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State Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Linden). (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe)

Armstead moves to fire Scutari

Council resolution replaces Senate Judiciary chairman as Linden prosecutor

By David Wildstein, January 15 2019 5:03 pm

Linden Mayor Derek Armstead appears ready to escalate his war with the local Democratic organization tonight by dumping State Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Linden) as the municipal prosecutor.

A resolution expected to be voted on tonight by the city council designates Deirdre Mason, a Scotch Plains attorney and East Orange public defender, to replace Scutari.

The move comes days after the Linden Democratic Committee voted overwhelmingly to submit three candidates to fill a vacant council seat that did not include the name Armstead preferred.

Paul Coates, Cynthia Apalinski and Aaron Howard – all allies of Scutari, the Linden Democratic municipal chairman and the Union County Democratic chairman – are in line for the 8th ward council seat left vacated on January 1 by Michele Yamakaitis, the new council president.

Scutari tried to take Armstead out in the June 2018 Democratic primary, but the incumbent ran off the line and won.

Armstead controls a majority of seats on the council.

In December, Armstead convinced the council to give him a 37% retroactive pay increase that bumped him to $100,000-a-year for the part time job.

Former Union County Freeholder Mohammed Jalloh, an ally of State Sen. Joseph Cryan who was dropped from the Democratic ticket last spring after backing Colleen Mahr for county chair against Scutari, is Armstead’s pick for assistant prosecutor.

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One thought on “Armstead moves to fire Scutari

  1. Mr. Wildstein,
    After reading your article I noticed that you have a few of your facts wrong , let me clarify:
    1) Mr. Scutari was not fired. He along with several other attorneys, whose contracts were up, were not reappointed.
    2) This was not something that occurred because of last week’s Democratic Committee Meeting, this decision was made several months prior as they were not meeting their obligation of fulfilling the hours that were required under their contract. This can be confirmed by looking at their attendance.
    3) It should be noted that by not renewing the contracts of the attorneys we have a cost savings of $32172.
    4) The 3 names that Scutari brought to the Democratic Committee Meeting, were not the 3 names that were the choices of the 8th Ward Democratic Club, and the outgoing 8th Ward Councilwomen, Michele Yamakaitis.
    5) Not appointing a councilperson to fill the seat is a decision that was legally made. The statue clearly states that the governing body MAY appoint, however they don’t have to.
    6) If anyone is responsible for escalating a “war”, as you put it, that honor goes to Nick Scutari who decided to throw Mayor Armstead off the line in June, supporting someone he chose to give the organizational line to, and then when the Mayor won the primary he then threw his support to a democratic committee person, who changed his party affiliation & ran as an independent, in the general election.
    7) Nick Scutari took a picture, at the City’s Halloween parade, with the Mayor and then used it in a political mailer asking for the voting residents of our town to support his (Scutari’s) Board of Education candidates, not the ones that the Mayor and his team were supporting in November, but this piece with the Mayor and Nick together made it seem they were united.
    8) Lastly, the Mayor does not work part-time. The job maybe listed as part-time but he is here in the early morning and oftentimes does not leave until 10 – 11 pm in the evening and this does not include the hours he puts in on weekends. I know I work for him and have the calendar to prove it.

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