Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Hackensack Will Look into Possible Conflict

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Hackensack Will Look into Possible Conflict

Article excerpt

HACKENSACK - The mayor has asked the city attorney to look into the employment of its public relations consultant and whether his full-time job with Bergen County poses any conflict of interest.

Mayor John Labrosse said he was unaware that Thom Ammirato worked full time for Bergen County until a city resident raised the issue at a City Council meeting Tuesday.

"We'll determine whether his role with the county is in conflict with his role with the city," Labrosse said. "If there's a conflict, we'll address it."

The City Council hired Ammirato, who was their campaign manager, as the city's public relations consultant in July. He has no set schedule under his contract, but has told The Record previously that he puts in at least full-time hours in Hackensack. He also works as a public relations consultant for North Arlington, in addition to holding a full-time county job with the title "public participation specialist." He said he is able to fulfill his jobs with all three government entities by working long hours and by working seven days a week.

Labrosse said he believed that Ammirato worked for the county on a contract basis and not as a full-time staffer.

"We feel the work he's doing for us is satisfactory. It's not a question of the work he's doing for us. ... As far as the county goes, that's their issue," Labrosse said.

Ammirato's contract with the city states that his company, The Write Associates, should not serve another entity with conflicting interests. City Attorney Thomas Scrivo said all professional contracts contain the same clause. Scrivo also said Thursday afternoon that he had not yet reviewed the question of potential conflicts of interest and declined to comment further.

"If he is working on their website, I don't look at that as a conflict," Labrosse said. "If he was doing P.R. work for them, then I think that could directly affect the city."

Interim City Manager Anthony Rottino said he had spoken to Scrivo and expected a memo to be issued today stating that there is no conflict.

Ammirato's county work as "public participation specialist" earns him $35,000 a year and provides health benefits. …

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