Friday, May 04, 2007

Planning Board Consultant - 2007 - Remington and Vernick

Published in PoliticsPA, Thursday, February 23, 2006

NJ Style Pay to Play
Comes to Newtown and Lower Makefield

TO: All Media



CONTACT: Robert L. Ciervo (215) 932-3200

NEWTOWN, PA -- Last evening at a televised Newtown Township Board of Supervisors meeting Robert Ciervo, a Newtown Township resident for over 25 years, provided information concerning past ethical and criminal complaints against the newly appointed Township Engineers, Remington and Vernick of Haddonfield, NJ.

He cited a June 20, 2005 New Jersey Courier-Post article by Erik Schwartz which stated "In 1998 ELEC (the Election Law Enforcement Comission of New Jersey) collected a $16,900 fine from Remington and Vernick Engineers Inc. of Haddonfield after it admitted to illegally funneling money to Democrats in Gloucester Township and Voorhees through two PACs the firm set up to circumvent limits on contributions." Ciervo also went on to read information from a Consent Order and Final Decision of ELEC which stated that Remington and Vernick were guilty of violating state campaign finance laws in 1993, 1995, 1996 and originally were charged $36,000 of total fines on 15 different counts.

He then asked the Board of Supervisors if any of the members were aware of these past violations of campaign finance law. Ciervo also asked the Chair of the Board, how it came to hire Remington and Vernick and who introduced this New Jersey-based firm whose office of operation is 40 miles from Newtown, to the Supervisors. Chairman Anne Goren refused to answer any of Ciervo's questions. She refused to give even a yes or no answer as to whether she knew of the violations of state campaign laws. He was perplexed as to why a town in Bucks County would hire an engineering firm in [New Jersey].

After giving the Board an adequate amount of time to respond Ciervo speculated as to how Remington and Vernick were hired. "In October and November of 2005 the municipal services contracts of Newtown and Lower Makefield were up for sale", he stated. He went on to add that on 10/11/05 Craig Remington, Vice President of Remington and Vernick, donated $1,000 to the Newtown Democrats who paid for much of the campaign expenses for the campaign of Phil Calabro for Supervisor. Phil Calabro is presently the Chairman of the Newtown Democrats.

He further added that on 10/18/05 Craig Remington donated $7,000 to the Bucks County Democratic Committee; and on that same day, 10/18/05, the Bucks County Democratic Committee donated $2,000 to the Newtown Democrats; and on 10/18/05 the Bucks County Democratic Committee donated $2,000 to Smith and Caiola for Supervisor.

Additionally he noted that on 11/9/05 (one day after the November election) Thomas Rospos of Belmar, NJ (the President of Birdsall Engineering Firm of Burlington, NJ) donated $5,000 to the Bucks County Democratic Committee.

Ciervo went on to wonder aloud: So what were the results of these donations?

On 1/6/06 Democrats Phil Calabro and Jerry Schenkman voted for Remington, Vernick and Beach to be the professional engineering firm of Newtown Township. Obviously before this meeting they agreed to not renew the contract of the former engineering firm Pennoni and Associates.

On 2/1/06, Democrats Greg Caiola and Ron Smith voted for Remington and Vernick to be the sewer engineering firm for Lower Makefield Township.

On 2/1/06, Democrats Greg Caioloa and Ron Smith voted for Birdsall Engineering to be the environmental engineering firm for Lower Makefield Township.

He concluded his remarks by expressing his disappointment at how his hometown, the town where he grew up and went to school from kindergarten through high school was sold to the highest bidder by New Jersey politicians.

Ciervo added today, "While the Newtown Board of Supervisors will not tell the public how they came to hire a New Jersey based engineering firm, it is important to note that new Lower Makefield Supervisor Greg Caiola was on the Ewing Township council in New Jersey in the late 1990s. It is interesting to note that the current township engineering firm in Ewing is also Remington and Vernick."

So why won't Vice Chairman Phil Calabro tell the public who introduced him to Craig Remington? Did Greg Caiola orchestrate a deal whereby if Mr. Remington donated to the Newtown Democrats that his company would earn the engineering contract? Or did Bucks County Democratic Chairman John Cordisco arrange for Mr. Remington to make a large donation to the county party with assurances that if the Democratic candidates in Newtown and Lower Makefield won, Remington and Vernick would earn a piece of the pie?

Ciervo also has investigated the campaign finance reports of Caiola and Smith and noted 2 unsual donations totaling $4,000. The first is a donation made on 10/31/05 reportedly by IBEW-COPE located on 900 Seventh Street in Washington, D.C. A check of IBEW-COPE's campaign finance reports on record with the Federal Election Commission reveals no donation to Caiola and Smith for Supervisor. The second donation made on 12/12/05 was from the newly formed PAC "Yardley-Makefield Democratic Victory Fund". As of 2/23/06 this group has failed to file the appropriate report to indicate from where they received $3,000 in donations. They have already been fined over $350 by the Bucks County Board of Elections for submitting late reports and failing to file the appropriate report.

So the question remains as to who donated these donations totalling $4,000? Did they come from Craig Remington? Did he instruct Caiola and Smith to set up another PAC to channel money into their campaigns like he did in Gloucester and Voorhees in the 1990s?

It appears that if New Jersey pay-to-play politics is now in place in Newtown and Lower Makefield. Part of Mr. Calabro's pledge to Newtown that he had printed in the Newtown Advance before the November election read "You will never have to suspect our decisions or choices."

It seems as if less than 2 months into his tenure many Newtown Township and Lower Makefield residents are suspecting that professional services contracts may have been prearranged before they even were able to cast their vote.


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About Me

Plainfield resident since 1983. Retired as the city's Public Information Officer in 2006; prior to that Community Programs Coordinator for the Plainfield Public Library. Founding member and past president of: Faith, Bricks & Mortar; Residents Supporting Victorian Plainfield; and PCO (the outreach nonprofit of Grace Episcopal Church). Supporter of the Library, Symphony and Historic Society as well as other community groups, and active in Democratic politics.