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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

See Something, Say Something......Corrupt Police Chief Sought Employment

Where is he now?

Upon his sudden resignation from the Westfield police department on August 1, 2018, disgraced Westfield police chief David Wayman sought another job with the beach community of Sea Bright, NJ. 

A source confirmed that Wayman took part in the interview process to become Sea Bright’s next police chief.   

Based on the corruption and misconduct that Wayman was involved with during his tenure as a Westfield police officer, including the alleged cover up of his own hit and run accident where he damaged a Union County Prosecutor’s Office vehicle and also allegedly engaged in thefts from the WPD property room, Sea Bright town officials were contacted to alert them of Wayman’s history. 

Sea Bright eventually chose a worthy candidate for the position of police chief, distancing themselves from Wayman and moving in a different direction. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Westfield Town Council Election: Is This The Best We Can Do

     Empty stores downtown, home values dropping, landmark theater closing........that’s what one Westfield town council candidate is highlighting this summer and fall leading into this year’s November municipal elections.

Bodmer Campaign Literature
     He started a Facebook group titled “Save the Rialto” claiming to be part of a “team” looking to resurrect a cinema of foregone nostalgia in an ever changing economy that has seen downtown “mom and pop” stores shuttering their doors and being replaced by restaurants, banks, offices, apartments, condos, and large chain stores, the latter able to absorb quarterly losses that family run businesses can’t.
     Rich Bodmer, a candidate for town council in the 2nd Ward seems to portray himself as the savior of all Westfield’s problems while offering nothing, no solutions as to how he will solve Westfield’s issues, issues that have been around for over a decade.

Bodmer Campaign Literature
     Bodmer has the support of the Westfield Republican Committee made up of some current and past Westfield town council members that were unable to fix the same problems that Bodmer highlights in his campaign literature.
     The issues that Mr. Bodmer highlights such as the downtown vacancies, have been ongoing for over the past 12 years.  His running mates LoGrippo and Stokes have been in the same seats he is seeking for the past 8 of those 12 years.  His targeting of these town officials, or any town officials for that matter, without any plans or solutions is the height of hubris.

2nd Ward Candidate Rich Bodmer
     His blocking of constituents on his campaign pages, who inquire as to his solutions and proposals, and offer some suggestions predicts the future behavior of this candidate if he ever becomes a town council representative.
     Further troubling, is candidate Bodmer's use of a tragic situation to bolster a following for his election.  Candidate Bodmer's creation of the "Save the Rialto" Facebook group has proven to be nothing more than campaign rhetoric starting with subtle attacks on his opposition, false information, no recommendations or plans, and taking the plans of the Mayor as his own.

Westfield Republican Committee
     His supporters on that page post hyperbolic negative slurs such as "demonrats." 
     Blocking, deleting, lying, this what we want as a representative for the Town of Westfield?
     The fact of the matter is that Rich Bodmer’s “Save the Rialto” Facebook group is a campaign page in disguise.
     Any wannabe politician that tramples free speech, censors comments, and hijacks the ideas of another claiming them to be his own, has no respect for the constituents he seeks to serve.
     As a registered Republican I am highly disappointed with the Westfield Republican leadership for choosing a candidate who engages in these actions, to run for elected office as a representative of our town.

Town Council Candidate Hides Behind Cloak of Anonymity

Westfield Town Council Candidate Undermining Campaign Transparency.

(More to follow)
The following is a list of Republican Committee membership:

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Westfield Crossing Guards Can No Longer Illegally Direct Traffic at Intersections

The Town of Westfield has hired a company to manage crossing guards at intersections where students need assistance traversing busy intersections.

In the past, The Fact of The Matter has brought to light (ex mayor Skibitsky administration) the liability the town incurs by allowing it's crossing guards to remain in the middle of an intersection and illegally direct traffic through STOP signs causing accidents and other close calls, long after pedestrians have crossed.

The crossing guards previously answered to the police department's traffic safety bureau supervisor, who gave crossing guards the permission to direct traffic despite laws prohibiting the practice.

A local crossing guard has posted in a Westfield Moms Facebook group asking for patience with the new company's directive that she is NOT to direct traffic.  This directive obviously relies on state law for guidance. 

So if you must drive your kid(s) to school, be mindful of the fact that the crossing guards are abiding by the law by not directing traffic after they have crossed pedestrians.  By law, civilian crossing guards can pick a gap in the traffic, hold up a "STOP" paddle, observe traffic come to a stop, cross pedestrians, then return to the sidewalk/curb.


Sunday, August 11, 2019

Westfield’s DWC Executive Director’s Departure Will Surely Raise Questions

The Fact of The Matter has learned that Westfield DWC Executive Director Sherry Cronin’s departure from a position she has held for 18 years came after negotiations with town officials that will allegedly include multiple months of severance pay according to a source.

It’s been reported that Patricia Hannigan, the chair of the Downtown Westfield Corporation’s board of directors, said she had no further comment regarding Cronin’s departure beyond a prepared press release. 

Cronin’s success representing downtown business owners has some questioning the circumstances surrounding her departure.

Former DWC Executive Director
 Sherry Cronin

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Motorist Insists Westfield Police Got the Wrong Guy

Westfield police stopped a motorist in Westfield for allegedly speeding.  He insisted that the police stopped the wrong vehicle and he has video to prove it while spending thousands of dollars on his defense.
The video footage provided in the link below is not the entire video.
TFoTM has reviewed the front and rear dash-cam video footage in its entirety.  Based on the video reviewed, it appears the wrong vehicle was stopped by police.

See related article for details.

Click on link to read related story.

Thursday, August 01, 2019

Happy Anniversary WPD!

It was one year ago today that corrupt Westfield Police Chief David Wayman resigned from the WPD in the wake of a Union County Prosecutors Office investigation into a motor vehicle accident he was involved in that was covered up as a “hit & run.”

Additionally, the UCPO investigated other alleged crimes including the theft of property from the WPD evidence/property room that allegedly involved Wayman.

The town has remained silent on the reasons for Wayman’s abrupt departure last year and questions still loom as to why there were no criminal charges filed. 

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Union County Prosecutors Office Investigating Westfield Employees......Again

The ongoing Union County Prosecutors Office investigation into the alleged theft of overtime by employees of the Westfield Public Works Department is not the first criminal investigation focusing on Westfield town employees.

Exactly one year ago, the UCPO was investigating disgraced Westfield Police Chief David Wayman after the Fact of The Matter uncovered a hit and run accident report filed by then Detective Lieutenant Leonard Lugo, who has since been demoted to patrol sergeant, covering up an accident involving Wayman hitting a parked UCPO vehicle.  The UCPO vehicle was being stored in the locked police department impound/storage lot located at the DPW Conservation Center on Lambertsmill Rd.

Another investigation by the Union County Prosecutors Office stemmed from Wayman’s hit & run accident to include theft of property from the police department’s property/evidence room by Chief Wayman.

According to a TFoTM source not authorized to speak on behalf of law enforcement, there was video evidence of Wayman’s alleged theft(s) from the police department property room.

Wayman resigned from the Westfield Police Department August 1, 2018 and submitted his pension application to the New Jersey Police & Fireman’s Retirement System which was approved.

Questions still remain surrounding the UCPO’s investigation and Wayman’s retirement application.
See story of N.J. law enforcement officer submitting his pension application to the PFRS while under investigation.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Westfield DPW Worker Garners 625.75 Hours of Overtime Worth Over $35,000

The Fact of The Matter has obtained Westfield Department of Public Works employee payroll records for 2018.  These records were obtained via an Open Public Records Act request made to the Westfield Town Clerk’s Office.

TFoTM has also obtained a copy of a report issued by Stephanie Gironda, a Wilentz law firm attorney that was tasked with investigating allegations regarding theft of overtime at the Westfield DPW by employees.

The Gironda report includes excerpts from the 2018 Town of Westfield Personnel Policy Manual covering time sheets and attendance records and overtime.  It states, “The supervisor or department head shall review the attendance records of both exempt and non-exempt employees for accuracy.”

The manual also states that the Department Head (Greg O’Neil) and the Town Administrator (Jim Gildea) must approve all overtime budgeted.

According to the Asbury Park Press Data Universe, Westfield DPW Supervisor Robert Kosciolek earned a base salary of $81,632 in 2018.

Westfield payroll records obtained by TFoTM reveal that Robert Kosciolek billed 625.75 hours of overtime in 2018.  The overtime was billed on 168 separate occasions on 159 separate days. A majority of the overtime was billed in 3 to 4 hour increments.

Based on an hourly overtime rate of $58.86, Rob Kosciolek earned $35,065.84 in overtime/comp time for 2018.

A TFoTM source has confirmed that Robert Kosciolek instructed subordinates, that worked later into the day, to clock him out when they left work even though Kosciolek would leave hours earlier.
The alleged bilking of overtime was not limited to DPW Supervisor Robert Kosciolek.

TFoTM obtained photographs of handwritten notes containing the names and employee ID numbers of DPW workers that employee Frank Watkins admitted to having while clocking out multiple employees including DPW supervisor Rob Kosciolek.  Kosciolek’s employee ID number and name appear on both lists/pieces of paper

Complaint about theft of time was made to town officials on September 26, 2018.  Westfield town administrator Jim Gildea provided payroll records to his investigator that postdate the complaint.

Investigator Stephanie Gironda was not provided with payroll records of exempt employees.  Robert Kosciolek, as a supervisor, is an exempt employee as described in the town personnel manual.

Kosciolek’s payroll records are made only when he works overtime.  His name appears on the list in the photographs provided to the town.  Ms. Gironda was never provided Robert Kosciolek’s payroll records.

On June 4, 2019, Westfield Town Administrator Jim Gildea stated there was “no wrongdoing” with regards to the allegation of theft after he was supplied the Gironda report.

On June 19, 2019 a Westfield councilman provided an update on his Facebook page titled “DPW Overtime Abuse Allegation” and stated, “The town attorney addressed this by informing the public that a thorough outside investigation was conducted by a highly regarded law firm which found that there was no evidence of overtime theft.”  The Westfield Town Attorney that the councilman refers to is Tom Jardim who also stated at the June 18th Town Council Meeting that there was in fact “impropriety” and “improper conduct.”

According to a source, Kosciolek continues to bill overtime on weekends to “catch up on paperwork.”

More to follow.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Lack of Sworn Statements Invalidate Investigator’s Report Findings

The independent investigation conducted by the Town of Westfield into the theft of overtime at the Westfield Department of Public Works, by multiple employees, was void of any sworn statements made by employees interviewed by a lawyer hired by the town to conduct the investigation.

No employee is required to respond to a request for an interview unless the appearance is required by subpoena.

No employee is required to answer any question asked by any investigator, whether civilian or law enforcement, unless they are presented with a subpoena to appear before a duly constituted body recognized under the law.

Lawyer Stephanie Gironda submitted a report to Town Administrator Jim Gildea that found “no wrongdoing” regarding the allegation of theft of overtime at the DPW by multiple employees.

Town officials have stated that a thorough investigation was conducted despite the lack of sworn statements, the time period of when the alleged thefts occurred was never investigated, and the Gironda Report had multiple errors including misspelled names, and evidence reviewed.

The findings of the report aren’t worth the value of the paper on which it is written but yet town officials approved bills totaling over $4000 paid to Stephanie Gironda’s Wilentz law firm for investigative services.

The lack of sworn statements by DPW employees that were interviewed, invalidates the report findings.

When will a reputable law enforcement agency conduct a thorough investigation?

Monday, July 08, 2019

Town Hall in Need of Carpet Cleaning

Westfield Mayor Shelley Brindle, along with Town council members, approved the expenditure of taxpayer dollars to fund an independent investigation into theft of overtime by employees at the Westfield Department of Public Works.

The investigation was not conducted by a reputable law enforcement agency but by a law firm that was paid thousands of taxpayer dollars.

There was no investigation into the time period that the overtime was alleged to have been stolen by multiple DPW workers, condoned by a DPW supervisor, and brushed off as a “union issue” by DPW Superintendent Greg O’Neil.

Thefts of overtime occurring over the summer were reported to officials in September of 2018.   DPW workers were tipped off of the allegations, effectively halting the bilking of OT.

Wilentz law firm attorney Stephanie Gironda was directed by Westfield Town Administrator Jim Gildea to conduct the independent investigation and to use payroll records from October 1, 2018 thru February 28, 2019 to conduct her search of OT theft.

Why didn’t the town administrator provide payroll records from the time period of when the thefts occurred?  That time period was during the summer of 2018.

DPW employees admitted to the investigator that the summertime was when multiple names were being clocked out all at the same time, by one person, which garnered them substantial overtime for hours not worked on at least 23 different days.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

$4000 DPW Investigation Into Theft of OT was Mislead

Westfield Town Attorney Tom Jardim has admitted, after an independent investigation costing taxpayers over $4000, that DPW workers clocking each other in and out of work was “not acceptable conduct” and an “impropriety” but stopped short of calling it criminal.

His comments come on the heels of an investigation by Wilentz law firm lawyer Stephanie Gironda which included interviews with twelve (12) DPW employees.

One interview revealed that a DPW employee admitted to photographing another employee clocking out up to eight (8) DPW workers. When asked why he took the photograph, the Gironda report states the DPW employee wanted to “protect himself.”

TFoTM asks.....protect himself from what?  From accusations of another employee stealing overtime for himself and others?  From falsifying work records by one employee clocking out up to 8 other employees?
Westfield Town Attorney Tom Jardim told Mayor Shelley Brindle and Town Council members that the investigator concluded that the practice of clocking other employees out was a “matter of convenience.”

If anyone is to believe this excuse that it was a “matter of convenience,” then why would one DPW worker take a picture of another worker clocking multiple workers out, to protect himself?
If the practice was condoned as a matter of convenience, why the need to protect oneself?  Perhaps to protect himself from being involved in the theft of overtime?

Finally, when investigator Stephanie Gironda was told to investigate the theft of overtime she was given payroll records from October 1, 2018 thru February 28, 2019.  Keep in mind that a town official was alerted of the thefts on September 26, 2018.  The time frame that Town Administrator Jim Gildea instructed the investigator to look at payroll records from, postdates the time frame that the town official was told the thefts actually occurred.

The thefts occurred earlier in the year thru the summer of 2018.


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.