KIYC: Updates to teacher pension, Soil Safe cleanup reports

Two recent Kane In Your Corner investigations are getting results, as a state agency and a state lawmaker are stepping in to try to correct wrongs that were exposed. (5/26/14)

EDISON - Two recent Kane In Your Corner investigations are getting results, as a state agency and a state lawmaker are stepping in to try to correct wrongs that were exposed.

Ken Graf has been soccer coach at Metuchen High School for 42 years. He's retiring as a middle school teacher, but wanted to keep coaching. However, state pension officials won't let him, even if he does it for free.

"This rule is wrong," Graf says. "This rule has to be adjusted."

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As a result of the Kane in Your Corner report, Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan has introduced a bill that would let Graf and other retired teachers continue their extracurricular work in their districts, as long as they earn less than $10,000 a year.

"I thought it was a no-brainer," Diegnan says. "Metuchen is a great town. Sports is a great part of the tradition there. And I just thought this was a common sense approach to solve a problem that didn't make much sense."

In another Kane in Your Corner investigation, News 12 New Jersey exposed how the Christie administration wasn't enforcing the law or protecting the taxpayers on cleanup projects. A politically connected company called Soil Safe was doing a job in Logan Township without setting aside money in case things went wrong.

"Let's say something happens to the company and they have to walk away," says Debbie Mans, of NY/NJ Baykeeper. "Who's going to be on the hook to ultimately clean that up?"

The taxpayer would wind up footing the bill, because the Department of Enivronmental Protection was letting companies self-guarantee their work based on whatever they claimed their net worth was. 

Soil Safe said it was worth $19 million, but the company balance sheet showed its biggest asset to be "goodwill," which isn't tangible.

Six different financial experts told News 12 New Jersey that the company's "tangible" net worth, the figure the state should have been looking at, was actually less than zero.

"Their tangible net worth would be a negative," says forensic accountant Sean Raquet. "Approximately a negative $61 million."

The Kane in Your Report has led the DEP to change the rules. Companies like Soil Safe will now be required to report their tangible net worth, and taxpayers will be protected in case things go wrong.

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