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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – February 6, 2013 –
Union City Concerned Citizens Group, Inc. (UCCCG)
Contact Eric Dixon 917-696-2442
UNION CITY MAYOR STACK ADMITS $2,875,000 PORT AUTHORITY GRANT DOESN'T EXIST;
UNION CITY CONCERNED CITIZENS GROUP DEMANDS FEDERAL INVESTIGATION OF BUDGET FRAUD
UNION CITY, NJ - February 6, 2013 -- Union City's embattled Mayor and State Senator Brian Stack admitted on camera at last night's Union City Board of Commissioners meeting that a mysterious $2,875,000 revenue item in the city's budget, supposedly a grant from the Port Authority, has never been received.
Stack replied, "No, we haven't received it," when asked directly if Union City ever received the grant from the Port Authority. (Here's the proof. Go to the 19:45 mark: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ciC4rODIuQg.) Nonetheless, Union City's 2013 budget including this bogus grant was approved by the New Jersey Division of Local Government Services (DLGS) even though there was no evidence the grant ever existed -- and now it is admitted openly that it does not exist.
This fraud was perpetrated by State Senator and Union City Mayor Brian Stack and rubber stamped by the DLGS. The State approved Union City’s budget -- and the phony Port Authority grant -- even though there is no evidence that the grant ever existed. The purpose of the fraud was to cover up Mayor Stack’s reckless spending by patching a huge hole in the municipal budget. The current Union City budget that expires on June 30 is short $2,875,000. Just as troubling, Union City Concerned Citizens Group reported this fraud to the New Jersey State Comptroller on November 23, 2012, but the Comptroller hastily refused to investigate.
Previously, records obtained from Union City, the Port Authority, the Governor’s Office and other state agencies show that there is no grant application, no approval letter, no record of any correspondence between the Port Authority and Union City and no documentation of any kind that would support the existence of the grant. But now we have a public admission from a sitting State Senator and Union City Mayor that there is no grant. This means the Union City budget is fraudulent, and the State DLGS was either fraudulently deceived by Union City, or aided and abetted a fraud upon the taxpayers.
Despite being provided with this information, the State Comptroller refused to investigate the matter (Exhibit A, see attached PDF file). In fact, the State Comptroller rushed its refusal, issuing its no-action letter on November 29, 2012, no fewer than four business days after UCCCG's referral of the matter to that office on November 23, 2012. This haste now suggests
“It appears that state budget laws were ignored or deliberately violated because of Mayor Stack’s political juice with the Governor’s office,” said UCCCG attorney Eric Dixon. “This reeks of politics and hypocrisy. Unfortunately, the state refuses to investigate, so we are calling on the U.S. Attorney to step in and review this matter impartially.”
The only record that does exist is a letter supposedly dated June 6, 2012 from Governor Christie addressed to the Port Authority asking it to make $2,875,000 in grant money available to Union City for certain street improvements (Exhibit B). But the letter is also shaky because the date was not typed on the letter in the same font as the body of the text. Just look closely at the “J” in June and compare it to the “J”s in the text. They’re different. Did someone else alter or backdate the Governor’s letter?
That letter was apparently never mailed or faxed to the Port Authority since the Port Authority’s response to an OPRA request shows it has NO RECORD of having received the Governor’s letter or anything else related to an application for, or consideration of, any such $2,875,000 grant to Union City (Exhibit C).
Nonetheless, the Governor’s office did fax a copy of his letter, supposedly dated June 6, 2012, directly to Mayor Stack’s office on July 13, 2012 (Exhibit D).
At no time did Union City even apply for the grant. At no time did the Governor’s office have any communication with the Port Authority about the grant. Nevertheless Union City included a general revenue item of $2,875,000 as an unrestricted grant from the Port Authority (Exhibit E).
It should be noted that Union City’s budget does not even bother to restrict those “grant” monies to the street improvements mentioned in the Governor’s letter.
The budget was submitted for approval to the Division of Local Government Services which is the State agency that reviews all municipal budgets to ensure that they are correct, have proper back up and are in compliance with law.
Had the Division done its job and demanded ANY documentation whatsoever to back up the claim of such a large unrestricted grant from such an unlikely source the fraud would have been uncovered and the “grant” disallowed in the budget. Unfortunately the Division did not -- or would not -- do its job and a budget which relies on $2,875,000 of nonexistent grant money was approved.
The Port Authority is a bi-state agency of which half of its board of directors is appointed by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. The Port Authority instituted a new wave of toll increases at its bridges and tunnels on December 2, 2012 increasing one-way tolls to $13.00 for drivers and $15.00 per axle for truckers. The Port Authority operates these river crossings, but has no property or facilities in Union City!
The laws of the State of New Jersey are supposed to apply equally to everyone. Under the current State administration they do not apply to State Senator and Mayor Stack and the situation grows more outrageous, literally, with each episode.
[PDF File containing all exhibits is available upon request to edixon@NYBusinessCounsel.com.]
Eric Dixon 917-696-2442 edixon@NYBusinessCounsel.com
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