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Point Boro GOP Votes for Boro Attorney Without Knowing Rate

Republicans say that now they will renegotiate with Jerry Dasti to determine rate

However, Republican council members who voted for Dasti to return to the borough in his former role say they do not know exactly how much he will charge, but they will renegotiate with him and let the public know the rate later.

The council voted along party lines on Dasti's appointment and the appointments of municipal auditor, conflict attorney, conflict municipal engineer and municipal auditor, with Council President Antoinette DePaola and Councilmen Mitch Remig, Robert Sabosik and John Wisniewski voting in favor and Councilmen Christopher Leitner and Christopher Goss voting against.

During his report on the finance committee, Leitner took the opportunity to register his objections to the Republicans' move to appoint their own choices to fill the borough's professional appointments.

"When I was first on the council, I asked Mayor (Marty) Konkus if there was some room to get some professional appointments," Leitner said. But Konkus politely told him no, Leitner said, saying it was the only thing that was within his ability to choose, as the mayor in Point Pleasant does not have the power to vote except in the case of a tie.

Leitner went on to quote South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican, as saying advice and consent should mean just that, that the council should have accepted the appointments made by Mayor William Schroeder at the council's reorganization meeting, because the professionals he chose were well-suited for the roles they've been serving.

"Fallon has been elbow deep, and is probably now shoulder deep, in our budget," Leitner said, referring to the former borough auditor, Fallon and Larsen, indicating that the experience of helping the borough through a financial crisis was important to consider.

"Please don't replace your judgment for the judgment of the mayor," Leitner said.

DePaola responded during her committee report, saying the council was making the appointments because they wanted people in place who they felt comfortable working with going forward.

"For people who think this is about political patronage, it is not," she said. "We need professionals who can do the jobs. Our former borough attorney was a tax attorney; he didn't have a municipal background, and there were times when there were deficiencies in knowledge.

"The role of the council is to have professionals they can work with," she said.

The biggest point of contention was the appointment of Dasti, and the cost of his services during his previous tenure as borough attorney was criticized on Tuesday night.

"I want your word that we won't have $200,000 in borough attorney's fees for 2012 or 2013," said Laura Beeden of Spruce Street, who raised concerns about Dasti's past fees.

Both DePaola and Leitner told Beeden her request for a promise was unrealistic, because part of the fees paid to Dasti in the past dealt with litigation.

"The council does need to be diligent in reviewing bills," Leitner said, "but it's impossible to predict the litigation costs from year to year."

Beeden said her concern was the amount paid to Dasti had been rising each year.

Wisniewski, who had requested from borough Administrator David Maffei information on the capped payment amounts for the borough's various professionals, told Beeden, "That's why I asked David if there's a list of caps."

The biggest question, however, of how much Dasti will be paid for this year remained unanswered.

He submitted a request for proposal (or RFP) of a maximum of $93,500 for 2012 "or about $7,500 per month," according to copies of documents submitted by his firm in early December to Borough Hall. That figure has been negotiated down, DePaola confirmed, but refused to reveal the negotiated amount.

"Now that we've gone forward with the appointment, we have to figure out exactly what his contract will be," DePaola said after the meeting.

All of the professionals the Republicans appointed agreed to lower fees than their submitted bids, she said, but she and Sabosik would not reveal the negotiated amounts on Tuesday night. "We'll be glad to send it to you," Sabosik said.

DePaola insisted the fee reductions that were negotiated are measurable.

"It's a win-win for the taxpayers," she said.

Tom Szymanski Jr. of Joseph Street, president of the borough's Republican Club, criticized Leitner for voicing his complaints about the appointments during his committee reports.

"That should be a time for nonpartisan government business," Szymanski said, to which Schroeder replied that council members don't forfeit the right to voice their opinions just because they're seated on the dais. "It doesn't diminish our voice."

"There's a time and a place, and that's not it," Szymanski retorted, reiterating that he felt Leitner's comments were inappropriate for that time of the meeting.

Leitner pointed out Szymanski's GOP ties and said the council meeting is the only place for him to voice those concerns.

"We have to be talking to each other up here," Leitner said, noting that a discussion of three or more council members outside the public forum is a violation of the state's Sunshine Law.

The following appointments were approved Tuesday night:

  • Joseph D. Coronato as municipal prosecutor;
  • Hutchins, Farrell, Meyer & Allison as municipal auditor;
  • Bathgate, Wegener & Wolf, P.C. as conflict attorney;
  • Remington & Vernick Engineers as conflict municipal engineer;
  • Steven Zabarsky, Esq., of Citta, Holzapfel & Zabarsky as conflict municipal prosecutor
  • Sean Gertner, Esq., of Gertner, Mandel & Peslak as conflict municipal defender

Zabarsky and Gertner were appointed unanimously.

KingNeptune February 08, 2012 at 07:24 AM
Appointing him without knowing his rate. Well if that doesn't sound like "good old boy" politics, I don't know what does. Voters in Pt Boro should be outraged by this.
Robert Sibilia February 08, 2012 at 01:17 PM
How disapointing is Sabosik, Remig Wisiewski & DePaolo. For all the good they did with the garbage contract they award a public contract with out knowing the rate. This is total GARBAGE.
Laura February 08, 2012 at 02:04 PM
Sabosik seems to think that the amount for last years attorney ($70,000) versus the amount Dasti charged us the year before ($98,000), i believe that was the figure Sabosik quoted, is no big deal. Possibly in his little enclave on the bay it isn't but it sure is for the other residents who live in this town.
Councilman Robert Sabosik February 08, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Councilman Bob Sabosik Your headline is incorrect of course we know all of the rates The reason for the lower numbers is to save money for the taxpayers of Point Pleasant as we promised. To imply that we do not know the numbers is one dimensional at best .As a businessman of over 40 yrs I would never appoint someone or sign a contract without knowing the full amount that's simple business # 101.The. The numbers are solid the paperwork will follow .
Laura February 08, 2012 at 04:03 PM
It seems the residents will be the last to know what we are paying because some Council members want it kept a secret. When I brought this up last night about lower rates when an Associate of Dasti does the work, Sabosik said that they would look into that. If you already know what they are charging? How do you intend to look into it. Does anyone think Dasti does all the research himself? I've got a bridge I'm looking to sell. AND if some council members were talking to Dasti, personally bill those Council members. All business should be going through the Administrator. Isn't there a resolution stating that? Jerry is taking one for the team. Toni's and Mitch's seats are up this year. Look how close an unknown newcomer came last year. Why bother with RFP's when you knew the day after the election who was going to be Boro Attorney?
Spooner February 08, 2012 at 05:49 PM
...I'm kind of getting tired of Laura Beeden's continued rant over Dasti's fees. Last year in January she posted Dasti's bill in 2010 for $188,000+. . .But what she doesn't talk about is her own complicity. . . along with the unions, it's members, Councilman Dikun and the two Democrats:Leitner and McHugh, Dikun's brother, Lt Bob Dikun who sued the town, and the fact that she personally posted over 400 discussion topics that year on her website: 80 posts alone dealing just with Susan Rogers, then the Mayoral candidate and 50 posts in the month of October. . . compared to less than half that total number in 2011(191). . .To think that politics which was at a very feverish pitch in 2010 is not related in part to Dasti's bill. . . kind of begs the question? ...you wanted to shoot off your mouth. . . then accept the bill. . .and stop complaining!
Pearl M. Connolly February 08, 2012 at 05:58 PM
Thank you spooner for your always negative comments. You blame the unrepublicans, Laura Beeden, boro workers, unions and also refer to old items that are done and over with. The question is how much $$$$$$ is Mr. Dasti getting? Why wasn't it made available at the meeting? Did the entire Council participate in the selection and review of the costs.
Tom Szymanski jr February 08, 2012 at 06:11 PM
Journalistic bias. That headline is misleading. As Councilman Sabosik stated, the numbers are there. And as I stated at last night's meeting, Mr. Dasti is being hired for a LOWER rate than what his bid came in at. Same for auditor. That is a clear indication the Council-President Depaola as well as Sabosik, Remig, and Wisniewski negotiated those rates down, in the best interest of the taxpayers. As far as Mr. Starkey's firm goes, you get what you pay for. If you want a tax attorney with no prior experience in municipal government, go for it. ALL union contracts are up thus year, let's have somebody who actually knows what they're doing representing us.
Tom Szymanski jr February 08, 2012 at 06:13 PM
And furthermore...as Councilman Goss pointed out....Bathgate was the highest bidder, and he was not hired. The Republicans chose a middle-of-the-road rate, for an attorney who has skill and experience. They didn't pick the guy the most expensive guy, and they didn't pick the little-to-no experience tax attorney. Well done, in this observer's opinion
Laura February 08, 2012 at 07:06 PM
You must be the only one Mr. Szymanski that knows the numbers. Weren't the Republicana screaming about putting the numbers out there on the garbage rfp? Now it is not necessary? A little hypocritical don't you think? Just what we need. More counting the holes in the ceiling tiles from Dasti. His fee for Council meetings less litigation matters better be less than $70,000 or he is not the best bang for our buck.
Laura February 08, 2012 at 07:09 PM
Oh wait that's right. You are the President of the Republican club. That's along with Scarpello and Plum as officers in the club. Weren't they big supporters of Susan Rogers?
Laura February 08, 2012 at 08:01 PM
Spooner, Retirement dull? Counting posts? Why don't you hop on over to the Brick patch and discuss Nat Sladkin's finer points.
Spooner February 08, 2012 at 08:07 PM
@Ms. Connolly: that information was available on the Internet two months ago at : http://info.animallovertoo.com/2011/professionalsbids.pdf ...as for why the town Council does not make it available. . .well you don't like to read all that "negativity". . .Like one of these decades the Council will move into the 21st Century world of technology. . .and besides this Mayor doesn't believe in transparency. . .he shut off his FaceBook site "Citizens for a Greater Point Pleasant" from viewing by any internet user. . .restricting access to those who pat him on the back? ...and did the entire Council discuss selecting and reviewing the costs. . .isn't that what this article and some of the posts are about, above and below?
Pearl M. Connolly February 08, 2012 at 09:08 PM
Again you are not discussing the issue at hand. Apparently what was posted by animal lover has been changed. "Now that we've gone forward with the appointment, we have to figure out exactly what his contract will be," DePaola said after the meeting. Why the change? If they made an agreement why can't they say what the fee is at the meeting. I asked "did the entire council participate in the selection and review of the costs???." Apparently you don't have and answer for that either. The article stated the costs would be less, well how much is less? Why are we the taxpayer after all the talk about transparency are not told the cost per hour, cost per staff level, cost to attend meetings and take telephone calls. We knew what the garbage bids were.
Spooner February 08, 2012 at 09:48 PM
Ms. Connolly: you imply like I'm in control of the Point Pleasant Boro Council. Those issues you bring up, I've been addressing for many years. I too would like answers to those questions. As for comparing garbage RFP's . . .there's a difference. . .it's called "pay to play" When it comes to appointing professionals, as Cortland Coleman said: those professionals should be "in house" hire. . . not selected year after year by what party controls Council appointments? As for Councilman Leitner's mention of SC Senator Lindsey Graham: I might remind the Councilman that President Obama had been attempting to get his nominee Richard Cordray appointed to head up the Consumer Protection Agency with no avail from Senator Graham. It wasn't until the Congress recessed for the holidays. . .that he made a recessed appointment. . .which could be challenged in Court by the Republicans who used a "Pro Forma" ruse to prevent his appointment. . .arguing that they were in cession. . .
Oscar Wilde February 09, 2012 at 01:05 AM
Republicans vs. Democrats......IDIOTS ALL OF YOU FOR STILL BELIEVING THIS
Freetobeyouandme February 09, 2012 at 01:54 AM
1) If Dasti’s big selling point is his experience dealing with union negotiations, why did the PBA initiate what turned out to be an extremely expensive lawsuit against the town? I'm not looking to question the law, just the motivation. 2) What does Laura Beeden’s blog have to do with Dasti’s billable hours? Was the town attorney being used to fact check opinions? If so, that's just plain wrong on so many levels. 3) I have no doubt that Councilman Sabosik believes he made the correct choice. However, I also believe he, like the majority of the town, will be very disappointed with the results.
Pearl M. Connolly February 09, 2012 at 05:14 PM
Let’s stick with issues contained in the article, not what Lindsay Graham said or recess appointments as they are national issues. Bob Sabosik in his own words “Of course we know all of the rates. The reason for the lower numbers is to save money for the taxpayers of Point Pleasant as we promised. To imply that we do not know the numbers is one dimensional at best .As a businessman of over 40 yrs I would never appoint someone or sign a contract without knowing the full amount that's simple business # 101.The. The numbers are solid the paperwork will follow. The article stated “Republican council members who voted for Dasti to return to the Borough in his former role say they do not know exactly how much he will charge, but they will renegotiate with him and let the public know the rate later.” All of the professionals the Republicans appointed agreed to lower fees than their submitted bids, she said, but she and Sabosik would not reveal the negotiated amounts on Tuesday night. "We'll be glad to send it to you," Sabosik said. It asked for but no financial information was provided. Remarks made by our local elected officials appear they don’t know the exact dollars and will send them at a later date is not transparency as promised. DePaola insisted the fee reductions that were negotiated are measurable. "It's a win-win for the taxpayers," she said. I don’t know if as a taxpayer I won yet.
Lifetime Resident February 09, 2012 at 08:30 PM
Typical business as usual Point Pleasant Politics. No regard for whats good for the residents. They had another attorney willing to do the job for significantly less than Dasti has charged town in the past. I actually emailed all of the council members urging them to be fiscally responsible. I am personally outraged by the games being played by our politicians. The GOP in this town has lost sight of what their jobs are about.
Lifetime Resident February 09, 2012 at 08:33 PM
Take a better look at what Dasti charged the year before (2010), I read somewhere that is was 162K but it def was well over 100K, and he was well on his way to exceeding 100k in 2011 but he was replaced before he could.
vicco February 09, 2012 at 09:16 PM
I have attended some of those meetings and they alway remind me of the commercial....................a mind is a terrible thing to waste.

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