Stack’s county fringe benefits bill opposed by O’Dea & Ali, online petition started


Jersey City mayoral candidates Bill O’Dea (D-2) and Mussab Ali are opposing state Senator Brian Stack’s (D-33) bill that would allow county employees to receive non-pensionable salary benefits without the passage of a local ordinance, with an online petition underway.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

Bill S-2702, sponsored by Stack, which says in part that an “ordinance not required for compensation excluded from pensionable salary, “cleared the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee on May 6th by a vote of 3-0(2).

Stack, state Senators Angela McKnight (D-31), and Troy Singleton (D-7), the committee chair, voted yes, while state Senators (R-9) Carmen Amato and Holly Schepisi (R-39) abstained.

“Looking at real quickly, I am definitely opposed. Over a decade [ago], then CE Janiszewski, did something similar and I was completely against it. Just like in 2015 or so, I found out a county employee who only worked for the county for 6 months was receiving life time medical benefits,” O’Dea wrote on X.

“Having read the bill I am asking Senator Stack to explain why this change is proposed? What is the harm in having the governing body act on compensation outside of the annual salary for those covered under the law? More transparency is better [.]”

Stack is backing Jim McGreevey for mayor (who O’Dea referenced in regards to medical benefits) in the non-partisan Jersey City mayoral contest, and while the former governor declared back in November, the Union City mayor has largely been able to stay out of the fray until now.

“As the legislature [guts] OPRA – a bill to allow executives to pad their salaries and benefits without any public notice? Doesn’t sound great,” Ali wrote in his own social media post.

Jersey City politico Patrick Ambrossi, who unsuccessfully ran for the Ward D council seat in 2020 and submitted an Op-Ed on this topic to the Jersey City Times yesterday, has now started a petition opposing the legislation in Trenton.

“This legislation comes at a time when the State legislation has gutted ELEC through the creation of the independent expenditure committee and is in the process of limiting access to the Open Public Records Act (OPRA),” he wrote.

“It is clear to me that the last thing we need is another layer of government to be increasingly shrouded in secrecy and pulling away from matters of public record. Instead, we need to remain dedicated to transparency and accountability. Passing this bill will allow Senator Stack to carry more favor and power that only benefits him and his circle – not the people of Jersey City and Hudson County.”

The petition is off to a slow start, with just 21 signatures to date, but it has been up for less than a day as of this writing.

The bill was also panned by Acting New Jersey Comptroller at the committee hearing, citing that he just put out a report in December that said Union County officials had violated this state law as it is currently written.

“There are different approaches depending on the form of (county) government, but they all provide notice and a chance to engage. This bill, S2702, would eliminate that process and allow senior county officials to receive potentially substantial stipends and bonuses without going through the normal process,” he said at the time.

“They would go through the process for the base salary for their first county job, but bonuses for that job, as well as stipends for second, maybe even third or more county jobs, would be outside the normal process.”

On Tuesday evening, Stack explained that this bill would streamline government by introducing a resolution instead of an ordinance.

“While it still requires the passage of a resolution and a public hearing, similar to an ordinance, some argue that it is an unnecessary effort. However, it should be noted that the resolution still undergoes the same review process as an ordinance, including a read at a public meeting and public comment. It remains on the agenda as a resolution,” he said in a statement.

“Obviously, you have a couple of wannabes just trying to get their names in the newspaper as they seek political office. However, people see right through it. If I were these individuals, I would focus on addressing problems in my neighborhood and helping my neighbors more. By doing so, they wouldn’t have to worry about seeking online publicity in the newspaper.”

He continued that he planned on working on a state law that prohibits public officials from engaging in lobbying activities on behalf of private clients.

“Sadly, individuals in county government and municipal governments often receive calls from a county commissioner, leaving them uncertain whether he is calling on behalf of his private clients or in his capacity as a county commissioner. Wow, Jim McGreevey must really be getting under their skin,” Stack added.


Editor’s note: This story was updated with a comment from state Senator Brian Stack.

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