Lenz Loves Lawyer$
Hoboken awards another $363k in legal contracts!
With lawsuit after lawsuit plaguing the Zimmer administration, legal bills keep piling up as more no-bid contracts are handed out to politically connected law firms.
$313,000 in contracts handed out to the law firm of powerful State Senator Ray Lesniak got lots of attention last week, but that was just one part of the intrigue.
There was also a $50,000 no-bid contract for McManimon and Scotland on the agenda. Before that vote, 5th ward councilman Peter Cunningham recused himself citing a “business relationship” he has with the firm. Cunningham is being more careful with conflicts these days following the firestorm that proceeded his vote to award a no-bid contract to friend and campaign contributor Paul Condon.
Lenz approves no-bid contract for lawyer bosses
While Cunningham played it safe, unelected 4th ward councilman Michael Lenz stayed put and voted in favor of the contract with no mention of his own potential conflicts. Attached to the resolution to hire McManimon and Scotland was the required Political Contribution Disclosure Form, which showed the most recent contributions totaling $2500 to the Thomas DeGise Election Fund by M&S attorneys. DeGise is the Hudson County Executive, and Lenz’s boss and benefactor in county government. Following Lenz’s assistance in the 2007 “county war” between DeGise’s HCDO and Union City Mayor Brian Stack, a “management specialist” job was given to the then-unemployed Lenz at the county’s Meadowview Campus. McManimon and Scotland is a reliable contributor to DeGise, who holds the career of Lenz in his hands.
Should Lenz have voted, or recused to avoid conflicts?
Now the question many are asking is, should Lenz have followed Cunningham’s lead and also recused himself? Especially since the same Election Fund of Thomas DeGise may make a contribution to Lenz’s own campaign fund. If DeGise puts money in Lenz’s account, it could be seen as an attempt to circumvent Hoboken’s Pay-to-Play laws. McManimon and Scotland is prohibited from putting $2500 directly into Lenz’s campaign fund, but nothing stops the firm from giving the money to the DeGise fund, which could then make a similar contribution to Lenz’s campaign. Lenz is said to be actively seeking campaign funding from his HCDO bosses, much like he did for Carol Marsh and Dawn Zimmer in 2007.
More on McManimon and Scotland, Weiner Lesniak and Lenz’s election fund, after the jump.
McManimon and Scotland is the go-to firm for the HCDO
Why would Lenz want to support this contract?
McManimon and Scotland is one of the most influential law firms in New Jersey, and Bill Northgrave is their man in Hudson County. Northgrave was Chief of Staff to County Executive Robert Janiszewski before he moved to the office of County Counsel. Janiszewski eventually went to prison on corruption charges. Northgrave was not implicated in any wrongdoing, and joined McManimon & Scotland. Since then he’s served as the HCDO’s legal answer to Harvey Keitel’s “Mr. Wolf” character in Pulp Fiction.
- The HCDO needs a private lawyer to protect West New York Mayor Sal Vega from a recall effort? Bill Northgrave is their man.
- The HCDO needs an attorney to help Jersey City council member Nidia Lopez fight charges her primary residence is really in Florida? Get Bill Northgrave on line one.
- HCDO-connected Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell is arrested by the feds on corruption charges? He calls Bill Northgrave for the arraignment.
- Fourth Ward Council Candidate Dawn Zimmer needs an attorney to fight charges of absentee voter fraud that could overturn her election and maybe even send people to jail? The HCDO recommends Bill Northgrave for the job!
Northgrave represented Zimmer in the embarrassing depositions that showed the ugly inner workings of a typical Fourth Ward campaign. Instead of seeing the case to its conclusion, Zimmer was advised it would be best to give up her seat and agree to a new election.
Weiner Lesniak gets $313k in three contracts
The City of Hoboken is a bonanza for politically connected attorneys!
Last week, the city council passed three separate resolutions awarding $313,000 worth of legal contracts to the law firm of powerful State Senator Ray Lesniak. $103,000 goes to pay 3-day-a-week Corporation Counsel Mark Tabakin, who will also get an additional $10,000 for handling the lawsuit from S. Hekemian Group after Mayor Dawn Zimmer defaulted on the $25.5 million Municipal Garage sale.
An additional $200,000 will go straight to Weiner Lesniak for other legal work, but that’s only about a third of the annual cost of lawyers for the city.
Meanwhile, good government watchdogs are keeping an eye on Lenz’s ELEC forms for any signs of contributions from people connected to DeGise, Lesniak and other law firms. The way the system works it won’t be known until after Election Day where Lenz gets all his campaign money. Any checks after the last reporting deadline before election day won’t be seen until well after the votes are counted.