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Thursday, June 20, 2019

Westfield Town Attorney Refutes Town Administrator and His Denial of “Wrongdoing”.......see Video

At Tuesday evening’s town council meeting, Westfield Town Attorney Tom Jardim responded to allegations of impropriety and wrongdoing regarding Westfield Department of Public Works employees signing co-workers in and out of work that were not present when their employee numbers were entered into the building’s time clock. 

Jardim was tasked with giving the response after Westfield Town Administrator Jim Gildea emphatically stated, two weeks ago, that there was no “wrongdoing.”

Gildea was responding to allegations he said were not based in fact regarding the alleged misconduct of DPW workers brought to the attention of town officials. 

Below, is a video of the allegation of abuse by DPW workers followed by Jim Gildea’s denial, followed by Tom Jardim’s acknowledgment that, IN FACT, the  “wrongdoing” took place after all. 

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Westfield DPW Overtime Theft: Independent Investigation or Whitewash and Coverup?

     What employer allows an employee to clock up to 7 other employees in or out of work when those employees are not present at work to do it themselves?

     The Town of Westfield (DPW) does.

     One name on the list is a DPW supervisor Rob Kosciolek.

     The alleged bilking of overtime cost taxpayers thousands of dollars.

     Did Westfield contact the Union County Prosecutor’s Office to investigate the alleged theft of time?

     One thing is known, the Wilentz law firm was contacted by town officials to do an “Independent Investigation” costing taxpayers over $4000.

     At a time when some town council members publicly complain about how much tax Westfield pays Union County, wouldn’t it make sense to use a Union County resource like the prosecutors office?

     Why wasn’t a law enforcement agency tasked with this investigation?

     Surely, the UCPO wouldn’t hand the town a bill for services rendered totaling over $4000.

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