Two Dates to Transform Bergen Pay-to-Play Rules

Published On February 14, 2014 » 713 Views» By Charles Powers » Bergen County Governmental Integrity
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Part of the history of improving county government integrity was this President’s Note to Grassrooters as a bi-partisan shift occurred to re-reform the County’s pay-to-play policy that had just 9 months earlier been reversed: 

Monday Feb. 17 & Wednesday Feb. 19
Two Dates to Transform Bergen Pay to Play Rules 

Weather to Co-operate: clear – no snow forecast either evening!

Bergen County residents will have the opportunity in the upcoming week twice to participate in and/or watch as County officials first discuss what should be the future of a more comprehensive approach to Pay-to-Play in the State and two days later to take an important step to tighten and limit the allowable political contributions county contractors can make.

Monday February 17 (7:30) – at the Ethical Culture Society (North and Larch in Teaneck)  – The Bergen Grassroots’ meeting to define /evolve state, county and municipal roles in Pay to Play legislation – Discussion led by State Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and the Citizens Campaign’s Heather Taylor, and a panel that will include at least Freeholder Chair David Ganz,  Freeholder Maura DeNicola, and  County Administrator Ed Trawinski  (all confirmed). A goal of the meeting is to determine whether Bergen officials’ can agree on what the State role in protecting against the potential that large contractor political contributions may contaminate the contract selection process.  What are the current gaps that need to be closed, for example? The Q&A portion of the discussion will permit opportunity for participants to weigh in on the issues.  In sum, this dialogue between county officials with State Senator Weinberg and the Citizens Campaign’s Taylor and the meeting’s attendees should provide a worthy end to this year’s Presidents’ Day observance.

Wednesday February 19 (7:30 ) at 5th Floor Bergen Plaza, Hackensack –  The County is poised just two days later to amend and tighten and increase penalties for non-compliance to the 2013 P2P ordinance  – and it is expected to do so after the required public hearing on the new ordinance amendment. The amendment was the first introduced in 2014 as its number (2014-1) clearly indicates  (You may click the link to the proposed amended ordinance  Proposed Amended P2P ORDINANCE – Feb 2014.)  The actual amendment itself visibly clarifies what changes are being made to last Spring’s ordinance  – see the cross-outs and new language in purple.  If the comments made by Freeholders and the County Administrator when the amendment was introduced on January 15 are indicative, 6 of the 7 County Freeholders will support the amended ordinance and the County Executive will approve it.  The Bergen Grassroots Steering Committee, apparently like the majority of the Freeholders, view the amendment ordinance as a one of, but not the final step forward on this, complex public policy issue. (See the John Ennslin story in the January 2 post on this website.)  We encourage the public to come to our meeting and to participate in the public hearing process.

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