A UNION CHIEF WRITES: As president of PBA Local 134 of the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office, I am compelled to take issue with several assertions made by Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan as part of her March 15, 2012 “State of the County” Address.
The contract recently negotiated between PBA Local 134 and Sheriff Michael Saudino will NOT amount to a “$10.5 million increase over four years,” as Ms. Donovan would have you believe.
Rather, the proposed contract raises total compensation by approximately only 1.25 percent a year.
Additionally, 35% of our members are actually excluded from these raises, and we also conceded to the Sheriff’s request to insert an additional step in the salary guide.
Clearly, it is not beneath Ms. Donovan to use fuzzy math to suit her political needs, as previously evidenced in her purported “$30 million in budget cuts” in her 2011 budget proposal. As we recall in that matter, when pressed on those numbers County Administrator Ed Trawinski was eventually forced to acknowledge that, in an “apples to apples comparison,” it was actually only a $75,000 reduction.
With regard to her claim of “reckless spending” on behalf of the Sheriff’s Office, I must remind Ms. Donovan that our agency made $1.6 million in cuts from our 2011 budget. Perhaps more importantly, after our union sat down with Sheriff Saudino in a collaborative effort to streamline operations and restructure several posts and work assignments, the Sheriff’s Office cut an unprecedented $626,000 in overtime in 2011.
Had all — or even some — of the departments that fall directly under Ms. Donovan’s charge made comparable cuts to their overtime expenditures, the overall savings to taxpayers could have been in the millions.
And while the Sheriff’s Office alone accounted for 64% of the county’s total overtime reduction last year, it was Ms. Donovan’s picture that accompanied a newspaper editorial. She reaped most of the political benefit of our overtime reduction feat.
Needless to say, we won’t be holding our breath waiting for her “thank you.”
Almost immediately after she took office, it became clear to our officers that Ms. Donovan was going to denigrate the Sheriff’s Office in order to facilitate her perplexing yet unrefuted smear campaign against Sheriff Saudino.
The real reasons behind this smear campaign are still unknown to many, but along the way we have been threatened by Ms. Donovan with jail privatization (even though she made a campaign pledge to us that it is something she would never consider), mass layoffs and unsustainable budget cuts, all for the sake of besmirching the Sheriff and causing him political harm.
Our officers and our PBA membership have remained silent for over a year. That will not be the case anymore.
Bergen is one of only five of New Jersey’s 21 counties hat utilizes the optional elected county executive form of government. I would invite taxpayers to view Ms. Donovan’s Facebook page and watch as she travels from parades to pancake breakfasts to ribbon cutting ceremonies and beyond, in a county vehicle, chauffeured by another county employee.
One is led to believe that the position exists solely to re-elect itself. Yet, Ms. Donovan complains of waste and having too many “freaking layers of government.”
This hypocrisy is disturbing.
We will be taking her to task on it from this point forward.
President, PBA Local 134
Bergen County Sheriff’s Office
CLIFFVIEW PILOT HAS THE SCOOP: Continuing her theme of “changing the culture of county government,” Bergen Executive Kathleen Donovan today announced the creation of a “Shared Services” initiative to explore ways of merging government services and reducing administrative staff — particularly in law enforcement and education — during her State of the County speech in Hackensack.
Heading the effort will be Norwood Councilman Allen Rappaport, she said.
“We have already begun offering shared services,” Donovan said. “The county will save over $400,000 with energy procurement, and we have already met with interested municipalities to share this with them so they can also pass on the savings from this worthwhile program.”
Donovan also promoted the ongoing move to consolidate emergency dispatch services at the county Communications Center in Mahwah. Two dozen municipalities participate “and we are confident that more and more towns will turn to us to provide that essential service,” she said.
And she staunchy defended the Bergen County Police Department, while taking aim at Sheriff Michael Saudino. READ MORE….
YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino accused Executive Kathleen Donovan today of trying to “smear and mislead” with “grossly inaccurate and untrue” statements about salary costs in his department during her State of the County speech in Hackensack.
Everything about the statement is “blatantly false,” Saudino countered in a detailed statement sent to CLIFFVIEW PILOT ten minutes before 6:30 tonight. He pledged to provide genuine information and not “rhetoric and fantasy.”