Mediations of public records request called off
Saying that confidential e-mail exchanges were improperly disclosed to the press regarding mediation between the city and Cherie La Pelusa over requests for public records, John Steward of Government Records Council has suspended the mediation process.
La Pelusa filed a complain with the GRC earlier this year claiming the city had failed to provide her with information that she requested through the Open Public Records Act.
“Ms. La Pelusa violated the confidentiality provision by delivering to a news source answers I provided to questions she asked about the GRC’s mediations and adjudication processes,” Steward’s letter to the city said. “Some of the questions asked and answers were generic regarding OPRA and operations of the GRC; others were specific to the complaint which was in mediation at the time.”
The story published on March 28 in the Bayonne Community News was largely based on an email exchange between La Pelusa and Steward after the city failed to acknowledge that the complaint had been filed.
Steward’s responses were quoted from an ongoing email exchange with La Pelusa over two month period. Much of the information came from the complaint itself. In one instance, a portion of the complaint was mis-attributed to Steward. In another instance, a quote expressing a negative opinion about the city operation was attributed to him, when it was actually a quote from La Pelusa.
“The GRC mediates; it does not investigate,” Steward said during a phone interview, disputing a claim made by La Pelusa, noting that the disclosure of the emails made it impossible for him to mediate the situation.
According to La Pelusa and her attorney, they were not informed that there was a confidential agreement in place.
During this process, city attorney Charles D’Amico denied several times that there was such a complaint filed – even though apparently Steward had been in contact with his office about the matter.
City officials, however, said La Pelusa files regular requests for information from the city.
“These requests are so broad we don’t have the manpower to handle them,” said Public Safety Director Jason O’Donnell. “They are just too broad. We’ve suggested that she narrow the requests. We have nothing to hide. It’s just that she comes in here three times a week, and we can’t handle all that she’s asking for.”
Roofer injured in fall
A worker reportedly fell from the roof of a local building, a distance of approximately 30 feet, and was barely conscious when firefighters arrived at the scene on May 17 just prior to noon.
Firefighters responded to a call at an address on Newman Avenue on report of an injured worker. The firefighters were forced to cut a fence in the area where the victim had fallen in order to dodge construction materials and gain access to the patient. EMS and firefighters worked to provide medical assistance, and the 30-year-old injured worker was transported by ambulance to Jersey City Medical Center for further treatment.
“It was reported that General Construction and Velecela Construction were working at the newly constructed building at the time of the incident,” said Fire Chief Greg Rogers. The Bayonne Police, Bayonne Building Dept., and Occupational Safety and Health Administration were also called to the scene. The worker was later reported in stable condition.
Mary Richardson Kennedy had Bayonne/Hoboken roots
The estranged wife of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who allegedly hung herself on May 16 in the barn behind her home, was from Bayonne originally, and was raised in Bayonne and Hoboken before becoming the wife of RFK Jr.
Mary Kennedy was the daughter of a popular teacher.
“Her mother, Nancy, taught English in Bayonne High School for many years, she was also a member of the city’s environmental Commission for a few years. She was a wonderful woman, very bright and intelligent,” said Dr. Joe Ryan of the mayor’s office.
Mary married RFK Jr., a prominent environmental activist in 1994. The couple split up in 2010 and reports suggest that she was devastated by the breakup.
She was found dead by a housekeeper on Wednesday in the barn behind her New Bedford home, according to news reports.
O’Donnell honored for heart test law
In recognition for its ability to save the lives of newborn infants, the Pulse Oximetry Law, sponsored by Assemblyman Jason O’Donnell, was highlighted at two events earlier this month, one held by the New Jersey chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics “Second Annual New Jersey Children’s Ball, Spotlight on Children” and the Northern N.J. American Heart Association’s “Affair of the Heart Ball: Funding Research, Finding Answers, Saving Lives.”
AAP/NJ selected O’Donnell as a Children’s Advocate of the Year, as the driving force behind the introduction and passage of the first-in-the-nation pulse oximetry law mandating screening on all newborns. AHA/NNJ is honoring the assemblyman with special recognition for the importance of the pulse oximetry law and his leadership in bringing it to fruition. The assemblyman made the following statement:
“I am delighted that both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association chose to recognize the accomplishments the Pulse Oximetry Law has brought about for children and families throughout our state. We know of at least two families whose newborns’ lives have been saved by this screening, and there may be countless others.”
The law, which took effect last September, requires that hospitals screen newborn infants for certain heart defects as part of the usual tests required before infants are released.
A baby born in Sussex County in October was determined as a result of this test to need immediate surgery and was rushed to Columbia University Medical Center to correct an abnormality. The baby otherwise looked fine and would not have been diagnosed in the hospital if the test hadn’t caught the problem.
O’Donnell introduced the legislation almost immediately after taking office last year based on the personal experience he had with his own child when a doctor suggested that an additional test be taken as a safeguard. Had the doctor not taken the extra step to check on the heart problem, O’Donnell’s son would have died.
“By embracing pulse oximetry, the AAP, the AHA and the entire healthcare community within New Jersey has raised the bar for a newborn standard of care that should be expected throughout the nation. The knowledge that my bill has affected parents and newborns nation-wide is gratifying,” O’Donnell said. “Let’s be clear – the success of the pulse ox law is not my victory to claim, nor is it New Jersey’s. Rather, this is a victory for every child born with a congenital heart defect, and for every parent of these children. The AAP and the AHA deserve tremendous recognition and praise for having been a part of pulse oximetry implementation not only in our state, but also for advancements nationwide. Thanks to the continued work of these two organizations, New Jersey newborns will receive the best standard of care we can provide them.”
County to commemorate Memorial Day May 24
Hudson County’s annual observance of Memorial Day will take place May 24 at 11 a.m. at the county veterans’ plot in Holy Name Cemetery, 823 West Side Ave., Jersey City. Attendees will include veterans’ organizations and their color guards from around the county; and the participation of ROTC students from both McNair Academy and Lincoln High Schools.
A special tribute will be paid to Army Specialist Rafael A. Nieves Jr., who was killed recently while in action in the Paktika Province of Afghanistan. The 22-year-old army specialist, who grew up in Jersey City and Bayonne, was just two weeks short of completing his first tour of duty and returning home to his wife and two children, when his patrol came under attack. He served as a member of the Lincoln High School ROTC Corps of Cadets and took part in past Hudson County Memorial Day Observances.
Hudson County Surrogate Donald DeLeo will serve as the program’s Master of Ceremonies. It is sponsored by County Executive Tom DeGise and the Board of Chosen Freeholders.