Richard A. Barba, a resident of Bayonne, spoke out at the Feb. 16 City Council meeting against the council’s introduction of an ordinance that would abolish rent control for some residents in the city.
The ordinance would allow landlords to opt out of rent control, in many cases, if they make certain upgrades to their property, said City Attorney Charles D’Amico.
Senior citizens and the disabled would be exempted from this change, he said, and landlords would be required to meet certain criteria before they are allowed to participate in the “opt out” program.
“I put down that I didn’t have a DWI, when in reality, I had one 13 years ago.” – Patrick Kaufman
The public will get to air its opinion on March 16 when the resolution comes up for final passage.
Council rejects taxi application
The council also supported the decision by Police Chief Robert Kubert to disqualify Patrick Kaufman’s request for a taxi license after the chief said information on Kaufman’s application is inaccurate.
At the meeting, Kubert told the council Kaufman failed to disclose a Driving While Intoxicated charge and other violations as required on the application for the license. Based on this and the subsequent investigation of Kaufman’s driving record, Kubert rejected the application.
In his appeal, Kaufman admitted excluding the information, but said he was confused by the request because his DWI conviction and its subsequent suspension of driving privileges happened 13 years ago, and his recent application for a commercial driver’s license from the state only required him to disclose if he received a conviction over the last 10 years.
“When I applied for the hack license, I put down that I didn’t have a DWI, when in reality, I had one 13 years ago. It’s my fault, but I didn’t mean to exclude it,” he said. “This is the first time I’ve applied for a hack license and I didn’t know.”
Kubert, however, said the DWI was not the only violation Kaufman excluded, and some of these were more recent – none of which were reported on the application.
On the license application, it is asked if you’ve ever been arrested, not about any charges. Another question asks if a license has ever been revoked. Kubert said Kaufman checked no to both.
“When it has been suspended not only for DWI but also for unsafe driving infractions,” Kubert said, “it is my opinion allowing him to operate a cab in the city of Bayonne would put the public in jeopardy.”
Kaufman’s license, Kubert said, had been suspended three times for a variety of charges that included failure to stop for a traffic signal, speeding, and driving an uninspected and uninsured vehicle. Failure to pay fines and insurance surcharges led to the additional suspensions, Kubert said.
Kaufman, however, argued that these happened prior to his cleaning up his act about 13 years ago.
“I admit I did those things, but I’m not that person any more. I’ve been dry for 13 years,” he said.
After a closed session to review the matter, the City Council voted to support Kubert’s decision, although Council President Terrence Ruane did offer praise to Kaufman for his sobriety.
“I will commend you for being clean for the last 13 years, but we have to support the chief on his decision,” he said.
A step up
Long-time assistant purchasing agent Amy Dellabella was named as qualified purchasing agent, giving the city an official who is better prepared to deal with contracts and other aspects of city purchasing, city officials said.
Last year, Gov. Christopher Christie lowered the bid threshold to $17,500 for vendors doing business with the city, except when the city’s agent has a qualified purchasing certificate, which allows the city to award contracts without a bid up to $36,000.
Although Dellabella took over as purchasing agent late last year – replacing Andrew Balik, who the city says retired last August – the city has been without a qualified purchasing agent until this month.
The state legislature created the “qualified purchasing agent” distinction in 2008. But it didn’t take effect until 2011, and having Dellabella certified as qualified will provide an increased level of expertise to a city employee who has sought out additional training and state certification.
Dellabella, who served as Balik’s assistant before he left, served as interim purchasing agent until late last year.
Described as competent by fellow workers, Dellabella is responsible for connecting with vendors seeking bids and proposals; dealing with invoices and contracts; seeking comparative prices and quotes; and other duties.
In 2001, Dellabella successfully appealed a ruling by the Division of Selection Services, which found that she did not meet the experience requirements for the promotional examination for assistant buyer when the city named her to that position. The state Merit System Board approved her appeal, saying that she did meet the requirements.
Balik, who retired from the city as its purchasing agent in mid-August, later filed a suit against the City of Bayonne, the city business administrator, and the city law director, claiming he had been forced out of his position without due process.
The suit alleges that Balik is a victim of “constructive dismissal” after he was allegedly threatened with prosecution for not following proper bid procedures.
According to the lawsuit, City Attorney Charles D’Amico and Chief Financial Officer Terrence Malloy confronted Balik and told him to submit his retirement papers by Aug. 31.
He was told, according to the lawsuit, that “if he did not retire, he would be faced with charges.”
Balik, 69, had been employed for the city for 15 years.
City officials maintain that Balik was not terminated, but retired.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.