Today Tim Sodon is the electrical contractor in town by resolution and gets all the work. As a sitting member of the Middletown Planning Board, applicants before the Board have his ear and could inappropriately direct electrical work his way, if they thought that it would improve their chances of having a project approved, as one of the commenter to a previous post pointed out.
To: Mayor, Middletown Township
From: Patrick Short
Subject: Middletown Township Committee Must Address Appearance of Conflict of Interest Issue
I was surprised to find and disappointed to learn that the “Good ‘O Boy” and even Pay for Play may still be active and taking place in Middletown. Despite steps taken to remove this type of conduct in Monmouth County and in Middletown, I do not understand why the Township Committee would permit the appearance of this unacceptable practice to take place.
The relationship between the Parks and Recreation Department and Sodon Electric Inc. may be an example of this impropriety. In the past 10 months, the town has paid Sodon Electric Inc. a total of $92,072.26 for services’ performed from December 2005 through September 2006. This has occurred while the principal partner of Sodon Electric Inc., Mr. Timothy Sodon, is the Republican Party Candidate seeking a seat on the Township Committee; the same committee that approves payment to Sodon Electric Inc. as a contractor in our town. Mr. Sodon is also the chairman of the Recreation Advisory Board; a board that influences projects performed for the Parks and Recreation Department. Any electrical maintenance service that is performed, it is done by Sodon Electric Inc. Most troubling is the fact that payment to Sodon Electric Inc for services performed has more than tripled since Mr. Sodon became the Republican Party candidate and a member and chairman of the Recreation Advisory Board.
Mr. Sodon will have to decide whether he wants to remain a contractor who provides a service to the town or whether he wants to be Committee member, if elected, who approves contractors and the work that they perform within the town. Doing both promotes the appearance of a conflict.
However, it is the responsibility of the Township Committee to ensure that conflict of interest or the appearance thereof does not take place. And if it does, action should immediately be taken to remedy the situation. Our town ought to be viewed as a town that treats all contractors/vendors fairly, impartially, and in the best interest of the tax payer. Our town ought not to be viewed as a town that selects a contractor/vendor off a “Good O Boy” list or because it is an insider to the Republican Party.
I would hope that the Township Committee would view this situation from the eyes of the other twenty-seven (27) electric companies in our town that may want to do business in Middletown. These electrical companies must have confidence that they will not be excluded from doing work in Middletown if they do not subscribe to political patronage. Rather, they subscribe to a high ethical standard and provide quality of service at a cost that is in the best interest of the Middletown taxpayer.
To demonstrate that the Township Committee embraces these principles, I recommend the Township Committee remedy this situation by taking the following steps:
- Establish a policy to prohibit any elected and/or appointed official from performing contractual work in the township and any contractor/vendor from being an elected and/or appointed official.
- Replace Mr. Sodon as a member/chairperson of the Recreation Advisory Board.
- Place an immediate “Stop Work” on all work currently being performed by Sodon Electric Inc.
- Re-Issue a Request for Proposal Competitive Bid for electrical maintenance services performed in the Township of Middletown.