West Deptford Re-Org: Hansen, Maher in; Campo, Sprigman out

As the snow fell outside, committee Republicans were hard at work changing up key positions in local government.

Republican Committeeman Jeff Hansen is sworn in at the West Deptford township committee meeting. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.
Republican Committeeman Jeff Hansen is sworn in at the West Deptford township committee meeting. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

Not even a gubernatorial decree of statewide emergency would forestall the instatement of the Republican supermajority in West Deptford municipal government. 

Under the eye of retired Judge Richard E. Hickey, whose arrival was delayed by the weather, and following an invocation from Reverend Joseph T. Szolack of the Infant Jesus Parish of Deptford, the committee swore in its two newest members, Republicans Jeff Hansen and Jerry Maher.

The heavy snowfall outside the building mirrored the avalanche of political appointments that occurred indoors, as the party went right to work at the committee reorganization.

Republican Mayor Ray Chintall retained his position by a 4-1 vote, with Democrat Denice DiCarlo the lone dissenter. Hansen was named Deputy Mayor by the same vote.

Committeeman Sam Cianfarini will continue to chair the township finance and administration committee; Chintall will chair the department of public works, and DiCarlo will chair the utilities committee. 

Maher and Hansen will oversee the public safety and buildings and grounds committees, respectively.

'A change in direction'

But after the swearing-in ceremonies were completed, all-too-familiar refrains of partisan politics echoed in the township courtroom.

“I really think we need to lose some of the labels and work together to move West Deptford forward,” Hansen said in his first address to the public. 

“We have a lot of work, things to do," he said. "It’s not going to go quickly, but we have to work very hard.”

Cianfarini spoke of “finally bringing down our tax increases and giving some relief to you, the rightful owners of this community.

“I look forward to the complexion of this new committee to accelerate these progresses forward in the new year,” he said.

But DiCarlo chafed at the rhetoric as an empty gesture, claiming that she once again had not been given an advance copy of the meeting agenda, and was left to download it from the township website. 

In her opening remarks, the Democratic committeewoman said that she could not support the vote for Chintall to retain his mayorship when he told her of the Republicans' plans to replace township administrator Eric Campo with Brandon Umba—Maher and Hansen’s Republican campaign manager.

“We face a very stressed budget, a dwindling surplus, a failing infrastructure,” DiCarlo said.

“Probably the biggest problem I’ve seen in the past two years is the failing redevelopment,” she said, which would fall to Umba, as administrator, to revitalize.

Chintall said that Campo's replacement was necessary because “there’s a change in the direction of what the four of us want to go in this town,” Chintall said.

Fired for 'speaking his mind'

DiCarlo countered that the move was merely done to silence Campo, who had been an erstwhile critic of the Republican financial plans for the township.

“I think it’s an extremely dangerous road to head down when the cause for termination is someone who speaks his mind,” she said. 

Moreover, DiCarlo said, she didn’t see the need to remove Campo from his post immediately, which would result in the financially strapped township eating the cost of his salary for another 90 days.

“You have someone who’s qualified and you’re just going to pay him a lump sum,” DiCarlo said. 

DiCarlo then asked the committee to explain why Umba was qualified to serve in this new role; Chintall replied that he didn't have a copy of Umba's resume on hand.

“For me, Denice, it’s trust,” Cianfarini replied, to a smattering of laughter from one half of the room.

“For a township of this size and complexity, to fill this important position with somebody who doesn’t have the credentials, to my mind it’s mind-boggling, and it’s a slap in the face to these West Deptford residents,” DiCarlo said. 

She then listed off the titles held by municipal administrators in Mantua, Paulsboro, Woodbury, and Washington Township, among them MBAs, MPAs, and prior-serving township administrators—qualifications that, she said, Umba lacks.

“We are one of the more complex townships in Gloucester County and this is the movement we’re going to make tonight?” DiCarlo asked.

She moved to table the discussion, but couldn’t find a second. 

Campo was removed by a 4-1 vote, and Umba was named acting township administrator.

Question of qualifications

DiCarlo spoke up again when Cianfarini moved to name Umba the township executive director of redevelopment as well, a position she said New Jersey law requires to be held by an appointee with a four-year degree and at least five years of public service experience.

She asked whether Umba had those qualifications, and whether Cianfarini had been aware of the statute before making his nomination; he said he had not.

“Any motion that the committee’s not comfortable making, table it, and I will get the full research into it,” said Solicitor Anthony Ogozalek, and the discussion was tabled.

The flurry of decisions continued with the removal of full-time CFO Brenda Sprigman—a Republican appointee who in only eight months had become a political scapegoat after the fallout of the 2013 municipal budget—in favor of William Pine, the current CFO of Woolwich Township, who will hold the office on a part-time basis.

Her fellow committee members seemed unperturbed when DiCarlo pointed out that Woolwich does not maintain a general ledger, which has long been a point of contention when Committee Republicans complained of the condition of West Deptford municipal finances.

DiCarlo was similarly overruled when the Republican supermajority rolled through the re-appointments of township auditors Holman & Frenia and redevelopment attorney Mark Cimino.

The auditors, DiCarlo pointed out, were “the only ones to bid” on the job, and had “made a significant error” in filing township finances.

“This firm has crossed the line multiple times between auditors and helpers,” DiCarlo said. “I think we should go out to bid again.”

Cimino, she said, had cost the township $125,000 for a “worthless” legal opinion in the recently resolved Fulton Bank lawsuit.

“A year ago Mr. Cimino assured all of us that the township had a good chance to reverse the judge’s decision,” DiCarlo said. “I reviewed the appellate court’s decision and they said that his argument lacks sufficient merit.

“The biggest misconception is that Mr. Cimino tried the case and lost,” she said. “The judge was basically saying you don’t have a case. I think we’re lucky that we didn’t get hit with a frivolous lawsuit.”

Cimino, like many other appointments on Thursday, was approved by a 4-1 vote.

topsyturvy January 03, 2014 at 03:24 PM
That was what, 25 years ago? The township has grown significantly since that time and the job of administrator is a lot more challenging since Jerry started.
topsyturvy January 03, 2014 at 03:26 PM
And why are we relying in Denice to fill our solicitor in on the law? How about we start researching these issues before the meetings.
William Libby January 03, 2014 at 03:48 PM
Special shout out to Gerry Maher and Jeff Hansen who said they where their own men at the debate. Maher even said he answered to no one but his wife. Think he forgot to say...and Sam. You had every opportunity to lose the "puppet" label but only reinforced it. Seriously guys? When it was pointed out Umba hadn't produced a resume or had even one qualification you never blinked. When it was pointed out the new CFO had significant audit findings against him in Woolwich and didn't maintain a general ledger (one of Sam's top issues with WD) you blindly followed along like lap dogs when you had every opportunity to at least question or table the issue. When it was stated the auditors had made a significant error what did you do? The logical thing of course and voted yes! And the culmination of the night was when the Committeewoman asked who put the budget numbers together that you were being asked to vote on and no one could answer. That was probably a good time to open your mouths and ask a question even though you had a gag order on. Well done at your first meeting and congrats for missing a golden opportunity. Based on that showing I'm sure much more of the same will follow. I thought it would take a few meetings before you started breaking your hollow campaign promises but I misjudged you.
Joe Holovachuk January 03, 2014 at 03:50 PM
Yes the town has grown and we don't need a non taxpayer who lives in his parents basement to run west deptford. This is a total disgrace. To replace an attorney with a non experienced person will show what the republicans are all about. In November these games will end with the demise of Sam and Ray
zeke carey January 03, 2014 at 05:52 PM
all these disgruntled whiners on here. nothing like a good chuckle. Wayne 2 things you'll never be. 1. employee of the month 2. nobel peace prize winner. however your comedic replys on here will gain you laughing stock of the township. nothing like putting a new meaning of let's see how we can payback what the democrats did to this township the past so many years. Loving every minute of it. as far as next year that's what the dems hoped that would be the last 2 years. Face it people the majority of the residents voted for who they believe will run this town efficiently.
canodit January 03, 2014 at 06:01 PM
Shouldn't an administrator of an entire township have at least like a tiny bit of managerial experience? This Umba kid wasn't even any good at supervising 6 and 7 year old kids at Summer Rec, what makes anyone think he'll be capable of supervising the entire township? Interesting thing about Woolwich, their audits didn't need any corrective actions before their current CFO took over, now they can't keep their ledger straight anymore, and lucky us, we just hired the same guy to do more complicated work in fewer hours per week here in WD. And also, what's with those 90 day appointments? Are Sam and the GOP hoping to get rid of some more people in 90 days? Distasteful. Shaking my head.
Walter Frockmorton January 03, 2014 at 09:23 PM
Yes Joe, the town has grown. Along with the debt to the tune of $160 million. The experience you talk about Joe is from being in office under one party rule for too long. Please remind us Joe, who they appointed (fresh out of college) as the assistant director of Riverwinds. A position that is no longer in existence. Care to fill in the blanks Joe? I'm not a fan of the appointments either, but I am going to at least wait until I become an expert critic. I notice that all of the screamers on here are on the public dole with skin in the game.
Harry Knowles January 03, 2014 at 10:47 PM
Wow lots of action, I missed it. Please, someone look back at 1985 tell me the size of the town, the level of debt and the age of the then appointed twp admin me white. Also look at his qualifications for administrator and let's compare. Guys, you list the election, move on. If the voters think the town is moving in the wrong direction, they will change...... There is no more bsing of the voters they know now. Joe H., don't you live in Florida now ??????
Pete Mitchell January 04, 2014 at 08:44 AM
The democrats have screwed this town for years. That idiot Greg Let had to plow Anna's driveway for years.. What about Twp employees stealing gas under whose watch did this happen !!
Gary Kuehnapfel January 04, 2014 at 09:06 AM
To Harry Knowles: You know when Obama ran in 2012, he didn't keep bringing up G. Bush. You keep bringing up the dem.'s of the past. There not there any more. You guys are! This will be your 3rd year of power and your group has not moved the needle one inch toward solving our debt problem. You keep saying give us time! Well you have had time and the only thing you have done is add to our debt with unnecessary fees and useless cuts. The only thing you have accomplished is degrade our services & programs.
Dar January 04, 2014 at 09:34 AM
Sam leaving cannot come soon enough..it's my way or the highway.. No room at all for others opinions or compromise.. Typical politician.. We need new blood. People who want to do what is right for the Twp and screw the party bosses.. Maybe I'll run as an Independent.
David Sileo January 04, 2014 at 10:17 AM
Maybe not a bad idea but if I'm not mistaken you have to file with the Board of Election under a real name.
Jeff Jefferson January 04, 2014 at 10:50 AM
And herein lies the problem with party politics. Look at the "defense" posts of these appointments. Nothing but "well they did this in this year...." comments. It's beyond pathetic and it's the exact opposite of what Sam and Ray campaigned on three years ago. Many residents were indeed sick and tired of the Docimo rule and the blatant political hackery at work in the township and they trusted Ray and Sam to change the game and do the right thing. For all those defending Sam and Ray I keep missing your posts that counter the basic arguments against these decision, which is a lack of experience and/or competency. Please stop living in the past and simply admit that the these guys are no better then their predecessors and be just as outraged about it. If you're a decent human being this should not be accepted by anyone. The politics of retribution is a deadly, dangerous game that none of us win, regardless of party affiliation. Grown ups shouldn't have to be reminded of this fact.
Wayne Klotz January 04, 2014 at 12:08 PM
Well, I see we have a new guy named Pete Mitchell. You are not related to Dennis are you, Pete? If I remember, Jeff Hansen & Jerry Maher stated when they ran, that they were independent thinkers. Well, did we ALL GET FOOLED!! If that's true, guys, you would not have voted for Umba. In fact we all know who pulls your puppet strings on the Township Committee! Very easy to tell!!
canodit January 04, 2014 at 01:56 PM
Hey, so, angry republicans, just a little FYI: Jerry White was an HR Manager at the county for like 6 years before being hired as WD administrator in 1985. He had several years of Public Sector Managerial Experience. Experience that Mr. Umba lacks entirely. Your analogy has been rendered invalid. See ya later. Thanks for playing. Goodbye.
WD Politics January 04, 2014 at 02:55 PM
I, for one, am very very disappointed. I'm an independent but supported Ray and Sam because I believed them. I donated to their campaign, attended their events and even told everyone I could to vote for them. I believed them when they said they were different. Wow, do I feel like a idiot. I would have more respect for them if they just came out and said... "the democratic party is abusing twsp funds, gave lifetime benefits to the mayor, and ran us 140 million in debt. They're really bad but we'll be just as bad too. We'll give contracts to party supporters and jobs to party members regardless of their qualifications, just like the dems did. At least we'll tell you to your face when we abuse your tax dollars" But they didn't say that. They said, we will put people BEFORE politics! What a joke. They are everything bad that the democratic party was for the last 20 years. They're no different. They just have a different political party emblem on their door. And this whole argument of look what the dems did... well... look what the people did to the dems... WE VOTED THEM OUT! Sam and Ray were supposed to be different. But they're not and we should do the same to them that we did the Dems when they abused their power... VOTE THEM OUT! Eventually, if we keep voting out all the crooked politicians, someone will run and actually put the people first. The way it should be!
Dar January 04, 2014 at 05:21 PM
WD pol..well spoken.. Could not have said it any better
Joe Holovachuk January 04, 2014 at 06:22 PM
Yes I do Harry Knowles ,or ever you or but I still have friends and family in West Deptford and my a lot of my heart still bleeds Green. These people have sold people a bill of goods. And these people have no clue how to run a government. By the end of this year they will ruin this town. Also show the guts to write your real name
zeke carey January 04, 2014 at 06:29 PM
Seems to be quite a few disgruntled democrats on here. You people bitch and moan but do you throw your name in the hat to seek a seat on the committee. The answer is No. Every day we are getting shoved up the butt by the most stupidest President this country has ever had. It's a joy to sit back and read these idiotic comments that don't mean a plug nickel one way or another. the only ones that complain are the same ones on here day in and day out.some use 2,3 or more ficticious names to get their point across. Now for some good info. Heather Simmons will be stepping down from the freeloader spot and Dicarlo will take her place. heard Simmons has difficulties. there will be some post eliminated in the next 90 days. Brandon Umba will not be the permanent administrator.
WD Politics January 05, 2014 at 06:45 AM
I love how having an opinion means your a disgruntled democrat. I'm an independent and for die-hard party goers on either side, thats something you just can't understand. That someone who expects politicians to keep their word and not abuse their power sounds like a crazy person. Or maybe you need to discredit an independent view and label it as something else because that somehow makes your party's political abuse ok. Its really sad. You should be just as upset as the taxpayers are. The republicans built a campaign on calling out all the bad things the democrats did wrong to this town and the people responded and voted them in. To now turn around and be just as crooked requires the same result. Is it so wrong to want our politicians to do whats right for the town and not whats right for their party? These tax dollars are ours. And if they are going to abuse them then they need to be called out. And if it continues then they need to be replaced. Whats wrong with that? Whats wrong with wanting to live in a town where our tax dollars are handled honestly and properly. Where people are hired based on their qualifications and not on their political affiliation. Where the goal isn't to figure out ways to use our tax dollars to advance their political party but for the betterment of the people. I have a dream! lol.... ok need to get off my stump but you get the point. As far as replacing our twsp admin... I was all for that. He was definitely part of the bad politics that infected our town and needed to go. But to replace him with a political party member makes them as bad as the dems. They had a couple months to find a qualified candidate. They had a real opportunity to bring someone in who was qualified. They had an opportunity to do something really good for our town but they chose to go the political route. Just as they did with the CFO. Unfortunately, this mistake was too big. Unfortunately, this mistake probably cost them their re-election.
WD Politics January 05, 2014 at 09:17 AM
Just so we're clear... naming the Campaign Finance Manager as the Town CFO and the Campaign Manager as the Township Administrator is "Reorganization". Sounds a lot like Obama saying "increasing taxes" is "Raising Revenue". And because we are speaking out about the corruption, that means we're upset because... first we are disgruntled democrats, then we weren't consulted by the mayor. What's next... We weren't loved as children??? haha Gotta love politics!
zeke carey January 05, 2014 at 09:21 AM
WD,Our taxdollars have been abused for quite sometime. Give the present majority a chance at least 20 years of chance like the previous regime. you suggested a more qualified individual for twnsh admin. you would still bitch if the person had several degrees in business and town management and was rep. did the democrats hire a person not affiliated with their party.NO there is still freedom of choice in this country and if you are in a shell that does not like whats going on maybe you ought to think about packing up and move to a more serene town that catwers to your every whim. you can see that people wanted change when they voted Sean in,then Ray & Sam now Hansen & Maher.you'd be surprised how many democrats voted for Jeff & Jerry.
WD Politics January 05, 2014 at 09:34 AM
Zeke, so because they were abused for 20 years that means a prerequisite was set that is allowing them to continue to abused? I don't understand your logic? And as far as being upset with naming a party goer to a post is not the issue... the issue is with how it was done... where was the open bid process? Was an effort even made to find the most qualified person or was it to find the most qualified person in the republican party. You don't understand why people get upset by all of this but yet everyone that runs says.... "we're independent thinkers". Its a joke. If you are a die-hard party person, then be a die-hard party person and run on that. And again with what the dems did! They did this and the dems did that... of course they did... and now they are sitting at home because of it. You just don't get that WD has changed. People are more aware of whats going on and defending their corrupt actions doesn't help ray or sam. It hurts them and the party.
WD Politics January 05, 2014 at 10:32 AM
Occupant, glad we are on the same page that people are aware but I disagree with why. I don't think it has to do with the meetings being more open but because of the wdtruth campaign. The wdtruth campaign opened everyone's eyes to what was going on in our town. The lifetime benefits, the corruption and the arrogance of the committee. The problem with making everyone more aware is that it comes with a double edged sword. When people become more aware they continue to watch what's going on. Which is what everyone is seeing now. But again with what the dems did... the dems were crooks. Everyone agrees with that. That's not a defense for whats going on now. And just because it doesn't take an einstein to perform the job of twsp administrator doesn't mean we shouldn't find the best candidate. If I remember correctly, I think thats a 100k job. We should be able to find a overly qualified person for that. Maybe we can turn it into a position that does require an einstein rather than just pay someone 100k to sit at a desk. Or... lets reduce the pay to 50k and put the other 50k back in the taxpayer's pockets. I like that idea even better! :)
zeke carey January 05, 2014 at 12:26 PM
WD Fyi that position that umba is filling in for is paying less than 50k.go to the municipal bldg. and which you have a right to do and ask to see the salary.OPRA. his position is a temporary one which will be filled in 90 days. They are looking for a more qualified person,however it is not a degreeable vacancy. now tell me why haven't you voiced your opiion on here prior to now. if you want to solve all your inquiries why don't you run this year on the independent circuit or step up to the mic and billow your comments to the committee. bellyaching on here is worth the time you let your fingers do the typing.
zeke carey January 05, 2014 at 12:29 PM
this township has grown into a great community throughout the years.my family was born and raised in WD along with the originals like Deharts Rainbows,Hweritages,Moores <greenfields ect all the oldtimers that built this township.politics have and will be the ruination of this country and communities.
R Nichols January 05, 2014 at 03:07 PM
Excellent comments, 'wd politics'. Hopefully more 'independent' thinkers/voters are paying attention now & will do more to hold our elected officials accountable for their actions.
Wayne Klotz January 05, 2014 at 03:52 PM
Zeke; why are you even involved in this when you don't live in this town, sir!! Occupant; Listen to what we are trying to tell you! Hansen&Maher said that they are independent thinkers. I think you know what I mean when I say that is a big story that I'm still laughing about. Maybe you and Zeke can clue us in on what an independent thinker is; when you do, please give your results to Jeff& Jerry!!!
WD Politics January 05, 2014 at 06:22 PM
Zeke, if you're so unhappy why dont you pack up and move to a more serene blog that will cater to your every whim. Lol
zeke carey January 05, 2014 at 06:59 PM
WD where did you ever get the idea that I'm unhappy. I think you better direct that comment to your constiguents on here. I was blessed that my family started a business in the township over 80 years ago and is still going strong,with another in the development stage for Haddonfield nj. WD your hibernation for the past 20 years leaves something to ponder. evidently you must be another alias not using your real name. I figure after I post this you'll have a response within minutes as you are poised and ready for the rebuttal. A computer junkie perhaps. AND THE HITS JUST KEEP ON COMING.


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