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Scotch Plains Hires Consultant for Police Department Merger

Mayor Mahr expressed disappointment when she originally learned of a consultant.

At the Oct. 16 Fanwood Council Meeting, Mayor Colleen Mahr announced that she learned Scotch Plains added an item to their agenda to hire a consultant on the issue of merging the police departments of both Scotch Plains and Fanwood.

The two towns have been meeting for over a year to work out issues on whether it makes sense to merge the police departments of both towns into one.

Mahr pointed out that she felt blindsided and that the two towns were supposed to meet for their usual police department merger meeting in only two days(Oct. 18).

"I'm angry and frustrated by them, they could have discussed it with us on Thursday," she said.

When speaking to Mahr she added that she understands Scotch Plains does not need Fanwood's approval when making a decision. But she looked at the hiring of consultant without notifying them more of a courtesy issue.

She also added that she did not understand the rush to hire a consultant for $4,000, which they never mentioned wanting to move forward with.

After speaking with Mayor Mary DePaola, she told Patch that Scotch Plains next council meeting was not until Nov. 20, so the council felt to move the process forward they should approve the consultant at the Oct. 16 meeting.

DePaola added that Mahr mentioned in past meetings that a set of a objective eyes would be helpful.

Mahr said that she had brought up concerns during meetings, but they did not seem to be taken into consideration.

Additionally, DePaola mentioned that at the two meetings Mahr was absent for, the Scotch Plains team got together on issues that impacted the entire organization, not just the Scotch Plains Police Department. 

Mahr told Patch that she was unsure of what she was to do now that Scotch Plains hired a consultant.

"Do I get a consultant too"," she said.

Patch spoke to Mahr prior to the two towns police department merger meeting. 

Following the meeting, DePaola said the Scotch Plains members told Mahr and the Fanwood members that she would set up a meeting with the consultant.

Once everyone had a chance to meet with the consultant, Mahr could decide how she wants to be added to the contract, which DePaola held off on signing.

To move forward, Mahr can decide to pay into the consultant Scotch Plains has hired, leave the consultant to work under Scotch Plains' pay, or hire a separate consultant for Fanwood.

Being that no one on either side has law enforcement experience, DePaola and the Scotch Plains team agreed that an objective set of eyes would help them move forward on the handful of difficult issues they have left to work out.

"We are eager to be partners with Fanwood, this is just a minor bump in the road," DePaola said. 

Barney Oldfield October 24, 2012 at 01:10 PM
Hey there Holden, I did a little research on the consultant hired by Scotch Plains. Turns out that he is primarily a consultant on reorganizing failing police departments not on consolidation. Also, as civilian public safety director in Dover, the guy has a municipal vehicle that he uses to commute 150 miles a day from Point Pleasant. Folks up there have been ranting about the cost of this "consultant". Is this the kind of person we want to advise our council?
Tired October 24, 2012 at 02:26 PM
Ahh the negative Nancy's are out in full force....Calling hiring a Police Dept consultant "damaging" and a "train wreck" is really foolish. We get it Holden, you don't like Mrs DePaola. To think you came outta your self imposed silence for that is just silly. Mr BO, Are there many Police Dept consolidation experts in NJ? I'd think not since only one consolidation has actually taken place in the enite state. I'm with you on the vehicle expense but I don't see how that figures in to him a bad consultant. There's plenty of real issues to be upset about.
Holden MaGroin October 24, 2012 at 03:27 PM
I'm Holden MaGroin and this is for Tired. Reread my comment. I'm up in the air about the hiring of the consultant. My "train wreck" and "damage" reference speaks to the ready-fire-aim approach that Mrs. DePaola employs. Without a script to read from, her gut reaction never seems to be for citizen advocacy. There's already a trail out there that my letter today will show. And that's only in a brief couple of years. Part of leading is understanding what one must sometimes do in order to partner with those who may not be in complete agreement with your position. Has her phone been so busy ringing off the hook from irate voters about Glover's position on the sewer fee that she couldn't reach out to Mahr to let her know what council would be doing? Did she think this would help move the merger forward? I believe she likes the title of mayor, but is woefully unprepared to lead. I agree with you that there are many real issues to be upset about, do you believe that Mrs. DePaola, without first consulting with Mr. Marks, will be able to understand them and do what is right by the citizens of Scotch Plains?
you_are_unbelievable October 24, 2012 at 03:32 PM
I know for a fact that Mayor Mahr was informed of this decision prior to the meeting. Perhaps Mahr was not given adequate notice in her mind...but she did not hear about it first from anyone other Mayor DePaola.
Barney Oldfield October 24, 2012 at 03:57 PM
Holden, Maybe you should be directing questions at you_are_unbelievable. Sounds like a GOP insider to me.
Tired October 24, 2012 at 04:08 PM
HM, I could care less if Mayor Mahr is informed of anything SP is doing. Unless she and Fanwood are being asked to pay for it, I think her outrage is quite phony. Do you and Barney get your directives from Lou Beckerman? Oddly enough you never mention him or the Dem Committee. We get it Holden and Barney, your on Team "D". It's nice of the Patch to give Team "D" a forum in the format of a three part letter to the editor. I being on no team finds it a bit one sided but hey that's just one member of Team "I" opinion.
Tired October 24, 2012 at 04:20 PM
Well Nicole we can agree to disagree. The Patch as I understand it is a creation of AOL/Huffington Post, quite a liberal team D lot if you ask me. You personally may not be partisan but your parent co. surely is.
Nicole Bitette (Editor) October 24, 2012 at 04:24 PM
Hi Tired, You are right, agree to disagree. But in terms of each individual Patch they are run solely by the editor and have no input from our parent company (except the ads that float the sides). If you feel SP-Fanwood Patch is posting more Democratic posts, its probably just because I receive more press information from the Democrats than the Republicans. However, whatever I receive from either party I post. It just depends how much, how often they are sending.
you_are_unbelievable October 24, 2012 at 04:26 PM
Barney, why do I have to be insider to comment on this? It seems that HM thinks he knows everything about everything. His logic is extremely flawed and all he does it put up links which provide opinion, anonymous comments and accusations. Not once has he provided solid reported fact to substantiate the basis of his claims, on anything. He believes one person when they provide input on one topic, but then claims that there is a conspiracy when that same person says something on a different topic. Then all of the drones run in and pat him/her on the back. Seriously, did Mary force Nancy to take the job in Trenton and resign as Mayor? If so, she is more powerful than anyone in town thought. Another thing, who does HM think the consultant represents? Hello, McFly? He represents the taxpayers of Scotch Plains to ensure that this process is done right. Even if it delays the process by a month or two, isn't that better than having a flawed merger in place that ends up costing SP more? Now who is Ready, fire, aim?
Tired October 24, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Nicole you and your predecessors have done a good job. For the most part I enjoy the Patch. Just my observation that one team seemed more prominent then the other. We have no ax to grind : )
Nicole Bitette (Editor) October 24, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Ok, good! We don't want to lose you as a reader/commenter!
Holden MaGroin October 24, 2012 at 04:32 PM
I'm Holden MaGroin and this is for Tired. I've attached an article from your very first posting. Your comment is the last one so it's easy to find. If I may, I'll quote from your first sentence.. "Scotch Plains residents as a life long Republican ask yourself......What kind of a conservative government official finds they've over charges taxpers on sewer tax and instead of returning the money, YOUR money, NO QUESTIONS ASKED, they decides they know best how to repay you and the businesses in the town." http://scotchplains.patch.com/articles/letter-to-the-editor-sp-council-should-have-tabled-budget-vote So did you become a member of team "I" just recently? Or did it work in your early comment to call yourself a life-long republican? I have many things that don't work as well as they used to, but parts of my memory are just fine.
becks October 24, 2012 at 04:39 PM
I have to agree with tired. Letters to the editor are always from a person and that person is verified by the news organization. Without a name anyone can say whatever they want. If this person would like to share his wisdom about our town it should be done with a name that is vetted by the Patch. If not his/her letters should be taken down. Just my 2 cents.
Tired October 24, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Ahh my friend Holden you have stumbled upon my biggest flaw. You may check all my posts (even this tread) and you're sure to find gramtical errors, typos, etc. I was crying out to SP life long R's to wake up. I did not mean I was a life long R. Sorry for the misunderstanding.
Long time resident October 24, 2012 at 04:42 PM
To you_are_unbelievable. I have to disagree with you on the Holden letters. Those links are from news articles that have been published and never refuted to be incorrect. Did you open any of the links? I did and they are from Patch articles and the Times. There's no anonymous opinions in them. I would say the facts speak for themselves. I have to agree with Barney that you seem to be an insider who is trying to deflect the critism being leveled and SUPPORTED by the news links.
maureen October 24, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Nicole -- I think the Patch is wonderful. You are doing a great job
maureen October 24, 2012 at 04:54 PM
Did they warn you about what you were getting yourself into before you took the job??Just kidding -- keep up the good work!
Tired Taxpayer October 24, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Back on topic - A few points: "Being that no one on either side has law enforcement experience..." aren’t the respective police chiefs involved in the process? One would think you'd hire a consultant to rationalize pay grades, work rules, policies and procedures... Barney - who is the consultant? Did not see a name in the article - curious as to who’s brother, cousin, aunt, or uncle they are. Love the Patch and the daily discourse, keep up the good work!
Barney Oldfield October 24, 2012 at 05:39 PM
Nicole, I think you mean "rebuttal" not rebuttle.
Nicole Bitette (Editor) October 24, 2012 at 05:43 PM
Hi Tired, Just so you know, the letter to the editor was broken into three parts due to the fact it was incredibly, incredibly lengthy, not to give it more prominence. Patch has NO political affiliation. We are waiting on a rebuttal letter from the Republicans. Best.
Nicole Bitette (Editor) October 24, 2012 at 05:43 PM
Thanks, Barney. I did, for some reason spell check changed it to rebuttle!
Barney Oldfield October 24, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Mr. Unbelievable, You state that you know for a fact that Mayor Mahr was informed prior to the meeting. If you are not a GOP insider, what is the source of your certain knowledge?
Nicole Bitette (Editor) October 24, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Hi Tired Taxpayer, I was at the Fanwood Council Meeting and not the Scotch Plains Council Meeting that evening, but from The Alternative Press article they mention they have retained the services of The Roselle Group.
you_are_unbelievable October 24, 2012 at 08:09 PM
otherwise, how would Fanwood have known to send Donna Dolce to the last Scotch Plains council meeting. I was told she was sitting with Lou Beckerman and Colleen Gialanella
firedup49 October 24, 2012 at 09:35 PM
This is going to be expensive, costing the taxpayers. This was already in the works with Nancy Malool, she was in favor of this and supported Courage to Connect to combine our towns. I have posted many times especially about Courage to Connect, with information. I do not trust them something is not right. Here is Malool resignation letter Beginning in May, Malool will take on the role of the Director of the Shared Services within the division of Local Government Services in the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. The Mayor stated that a state policy will prevent her from holding elected office while she works in state government. As the "Director of Shared Services", Malool will work with local governments across the state to facilitate positive change; helping neighboring towns save money and cultivate new ideas for the use of shared services.  Malool will also aid in the development of related legislation, such as the new consolidation law championed by "Courage to Reconnect". http://scotchplains.patch.com/articles/sp-mayor-malool-to-resign-drops-out-of-election-race your thoughts on this..
firedup49 October 24, 2012 at 09:39 PM
Holden MaGroin I think there are many actors (Dems & Repub) in this, and I would like to know the leader to quote Betty Davis.. "Fasten your seat belts. It's going to be a bumpy night.
firedup49 October 24, 2012 at 09:45 PM
SPF Residents Take Historic Step Towards Consolidation of Neighboring Towns Courage to Re-connect petitions the Local Finance Board to commission a municipal consolidation study. By Emily Everson Email the author February 16, 2012 Over the past year, this community has seen an escalation in discussions regarding shared services, including a possible police merger.  Fanwood Mayor, Colleen Mahr, who has dedicated much of her time as Mayor to revitalizing downtown Fanwood, has remained adamant in her opposition to full consolidation. However, Scotch Plains Mayor, Nancy Malool of has openly voiced her support for pursuing a municipal consolidation study, under the Local Option Municipal Consolidation Act, passed in 2007. http://scotchplains.patch.com/articles/spf-residents-take-historic-step-towards-consolidation-of-neighboring-towns
Holden MaGroin October 24, 2012 at 09:54 PM
I'm Holden MaGroin and this is for firedup. I believe you are right. We now have supposed people in the know who say Mahr was aware of this. Mahr is quoted as saying she wasn't. DePaola takes a swipe by referencing the meetings that Mahr didn't attend, and all the while Rome burns. But not to worry my friend, to use some favorite hyperbole, these a mere "bumps in the road".
cnewman October 25, 2012 at 12:26 AM
i agree it is phony outrage - what a joke!
mrsp January 04, 2013 at 02:24 PM
Oh my! I just had the oddest experience with the Scotch Plains Police Department -- some construction or utility work (on Park, going east, after the school) was resulting in an extremely dangerous left turn (from Pleasant Ave.) for detouring drivers, possible accident -- and assumed the police dispatcher would say, "thank you sir we will send an officer to attend to this". Instead I got the kind of arrogant, smirking response I literally haven't heard since visiting a third world country (before getting shaken down, I might add)! I am not a Scotch Plains resident but have always generally had a positive impression of the town being pleasant, orderly and with strong community participation and activism. And so I see this article -- I can see you all have bigger fish to fry than public servants with suspicious behavior. Good luck and may your return to first world problems come quickly.


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