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Friday, November 04, 2011

Covering Up Corruption: It Happened There, It Happaned Here

     Whistleblowers are typically conscientious and productive workers. They believed in the goals of the organization.
     When they see evidence of corruption or dangers to the public, they report it fully expecting the problem to be dealt with. They are incredibly shocked when they are attacked as a result.
     Many of them still don't adopt the label of whistleblower, preferring to think of themselves as workers who were just doing their jobs.

     Most whistleblowers are serious and hard-working. Many are conservative, socially and politically.
     The only attention they usually desire is on the problem they are concerned about, not themselves. For their efforts, most of them come under sustained attack and suffer enormously. 
Author: Brian Martin

     In Elizabeth, N.J. 'whistle-blowers' say the school district is targeting workers who exposed lunch-subsidy abuses.
     Click on the following link to read story of targeted whistleblowers.

     In a recent letter to the editor of the Westfield Leader Newspaper, a resident asks what was done to protect the identity of a Westfield town employee when that employee exposed abuses and illegal activity in the Westfield Police Westfield Town Administrator Jim Gildea.

     The following, is the Letter to the Editor found in the September 29 edition of the Westfield Leader.
Will Mayor Display Transparency That He Requires of Other People?
In Lauren Barr’s story on Greg Kasko’s
police record, she reminded us of the
mayor’s often-repeated calls for others to
be transparent. She also reminded us of
the mayor’s request that all illegal acts be
reported to the Union County prosecutor.
May one ask for the mayor to answer his
own call for transparency by letting us all
know what actions were taken by the
town to investigate the threatening comments
of Chief Tracy to Horace Corbin,
publisher of the Leader/Times?
According to Ms. Barr, Kasko reported
his allegation of illegal record checks to
Mr. Gildea and sought the protection of
the Whistleblower Statute. Could we find
out what steps were taken by Mr. Gildea
to report this to the Union County prosecutor?
Since the story continues that
Chief Tracy called Mr.Kasko into his
office concerning Kasko’s allegations,
could we be told what steps Mr. Gildea
had taken to protect Mr. Kasko and what
steps the town took to stop the chief from
interrogating his accuser?
Let us put aside, for a minute, the
illegal record check matter. Let’s turn to
the abusive statements to Mr. Corbin
from Chief Tracy that he had “files” on
people at the Leader/Times and on members
of WECARE. Since the mayor is
most ready to require others to fulfill the
public’s right to know, I’m sure he will
jump at the chance to tell us all that the
matter was forwarded to the Union County
prosecutor and the results thereof. I’m
sure the mayor would express outrage at
any town employee keeping a “file” on
any member of the media, in the same
way he would denounce such “files” being
kept on critics such as WECARE. In
light of his oft-quoted denial of the existence
of retribution in Westfield, I’m sure
we can expect the mayor to open any files
that may exist to Ms. Barr concerning its
investigation of this conversation between
Chief Tracy and Mr. Corbin.
May we ask the mayor what steps were
taken by the town to investigate what
Mr.Gildea did to protect Mr. Kasko after
he was called into an interrogation by the
very person he accused? He was to be
protected by statute and town policy;
what was done to guarantee this protection?
The mayor is without equal in seeking
transparency from others; may we
suggest that the shoe is on the other foot
now and transparency works both ways?
May we expect answers?
A. John Blake

Former Police Chief 's Alleged Corruption Protected By Town Government?
     Westfield Police Chief Bernard Tracy retired in February of 2006 in the wake of another officer alleging impropriety by Tracy.  One has to wonder what Chief Tracy held over the head of Town Administrator Jim Gildea?
      It wasn't until after Bernard Tracy had retired, his pension protected, that Greg Kasko would be granted his first departmental hearing in March of 2006 on departmental charges levied after he went to report illegal activity to Town Administrator Jim Gildea in November 2004. 
     After Kasko stood up for another police officer being harassed by then Lieutenant Dave Wayman (a Tracy protoge' and now a police Captain) as that officers police union representative, Kasko reported harassment and illegal computer checks to Jim Gildea. 
     Shortly thereafter, Kasko was charged with police department Rules & Regulations infractions of "Publicly criticizing the actions of the Chief of Police" and "Disrespecting the Town Administrator" when he reported the illegal activity.  A police officers right to freedom of speech is overshadowed by Westfield Police Department Rules & Regulations.
     The basis for the breach of departmental rules, Jim Gildea alleged that Kasko pointed his finger and raised his voice after Gildea said he wouldn't meet with Kasko because the Town Administrator was awaiting a furniture delivery.  Yes, that's right, a furniture delivery is what Gildea testified to as his reason for turning his back on an employee and not doing his job.
      Why did the Town wait a year and a half to grant Kasko a hearing?  To protect Chief Tracy's pension.  Kasko was granted the hearing the month after Chief Tracy retired.  A Chief, that once punched a Readington homeowner in the face, allegedly breaking his nose, because the resident objected to Tracy's son urinating on the homeowner's front lawn as the Tracy duo sat in traffic heading to the N.J. BalloonFest.  The two fled the scene and were apprehended by police shortly thereafter.  What did Gildea do then.....nothing.   A Chief that abused a suspect in custody at Clark Police Headquarters by allegedly hitting him in the head while questioning him.  A Chief that routinely lost his temper with his subordinates and sought retaliatory measures against those that crossed him.  What did Jim Gildea do then......nothing.  The list continues...........

Westfield Town Administrator Jim Gildea
Westfield Town Administrator Jim Gildea's credibility has vanished due to his protection of a corrupt system that routinely targets individuals that expose the truth.  He is a self-preservationist willing to say and do anything to protect his job; a job that the Westfield Town Council holds in the palms of their hands.   

Greg Kasko has provided the Westfield Leader reporter Lauren Barr with an unconditional Power of Attorney to obtain any and all records from the Town of Westfield concerning his employment, in the name of transparency.
     To this day, Town Administrator Jim Gildea refuses to release Kasko's Internal Affairs file to the reporter.  Gildea cites state law forbidding the files release.  Kasko has nothing to hide.  What does the Town have to hide?  The law is there to protect the officer who has waived his right by way of supplying the Power of Attorney to the Westfield Leader reporter.

Answer:  The fact of the matter is Kasko's file was pilfered before Chief Tracy retired.  Through the discovery process it was revealed that the first hour and fourteen minutes of Kasko's taped Internal Affairs interview conducted by Chief Bernard Tracy, violating N.J. Attorney General's Policy, went missing along with other key evidence in support of Kasko. 
A full recording of the conversation was made at the time of the interview in February 2005, by Kasko and his legal representative, unbeknownst to Chief Tracy.

Also, another tape recording made by Captain Dave Wayman when he interviewed Kasko on allegations of sleeping on duty, wasn't placed into the Department's Internal Affairs file until 5 weeks after it was recorded.  It was later determined that the first seconds of the recording where Kasko asks for PBA Union representation,  were allegedly erased/cut.  That tape was used by a hearing officer for the basis to assert that Kasko had lied under oath when he provided written reports stating he had requested representation and was not afforded it.

The Town is currently experiencing another dilemma with its current Chief, John Parizeau, with regards to the tampering of tape recorded evidence.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is why the Town of Westfield could not terminate an employee at the recommendation of a hearing officer that the Town paid for and requested.  The hearing officer was another police chief from a neighboring town.

The Town chose to offer Officer Kasko a settlement agreement that paid his salary not to come to work until he was eligible to retire in November of 2007 a full 17 months after he was sent home suspended with pay after months of retaliation and retribution for reporting illegal activity within the police department to Town Administrator Jim Gildea.

They did not want the truth to be exposed.  That time is over.

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