, a number of residents told the council they supported Dye’s bid. Love, 37, who is black, ran for the council in 2005 but lost.

“Gary has his own political agenda,” Rivera said Wednesday.

The three council members who showed up — Joe Garcia, Gerry Fernandez and Maritza Colon-Montanez — expressed frustration with the members’ absences.

“I guess some of my colleagues don’t care what’s going on in the city,” Fernandez told dozens of annoyed residents before canceling the meeting.

Afterward, Fernandez said, “Were they all sick? Is there a sickness going around Third Ward Park?” The three absent members live in the area. “It’s a clear attempt to put their agenda ahead of the city’s business,” Fernandez said.


Passaic attorney nixes bid in scandal’s wake

19 09 2007
Wednesday, September 19, 2007


PASSAIC — Gary Schaer’s attempt to hire a special counsel to represent the City Council in the wake of the mayor’s arrest in a statewide sting was thwarted by a city attorney’s legal opinion.

On Tuesday, Councilman Gerry Fernandez said the city attorney looked at case law and advised against appointing a special counsel. Sheri Siegelbaum, the city attorney, refused Tuesday to comment for this story.

Fernandez said the council did not take a vote at a special meeting Monday called by Schaer, the council president, which ended within five minutes.

“The city council tried to hire special counsel and they weren’t allowed to,” Fernandez said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

Schaer wanted to hire an “independent attorney” to advise the City Council as federal agents look into dealings that Mayor Samuel Rivera, Councilman Marcellus Jackson and former Councilman Jonathan Soto had with contractors.

Rivera, Jackson and Soto were arrested Sept. 6 on charges of bribery and extortion. Soto was a councilman from July 2003 to July 2007.Schaer and four other council members present at Monday’s meeting did not return telephone calls seeking comment Tuesday. Jackson was absent from the meeting.

Last week, Schaer announced at a regular council meeting that the city should hire the independent lawyer.

Some critics said that hiring another attorney would be a waste of money and that Schaer was taking political advantage of Rivera’s arrest. Schaer also is a state assemblyman who faces re-election in November.

Rivera, Jackson and Soto allegedly took thousands of dollars in bribes from FBI undercover agents posing as insurance brokers. The bribes were in exchange for getting the city to enter into a contract with the insurance brokers. Rivera is alleged to have said to undercover agents “I can get four (council) votes easy, easy, easy.”

The council approved a resolution proposed by Soto in December that allowed insurance brokers to offer medical spending accounts to city employees without going through the “fair and open” bidding process required by city ordinance for agreements costing more than $17,500.

Jewish Councilmembers Fail to Get Health Benefits Resolution Repealed.

8 08 2007

Meredith Mandell –

PASSAIC — The City Council Tuesday night did not rescind a controversial resolution — on a deadlock vote — allowing members to receive city-paid health insurance coverage.

The resolution would give elected officials benefits after 15 years of service compared to 25 years for municipal employees.

Voting against the resolution [PCJN Note: this is the resolution to rescind the resolution they recently passed giving them the benefits] were Councilmen Gerardo Fernandez, Marcellus Jackson and Jose Garcia and voting for were Council President Gary Schaer, Chaim Munk and Daniel Schwartz.

Councilwoman Maritza Colon Montanez, [PCJN Note: she works in Gary Schaer’s Assembly office] who was not on the council when the resolution was adopted in May, abstained. Council members did not offer reasons for their votes.

Last week, Schaer had responded to inquiries by the Herald News, and wrote an apology for passing the resolution in an e-mail statement.

He also had promised to have the health benefits resolution rescinded. Although Schaer stuck to his word, he could not muster the necessary votes to rescind the resolution.

Previously, Jackson and Fernandez called voting the resolution “a mistake” and also said they had misread the resolution and thought it applied to every city employee. Jackson and Fernandez voted not to rescind the resolution.

This latest issue comes in the wake of the council’s approval in January of a $72.8 million budget with a 9 percent property tax increase.

At the time, council members blamed the rising costs of employee wages and benefits for the tax increase. In all city employment contracts, the municipality has agreed to pay 100 percent of health-insurance premiums for retired employees and their spouses who have 25 years of service under the Public Employee Retirement System, the state-funded pension plan. Passaic has 694 employees, according to a February 2007 personnel list.

In November, the city received $1.5 million in extraordinary aid money from the state Department of Community Affairs, intended for “municipalities who, because of extreme circumstances, would not be able to provide essential services to the community without a substantial increase in their property tax rate,” according to the DCA.

Less than three weeks before the council approved the resolution, Gov. Jon S. Corzine, trying to curb rising property taxes, signed reform legislation that removed elected and appointed public officials from the state pension system and established a 401(k)-style contribution program for all newly elected and appointed officials, among other stipulations.

View original article here.

Passaic City Council Meeting.

7 08 2007

There will be a Passaic City Council meeting tonight, August 7, 2007 at 7:00 pm, at City Hall – 330 Passaic St.

City Council meetings are always open to the public. In addition, at these meetings, members of the public are invited to speak about anything they’d like, and address the council or the mayor for up to 5 minutes.

Come, and let your voice be heard!