Former Atlantic County Freeholder Chairman Frank Formica has been hired to the newly-created post of Atlantic County Shared Services Coordinator, WPG Talk Radio host Harry Hurley reported today.
“The Formica hiring wasn’t placed on an earlier agenda. It violated the County’s 12-day rule with respect to advanced notice to the public,” Hurley said.
Hurley says that Formica’s new job will pay $40,000-per-year and include full health and pension benefits.
“I have been advised that a grant has been obtained to pay for the salary. This has not stopped the outrage that is presently mounting at a fever pitch,” said Hurley. “There is a legitimate concern that this smacks of political cronyism.”
According to Hurley, Formica quit his county government post to obviate a conflict of interest with his political consulting firm.
“Now, he’s coming right back a very short time later in another public position. If you’re being honest, it looks really bad,” Hurley stated. “In Formica’s defense, he clearly has a substantial background in county government services and operations. He’s qualified to do the job.”
Formica resigned from the Atlantic County Board of Freeholders in September, one day after the deadline that would have allowed voters to replace him in the November 3 general election.
Instead, Republicans filled his vacant seat with Frank X. Balles, a popular former Sheriff and Egg Harbor Township Committeeman. Balles will run for a full term in 2021.
A special election for Formica’s seat would have put four freeholder seats up for grabs this year, triggering a control election.
Democrats won two of the three seats.
Caren Fitzpatrick was re-elected to her at-large seat by a wide margin, but Republican Freeholder John Risley defeated Democrat Celeste Fernandez by 381 votes out of more than 132,000 cast. Fernandez has filed for a recount.
Democrat Thelma Witherspoon won the District 3 freeholder seat by 286 votes, but Republican Andrew Parker has asked a judge to call a do-over election after County Clerk Ed McGettigan acknowledged that 554 voters from Hamilton Township received the wrong ballot and couldn’t vote in the race.
Hurley said the Formica taking a position that never before existed “looks absolutely terrible in the eyes of an already weary public.”
“It should be noted that this is a total Dennis Levinson operation. He placed the Freeholders in a really bad position, making them have to vote for or against an immediate past colleague,” Hurley said on the WPG website. “It is my considered opinion that with as close as the Atlantic County election contests have become .”
“Levinson has provided the Democrats with powerful opposition fodder going forward.” Hurley said. “Levinson has really disrespected the public with the circus stunt. The whole Formica resolution was given to the Freeholder Board with only a few hours advanced notice. It’s wrong to work like this.”
Hurley credited Fitzpatrick for questioning to the last-minute resolution.
“Fitzpatrick asked all of the right questions and then did not behave in a politically petty fashion and simply vote no against Formica. In the end, she decided to vote yes. But, not before drilling down on many concerns that she had about the questionable hiring,” he said. “This is the kind of hiring that irritates the hard-working taxpayers.”