By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View
“Two weeks ago, we authorized a $15 million emergency contract to Bespoke Health. And if they wanted to get the removal for vaccine medical waste, they should have put it in there,” Ward D Councilman Yousef Saleh said.
He noted he requested an itemized list of expenditures of COVID-19 vaccine sites from Bespoke and is yet to receive it.
“I just think that spending $30,000 to remove the vaccine waste, I think that should be incumbent upon them to do that. We have to protect the taxpayers of this city,” he continued.
“If we’re gonna authorize another $30,000, why didn’t we do it with the $15 million two weeks ago? Bespoke should take care of the vaccine waste. We can’t do this a la carte.”
He also said that vendors should have to go out to bid as the pandemic enters it’s third year.
“I just feel like it’s insulting to me and the regular taxpayers. I would expect it to be part of the services you’re providing,” Saleh added.
Council President Joyce Watterman, Ward E Councilman James Solomon, Ward F Councilman Frank “Educational” Gilmore (the only person who voted against the Bespoke contract) also voted no, though the measure still passed 5-4.
During the public comment period, City Clerk Sean Gallagher read a letter submitted by Morris Canal Development Corporation President June Jones against the controversial redistricting map approved by the Board of Ward Commissioners on Saturday.
In the letter, Jones noted that Ward F has been an African American neighborhood for several generations which many such organizations in the community.
“Where are our other elected officials. I hoped they would at least pretend to care by caring their voices on their constituent’s behalf,” she said.
Jones noted she herself has been redistricted out, as have development projects like SciTech City and the Morris Canal Manor, along with Liberty State Park, heading to Ward A.
“But we will see. This tactic of divide and conquer will not work,” Gallagher read.
The letter compared the process to the segregationist practices of the South during the Jim Crow era and similar to the tactics employed by Republicans in Georgia to maintain their majorities in the legislature.
“You just experienced having your voice fall on deaf ears, and you don’t matter.”
Gilmore, who also spoke out against the process, acknowledged Jones’ remarks.
“I know a lot of people are outraged. No matter how the lines are drawn, I’m still going to be an advocate for you and to welcome the extended Ward F into the Ward,” he said.