In light of court depositions that claim two former allies of Mayor Steven Fulop tried to rig a city contract for energy consulting, an online petition is calling on the mayor to release the tape recording related to the case.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“In order to ensure that the public is fully informed going into the upcoming mayoral election, it is essential that the Fulop administration immediately release the recording along with any and all other materials, including, but not limited to, emails, memoranda and reports that relate to the scheme,” Civic JC Acting President Barbara Camacho said in the petition description.
“Accordingly, Civic JC calls upon the administration to release these vital materials without further delay.
Yesterday, Politico detailed depositions from Jersey City Business Administrator Robert Kakoleski and Dominick Pandolfo, who works under Kakoleski in City Hall, claiming that two close allies of Fulop tried to steer a city contract to Good Energy.
Pandolfo, a former chief of staff to Mayor Jerramiah Healy, said under oath that Muhammed Akil, then Fulop’s chief of staff, called him and forgot to hang up his phone – accidentally leaving a recording of a full conversation between Akil and Shawn “Sully” Thomas Sullivan.
Sullivan was the deputy director of the city’s Department of Housing, Economic Development and Commerce, as well as chair of the Jersey City Democratic Organization at the time.
“My interpretation is that, you know, there was a hope or a desire for a certain vendor to get awarded the contract. And maybe the process, the way it had been — the committee had been set up may not go in that direction,” Kakoleski said in his deposition.
“I feel that, you know, public procurement is an open and fair process. And there was — there was an influence or an attempt to influence the process.”
The depositions stem from a November 2015 lawsuit filed by city historic preservation officer Daniel Wrieden, alleging his boss, HEDC Director Anthony Cruz, created a hostile work environment by using vulgarity and homophobic slurs (Wrieden is openly gay).
Along with Akil and Thomas, Cruz is also accused of trying to steer to the consulting contract to Good Energy.
While a city spokeswoman did not return an email seeking comment this morning, Fulop addressed the situation on Twitter several times yesterday when being questioned by reporters and residents alike.
He has said the city took the matter seriously by cancelling the bid and reporting the situation to the “authorities,” also attributing the timing of the information being released to election season politics.
He further stated that other depositions that showed different facts were not included in the story.
Note: this is Former Healy chief of staff making accusation now during election season from 2014 event – reeks of Political season
— Steven Fulop (@StevenFulop) September 27, 2017
Fulop and his office have not explained why Akil, Cruz and/or Thomas (the latter two still work at City Hall) were not disciplined in the matter, nor have they clarified which authorities the incident was reported to.
The mayor is in the midst of a re-election campaign where he’s a heavy favorite, with his only challenger coming in the former of former city Corporation Counsel Bill Matsikoudis.
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office told Hudson County View that they never confirm or deny the existence of investigations, while a spokesman for the state Attorney General’s Office declined to comment.