Kuehnapfel Sues Again, Alleges More OPMA Violations by Republicans

The suit alleges at least one secret meeting held by the three Republicans prior to the Jan. 5 reorganization.

A township resident who previously won a suit against the township committee over alleged violations of the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) has surfaced again, this time filing a suit against the Republican township committee members over alleged secret meetings with prospective township professionals at the end of 2011, claiming they once again violated OPMA.

Gary Kuehnapfel, who , filed another Tuesday, this time claiming the three Republicans violated the law by conducting interviews as a quorum, citing as proof a Dec. 23, 2011, letter to Traveler's Insurance, as well as a meeting with at least one township professional in the lead-up to committeeman Sam Cianfarini and Mayor Ray Chintall taking office.

The letter to Traveler's, which was on official municipal letterhead and signed by all three Republicans, referenced various policy numbers and advised the insurance company there would be a switch in brokers, from Democrat-appointed Martin Company to Anderson Jackson Metts, effective the day Chintall and Cianfarini were to be sworn in at the beginning of 2012, which would take place about two weeks after the date of the letter.

The Dec. 28, 2011, meeting, which court documents say involved Cianfarini, Chintall and current Deputy Mayor Sean Kilpatrick, as well as current solicitor Anthony Ogozalek Jr. and Brandon Umba, the district field representative for Rep. John Runyan, who has also served in an unofficial capacity as a consultant to the West Deptford Republicans, serves as supporting evidence, the suit indicates.

In one exhibit filed with the suit, former township engineer Ed Steck, a vice president of T&M Associates who served as township engineer under the former Democratic administration, certified he and T&M Senior Vice President Jim Oris met with the group at Capehart Scatchard's law offices in Mt. Laurel, where they discussed Steck and the firm's qualifications and experience. Steck indicated the two committeemen-elect and Kilpatrick all participated in the process, and Umba added in a question about billing rates, with the entire interview taking about 45 minutes.

In his filing with the court, Kuehnapfel's Democratically connected attorney, John W. Trimble Jr., argued the presence of the three Republicans at the interviews, despite the fact that two of them hadn't yet been sworn in, represented a quorum, and thus a violation of OPMA.

Trimble cited a similar case which was decided against the city of Brigantine, where in 1990, newly-elected but unsworn members of that city's government held meetings to discuss appointments, and issued a letter to the municipal judge to tell him he wouldn't be reappointed.

Given the circumstances, Trimble argued the same standard applied to the West Deptford Republicans, accusing them of “blatant” violations of the law.

“Ultimately, the defendants made the decision to appoint AJM Insurance Management, Inc. as the insurance broker,” Trimble wrote. “Therefore, the defendants violated the Open Public Meetings Act.”

Chintall declined to comment on the suit, a copy of which reached him late Tuesday.

“Our solicitor's still reviewing it,” he said.

Unlike the first suit filed by Kuehnapfel over the Eagle Point settlements, , Democrats Denice DiCarlo and Donna Szymborski weren't named as defendants, given they didn't participate in the alleged secret meetings.

The suit also alleges the township violated the Open Public Records Act by failing to fully disclose correspondence from Chintall and Cianfarini regarding township business, including the Dec. 23 letter to Traveler's. While the township did release numerous emails from the two committeemen-elect, the headers on the copy of the letter from Traveler's included in the suit indicates Trimble and Kuehnapfel got their copy from the Martin Company.

Kuehnapfel, who makes $12,252 as a part-time Gloucester County College employee and also is listed as the owner of a computer services company, has remained out of the spotlight during both suits, not attending the court hearing for his previous suit and generally leaving communication to his attorney's office.

Democratic Party leaders have disavowed any connection with Kuehnapfel, who has nonetheless been able to get Trimble's services, as well as the cooperation of Democrat-appointed former township professionals.

livelifetothefullest June 14, 2012 at 03:25 AM
the next thing this character will do is bring a lawsuit against santa clause riding around town in back of a fire engine SINCE i'll be the first to respond there will be many that follow some bad some good Ray ,Sam,Sean now is the time to stop acting like professionals and start acting like dumbazz democrats.it seems like no matter how stupid they did things no one put a lawsuit against them. THE DEMOCRATS IN THIS TOWNSHIP HAS PUT A HURTING TO THE RESIDENTS NOT ONLY POLITICALLY BUT FINANCIALLY.GOD BLESS AMERICA
Occupant June 14, 2012 at 11:08 AM
This lackey, who hides under a rock, is costing the West Deptford residents with each and every frivolous lawsuit that the Democrats initiate. Maybe its about time someone does a little research into Mr. Kuehnapfel, a college employee, possibly steering the college's computer services to his private business. Show me the bids.
Gloucester City Guy June 14, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Once again the three stooges, Cianfarini, Chintall, Kilpatrick show their blatant disrespect for the law and their ignorance and lack of understanding how government is allowed to operate. I heard about this secret meeting with professionals that took place at Westwood Golf Course (Janet & Ken Vogt) back in January and wondered how they were allowed to get away it. Just shows how unintelligent these three men really are. I guess you can add yet another lawsuit as the list continues to grow. Remind me how much the three stooges said they were saving in legal fees, every other week there's another lawsuit. Maybe they're just acting stupid so they can pay their professionals and donors more money. The same donors they said they wouldn't take contributions from in their 20 point plan.
WDNeedsHelp June 14, 2012 at 03:05 PM
Kuehnapfel is a blatent Left-Wing Liberal nut job. Google him and see what comes back..... He's nothing but a Sweeney stooge. Hey Gary, why don't you show up to the next meeting, a few of us want to take to out for some drinks and private conversation..... PS Bryan, I must disagree with the wording you use here, seems very biased. As stated previously by you regarding the first lawsuit: But while the township violated OPMA, McCaffrey said he believed it wasn’t part of a pattern of violations, or a willful or knowing violation by itself, and that no penalties or sanctions would be applied. “At best, it was clumsy,” he said. In effect, the judge hit the reset button on the process, and told the township committee they could pursue the settlement again, but would have to go about it more transparently than they did previously. “You’re going to have to have a public hearing,” McCaffrey said. “I leave it to the township where to go from there.” There, accoriding to a Judge, was no intent to break the law. Your wording speaks to the contrary....
Bryan Littel (Editor) June 14, 2012 at 03:11 PM
Whether the intent was there or not, the judge ruled the entire committee broke the law and violated the Open Public Meetings Act. There's no disputing that.
WDNeedsHelp June 14, 2012 at 03:14 PM
UMMMM correct me if I'm wrong here: "Republicans violated the law by conducting interviews as a quorum, citing as proof a Dec. 23, 2011, letter to Traveler's Insurance, as well as a meeting with at least one township professional in the lead-up to committeeman Sam Cianfarini and Mayor Ray Chintall taking office." But as of Dec 23rd 2011, Chintall and Cianfarini were regular residents and had sworn no oath of office. How then can private citizens be accused of violating an OPMA? I believe this lawsuit has over-stepped the bounds of it's intent. Again, another Sweeney attempt at sabotage here in WD in a vain attempt to hold power over it's residents. Hey Gary, I'm having a meeting in my garage this weekend to discuss removing all you Sweeney Dems from office (The GCC is included in my plans)... there, now you can't sue me as I just noticed you, spineless jellyfish.
WDNeedsHelp June 14, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Bryan, seriously....he said “At best, it was clumsy,”
Bryan Littel (Editor) June 14, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Clumsy or not, breaking the law is breaking the law.
Bryan Littel (Editor) June 14, 2012 at 03:23 PM
As reported, Trimble cited a case against Brigantine (Messick v. City of Brigantine), which involved similar circumstances.
canodit June 14, 2012 at 04:23 PM
Seems like a nerve has been struck. Don't tout that quote from McCaffrey too much, because he was right, one OPMA violation is not a pattern, but two violations is the basis of a pattern, and patterns of OPMA violations warrant investigation from the inspector general, so don't expect a slap on the wrist and a rest this time around. Now it's starting to come clear why Ogozalek had to leave Capehart, that firm wants to distance itself before its reputation is further tarnished by these clowns and their rookie lawyer. It should show everyone that these guy's dedication to the same attorney who leads them into trouble repeatedly is a bad for WD. Bryan, good job not letting these guys bully you. Anyone with a clear head can tell that you write the facts. If anyone needs proof of this, compare Bryan to the Post of the Times and you will see his facts don't diverge from the truth. I don't like it when the facts look bad for my side (which I will acknowledge is more than I like), but I still respect the factuality of what you write.
Bryan Littel (Editor) June 14, 2012 at 04:52 PM
To be fair, Ogozalek didn't have to leave Capehart, he chose to in order to form his own partnership, and said it was mostly so he could be his own boss.
Another voice June 14, 2012 at 05:06 PM
Ah, Mr. Kuenhapfel, and wasn't it your own party that would not allow the newly elected to attend closed door meetings regarding the litigation matter because THEY WERE NOT DULY SWORN IN AS OF YET? Oh, the hypocrisy! If Trimble uses the case against Brigantine as basis, then Chintall, Cianfarini, and Kilpatrick should be able to use that same case against our former regime for not letting them attend such an important and significant meeting. Just saying.
Chuckles June 14, 2012 at 06:12 PM
I feel our attorney has done a diservice to West Deptford. By not giving them the proper advice has resulted in 2 lawsuits for the town for violating the OPMA. Has Capehart left West Deptford since they did not assign another lawyer from their firm. I assume they want no part of this regime.
Another voice June 14, 2012 at 06:34 PM
You mean two politically motivated, joke lawsuits, don't you? And I am still WAY, WAY more comfortable with our newly elected committee making what amounts to procedural mistakes, than I am with what went on with our last regime and their lawyer, Angelini, and his blatant, questionable advice regarding what constitutes an employee vs. a paid consultant.
Chuckles June 14, 2012 at 06:54 PM
They are not poltically joke lawsuits when you clearly violate the law.
Bryan Littel (Editor) June 14, 2012 at 07:05 PM
Though the position's back out to bid, Capehart hasn't left. That'll get resolved after new qualifications are in and the committee takes a vote at the beginning of July.
oscar jenkins June 14, 2012 at 07:25 PM
this is an embarassment for the democratic party in this township. this guy is making a mockery of his party and don't even know it. if ti goes to court the judge is gonna being rotflhao. Sam & Ray were still residents when this so called meeting to place.this guy must have graduated from HERION HIGH. i heard through the grapevine it will no longer be WEST DEPTFORD PATCH but WEST DEPTFORD DEMOCRATIC PATCH
Another voice June 14, 2012 at 07:35 PM
I agree it's no joke to break the law. And the judge said they did, and hopefully lessons are learned. However, you will never, EVER convince me these aren't politically motivated nuisance complaints. Makes me dig in my heels that much more to give these new guys my support and see where they go. Makes me respect Cianfarini that much more as he went about fighting for change in our town without bringing the courts into it. As for this upcoming lawsuit, clearly, the actions in question now occurred BEFORE those of the previous lawsuit. And, Chuckles, can you respond at all as to my previous post regarding the hypocrisy of Mr. K and his party? (The Dems can disavow association with Mr. K until the cows come home; I ain't buyin' it).
Bryan Littel (Editor) June 14, 2012 at 07:48 PM
The Messick v. City of Brigantine decision seems to suggest otherwise, that it doesn't matter they weren't sworn members of the township committee. And I get the criticism, really, but it's hard to take you guys seriously when you only find bias when the news is bad for you guys. When the Republicans raised questions about whether the Democrats on committee ducked public notice requirements last year: http://westdeptford.patch.com/articles/residents-mulling-legal-options-after-last-minute-weekend-committee-meeting There wasn't a peep. Nor was there when I broke the story about the Democrats' fundraising ahead of last year's election, or when I wrote about the freeholders losing their OPRA suit, and on and on. Whenever the Republicans are done with their review of this lawsuit, I'll give them their chance to respond. For now, the suit's out there.
Chuckles June 14, 2012 at 08:15 PM
Sam and Ray should have learned the rules in running government prior to the taking office. Those two not knowing the laws and having an attorney giving them bad advice has put West Deptford as one of the laughing stocks of Gloucester County. And just think we have 2 more years of this circus.
Another voice June 14, 2012 at 08:31 PM
Really? Then how do you defend and explain the Freeholders on so many repeated violations of OPMA that a monitor had to be appointed? Are you saying after all of Sweeney's political experience he didn't know the laws? Maybe he should have learned them before running for office.....
J. Smith June 15, 2012 at 12:20 AM
FACT: Before they had taken office, and before the open and competitive process had even started, got together and picked the new insurance broker. Not only did they break the law, they picked the broker without any attempt to get the lowest price for the taxpayers. By the way, the new broker just donated $2000 to the Hansen campaign. FACT: The three Republicans held a "boys only" meeting at the "to be appointed" solicitor's office ( not the municipal building) where, along with their campaign manager Brandon Umba they interviewed professionals being considered for appointment. No Township personnel were present? These guys must think getting elected entitles them to disregard the law and do whatever they think is necessary. Scary!
ThomasJefferson June 15, 2012 at 02:03 AM
I wonder if Mr Umba's connection to John Runyan has anything to do.with this, and pay-to-play is at work.
yes yes yes June 15, 2012 at 02:05 AM
It's about time they do the same as the previous admin. you dems don't like it.serves you right now that the rep. are in control and it will get much better as time goes on when hansen gets elected Downfall of the democratic party is gonna end starting with the PREZ. right on down the line are we there yet
Bryan Littel (Editor) June 15, 2012 at 04:08 AM
Umba's not the campaign manager - Bob Smeltzer and Jearl Waddell run the campaigns. Umba's something of a consultant.
John Cokos June 15, 2012 at 01:54 PM
Big Govt Dem's fighting Big Govt Republicans. Like the Food Fight Scene from Animal House. Bryan, I agree with you on the point of law that Brad was correct as affirmed by the Court decision.
Wake up WD June 15, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Our new insurance team saved the township over $200,000 in fixed costs while maintaining the same benfits for all township employees. Newly hired auditors offered 34 points of reccomendation to our township due to poor management of the town by past administrations and now are looking into somer serious fraud that may have occured due to corruption and opportunity. Now this selfish and partisan puppet wants to sue members of the township for political gain? Wow these Democratic puppets are getting desperate and truly embarassing themselves.
fraudbrian June 17, 2012 at 06:04 PM
Hey Brian, how about Umba is a resident and concerned about the direction of our town and wanted to help where he could. Is telling the whole truth really that hard?
Bryan Littel (Editor) June 17, 2012 at 07:53 PM
To ignore his political connections is to keep your head buried in the sand. He's a resident, sure, but he's not just a resident.


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