Category Archives: Legal bills

>APP Editorial: County counsel: He’s baaack!

>Today’s editorial in the Asbury Park Press hits the nail on the head. Why on earth would Lillian Burry, Rob Clifton, John Curley or the other guy, ever consent to bringing back Malcom Carton for any type of legal services after he was dismissed from his duties last year?

It seems as though the “good ol’ boys” are back in charge of Monmouth County and they must think residents/voters have forgotten all the nonsense of the past, after regaining control of the Freeholders Board.

Democrat Amy Mallet was the only member of the five-member Monmouth Couny freeholder board who had the good sense to vote against appointing Malcolm Carton — longtime county counsel — to handle the legal work for bail forfeitures for the county.

Mallet said she voted “no” because the resolution appointing Carton “lacked transparency.” Specifically, it said the law firm for which Carton works would provide the special counsel services. No mention was made of Carton. To find that out, the freeholders would have had to read the proposal from the law firm stating Carton would be assigned the work.

But there were much better reasons than that for steering clear of Carton, who was replaced as county counsel in 2009, then appointed as a special counsel in 2010, purportedly to allow him to complete unfinished cases and ease the transition for the new county counsel. All ties with Carton should have been severed then — permanently.

In case the current freeholders forgot, Carton was the last vestige of the good ol’ boy, all-Republican freeholder board that governed the county when corruption ran rampant. In early 2005, a federal corruption sting centered in Monmouth County netted the late Harry Larrison, then-director of the freeholders, and seven other county officials.

As county counsel, the legal fees Carton billed the county were nearly four times higher than what many other counties paid their chief counsel. In 2005, a Press comparison of county counsel fees showed Carton had billed about $400,000 a year since 1997. In 2005, the state’s most populous county — Essex — paid its chief counsel $105,000. Mercer and Bergen counties paid their top counsels about $108,000.

Carton raised tens of thousands of campaign dollars for county Republicans, and his strong party ties posed unhealthy conflicts of interest.

Given Carton’s history, it’s hard to believe that even the four Republican freeholders currently on the board wouldn’t want to turn the page on someone so strongly associated with one of the darkest chapters in the county’s political history.

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, county counsel, Freeholder Amy Mallet, Legal bills, legal fees, Malcom Carton, Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders

>Middletown Republicans Turning Voter Trust Into A Joke

>By Joe Caliendo

The Republican Majority on the Middletown Committee hasn’t told the truth about what it is doing to township residents, their trust or their money for quite some time.

In Middletown, Republican Chairman Peter Carton sits in the back of the committee chambers sometimes and holds court while the show that is the committee meeting goes on in the front of the room. Peter Carton picks the candidates that become elected officials in town, he then turns around and works for those people when they appoint his Newark Law firm as the bond counsel for the township. How can that be a good thing? It can’t.

He must find it quite humorous, how the township Republicans dupe people into believing they are voting for candidates from a political party when they are, in fact, voting for a law firm.

Deputy Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger would tell you that Middletown represents the best in government in this state. I suppose that would be true, if someone counted cronyism, backroom dealing, financial mismanagement, and a lack of transparency as good things.

Emboldened by their recent election win in November, the Republican Majority practically doubled the township’s legal budget. While there is a new township attorney, Brian Nelson, the committee decided it would keep the old township attorney, Bernard Reilly, around for awhile, and pay him about what they paid him when he was the township attorney last year. It’s being said that Mr. Reilly is cleaning up cases. Well, he sure can buy a big mop.

Brian Nelson isn’t a new face for people in politics. He was the Republican Party executive director for the state organization under Sen. Joe Kyrillos when he was state chairman. Then Mr. Nelson went to Mr. Carton’s Newark law firm, and worked there while he was an oft-used campaign staffer for Monmouth County Republicans. Mr. Nelson was even involved with Middletown Republican campaigns. It’s funny how I’ve always thought about lawyers – it was always my view that lawyers are supposed to get jobs by being good at practicing law. I don’t see how Mr. Nelson had time for such a thing with all of his political work.

The PolitickerNJ.com, this political website, has even given Mr. Nelson the title “Republican insider.” As a resident and taxpayer of Middletown, I would prefer to have a good lawyer representing the township rather than some ridiculous political “insider.”

Middletown voters pulling the lever for Peter Carton’s Republican Party are being used. But they don’t have to take my word for it – they could always go to a meeting of their committee for themselves once and see what they put into office. They might even catch an appearance by the great man himself, Mr. Carton, while he swaggers in the back of the committee chambers mocking the township foolish enough to buy his election season scam.

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Filed under Bernard Reilly, bond counsel, Brian Nelson, Joe Caliendo, Joe Kyrillos, Legal bills, Middletown, Middletown Democrats, Peter Carton, PolitickerNJ, Republican Insider

Middletown Republicans Turning Voter Trust Into A Joke

By Joe Caliendo

The Republican Majority on the Middletown Committee hasn’t told the truth about what it is doing to township residents, their trust or their money for quite some time.

In Middletown, Republican Chairman Peter Carton sits in the back of the committee chambers sometimes and holds court while the show that is the committee meeting goes on in the front of the room. Peter Carton picks the candidates that become elected officials in town, he then turns around and works for those people when they appoint his Newark Law firm as the bond counsel for the township. How can that be a good thing? It can’t.

He must find it quite humorous, how the township Republicans dupe people into believing they are voting for candidates from a political party when they are, in fact, voting for a law firm.

Deputy Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger would tell you that Middletown represents the best in government in this state. I suppose that would be true, if someone counted cronyism, backroom dealing, financial mismanagement, and a lack of transparency as good things.

Emboldened by their recent election win in November, the Republican Majority practically doubled the township’s legal budget. While there is a new township attorney, Brian Nelson, the committee decided it would keep the old township attorney, Bernard Reilly, around for awhile, and pay him about what they paid him when he was the township attorney last year. It’s being said that Mr. Reilly is cleaning up cases. Well, he sure can buy a big mop.

Brian Nelson isn’t a new face for people in politics. He was the Republican Party executive director for the state organization under Sen. Joe Kyrillos when he was state chairman. Then Mr. Nelson went to Mr. Carton’s Newark law firm, and worked there while he was an oft-used campaign staffer for Monmouth County Republicans. Mr. Nelson was even involved with Middletown Republican campaigns. It’s funny how I’ve always thought about lawyers – it was always my view that lawyers are supposed to get jobs by being good at practicing law. I don’t see how Mr. Nelson had time for such a thing with all of his political work.

The PolitickerNJ.com, this political website, has even given Mr. Nelson the title “Republican insider.” As a resident and taxpayer of Middletown, I would prefer to have a good lawyer representing the township rather than some ridiculous political “insider.”

Middletown voters pulling the lever for Peter Carton’s Republican Party are being used. But they don’t have to take my word for it – they could always go to a meeting of their committee for themselves once and see what they put into office. They might even catch an appearance by the great man himself, Mr. Carton, while he swaggers in the back of the committee chambers mocking the township foolish enough to buy his election season scam.

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Filed under Bernard Reilly, bond counsel, Brian Nelson, Joe Caliendo, Joe Kyrillos, Legal bills, Middletown, Middletown Democrats, Peter Carton, PolitickerNJ, Republican Insider

With A Down Turn In the Ecomomy, Middletown Hires Second Lawyer And Doubles Legal Fees


The following is a letter from Middletown resident Don Watson.

Mr Watson is addressing his concern over Middletown’s hiring of a second Municipal Attorney which would essentially double the cost of legal fees that the Township could incur:

After all of the whining by Republicans about unfunded mandates being imposed on the Township by Trenton, the Republican-controlled Township Committee voted to appoint not one, but two attorneys this year. Their actions do not follow their words, leading residents to assume they are not really concerned about reducing costs to keep our taxes low.

Former Township Attorney, Bernard Reilly, will retain his position on the payroll to perform litigation duties for the town at a rate not to exceed $310K. Mr. Reilly has been the Township’s single attorney for the past 20 years. This year, however, the Township felt it necessary to retain Mr. Reilly’s services and hire Brian Nelson, 31, as Township Attorney. Mr. Nelson has only six years of total law experience and no municipal law experience. The Committee rationalized Nelson’s appointment because he works for a law firm that has some experience in this area. It is too bad that Middletown did not hire the law firm instead of its very junior member.

Middletown is not a training ground for future lawyers. This is the largest township in Monmouth County and deserves the kind of representation that does not require colleague oversight. We need someone that knows the game and can come out swinging. Little League players may be future big leaguers, but Middletown is already in the big league and needs seasoned players.

Mr. Reilly and Mr. Nelson have different experience levels and should not command the same salaries. Retaining two lawyers has the potential to bring legal fees to over $600k per year, doubling what taxpayers paid last year for the same service.

Don Watson
New Monmouth, NJ

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Filed under Bernard Reilly, Brian Nelson, Don Watson, lawyers, Legal bills, Middletown, Monmouth County

With A Down Turn In the Ecomomy, Middletown Hires Second Lawyer And Doubles Legal Fees


The following is a letter from Middletown resident Don Watson.

Mr Watson is addressing his concern over Middletown’s hiring of a second Municipal Attorney which would essentially double the cost of legal fees that the Township could incur:

After all of the whining by Republicans about unfunded mandates being imposed on the Township by Trenton, the Republican-controlled Township Committee voted to appoint not one, but two attorneys this year. Their actions do not follow their words, leading residents to assume they are not really concerned about reducing costs to keep our taxes low.

Former Township Attorney, Bernard Reilly, will retain his position on the payroll to perform litigation duties for the town at a rate not to exceed $310K. Mr. Reilly has been the Township’s single attorney for the past 20 years. This year, however, the Township felt it necessary to retain Mr. Reilly’s services and hire Brian Nelson, 31, as Township Attorney. Mr. Nelson has only six years of total law experience and no municipal law experience. The Committee rationalized Nelson’s appointment because he works for a law firm that has some experience in this area. It is too bad that Middletown did not hire the law firm instead of its very junior member.

Middletown is not a training ground for future lawyers. This is the largest township in Monmouth County and deserves the kind of representation that does not require colleague oversight. We need someone that knows the game and can come out swinging. Little League players may be future big leaguers, but Middletown is already in the big league and needs seasoned players.

Mr. Reilly and Mr. Nelson have different experience levels and should not command the same salaries. Retaining two lawyers has the potential to bring legal fees to over $600k per year, doubling what taxpayers paid last year for the same service.

Don Watson
New Monmouth, NJ

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Filed under Bernard Reilly, Brian Nelson, Don Watson, lawyers, Legal bills, Middletown, Monmouth County

Walsh and Grenafege Complete Walking Campaign and Have a Message for Middletown Voters


Yesterday marked end of the walking the districts in Middletown for Democratic Candidates for Township Committee, Patricia Walsh and Jim Grenafege.

Since September, Walsh,Grenafege and many of their democratic friends and volunteers walked through the township knocking on doors and answering questions from concerned citizens. In all, well over 5,000 doors where knocked on by Pat Walsh, Jim Grenafege and their supporters.

The show of local support from the citizens of Middletown to the team of Walsh and Grenafege has been outstanding. Many of the voices that have been heard from have expressed their displeasure at the seemingly lack of concern coming from Town Hall and the republican majority.

People have expressed their concerns on a wide range of issues from leaf and brush pick-up dates to the need for more police officers in town. A recent rash of brake-ins and vandalized cars, along with the need to spray for mosquitoes throughout district 17 was a big topic of discussion during the walk through the neighborhoods of that district.  

Transparency and the end to partisan bickering by Mayor Scharfenberger and his republican controlled committee were also big topics on the campaign trail throughout the township. 
When the walking was over yesterday, I got Pat Walsh and Jim Grenafege together and asked them what they wanted  most to say to the people of Middletown. 
The following video is what they had to say.

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Filed under crime, issues, Jim Grenafege, leaf pickup, Legal bills, Middletown Democrats, Middletown GOP, Middletown Township Committee, Patricia Walsh, Police, transparency

Walsh and Grenafege Complete Walking Campaign and Have a Message for Middletown Voters


Yesterday marked end of the walking the districts in Middletown for Democratic Candidates for Township Committee, Patricia Walsh and Jim Grenafege.

Since September, Walsh,Grenafege and many of their democratic friends and volunteers walked through the township knocking on doors and answering questions from concerned citizens. In all, well over 5,000 doors where knocked on by Pat Walsh, Jim Grenafege and their supporters.

The show of local support from the citizens of Middletown to the team of Walsh and Grenafege has been outstanding. Many of the voices that have been heard from have expressed their displeasure at the seemingly lack of concern coming from Town Hall and the republican majority.

People have expressed their concerns on a wide range of issues from leaf and brush pick-up dates to the need for more police officers in town. A recent rash of brake-ins and vandalized cars, along with the need to spray for mosquitoes throughout district 17 was a big topic of discussion during the walk through the neighborhoods of that district.  

Transparency and the end to partisan bickering by Mayor Scharfenberger and his republican controlled committee were also big topics on the campaign trail throughout the township. 
When the walking was over yesterday, I got Pat Walsh and Jim Grenafege together and asked them what they wanted  most to say to the people of Middletown. 
The following video is what they had to say.

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Filed under crime, issues, Jim Grenafege, leaf pickup, Legal bills, Middletown Democrats, Middletown GOP, Middletown Township Committee, Patricia Walsh, Police, transparency

Grenafege and Walsh Answer The Questions During Press Conference Held on 10/6/08

On Oct. 6th Jim Grenafege and Patricia Walsh, Democratic candidates for Middletown Township(NJ) Committee for held a press conference outside of Middletown Town Hall. In the clip below Jim Grenafege is asked to explain his view on legal fees that the township incurs and how he would try and control them such as placing a cap the fees.

Patricia Walsh then adds her comments about how the Middletown Board of Education has been able to maintain a grip on it’s legal fees by place caps on expenses.

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Filed under inhouse counsel., Jim Grenafege, Legal bills, Midddletown Board of Education, Middletown Democrats, Patricia Walsh

Grenafege and Walsh Answer The Questions During Press Conference Held on 10/6/08

On Oct. 6th Jim Grenafege and Patricia Walsh, Democratic candidates for Middletown Township(NJ) Committee for held a press conference outside of Middletown Town Hall. In the clip below Jim Grenafege is asked to explain his view on legal fees that the township incurs and how he would try and control them such as placing a cap the fees.

Patricia Walsh then adds her comments about how the Middletown Board of Education has been able to maintain a grip on it’s legal fees by place caps on expenses.

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Filed under inhouse counsel., Jim Grenafege, Legal bills, Midddletown Board of Education, Middletown Democrats, Patricia Walsh

>Legal cost issue should be about capping or in-house counsel

>The following press release from the Middletown Democrats for Twsp. Committee, Patricia Walsh and Jim Grenafege, is in response to the recent articles that appeared in The Courier newpaper last week about the billing practice of Township Attorney Bernard Reilly.

Press Release

Aug. 18, 2008

POC: Democrats for Twsp. Committee
Patricia A. Walsh
Tel: (908) 601-1252/Email: awalsh386@aol.com
Or Jim Grenafege
Tel: (732) 872-0890/Email: j.grenafege@att.net

Legal cost issue should be about capping or in-house counsel

MIDDLETOWN TOWNSHIP (MONMOUTH COUNTY, NJ):I have always been an advocate of in-house counsel at the county level, said Middletown Democrat for Township Committee Jim Grenafege. So it makes sense that I am all for it here in Middletown.

Grenafege’s running mate is Patricia A. Walsh. She said,”The school district caps legal expenses in the context of its annual budget. There is no reason to tolerate excessive legal spending on the municipal level from the numerous attorneys the township now employs.

Walsh said she recently saw a published report where Township Attorney Bernard Reilly is paid for 200-hour months and
15-18 hour days. More scrutiny must be given to each of these individual legal bills”, she said.

However, Walsh said she believes a cap may work out better for the township than an in-house counsel, though she is convinced both hers and Mr. Grenafege’s ideas should be discussed publicly once they are elected to the Township Committee and action taken.

Grenafege said a task force should be immediately formed, in January, with the mission of studying all aspects of legal staffing and activity within the township. “Are there any “best practices” that are utilized by other towns that Middletown can learn from?” Grenafege said. “It’s worth a good look”.

Grenafege said he read the county’s study about this, though he characterized that study as “flawed” because it was prepared by one of the county’s attorneys, who was an outside counsel on the county payroll.

“The days of letting attorneys run the show must come to an end. Our taxpayers are facing tough economic times and their tax money should not be wasted in any way,” Walsh said.”It is fiscally responsible for the committee to completely review what has taken place over the last 20 years, following the excesses of previous administrations.”

Walsh said that previous administrations had closed their eyes to legal bill overruns, but it is not a way the township can do business in this century.

Grenafege said he supports an initiative favored by Middletown Committeeman Sean Byrnes whereby a financial professional would be brought in to examine the possibility of saving dollars and find new, constructive ways to save tax money.

Walsh said this measure is one that should be voted on by the committee. But, she said such an initiative would have to be examined closely before that vote, following recommendations by the task force formed for this purpose.

“There should be different ideas that come together with the underlying purpose of cutting spending and putting permanent fiscal controls in place in Middletown,” Walsh concluded.

You can also read all about the billing practices of Mr. Reilly by reading Melissa Gaffney’s blog SableMinded

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Filed under Bernard Reilly, Jim Grenafege, Legal bills, Melissa Gaffney, Middletown, Middletown Democrats, Patricia Walsh, The Courier