MAZEL TOV! LIPA KLEIN AWARDED $75,000 SHUTTLE BUS LIASION POSITION

The Lakewood Development Corporation (LDC) today awarded a contract to Community Advocacy Resources and Education Services (C.A.R.E.S.) to assume a new, paid position of Shuttle Bus Liasion.


C.A.R.E.S. is a New Jersey Non-profit corporation which was founded last July by Lakewood residents Tovia Lipa Klein and Aharon Tahover, and Toms River resident Yisrael David Rosenberg.


For the past few years, Lakewood Township has been operating buses to shuttle members of the Hassidic Belz and Satmar communities from their neighborhoods in South Lakewood to CHEMED and other businesses in Downtown Lakewood.


The buses are operated in-house by Lakewood's Department of Public Works, and their office staff was originally set up to provide phone support to community members who need information on the bus routes.


Lipa Klein, a well-known Askan (community activist) in the Hassidic Belz community in South Lakewood, is well known for lobbying for these busses. Since the buses have begun running, Lipa has become the "go-to guy" to call with any questions or comments regarding the buses, and Lipa has unofficially served as liasion to the Township regarding the buses.


Lipa was instrumental in bringing Governor Phil Murphy to Belz during his campaign visit to Lakewood, and during his presentation to the governor, he highlighted the importance of public transportation in Lakewood.


As previously reported here on FAA News (https://www.faanews.com/2022/05/lakewood-township-to-hire-separate.html), several months ago Lipa requested a modest salary from the Township for his services, in a new position of Shuttle Bus Liasion, separate from the Department of Public Works.


Lipa submitted a request to the LDC to use $75,000 of UEZ funds (a sales tax supported grant which they administer) for his official Shuttle Bus Liasion position. Of this money, $55,000 would be used for his salary and taxes, $15,000 would be used for spending on public relations marketing for the buses and $5,000 would be available for him to spend on a phone and computer.


At the LDC meeting in March, Board Member Rabbi Moshe Zev Weissberg presented the proposal to the LDC. Board Member Albert Isaac Akerman, who also serves on the Township Committee, questioned why there is a need for a separate Shuttle Bus Liasion when the Township should already be covering the needs for this service through Public Works. Board Chairman Abe Mueller also questioned why the LDC is being asked to spend so much money on such a position. Board Member Rabbi Moshe Zev Weissberg responded that he "doesn't know the answer, but that since this proposal came to his desk he does want to go forward with it."


Legally, spending this amount of money requires the Township to offer the position in an open bid known as a Request for Proposals. The LDC agreed to tentatively spend this money, and they published a Request for Proposals for a Shuttle Bus Liasion.


The Request for Proposals seeked as follows:


LAKEWOOD SHUTTLE BUSING LIAISON

A. Planning and organizing Shuttle schedule, routes and timing of the buses. 

B. Assessing route efficiencies, and modifying routes, stops and hours.

C. Assessing route efficiencies for holiday periods.

D. Shuttle schedule publicity: Responsible to provide schedule accessibility to the 

Lakewood community such as recording messages on the Shuttle hotline, etc.

E. Communal feedback: communicate with the community members regarding 

system upgrades, such as routes, hours, lost and found on buses, sanitization during 

pandemic, music choices on buses, carriages, masks etc. and directing comments

 and concerns to the Township.

F. Corresponding with business owners and high traffic offices that need additional 

shuttle services. 

G. Relaying comments and concerns of the Public Works director and/or managers 

and/or drivers to the community members. 

H. Holidays: Coordinate with the Public Works director, managers and drivers to 

arrange holiday schedules on New Year’s Day, MLK’s Birthday, Lincoln’s 

Birthday, President’s Day, Good Friday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, 

Labor Day, Columbus Day, Election Day, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, 

Day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, Schools off.

I. Changes in Shuttle busing schedule: Broadcasting to the community via multiple 

media channels of changes in schedule due to holidays, bus repairs or an emergency change in schedule due to driver calling in sick or accident, snow storms etc. 

J. Hold meetings and keep township committee members, manager, Public Works 

employees/drivers abreast of important current events regarding the Lakewood 

Shuttle Service.

K. Bus tracking: Adding live bus tracking capabilities.


At the LDC meetings in March, Lipa said that he provided to the LDC members his phone call log from the past year. He claimed that he received "over 1,200 phone calls monthly" from community members regarding the buses.


At the LDC meetings in April, Committeeman and LDC Member Albert Akerman confirmed that he received Lipa's email with the call logs and he said will forward it to LDC Executive Director David Klein to forward it to the rest of the LDC members.


As previously reported here on FAA News (https://www.faanews.com/2022/08/ldc-busted-trying-to-hide-call-logs.html), LDC Executive Director David Klein tried very hard to hide the "call logs" from being released to the public, possibly because for a really good reason as the "call logs" do not include the phone numbers, only the amount of calls and total duration of all calls per day.


Lipa writes in his email to Mr. Akerman that he received 1,213 "unique number call-ins" from November 2, 2021 until March 2, 2022. This would average over 300 unique number call-ins per month - however it is not possible to substantite this claim as the call logs as submitted do not prove this.


The call logs do not even prove that all of these calls were related to the shuttle buses, they could have been any personal phone calls.


Several weeks ago, the LDC held a special meeting to adopt a resolution creating the Shuttle Bus Liasion position.


Today, the LDC formally awarded the one-year contract, from October 1, 2022 through September 31, 2023, to C.A.R.E.S.


In Lipa's original request for money, he indicated that $55,000 would be used for his salary and taxes, $15,000 would be used for spending on public relations marketing for the buses and $5,000 would be available for him to spend on a phone and computer. Today's contract was awarded in full directly to C.A.R.E.S., which is a non-profit corporation. A member of the public asked how payroll taxes will work vis-a-vis this award going to a non-profit corporation. The LDC responded that "the funds will go in full directly to the non-profit corporation and they will be responsible for paying payroll taxes".


This contract was awarded pursuant to a State law which requires the Lakewood Township Committee to also adopt a resolution authorizing use of UEZ funds for this project. This item will be placed on the agenda for the Committee's next meeting later this month.


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4 comments:

  1. This is false. No David Klein did not "try very hard to hide call logs". He was able to obtain them through his IT department and did provide them to "Shloimy Weiss" if indeed that is his real name, I highly suspect that it's a false alias, anyway Mr Weiss did receive the call logs, in fact someone else with the exact same OPRA request who made the same request to the township committee, received the exact same call logs. So nothing was hidden, in fact there's no logical reason why someone would want to hide that information because it's just call logs.

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    1. A little hot under the collar there, and way too much of being overly defensive.
      I don't believe that the actual call logs were provided upon request. The only information that was eventually provided (after having first effectively denied the request) just gave the amount of calls that were supposedly somehow related to the proposed shuttle liasion position.
      The bottom line is that Mr. Klein's response was unjustified, and I hope that in the future the Lakewood Development Corporation will operate fully in accordance with the State's transparency laws.

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    2. Regardless of the name submitted, OPRA's may be submitted anonymously, so the focus need not be on the name of the requestor, but rather on the response of the OPRA custodian.

      David Klein originally effectively denied the request, claiming that he was "not in possession of the documents".

      At the same time, the Township Clerk had no issue at all providing the requested records.

      Then, after feeling the heat, and being shown the proof that he does indeed have the records, David Klein "got the IT Department" to "find the records".

      Sorry, zero points for the LDC here. Remember, David Klein's salary is taxpayer funded! We deserve better.

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  2. LDC awards bus liaison contract for Belz & Satmar communities of S Lakewood at $75k a year. Currently the seniors of Lakewood living in adult communities many who can not drive do not have any transportation or shuttle buses taking them to doctors or shopping areas

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