New administrator, attorney, engineer hired
By PETE WALTON
Russell brings bipartisan experience to his new job, having worked as legislative director for one of New Jersey’s most powerful Democrats, former state Sen. Ray Lesniak (D-Union) and director of office administration for former Senate President John O. Bennett (R-Monmouth).
The resolution appointing Russell was amended at the special meeting after Mayor Robert J. Brown and Wardell objected to a paragraph accusing the previous borough administrator of refusing to assist the council in its search for a new administrator.
“That paragraph was completely untrue,” Brown said.
Newly appointed borough attorney Greg Cannon, who said that he specializes in serving communities with split governments, agreed that the paragraph should be removed.
Cannon was appointed by a 4-0 vote, with Wardell abstaining. Cannon, of the Sobel Han law firm in Aberdeen, is also the borough attorney in three other Monmouth County towns — Red Bank, Allentown and Roosevelt.
Cannon is a township councilman in Aberdeen, where the Democrat has been elected three times since 2009.
A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, Cannon also holds a Juris Doctor degree from the Villanova University School of Law.
Susan Brasefield of Maser Consulting, Red Bank, was named borough engineer. Peter R. Avakian of Leon S. Avakian Inc. will be a special projects engineer, mainly to complete work which the Avakian firm has already started on behalf of the borough. Stuart Wiser of ARH Associates will serve as borough planner, replacing Jennifer Beahm.
Michael DiCicco of Maggs and McDermott, Wall, was appointed as labor attorney. Michael Burns, of Grace Marmero and Associates, Woodbury, will serve as borough prosecutor, and James D. Carton IV of Manasquan will be the alternate prosecutor. Raymond A. Raya was named as public defender with Raymond S. Santiago as alternate.
Charles Fallon was appointed as borough auditor, though Robert A. Hulsart and Company will complete the current audit of borough finances.
For the first time, the borough has named a bond counsel. Lisa Gorab of Wilentz Goldman and Spitzer will serve in that post. Council President Pamela Renee said Gorab will work only on an if-needed basis and will not be paid a retainer.
Alamo Insurance Group of Secaucus was named borough insurance consultant by a 4-1 vote. Wardell voted against the move after the mayor said state officials prefer that municipalities participating in the state insurance pool do not hire private consultants.
The special meeting was called after the council rejected Brown’s appointments offered earlier in the month. State law regarding Neptune City’s form of government says that “the mayor nominates all appointive officers subject to council confirmation.”
“However, if the council does not confirm within 30 days, the appointing power is transferred to the council,” according to state law.
Before the appointments were considered in public, former borough clerk and administrator Joel Popkin, now executive director of the Municipal Clerks’ Association of New Jersey, asked who had drafted the text of the appointment resolutions.
Cannon said he drafted the resolutions.
Popkin said he was not commenting on the appointments themselves but was concerned that proper procedures had been followed.
After Cannon was appointed by the council, he told the public that he would be representing the borough on legal matters, not any individuals or groups of individuals.
The council continues to advertise for a full-time borough clerk after Tammy Brown resigned from the position early last month. The deadline for applications is Feb. 15.