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Letter: The Putrid Smell of Patronage Politics Stinks Worse than Monmouth County Dump

AS TINTON FALLS DUMP CONTINUES TO SMELL  AND ELECTION IS COMING UP – CLEAR CONFLICTS BETWEEN MONMOUTH COUNTY AND TINTON FALLS OFFICIALS

 

On January 30th of 2019, over 300 local residents packed the Hamilton Firehouse as the Monmouth County Garbage Dump smelled worse than ever. State Senator Vin Gopal organized the town hall style meeting in order to force the Monmouth County Freeholders to put together a timeline and plan to minimize the smell of the county-owned dump.

According to NJ.com, in one of several mea culpas by county officials that night, Deputy Monmouth County Administrator, Geoffrey Persela admitted he had failed to notify Tinton Falls officials of the work and its potential smell. “And that’s my fault,” he told the crowd. County officials struggled to even provide the correct phone number to residents who were calling to complain. (https://www.nj.com/monmouth/2019/01/it-smells-worse-than-a-septic-tank-hundreds-of-angry-residents-turn-up-to-complain-about-local-dump.html)

Upon detailed research, we have found troubling ties between Tinton Falls officials and Monmouth County officials who have close ties to the County Board of Chosen Freeholders, who are tasked with operating and maintaining the dump. First, the town auditor for Tinton Falls is Holman Freina and Allison,which is owned by Ocean County Republican Chairman Frank Holman. According to public ELEC reports, Holman’s firm was paid $44,386 to provide auditing services for Tinton Falls for 2018. At the same time, for 2018, they received $179,000 as the auditor for Monmouth County Government. Tinton Falls taxpayers receive funds as a result of having the dump in town. At any point, did Tinton Fall councilmembers or the freeholders tell residents who had challenges as it related to the dump that they were both using the same auditor to check their spending and finances?

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In more troubling news, Tinton Falls longtime Borough Attorney Brian Nelson of the Archer Greiner Law Firm, was being paid by the Borough of Tinton Falls while being paid by the Monmouth County Reclamation Center as their attorney at the same time. Why didn’t Tinton Falls officials or the Monmouth Freeholders disclose this? In November 2017, Tinton Fall’s elected a new mayor, 94-year-old World War II Veteran Vito Perillo, who in one of his first acts made a deal with the Council to split the legal work between two attorneys. The council, led by Councilman Brock Seibert, a close ally to the Monmouth Freeholders, lobbied for Nelson while Perillo went with Brielle attorney Kevin Starkey, who serves as the Town Attorney in Brick Township. The council was successful in having Nelson continue much of his legal work in 2018 where he billed the city more than $64,000 according to public ELEC reports.

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In 2017, Archer Greiner was paid $250,705.82 from the Monmouth County Freeholders. In addition, the firm was paid $65,200 directly in services related to the Monmouth County Reclamation Center. Nelson is a longtime insider and ally to Monmouth Freeholder Tom Arnone and Sheriff and County Republican Chairman Shaun Golden. Nelson, again according to public ELEC reports, along with his firm has donated tens of thousands of dollars to Golden, Arnone and the other Republican Freeholders. He is a former law partner of Monmouth County Clerk Christine Hanlon and former State Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande.

How is it possible that Tinton Falls and the Monmouth Reclamation Center have the same attorney and same auditor with dozens of other auditors and attorneys qualified? At a minimum, the public had a right to know these close connections between the county and Tinton Falls while the county failed to properly notify the residents that the smell was going to get much worse.

This year, the incumbent 3 councilmembers are not seeking re-election in November’s nonpartisan election – where control of the city council is at stake. Sources say that Siebert helped to recruit 3 candidates who have close ties to the county. It appears as if Siebert and the County Freeholders want to continue their grip on influencing Tinton Falls with making sure that future contract negotiations between the dump and town go in favor of the county. Running on a ticket backed by Siebert and county allies are Ron Wollner, Don Michaels, and Ken Asmar. Above is a photo of them with their lawn signs with Monmouth County Freeholder Director Tom Arnone and County Chairman and Sheriff Shaun Golden.

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They face an aggressive challenge from the Independent Advocates for Tinton Falls ticket – which is made up of a registered Democrat, registered Republican and registered Independent. They are Tracy Buckley, a CPA with a finance background, Mike Nesci, a local barber, and Risa Clay, the retired principal of Red Bank Regional High School. They are running on a platform of independence from the county.

https://www.app.com/story/news/local/2019/04/12/monmouth-county-landfill-class-action-lawsuit-tinton-falls/3221912002/

https://www.app.com/story/news/local/public-safety/2019/05/15/monmouth-county-dump-odor/1190731001/

https://www.app.com/story/news/investigations/watchdog/government/2019/02/22/monmouth-county-landfill/2914514002/

 

The above letter was reader-submitted and does not reflect the views or opinions of Shore News Network.

 

 

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