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Thanks to a legal loophole, the Lakewood Board of Fire Commissioners were able to retain Ian Goldman, Esq as attorney to the Fire District despite another attorney offering to take the job for less money.

Governing bodies are required to solicit Proposals when signing big contracts with their professionals such as attorneys.

For a number of years prior to 2021, the Lakewood Fire District was served by Jay Sendzik Esq., a veteran attorney who represented many public bodies throughout the state, but devoted his practice to numerous fire districts.

After Mr. Sendzik unfortunately passed away during the pandemic in March 2021, the Lakewood Fire Commissioners published a Request for Proposals for a new attorney, and ultimately they appointed Ian Goldman Esq. at an initial rate of $145 an hour with no additional payment for extras such as copies and postage.

Mr. Goldman is a partner at the Jackson Township based Levin, Shea, Pfeffer and Goldman. He presently serves as Township Attorney to Lakehurst Borough since 2019, Labor Counsel to the Lakewood Township Municipal Utilities Authority, and Municipal Prosecutor to Lakewood Township since 2018. He was an Assistant Ocean County Prosecutor from 2006 to 2014.

In August 2021, the Board of Fire Commissioners authorized a new contract for Mr. Goldman for $155 per hour. For 2022 to date, the District has paid Mr. Goldman $46,597.42 for his legal services.

This contract expired this Thursday. As such, the Fire Commissioners solicited proposals for an attorney contract for the coming year.

The Fire District received 3 proposals for this contract, according to public records obtained by FAA News.

James Plosia and Jonathan Cohen Esq of Chester, New Jersey based Plosia Cohen LLC submitted a proposal for $165 per hour. They have represented fire districts in Jackson and Neptune.

Ian Goldman Esq submitted a proposal for $195 per hour.

George M. Morris Esq of Mount Laurel, New Jersey based Parker McCay submitted a proposal for $250 per hour plus extras such as copies and postage. Their firm currently serves the Fire Service community as Counsel to the New Jersey Firemen's Association.

Plosia Cohen LLC submitted the lowest proposal.

However, at a special meeting this past Thursday afternoon, the Fire Commissioners awarded the contract to Mr. Goldman.

Governing bodies typically award contracts to the lowest responsive bid. However, the Fire Commissioners were able to circumvent this law through a legal loophole (NJSA 40A:11-4.5 Competitive contracting proposal solicitation) which permits them to write their "methodology" for their proposal and to "evaluate all proposals only in accordance with the methodology described in the request for proposals."

The Fire Commissioners' Proposal for attorney included the following wording:

"The Board of Fire Commissioners... shall award a contract to the firm that best meets the needs and interests of the Board and the Fire District."

Using this "methodology" the Board was free to choose an attorney "that best meets the needs and interests of the Board" even though another attorney submitted a lower proposal.

The contract was awarded at the rate of $195 per hour "until further notice" which means they may also be able to circumvent the need to publish a Request for Proposals next year.

Also on Thursday, the Board awarded a contract through a non-fair and open process without competitive bid pursuant to retain Kate Sendzik Haines, Esq., of the firm of Sendzik & Sendzik, P.C., to provide professional special legal services for projects as directed by the Board for $145 per hour. This contract will be in effect until December 15, 2023, or until such time as either party gives written notice to the other of termination.

The Board also awarded a contract through a fair and open process to retain Gerwin K. Bauer, C.P.A. of the firm of Mohel, Elliot, Bauer & Gass to provide auditing services in an amount not to exceed $19,995. This contract will be in effect until December 15, 2023, or until such time as either party gives written notice to the other of termination.

The FY '22 budget appropriated $205,000 for Professional Services. The FY '23 budget is expected to be introduced next month.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ian also gets $105,000 as Lakewood Municipal Prosecutor plus likely another $40-50,000 as Counsel to the MUA.

Not bad for a Lakewood boy.