An ethics complaint against a Linden city councilwoman who voted to give her brother a retroactive pay raise has been filed with the New Jersey Local Finance Board.
The city council voted last December to give Mayor Derek Armstead a $26,000 retroactive pay raise which resulted in a $25,575 “bonus check” for the first eleven months of the year. The raise came after Armstead won re-election to a second term.
Armstead had a 6-5 majority on the council at the time and his sister, councilwoman Lisa Ormon, cast the deciding vote on the raise.
State Sen. Nicholas Scutari, the Linden Democratic municipal chairman, called the vote “blatant nepotism that raises serious ethical issues.”
“The Local Finance Board’s guidelines are clear: no local government officer or employee shall act in any official capacity where that officer has a direct or indirect financial or personal involvement,” said Scutari. “It’s obvious to everyone that Councilwoman Ormon had a personal involvement, and that both she and the Mayor should have asked the Local Finance Board for an ethics review and ruling before they took this action” he added.
In response to Armstead’s raise, both houses of the Legislature have approved a bill that would ban retroactive raises for public officials. The legislation is now awaiting action by Gov. Phil Murphy.
“Elected officials should not have the capability to give themselves retroactive salary increases, especially when there are so many working people who are suffering,” Scutari said. “It’s even more egregious when the deciding vote was cast by the Mayor’s sister. The Mayor and Councilwoman Ormon owe the people of Linden an explanation and an apology.”