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West Orange BOE Cited in Potential Pension Abuse Report

State comptroller's office says part-timers should not be building pension pay.

 

More than 200 independent contractors in the state have been improperly participating in the state’s pension and benefits system since 2008, according to a report released on Wednesday.

State Comptroller Matthew Boxer issued the findings of an investigation where 57 of 58 municipalities and school districts in New Jersey -- including the West Orange Board of Education -- failed to remove private and independent contractors from the pension system. 

The investigation found there were 202 people statewide enrolled in the pension system, and recommended to the Division of Pensions and Benefits to review and remove them. The identities of those individuals were not released by the comptroller’s office.

West Orange School Board Secretary Mark Kenney said he did not agree with the report’s findings because he believes the report is questing the employment status of  school board attorney Steven Christiano.

The school board was in communication with the comptroller’s office during its investigation into Chrisitano’s employment status in the district, said Kenney.

“[Christiano] is totally a legitimate employee of the district of West Orange,” said Kenney. “Our attorney has been on salary for 22 years. ... We do things the right way.” 

However, Kenney did not get confirmation from the comptroller’s office that Christiano was the employee cited in the report. 

Pete McAleer, a spokesman for the comptroller’s office, said the office was also unable to identify whom the report cited. 

“We are not releasing the names of the 202 until [the Division of Pensions and Benefits] has a chance to review them,” said McAller. “We stand by the report and all of the towns and school boards have had a chance to respond, and we considered that response.”

The report says, according to the Internal Revenue Service, a person’s public employment status is in question if he or she operates or is employed by a private firm. 

Christiano is currently a partner of the law firm Christiano & Christiano located in West Orange. He did not return calls for comment.

Individuals are ineligible for state pension credits and benefits if they are independent contractors or retained through the public contracting process, according to a 2007 state law. Individuals should have been taken out of the system by 2008. 

The 202 people cited as improperly accruing hours toward state pensions consisted of 176 attorneys, 21 engineers, four heath care providers, and one auditor, according to Boxer’s report. 

The immediate consequence for those individuals would be the removal of their pension credits starting in 2008, said McAller. 

Criminal charges are unlikely to be filed against those individuals if the Division of Pensions and Benefits rules against them participating in the state pension system, added McAleer.

The cost to the state is estimated to be $1.9 million per year in state-funded pension benefits for only those 202 individuals.

Will Rod July 20, 2012 at 05:18 PM
The problem, as i see it, is that the status quo would have us believe that someone is able to work two full time jobs for 22 years. The easiest thing to do would be to check his billable hours at his "small law practice" to see if it approaches anything close to 40 hours a week. If it does, I think it would be safe to assume that it would be almost impossible for him to have two full time jobs. And why does the BOE need a full time attorney anyway. What a bizzaro world we live in!
Gary Englert July 20, 2012 at 05:39 PM
@ Will Rod: You are certainly correct insofar in that determining whether or not Mr. Christiano is anything other than a full-time employee will be pretty easy to ascertain. What's also likely rather easy to determine is whether or not the Board and public are better served having a full-time attorney, as opposed to being billed hourly (for the same services) by a private attorney or firm. My guess is that the former was determined to be far more advantageous a long time ago,,,and our society has only become far more litigious since.
john anthony prignano July 20, 2012 at 06:06 PM
Will Rod Board Attorney Steven Christiano got hs job solely via primogeniture -the right of the first son to inherit all. West Orange Business Administrator Jack Sayers had 2 full - time Township jobs and at least 4 other part - time jobs.Township Attorney Richard Trenk has even more. A couple of weeks ago, a Township employee contacted a friend about Township business . He is a full- time West Orange employee, he is employed by Glen Ridge , he is employed by Lyndhurst, and he has his own private sector business. I told my friend I seriously doubted if he would call her again any time soon , if at all . So far , he hasn't contacted her again . He may be busy in Glen Ridge , or Lyndhurst , or he's doing a private contracting job ......
Brett Kaiser July 25, 2012 at 04:37 PM
>> barry_geltzeiler maybe this has nothing to do with Dr Cavanna's firing and the timing is just a coincidence. You Funny
barry_geltzeiler July 25, 2012 at 04:52 PM
@Brett Kaiser Funny how? what am i a clown? am i here to amuse you? no tell me what you really mean!!! all kidding aside i am sure there is more to the Cavanna firing than the pension questions concerning Mr Christiano. Sit back and watch this could get good.
Brett Kaiser July 25, 2012 at 06:40 PM
"You mean, let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it's me, I'm a little ___ up maybe, but I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I'm here to ___ amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny? " "Get the Hell out of here Tommy (Barry)" It's all just a massive mess and I hope our kids, town, and house prices don't suffer....
barry_geltzeiler July 25, 2012 at 07:00 PM
I actually feel this has reunited the board and lesson have been learned. This board will not make the same mistakes they made in the past in operating and in picking a new super. We have established the bottom and are aimed to be on the upswing with board performanbce and straightening out the schools.
Leanna July 25, 2012 at 08:00 PM
Knowing them, they will pick another insider. System is too corrupt to be fixed. I dont believe Dr. Rando wants a boss who will require that she performs, and most importantly, looks into her closett. They will select another person based on race/ethnicity again, and not performance. Do you see where we are heading Barry? We did not know who they would have selected for the job of a principal, but a group of us predicted it. Many of the IVY's will not have a chance to help this town. If you want your children to succeed send them to Kean, Coldwell College and William Patterson, and teach them how to play politics. They should abolish the board. All those taxpayer selected people had to say was the principal was nice, and he knew all the children by names. I am sure the average staff know their names also. Congrats Ms. Demaio you were the head of the selection committee for Dr. Cavanna, and also the others. I hope that you will retire soon, because you are myopic. I love you Ms. D, but you should have kept quiet at the meeting. Why is it that when they make a brilliant pick, no one goes into the reasons why the candidates were selected. They knew that got this wrong.
Leanna July 25, 2012 at 08:05 PM
Michelle C has no formal education. She graduated from WO High, but she is the most outspoken of the BOE members. Ignorance is expensive indeed! She is up for reelection in November.
barry_geltzeiler July 25, 2012 at 08:31 PM
First of all Leanna the board that picked Dr Cavanna had no experience in choosing a super and was lead down a path by a consultant who was out for himself and not the district. The board found that out way too late. If they act prudently which I believe they will, the board will hire an interim who can be in place for a maximum of 2 years as they take their time and use their past experience as guide to making the right choice for the district.
barry_geltzeiler July 25, 2012 at 08:33 PM
I take offense that you feel that Hayden was chosen by his race/enthnicity because I feel he was chosen by merit. this man knows the children, the building and all processes and procedure that are required to run the school. He has the skill set to make these decisions which are snap decisions. As for the academics area I have confidence that Hayden will work his butt off to aquire this skill set, but academic decisions are not snap decisions. he will use the mentor program and rely on others in helping him learn how to make these decisions. You statements are hate filled and you should be ashamed of yourself. Do not disparage Mrs Casalino, she is committed and works hard. She may not have the college background but she has put in the time and effort to learn what it takes to be an esteemed BOE member and her 8 years of experience is worth more than any degree when it comes to being an productive and contributing board member. As for Dr Rando she wants what is best for this district and I know her personally and she does want a boss that requires achievement. its people like you that hurt this town with your negative rants. Grow a set and use your real name and perhaps I might have an ounce of resopect for your opinion.
john anthony prignano July 25, 2012 at 09:20 PM
Leanna GREAT posts Which of these people truly represents the interests of the taxpayers and students ? The High School provides 14 days less instructional time than the woefully inadequate State average. Recently, Dr. Cavanna announced that 2 Field Days and fitness testing would be crammed into next year's schedule . Also, a representative from the food vendor service WO employs will be speaking to the students about healthy eating choices..DOZENS of non- core curriculum mandates being presented in less and less time. Ah,but an academic starvation diet means more dollars. So-called enrichment courses and extra help sessions are nothing of the kind. Private and semi - private tutoring , curriculum camps ,and the like are essential to a child's education .Hey, if you don't have a buck, you're kids are outta luck . When people { like me } talk about the many years of very poor results at the Washington School, the defenses presented are often " Nobody cares more about the children than Ms. Demaio, " "She is there every morning to greet the children as they come in , and she knows them all by name " " She has dedicated her entire adult life to educating children " "Nobody loves what they're doing more than Ms Demaio " Does she advocate for a longer school day/year? Does she think a teacher should be required to be highly qualified in his or her subject matter ? If she believes test scores mean something, how would she rate her own performance? .Great posts, Leanna
john anthony prignano July 25, 2012 at 11:29 PM
Barry , The High School provides 14 days less yearly instructional time than the State average . Can you and I agree that no matter how skilled and how dedicated a teacher may be , he or she can't teach when they're not in school ? You don't think that it's an ongoing travesty to cram more and more curriculum mandates, { And not just the big bad State Mandates, but the District Mandates as well } into less and less time ? Again I say ,If the teachers, as they loudly proclaim, come early and stay late , { and we must assume it's important to the educational process,} why aren't these early and late hours in the contract ? Come on, they're there anyway. What do you think their response would be to my proposal ? As a matter of fact , how do you think they would react if we simply suggested the elimination of early dismissals and in- service workshops , the elimination of a MANDATED free period , and the hours lost because of bad weather would be made up . What do you think these " Come early and stay late " people would say ? I bet I know. " The most important classroom resource is time "
Leanna July 26, 2012 at 12:50 AM
Thank you John, because Barry and the other "men" are sitting there trying to judge everything everyone wrote on here! Nothing that I wrote was racist. Yet again, may be his job is to sit here and spy. Let me tell you something Barry, I pay taxes here like you do. I have no reason to hate the principal. It is people like me Barry that makes this town function. You cannot shut us up. Everything I post is true, but you want to paint this town as a success story, that happened 15 years ago not today. None of you represents the best interest of our children. The scores are there Barry. West Orange BOE and its machine are afraid of challenges, so they hire novices. Nothing is racist about my post. As a man you should act like one! Face the fact, we are the new Newark, I am sure that I contribute more to this town than you. I work for a private organization, not the taxpayers, Barry! We need changes in this town. Have you seen how many houses are up forsale in your supposedly Haven? West Orange. The principals and teachers dont even live here! I dont see the ladies censuring this like you do, dont you think that you are doing the job of a lady? That goes for the decorated veteran, who want to self impose himself on people. You are the threat to the well being of this town, because you are living in the past. Dont tell us that this town is a success! Of course I am ashamed to live here and I am going! Think about this Barry, I can afford to go!
Leanna July 26, 2012 at 12:53 AM
I will not respond to you again Barry!!! But I am a real person. You do not know the names of everyone in this Town. I am just not one of the girls who sit at the BOE meetings every week. I work hard, and then come home to help my children. You should read the data while you are at the meetings. I am also in your highest tax bracket.
Leanna July 26, 2012 at 12:57 AM
Finally never said that the principal was chosen by race/ethnicty, please read again.
Leanna July 26, 2012 at 01:06 AM
"I take offense that you feel that Hayden was chosen by his race/enthnicity because I feel he was chosen by merit. this man knows the children, the building and all processes and procedure that are required to run the school. He has the skill set to make these decisions which are snap decisions. As for the academics area I have confidence that Hayden will work his butt off to aquire this skill set, but academic decisions are not snap decisions. he will use the mentor program and rely on others in helping him learn how to make these decisions". You should be ashame of yourself, if this is what you see as the best fit to select a principal. I am talking about the person, I am referring to your quote. My son knows everyone names that he come in contact with, can he be the principal? Finally, it would have taken a seasoned principal 2 weeks to do the same, Barry!
Leanna July 26, 2012 at 01:08 AM
"I take offense that you feel that Hayden was chosen by his race/enthnicity because I feel he was chosen by merit. this man knows the children, the building and all processes and procedure that are required to run the school. He has the skill set to make these decisions which are snap decisions. As for the academics area I have confidence that Hayden will work his butt off to aquire this skill set, but academic decisions are not snap decisions. he will use the mentor program and rely on others in helping him learn how to make these decisions". You should be ashame of yourself, if this is what you see as the best fit to select a principal. I am not talking about the person, I am referring to your quote. My son knows everyone names that he comes in contact with, can he be the principal? Finally, it would have taken a seasoned principal 2 weeks to do the same, Barry! This is the problem, knowledge is limited in this town, because most job are not given meritoriously. The selection process is you knows who.
john anthony prignano July 26, 2012 at 01:10 AM
Leanna You're welcome and thank you for your powerful and compelling statements . I can only hope in the interests of fairness, that the decorated veteran will likewise refer to our State Senator as " Many, many times failed Gubernatorial aspirant,unceremoniously dumped State Senate President, failed businessman, and deadbeat tenant evicted for non-payment of rent Richard Codey . In 1994, I ran for Mayor of West Orange . I received 131 votes . I mean, how much worse can it get ? The answer is a lot worse . That's still about 131 more votes than Codey got from his fellow Democrats when he tried to get the Democratic nomination for Governor. Leanna, remember the words of Revolutionary War General Nathaniel Greene, who never won a battle or lost a Campaign ; " We fight, get beat, rise and fight again "
Jim July 26, 2012 at 01:14 AM
I like how every argument always come back to...use your real name...as if that makest the logic in the statement any clearer or more credible. It actually reminds me of a politbureau in a Russian gulag.
Leanna July 26, 2012 at 01:17 AM
John if you should run again you would win win. We are tired of the machine. They are taking us for granted, but enough people love this town to want to see changes. We should start by defeating the budget put out by the BOE. Let them know that we are serious about change. See how dark these people are, they dont know you they think you are using assume names.
john anthony prignano July 26, 2012 at 01:40 AM
Leanna, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart
Ken July 26, 2012 at 02:12 AM
I thought you were leaving. You said so like ten or twenty of your comments up page.
Ken July 26, 2012 at 02:21 AM
John, you appear to have accidentally left your line about "14 days less instructional time" off of this comment. Hope this helps.
Tammy July 26, 2012 at 02:29 AM
leanna you speak for us, thanks.
john anthony prignano July 26, 2012 at 05:20 AM
Definition of inculcate - To impress upon the mind, as by constant urging . The great political satirist Mort Sahl was once asked why after so many years have passed he continues to talk about the assassination of John F. Kennedy . He replied , " Because he's still dead "
barry_geltzeiler July 26, 2012 at 01:50 PM
Leanna, negative people like you are the problem. You sit back and criticize but do nothing to help. you should sell your house and move. since you are self proclaimed to be in the highest tax bracket the hit you will take on your house wont hurt as bad and you can move to lilly white short hills. i am SURE you can afford short hills since you self proclaimed to be in the highest tax bracket. enjoy, ill even host the going away party. good riddance...
barry_geltzeiler July 26, 2012 at 01:53 PM
to quote YOU Leanna "They will select another person based on race/ethnicity again, and not performance. Do you see where we are heading Barry?" its from YOUR post.
Ryan July 26, 2012 at 08:10 PM
Ken wins the internet today.
Gary Englert July 26, 2012 at 08:12 PM
Loath that I am to give Mr. Prignano any more of a soapbox than he already routinely purloins, this "decorated veteran" is truly curious as to how he justifies calling Governor Codey a "failed businessman, and deadbeat tenant evicted for non-payment of rent"...the rest of his labels, while pejorative and inaccurate, at least understood in the vein of sarcasm and poetic license.

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