Editor's note: The opinions expressed in the letter are part of a continuing dialogue between Mr. Wicks and the Board of Education, and express his opinion.
To the Editor:
Over the past 12-plus years we Bernards Township taxpayers have been swindled out of millions of dollars through waste fraud and abuse, that could have been used for things like smaller classes, courtesy bussing, full day kindergarten or even, God forbid, reducing our taxes rather than lining the pockets of crooks.Popular Stories
- Some Major Changes Coming Up in New School Year in…
- Township Doctor Accused of Touching Teen Girl at Office
- 911 Dispatch Transferred to County, Despite Emergency…
- How Will 'Clark Commons' Affect Traffic? Meeting, Vote on…
Our trustees chose to ignore this! So one way to accomplish this is for us taxpayers to demand that our school trustees finally fulfill their responsibilities and provide the due diligence, higher scrutiny and oversight when spending our hard-earned taxpayer dollars and stop squandering them through corruption. I say this because of a continuing saga of fraud waste and abuse in too many of our school construction projects that have repeatedly occurred over the past decade. The latest fiasco has to do with the $1.2 million proposed shingle roof replacement for the Oak Street School now being reviewed by the New Jersey Department of Education Facilities Department.
This project is a needless and unwarranted expenditure because this same Oak Street School shingle roof area was replaced only in 2003 and is currently under a 40-year roof guarantee. So there should be absolutely no need to replace this roof that should be expected provide another 30 years of guaranteed service life. And if any repairs are needed during its remaining service life, then the 40-year guarantee should cover them.
But to make matters even worse it seems that the 2003 Oak Street shingle roof replacement project was done under a lease purchase agreement so it is quite possible that our school district does not even own the shingle roof that they now want to replace. Where has the oversight due diligence and scrutiny provided by our trustees and their agents to allow the current $1.2 million proposed project to even be initiated? Why did the school officials and the architect fail to determine the Oak Street roof was under a warranty, in decent shape as it was replaced only 10 years ago?
This is but another sorry event in a long-term saga where the taxpayers of Bernards Township have been swindled out of millions of dollars due to failed oversight, possible corruption, and/or ignorance of our trustees and administration but in any event the results are the same — millions of our taxpayer dollars squandered while lining the pockets of corrupt parties.
For instance in 2011, I was concerned that the million plus dollar roofing project involved a corrupt roofing material supplier who was cozy with the architect that was allowed to provide all the slanted, roof inspections, and undue input in specifying the project and thus was able to rig the direction of the 2011 roofing project to their favor. The architect and the administration went along with this obvious corrupt conflict of interest even though being warned by me of the situation.
This corrupt roofing material supplier has a history of rigging bids and was charged in a California Case # BC189132 filed in Los Angeles with such things as bid rigging, restraint of trade and further acts of corruption and likewise had also been charged by the State Auditor of Minnesota of rigging school roof bids in the Stillwater Area Public Schools Independent School District 834 in Stillwater MN yet we allowed this firm to influence and rig the specifications for our 2011 roofing project This resulted in us taxpayers being swindled out of about $500,000 because roofs that did not actually need repairs were “repaired” at a cost of $160,000; other roofs were needlessly recoated at an obscene cost of $180,000 with a sham recoating gimmick and also voided the intact standing guarantees on these viable roofs. The 2011 project needlessly replaced roofs at Liberty Corner schools, some with improper materials and others that had remaining viable service life thus subjecting us taxpayers to an estimated fraud loss totaling about $500,000 of our scarce taxpayer money.
If that wasn’t bad enough, we also were swindled over a 5year period, out of about $3 million with the Aramark fiasco wherein the Board of Education circumvented the school bidding laws and illegally allowed Aramark to bid out construction projects that were required to be bid pursuant to the NJ School Contract Law. It is astounding that neither the school board, the board attorney, nor the school auditor detected this massive swindle that was only belatedly uncovered because an honest contractor came forward and blew the whistle. As a result of this swindle, William Titus, prisoner #000789193C formerly of Aramark received 10 years in prison for theft by deception and money laundering for rigging bids at Bernards Township schools while no one that enabled this swindle was ever investigated or prosecuted — WHY? Again why were all our trustees, administration and their professionals asleep at the switch?
If all the above isn't bad enough in 2000 I again had warned the school board [April 6 2000 letter to editor B’vlle News] about the use of a corrupt architect and a corrupt roofing firm that was being specified for our multi-million dollar roofing projects of 2000. The architect we used and the roofing material supplier specified were part of a New Jersey State Commission of Investigation report Waste Fraud And Abuse School Roofing Projects of September 2000 that revealed that the same architect and the corrupt roofing material supplier named in our Bernards BOE specifications were part of a scheme that received about three quarters of a million dollars in kickbacks by similarly rigging school roof bids in the Edison school district that them out of over $1 million. The architect we hired had also been found guilty of aiding and abetting the illegal practice of architecture and was called in by the NJ State Commission of Investigation in the roofing fraud investigation because of his connection with the firm receiving kickbacks, was admonished by the Board of Architects for his poor performance on our school projects yet our Bernards Township Board of Education defended this corrupt architect who then oversaw our projects that resulted in illegal bid processes, rigged specifications, and the Cedar Hill school roof not being installed in conformity with the New Jersey Construction Code. But Instead of demanding that the roof be repaired to meet the NJ Construction Code as required by law our school board squandered thousands of dollars to paper over the nonconforming roof that remained on the Cedar Hill School. This 2000 fiasco cost us taxpayers an estimated $350,000 in swindled funds.
So taxpayers, it's time for us to demand better oversight, higher scrutiny, and a better vetting of the professionals that we allow direct costly construction projects. The Board should immediately retain an independent counsel to investigate and pursue legal action under either the NJ Consumer Fraud Act or the NJ RICO law against ALL culpable parties to recover the swindled funds corruptly obtained for the benefit of us overburdened taxpayers.
IT IS NOT THE FUNCTION OF OUR GOVERNMENT TO KEEP THE CITIZEN FROM FALLING INTO ERROR: IT IS THE FUNCTION OF THE CITIZEN TO KEEP THE GOVERNMENT FROM FALLING INTO ERROR — US Supreme Court
Basking Ridge, NJ