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Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi (R-River-Vale)

Republicans launch attacks in LD39

Democrats call them a distraction

By Nikita Biryukov, October 02 2019 5:55 pm

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Incumbents in the 39th legislative district attacked one of their Democratic challengers over his use of government time, but it’s not clear if that attack meets its mark.

“John Birkner is a triple-dipper who already collects money from three taxpayer-paid sources, and now we find out he may be defrauding taxpayers by playing politics when he’s supposed to be at work,” Assemblyman Bob Auth said. “John Birkner is either a magician or he’s not telling the truth. How can he work a full day in Hackensack, while still being in Trenton for the Mayors’ Legislative Day? Or work a full day in Hackensack, while also playing golf in River Vale? He can’t and needs to explain himself.”

In addition to being Westwood Mayor John Birnker is fund secretary for the Bergen County Joint Insurance Fund and Manager of Technical Services at the Bergen County Utility Authority.

The Republicans provided two of Birkner’s time cards from the BCUA from weeks covering March 12, 2018, and Sept. 8, 2016.

On March 12, Birkner reported working a full day and attended a press conference on a grant program that allowed Westwood to obtain several hundred thousand dollars’ worth of equipment for $5,000.

On Sept. 8, Birkner checked in on Facebook at the Valley Brook Golf Course for the annual Westwood Charity Golf Outing. The event began at 8:30 a.m. and was preceded by a buffet breakfast that opened at 7:30 a.m.

Birkner’s Facebook check-in does not include a time, and it is unclear when and for how long the mayor attended the event. The time cards do not provide clock-in or clock-out times.

Democrats called the attack a distraction.

“On the heels of learning that the Birkner/Falotico team is preparing a full-fledged television campaign, career politicians Holly Schepisi and Bob Auth are beginning their early attempts to distract voters from their awful legislative records,” Birkner campaign manager Brad Raimando said.

Birkner’s running mate is Emerson Council President Gerald Falotico.

“This is just another example of the politics-as-usual that people are tired of,” Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi said “The voters of Bergen and Passaic Counties have the right to know the truth, and John Birkner must come clean on these troubling irregularities.”

The Republican attack comes a day after the two attacked their Democratic challengers for shooting a TV ad in Westwood without obtaining a permit.

A local ordinance allows crews with three or fewer members using at most two cameras and the same amount of tripods to film without obtaining a permit.

“It must be hard to be a good legislator when you can’t even read a local municipal ordinance,” Raimondo said. “Our commercial shoot was in compliance with a recent local ordinance that exempted small-scale shoots from needing a permit. This reeks of desperation from two legislators terrifying of losing their seats.”

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