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Critics: Township Needs Tighter Rules for Paying Bills

Open-government advocates say the administration shouldn't approve payments to vendors who don't submit itemized bills.

Amid that the township paid nearly $450,000 to a politically connected energy consultant over the past two years without always requiring the company to submit itemized bills, open-government advocates – and even a local councilman – say the township's bill-paying process needs more transparency. 

"Without fully itemized bills, how do we know what they really did to give us the output?" asked Joshua Berry, political director for South Jersey Citizens, a local political watchdog group that's for pay-to-play reform in the township. 

Pay to play is the process through which campaign contributors are awarded no-bid, professional contracts.

In an investigative report last week, Gloucester Township Patch revealed how the company, Blue Sky Power LLC of Camden, has been awarded no-bid contracts by the township over the past three years while contributing to local Democratic campaigns. The report also revealed that the township paid several bills submitted by Blue Sky, the township's energy consultant, even though in some instances the company did not provide detailed invoices to the township explaining what work it performed.

Township Business Administrator Tom Cardis said previously that he was aware of the work the company was performing because he and Mayor David Mayer had regular meetings and phone conversations with Blue Sky executives. 

But, during a township council meeting this past Monday, Council Vice-President Orlando Mercado, a Democrat, called on Cardis to be more vigilant in requiring details from everyone who does business with the township. 

Referring to Blue Sky, Mercado said: "If someone else picked up that invoice, they wouldn't know what you know and what work was being done and performed. So, going forward, if it's possible, if you could, request from all of our vendors (that they provide) more detailed invoices."

Cardis said during the meeting that Blue Sky's bills contained more itemization as its business relationship with the township, which began in early 2010, progressed. 

But, he acknowledged, "it could be more detailed."

Mayor David Mayer, a Democrat and a former state assemblyman, did not respond to a request for comment following the council meeting this week. 

Mayer previously defended the arrangement with Blue Sky, saying the company will ultimately help the township save millions of dollars through reduced energy costs over the next several years. 

John Paff, chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party’s Open Government Advocacy Project, said towns should not pay bills from professionals that aren't fully itemized. 

"How can the town council judge whether they're getting their money's worth without knowing what the vendor did for that particular service?" he asked.

"We all require that in our personal lives," he said, citing the examples of hiring a plumber or an auto mechanic. 

"I can't see how any town could get itself into a contract and have somebody signing off on bills when they're absolutely no justification for the bill," Paff said. "There has to be some accountability here. There has to be a standard."

Donald R. Choyce March 19, 2012 at 12:52 PM
Would anyone pay a bill that did not contain adequate details of services performed? Common sense would render the answer as a NO. Government should hold the same standard especially since it's taxpayers footing the bill. I applaud VP Mercado for admonishing Mr. Cartis on this subject, but one has to ask: how many other invoices contained scanty information and were paid by the township in the past? It is up to ALL members of the council, and the Mayor, to scrutinize ALL invoices closely. This whole thing would have never been realized if Patch didn't ask questions and report the details. Bravo!
ymbdfa March 19, 2012 at 02:39 PM
Donald R. Choyce, You pay bills every day that you have no idea what they are for except that the vendor tell you that you must pay it. You have done this for years also. Then again I guess this really only applies to people who actually pay their bills.
Darren Gladden March 19, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Ymbdfa Let's Keep it real and pave a street. Hey that would be a nice campaign slogan. Listen up you trouble maker, spineless geek . 450,000 dollars is a lot of money . Do you even know how many streets that can pave . You have no clue all you do is just pay whatever Mayor Stache and the crew say it is . Stop thinking everything is okay and start putting real people back to work and get stuff done for all. Okay FRUITCAKE .
Darren Gladden March 19, 2012 at 02:51 PM
http://youtu.be/HfXwmDGJA Just care , I do ............
ymbdfa March 19, 2012 at 03:30 PM
Awe Darren did somebody eat his Wheaties today? What’s up with all the name calling? Like you I have no idea how many roads $450,000 would pave, but I would venture to guess not quite 1. Now I do know from watching the video tapes on the gtnews website that you were asked by council and the mayor to identify the roads you were complaining about and they would address the potholes you say are there with the county since you said they were county roads and not municipal streets. I also know that to date you failed to identify a single pothole, why is that? Do they not exist? Are you deliberately making people ruin their cars just so you can hear yourself rant and rave while you pad your public employee pension with your new municipal appointed position? Or are you just too lazy to practice what you preach and actually try to help fix problems in town instead of intentionally inventing them in your own mind?
Donald R. Choyce March 19, 2012 at 09:38 PM
Ymbda, how in the hell would you know what I do or don't do? You don't know me and I certainly don't know you and I haven't seen any strangers living in my house lately. Where do you come up with stuff?? Priceless. Name calling? How about you calling members of the SJC "hooligans, misfits,outcasts, deceivers and knuckleheads" in past blogs. You contradict yourself.
ymbdfa March 19, 2012 at 10:17 PM
Donald your rant is priceless, I taught me to never assume. I was originally complimenting you by saying you pay your bills, but I had to wonder why you so emphatically chose to demand to know how I know you pay your bills. Well the answer is simple. I don't know that to be a fact, you are correct. I apologize I should have never accused you of such terrible things such as being a republican who actually pays his own bills and does not milk the tax payers for everything he/she can. I was just assuming that you paid your own way, but now seeing your response it is clear maybe you were offended by my statements that you pay your bills, maybe that is why you are taking such offense to the municipality paying their bills.
Dave March 19, 2012 at 11:55 PM
I agree. The township should never pay a contractor who doesn't submit a bill. Also someone must go over the bill to make sure it is accurate before paying it
Darren Gladden March 20, 2012 at 12:34 AM
stop with the lies and eat your wheaties and stop by my house 44 Greens way http://youtu.be/MaAF_3WMJGM....Just care , I do ...Ymbdfa is a BIG TIME LAIR
ymbdfa March 20, 2012 at 01:35 AM
What is your problem Darren? If we are lying why are you crying? Just give up the list. It takes more energy to deceive then to co-operate with town officials. Why are you keeping the list you claim you made all to yourself? Where are the potholes? Instead of threating to fight people who ask you to prove the things you’re saying, show us all you’re not a liar and turn over the list? Start trying to help your community by actually doing something good instead of complaining about problems that don't exist and could have been fixed by now if they did had you just turned over the list like you were asked to. Until you do something positive for our community stop saying "just care do I" and start really caring by cooperating with town officials. After all they were kind enough to give you a political appointment because they thought you were telling the truth when you said you wanted to make a positive difference. By the way you don’t have the US military here to protect you like you did when your company milked the American tax payers for millions of dollars as political contractors in the Middle East, so you may want to rethink your comments before you make them again.
Darren Gladden March 20, 2012 at 01:49 PM
Listen up WINNER just get in your car and drive around GT and you will hit a pothole or 2. I don't get paid STUDY checks like all your friends DO . So if you would like a list stop by 44 Greens way. FOR ALL THE PATCH PEEPS I been out of work for almost 3 years cause I stand up against there LIES and I will not back down until the truth comes out . ..........Just care , I do ...Hit it Tom http://youtu.be/nUTXb-ga1fo
ymbdfa March 21, 2012 at 10:49 PM
Well Darren your post shows you must be hitting the bottle a bit earlier today than usual. I can’t blame you for properly addressing me as a “WINNER” nor do I expect you to tell us what “STUDY CHECKS” are. I do wonder why you want us to come to your house. You were pretty clear in stating you don’t know or care about where the potholes are, so I did as you asked I drove around GT all day and guess what I found? Well maybe it would be better if I said what I did not find, “POTHOLE’S?” Like you, I found NOT ONE POTHOLE! We understand you and believe you have been out of work for 3 years after all anyone who had a conversation with you can understand why your unemployable that observation aside, the mayor gave you a political appointment the least you can do is what you agreed to and tell us where your hidden potholes are. One would think a pension padding resident (you) who claims he cared would be more than happy to help other residents but No not Gladden He needs to keep all the potholes hidden, typical republican rather complain then produce. Hey Darren here is a hint maybe they are not potholes at all maybe you need some front end work on that van on yours. After all you haven’t identified a pothole yet and I even drove around today at your request and couldn’t find any.
Darren Gladden March 22, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Ymbdfa , You got me again the roads are the best pave roads in DA world sorry to be a BIG FAT Lair ...........Peace out and get a clue
Michelle Wolfson March 23, 2012 at 02:56 AM
Granted, this is moderately off the intended topic of this post...but since you asked... I could not tell you which roads are township, county, etc. as I have honestly never bothered to check. Nor can I say with certainty that these are "potholes" per se. But in references to road problems: Chews Landing Rd. right past Somerdale Rd. before getting to Gravers Ln. Lower Landing Rd. before getting to BHP. Little Gloucester Rd. past the Walgreens by Loring Flemming in front of the sports fields. That's about all I can think of off the top of my head. I have not yet attempted to call anyone about these conditions. I'm sure that if/when I do, they will be handled in a timely manner by the appropriate agency. :)
ymbdfa March 23, 2012 at 01:06 PM
Michelle thank you for helping make a difference in your community! See Darren, now you have some information to take back to council Monday night, let’s see if you will do so. Now that the information was just emailed to you, you have no excuse not to bring it to council except your self loathing desire to be a problem instead of fixing a problem. Best part you didn't have to risk anyone else’s lives with your erratic driving nor did you risk getting a red-light ticket to get this information. Let’s see if you use Michelle’s hard work to make Gloucester Township better or if you truly are a fraud and will hide the list she just gave you. Before you say we should do it remember we don't have a problem with any potholes, YOU DO! We don't see these areas as being a problem like you do. So let’s see if you do anything about it, now that someone else even did the research for you.
Darren Gladden March 23, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Maybe you should state your real name and grow a set and start to solve the problems we have in town instead of just trying to be funny. People like you just like to think they are tough and that they do good but all you do is get in the way and try to make people fight . Start trying to bring people together winjob. One day I know in my heart you will get a set and man up and state to me FACE TO FACE your real name . Then my friend I might respect you until then you and your friends are JUST a group of wanna be THUGS that remind me of Geese DO ........Just care , I do
ymbdfa March 23, 2012 at 07:04 PM
Darren, Michelle did a lot of hard work identifying potholes so you don't have to recklessly drive on our streets, why don't you just Man Up and thank her and presents the locations to council, unless like me you don't feel those areas are a problem either. She put a lot of miles on her car at $4 a gallon gas so you would not have to get a red-light ticket or endanger anyone else's children with your driving. Don’t make it be a waste for her. Darren, all we are asking you to do is what you claim you want to do. Nobody is fighting with anyone. Let’s face it you have tried to fight people who post here you have threatened people on here, maybe you need to grow a set as you say, (not sure what that really means) and approach the person you believe this is and ask them. Better yet maybe you should stop harassing everyone here who does not share the same views as you do and allow them to talk without threatening to fight everyone and then people may be more comfortable saying who they are. By the way who cares who the people are what difference does it make? If you knew who they were you would just do like you do here and in other blogs and attack them personally for not agreeing with you.

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