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Somerset County Sheriff candidate Darrin Russo, left, with Democratic freeholder candidate Melonie Marano.

Russo hits Parenti on Salary spikes

North Plainfield mayor says city paying all employees for accrued paid time off

By Nikita Biryukov, October 07 2019 4:45 pm

Democratic Somerset sheriff candidate Darrin Russo took aim at his opponent’s salary Monday.

“Parenti loves to talk about taxpayer rip-offs, but for some reason he’s silent about the one he’s involved in,” Russo. “Over two years he extracted $270,000 in extra pay out of the people of North Plainfield, failed to do his job of protecting them from violent crime, and now he wants to be promoted to Sheriff? For what?”

In 2016, North Plainfield Police Chief Bill Parenti, the Republican candidate for Sheriff, was payed $153,388.45.

That figure rose to $285,506.36 the next year and rose again to $288,768.56 in 2018. Many of the borough’s policemen saw proportionally similar increases to their pay.

The town’s mayor said nothing was amiss — North Plainfield was paying all its employees for accrued paid time off.

“The business administrator and I made this decision during the budget hearings several years back and placed the total amount needed to fund the employees in the budget that was adopted by the council,” Mayor Michael Giordano said. “This was done in good conscience to protect the wallets of our Borough’s hard-earning taxpayers. Not to mention, Chief Parenti has also agreed to reduce his overall paid sick and vacation time by nearly 2,700 hours.”

The attack follows a line frequently taken by Parenti’s campaign.

The Republican candidate has more than once hit his Democratic opponent over the amount of union time he took as a police lieutenant in Franklin Township.

An investigation by the Somerset County Prosecutor found Franklin’s police chiefs and captain either directed officers to take the union time or directed others to approve the same.

No officers committed any criminal violations or broke any administrative policies related to union time, the prosecutor said.

“Parenti’s quarter million-dollar money grab with one foot out the door is the height of hypocrisy given his bashing of police officers in Franklin for their community policing pay,” Somerset County Democratic Chairwoman Peg Schaffer said. “The last thing you want in a top law enforcement official is one willing to accuse other people of his own wrongdoing.”

The prosecutor’s findings haven’t stopped the Republicans from launching further attacks over the Democrat’s use of union time.

It remains to be seen whether the Democrats will follow that lead.

“There he goes again — Dishonest Darrin lying to taxpayers. The man reprimanded by the Courts for acting in reckless disregard for the truth is smearing Chief Parenti. Russo’s under fire for taking nearly three times as much union-time as he was allowed,” Somerset County GOP Chairman Al Gaburo said. “We’re not surprised Russo is lying to voters in a desperate attempt to hide the question that has been on their minds for the past 46 days — how can we trust someone as desperate and dishonest as Darrin to enforce our laws and keep us safe?

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