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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.

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.