PAY TO PLAY is a term to describe when government gives something of value in exchange for a political
donation. This practice is corrupt, costly, and illegal.
Here in GT, Mayor Dave Mayer and Councilman Orlando Mercado have taken pay to play to depraved extremes, costing GT taxpayers millions of dollars, and eroding trust in our municipal government. They have taken $2.9 MILLION in donations!
Dave Mayer’s return to politics in GT
Ever since Dave Mayer decided to come back to GT politics and run for mayor, Team Mayer’s council and
school board political campaign funds, and his GT PACs* have collected $2.9 million in political donations.
Virtually, ALL of this money came from donors who were awarded something of value from our government:
Lucrative government contracts, tax abatements for corporations, approvals for corporate developers from our Planning Board, etc.
(* Mayer and Mercado control 5 PACs in GT. The largest of these PACs is named Gloucester Twp Citizens for Government Reform, and is run by PAC Chairperson Cindy Carlamere.)
The pay to play donors receive various GT government benefits in exchange for their donations.
Some donors, like Harvey Sternberg and Wawa, do it to be awarded GT property tax abatements.
Some, like Newman Gloucester Reserve, Bryn Mawr Investments, Jeremy Teicher, Procacci Development, are developers who donate, and in turn, are awarded development approvals by the GT Planning Board.
Others donors, like Dave Carlamere and Carla Geppi, are appointed to jobs in GT municipal government.
But many dozens of donors; e.g., BlueSkyPower, Conner Strong Buckelew, Marksman Landscaping, Parker
McCay, and many more are awarded lucrative GT contracts.
The 7 largest of these pay to play donors
- Remington & Vernick ($518,050 donations in GT); GT engineering consultant
- Consultant Engineer Service ($204,100 donations in GT); GT engineering consultant
- Wade Long Wood Long law firm ($199,800 donations in GT); solicitor for GT School Board
- Pennoni Assoc. ($163,850 donations in GT); GT School District consultant
- Bach Associates ($155,500 donations in GT); GT engineering consultant
- RD Zeuli ($120,100 donations in GT); GT Public Works contractor
- Archer & Greiner ($108,000 donations in GT); GT legal consultant
How pay to play donations are done in GT
New Jersey does impose legal limits on how much a pay to play firm may donate to a political campaign. But in GT, large pay to play donors like Remington & Vernick are able to exceed these limits by spreading out multiple donations to the various Mayer/Mercado-controlled GT PACs. The GT PACs, in turn, use these donations to support the Mayer/Mercado-controlled candidates in GT.
How pay to play firms are rewarded for their donations in GT
GT’s valuable professional contracts are, on paper, awarded via an annual open bidding process.
So one may ask: If for-profit firms like Remington & Vernick truly submit the best and winning bid, why would they feel the need to make political donations to politicians in a town where they don’t even have a business office?
One may further ask: How is it that there is a perfect correlation between those firms who make donations and those who are awarded GT contracts? This happens, without fail, year after year after year.
Is this just a wild, crazy coincidence?
What is really happening in the GT contract bidding process is firms like Remington & Vernick somehow, every year, are able to submit a bid with the lowest hourly rate. Then, during the course of the year, the firm will be hired for jobs where the amount billed seems excessive for the work that was done.
Two recent examples of payments to the top pay to play donor
- Remington & Vernick is being paid $37,000 simply to consult on the purchase of a replacement Public Works boiler.
- A couple years ago, Remington & Vernick was paid approx. $20,000 for a simple traffic light ‘study’ where the findings of the supposed study were never even reported back to GT.
There are many, many other examples of seeming overpayments to pay to play firms by Tom Cardis and this GT administration. Our GT Council could (and should) step up and scrutinize these payments. But instead, Council chooses to stay silent. After all, every member of our GT Council also benefits from the political donations from the pay to play firms.
What now, you ask?
GT voters need to vote out the current government officials who enable this practice of pay to play; and vote for sincere, trustworthy folks who will run an honest GT government.