Jersey City Corporation Counsel Jeremy Farrell dismissed 2017 Jersey City mayoral candidate Bill Matsikoudis’ letter regarding Port Authority records requests as election season politics and the city council ultimately approved a $20,000 legal contract in the matter.
In the October 12 letter, Matsikoudis challenged a resolution on reauthorizing a legal contract with Arleo & Donohoue, a West Orange law firm, on how it would “advise the City of Jersey City with Coordinating responses related to the Port Authority of NY & NJ Toll Lane Diversions.”
The reauthorized contract amount in front of the council was for $20,000.
At first, the city council considered deliberating this resolution in closed session, but Farrell insisted that he can answer any questions regarding this matter during public session.
“I think that we can be completely honest about this. It’s certainly much ado about nothing. I know that it’s the political season and everyone wants to have a little fun and we can do that,” he said to some moans an groans in the audience.
Farrell later called the letter “unnecessary antics” from Matsikoudis.
Furthermore, he exclaimed “there is never going to be a moment in time, where I am going to knowingly say to you something that’s false.”
Matsikoudis, Farrel’s predecessor, questioned the need for outside counsel for a total of eight full weeks, for a bill totaling $50,000 overall, to answer “legal requests” that concerned cancelled meetings between the Gov. Chris Christie (R) administration and Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop.
He also challenged whether or not taxpayer dollars were improperly spent on legal fees representing the mayor in any investigations of the matter.
As Hudson County View first reported in August, emails between then-Councilman Fulop and the Port Authority from late 2012 showed that the bi-state agency was angling for Fulop to endorse the governor’s re-election. The emails were released in connection to the Bridgegate trial, where Fulop is expected to testify.
In the same series of emails, it was revealed that Fulop was employed by the Foreign Auto Preparation Service (FAPS), a major processor of imported foreign vehicles in Newark owned by the Port Authority, though his exact job title and responsibilities have not yet been revealed.
Last month, Fulop told us that a fair trial comes before people’s curiosity as an explanation as to why he had not elaborated on the subject yet.
A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office said yesterday that they would not be disclosing witnesses ahead of time when asked if Fulop was still scheduled to take the stand.
Matsikoudis’ letter also made allegations of unlawful traffic stoppages outside the Holland Tunnel, traffic jams at the Global Terminal, an improper agreement for Fulop to endorse Christie in exchange for beneficial treatment of FAPS, as well as the Port Authority issuing grant monies to eliminate state Senator Sandra Cunningham (D-31) as potential mayoral candidate in 2013.
Farrell explained that outside counsel is needed because corporation counsel is employed by the city and would have a conflict of interest. Farrell was also one of hundreds of names disclosed on the potential Bridgegate witness list, though only a small fraction of those are expected to testify.
Jersey City Ward C Councilman Richard Boggiano asked in disbelief, “Are you saying that all 25, 30 employees upstairs are involved with this?”
Upon deliberation, Boggiano told Farrell, “You can say whatever you want, but eventually the truth is coming out.”
The vote was 7-2, with Boggiano and Yun voting against, and Ward A Councilman Frank Gajewski and Ward F Councilwoman Diane Coleman thanking Farrell for explaining the need for Arleo & Donohoue’s services on matters related the Port Authority.
“When a string of voices from the community bring in their own version of what they think it is or want it to be, [it] makes the council have to recheck the information to make sure we understand properly and so it’s never been a matter of not trust or anything like that – it was a matter of understanding,” explained Coleman.