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Sunday, February 20, 2011

State questions procedures for 2008 and 2009 vendor contracts under Judy Tripodi

A letter issued by the Office of the State Comptroller early this month questioned the process for Hoboken vendor contracts originating back in 2008 and 2009.  The State office questioned whether the city had conducted an "open and fair," process in making several vendor selections including labor counsel, auditor, and risk management and planner.

Although the State letter makes it clear the City has not provided the necessary selection documentation in these past contracts it doesn't state the problem exists now but to "ensure they are addressed going forward."

The story was initially presented in what appears to be a coordinated political operation at Mason411 with Beth Mason and Mike Novak trying to work the issue going back to 2008 into a present day scandal.  The Hudson Reporter not known for doing much of anything on the weekend picked up the letter and ran a story on Saturday - with no comment from anyone at City Hall.  A follow up piece even more oddly then followed up on the Hudson Reporter - on a Sunday.

In its story today, communication manager Juan Melli said via email to MSV and other news outlets, "The contracts in question were awarded while Hoboken was under state oversight by fiscal monitor Judy Tripodi in 2008 and 2009. We are working closely with the state on a remediation plan to make certain that there are no similar issues going forward."

Meanwhile even before anyone was contacted to provide comment on the State letter, Mason411 went ahead with its typical hit piece, no sources spoken to or quoted from City Hall in the story.  (No one in their right mind would of course.)  Typical of the Mason411 ghostwriting minion, conspiracies are often concocted out of whole cloth based on limited information.  Parties on the accusing end are never afforded a response.  But the Hudson Reporter?

Why would the Hudson Reporter run an incomplete story on a Saturday based on a letter without speaking to all the parties going back to the 2008 and 2009 contracts?  What kind of balanced journalism is that? 

Hoboken after being officially given its sovereignty from the State in September of last year has put in place the scoring criteria for vendor agreements effective January 2010.

Grafix Avenger pieced together the Mason411 operation showing Mike Novak again in the center of it, trying to twist the information for maximum affect during a typically quiet period over the holiday weekend.  She suggests this is part of a coordinated plan between Beth Mason, her Mason411 minion and Mike Novak.

Here is the actual comments by Mike Novak.  Although not exactly coherent, it delivers a plethora of unsubstantiated charges:

The City of Hoboken's inability to adhere to the State's Public Contracting laws, which implicate Ethics and Pay-to-Play, has forced the Sate to direct the City's procurement process, effective February 1, 2011.  Indeed, after completing its year long review, the State concluded that it was "unable to confirm that the City's procurement of professional service vendors was actually conducted through a 'fair and open' process."  The State further found that "the process used by the City lacked accountability and transparency." As a result, the State is requiring the Zimmer Administration to prepare an Action Plan to address multiple egregious deficiencies in the City's vendor procurement process ranging from conflicts screening, employee training, to  vendor selection (pay-to-play).  This clearly places into question all existing City vendor contracts.

One of the most alarming components of this bombshell letter (click below for a copy) is that the Zimmer Administration failed to disclose it was operating under the State's microscope since January 2010 even though she was asking the Counsel to approve professional service contracts all the while.  Moreover, the Zimmer Administration did not forward the February 1st letter to either  the City Council or the taxpayers of Hoboken.  One has to question the transparency and ethics of the Mayor's office, and why the only substantive action they have taken recently is censoring City workers from speaking to the press.


Beth Mason made some wild accusations of her own against Mayor Zimmer, most recently at the last City Council meeting where she attempted to defend her contributions exceeding $13,000 to Tim Occhipinti making charges against a joint campaign committee for Zimmer and her council slate in the spring 2009 race.  She ended it talking down to the public saying, "You don't know what wheeling is."

This Mason411 operation has all the earmarks of an effort to change the subject.  Why the Hudson Reporter would play along on the weekend though is raising a lot of eyebrows.

The complete letter from the State follows:
 

Talking Ed Note:  There's a lot of huffing and puffing going on around these 2008 and 2009 vendor agreements.  MSV stands by its limited story posted in the same period as Hoboken Patch.  However, we think the inadequate coverage on this is offering an inaccurate impression of the issue on the 2008 and 2009 vendor agreements in question.  Of course no one can do a decent job over a holiday weekend.  We are all guilty of inadequate, premature coverage because of a planted, political hit job orchestrated by Mike Novak, Beth Mason and her Mason411 minions.

The auditor contract was presented for approval as part of a standard Request for Proposal (RFP).  As it's a holiday, all the players are not available.

The RFP issued in January is here:
 http://hobokennj.org/docs/mayor/RFP-Auditor.pdf

Related: Grafix Avenger has struck again!  Her latest story notes Mike Novak's twitter - the basis for the political hit job is now gone.  Expect a retraction from Mason411 (Not).

Grafix Avenger highlighted this twitter in an earlier story.  This Mike Novak twitter is now gone.
http://grafixavenger.blogspot.com/2011/02/scrub-dub-twitter-takes-bath.html