Lenz milks The System

10/21/2010 Update:

Occhipinti calls on Lenz to return $4500 to taxpayers

Following the Hoboken411 investigation into unelected councilman Michael Lenz’s health insurance scheme, challenger Tim Occhipinti is calling on Lenz to give the money back to Hoboken Taxpayers. Here is a press release from the Occhipinti For Council Campaign:

“Hoboken 4th ward city council candidate Tim Occhipinti called on Michael Lenz to return to taxpayers $4,500 in incentives he receives for opting out of the county health plan and having Hoboken taxpayers pay for his health benefits. Lenz, who, in addition to making $24,000 as a part-time city councilman, makes approximately $70,000 at his county patronage job, switched to the city health benefits plan when he was appointed to the city council.

At last week’s debate, Lenz refused to disclose how much he collected from this scheme. The facts are that Lenz saves $1,000 by not having to pay for county health benefits (the required 1.5% of his approx. $70,000 salary), and then collects an additional $3,500 from the county’s incentive program, which provides such payments to those who choose to opt out of the county health plan.

“Michael Lenz should give that money back to taxpayers,” said Occhipinti. “For a man who preaches to everyone else about ethics, this is especially shady. This cynical manipulation of public benefits is a perfect example of the real Michael Lenz. Give the money back, Mr. Lenz. Do the right thing and write a check to the taxpayers of Hoboken.”

Occhipinti, who holds a private sector job, said he will join several other current city council members and not take city health benefits. “I’ll save taxpayers $23,000 my first day on the job by not asking them to foot the bill for my health benefits,” he said. “Michael Lenz is costing taxpayers close to $115,000 in salary and benefits. On top of that, he gets to put $4,500 in his pocket. That’s not reform. That’s duplicity.”

See the original expose on Lenz’s health insurance switcheroo, and video from last week’s debate on the issue, after the jump!

10/19/2010:

Health benefits switcheroo puts $4500 into Lenz’s pocket

And takes $22,300 from city taxpayers…

The only part-time Hoboken city employees offered full-time health insurance benefits are the nine members of the City Council. Four of them refuse to take them, saving Hoboken taxpayers nearly $97,000 a year. Despite having full health coverage offered to him as a Hudson County employee, unelected councilman Michael Lenz isn’t one of them. Lenz jumped off the plan his job provided and signed on to the city system as soon as he was appointed. Why?

A Hoboken411 investigation finds a familiar motivation: cash money.

Lenz would have to pay a portion of his county benefits

Hudson County requires all non-union employees to pay 1.5% of their salary toward the cost of their health plans. To participate in the county plan Lenz would have to pay over $1000 of his approximately $70,000 annual salary. Lenz pays nothing extra to participate in the Hoboken health insurance plan.

An Open Public Records Act request revealed Hoboken taxpayers foot the $22,300 bill for Lenz’s health insurance. The subject came up at the recent candidates forum:

No answer from Lenz about stipend, Hoboken411 investigates

As you can see in the video, Lenz didn’t answer the direct question about how much money he was actually putting in his own pocket by putting city taxpayers on the hook for his benefits. Unlike Hoboken, Hudson County has a progressive incentive program offering individuals who can show proof of coverage the opportunity to drop their employer provided benefits and receive an annual stipend of $3500. County officials say the change saved a million taxpayer dollars in its first year alone.

Adding the $3500 stipend up with the $1000 co-pay Lenz saves by not opting into the county system yields a $4500 bonus on top of the $24,000 salary Lenz gets for being an unelected councilman. Challenger Tim Occhipinti says he will join four other council members who refuse the full-time benefits for part-time council work.

What do you think about Lenz’s $4500 bonus, and part-time council members getting full-time benefits? As always, your comments are welcome below.

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44 Comments on "Lenz milks The System"


Member
truth1
4 years 10 months ago

No amount of spin can overcome facts; however, “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder”…………….. 😛

Member
HOB424
4 years 10 months ago

It was too long ago, that two other candidates debated each other before an election. Remember Zimmer vs. Cammarano. Alot of people said that Cammarano won those debates, he was the better speaker, understood the questions and knew the right things to say. People criticized Zimmer and said, she kept pausing, came across as if she didn’t know what she was talking about and was a poor public speaker – well look how that turned out!!!!!.

Member
spiffy
4 years 10 months ago

Matt if you’re going to judge a candidate based on their ability to memorize everything and their public speaking abilities, then you deserve what you get.

Tim is new to the scene and really cares about the 4th Ward. Lenz is a seasoned Hudson County BS artist and opportunist.

Community representation, not a talent show. You have the wool pulled over your eyes big time.

Member
4 years 10 months ago

Public speaking is not the same as reading verbatim. This was a debate, not a grade school reading class. If Tim had actually had a bad debate performance WITHOUT notes, I wouldn’t care about his choppy delivery b/c then at least I would know he thought about the question and gave an answer he came up with on his own. This man was reading entire paragraphs out of a binder. Half the time he wasn’t even answering the question, just reading those remarks someone else prepared for him b/c he couldn’t answer the question at all. And when he had nothing in his little binder, he completely imploded. He is completely clueless. He probably couldn’t find the bathroom at his favorite bar w/o a detailed set of instructions. Maybe his speechwriter should have been running instead of Tim. That person at least had answers to the questions given during the debate.

So no, I am not judging him on delivery. I am judging him on his inability to think for himself and answer any question at all (except the one on The Jersey Shore – he answered that on his own). The man is a puppet.[quote comment=”199087″]Matt if you’re going to judge a candidate based on their ability to memorize everything and their public speaking abilities, then you deserve what you get. Tim is new to the scene and really cares about the 4th Ward. Lenz is a seasoned Hudson County BS artist and opportunist. Community representation, not a talent show. You have the wool pulled over your eyes big time.[/quote]

Member
gazzosdriver
4 years 10 months ago

At the next council meeting I would like Tim to publicly call for Mike Lenz to return the incentive money that he received from the county. In the next breath I would like him to publicly call on the Russo family to pay the $300k in restitution that they owe the city.

Member
chacha17
4 years 10 months ago

then again he would be playing into one of the greatest ironies of all hoboken politics…
why is it if you allign youself with the russo’s you lose (see beth mason), yet if YOU ARE A RUSSO you win?!?!?!?!!?

[quote comment=”199061″]At the next council meeting I would like Tim to publicly call for Mike Lenz to return the incentive money that he received from the county. In the next breath I would like him to publicly call on the Russo family to pay the $300k in restitution that they owe the city.[/quote]

Member
chacha17
4 years 10 months ago

well played!!!
:mrgreen: [quote comment=”199061″]At the next council meeting I would like Tim to publicly call for Mike Lenz to return the incentive money that he received from the county. In the next breath I would like him to publicly call on the Russo family to pay the $300k in restitution that they owe the city.[/quote]

Member
gazzosdriver
4 years 10 months ago

i would like Mike to win this election. I would also like him to return this money and give-up his city benefits. I would then like him to sponsor a resolution to eliminate benefits to city council members. Do you think Russo would second?

Member
4th Ward Guardian
4 years 10 months ago

Better yet, do you think Marsh or Bhalla would second? According to that OPRA document above. Pay-to-Play attorney Ravi Bhalla takes the $23,000 health benefits despite raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars he on public contracts. Carol Marsh takes the benefits, too, so she won’t be signing onto that resolution either.

Lenz should give the $4500 back. He thought he was getting away with something slick. That money belongs to the taxpayers of Hoboken, and he should give it back.[quote comment=”199060″]i would like Mike to win this election. I would also like him to return this money and give-up his city benefits. I would then like him to sponsor a resolution to eliminate benefits to city council members. Do you think Russo would second?[/quote]