The needler in the haystack.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Is Charlotte going down? The Plainfield buzz

Today comes further news that De Filippo's vacation pay is being reviewed.
Those attending the Plainfield campaign event of Barbara Buono this past Saturday had some time on their hands while waiting for the candidate's arrival, and chatter turned to ... what else? Politics, including the surprise announcement by Charlotte De Filippo that she was throwing in the towel.

The campaign event included plenty of the politerati from western Union County as well as Dem candidates for county office and everyone seemed curious about De Filippo's announcement that she was resigning as executive director of the Union County Improvement Authority and would not seek re-election as chair of the Union County Democratic Committee.

Sheriff Ralph Froehlich opined to me that her health, which is said to have deteriorated, was a concern. I reminded him that she was traveling in a wheelchair as far back as August 2006, when she came to Plainfield for the memorial service for Ray Blanco, who passed away unexpectedly while serving as Council President.

Others saw things differently. 'She's a tough old broad,' one person asserted, 'she stared down an investigation by the Attorney General in 2007 that looked into her UCIA dealings as well as those of the Camelot Title Agency of Woodbridge, in which she held a financial stake'. Plainfielders aren't buying the health angle, this person asserted.

So, if not her health, what might have influenced De Filippo's decision to step down so abruptly?

The buzz at the Buono campaign stop was that charges filed against Frank Capece, outside counsel to the Elizabeth Board of Ed, in connection with the investigation into the district's free school lunch scandal may have something to do with it.

Capece is a well-known figure in Union County Democratic politics and has gathered information for De Filippo on political matters in various communities for years.

At one time, Capece even acted as special counsel for the City of Plainfield in a complaint against La Bamba bar on North Avenue. In that matter, the City Council sat as the Local Alcoholic Beverage Control Board to hear testimony and render an opinion. Though the ABC ruled against La Bamba, the city lost on appeal to Trenton and the bar remains in business to this day.

Insiders suspect that Attorney General Chiesa may be angling for larger fish in the Capece matter than Capece himself. The offense involves a trivial amount of money (estimated at less than $2,000), but Capece's law license -- and hence his livelihood -- could be on the line. Could he be made to sing like a caged canary?

Meanwhile, this morning's Ledger runs a story on the UCIA's hiring of an outside auditor to look into vacation day payments made to De Filippo as part of her lucrative contract with the Authority (see here).

Is the Plainfield buzz on target? You will want to keep an eye on this situation as it develops.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Anonymous said...

AS a former member of that authority, I know what it takes to be the director there. It was always a part time job. Her salary is built into every finance project that they do. She's being paid triple what others were paid for the same job! So... the taxpayer gets it again!