West Orange isn’t getting answers to how some their mail wound up in a dumpster in North Arlington.
“We haven’t heard from the post office yet,” said Robert Parisi, the mayor of West Orange. “I think we should have heard about this from the post office and not from the media.”
The New Jersey Globe first reported on Sunday that a large quantity of mail, including official ballots for the upcoming general election, was found tossed in the trash.
The mail originated from the Dominick V. Daniels Processing and Distribution Center in Kearny. A post office official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that a postal employee is under investigation.
“We’ve got the guy,” the official said. “We know who it was.”
George Flood, a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service told the Globe that the mail was “reported, collected and delivered.”
That doesn’t necessarily help answer questions from West Orange residents, some of whom contacted the Globe to say that they would have liked to know if the mail they brought into their homes on Saturday and been in a dumpster just hours earlier.
“I certainly would have liked to have heard of it,” Parisi said.
Former Gov. Richard J. Codey, who represents West Orange in the State Senate, said it would have been better if postal officials had been transparent with local residents.
“Especially during these times because of where it was,” he said.
The Globe has learned that the New Jersey Attorney General’s office was advised of the issue on Friday and that they consented to the ballots being delivered to voters despite the an interruption in the chain of custody.
The Attorney General’s office did not immediately respond to an 8:27 PM email seeking comment.
Flood would not reveal additional details, saying its now being investigated by the USPS Inspector General.
Some view the Inspector General as a sort of bureaucratic abyss where failures of the postal service can be buried under the guise of a law enforcement probe.
Belleville Mayor Michael Melham said that the USPS Inspector General was supposed to be investigating allegations that mail carriers left hundreds of vote-by-mail ballots on the floor in several apartment buildings during the May municipal elections.
“I, as Mayor, made the initial complaint. To date, not one person has ever contacted me. I’ve never been updated. This is how seriously the USPS takes these matters,” Melham said. “It’s a joke.”
Essex County Clerk Christopher Durkin called the post office “a vital partner in the democratic process.”
“We need a through and expeditious investigation,” Durkin said. “And we need transparency in our public process.”
This story was updated at 10:06 PM with comment from Durkin.