Food for Thought

 Another Blast From the Past: BOE Looks to Create New Education Foundation (September 30, 2004)

The September 30, 2004 Coast Star reported that the SLH Board of Education was looking to create a new education foundation, “… since the current one has not assisted the school for several year.”

 Apparently, at that time, the Spring Lake Heights Education Foundation had lain dormant for a number of years. BOE attorney Armen McOmber was quoted as saying, “They haven’t done anything for years. We haven’t received a dollar from them in years.”

Foundation chairman Jack Tully indicated at the time that he did not want the board of education involved with the Foundation. Additionally, Mr. Tully indicated that he would not surrender the name, Spring Lake Heights Education Foundation, for a new organization.

At the time, Board members sought a new solution and formed an organization called “HELP.” After some time, the BOE lawyers negotiated with Mr. Tully and were able to secure the name, Spring Lake Heights Education Foundation, for use by the school. It is not known how much this cost the taxpayers.

A copy of the Coast Star article is available here: BOE_foundation_story

If anyone has any additional information, heightsonline would like to know. Please contact us at: SLHeights@gmail.com. All replies will be kept confidential.

A blast from the past. This article appeared in The Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ), on  March 15, 2006. Emphasis added to aid a quick read-through.
 

Ethics probe targets more Treasury staff;
Revenue chief ousted as tax season revs up
    

DEBORAH HOWLETT, STAR-LEDGER STAFF

An ethics inquiry at the Department of Treasury has ballooned in recent days and now involves 29 state workers, including the director of the Division of Revenue, state officials confirmed yesterday.

 Revenue director Jack Tully was removed from his post and reassigned last week to another division in the department, according to two senior officials in the Corzine administration who asked not to be identified. Those officials said the State Ethics Commission is conducting an “expedited inquiry” and that the number of employees under investigation has nearly doubled since last week.

Taxation Director Robert Thompson and two of his aides were indefinitely suspended with pay March 7, and at that time 12 other workers were said to be implicated. 

The ethics inquiry began in response to a State Commission of Investigation report in December alleging that Treasury employees allowed a vendor, Outsourcing Solutions Inc., to overbill the state by as much as $1 million while they accepted $65,902 in illegal meals, gifts, alcohol and entertainment over six years.

The report did not identify state workers by name or title but estimated the number involved at 20 and said they were mainly in the divisions of revenue and taxation. It said they included some of the most senior officials in the department. The commission referred its findings to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the state attorney general, in addition to the State Ethics Commission.

Treasury spokesman Tom Vincz, citing the ongoing inquiries and concern for privacy on personnel matters, declined to confirm any reassignments or suspensions in the department.     

However, a woman who answered the phone at Tully’s office yesterday said, “He no longer works here.” She declined to give her name and referred all other questions to Vincz for comment.

Vincz refused to say who currently is serving as the state’s director of revenue, head of a division that is in the midst of its busiest weeks of the year as Corzine prepares to propose a new state budget.  “The Division of Revenue is under active leadership,” Vincz said.”Personnel actions have been taken to ensure continuity.”

Early last week, Thompson and two of his top aides were suspended with pay indefinitely as the official ethics inquiry ramped up. Thompson is a 36-year state employee who was appointed director of taxation in 1998, during the Whitman administration. The number of workers subject to the ethics inquiry expanded as the week went on to 29, but is unlikely to grow substantially larger, one of the administration sources said yesterday.  

Late last week, the state officials said, Tully was reassigned to the Property Management and Construction Division pending the outcome of the inquiry. He did not respond to phone messages left at his office or home.    

Tully, 62, was a managing partner in a Manasquan accounting firm before joining the Treasury Department in May 2002 in the $105,987-a-year director’s post. He is a certified public accountant licensed in New Jersey and New York and has served on the New Jersey State Board of Accountancy.  Active in local Democratic politics, Tully is a former borough councilman in Spring Lake Heights.    

 Outsourcing Solutions Inc. had a long-running contract with the state to collect delinquent taxes. Over the past six years, it collected $538 million for the state and was paid $78 million, the SCI report said.    

“What began as an effort to privatize the collection of debt 12 years ago has evolved into a corrupt association whereby high- and mid-level managers in the Divisions of Taxation and Revenue compromised their integrity and that of the department,” the report concluded. “As officials were lavished with gifts and entertainment by their outsourcing vendor they turned a blind eye as their benefactor padded the billings.”   

The firm’s contract expired last month and was not renewed.

-30-

The -30- means that is the end of the Star-Ledger story. For inquiring minds who want to know more, however, the New Jersey State Commission of Investigations issued a comprehensive report of their findings. Athough names are withheld, it is pretty easy from reading the report who is who. The report is featured on the SCI’s Web site and, for your convenience, is included here:

The_Gifting_of New_Jersey_Tax_Officials

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