Brigantine Taxpayers Association Will Vote NO on May 13.

The tenacious Brigantine Taxpayers Association (BTA) is fired up for May 13. It’s on this date when Brigantine residents with voter rights will decide the fate of Dan Howard, the acting Public Safety Director. What’s best choice for the city and taxpayers? The BTA offers up their position on this divisive and often misunderstood issue:

When vacancies occurred in the position of chiefs in the three public safety departments last year, the City manager first made attempts to fill them in-house. These weren’t successful. To fill this void with administrative leadership she hired an interim Director of Public Safety. This director is a civilian administrator who can set policy and the budget, but does not, by state statute, perform any law enforcement functions. Brigantine’s interim Director of Public Safety earns $70,000. on an annual basis, receives no benefits, and has done a good job.

The manager, under Brigantine’s council/manager form of government, its responsibilities etc. set by state statute, was chosen unanimously by vote of City council. He or she hires, fi res and negotiates union contracts. Brigantine’s manager, Ms. Blumenthal, has our support for determining and providing necessary cost-effective leadership in the public safety departments whether with chiefs or a director.

Both council and the manager have stated that their preference is to have chiefs. They and we do not support having both the chief and director positions filled on a permanent basis at the same time. An interim appointment is not a commitment for a permanent job.

The City manager and council have repeatedly emphasized that a chief must not only have the required departmental qualifications, this person must also be able to be a professional partner in municipal administration with a perspective and attitude broad enough to encompass the best interests of the whole community, not just those of a particular department.

This person must be willing to adapt and change, knowing that the status quo is not sustainable. So far, the manager has not found anyone to meet this additional requirement.

With the passage of the 2014 salary ordinance, the majority on council listed certain positions to provide for flexibility, choice and the opportunity to cut costs in its decisions regarding employment. One of these choices is an interim director. Having this management tool offers the manager flexibility, particularly when time, cost and suitability are factors to be considered.

Having a listed position doesn’t mean that it has to be filled. It simply allows it to be filled if and when needed.

The City has had the position of director along with chiefs for decades. The previous City manager was also a Director of Public Safety. This position was challenged by taxpayers, but the previous majority party didn’t think it necessary to remove it.

Now that the election is about to take place, with the possibility of a “yes’ vote, the City manager is starting the official process, interviewing those who present themselves as candidates and evaluating their qualifications, of filling the chiefs’ positions in order to be prepared for just such an outcome. If the “yes” vote wins and the Director’s position is eliminated, the manager must make appointments regardless of suitability. Flexibility and choice will no longer be available to the City manager in this essential decision.

Who benefits under these circumstances? Not the taxpayers!

If an appointee as chief doesn’t perform up to a standard, the municipality would have difficulty replacing said appointee. That’s not true with a director. In addition to professional competence, we should expect a qualified appointee to stay in the job and provide continuity for the department and the administration.

Overall, there is the consideration of the cost of different positions which affects all aspects of municipal government and our property taxes.

The Brigantine Taxpayers Association’s position is this: an acceptable level of public safety with an affordable cost to the taxpayers.

We believe the better choice is NO and urge voters to vote NO on Tuesday, May 13.

Brigantine Taxpayers Association

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7 thoughts on “Brigantine Taxpayers Association Will Vote NO on May 13.”

  1. I am sure the Brigantine Taxpayer’s Association knows that through recent lawsuits and litigation, Brigantine is currently paying for chiefs in both the Police Department and Fire Department.

    Add a $70,000.00 Public Safety Director into the mix, and who is benefiting from having the Public Safety Director? NOT THE TAXPAYERS! While I am here, I should probably clear one thing up about the council majority and city manager always “Wanting Chiefs.” Many times in council meetings, Chief Holl of the fire department was regarded as a fair chief, the “partner” that city council was looking for. If council majority has always wanted chiefs, why did they keep Chief Holl as an acting chief while he was alive and only promote him to full chief posthumously?

    If council majority has favored having chiefs, why is a petition from the residents the only thing that has started the selection process for chiefs?

    If you are concerned about cost effectiveness and efficiency of your public safety departments, which I thought a group called the “Brigantine Taxpayer’s Association” would be, then you should clearly vote YES on May 13.

  2. John W. Pucci Sr.

    Is the ability to get rid of a Public Safety Director (without a contract) really the best parameter for the decision to have one, instead of a Chief? That person could leave in a heart beat, ebbing to a job closer to home, or for $5,000/yr more salary, maybe even getting benefits.

    If the person is that good, they could be looking elsewhere receiving $70,000. here. Then where will the city of Brigantine be, absent of all these so important interviews for a replacement? Or, is there a salary increase in the wind? The City Manager (without a contract) is in the same position to follow the same footsteps.

    What is the common Denominator with this circus performance this past year? Is it the public who attend 6 hr. council meetings who have different views? Is it our elected city council persons (Brigantine residents) who have different views? Is it our dedicated employees fault? No, No, & No!

    I will be voting Yes on Tuesday, May 13 and urge voters to vote yes to eliminate the Public Safety Director position.

  3. I have attended the majority of council meetings this past year. During these meetings I have seen our city manager and four members of council attempt in my opinion to Flip Flop on the on the issue of Chiefs versus Safety Director. The petition was voted down creating the need for a special election, thus costing we the tax payers an additional 30,000 dollars possibly more before all is said and done. It’ s already proven the position of Safety Director is costing us more since we are paying 75,000 for a position that at one time cost 5,000 and with the additional expense of compensating additional pay when Fire Officials are supervising their shifts in the capacity of a Chief. As a disenchanted Democrat I Will Be Voting YES!

  4. My question to the Brigantine Taxpayers Association is when exactly did the City Manager try to fill the vacancy of Police Chief? As a matter of fact, outgoing Chief Stone placed Captain Cox in the Acting Chief spot which, as we all know, was sabotaged by City Manager Blumenthal when she illegally demoted him. After Cox was illegally demoted, another Lieutenant was asked to take over as Acting Chief. Due to moral and ethical issues, that Lieutenant declined at that time.

    No other employee of the police department was asked.

    The question still remains of when did Blumenthal attempt to fill the vacancy of Police Chief? Do your research BTA, the answer is Blumenthal NEVER attempted to. Appointing someone to Acting Chief is not the same as appointing a Police Chief. What Blumenthal did do was appoint her friend as an interim public safety director.

    The second question for the BTA is how they define “a good job” regarding Dan Howard. There have been several PERC decisions against the city due to the improper actions committed by Mr. Howard against employees, there are CEPA violations filed against Mr. Howard, there has been an increase in fees for the taxpayers and charitable organizations of Brigantine that have all been Mr. Howard’s idea.

    If that’s a good job I’d hate to see your definition of a bad job.

    Oh, and he does receive benefits in the form of an expense stipend.

    One thing the BTA did state correctly was that the City Manager is responsible for certain things: hiring (like when she hired Dan Howard during a hiring freeze), firing (they’ll be more on that in the future) and negotiating contracts…why are Mr. Bernstein and Mr. Howard part of contract negotiations if it’s the City Managers job?

    The BTA is a small group of people who never seem to be happy with anything that goes on if it goes against a certain group. It almost seems that they argue just for the sake of arguing. The agenda of the BTA is so disgusting it’s no surprise who pulls their strings.

    If the BTA put more effort into positivity and less into negativity, all concerned citizens would benefit.

    I support citizen watchdog groups, they really do benefit the public, but when the group is influenced by the political parties they claim to be watching, all of their credibility is lost.

    One last thing to think about, if Dan Howard is appointed to permanent PSD, the $105,000 salary (that the salary ordinance just raised it to) plus the expense stipend and his more than $90,000 a year pension will make him one of the highest, if not the top publicly paid employee of Brigantine.

    Double Dipping at its worst.

    Stand up for your city and please vote YES! on May 13th to eliminate the position of Public Safety Director.

  5. The Democrat Majority of City Council and the City Manager seem to have conveniently flipped their position on the hiring of Department Heads (Chiefs) for the Police, Fire/EMS, and Beach Patrol Departments here in the city of Brigantine.

    I believe this is a political attempt to confuse the Brigantine Voter on the May 13th Election.

    They are trying to get the word out that if the City Manager is interviewing, why should we get rid to the Director of Public Safety? They want the public to vote “NO” so they will be able to keep “their Director” in place. They will then continue to drag their feet on the hiring of departmental heads. This will tie up the city in litigation and drive the expensive legal fees through the roof, all the while distracting the general public, while they promote their own agendas, on other matters, for personal gain.

    Over ten months have passed since the appointment of the Director of Public Safety was made. If this issue were truly about saving the tax payers money, where is the documented proof this position has saved the tax payers one dime? I here much “would of, should of, and could of”, but I do not see any concrete evidence there has been any cost savings to the tax payers.

    We have already been told the Director of Public Safety is LEGALLY not allowed to perform the duties and responsibilities of Departmental Chiefs, so I ask, what else has this Director of Public Safety done? I am not aware of any significant contributions, and it is for this reason we need to vote “YES” to eliminate the position of Director of Public Safety on May 13th.

    If we citizens are concerned with saving tax money and cutting expenses, why have a full time Director of Public Safety at this time, and only a part time Chief Financial Officer?

  6. When I moved to Brigantine in 1950,I believe we had a commission type government, consisting of 3 people.

    One served as Mayor, One served as Finance Dir.,and the 3rd served as Public Safety Dir…Only at at budget time was the public safety director involved.

    The different chief’s were ably capable of handling their respective depts,needs..It may be possible for one of the local politicians to wear two hats,thereby saving the Public Safety Dir. position the $70K the city is now spending..I having been on the PD. for 25 yrs, saw no need ever for that extra position of public safety director..

    Just a thought to be considered..** the three commissioner’s also did whatever else they did,i.e. vote on city issues,etc….

    James J. Tynan,Jr. BPD/RET 1992/Lt…Long Key,fl..

  7. We all know what the game is here: Promote to chief, stay 2 years, retire at the top pension possible, and hand off the chief job to the next in line at the public trough. This is NOT the type of leadership Brigantine needs in any department.

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