MAYOR BOLLWAGE ASKS COMMISSIONER TO REVIEW CONTRACTS ISSUED UNLAWFULLY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Kelly Vence
908-820-4124
Public Information Office
    
 
 
MAYOR BOLLWAGE ASKS COMMISSIONER TO REVIEW CONTRACTS ISSUED UNLAWFULLY
 
Elizabeth, NJ - April 20, 2015 - Mayor J. Christian Bollwage called upon Department of Education Commissioner David Hespe to look into the fact that the Elizabeth Board of Education (EBOE) has allowed the continuation of two contracts, which were not approved for renewal. The Insurance Consultant ICA Risk Management Consultants and Auditor Mendonca and Partners, LLC. were reappointed  at the January 7, 2015 EBOE reorganization meeting, although their contracts  received a 4-4-1 vote. In addition to this examination, the Mayor requested that the Department of Education intervene and appoint an individual to ensure that personal agendas are not placed above the responsibilities associated with the EBOE as an elected office.
 
“This action should have resulted in the discontinuation of services, as a majority approval of the Board was not achieved. However, these two contracts were implemented for a new term and corresponding resolutions were passed, despite the inability of the Board to legally achieve this result,"  said Mayor Bollwage. “In performing this act, the EBOE violated the process required of all public contracts received for consideration. It is one more example of the reckless activity, disregard for laws and regulations as well as mismanagement of public funds."
 
Resolutions passed by the EBOE at the 2014 reorganization meeting awarded a contract totaling $127,500.00 to Mendonca and Partners, LLC. as well as a contract in the amount of $47,700.00 to ICA Risk Management Consultants. These resolutions also included language that stated “…this contract shall be in effect from this date and shall terminate as of the Reorganization Meeting of 2015.” Based on this stipulation, the contracts and associated services provided by ICA Risk Management as well as Mendonca and Partners LLC. should have ceased on January 7, 2015. However when the matter of renewal was revisited on January 7, 2015, the vote conducted revealed a tie with one abstention, constituting a non-approval of the request. Although the members did not achieve a majority vote approving or disapproving these contracts, new resolutions were generated confirming a new term of service beginning at this reorganization meeting and terminating at the Reorganization Meeting of 2016. These appointments were at a cost of $42,000.00 for ICA Risk Management Consultants and $129,500.00 for Mendonca and Partners, LLC. 
 
Although Board of Education former President and current Member, Mr. A. Tony Monteiro abstained from this most recent vote, in January 2014 Mr. Monteiro voted in the affirmative for the reappointment of Mendonca and Partners LLC. as the Board Auditor; even though there was a clear conflict of interest presented. Mr. Monteiro was a partner with Helder Mendonca, who is the principal of the appointed firm Mendonca and Partners LLC, in a business venture known as 147 Westfield Avenue LLC, where a restaurant was operated at that same address. Ethics charges brought against Mr. Monteiro ultimately resulted in convictions.
 
The letter raises questions regarding the integrity of operations when elected officials can choose to override or dismiss the democratic process in order to advance and reward supporters of the Board. 
 
"Voting should not be a show that is put on to entertain the public nor should the results be disregarded or altered when they do not return the anticipated or hoped for outcome," said Mayor Bollwage. “Laws, rules and regulations are established to protect the public, ensure that proper practices are conducted and justice prevails. No one individual or entity should be excluded from these demands or placed above the need for compliance.”