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Dems Won't Take Baratta, Trawinski to Court Over Perceived Conflict of Interest

On May 3, Fair Lawn council Democrats Lisa Swain and Kurt Peluso called on the mayor and deputy mayor to resign their seats on council due to their county positions.

Democratic council members Lisa Swain and Kurt Peluso, who recently due to an alleged conflict of interest, won't be taking legal action to have the allegedly conflicted council members' votes thrown out. 

Following a May 2 vote to tentatively appoint a new borough auditor, Swain and Peluso released a press statement asserting that both Mayor Jeanne Baratta and Deputy Mayor Ed Trawinski's county jobs had imparted an undue influence on their votes to oppose the re-appointment of longtime borough auditor Steve Wielkotz.

Wielkotz, who has served as the borough's auditor for over a decade, has been at the center of a controversy recently in which county executive Kathleen Donovan opposed his re-appointment as county auditor, calling him the "poster child for pay to play," and "a Democrat first and an auditor second" according to a report in the Bergen Record.

Swain and Peluso contend that Baratta and Trawinski's vote to replace Wielkotz as Fair Lawn's auditor was driven by their relationship with Donovan, whom they both report to in their county positions -- Baratta as Donovan's chief of staff, and Trawinski as county administrator.

Baratta and Trawinski have reiterated that their county jobs played no role in their decision to oppose Wielkotz' appointment, adding that they had never supported him in the past, before they started working for the county executive.

Swain and Peluso said they felt compelled to speak out after the auditor vote and will continue to do so any time they feel county government is interfering at the local level. For now, however, legal action is not on the table.

"Not at this point," said Peluso, who along with Swain affirmed that if either were ever elected to higher office or offered a county job while still on borough council that they would immediately resign their municipal seats.

"What kind of a hypocrite would I be for telling people to step down and then I get a county job and I do both?" Peluso said. "There are certain things I have pet peeves about when it comes to government and that’s one of those."

The council will re-evaluate its choice for borough auditor at its work session Tuesday following the discovery that tentatively appointed accounting firm .

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Michael Agosta May 14, 2012 at 11:41 AM
Dumb and dumber should take a seat and keep their mouths shut. Baratta and Trawinski already damaged the Republicans in Fair Lawn. 2013 cannot come fast enough.
Tommy P May 14, 2012 at 12:24 PM
The reason they are not going to court is they know they can't win. Not in the court room and not politically. They made their noise, the party hacks got excited on both sides and the plunder continues.
Chris Antonelli May 14, 2012 at 01:26 PM
That would be like me suing you for driving the speed limit. Mike, In the last 12 years, name a Republican besides the 3 currently serving that held a Council seat? How can you say they damaged the party when we now hold the majority?
same story May 14, 2012 at 01:41 PM
zak- how many articles are you going to write on this topic? a major problem in town is the fighting between republicans and democrat and articles like this only fuel the fire... the second you put up an article like this up the nut jobs like thomas paine, bellairberdan, etc take thier shots and it only leads to more fighting, i never heard that the dems were even considering taking baratta and trawinski to court, seems like you were reaching alittle too far on this article. if your desperate for topics many people and town including myself are curious what is happening the police chief rose after costing the town millions. are we going to replace him with a leader the officers respect and want to work for or are we gonna pay off all the lawsuits and pretend nothing ever happened?
Michael Agosta May 14, 2012 at 02:00 PM
Chris, They not only caused a wedge with the local Republicans, but they managed to help tear apart the BCRO. Undermining cowards comes to mind when I think of them. 2013 can't come soon enough!
same story May 14, 2012 at 02:09 PM
mike im not a fan of baratta or trawinski but do you really think anyone you back actually has a chance of getting elected. you kind of come off a little crazy in your posts and it doesnt seem like anyone really agrees with your opinions. seems like someone would have a better chance of getting elected if your name was not behind them. maybe you and thomas paine can have your own election in fantasy land
dn May 14, 2012 at 02:25 PM
Exactly!
Michael Agosta May 14, 2012 at 02:42 PM
same story I really don't care who agrees with my opinions. My posts are based on reports of the Bergen Record, the Patch and my personal experiences. If the posts are crazy, you really should read the news articles. Let's see what 2013 brings. It can't come soon enough!
Chris Antonelli May 14, 2012 at 02:47 PM
Mike, The average party voter will vote independently locally, and mostly party line above that. It's been the trend for years. The stuff at the county level will not matter in Fair Lawn. It never has.
Michael Agosta May 14, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Zak It appears some people are not happy with your reporting. Personally, I like the information you provide. These people have not exercised their right of free choice. They can choose to NOT read your articles. It's even funnier that these unnamed people (who may not even live in town) are mad with other unnamed people (who also may not live in town) for postings. Now, that's crazy!
Bruce Knuckle May 14, 2012 at 04:47 PM
@same story...The plight of pouty and puppet is entertaining. I can only believe that pouty's husband must have found a loophole in their claim. As for hearing anything about the chief and the department, Good luck, I am beginning to believe he may have some pictures..........
Tommy P May 14, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Yet another id created just to take a shot, what's the matter can't stand by all of your comments? I don't know if Agosta will round up a slate, ultimately its the luck of the draw that will determine the outcome since primary voters tend to select the first column. Not sure what qualifies me as a "nut job", and while I'm not BellairBerdan's biggest fan, she is not a nut job either. Your right this is another filler news article, but it does nothing to "fuel the fire". Peluso made a comment that was newsworthy. The political "leaders" in our town belong to parties that try to game our system they take care of their respective cronies and we the taxpayers get the bill. Their only principle is winning the next election and getting their cronies paid. The "feud" is actually a good thing, it prevented Trawinski and company from hiring a Republican hack to do the audit. Too bad the auditor can't do anything to fix the overspend and waste.
same story May 14, 2012 at 08:48 PM
"what's the matter can't stand by all of your comments? " thats classic coming from a guy who calls himself thomas paine
mushroom May 14, 2012 at 08:59 PM
"If there was a disclosure certified by Lerch, Vinci & Higgins, then frankly, I just missed it," said Trawinski.. He probably was doing county work at the time.
Tommy P May 14, 2012 at 10:13 PM
They are my first and middle names.
same story May 14, 2012 at 11:37 PM
haha yea sure they are tommy. that's a picture of you too
Janice May 15, 2012 at 02:16 PM
@Michael Agosta - In reference to your "cowards" comment, if I remember correctly, Deputy Mayor Cosgrove has received numerous valor awards from the Fire Department, so I hardly believe that you have the right to call him a coward. You may disagree with me, that’s your right, but I think calling him a coward is out of line.
Michael Agosta May 15, 2012 at 03:03 PM
Jancie, Who said anything about that individual? Read my first comment. Whose names did I mention?
Bruce Knuckle May 16, 2012 at 12:27 AM
Indyass is his last
Tommy P May 16, 2012 at 12:46 AM
Bruce I didn't realize you were such a homophobe.

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