By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Filed in Hudson County Superior Court in August 2014, Bruce Liberti, through his attorney Louis Zayas, alleges that he was targeted by Mayor Felix Roque’s administration due to his political allegiance to Wiley – his second cousin.
Liberti, who was appointed as the town’s acting recycling coordinator on January 18, 2012, said in the suit that Roque and his political allies were pushing for Joe Rodriguez, the husband of Freeholder Caridad Rodriguez (D-7) who was then a West New York commissioner, to get the position.
Joe Rodriguez used to work for the West New York DPW and is currently the recycling coordinator in both Weehawken and West New York, as well as the chairman of the West New York Housing Authority, a volunteer board.
Liberti first cites unfair treatment from the town when he was only reimbursed $76 of the $1,580 spent on obtaining recycling coordinator certification, which he received from Rutgers University on June 19, 2012, according to the lawsuit.
Hired as a sanitation inspector for the town back in June 2011, Liberti alleged he had a dispute with then-Town Attorney Gilberto Garcia in November 2011 over which vendor to use to dispose of bulk waste.
The former town employee claims that although North Bergen’s Eagle Recycling had the lowest rate, Garcia said in a letter to Wiley that contracting the aforementioned company would violate the Public Contracts Law. Therefore, the town should continue to use Jersey City’s Joseph Smentkowski, Inc./Galaxy.
Liberti argued that the waste contract did not go above the price threshold noted in Public Contracts Law, further stating that the Doremus Avenue Recovery Transfer (DART) in Newark were the Galaxy waste was sent did not separate waste from recyclables.
Additionally, Liberti said he received a disciplinary notice on August 20, 2012 stating that he would be removed from DPW by September 12, 2012 for advocating for Eagle Recycling, being accused of “perusing the Police Department computers” (which he said he never touched) and for submitting a “very poor” tonnage report to the State Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
Liberti said through the suit that his report issued to the DEP was approved by the board of commissioners and that the DEP employee who oversaw the reports allegedly told him “I have no problem with what you did, sounds like a personal thing.”
He also states that West New York received a plaque from the state for 100 percent compliance of garbage removal services in 2012.
At the time the letter was submitted, Wiley had been transferred to the Department of Parks and Public Property and then-Commissioner Ruben Vargas had taken over the DPW.
Finally, Liberti said the fact that Joe Rodriguez took over as West New York recycling coordinator after he was fired was further proof he was never wanted to serve in the position to begin with.
Liberti sued for four counts of civil rights violations: political affiliation, familial association, freedom of speech and procedural due process violations.
Based on the resolution passed at Thursday’s meeting, “the Town and its employees admit no wrong doing or liability” and “the settlement proceeds shall be paid to the plaintiffsâ€™ attorney in accordance with the settlement agreement.”
While the resolution did not include the amount of the settlement, one town official, who spoke under the condition of anonymity since they were not authorized to speak on the matter, said Liberti will receive a payout of “less than $30,000.”
Zayas did not immediately return a call seeking comment.