Star-Ledger reporter Jason Jett did a great job of exposing nepotism in Union Township and showing the connection to county government. Union Township Councilman Jim Florio's son was promoted in his county job over 2 long-standing county employees even though they scored higher on a civil service exam. This resulted in 3 lawsuits.
Maria Todaro was hired by the county Division of Weights and Measurers in 1993. Michael Florio joined the county 5 years later in 1998. Todaro, who scored higher than Florio on a civil service exam, has a math degree, is bilingual, formerly worked for a law school dean and was a former packing manager for Proctor and Gamble. She has been secretary to the New Jersey Weights and Measures Association since 1997 and was employee of the month.
In Maria Todaro's first lawsuit a Union County Grand Jury found that Todaro proved that she was passed over for the county promotion because she is a registered Republican, and initially awarded Ms. Todaro $300,000. Ms. Todaro appealed the second part of the lawsuit, in which she argued she should be awarded the job because she was the most qualified candidate. In November 2007 the county agreed to settle Todaro's second lawsuit for $200,000 and give her the Superintendent's pay raise but they would not give Todaro the job.
Employee Joseph Freitas, who joined the county in 1987, 11 years prior to Mayor Florio's son, also won $150,000 in a suit filed in Federal Court for being passed over for the same job. Freitas also scored higher than Florio on a civil service exam. The county's legal fees were $25,000. Freitas is no longer on the county payroll.
Florio's son is still the Superintendent, Todaro is the Assistant Superintendent. They both have the same salary $62,113; taxpayers are out approximately $675,000 so a mayor's son could get a lousy $8,000 pay raise. All elected officials involved are still in office.
"We were able to establish that Mike Florio had repeatedly bragged to several people that he was going to get the job because he was a Democrat, his father was a Democrat and that they had made connections to Sen. (Raymond) Lesniak," stated Todaro's attorney, David Corrigan, in a Star-Ledger article.