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Covering Hamilton and Robbinsville townships in-depth for The Trentonian. I can be reached at (609) 989-7800 ext. 207 or (609) 468-6962. Email me at or follow me @awisefool.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Township wary on working with firm in pay-to-play violations case

HAMILTON — The engineering firm at the center of a pay-to-play violations case might not get any more work with Hamilton township after its latest contract got voted down by council.

The vote came after debate by several members of council over whether it was in the best interest of the township to save $10,000 or to not offer work to a firm allegedly involved in illegal activity. Council voted down the contract with a 2-2 vote.

After the vote came down, new Mayor Kelly Yaede said she shared some of the same concerns as the members of council who voted down the contract with Birdsall Services Group.

“I don’t see anything on the horizon with Birdsall,” she said. “I’m uncomfortable proceeding to work with Birdsall until I receive further information about the case.”

Newly reinstated business administrator John Ricci said the township would work with the second bidder, Malcolm Pirnie, to see if it might offer a lower price to the township for the next council meeting, Dec. 18.

The contract, which is to analyze for potential needed repairs to the RBC building in the township’s Water and Pollution Control complex, is for $8,200. The other bid, from Malcolm Pirnie, came in at more than $18,000.

A call to Birdsall for comment was not immediately returned.

Council President Kevin Meara and Councilman Ed Gore voted against the measure, which prevented it from passing. Meara said he wanted to find out more information about the case before supporting further work with Birdsall.

“I think the story is still to be written on Birdsall. I don’t think we have all of the complete information,” he said. “But we have enough that my confidence has been shaken.”

Councilman Dennis Pone said, while he voted for the contract, he did consider the firm’s situation problematic.

“You’ve got a significantly lower price, but its with a company with some egg on its face. It was tough, it was one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever made, but in the end I’m beholden to the taxpayer,” he said. “I think it’s prudent to put them aside for now unless for some reason they have the only specialty on it.”

You can read the full story here.


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