Job Applicants Can No Longer List Current Governing Body Members & Employees As References

At the October 5th Mayor & Council meeting, resolution 281-17 addressed an issue that arose during the vote for the latest hiring at the Department of Public Works (DPW) at a September municipal meeting.

Citing “high ethical standards for the practices, procedures, and actions taken by the Borough make for better governance, and garner improved public trust”, the governing body formally prohibited “the use of sitting governing body members, Borough Department Heads, and other Borough employees current at the time of application, as references on applications for employment with the Borough of Roselle Park.”

The citation was derived from both the New Jersey Local Government Ethics Law (NJSA 40A: 9-22.1) and the New Jersey Conflicts of Interest Law which were included in the resolution.

Third Ward Councilman William Fahoury, at the September 7th meeting, had concerns over an applicant using Second Ward Councilman Joseph Petrosky and Fourth Ward Councilman Michael Connelly as references on his application, both of whom were on the hiring committee.

“I feel that that sets a bad precedent that you have two councilmen that also vote . . . on the committee, stated Councilman Fahoury then, “It shows the perception that why bother having an interview process if they already have two of the three references are to councilmembers?”

The third ward councilman wanted to clarify that his issue was with the process, not the applicant since, ultimately, that resolution was approved unanimously by council that night.

Councilwoman-At-Large Charlene Storey, on October 7th, added that she had a question about the checking of references during the review process, “The story of how this came up started me thinking. The fact that Councilman Petrosky mentioned that he had not even been aware that he was used as a reference . . . until he saw it at the meeting. Now, this was the meeting where, I believe, everyone was presented with the finalists to vote on.”

“That’s incorrect,” stated Councilman Petrosky, clarifying, “When we had the interview, Councilman Fahoury, Councilman Connelly and myself, that’s when I’d seen my name.”

“What I’m really getting at is at what point are references checked?”, asked Councilwoman Storey.

“Well, I can’t speak for the other two but I checked them all that day,” responded Councilman Petrosky.

The councilwoman asked if he had called the people who were listed as references. Councilman Petrosky replied that DPW Superintendent Mark Pasquali made those phone calls but added, “I checked them myself.”

Councilwoman Storey asked, “Are people being called up and saying do you know this guy?”

“I don’t know.”

The councilwoman concluded, “Perhaps we can get an answer to that later because I think that having once been in a situation being employed at a place where somebody was hired and references were not checked and it turned out to be quite a disaster, I’m kind of a nut on checking reference and I think that it just makes common sense anyway. Why are we asking if we’re not checking? That was really my only question.”

The resolution, which amended the borough employment application under ‘References’ was unanimously approved by council. The added notice is as follows:

The Borough of Roselle Park will not accept current members of the governing body, Borough Department Heads, or other Borough employees as references for employment. Should this application include these individuals it may disqualify you from consideration.

A copy of the new application is available below:

Download Borough Employment Application