Questions swirl about Roselle Mayor Donald Shaw’s use of a municipal car after documents turned up that reveal that he ran up almost $5,000 worth of E-ZPass violations while using a municipal car for out-of-state driving, but the local elected official and county government employee apparently does not consider residents worthy of an honest answer.
Roselle Mayor Donald Shaw is facing questions about where he has been going with his municipal vehicle after Councilwoman Cynthia Johnson revealed documents showing that the part-time elected official ran up nearly $5,000 for E-ZPass violations at the Goethals Bridge, the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, and the Lincoln Tunnel over a two-year period.
Johnson became suspicious when she noticed a taxpayer-funded check signed by Shaw in the amount of $4,952 that was made payable to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Johnson said municipal vehicles are to be used only for borough business and local policy prohibits authorized drivers from taking them across state lines without permission, but Shaw apparently broke that rule as evidenced by his numerous E-ZPass violations.
Johnson discovered that the borough was being billed for toll violations for municipal vehicles that were operating outside the state without permission or any explanation.
She produced documents revealing at least 49 violations and said she is awaiting answers from Shaw, who is alleged to be engaged in a coverup.
Resident Stephen Jung asked why the part-time borough attorney, Chief Financial Officer or DPW head need 24-hour access to municipal vehicles.
“As a former elected official I’ve tried to respect the unwritten code of (avoiding) criticism of subsequent administrations. However two events of this week has compelled me to change my position,” said former Councilman Samuel Bishop. “First, on Wednesday, the termination of our CFO and the sneaky manner that it was handled. A ‘walk on’ resolution (aka ambush) at the non-televised workshop meeting is beyond suspicious. This will likely wind up with another lawsuit against the borough.”
Bishop also said he was vexed over reoprts about the Mayor’s abuse of his borough vehicle.
“This story is so disturbing on multiple levels,” said Bishop. “What borough business is being conducted in the wee hours of the morning in NY?? I’m disappointed by the thought that a person we put our trust in would take advantage of that honor and privilege. The amount of taxpayer money doled out to cover these violations angers me. But what literally pisses me off is the out-right arrogance of such actions.”
It appears that Judith Curran, until recently the borough’s finance director, was fired by Shaw—leading some to speculate whether she tipped off the Councilwoman who blew the whistle on the EZ Pass scandal.
Curran is employed full-time as chief financial officer and municipal treasurer in the
Township of Washington, and she also been employed as a CFO, tax collector, treasurer, and purchasing agent by the Borough of Norwood, Borough of Harrington Park, and Township of Wayne.
One violation at the Goethals Bridge on March 26, and another at the Lincoln Tunnel in April each cost Roselle taxpayers $66. Two violations from the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge on June 28 and four more from that same day added up to $220.
“The public trust has been broken. Utilizing Borough property & funds for your own personal self-gain cannot be tolerated,” said Johnson. “As taxpayers of Roselle, we deserve better.” “
Johnson said she will propose action at the Roselle Borough Council meeting on Wednesday to immediately suspend Shaw’s privileges of using the municipality’s vehicle, and if an investigation reveals abuses, that the Mayor’s access to the car be permanently revoked.
“I ask that all residents attend the Roselle Borough Council meeting on this coming Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. sharp to demand accountability and ensure that every Council member takes appropriate action for this unethical & abusive behavior,” said Johnson.
“The Borough of Roselle has been examining over-billed charges on the municipal E-ZPass Account,” said an unsigned statement from the administration. “Our primary focus is to ensure accurate billing for all of these vehicles. The Borough is now working with E-ZPass officials to determine an accurate bill and to remove any inaccurate or excessive fees.”
“The idea that they think throwing EZ Pass under the bus and trying to blame them for perceived errors in accounting is the way to go is laughable,” said Colette Walker.
Shaw, who was directly implicated in the out of state travel that resulted in the EZ violations refused to respond to questions about the matter.
Former Councilwoman Sylvia Turnage says the mayor should step down until questions about his abuse of the car and toll violations are resolved.
“I need to know what neighborhood business you have at two o’clock in the morning in Brooklyn or Queens,” said Turnage.