January 31, 2013 at 8:06 AM
The revelations being made almost daily in regard to the potentially life-threatening nature of asbestos exposure to City DPW employees, office cadre and Passaic County Sheriff Department SLAP workers is very disturbing. This brewing scandal is the source of many conversations around the City today. How could this happen, where were the checks and balances to assure the employees safety? Is this not why we hire Managers and Directors with training and certifications to circumvent events just like this? Several months ago a study and report was made to detail the feasibility of a rehab of the offices located 125 – 133 Ellison St housing numerous City Departments to include Recreation and the SBDC. Although I have yet to see the report I’m told it detailed numerous concerns to include asbestos.
As has been written in other articles the project progressed and without permits went forward to rip out walls, ceilings and flooring to support an expansion for the Community Development requested offices on the second floor. Ironically, the Community Development team oversees the same inspectors that would be looking for the same infractions if the citizens did the same thing in the City. Additionally the hazardous material was removed and stored in the city landfill close to a senior housing complex.
Not to be repetitive the story has been told. The question is what is going to be done about it? We saw the Municipal Council convene as a committee of the whole to investigate the attempts to defraud FEMA for overtime dubbed OTSCAM. Is this not more serious? After all the fraud was just coin now we are talking lives? The information provided so far indicates a very cavalier and reckless disregard for safety of the public, office employees, DPW workers and the egregious misrepresentation to the Sheriffs office that put inmates entrusted to the County at risk. This takes it to another level.
I do not believe that this can be ignored. Director Coke highly touted as an engineer as justification for the hefty raise and allowance not to live in town as required just suspended one of his employees as he is being investigated for some alleged theft of property because he said he holds employees to a high standard. The question begs is he above those same standards, willful or by accident he has to answer? When did he know and what did he do when he found out is the determining factor to the severity of his infraction. Allegations have been made he needs to answer them. Other liabilities will be determined thru other means apart from this process the truth will not change.
This Mayor is still under a vote of no confidence unless something has changed since it was taken and apparently by previous demonstration is unwilling to hold his cabinet members accountable. Mr. Coke along with others has and still refuses to return ill-gotten pre-Hurricane Irene overtime ordered to be given back. I think we need to continue to push the accountability button here and show people they cannot do what they want there are rules, regulations, policy, process and procedure to adhere too. If you’re not willing to work within these parameters, then those same aforementioned will be executed upon you. Council President Davis you were elected President of this Council it’s time to move in this direction of flexing the duly lawful power of the Council once again like it or not. These powers have been affirmed the last time we had to question the administration over stepping.
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