Judge: Mayor Candidate’s Lawsuit Against Rutgers Board Members Can Proceed

Charlie Kratovil Calls on Governor to Ask For Resignations From Out-of-State Board Members

New Brunswick Mayor candidate Charlie Kratovil’s lawsuit seeking to remove four members of the Rutgers University Board of Governors can proceed following a Judge’s denial of a motion to dismiss the case.

Kratovil, an alumnus of the university and founder of the New Brunswick Today newspaper, filed a civil action on June 11 (docket #MER-L-1254-18) asking the Court to oust five out-of-state members illegally holding positions on the powerful board in violation of a 2011 state statute.  It was announced the following day that Joseph Rigby, a board member who resides in Maryland, would resign his position.

Hon. Mary C. Jacobson, the Assignment Judge in Mercer County, issued an August 6 order denying an attempt to dismiss the suit and requiring that the other four board members file a responsive pleading to the litigation on or before September 10.

“I was pleased to learn that Judge Jacobson has ordered the defendants to respond to the merits of my lawsuit,” said Kratovil.  “In an effort to delay their ultimate day of reckoning, these illegal office-holders had attempted to have this case thrown out on a technicality, only to back off and ultimately concede that the Judge should deny their motion.”

The Court’s order comes as the Rutgers administration is under fire for spending over $11.5 million on “golden parachutes” for ex-officials who were fired or quit their jobs, the abrupt departure of its New Brunswick Chancellor, and criminal scandals involving current and former members of the university’s football team.

But it’s not just student athletes who are accused of breaking the law.  In 2011, then-Governor Chris Christie signed the residency requirement law, NJSA 52:14-7 (also known as the “NJ First Act”), yet he subsequently appointed several members to the Rutgers Board who did not live in New Jersey and had no intention of moving here.

According to Rutgers’ own website, four members of board, including its Chair and Vice Chair, still maintain their primary residence out-of-state:

Chairman Sandy Stewart (New Hill, NC)
Vice Chairman Mark Angelson (New York, NY)
Gregory Brown (Barrington Hills, IL)
Susan McCue (Alexandria, VA)

Each out-of-state board member had one year from the date that they took office to re-locate to New Jersey before they became eligible for removal under the law.

“Chris Christie signed this act to punish rank-and-file public workers, but he apparently felt that his own political appointees were above the law and could just ignore it,” said Kratovil, who is currently campaigning to become New Brunswick’s 63rd Mayor.  “If municipal public officials like our teachers and firefighters must abide by this law, then certainly the appointees who run our state university should have to follow it as well.”

“We desperately need new leadership at Rutgers, and I am urging Governor Phil Murphy to ask for the immediate resignation of these illegal office-holders so that qualified individuals who are ready and eligible to serve our community can be selected from among the 9 million residents of New Jersey and installed without further delay.”

The board’s hands-off approach was evident at their July 24 special meeting, where a 20-year agreement with RWJBarnabas Health was approved over the objection of unions representing thousands of Rutgers employees, without any voting members of the Board of Governors physically present.

Ten voting members, including three of the defendants in the lawsuit, were supposedly on the conference call.  However, the board refused to take a roll call vote on the measure despite a point of order raised by Kratovil, leaving it a mystery which board members actually voted for the deal.

Eight voting members are required to be “in attendance” for the Board of Governors to have a quorum, meaning that the controversial deal hinges on the questionable votes of the out-of-state members.

Wednesday: Charlie Kratovil Addresses City Market Board Meeting

On Wednesday, Mayor Candidate Charlie Kratovil will address the New Brunswick City Market Board of Directors Meeting, bringing focus to a critically important issue for tens of thousands of New Brunswick residents who cannot drive or do not own vehicles, as well as many businesses and institutions that depend on transit to connect them to their workforce, customers, and visitors.

City Market is a non-profit dedicated to promoting New Brunswick’s central business district as a great place to live, work and visit in addition to fostering economic growth, attracting new business, and improving the economic vitality of the City Center by providing supplemental cleaning services, physical improvements, marketing and events.

Charlie’s presentation will cover how we can enhance the various bus systems serving New Brunswick, improving the quality and consistency of service, as well as simplifying and centralizing access to the information about these systems.

WHAT:  City Market Board Meeting

WHEN:  Wednesday, July 18, at 9:00 am

WHERE:  Blackthorn Restaurant & Irish Pub, 61 Church Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901

On June 26, Charlie addressed the Middlesex County Transportation Coordinating Committee on this same topic.  You can watch video of that presentation here.

Mayor Candidate Scores Win in Police Transparency Lawsuit

Assignment Judge Rules in Favor of Candidate Charlie Kratovil

Middlesex County’s Assignment Judge ordered the New Brunswick city government to produce records related to the March 20 arrest of a police officer, overruling the administration’s decision to deny requests filed by a reporter who is running for Mayor of New Brunswick.

The July 11 ruling in Kratovil v. City of New Brunswick (docket #MID-L-3668-18) marks another victory for Charlie Kratovil, the award-winning journalist who founded New Brunswick Today, the city’s bilingual community newspaper.  Kratovil declared his candidacy for Mayor last month, shortly after filing the lawsuit.

During the brief hearing on July 11, Judge Rivas took issue with the city government’s interpretation of the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, which the city had argued should prevent the release of several critically important public records in a criminal case against Edison Police Officer Paul Pappas.

Pappas was arrested on March 20 after he allegedly slashed the tires of a car parked in downtown New Brunswick.  According to a report by NJ.com’s Craig McCarthy, multiple sources indicated that Pappas was on-duty and drove an unmarked Edison police vehicle to commit the crime.

Even though authorities determined the crime was a domestic violence incident, Pappas was released on his own recognizance that same night by the New Brunswick Police Department (NBPD), where his brother is employed as a Lieutenant.

The day after the arrest, Kratovil requested a number of records, including audio and video recordings related to the criminal case.  But New Brunswick supplied only the redacted arrest report, which includes few details and cites an additional report that the city refused to release.

“The public has a right to know how the NBPD handled this case of alleged police misconduct, and whether or not the defendant was given special treatment,” said Kratovil.

Initially charged with criminal mischief by the NBPD, Officer Pappas has since been accused of more serious crimes by county authorities, including stalking and using his access to confidential police databases to target his victim, as well as profiting from a no-show job scheme that allegedly involved at least four other Edison officers.

The March 21 records request, filed under the state’s Open Public Records Act (OPRA), requested copies of all criminal complaints, summonses, warrants, CAD reports, incident reports, arrest reports, other reports, 911 recordings, radio transmissions, MVR recordings, and other video/audio recordings related to the criminal mischief charge against Pappas.

After unsuccessfully urging the NBPD to reconsider their unlawful denial of the request in April, Kratovil was left with no choice but to pursue the matter in Superior Court.  The lawsuit was filed on June 4 in Middlesex County Superior Court.

“The city was wrong to claim that the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act allows them to keep secret the NBPD’s records of Officer Pappas’ arrest.  We are pleased the Court rejected their argument and we look forward to receiving the records,” said Kratovil’s attorney, Walter Luers.

It’s not the first time that Luers and Kratovil have teamed up to use the legal system to fight secrecy at the NBPD.  In 2014, an OPRA lawsuit filed by the duo led to the disclosure of police jurisdiction maps that the city government had tried to keep under wraps.

Charlie Kratovil to Address County Transportation Coordinating Committee

Mayor Candidate Charlie Kratovil will address the Middlesex County Transportation Coordinating Committee, bringing focus to a critically important issue for tens of thousands of New Brunswick residents who cannot drive or do not own vehicles, as well as many businesses and institutions that depend on transit to connect them to their workforce, customers, and visitors.

Charlie will cover how we can enhance the various bus systems serving New Brunswick, improving the quality and consistency of service, as well as simplifying and centralizing access to the information about these systems.

WHAT:  Middlesex County Transportation Coordinating Committee Meeting

WHEN:  Tuesday, June 26, 2018 at 7:00 pm

WHERE:  Board of Freeholders Meeting Room, 1st floor, 75 Bayard Street, New Brunswick

Mayor Candidate Charlie Kratovil Approved for November Ballot

Charlie Kratovil has been informed by the Middlesex County Clerk’s Office Division of Elections that his candidacy for Mayor of New Brunswick was approved and his name will appear on the November 6, 2018 ballot.

On June 5, Charlie submitted 127 signatures from New Brunswick residents who support his candidacy.  The opportunity to challenge the validity of that petition passed last week without any objections being lodged.

“It’s always a victory when voters have a choice, and the choice couldn’t be more clear this November: four more years of the same out-of-touch political machine, or a new administration that will finally put the people of New Brunswick first.”

Charlie’s candidacy marks the first electoral challenge to the seven-term incumbent Mayor since 2010, and Charlie is also the first independent candidate to challenge him since 2006.  The current Mayor has been in office since 1991 and splits his time between running the city government and a private law firm, in addition to representing a government agency in another town.

In contrast to the Mayor, Charlie has promised the residents of New Brunswick that, if elected, he will serve as the city’s first full-time Mayor and accept no other paid positions.  Charlie currently works as the editor of the city’s bilingual community newspaper, New Brunswick Today.

Charlie announced his candidacy at a well-attended kickoff event outside City Hall on June 6, with a speech unveiling his wide-ranging plans to investigate and eliminate government corruption, reform the city’s troubled public authorities, and establish a city bus system.

Video and the full text of the kickoff speech is available here:
https://cleanupbrunswick.wordpress.com/2018/06/07/charlies-campaign-kickoff-speech/

The campaign will continue to build upon Charlie’s years of volunteering, community organizing, and journalism with a grassroots effort to strengthen the movement for change that has been building here.

A resident of the city since 2004, Charlie graduated from Rutgers University and has been giving back to the New Brunswick community for over a decade.  He has worked as a community organizer with two respected non-profit organizations, The Citizens Campaign and Food & Water Watch.  He also taught journalism students at Rutgers, volunteered as a staff member at nine different Model United Nations and Model Congress conferences, and served as Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Rutgers Student & Alumni Federal Credit Union.

Since starting the New Brunswick Today newspaper in 2011, Charlie’s work has received high honors from multiple organizations, including:

  • The NJ Society of Professional Journalists’ Stuart and Beverly Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism (for his coverage of the Cahill administration’s water quality cover-up scandal)
  • The NJ State Governor’s Jefferson Awards for Public Service Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Champion for Justice (for his volunteer efforts to serve New Brunswick)

For more information about the campaign, visit our website:
CleanUpBrunswick.com

Mayor Candidate Charlie Kratovil Files Lawsuit to Oust Rutgers University Officials

In 2011, then-Governor Chris Christie signed into law NJSA 52:14-7 (also known as the “NJ First Act”), which requires most state officers and employees to have their principal residence in New Jersey, yet Christie subsequently appointed several members to the Rutgers Board of Governors who did not live in New Jersey and had no intention of moving here.

A lawsuit filed by a Rutgers alum seeks to correct this double-standard and asks the Superior Court of New Jersey to remove five out-of-state members from the Rutgers Board.  Yesterday, New Brunswick Today Editor Charlie Kratovil filed a civil action in lieu of prerogative writ with the Mercer County Superior Court (docket #MER-L-1254-18) seeking the removal of the five members illegally serving on the powerful Rutgers Board of Governors.  Kratovil graduated from Rutgers in 2009 with a degree in Journalism and Media Studies.

“Chris Christie signed this bad law to punish rank-and-file public workers, but in typical Christie fashion, he felt his own political appointees were above the law and could just ignore it,” said Kratovil, who declared his candidacy for Mayor of New Brunswick last week.

“If municipal public officials such as our teachers and firefighters must abide by this law, then certainly the appointees who run our state university should have to follow it as well,” said Kratovil.  “Members of the Rutgers Board of Governors should be required to live in New Jersey so that they can experience first-hand the consequences of their actions.”

The 18-member board can hire and fire the university’s President, who is considered an ex-oficio board member, and they oversee a $4.4 billion annual budget and what has grown into a massive campus based in New Brunswick.

According to Rutgers’ own website, five members of powerful board maintain their primary residence out-of-state: https://governingboards.rutgers.edu/board-governors/membership-photos-bios

  • Mark A. Angelson (New York, NY)
  • Gregory O. Brown (Barrington Hills, IL)
  • Susan M. McCue (Alexandria, VA)
  • Joseph M. Rigby (Elkton, MD)
  • Sandy J. Stewart (New Hill, NC)

Under the NJ First Act, each out-of-state board member had one year from the date that they took office to re-locate to New Jersey before they became eligible for removal.  A judgment of ouster is sought against all five in the civil action filed yesterday by Kratovil.

Stewart is the only one of the five out-of-state Board of Governors members who was appointed by the university’s Board of Trustees and not ex-Governor Christie.

During their meeting today, it was announced that one of the five, Christie appointee Joseph M. Rigby, was resigning from the board at the end of June.  Asked after the meeting why he was quitting, he declined to comment.

Charlie Kratovil to Announce Candidacy For Mayor of New Brunswick

WHO: Charlie Kratovil (and his supporters)
WHAT: Campaign Kickoff Event
WHEN: Today, June 6 @ 4:15PM
WHERE: Steps of City Hall, 78 Bayard Street, New Brunswick

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ–The founder and editor of the city’s bilingual community newspaper will be announcing his candidacy for Mayor in an event on the steps of City Hall later today.

Yesterday, Charlie Kratovil submitted over 125 signatures from New Brunswick residents who support his candidacy, more than enough to get his name on the November 6, 2018 general election ballot.  Charlie’s name will appear as an independent candidate above the slogan “Clean Up Brunswick,” and he will make clean streets, clean water, and clean government his top priorities.

Charlie’s candidacy marks the first electoral challenge to seven-term incumbent Mayor James Cahill since 2010, and Charlie is also the first independent candidate to challenge him since 2006.  In addition to being the Mayor, Cahill runs a private law firm on the side, and has been in office since 1991 when he took over the Mayor position from his cousin, John Lynch, Jr.

“New Brunswick is a great city with tremendous potential, but the people here deserve a full-time Mayor who will be 100% focused on cleaning up our streets, our drinking water, and our local government,” said Kratovil.

The campaign will continue to build upon Charlie’s years of volunteering, community organizing, and journalism with a grassroots effort to strengthen the movement for change that has been building here.

A resident of the city since 2004, Charlie graduated from Rutgers University has been giving back to the New Brunswick community for over a decade.  He has worked as a community organizer with two respected non-profit organizations, The Citizens Campaign and Food & Water Watch.  He also taught journalism students at Rutgers, volunteered as a staff member at nine different Model United Nations and Model Congress conferences, and served as Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Rutgers Student & Alumni Federal Credit Union.

Since starting the New Brunswick Today newspaper in 2011, Charlie’s work has received high honors from multiple organizations, including:

  • The NJ Society of Professional Journalists’ Stuart and Beverly Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism (for his coverage of the Cahill administration’s water quality cover-up scandal)
  • The NJ State Governor’s Jefferson Awards for Public Service Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Champion for Justice (for his volunteer efforts to serve New Brunswick)

NOTE: Today’s event will be followed by a City Council meeting on the second floor of City Hall at 5:30pm, where Charlie will speak out against the city’s proposed privatization of 911 dispatch services, which will lead to a dozen New Brunswick police dispatchers being laid off.  Charlie will also be questioning Cahill administration officials about the Mayor’s annual $6,000 “automobile mileage stipend.”

More information about the current Mayor’s benefits, including the unusual stipend, can be found here: https://opramachine.com/request/elected_official_salaries_benefi_13#incoming-3143