Topic: ART NEWS
By Tammy Duffy
In December 2013, Kelly Yaede was sworn in as Mayor of Hamilton by Senator Jennifer Beck. On that day, Mayor Yaede pledged to a crowd over 100 supporters that she was “aware of the responsibilities” of the office and ready to take them on.
“When facing any challenges or setbacks, my pledge to you is that I will not sugarcoat the realities that we face,” Yaede said. “I will not push off the problems of today and I will not shortchange the investments that we must make in order to provide the same quality of life and the same opportunities to proud Hamiltonians," she said.
Did she live up to her pledge? No, things have been sugarcoated so much in Hamilton, the town is suffering from severe tooth decay. Decaying infrastructure, decaying schools and decaying school and municipal playgrounds, etc are evident in Hamilton.
As we approach November 3rd, it is important that the residents of Hamilton get out and vote. I spent time this weekend going door to door reminding people to vote on Tuesday. I was happy to see that the doors I knocked on 90% of the people intended to vote. One can only hope we see all neighborhoods demonstrating the same.
We got to speak to a first time voter in Hamilton who's major concern was," I want Hamilton to be a safe place for my 2 year old sister. A place where I can bring up my family. I am concerned with this." This first time voter was only 18 years old. He was wise beyond his years. An 18 year old young man can see through the propaganda the media and town's leadership are feeding its residents.
What are we voting for? Why has this voting right given to us by some very brave Americans?
We have all gotten the political propaganda mailed to us, placed on our porch, doors and in some cases in my mailbox without a postmark (when we all know that is not allowed my dear republicans) What choice we make on Tuesday is a personal choice. It may be made due to a party alliance or what we believe in our hearts to be the right person for the job. The residents of Hamilton need to go and make their choice on November 3rd.
During my volunteer efforts this weekend I got to speak to some current Hamilton township employees. They shared with me that the morale is at an all time low in the Public Works Department and elsewhere in the township. The people who work within Public Works hate (this was their word, hate) going to work. The morale is at an all time low due to the current administration they said.
They also shared with me that at the senior center the employees there have not been given a raise in three years. Yet, the mayor and her directors have all gotten raises. They went on to state that the mayor comes to every event at the senior center. The speech she gives is the same each time she visits. The seniors at the center have memorized it and mouth the words as if to be at a Brittney Spears concert, lip synching the repetitive words of their town leader. During these visits Mayor Yaede never acknowledges her own township staff according to the township employees. She never thanks them, she completely ignores their presence. The township employees find this demoralizing.
While more traditional managers tend to see low morale as intangible, its importance and impact on profits, productivity and financial competitiveness are measurable and affect organizational objectives. The Gallup Organization estimated that there are 22 million actively disengaged employees costing the economy as much as $350 billion dollars per year in lost productivity including absenteeism, illness and other low morale issues.
Less engaged teams are less productive, less customer-focused and prone to withdrawing their efforts and adopting counterproductive behavior. This occurs when management is unclear about expectations, employees have not been effectively trained or do not feel a sense of ownership over their work. Low morale causes employees to lose interest in going the extra mile, especially when they do not feel valued by managers or care about the projects assigned. They do not trust their leaders. They see directors who are not allowed to have paying jobs outside of their township roles, holding other jobs as well. The employees in Hamilton are demoralized and have lost trust and faith in the administration. They see directors carrying on via social media inappropriately, when clearly the township policies forbid it. There are no reprecussions to the directors who do this. It just sinks morale even lower. The directors should be setting an example.
Low morale can in fact be controlled. Leaders must possess the vision and understanding of their employees’ potential and their core work processes. They must ensure employees are being effectively utilized through job enrichment. It includes understanding employees’ abilities and ensuring jobs provide a challenge to utilize their full capacity, recognizing achievement and giving employees an opportunity to grow and learn new things.
Leaders/managers also need to create a culture of trust as they can shape and influence, through role modeling, the way resources are allocated, how employees are rewarded, and the criteria used for recruitment, promotions, and terminations. A climate of trust exists in organizations when managers do what they say they are going to do and are consistent in their actions. Managers can earn trust and improve employee morale by being accessible, authentic and fostering openness.
Public service is not glamorous work, its not supposed to be. It is a job where you are in the trenches everyday, serving your community.
Many public servants, and Hamilton officials, have turn this calling into a double-dipping greed festival. They have found a loophole in the law that in their mind justifies their double dipping ways.
There are hundreds of state employees and Hamilton township employees simultaneously collecting high salaries and retirement pay. They are playing with the N.J. pension system.
Senator Jennifer Beck is on a mission to change this. She says,"Legal or not, it's an outrage, and a slap in the face to every taxpayer in the state. Retirement income should not be collected until you're not working anymore – that's the premise of a pension – and the fact that public employees exploit it is unconscionable. Worst of all, they brazenly brag about it."
Senator Jennifer Beck of N.J. did the swearing in of office for Mayor Yaede in 2013. The Senator has been actively pursuing a bill that would end N.J. state employees from double dipping.
How would Senator Beck feel if she knew that at the time she swore in Mayor Yaede into office, that Yaede was allowing her team to double dip. The townships own business administrator, John Ricci is collecting his $117,000 a year salary on top of a $65,000 a year pension from the township. This has been going on for years.
As residents of Hamilton how does that make you feel? Would we not all love to get a salary and our pensions simultaneously? How may other township employees are doing this? Why is Mayor Yaede condoning this behavior? If Senator Beck's bill passes, how fast will Mr. Ricci be out of his double dipping ways? This gross abuse or power demonstrated by the Hamilton leadership has to change. This is only one aspect of what is driving the low morale in the township.
These double dippers have no shame. They want to challenge the courts on their double dipping ways. As for those pensioners who think about challenging it in court, they'll have two choices: They can cease their double-dipping voluntarily, or they can prepare for it to be a campaign issue.
The state employees are entitled to their retirement, just as any employee at any company who pays into it. The New Jersey pension deficit continues to grow more and more each year. Is it fair that the state employees who are not double dipping have to make sacrifices due to the utter greed of others? Why are elected officials allowing this to go on?
There have been numerous studies and articles written on how productivity affects a companies bottom line. The Township of Hamilton has a real moral problem. The old saying, "a happy wife makes for a happy life", holds true in business and towns. If your employees are not happy, they see people literally breaking the law and getting away with it, they see this double dipping, it drives the wrong behaviors. These wrong behaviors cost the residents of Hamilton. It shows up by way of their ever increasing tax payments, closed playground with costly remediation and many other costly issues. These same employees also are not responsive to residents in their times of need or when they have questions. Why should they respond, no one will follow up and make them follow up and there are no repercussions for not doing so.
Being elected to a public office is a privilege. If you abuse this privilege, break the law, decide that dating a married coworker (which is against the NJ statues) who is a township employee; is a good idea, then come election time, voters have a choice. A choice to be accepting of these bad behaviors or not. They have a choice to be accepting of illegal acts by the destruction of public records with no certification of the destruction of the public records as well.
One can only question how Hamilton townships director of IT and the Municipal clerk have allowed this to go on. (the destruction of public records) Every township employee has the responsibility to ensure that all government records are properly archived and or destroyed appropriately. The interim attorney general is aware of these record destruction issues without certification. What happens next is up to him. The residents of Hamilton can only hope for justice in this matter.
The residents of Hamilton have a choice to be accepting of how the existing leadership has created a demoralizing workplace (according to the employees) for employees. If you are accepting of all of this, you know what to do on Nov 3rd. If you are not, you also know what to do as well on November 3rd.
When a town's leadership is accepting of these types of behaviors it drives the town into the wrong direction. The current administration has touted we have the lowest crime since 1977. This statement is true for the petty crimes occurring in Hamilton. However, if you look at the NJ State police reports for aggravated assault, murder, rape and burglary, the numbers tell a much different story. Do these vicious crimes not matter as it pertains to the residents? Obviously not. Yet, Mayor Yaede had one person stalk her and she has a 24/7 security detail. What about the residents? Do the residents not matter? Many of the runners in the township will not run in Veteran's Park anymore due to the incidents that have occurred. I personally have been harassed, grabbed and bothered by suspicious people in the park. I have chosen to stay out of the park for this reason.
It appears from the administrations communications on crime that they want to minimize what is really happening in Hamilton. This drives the wrong behavior for criminals as well. Are we seeing this increase in vicious crime because criminals know they can get away with things in Hamilton? You decide.
In a recent Hamilton Post story, an interview of the candidates, Mayor Yaede said, "I stand behind calling Hamilton the Big H." How can anyone, especially in Hamilton who has the highest deployments of Narcan in the county, make this statement. The big H is the street name for heroin as we all know. The mayor has been educated on this fact many months ago, when she was completely oblivious to this fact, and she continues to want to name the town "The Big H". It is incomprehensible that the Mayor of Hamilton continues to make this statement. It is a smack in the face to every person and family battling heroin addictions or who have lost a loved one to this epidemic. There was yet another heroin death to a Hamiltonian this past week.
Public officials must lead, rally their teams every day, be honest, be responsive to residents, and not abuse their power. When they forget and ignore these attributes, it's time for change.
Vote on November 3rd, make your decision based on facts, do your research and choose wisely.
Hamilton Bewitched By Secrecy
By Tammy Duffy
Freedom of speech is one of the most valued and cherished principles in a free society, and it is in a constant battle with oppressive governments seeking to maintain the status-quo. When it comes to free speech in the world, Iran is rated the 175th freest country in regards to freedom of speech and freedom of the press out of 179 rated countries according to Reporters without Borders. Reporters without Borders said that, "Hounding and humiliating journalists has been part of [Iran’s] officialdom’s political culture for years. The regime feeds on persecution of the media. Iran has a long history of violence and current history does not show signs of reversing. From barring students from education because of their political beliefs to opening fire on protesters and shutting down news publications, the Iranian government is working hard to chill free speech and silence the press."
When it comes to freedom of speech and freedom of the press, the United States wins hands down compared to Iran. Even though Reporters without Borders ranks the U.S. 47th on the “freedom index,” it obviously beats Iran’s 175th rating. In the U.S., citizens enjoy an incredible amount of freedom when it comes to what they can say and print. The Framers of the of the United States Constitution wrote the First Amendment to guarantee that Americans would be protected in their right to speak their mind, protest, and publish news even when it is controversial or goes against the government’s interest. Throughout history the government, local, state and federal, have challenged the people’s right to exercise free speech or free press, but since the 1900’s the Supreme Court has mostly sided with the citizens.
The difference of freedom of speech and freedom of the press that Iranians and Americans enjoy are vast. In the United States, citizens can write just about anything they want and publish it for the whole world to see. In Iran, such acts would you get thrown in jail or even sentenced to death. In the U.S., citizens are free to protest their government and also assemble for very controversial issues. In Iran, this behavior has been met with violence and other punishment by the government. Iranian newspapers and online publications have been shut down for publishing information that the government finds unacceptable and students have been barred from getting an education for their political beliefs. Organizations such as Reporters Without Borders have rated Iran as one of the least free countries when it comes to freedom of speech and freedom of the press, and Iran’s situation has not improved much in recent years.
When the government prohibits the publication of material it does not want released this is known as prior restraint." Restraining a publication prior to its release is unconstitutional. This has happened on more than one occasion in Hamilton Township, NJ.
Every citizen shall have the right to freedom of expression, reception and dissemination of information, publication and access to the press without prejudice to public order, safety or morals as prescribed by law. All levels of government shall guarantee the freedom of the press and other media as shall be regulated by law in a democratic society.
The media has built up our economy and is one of the biggest technological advances made in human history. What concerns me most coming from an artistic point of view, is that; these incompetent actions by our government will effect how we promote ourselves and how we share information.
The media and press has become the chief vehicle of promotion and business for artists, local journalists and writers. The beginnings of Social Networking. We generated sharing and this is how many of us become discovered. If there was no freedom of press and media in place, chances would be low that many upcoming writers would have ever become relevant household names all over the world.
There are many more examples to this, but the bigger picture is that press and media censorship is constitutionally, morally, ethically, and politically wrong, it sabotages and destroy the beautiful thing the media and press have for us.
Protecting free speech means protecting a free press, the democratic process, diversity of thought, and so much more. The ACLU has worked since 1920 to ensure that freedom of speech is protected for everyone. For almost 100 years, the ACLU has worked to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States.
Freedom of speech, the press, association, assembly, and petition: This set of guarantees, protected by the First Amendment, comprises what we refer to as freedom of expression. It is the foundation of a vibrant democracy, and without it, other fundamental rights, like the right to vote, would wither away.
The fight for freedom of speech has been a bedrock of the ACLU’s mission since the organization was founded in 1920, driven by the need to protect the constitutional rights of conscientious objectors and anti-war protesters. The organization’s work quickly spread to combating censorship, securing the right to assembly, and promoting free speech in schools.
The press is to serve the governed, not the governors. The freedom of the press, protected by the First Amendment, is critical to a democracy in which the government is accountable to the people. A free media functions as a watchdog that can investigate and report on government wrongdoing. It is also a vibrant marketplace of ideas, a vehicle for ordinary citizens to express themselves and gain exposure to a wide range of information and opinions.
In September 2014, the Editor of the Trentonian asked me to cover the story on the 8 new sergeants that were being promoted in the township. This was the first time in the history of the township that there were African Americans being promoted to Sergeant. This was the first story I was ever paid to do for the newspaper. I had written numerous articles (two of which made the front page) for free to promote the arts and positive community events in Hamilton. I never took a dime from the newspaper for all the stories I wrote or the photos I took. But, the editor wanted to pay me for this story.
This was not a story I would normally cover. Penny Ray, the staff journalist would have. However, the mayors office and Hamilton police were blocking Penny from attending. This was not the first time the Mayor's office blocked a story, called and whined about a story to the point of threatening the newspaper or writers.
This was an email sent to me by John Berry, Editor of the Trentonian:
"So it looks like Penny is getting shut out by the PD. The Mayor produced about 2 grafs of uninformative quote.
Would you be able to still cover that in the morning?
Sorry to be back and forth on this, but Hamilton PD is apparently stonewalling us on this today saying that they only want to talk about it tomorrow so as not to "diminish" the accomplishments of the 6 white officers getting promoted.
@withhisown38 on Twitter"
When I arrived I was treated with such disrespect by the Mayor's press team. They were refusing to give me access to the sergeants. They even blocked me from going into a room with the families as the mayor spoke to the families. They were laughing in my face. This is what their leader was telling them to do, no doubt. Why did the Mayor feel she had the right to block Penny from covering the event? Because he wrote the truth about her delusions on the crime rates in Hamilton she blocked him.
In the end, I got the story. We told the story the way it should have been told. The mayor was indignent about how she wanted the story. It's not her place to tell the press how to tell a story, it's the presses.
The police department nor the mayors office has the constitution right to restrain press. This is called prior restraint (also referred to as prior censorship or pre-publication censorship). An alternative to prior restraint is to allow the expression to take place and to take appropriate action afterward, if the expression is found to violate the law, regulations, or other rules.
Prior restraint prevents censored material from being heard or distributed at all; other measures provide sanctions only after the offending material has been communicated, such as suits for slander or libel. In some countries (e.g., United States and Argentina) prior restraint by the government is forbidden by the constitution.
Freedom of the press means that television, newspapers, magazines and other media sources can publish truthful reports—even if they are controversial—without interference from the government. Mayor Yaede does not have the right to censor the press. It is unconstitutional to do so. She needs to read the constitution and understand the laws of this nation. Journalists have lost their lives globally getting a story. She has no respect for the press and what they do for the global nation or a community.
Founding father Thomas Jefferson once said, “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press.” In the U.S., freedom of the press is provided by the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights, a part of the Constitution. It states, "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press..."
Freedom of the press was included in the Bill of Rights because the founding fathers understood that if governments could block opinions or stories they disliked, then the public would be less informed. The press serves as a government watchdog and has used its First Amendment rights to hold public officials accountable. This has caused many to call the media the “Fourth Estate” or “fourth branch of government,” fitting into the system of checks and balances among our Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches.
To maintain this freedom, we must prioritize protecting our courageous reporters and their newsgathering processes – both abroad and at home.
As a nation, we are collectively focused on responding to these terrorist threats and protecting those abroad, as we should be. But, we must not forget to protect our reporters on the home front as well.
The free flow of information by journalists gives the public the opportunity and responsibility to understand their communities their country and the world. And with that, the power to shape them. It’s time for Americans to prioritize our courageous journalists and our right to know. We must protect journalists and honor those journalists who are killed, missing, threatened or held in captivity. It is critical for our democracy. When elected official spends their time silencing the press, threatening them, and controlling editors so that the truth does not come out, it times to elect new elected officials. These are the same elected officials who deliberately destroyed government documents (digital files and emails). They did this without doing the required by law certifications for the destruction of government documents. This is against the law. This is a bad habit, breaking the law, by this current administration lead by Mayor Yaede.
VOTE on NOV 3rd for a candidate that has integrity. A candidate who understands the constitution and appreciates the respects the freedom the press. The freedoms that our founding fathers and prior Americans fought so hard to give to us. Any elected official who feels they are above the law and feels they have license to ostracize the press in this matter, does not belong in office.
Vote for Amy Inman for Mayor &, Joanne Bruno and
Don Ryland for Council.
Is The Township Exempt From The Law?
As the elected officials and their directors received raises these past years, the summer help was paid below minimum wage. (see files from the twp website) In 2014, the N.J. State minimum wage was raised to $8.25. (http://www.dol.gov/whd/state/stateMinWageHis.htm) As you can see, these township employees were paid much less than that.
The 1996 Amendments to the FLSA allow employers to pay a youth minimum wage of not less than $4.25 an hour to employees who are under 20 years of age during the first 90 consecutive calendar days after initial employment. The law contains certain protections for employees that prohibit employers from displacing any employee in order to hire someone at the youth minimum wage. This fact sheet provides general answers to questions that may arise about the youth wage provisions. Are all these people listed below the age of 20? We hope so. These lists do not demonstrate that these are "youth jobs". They are listed as summer employees, not farm jobs.
The youth minimum wage is authorized by Section 6(g) of the FLSA, as amended by the 1996 FLSA Amendments. The law allows employers to pay employees under 20 years of age a lower wage for a limited period -- 90 calendar days, not work days -- after they are first employed. Any wage rate above $4.25 an hour may be paid to eligible workers during this 90-day period.
In prosecution of wage and hour violations, the stakes are getting personal. In several recent cases, the government has penalized company owners and officers for failing to pay overtime – imposing stiff fines and even imprisonment.
Unless an exception applies, your employer must pay you at least the federal or state minimum wage, whichever is higher. If you qualify for minimum wage and your employer pays you less than the mandated amount, you can file a wage claim or lawsuit against your employer.
If the federal labor department agrees with your claim, it can order your employer to pay you back wages plus liquidated damages. If your employer intentionally broke the law, it can face criminal prosecution plus a fine of up to $10,000 for the first violation. State penalties vary; however, they generally include paying back wages plus liquidated damages and applicable court costs and attorney fees.
In one case, the president of a Minnesota sheetrock company was sentenced to two years in jail and a potential fine of $3.3 million for intentionally underpaying employee overtime and union pension and benefit contributions.
In another recent case, the owners and officers of an Illinois security company were fined over $200,000, constituting back wages and liquidated damages, for violating overtime and record keeping provisions.
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), "any employer" who violates minimum wage or unpaid overtime compensation laws may be liable for both the shortfall and liquidated damages, which means double the damages. The FLSA definition of "employer" can be very broad. Along with supervisors and high-ranking executives, it can also include officers and directors.
To avoid both FLSA violations and personal liability, employers need to be sure they comply with all the relevant minimum wage, overtime, and other salary- and benefit-related regulations and agreements. Otherwise, they may find themselves paying a steep price.
An employer may not misclassify its workers as independent contractors in order to avoid paying them required wages under the FLSA," said Thomas Gauza, district director of the US Labor Department Wage and Hour Division in Chicago. "The Department of Labor is committed to ensuring that all workers receive their rightfully earned wages, and the resolution of this lawsuit demonstrates that we will use all available enforcement tools to protect workers against exploitation and ensure compliance with the law."
The Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor conducts investigations of alleged FLSA violations. When, pursuant to such an investigation, the Department of Labor decides a company or entity is not in compliance with FLSA, there are several ways employee back wages can be recovered:
The Wage and Hour Division may supervise payment of back wages. The Secretary of Labor may bring suit for back wages and an equal amount as liquidated damages.
An employee may file a private suit for back pay and an equal amount as liquidated damages, plus attorney's fees and court costs.
The Secretary of Labor may obtain an injunction to restrain any person from violating FLSA, including the unlawful withholding of proper minimum wage and overtime pay.
When it comes to recovery of back pay, there is a two-year statute of limitations, except in the case of a willful violation, where the statute of limitations is three years. When employers are found to willfully violate FLSA, they can also face criminal prosecution and fines up to $10,000. Upon a second conviction, employers could face imprisonment.
In order to stay out of trouble, employers should do the following to ensure they are paying workers properly:
Classify employees properly – Determining who is eligible for overtime isn't always straightforward. In the International Detective & Protective Services case, Judge Kendall pointed to several factors that employers need to consider when deciding if workers are employees or independent contractors, including: control over the manner and method employees work, opportunities for profit or loss, investment in equipment, special skills of workers, permanency of the relationships, and whether services provided by workers were an integral part of the business.
Know state laws – Along with federal laws, some states also have broad definitions of who qualifies as an employer under state wage and hour laws. This could increase liability at the state level. For example, under New Jersey's Wage and Hour Law, an "employer includes any individual, partnership, association, corporation, or any person or group of persons acting directly or indirectly in the interest of an employer in relation to an employee." Employers should consult with legal counsel to understand who may be liable for overtime infractions, so they can plan accordingly.
Review payroll practices and job classifications – It is advisable for employers to periodically review how employees track their hours. Laws change, job classifications get reworked, and new technology can make the process easier and less prone to errors.
Conduct audits – In addition to implementing solid overtime and time-keeping policies, companies should also routinely conduct audits. A spot check of one site or department may reveal that employees are not tracking hours properly or that supervisors are not following established procedures.
Be particularly careful with union employees – At union shops, the number of hours that employees work is not just reflected in their paychecks, it can also count for contributions to pension and benefits funds. As in the case of Franklin Drywall, employers can get into even more trouble when they shortchange those funds. If you have union employees, pay extra attention to how those employees' hours are tracked.
Executives and officers put a great deal of themselves into their businesses. They should be sure to spend some of their time making sure overtime and payroll are correctly managed; otherwise, they could end up paying fines and spending time in jail.
The concert will be held at ACP’s Solley Theater at the Paul Robeson Center for the Arts, 102 Witherspoon Street, Princeton NJ. Tickets are $12/General Admission and $10/ ACP members, students, and seniors. Tickets are available for purchase at the door 30 minutes before show time. Parking is available in the Spring and Hulfish Street Garages and at metered spots along Witherspoon Street and Paul Robeson Place. For more information, visit www.artscouncilofprinceton.org or call (609) 924-8777.
The Arts Council of Princeton, founded in 1967, is a non-profit organization with a mission of Building Community through the Arts. Housed in the landmark Paul Robeson Center for the Arts, the ACP fulfills its mission by presenting a wide range of programs including exhibitions, performances, free community cultural events, and studio-based classes and workshops in a wide range of media. Arts Council of Princeton programs are designed to be high-quality, engaging, affordable and accessible for the diverse population of the greater Princeton region.
They are currently working with a Maasai farming community in Transmara District (in partnership with Dr. Kakenya Ntaiya of Kakenya’s Dream Organization), and a Kikuyu farming community in Central District, both in Kenya.
They are working with the local women and girls as well as organizations in their communities, teaching women basic sewing skills and providing girls with opportunity to bead bracelets and make other products as a way to pay for school-fees and school-related expenses. The products that the participants of our programs create (Enkiteng Bags, Enkisoma Bracelets and Magoto Gifts) are then sold by Seeds to Sew on US market (see our EVENTS page to see where we will be next), and all proceeds are returned to the women and girls in the programs so that they can pay for school fees, medical care, and feed their families.
They have seen that with education, skills, self-esteem and an ability to generate income, women can better provide for their families. Their stature within the community changes, they are better able to control resources, influence decisions and bring about changes that have a lasting impact on their communities well being.
Visit their website to see the wonderful programs they promote
This wonderful teen girl
empowerment program will debut
in Atlanta on Nov. 7th. Please go
and help celebrate the event with
the new affiliate director, Annette
Mauzy who hails from Fulton, GA.
In April 2015, Duffy's Cultural Couture reported on the suboptimal practices of the Hamilton Township government as it pertains to record retention. (http://www.tammyduffy.com/ARTFASHION/index.blog/2353642/hamilton146s-high-tech-filing-system/)
Upon entering the townships document retention area I was stunned at the condition of the room. There was visqueen plastic draped throughout the room clothes pinned to the ceiling. There were puddles of brown water laying within the visqueen. I asked one of the township employees what was the cause of having all this plastic hanging from the ceiling. Their response,” the roof has been leaking for quite some time so we have this up to protect the file cabinets. Last year, I was in the tax office in the municipal building and saw this same dramatic visqueen plastic set up due to the leaking roof.
The room I was in was filled with numerous file cabinets. These file cabinets house important government records. All of the cabinets in this room had this plastic visqueen above them. There were extensive puddles of brown water scattered throughout the visqueen, above the cabinets. Obviously mold growing from the continued wetness. Is this how our government documents should be safeguarded? This is also not an optimal work environment for the employees as well.
Once I finished examining the files in the metal cabinets, I was given numerous old, collapsed boxes to leaf through to evaluate the documents. The boxes are not labeled just stuffed with numerous amounts of paper.
Upon further discussions and follow up with the Hamilton township Clerk, who has been in her position for 35 years we learned that emails just "disappear. All servers just "disappear" when people leave office, no email or digital file was ever saved prior to July 2010, they were all deleted.
In addition, in the past 35 years there has never been a certification (this properly documents what documents or emails have been deleted or sent to the state archive) done ever in the history of Hamilton township in Mercer County. All certifications come through the Hamilton municipal clerk and she has never processed one.
The municipal clerk is well aware of the shenanigans going on with the deletion of files and emails, her own have just disappeared, but nothing has ever been done to rectify the situation or document this behavior is going on.
Governments are bound by law to protect all records; which includes emails. which are in their custody. The law defines the roles laid out in the Annotated Code in an effort to protect records considered essential to the continuing operation of government, guarantee the integrity and preservation of permanent records, ensure the legal admissibility of the permanent record, secure the rights and privileges of citizens, assure public access to the records of government, promote agency legal and fiscal accountability, provide a means to document agency administrative history.
The law also further states that a person may not willfully alter, deface, destroy, remove, or conceal a public record except under proper authority. Exploring the regulations makes it clear that records management is important to the management of your government's responsibilities.
The Division and the State Archivist have adopted regulations to define the character of records of archival quality; determine the quantity of those records; set standards for the development of record retention and disposal schedules; and provide for the periodic transfer to the State Archivist or disposal of records, in accordance with the schedules.
Transparency of government is only possible through records management. Continuity of records is an integral piece of public officials' responsibility to their constituents. Though it may sound challenging, adhering to good records management practices will be beneficial in the long-term. An office with easy and reliable access to its records will operate efficiently.
Yesterday, the Trentonian reported a story, see link below
I sat on the economic development board for 1.5 years and resigned from the board due to the unprofessional aspects and lack of integrity of the township. The way volunteers were treated was despicable.
We all had to sit through "integrity training" which was actually taught by the townships insurance company. There were NO township officials at the training. Only the workerbees and volunteers (at least at the scheduled training I attended). The HR team from the twp was not in attendance at the training I attended. The was orchestrated by the townships insurance company.
It was clear from the insurance company that after the training that if anyone ignored the training aspects and the township was sued for something an employee/volunteer did, and they were trained on this aspect, that employee/volunteer would not be covered under the townships policy. They would need to hire their own lawyer and the township would not help them in any way.
The integrity policy that the township has does not have the teeth in it as the Mayor touts. It is nothing more than a memo, see link below.
This memo which was written by the prior mayor who went to jail. It makes reference to a state policy, but the township does not share this state policy with anyone who is asked to sign this memo. One would think they would have the link directly to the State policy near the memo. This is not the case. Clarity on these types of issues is the only way to ensure everyone understands the policy.
I will share with you an email exchange between myself and the township lawyer. This exchange happened during my tenure on the township economic development board. There are several policies on the state site. Unless the township gives that exact policy to everyone, so everyone clearly understands all the rules, then it's not a policy. The loopholes for the people become large and plentiful for those involved if this is not done. But maybe that is exactly what they want, loopholes.
In the article by the Trentonian they make reference to a statement by the Mayor.
"In a memo dated Feb. 4, 2013, Yaede informed all township employees, including police officers, that “gifts and other things of value that are otherwise permissible to accept may be impermissible if they are used or displayed in an inappropriate manner, such as in a manner that may create an impression of favoritism or endorsement.”
Any government employee worth the honor of holding office or having a government job, knows full well that they cannot take ANY gift EVER. EVER. EVER. EVER. There are no exceptions. They cannot take even a pencil. If you do, you are out of a job, instantly.
This "new" law is not worth paper it is written on if there is no accountability demonstrated to those who break the laws. There is never follow up or accountability given for breaking the law with the current administration. They are running amok. They have a social media policy that their own employees do not follow. There are directors within the township that post inappropriate items constantly. There are no reprecussions for that.
This photo taken in Feb 2014 on Sandalwood Ave in Hamilton, private plowing for twp "people". The road is not plowed, but this resident got a personal plowing.
You will see in this email thread what I asked the township Lawyer about this memo they wanted us to sign. After his response I kept reaching out to him to obtain the full document that they are using as a reference. All the emails went unresponded to from Mr Burbage for this information. This is the typical response from township officials, no response.
There are no teeth in this law, or in the policy. It's another wondercloud of falsehoods created by administration that is as dense as osmium. There is zero transparency in this local government.
Email thread below
On Wednesday, June 11, 2014 4:23 PM, Tammy Duffy <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Thank you for this information. I went to the web and there are several links that go to different documents as it pertains to the Ethics Code for the State of NJ.
I might suggest that whatever document was utilized to create the summary memorandums that were sent to us, be sent to the members of the commissions. Without this no one can sign these documents. This will ensure that there is no confusion on how people were trained and what document was read by the individual. By sending the exact document this also ensures that in the event someone breaks the rules they were informed of ALL of the regulations and the individual cannot say, "I was never told and did not know". The summary memorandum does not cover all the policies that have been developed by the State of NJ.
To compare this, one would never sign a one page summary given to you by a mortgage broker and not read the entire mortgage documentation to ensure you understood and were informed of all the details of the mortgage.
I look forward to receiving the full document or appropriate link.
Dr. Tammy Anne Duffy
On Wednesday, June 11, 2014 2:54 PM, "LBurbage@hamiltonnj.com" <LBurbage@hamiltonnj.com> wrote:
Dr. Duffy-Loretta forwarded your email concerning the above referenced matter to me for reply. Although there are several references to the Local Government Ethics Law, the term “Local”, actually is referring to the State of N.J. Code. The summary, is just that, a summary of the high points in the state code. The entire document can be found on the N.J. website. Thank you for your questions. LLB
Dr. Tammy Anne Duffy
HI! I have a question
The code of ethics document is an interoffice memo. It is not a representation of the full code of ethics, it appears. In the second paragraph it says, "In summary", which leads me to believe there is a full document somewhere and these are just a few bullets from the document. Do you have the full document that this interoffice memo was created from? It may just be that the words "in summary" need to be removed from the document because it creates the impression that the memo is a summary of a more extensive document.
Once I hear back with confirmation on what the full document looks like and have had the opportunity to read it, I will be happy to sign the documents. The gift and gratuity memo also makes reference to the "Local Govt Ethics Law."
I do not see this on the website ("Local Govt Ethics Law."). I only see the memo as mentioned above on the website.
If Hamilton really wants to have "teeth" in their law they will formally prosecute all the people involved with destroying government records over the years. All of the digital files and email prior to July 2010 have been destroyed. There was no certification done to formally destroy these records. This is against the law, a serious violation of the law. One that should not be ignored.
As you know, Duffy's Cultural Couture has been reporting on the firing range that is located behind American Metro Way. This past weekend 30 dump trucks filled with dirt traveled through the community of Cornell Heights making a delivery. A delivery to the firing range. Upon speaking to the drivers of the trucks we learned the dirt (finest of grade) is being utilized to build add a high velocity component to the existing police range. What is this costing taxpayers? We tried to OPRA this information and the township refused to share it. But, the government is transparent?
In July, 2011, Kevin Schick, Chief - Bureau of Environmental Evaluation & Risk Assessment contacted the township and had extensive discussions with the township on this firing range. He spoke with Richard Williams, Dir of Compliance and Planning. He gave to them two documents that Schick considered the "gold standard" for best management practices (BMPs) at operational firing ranges. The documents are from the ITRC and USEPA. "These BMPs should be considered for their operational police range", Schick said. How much of what was in these documents from the DEP Chief do you think the township of Hamilton has implemented or created a SOP based on those documents? I ask all of you to contact Mr Williams, OPRA the document and make your assessment about how transparent, caring of the community, this current administration is. Once you do that, make your decision on Nov 3rd for the people you feel are honest, caring of the community, and will put teeth into policies that are written.
A final note to report on, the township did away with free permits for senior citizens in the township. What could this program possibly cost the township? But, the township has no issue spending exorbitant amounts of money revamping a firing range and on a 5 person security detail for the current mayor?
Do you feel like you matter as a resident in Hamilton? Do you feel your hard earned tax dollars are being used properly? Do you feel safe? Do you feel that current administration is more concerned with serving themselves vs. serving the residents?
Make your decision on November 3rd.