Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Donovan Spared Freeholder Grilling

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Donovan Spared Freeholder Grilling

Article excerpt

The Bergen County Freeholders agreed on Wednesday to submit written questions to County Executive Kathleen Donovan concerning a county job given to a public relations consultant.

In doing so, the freeholders pulled back from an earlier decision to seek a court order compelling Donovan and three other county employees to appear before them.

But the unanimous vote came after a full-blown ruckus over whether Republican Freeholder Maura DeNicola should have voted, because she employed the consultant, Thom Ammirato, in her last two freeholder campaigns.

The dispute sparked an angry exchange between DeNicola and Democratic Freeholder James Tedesco, who raised the issue by submitting campaign finance reports that detailed about $5,000 in payments to Ammirato's public relations firm.

"For you to question me is truly, truly inappropriate," DeNicola told Tedesco.

"I don't believe that I'm out of line to ask questions," responded Tedesco, who is Donovan's opponent on the Nov. 4 ballot for the executive's seat.

A side dispute broke out during the work session when Tedesco accused Tea Party activist Susan Winton of referring to him with an expletive. Winton, who frequently attends freeholder work sessions, denied making the remark.

The blowup came 13 days before the crucial election pitting Tedesco against Donovan, a Republican seeking a second term.

DiNicola, who is Donovan's only political ally on the Democratic- controlled Freeholder Board, said the discussion during a work session was an attempt to create a political controversy shortly before the election.

"I think it's a political attack on me," she said. "It's just another show. Every meeting is a production."

But Freeholder Chairman David Ganz, a Democrat also running for reelection, said the matter "was purely governmental."

"She should have disclosed this at the time this first came before us," Ganz said. …

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