Petition sold as saving tax dollars in Jackson ends up wasting $40,000.
by Phil Stilton
JACKSON-A politically motivated plan by a defeated 2012 candidate for township council to oust the law firm of Ocean County GOP Chairman George Gilmore has been defeated in New Jersey’s Supreme Court.
A petition launched by Jackson resident and “Jackson Taxpayers Association” leader Ray Cattonar sought to put the question of in-house legal counseling on a november election ballot.
According to legal filings, appellants, Nicolas Antonoff, Catherine V. Giancola, Richard F. Davidson, Raymond J. Cattonar, and Roger E. Downing, were the Committee of Petitioners responsible for an initiative petition to amend a Jackson Township ordinance.
The petition sought to create an internal “Department of Law” within Jackson Township and to abandon the practice of hiring outside specialized legal counseling and to create a one size fits all municipal legal staff.
Cattonar said he based his in-house counseling strategy on that of former Howell Township Mayor Robert Walsh.
Jackson resident Gary Black who followed the saga from the beginning said of Cattonar in a letter penned to the Tri-Town News, “I am sick and tired of seeing Ray Cattonar make headlines for his misdirected, self-serving attempts to gain notoriety.”
Cattonar said of his plan, “An in-house legal department would not eliminate outsourcing specialized attorneys, but by coordinating the outsourced attorneys with an in-house legal team the savings should be dramatic.”
Instead his plan ended up costing the township over $40,000 in legal fees, paid directly to Gilmore and Monahan, the firm he sought to replace with in-house counseling, and Starkey, Kelly, Bauer & Kenneally of Toms River.
“After three long hours of testimony, Judge Wellerson agreed with the council members and the mayor, and voted against Mr. Cattonar, declaring his ballot question null and void,” Black said. “Hold on to your wallet the next time you see this guy asking you to sign another misdirected petition.”