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Monday, May 13, 2019

Frivolous Record Request at the Direction of Republican Town Council Members?

During a three month period, Westfield resident Brooks Doyne filed 45 OPRA (Open Public Records Requests) with the Westfield town clerk seeking information on a number of municipal issues from parking meter revenue, DPW overtime hours worked, to emails between town officials and PSE&G.

The OPRA requests have generated over 1400 pages of documents by the town.

The information sought required countless hours of research to compile a response owed to the requester within 7 business days.  There is often attorney review required to assure that the town’s response to the OPRA request does not violate any confidentiality statutes.

The person requesting the information has touted his relationship with two sitting town council members and his disdain for Mayor Shelley Brindle’s 2017 election victory where democrats swept the local municipal election.

The cost of responding to the OPRA requests has caused the town to incur expenditures at a time when Westfield Town Councilwoman JoAnn Neylan continues to vote “no” on this year’s proposed budget and the spending of any surplus on capital improvement projects and equipment.

TFoTM wonders if Neylan approves of the expenditures incurred by the magnitude of OPRA requests submitted by an individual claiming to be in contact with her parties representatives at a time when locals campaigns are gearing up for November’s elections.

The OPRA request featured below required 114 pages in the town’s response
Note: Tap on picture to view clear resolution.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Pay to Play Politically

The Westfield Leader newspaper, a Republican approved publication, will begin charging a fee to anyone wanting to post a political endorsement for print in it’s newspaper, of any candidate in the upcoming elections.

Posting an endorsement in online media will continue to be free.

It would appear that the Westfield Leader is taking advantage of campaigns flush with cash that are willing to dole out money to have letters of support appear in the paper, while deliberately censoring campaigns that don’t.

Local resident and NJ Assemblyman Jon Bramnick is seeking re-election this year and has long been a power player in local and state politics.  Some rumors circling have him eyeing a future run for NJ governor.  Bramnick’s campaign “war chest” is flush with cash that could potentially be used to fund political endorsement letters.

Political endorsement letters are not to be confused with political campaign advertisements that appear in the news paper and online and traditionally require a fee like any other advertisement.

So, if you want to sit down and write an endorsement of your favorite candidate for local, county, or state government this fall, get out the checkbook because it’s going to cost you.  This is something never seen before and puts a whole new spin on the old political saying “Pay to Play”

Oh, and if that isn’t bad enough, the Leader also states, “We publish letters to the editor in the printed newspaper on issues of importance to our readers at the discretion of the editors.”  If that isn’t censorship, what is?

The Westfield Leader has long been known for its “editorial censorship” by shortening letters to the editor claiming space limitations in the paper and arbitrarily assigning titles to letters to the editor submitted by trades, that don’t always convey the authors intent.

A Westfield Town Council candidate in this year’s local election, Republican Rich Bodmer, is no stranger to endorsements.  In fact, the Westfield Leader endorsed his race car with its name emblazoned on the vehicles front hood.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Westfield Rolls Out New App

The Town of Westfield introduced a new app to the public that allows the user to report their concerns, pictures, and other information to town officials so that they may address the issues.  See photos below of the Westfield Connect app.
This is a “game changer” in communicating concerns, by users, allowing town personnel to address the issues that might otherwise get lost in the daily schedules of town employees and administrative officials.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Illegal Dumping by Westfield Department of Public Works?

The Westfield Department of Public Works has had a history of disposing hazardous material in violation of DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) regulations.

The Fact of The Matter previously exposed illegal dumping under the leadership of a past superintendent Claude Schaefer.  Asphalt was being dumped on an unprotected surface at the conservation center on Lambertsmill Rd. allowing oil based material to leach into the ground.  Also, debris picked up by the DPW street sweeper was often illegally disposed of at the conservation center.

Last year the town council voted on a municipal budget that included the purchase of two new street sweepers to keep Westfield’s streets clean.  DEP regulations require that the material picked up by the sweeper be placed in a container or on some other protected surface until it’s legally disposed of.

It appears that Westfield DPW Superintendent Greg O’Neil has continued the tradition of illegal dumping.  In the picture below, a pile of hazardous material picked up by Westfield street sweepers was illegally dumped on what is allegedly New Jersey Transit property adjacent to the Westfield DPW property.

Click on the following link for Department of Environmental Protection Regulations and Standards.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Where’s Johnnie? WPD’s Dave “Walker” Wayman Knows

What do you get when you add a bottle of water to an empty bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue and have the disgraced ex-Police Chief David Wayman return it to police headquarters?  A crime?  Theft?  Tampering with evidence?  Official misconduct?  

The Fact of The Matter has learned that David Wayman, the Westfield Police Chief forced to resign August 1, 2018, allegedly pilfered bottles of top shelf high end liquor from the police department.
The liquor was seized during a search of a suspected criminal’s residence and inventoried in the department’s locked property room.  

Wayman’s hankering for liquor, which was well known amongst police personnel and perhaps unsuspecting females frequenting local bars in Westfield and Clark, NJ....., would be part of the investigation that led to the corrupt police chief’s departure along with his involvement in the coverup of his own motor vehicle accident.  (See previous TFoTM blog stories from last year.)

A source has alleged that Wayman’s heist from the WPD property room was uncovered and that he tried to return the bottles, once filled with premium alcohol, now filled with water. 

Just another coverup in the tainted term Wayman served as Westfield’s entitled police chief.  

David Wayman 

Monday, April 08, 2019

Westfield High School Principal Dr. Derrick Nelson

It is with great sadness that the Westfield community has lost a leader.
Westfield High School Principal Dr. Derrick Nelson has passed away.  Dr. Nelson slipped into a coma after having donated bone marrow to help others.
A true hero on and off the battlefield.

Thursday, April 04, 2019

Investigation Into DPW Theft Wraps Up, New Photos Emerge of DEP Violations

The town hired a law firm to conduct an independent investigation into the alleged theft of overtime by employees of the Department of Public Works.  That investigation has wrapped up and the findings of the investigator are anticipated.
The Fact of The Matter has obtained photos of the illegal disposal of chemicals by the DPW under the direction of DPW Superintendent Greg O’Neil.
More to come including pictures.

Monday, April 01, 2019

Illegal Access to Police Computers

File this one under “It happened there, it happened here.

In 2004-2005, ex disgraced Westfield Police police Chief Bernard Tracy stated that “he had files on people,” files that dated back to an arrest of a Westfield resident that had attended Westfield Town Council meetings to voice opposition to the construction of parking decks.

It was also alleged that Chief Tracy used Police computers to obtain personal information on members of the local press, residents and members of WECARE, a group organized to fight parking deck construction, and a sitting town councilman at the time.

Westfield Town Administrator Jim Gildea was notified of the breach by Chief Tracy and the Town took steps to terminate the whistleblower.  A civil suit filed protected the whistleblower who eventually retired after Chief Tracy was forced to resign or face investigation into his alleged misconduct with a female police detective named Sandra Chambers, among other allegations.

See related story of police sergeant suspended.

Friday, March 15, 2019

2nd List of Westfield DPW Employees Allegedly Stealing Overtime

     The Fact of The Matter has obtained an additional list of Westfield DPW workers names and time clock ID numbers involved in what has been described as a routine scam into alleged theft of overtime.
     TFoTM previously reported on the alleged theft and included a picture of a list of employees involved in the scam.  (See previous blog story.). That list of names appears on the same stationary for an auto glass company.
     The alleged scam would be perpetrated by one DPW employee coming into work early or leaving work late.  The employee would enter the ID numbers on the list, into the digital timeclock at the DPW, clocking other employees into or out of work that were not actually present at that time.
     This alleged overtime scam bilked thousands of dollars in O.T. which ultimately cost taxpayers.
     The additional photo obtained by TFoTM has been redacted to remove employee names.

     Westfield town officials were made aware of the alleged thefts months ago.

Saturday, March 09, 2019

Local Business Owner, Above the Law

A downtown business owner continues to flaunt Westfield Town parking ordinances.

In this photo, sent to The Fact of The Matter, business owner Rory Chadwick parked his company van in a NJ Transit bus stop and defended his illegal parking by stating no more buses were coming.

TFoTM suggests that Rory Chadwick familiarize himself with NJ Transit bus schedules and Westfield town parking ordinance 13-19 titled “Bus Stops.”

Chadwick can usually be seen riding around town on his motor scooter, illegally parking around downtown, between two legally parked motor vehicles.
Not only is it illegal to park between vehicles that are legally parked in marked spaces, he is avoiding paying the meter fees which in turn, denies the town its parking revenue which offsets taxes. This screws the local taxpayers.

Rory Chadwick posted his illegal parking excuse on Facebook and feels he is being picked on by those snapping photos of his parking arrogance.  The fact of the matter is that there is a simple solution, park legally. 

TFoTM suggests Rory Chadwick obey town parking ordinances.  Mr. Chadwick, you're not above the law.

Friday, March 01, 2019

Westfield Police Widow Trashes Town Government After She Receives Lifetime Health Benefits

     Tammy Gabriel Lieberman, the estranged wife/widow of Westfield Police Detective Eric Lieberman, was awarded lifetime health benefits after Town officials and Westfield PBA 90 renegotiated the terms of retirement benefits for members and their families.

     One day later, after she received a letter from Westfield Town Administrator Jim Gildea, a letter that memorialized the town and PBA’s agreement, she took to Facebook to trash town government. 
Eric Lieberman
     The old PBA contract clause stated the following:
“....grants an employee with at least 15 years of service with the town and with at least 25 of years service with the Police and Fireman’s Retirement System, health coverage for employee and his or her dependents at retirement.”
     Detective Lieberman had served 27 years with Westfield and had 27 years vested in the PFRS.  
     However, Lieberman had not retired before his death making his dependents ineligible as per the wording in the contract between the Town and PBA.
     Recently, the town and PBA changed the wording to rid the contract of the clause requiring “retirement” in order to be eligible for lifetime benefits.
The contract is retroactive to January 1, 2019.  
Detective Lieberman passed away off duty in 2018. 
Tammy Gabriel Lieberman posted the following on Facebook.  She references an article written by a local online news source, and trashes town government towards the end of her Facebook post. 

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Role Model Reject

Who would ever want to grow up to be a lying, cheating, bigoted, narcissistic sociopath exhibiting racist behavior?

No doubt this young boy, in awe of law enforcement personnel, has altered his aspirations and dreams of who he’d like to be when he grows up in light of the circumstances surrounding the disgraced police chiefs sudden resignation from the Westfield police department during the Union County Prosecutor’s Office investigation into corruption and misconduct.

TFoTM has covered the face of the juvenile in the picture below to protect his identity.
Disgraced ex Westfield police Chief David Wayman

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Westfield DPW Collects Overtime Despite No Plowing......Photo of Alleged DPW Employee Overtime Bilking

     The Westfield DPW provides a service to the taxpaying residents of Westfield.  One such service is clearing snow from public sidewalks and roadways.

     Westfield Town Ordinance Section 24-5 "Removal of snow and ice from sidewalks" states, "The owner, tenant, or occupant of any premises abutting a street shall remove all snow from the sidewalks abutting any portion of said premises within 24 hours after the snow has ceased to fall.  Where ice is frozen to the sidewalk, it shall be removed or shall be treated with salt or other ice melt product."
     If residents are required to remove snow and treat ice, that has fallen on their sidewalks, shouldn't the Town be required to do the same?  How about removing snow and ice from public roadways? 
     There is nothing in the town ordinance that states residents are exempt from removing 2.9 inches of snow or ice from their sidewalks but yet there seems to be a standard set by DPW Superintendent Greg O'Neil that Westfield roadways will not be plowed unless 3 inches of snow has fallen.  We all saw what happened in November when streets weren't plowed.......a commuting nightmare.

     Yesterday's "snow event" is the third such storm since last November.  The first storm in November crippled traffic making 30 minute commutes into harrowing 6 hour ordeals all because of a lack of preparation and plowing.

     Employees of the Westfield DPW were "sticking around" on overtime yesterday waiting for snow to turn to rain or to be directed out into the early evening to commence plowing.  They sat collecting overtime while the storm winded down, with no intent by the DPW superintendent to have them plow Westfield's streets due to the lack of a "plowable event" of less than 3 inches of snow accumulation.

     The bilking of overtime is not new in Westfield.  Most recently, TFoTM spotlighted the alleged bilking of overtime by some DPW workers that were clocking into work while clocking co-workers in, co-workers that were allegedly not at work, until up to an hour later.  This practice also allegedly took place at the end of workdays where employees would leave for the day but would not clock out.  A co-worker would stay late, sometimes until an hour or two later, while maintaining a list of coworkers names and employee ID numbers to be punched into the time clock garnering all the employees unearned overtime.

TFoTM has obtained two photos of two separate lists of names and employee ID numbers identifying the employees that had their names punched into the Department of Public Works time clock while allegedly not at work.  Town officials were notified months ago of the alleged thefts.  The employees involved in the alleged thefts still remain employed.  What investigation, if any, took place?  The photo shown here has the employee names redacted by TFoTM.

The Fact of The Matter applauds the genuine effort of each DPW worker tasked with maintaining Westfield's parks, roadways, and other public property despite decisions made by department heads and the actions of corrupt employees. 

The squandering of overtime, whether by theft of by the inept decision making of a department head, cost Westfield taxpayers thousands upon thousands of dollars each year.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

New Leadership at the Helm of the WPD

Last night I witnessed the swearing in of Westfield police officer Frank Padovano to the rank of Captain.

For the first time in almost 10 years, I’m convinced that the Westfield police department is headed in the right direction.

It was almost 10 years ago that I met with then Mayor Andy Skibitsky and warned him of the negative impact that promoting David Wayman to captain and eventually Westfield police chief, would have on the police department.  He didn’t want to listen to that warning.  

Last year, TFoTM exposed Wayman’s motor vehicle accident cover up, which was just the tip of the iceberg of other corruption and misconduct uncovered by the Union County Prosecutor’s office during their investigation into the WPD. 

It was an “I told you so” moment, aimed at Skibitsky and all those still on the Westfield Town Council at the time of Wayman’s swearing in to the rank of police chief in 2012.  

Newly appointed Westfield police chief Christopher Battiloro had the duty of introducing Captain Frank Padovano to a standing room only crowd last night.

Battiloro also had the honor of introducing the police department’s two new police chaplains and the reasons/need for two pillars of Westfield’s religious community to be officially sworn in as members of the police department. 

To hear Battiloro speak, was to hear an educated, articulate, and compassionate person deliver words that no chief before him could have ever strung together. 

For the first time since October of 2000, the Westfield police department’s promotional process that resulted in Battiloro ascending to the highest rank within the WPD wasn’t one of politics, handshakes, and backroom deals.  

In the past, politics had played a major role in WPD promotions including accusations of altered test scores, padded evaluations, and favoritism.  Last night was a breath of fresh air and the continued unveiling of a new and improved Westfield Police Department that residents can be assured will conduct itself in a manner where trust, integrity, and accountability, will prevail. 

The new leadership of the Westfield Police Department will effectively guide the honorable men and women, among its ranks, into the future.  

Under the direction of two educated, professional, and competent individuals, the WPD is finally in good hands. 

Thursday, February 07, 2019

Padovano Named WPD Captain

Copied from Town of Westfield announcement. 

WESTFIELD – FEBRUARY 7, 2019 – Westfield Police Chief Christopher Battiloro has announced the promotion of Lieutenant Frank Padovano to Captain of Police, effective February 1, 2019, and the appointment of Rabbi Douglas Sagal of Temple Emanu-El and Deacon Keith Gibbons of Holy Trinity Catholic Church as Police Chaplains, effective February 12, 2019. 
Captain Padovano was appointed to the Westfield Police Department as a Patrol Officer on July 24, 1998.  He was subsequently promoted to the rank of Sergeant of Police on June 2, 2008 and to Lieutenant of Police on July 29, 2013.
Captain Padovano is a 1997 graduate of Rutgers University and, prior to his appointment to the Westfield Police Department, served as a Corrections Officer with the New Jersey Department of Corrections.
Captain Padovano is a highly decorated member of the Westfield Police Department.  He was awarded two Life Saving Medals, the Medal of Merit, twelve Command Citations, the Hurricane Sandy Service Award and two Certificates of Merit. 
Captain Padovano served as a member of both the civil disturbance and SWAT elements of the Union County Emergency Response Team.  He presently serves as the commanding officer of the Westfield Police Department’s Emergency Service Unit and as the Westfield Police Department’s supervising Firearms Instructor.
Captain Padovano will be assigned as the commanding officer of the Westfield Police Department’s Administrative Division.  Additionally, he will serve as the Westfield Police Department’s Accreditation Manager, once the department commences the process of seeking accreditation from the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police in 2019.
Captain Padovano resides in Cranford with his wife, Michelle, and their three children: Jordan, Olivia and Riley.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Disgraced Westfield Police Chief Seeks Sea Bright Police Chief Job

UPDATED 2/4/19 11:45am.  (See below)
A TFoTM source states that disgraced ex-Westfield police chief David Wayman has applied to become Sea Bright’s next police chief.  Wayman abruptly resigned from the WPD on August 1, 2018 during a Union County Prosecutor’s Office investigation into alleged corruption and misconduct including a hit and run accident and coverup allegedly involving Wayman.

Westfield police Lieutenant Leonard Lugo, the author of the hit and run accident, was demoted back to patrol sergeant in the wake of the investigation. 

Sea Bright’s police department includes 5 patrolmen, 1 detective, 1 corporal, 2 sergeants, 1 lieutenant, and 1 captain.  Sea Bright is looking to fill the position of police chief to replace the retired John Sorrentino. 

TFoTM can confirm that that Sea Bright is moving in a different direction and will not be hiring discraced ex-Westfield Police Chief David Wayman as their police chief. 

Sunday, January 27, 2019

What Happened There, Happened Here......Revenge on The Whistleblower

When a police officer crosses the proverbial “thin blue line” to report corruption in his/her police department, they often face retaliation in the form of denied overtime, reassignment to a less desirable assignment, and false departmental charges all in an effort to silence the whistleblower.
What happened elsewhere has happened in Westfield and the taxpayers are left to pay the cost of lawsuits and frivolous disciplinary action against the officer......the whistleblower.
Whether it’s in the form of a paid suspension, departmental hearings also known as “kangaroo court,” or through settlements with the police officer, the residing taxpayers of the police department patrolling the streets of their town, are left on the hook for damages.
What happened in the town chronicled in the story below (tap on link), has happened in Westfield.....not once......but multiple times.
Whose to blame?  The rouge police chief or a town’s administration that is forced to defend the actions of a corrupt department head and his penchant for revenge?

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Westfield Police Lieutenant Leonard Lugo Demoted to Sergeant

Westfield police Lieutenant Leonard Lugo has been demoted in rank to patrol sergeant in the wake of a Union County Prosecutors Office investigation into his involvement in alleged police corruption and misconduct including authoring reports that covered up disgraced ex-police Chief David Wayman’s hit and run accident that occurred in March of 2018.  Wayman resigned on August 1, 2018 during the UCPO investigation.  (See previous TFoTM blog coverage)
Lugo’s demotion stems from disciplinary action against him for his misconduct.

Saturday, January 05, 2019

Westfield Dumps TAPintoWestfield as an Official Internet News Site

On Thursday night, at the annual Westfield Town Council reorganization meeting, Mayor Shelley Brindle announced that the town’s official news sources are The Westfield Leader and the Star Ledger, dumping Jackie Lieberman’s TAPintoWestfield.

New Jersey Advanced Media, which owns the Star Ledger generates 70 million pageviews per month which dwarfs TAPintoWestfield’s 2.3 million annual pageviews. 

The decision not to rename TAPintoWestfield, Jackie Lieberman’s online advertising site containing local stories, as an official Westfield news source, has riled a few supporters including another owner/editor of a TAPinto franchise. 

Elizabeth Parascandola-Clee, otherwise known as “Elizabeth PC” in numerous Facebook groups, is the co-owner/editor of the TAPintoClark franchise.  Her recent comments attached to a TAPintoWestfield Facebook post by Jackie Lieberman, that announced the change, attacks Mayor Brindle’s decision not to name Lieberman’s internet “ad agency” and news site as one of Westfield’s official news sources.  

Scotch Plains resident and TAPintoWestfield franchise owner/editor Jackie Lieberman is the administrator of the Westfield NJ and TAPintoWestfield Facebook groups that has routinely censored content including comments made by group members and has gone as far as to ban group members she disagrees with that have exercised freedom of speech. 

Friday, January 04, 2019

Christopher Battiloro Sworn In as Westfield Police Chief

A standing room only crowd saw Mayor Shelley Brindle administer the oath of office to Christopher Battiloro as he became the Westfield police department’s tenth police chief since the department was established in 1902.
Chief C. Battiloro is the son of former Westfield Fire Chief Paul Battiloro.
Photo credit to Town of Westfield

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Trust, Integrity, Accountability.......WPD Police Chief Needs to “Clean House”

     In today’s local news, Westfield Mayor Shelley Brindle made some remarks regarding the selection of Chris Battiloro as Westfield’s new police chief to replace the disgraced David Wayman who resigned on August 1st in the midst of ongoing investigations into police corruption within the Westfield police department. 
     Mayor Brindle stated about Battiloro, “He is a superb public servant who brings exceptional experience, character and commitment to this critical role. When we began this search, I indicated that I was looking for someone who reflects the values of my administration and our community, with unquestionable integrity and the ability to transform the culture of the department into one that embodies trust and accountability. Chief Battiloro brings all of these qualities to the job, and is someone I know will dutifully represent our residents and the outstanding men and women in the department.”

     Wayman’s resignation was facilitated by TFoTM’s efforts to expose his hit & run accident and the fictitious reports filed by Westfield Police Det. Lt. Leonard Lugo. 

Lt. Leonard Lugo
     Lt. Lugo still remains employed and currently serves as a day shift patrol platoon commander after being removed from the detective bureau during a Union County Prosecutors Office investigation into Wayman's hit & run and other misconduct and corruption involving Wayman.
     TFoTM asks......Is Lt. Leonard Lugo a "superb public servant who brings exceptional experience, character and commitment to the critical role” as a patrol platoon commander in charge of the daily duties of his subordinates?  

Does Lt. Leonard Lugo reflect the values of Mayor Shelley Brindle’s administration and our community with "unquestionable integrity?"  

Does Lt. Leonard Lugo’s conduct "embody trust and accountability?"

     Lt. Leonard Lugo came to Westfield PD from the Patterson police department as a patrolman and was hired by ex-police Chief Bernard Tracy.  Lugo allegedly left Patterson out of necessity as a result of that department's rampant misconduct and corruption.

Westfield Police Chief Chris Battiloro needs to clean house of the culprits of corruption and misconduct in order to restore the integrity, trust, and accountability to the WPD.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Battiloro to Lead WPD

Copied from Town of Westfield 
Mayor Shelley Brindle announced that Christopher Battiloro has been named Westfield Chief of Police, effective December 12. After an extensive and thorough search process, Town Administrator Jim Gildea made the recommendation, which received the consent of the Mayor and the unanimous approval of the Town Council.

“I am thrilled to announce Chief Battiloro’s appointment today,” said Brindle. “He is a superb public servant who brings exceptional experience, character, and commitment to this critical role. When we began this search, I indicated that I was looking for someone who reflects the values of my administration and our community, with unquestionable integrity and the ability to transform the culture of the department into one that embodies trust and accountability. Chief Battiloro brings all of these qualities to the job, and is someone I know will dutifully represent our residents and the outstanding men and women in the department.”

“I’m honored to accept this role and represent a department of so many exceptional public servants,” said Battiloro. “I look forward to building further community engagement between the Police Department and the residents of Westfield, and remain committed to the highest standards with which I have been entrusted by the Mayor and Town Council.”

Battiloro joined the Westfield Police Department in 1997 as a Patrol Officer and, in his 21 years of service, has held a variety of roles, completed a broad range of specialized training, and has received numerous commendations, including two Westfield Police Department Life Saving Awards and four Westfield Police Department Command Citation Awards. Most recently, he served as Captain of Police as the commanding officer of the Administrative Division from 2013 to his August 2018 appointment as Acting Chief of Police. Chief Battiloro is a graduate of Westfield High School and Clemson University, and resides in Cranford with his wife and three children.

Chief Battiloro will be formally sworn in at the Town’s Annual Reorganization Meeting on January 3 at 6:30pm.

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Bilking Overtime at Westfield DPW

     The Fact of The Matter has obtained photos containing the handwritten names and employee ID numbers of Westfield DPW workers that were allegedly clocked into and out of work when they were not present at the DPW.
     The list also contains the name of a department supervisor that allegedly condoned the illegal practice of “buddy punching” that ultimately costs taxpayers as a result of the bilking of overtime not worked. 
     TFoTM has learned that town officials will be addressing a grievance this week filed by a DPW worker regarding the allocation of overtime to employees. 
     Claims of favoritism by a department supervisor(s) in distributing overtime is the basis for the complaint that was previously brought to the attention of Westfield DPW Superintendent Greg O’Neil. 
     Town officials were made aware of the alleged theft of time, weeks ago, but have yet to conduct a thorough and complete investigation to address the alleged criminal misconduct. 

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Westfield Police Widow & Mayor Shelley Brindle Interviewed by Eyewitness News

Tap on internet link to view video.

Westfield Mayor Updates Public on Widow Tammy Lieberman’s Demand for Health Benefits


DECEMBER 3, 2018

In addition to last week’s statement provided by our Town Administrator and PBA President, I would also like to add some further clarity to the ongoing media inquiries regarding health benefits for the Lieberman family. I do not take providing additional personnel details lightly; however, I would like to shed light on our labor contracts, which are already public. Additionally, in this case, an abundance of misinformation continues to circulate and, as Mayor, I operate from a place of facts. As such, the public has a right to know how we care for our employees while responsibly managing taxpayer dollars.

First and foremost, contrary to some reports, the Lieberman family has never been in danger of losing their health insurance. Our focus since Detective Lieberman’s untimely death has been on finding a resolution to this terrible and rare situation, well before any media attention was involved. The following is intended to summarize the issue at hand and communicate how we plan on resolving it in collaboration with our PBA partner.

To reiterate, we are trying to solve for a horrific circumstance where Detective Lieberman tragically died in May at the age of 47, leaving behind a spouse and two sons. This specific scenario -- one in which a police officer who was eligible to retire, but for his own reasons elected not to do so, and died as an active employee -- is not one that has ever occurred in Westfield, which is why it hasn’t previously been contemplated in the Town’s union contracts.

Mrs. Lieberman, as her husband’s beneficiary, is receiving the following benefits provided by the State of New Jersey Division of Pensions and Federal law that apply to active officers regardless of retirement eligibility:

• A life insurance payout at 3.5 times her    husband’s annual salary

• Approximately 80% of her husband’s pension for life

• Three years of COBRA health insurance, if she elects to accept it, with a market rate premium contribution (which is about double what Detective Lieberman was paying as an officer)

These are the same benefits offered to, and accepted by, the families of our fallen firefighters, three of whom we lost in the last eight years. The intention of the higher life insurance payout for active officers is to provide financial peace of mind for the family, including offsetting costs for things like increases in healthcare premiums.

For context, if Detective Lieberman had been retired when he passed away, Mrs. Lieberman would have received the following:

• A life insurance payout of 1.5 times, instead of 3.5 times, her husband's salary

• 100% of her husband’s pension for life

• Health insurance benefits until the age of 65 with a reduced contribution (about 30% of the COBRA premium)

I am sharing this context so that the public may understand that each provision relates to another, and it is hard to solve for one issue without unintended consequences for another one.

That being said, Detective Lieberman’s untimely death revealed an unintended gap in our health insurance benefit plan for the families of retirement eligible officers who die while still employed by the Town. Fortunately, we have the opportunity to address this gap as we are in the process of finalizing our FMBA (Firemen’s Mutual Benevolent Association) contract, and are entering into negotiations with the PBA, whose contract expires at the end of this month. As a result, we have already been working on solutions with both unions to close the financial gap in coverage that this experience has revealed.

Regarding Mrs. Lieberman, we had already let her know that if she elects COBRA coverage, no contribution is required in 2019 before April 1, at a minimum, to allow the Town and the PBA to agree on a solution for her family and any other similar situation that may happen in the future. Any report that the Town is expecting a $25,000 health insurance premium payment in January is simply untrue.

Lastly, while many who are less informed about the actual facts are demanding an immediate solution, please know that I am not able to do this unilaterally and without the partnership of the PBA and the input of the Town Council – nor would it be appropriate for me to do so. There is no daylight between the Town and the PBA, which represents all of our police officers, regarding our mutual commitment to doing the right thing for the Lieberman family and for all of those who bravely serve. Any solution we reach concerning contribution rates and length of coverage will be retroactive to January 1, 2019 and apply to the Lieberman family.

This has been a tough few weeks for the fine men and women of our police department who continue to grieve the loss of one of their own. I have seen first-hand their grief and commitment to honor Detective Lieberman’s memory, and have heard from many of them how discouraging it is to have the PBA and the Town administration be accused of abdicating their responsibility for his family’s care.

I gave Tammy Lieberman my personal commitment to ensure her family would be cared for when I first spoke to her several months ago. As the daughter of a young widow myself, I recognize the fear of a mom who is afraid of leaving her children parentless and I am committed to providing her peace and security.

Thanks to everyone in our community for your care, compassion and concern.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Westfield Police Detective's Widow Seeks Lifetime Health Benefits

     Westfield Police Detective Eric Lieberman’s untimely death on May 22, 2018, left a wife and two teenage children, ages 14 and 19, without their main source of income and health benefits.


     Westfield social media forums have been debating the issue since widow Tammy Lieberman began posting in online Facebook groups, with a petition started on titled “Approve Health Coverage for Detective Lieberman’s Family."  So far, the petition has garnered 1,136 signatures with a goal of 1500.  Some signatures from as far away as California and Florida.
     There is also a separate Facebook group established and titled "Tammy Lieberman's Community."  Tammy Lieberman has stated she is currently battling stage 4 breast cancer.
     Tammy Lieberman and her children moved to Florida after selling her family home in Roselle Park back in August for a reported $330,000 according to Zillow.
     According to the Asbury Park Press Data Universe, a database that lists all public employee salaries in the state of New Jersey, Eric Lieberman’s last reported salary was $123,706.  This amount may or may not include a longevity bump of 9%.
Facebook Group
     Based on the Westfield PBA 90 contract and NJ Police and Fireman’s Retirement System, Eric Liberman’s surviving spouse is entitled to 3.5 times his reported salary.
     Using the $123,706 reported salary, Tammy Lieberman should have received a check totaling at least $432,971 as a lump sum life insurance payout.
     Additionally, the surviving beneficiary is entitled to the pension earned by Eric Lieberman during his career.  During his career, Eric Lieberman contributed between 8% and 10% of his annual income to the Police and Fireman’s Retirement System.  Based on Eric Lieberman’s contributions over a 27 year career, the yearly pension Tammy Lieberman will collect is equal to 50% of her estranged husband’s last yearly salary or 50% of $123,796. ($62,000 per year.)
     As per the PBA contract with the Town, Eric Lieberman's surviving spouse and children are not entitled to the Town's healthcare benefits that Eric Lieberman was paying for, which was approximately 30% of the yearly cost.  The contract stipulates that an employee that has completed XX amount of years of service with the Town of Westfield and 25 years service in the Police and Fireman's Retirement System is eligible to collect healthcare coverage for the employee and his spouse, including dependent children, upon retirement and until the age of 65.

     Eric Lieberman had not retired from the Westfield Police Department at the time of his off-duty death and therefore the town is not required to fund health insurance for his beneficiaries.
     Tammy Lieberman has been offered the opportunity to purchase insurance coverage under federal COBRA laws which would cost approximately $25,000 per year.
Det. Eric Lieberman
     The current status of Eric Lieberman’s marriage has been the topic of debate with Tammy Lieberman stating they were working to reconcile a marriage that had them living separately for years.  Sources have confirmed that Eric Lieberman remained married to allow his wife to continue receiving the health benefits provided by the Town of Westfield as per the PBA’s contract but both maintained a dating relationship with others.
     Another source has stated that Tammy Lieberman currently collects social security disability benefits and that she is entitled to Medicare.  Lieberman’s youngest son (14) is eligible for social security benefits until he turns 18 years old.
     Westfield Mayor Shelley Brindle provided an update to the media which includes a statement from Town Administrator Jim Gildea and PBA President Paul Ferry, on Tuesday, November 27, 2018.  Mayor Brindle stated, “I fully support the ongoing partnership between the town and the PBA as they work together to address this issue, and I hope that their joint statement below provide some helpful clarity.”

Statement from Gildea & Ferry:

     “The town and the Westfield PBA continue to mourn the loss of detective Eric Lieberman, and he is sorely missed. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with his family.
     Although we remain strictly prohibited from discussing the details of personnel matters, it is important that this obligation not be misconstrued as a lack of assistance or compassion for Detective Lieberman’s family.
    We have, in fact, been privately working toward a solution to address their healthcare coverage concerns, and continue to do so.
     We find it unfortunate that, in this process, their personal situation has been made public, with many comments being made in the absence of complete facts.
We remain firmly committed to keeping the personal details of these discussions between the town and the Lieberman family private.
     More broadly, there are state and federal laws in place that guide us in these matters, and, the town has gladly exceeded it’s legal obligations on several fronts in an effort to assist Detective Lieberman‘s family during this trying time.
     That being said, Detective Lieberman‘s passing has identified unintentional health coverage gaps in our collective bargaining agreement in the face of an untimely tragedy. In the absence of a contractual provision to address continuing health care coverage in this case, our policy is to defer to the federal COBRA laws, with the knowledge that a substantial life insurance payout and pension benefit traditionally assist in easing any financial burden.
Both the town and the PBA consider this an opportunity to work together to discuss improved protections moving forward.
We are committed to finding a mutually agreeable resolution that is legally, contractually, and fiscally viable in a timely manner to bring peace and security to the Lieberman family. With the current contract expiring this month, we look forward to addressing the continuation of health coverage in our negotiations. Thank you to the Westfield community for the care and compassion demonstrated to one of our own.” 

The fact of the matter is that the mayor and town administrator can't award someone benefits they are not contractually entitled to, without opening the door to other claims made by past, current, and future employee's family members is a similar situation.

While awarding Tammy Lieberman lifetime health benefits might be the right thing to do emotionally and morally, the mayor and town administrator can't legally or contractually do it.  As harsh as it might sound, she is only entitled to that which the PBA contract stipulates.  Anything different has to be negotiated during contract negotiations.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Westfield Police Chief Selection Process Underway

     The Town of Westfield is in the process of selecting its next police chief to fill the void left by disgraced police Chief David Wayman who resigned on August 1st amid an ongoing Union County Prosecutor’s office investigation into corruption and misconduct exposed by The Fact of The Matter. 
     Wayman’s alleged coverup of his own hit and run accident was the precursor to a wider investigation that ensued and ensnared other Westfield police officers. 
     Left in Wayman’s wake of lies and deceit is a police department trying to emerge from a shadow of dishonest leadership fostered by the office of the chief of police over the past 15 years beginning with Bernard Tracy and John Parizeau. 

Candidates for Westfield Police Chief, from top to bottom:  Captain Christopher Battiloro (Acting Police Chief), Lieutenant Frank Padovano, Lieutenant Jason McErlean, Lieutenant Jason Carter

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Monday, November 12, 2018

Westfield’s “The Watcher” by New York Magazine’s Reeves Wiedman

All new information including persons of interest/suspects, and more. 

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