Volunteers sought to aid foster care children
Are you interested in helping children in the foster care system? If so, Hudson County CASA (court appointed special advocate) is recruiting volunteers to assist in advancing the interests of abused and neglected children.
“CASA works through trained community volunteers to ensure that needed services and assistance are made available to children while helping to move them toward safe and permanent homes,” said spokeswoman Meghan Garcia.
An information session will be held Tuesday, July 9, from 6 to 7 p.m., Room 400, at the Hudson County Administration Building, 595 Newark Ave., Jersey City.
CASA and its volunteers speak for children in court, serve as fact finders for judges, and advocate for children while they are in the foster care system. Hudson County has nearly 700 children in foster care; most have been removed from their homes for abuse or neglect.
To learn more about CASA, call (201) 795-9855, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.hudsoncountycasa.org.
State report questions use of attorneys in North Bergen, WNY
A report by the Office of the State Comptroller (OSC) has found that local governments are failing to control “excessive and improper payments” for legal services.
The report was the result of a review of five local governments that found “repeated waste of taxpayer dollars on excessive or improper payments for legal services, including one town that paid a salary for an attorney with no job duties at all.”
North Bergen and West New York were the two Hudson County municipalities that were included in the report.
“What we found were repeated failures to review legal bills and manage legal contracts in a way that looks out for taxpayers,” said Comptroller Matthew Boxer. “Public officials need to scrutinize their legal bills as if they were paying for them out of their own pocket.”
In North Bergen, the OSC said it found a salaried attorney with a “no-work job,” though the office did not name the individual. The report said township officials were not able to provide any information on the attorney’s job responsibilities.
The report also talked about the township’s regular attorney. The audit had stated that as a result of Herb Klitzner’s “dual positions as North Bergen’s Township Attorney and Of Counsel with the Chasan (Chasan Leyner & Lamparello, P.C.) firm,” his alleged actions described in the report of referring township work to Chasen “appear to be a violation of the Local Government Ethics Law.”
A township spokesman took umbrage with the report’s assessment.
“We strongly object to the comptroller’s report in two key areas,” said Paul Swibinski. “First, the township attorney does not have a conflict of interest, and the state Supreme Court said there was no conflict of interest in 1995. There is still no conflict of interest. Earlier this month, Supreme Court Justice Roberto Rivera-Soto said he reviewed the report and said there is no conflict. We say the Supreme Court and Soto are right, and the comptroller’s report is wrong.”
Second, the charge that “North Bergen had on the town payroll someone who did no work is also false,” Swibinski said. “It was investigated by the Hudson County Prosecutor and he found no evidence of wrongdoing. The fact of the matter is the attorney was doing work for the township of North Bergen.”
In West New York, the OSC found that the town allegedly paid one law firm at the attorney rate of $150 per hour for administrative work performed by a secretary. It also reported that in multiple months, West New York allegedly paid the law firm more than it was billed.
Two children fall out of third-story window
A 5-year-old girl and her 4-year-old brother fell out of a window on the third floor of a North Bergen residence on Tuesday, June 25.
Witnesses said the children saw a friend on the ground and went to wave to the child when the screen in the window gave way.
On Wednesday morning, the girl was in guarded but stable condition at the Jersey City Medical Center and the boy was in critical condition.
A neighbor told WNBC news, “They looked small. They weren’t moving.”
Landlords of buildings are required to put child safety guards on windows if parents request them.