Sunday, September 29, 2013

Mystery Developer Sparks Republican Majority Council to Hire Redevelopment Attorney; Firm with Significant State Business

Lenox China - Tilton Road 
Once again Galloway Township Residents are left in the dark when the Republican Majority Council lead by Mayor Don Purdy, hired the Lawfirm of Capehart Scatchard based out of Trenton to be the Township's Redevelopment Counsel by a 5-2 vote in favor of the appointment.

Following a closed session discussion on September 24, 2013, council reconvened into public session in order to vote on the appointment of a Special Counsel for Redevelopment. However, controversy immediately spurred when Councilman Jim Gorman requested a discussion and vote on a proposal submitted by Maley & Associates. 

Gorman's request was denied and Deputy Mayor Tony Coppola immediately motioned for Capehart Scatchard without allowing the rest of Council to discuss the matter. Gorman and McElwee, both Democrats voted no. The vote passed with a majority of Republican votes and the contract awarded is not to exceed $10,000, according to the resolution.

One proposal was first submitted on September 20, 2013 and provided to Council in their packets the week prior to the council meeting. That proposal was submitted by Maley & Associates from Collingswood, New Jersey. 

The award of the contract to Capehart Scatchard was made without competitive bids. The Township instead requested certain law firms to submit a proposal for the required services (RFP). 

Capehart Scatchard submitted a proposal the same day of the Council meeting on the 24th. "I received my Council package on Friday Sept. 20th and did my research on Maley & Associates as they were the only Law firm that submitted. I was prepared to discuss with council Tuesday night the appointment. I was sent an e-mail at 2:47 PM with another proposal, that day of the Council Meeting which I never had a chance to open. I don't finish my job until 5 PM" Councilman Jim McElwee said. 

According to McElwee, some members of Council never received the proposal until they arrived at the Council meeting and saw the 40-page proposal from Capehart Scatchard on their desk. 

"My first thought was to move to table the vote until we had enough time to study the late arriving RFP. But since we are a 5/2 minority, I decided that would be an exercise in futility and instead voted "NO" on the appointment of Capehart Scatchard" McElwee stated.

"I have since learned that Maley & Associates representative James Maley sat down with Arch Liston and Mayor Don Purdy for an interview and was told that he would be approved, but someone on council decided to go with a firm owned by an influential Republican donor to Governor Christie's Campaign" McElwee stated.

According to the Wall Street Journal, "Capehart Scatchard, made a $25,000 donation to the Republican Governors Association in May, according to the association's tax form contributions list. As a firm with significant state business, Capehart Scatchard is prohibited from giving New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie more than $300 in campaign contributions."

Mayor Don Purdy announced at a previous Council meeting that he has been is contact with a Developer who is potentially interested in the old Lenox China Building on Tilton Road. Lenox China has remained vacant for some time now with no interest from developers. requested documents regarding this potential developer, including emails from Mayor Don Purdy and the potential developer. Township Clerk TC Kay never responded if documents didn't exist, but what was released was even more interesting. Councilman Jim McElwee requested from Township Manager Arch Liston the name of the developer that Mayor Don Purdy has been speaking with. Liston responded to McElwee by stating, "the developer wishes that I don't disclose any information at this time."

McElwee, who is a member of the Council Economic Development committee stated, "Purdy is on the Committee but I have not been invited to any discussions with any developer concerning the Lenox property. When I asked Township Manager Arch Liston who the Developer was I was told that the developer doesn't wish to divulge any information at this time. I was also told that they reached out to Mayor Don Purdy personally. Arch would not divulge the name of the developer because it was told to him in confidence."

"When it comes to Economic Development and the statement made by Mayor Don Purdy that Tax Abatements and such will be given to potential developers, I would think all members of Council should know who these Developers are before personal promises are made that a future Council will have to fulfill", McElwee stated.  "I am for economic development, rebuilding and revitalizing Galloway with Commercial development, but lets shine the light on transparency and not keep these discussions behind closed doors." Publisher visited the Lenox China site to see if any changes or improvements have been made to the site. In the picture above, the front lawn portion appeared mowed, but the remaining portion of the site remains overgrown with weeds, boarded up and unkept. 

Another professional contract this year has been awarded without competitive bidding and without a full Council interview. The Township continues to spend money on legal fees without a full background check into each company. has obtained through an Open Public Records Request a copy of Redevelopment Proposals.


Anonymous said...

It's another classic example of the Purdy pocket book being spent by tax paying dollars.

Anonymous said...

Galloway needs commercial development to offset the rising taxes we as residents have to pay. But why hire another attorney for $10,000 when you hire a Twp attorney that is a land development attorney. Can he not handle redevelopment issues? This is another waste of money by the Purdy Admin. I wonder how much Coppola is getting for this one.

Anonymous said...

The events unfolding in the selection of a redevelopment attorney, especially for the former Lenox site, speaks volumes of the backroom, off-the-record and highly suspect efforts of Mayor Purdy to garner last minute election favors and credit for something that just ain’t happening. Unless the owner of the property has given even tacit approval to the township to entertain offers and agree to conditions for the redevelopment of the site, then all of this is moot. Further, the site has been declared by the township to be in need of redevelopment but there is no redevelopment plan and no ownership MOU in place. Why pay hundreds of dollars an hour for an attorney to discuss what-ifs? As for the selection of Capehart Scatchard, the strong fishy smell should tell you all is not right with this. Anything not done in public is not in the public’s interest. I also failed to find any municipal clients of the firm specifically for redevelopment matters. As for Maley and Associates, just take a look at Collingswood, where Jim Maley was mayor. Look at the expert who chairs N.J. League of Municipalities redevelopment panels and conferences. There is no higher regarded expert than Jim Maley. GTN, don’t let this slide by because of the complexity of the issues. Stay on the story. It’s too important to the people of Galloway.

Anonymous said...

A post script to the above comment on the redevelopment attorney appointed by the township: the firm's designated attorney, Thomas Hastie, Jr., has an excellent resume for redevelopment in NJ, but that was based a lot on his previous employment with McManimon and Scotland, which would have been an excellent finalist, too. No intended criticism of Mr. Hastie, but wouldn't we all have liked to make the comparisons in public? A public presentation by both firms would have been permissible and enlightening.

Anonymous said...

I have faith if anyone can handle the complexity of the issues, this publisher and website can. They already moved the rock, they just need to move the bolder now.

Anonymous said...

If I recall correctly, the Publisher of this site also used to be a Planning Board member when redevelopment was discussed. If that is true and knowing the facts of what is required to be done, I can only believe that the Mayor is using this as a political burst of more empty promises. I can only imagine the Publisher knows the bottom line and I think the bottom line should be exposed.

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