KIYC: Union City Housing Authority finances

A Kane In Your Corner investigation finds financial irregularities at the Union City Housing Authority. In some cases, management is vastly exceeding spending limits intended to protect taxpayer dollars,

News 12 Staff

Apr 3, 2015, 4:09 AM

Updated 3,332 days ago

Share:

KIYC: Union City Housing Authority finances
A Kane In Your Corner investigation finds financial irregularities at the Union City Housing Authority. In some cases, management is vastly exceeding spending limits intended to protect taxpayer dollars, without authorization. A leading ethics expert criticizes the practice, saying it benefits political insiders who can submit artificially low bids.
The UCHA provides affordable homes to low-income residents. Since it receives federal funding, all of us pay for it, which means we also pay its attorney, Julio Morejon. There's no disputing Morejon's political connections; he is a former judge who was reportedly on Gov. Chris Christie's short list to be appointed Hudson County prosecutor. At first glance, Morejon appears to be a bargain. He was the low bidder by a considerable margin, drawing a base salary of $24,000, with the potential to earn up to $20,000 more in hourly billing. Anything above the cap of $44,000 requires authorization by the UCHA Board of Directors.
But public records obtained by Kane In Your Corner show in his two years on the job, Morejon has raked in more than double the allowed amount: $98,000 in 2014 and $94,000 the year before. And minutes of board meetings show there were never any votes authorizing spending above the cap.
UCHA Chairman Marty Marinetti says he was "astounded" to hear those figures. "It's disturbing that the question was asked on several occasions, and we've always been told the cap remained the same," he said.
Housing Authority minutes confirm Martinetti did ask multiple times whether the $44,000 cap was being enforced. At one meeting alone, the minutes show he first asked Morejon what his total pay was the year before, only to have Morejon reply: "I don't know." Martinetti then turned his attention to UCHA Executive Director Virgilio Cabello, repeatedly asking him whether Morejon's total compensation was under the cap. Cabello confirmed four times that it was, before finally adding, "hopefully, we'll see."
Morejon insists he did nothing wrong, since he performed all of the work he was paid for. He also insists any payment above the maximum was "authorized" by the UCHA, despite the lack of any votes or resolutions to support that contention.
Ingrid Reed, a political analyst recognized for her expertise on local government ethics, says arrangements in which spending limits are exceeded without proper authorization are "not good management practice and really not ethical." Because only political insiders can know when contract limits won't be enforced, Reed says they can vastly underbid other applicants to secure those deceptively lucrative jobs.


More from News 12
2:37
‘We’re asking to fight.’ Parents, students call on officials to save Wayne Catholic school from closing

‘We’re asking to fight.’ Parents, students call on officials to save Wayne Catholic school from closing

1:44
Clouds, some rain expected for Saturday, weather should improve by Sunday

Clouds, some rain expected for Saturday, weather should improve by Sunday

0:25
Prosecutor: Human remains found in 1 of 3 cars submerged in Cooper River in Pennsauken

Prosecutor: Human remains found in 1 of 3 cars submerged in Cooper River in Pennsauken

0:21
Officials: 3 people, including 2 officers, injured in car crash in Jersey City

Officials: 3 people, including 2 officers, injured in car crash in Jersey City

0:15
Police: Newton hospital temporarily put on lockdown amid reports of armed person

Police: Newton hospital temporarily put on lockdown amid reports of armed person

2:11
Paramus community honors student, teacher killed in school bus crash six years ago

Paramus community honors student, teacher killed in school bus crash six years ago

2:26
First full week of Sen. Menendez’s federal corruption trial comes to a close

First full week of Sen. Menendez’s federal corruption trial comes to a close

2:24
New Jersey man dubbed ‘most frequent flyer’ hits 24 million miles in the sky

New Jersey man dubbed ‘most frequent flyer’ hits 24 million miles in the sky

2:05
36th Annual Belmar Seafood Festival to take place this weekend at Silver Lake Park

36th Annual Belmar Seafood Festival to take place this weekend at Silver Lake Park

3:17
Peapack-Gladstone residents, business owners split on decision to euthanize geese in borough

Peapack-Gladstone residents, business owners split on decision to euthanize geese in borough

1:30
Scottie Scheffler, charged with assault after officer dragged near fatal crash, tees off at PGA Championship

Scottie Scheffler, charged with assault after officer dragged near fatal crash, tees off at PGA Championship

1:36
Hoboken introduces ordinance banning single-use food items in take-out orders. See the plan.

Hoboken introduces ordinance banning single-use food items in take-out orders. See the plan.

0:50
Main Street New Jersey: Restaurants, businesses to visit in downtown Somerville

Main Street New Jersey: Restaurants, businesses to visit in downtown Somerville

PSE&G warns of balloon, kite and drone hazards during outdoor celebrations

PSE&G warns of balloon, kite and drone hazards during outdoor celebrations

0:28
Bayonne fire captain honored for saving swimmer in Virginia

Bayonne fire captain honored for saving swimmer in Virginia

0:21
Police warn of phony $100 bills scam in Pompton Lakes

Police warn of phony $100 bills scam in Pompton Lakes

0:32
New Jersey’s Lucy the Elephant ranks No. 1 must-see roadside attraction in the US

New Jersey’s Lucy the Elephant ranks No. 1 must-see roadside attraction in the US

0:20
Prosecutor: Driver in fatal Newark pedestrian strike charged with suspended license

Prosecutor: Driver in fatal Newark pedestrian strike charged with suspended license

0:23
FDA approves first self-test for cervical cancer

FDA approves first self-test for cervical cancer

0:21
Robert's Cleaners in Sayreville returning customer’s clothing after car crash closes business

Robert's Cleaners in Sayreville returning customer’s clothing after car crash closes business