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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Gang czar paid despite lack of contract

Gang consultant Barry Colicelli has continued to receive compensation from the City of Trenton in the form of a $7,583 payment, usage of a city car, city cellphone, and a city office, despite not having a contract in place since his last deal expired in mid-December, Chief of Staff Renee Haynes said Tuesday at a City Council meeting.

It is customary for city consultants to continue to receive compensation not approved by City Council as they transition out of the city's services, said Ms. Haynes, whose signature was seen on a Colicelli city payment voucher circulating the meeting, dated Jan. 31.

She also said that without retaining Mr. Colicelli, the city would lose out on all of the information and pending grant moneys that Mr. Colicelli had gathered during his three years with the city.

West Ward Councilwoman Annette Lartigue told the administration to immediately stop all payments to Mr. Colicelli, and end his usage of city amenities.

Both councilmen Gino Melone and Manny Segura - who had voted no on the contract last week - pointed to the statements of the administration about the ending of services and disrupted programs as evidence of a contract without accountability or permanency.

"Barry knows it and no one else," said Mr. Melone sarcastically. "So I guess he did it without training or prepping anyone to take over."

Councilman Paul Pintella said it was a frequent practice in the city for government contractors to continue receiving payments out of the pockets of taxpayers after the end of their contract had lapsed, saying their job didn't "just end with the lapse of the contract."

Payment vouchers signed by Ms. Hayes for Mr. Colicelli revealed that while the chief of staff had signed off on the voucher, it was not signed by the city's comptroller, and it did not contain an itemized breakdown of Mr. Colicelli's time.

Instead it took the form of all of the rest of Mr. Colicelli's payment vouchers, with an ambiguous listing of activities and a lump sum attached, signed off by Ms. Haynes, Mr. Colicelli, but not by the city's comptroller.

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