Newly Elected School Board Members Disapprove Retainment of "Ritacco Era" Professionals

Ben Giovine, Loreen Torrone and Alex Pavliv vote against approvals of contracts for "Ritacco Era" professionals and question transparency of Toms River Board of Education.

The Toms River Regional Schools board voted Thomas Monahan to another year of service as the board attorney, a measure that passed 5-4.

Monahan, who has served as board attorney for more than 20 years, is of the firm Gilmour and Monahan. His and other professional contracts were up for vote last night, though three members of the board said the voting process was disappointing on several levels.

At its , the board voted to retain many of the same professionals used in previous years. Three board members voted almost across the board against the returning professional contracts, and decried the executive sesssion discussion and late-night vote without agenda notice as one lacking transparency for the public.

Ben Giovine, Loreen Torrone and Alex Pavliv, newly sworn board members, voted against the retainment of the professionals at the Toms River Board of Education public meeting Tuesday evening.

The board met in public session at 7:30 p.m. after an executive meeting, and returned at 11:15 p.m. after their second executive session of the night to vote on contracts of board appointed professionals, among other policies.

Approval of the award of professional service contracts over $17,500 for public appointment was presented, the first being attorneys Gilmore and Monahan at $165 per hour. Giovine, Pavliv, and Torrone voted against Monahan's contract. Vice President John Reuther voted against the approval as well, saying it was a tough decision to make.

"Being on the board for two years, I think, without a doubt, this is the most difficult vote [I've made] thus far," Reuther said. "In these past two years, Mr. Monahan has always been very cordial to me and very respectful anytime I have any questions and I have no reason to believe during the two years that I've known [Mr. Monahan] that he has ever done anything other than what was in the best interest of the Toms RIver regional schools. That being said, at this time, it would be appropriate to go in a different direction for board attorney. So my vote is no."

Pavliv, Giovine and Torrone campaigned as the "Clean Slate" team in the April 27 school board election, promising to vote no on reappointing professionals they feel represented the hand-picked, long-time professionals put in place during Michael Ritacco's time as superintendent. the same day he was arrested on federal charges of bribery and tax evasion.

The professional contracts last night were voted upon individually. They each passed with a majority of the nine-member board vote.

Pavliv and Torrone voted against the approval of labor attorneys Kenney Gross Kovats and Parton at $140 per hour. Additionally, Giovine, Pavliv, and Torrone voted against the approval of auditor Holman and Frenia at a $73,000 contract.

Pavliv and Torrone voted against the approval of insurance brokers Conner Strong, Bob Regulski and AJ Gallagher and against the approval of Integrity Health, along with Giovine. 

The approval of a workers compensation program including attorney R.C. Shea at $145 an hour with his annual fee to not exceed $90,000 was opposed by Torrone, and Pavliv, who is against self insurance program.

"It's well known where I stand on self-insurance, and I vote no," Pavliv said. He's said previously the district should investigate other avenues, on grounds it would be a cost-saving measure for the school system.

After the meeting, Torrone said she was not only displeased with the selection of professional contracts but with the voting process. Torrone said there needs to be , for the taxpayers and the school board. 

"In the past, I was on the board, and it was not transparent," Torrone said.

For example, Giovine and Torrone mentioned that on the executive agenda the approval of contracts on Tuesday evening was known but was not conveyed on the public agenda. Torrone questioned if that was a violation of the Sunshine Law, which requires advance public notice, but Monahan stated that it was not.

The board has to give notice of the meeting and what they plan on discussing but that with the number of issues discussed during the executive sessions is always unknown due to time constraints, according to Monahan.

"You advise the public that is here that you're going into an executive session and you come out and you vote on what those things are," Monahan said. According to Monahan, the time constraints of executive sessions always effect the number of issues available to discuss. 

Out of the approximately hundred attendees in the audience for the public session, less than a dozen stayed and waited for the board to return after its executive session behind closed doors to discuss the contract. The board returned from executive session at 11:15 p.m.

George M. Lobman June 23, 2011 at 11:53 AM
I believe that good should be rewarded and bad should be punished. The associated contracts have never been questioned as far as I know as having done anything wrong or taken a position that left the Township or schools in an unethical position. If Mr. Manahan accused to have done something wrong then by all means move in another direction. To the best of my understanding the recommended change is simply to move to other companies because Michael Ritacco may have or did do something wrong. It is comparable to fireing every member of all schools staff because they worked with Michael over 30 years. The learning curve in dismissing contracts and bringing in new players simply for the look of it is not taking into consideration the financial responsibility for the operation of the Boards. Everyone is entitled to be innocent and unless the facts prove them guilty.
Martin June 23, 2011 at 12:17 PM
Newly APPOINTED...? When were those new members appointed? I thought they were ELECTED by the public in spring. They won a mandate for change, including replacement of Ritacco's cronies who stood idly by for years, while he pillaged tax dollars. Let's put the next set of 3 board members in our sights for replacement at the next election. "If they support Ritacco, they must go!" Then we'll have 6 board members who will truly represent the best interests of Toms River.
Martin June 23, 2011 at 12:26 PM
Nothing on the agenda about this, and then the board "returned at 11:15 p.m. after their second executive session of the night to vote on contracts of board appointed professionals." Something's fishy. The contracts were awarded without public bidding, virtually in a backroom deal. I'm sure many others would come forth with excellent credentials to do that work for the board. Even if there's no proof that those insurance agents and lawyers were in cahoots with Ritacco for years (what did they know and when did they first know it?) -- you seriously can't claim that there are no other firms in NJ qualified to fill those roles. It's time for a breath of fresh air and sunshine on the board.
Catherine Galioto (Editor) June 23, 2011 at 12:49 PM
Thanks, it now says elected.
Uglykid825 June 23, 2011 at 01:57 PM
Team Ritacco still pulling the strings in TR And King GEORGE is still calling ALL the shots When OH WHEN will US Attorney Fishan come to Toms River with cuffs and shackles for all. Gilmore & Co. have done enough damage to this town. Kellaher and Mastrnardy are Team Gilmore's PUPPETS...nothing more, nothing less Our police chief sits by and laughs as Crime has gone up in our town by over 50% in 5 years....as per the FBI and NJSP reports. Our mayor who's #1 priority is making sure his drug dealing grandson's criminal charges get washed out is also part of the problem, not to mention the ward #5 council IDIOT Maruca who is much better suited selling tomato pies to bennies than destroying the Silverton section of TR... WE MUST RID OURSELVES OF THIS CORRUPT LEADERSHIP BEFORE OUR TOWN BECOMES 'LAKEWOOD SOUTH' or 'TUCKERTON NORTH'
Uglykid825 June 23, 2011 at 02:14 PM
So RC SHEA who ALL knows is taking the school system to the cleaners keeps his contract??? So the engineer who designed Mike Ritacco Jr's home for FREE thanks to daddy Ritacco keeps his contract also??? What a crock WE DEMAND TO SEE THE BIDS FOR THIS WORK/ CONTRACTS OPRA sound familiar Looks like a call to USA FISHMAN IS IN ORDER
Catherine Galioto (Editor) June 23, 2011 at 02:20 PM
Just a note for civility and that comments with personal attacks, obscenity or potentially libelous statements are automatically flagged and deleted.
Barry Fleckmann June 23, 2011 at 03:48 PM
YAY!!! Having served a year on a Toms River municipal government board, myself (Rent Leveling Board) , I can appreciate what these newcomers went through. "Lack of transparency?" YES!!! Look, Toms River doesn't have a newspaper, anymore (sadly, we lost The Ocean County Observer). We lost our own television news show, too (Adelphia 8). Everything is IN the dark, now. Back-room deals. Pressure from attorneys (and law firms) to just get the deal done. When you're a junior member of a local government board, you feel like a marionette (I hope I spelled that right!). Good job by these newcomers. Stand your ground!! Don't allow yourself to be pushed around. "The Ritacco Era" officially ended when the FBI came to his door with a subpoena for his arrest. "Boss" Tweed is dead in Toms River, now!! YAY!!
George M. Lobman June 23, 2011 at 05:30 PM
Another example of extremest political bull! If someone has done wrong prosecute. If this person had any complaint that was meaningful the law would have chased down the people who did it and they would face the same music. Its just not believable that that accusations made such as this are important to the normal people out there. When one needs to call names and get involved with this degree of poisen then everyone should understand that it is just politics. Mostly Liberal puke that needs to wake up so that the majority in the middle can once again negotiate meaningful legislation and management without the hate-rid of the past. Uglykid 825 probably thinks that all republicans are responsible for the plague as well. What a sorry state of affairs!
George M. Lobman June 23, 2011 at 05:38 PM
Anyone who attacks the child of someone because of mindless political affiliation is an idiot! The knowledge of what Mike did or didn't do would never have been given to his wife or daughter. Only someone with a very narrow mind attacks like this. Its just not right!!
George M. Lobman June 23, 2011 at 05:40 PM
The deletion is not good enough! a hope that someone understand who this is and can send a nice friendly HUNGRY lawyer around with a libel suit!
George M. Lobman June 23, 2011 at 05:46 PM
Whatever is said about Mike Ritacco can be agreed to in concept yet not proven! His family should be left alone. If people want change that's fine just not in the sake of calling names and making accusations that are not real out there.
Spock's Brain June 23, 2011 at 05:55 PM
Mr. Lobman, While Mr. Monahan was the Toms River School Board Attorney, he was also Ritacco's personal attorney, doing legal work for Ritacco's real estate dealings. While this may not be illegal, it is clearly unethical. This is the type of thing that gets attorneys disbarred. Mr. Monahan should be held responsible for this bad behavior and should be held accountable for his lack of integrity. A scathing article was written in the APP about Board Engineer Pravin Patel, who did basically the same thing. He was working as the Board Engineer while also doing Engineering work for Ritacco's construction company. These are the type of things that Giovine, Pavliv, and Torrone were elected to stop, and I for one and happy to see that they are doing the right thing.
john c June 23, 2011 at 06:00 PM
The "new era" boe members had the room stacked with Democrats and daddy Giovine was leading the way. It's clear that something is rotton and the smell is coming from the new blood. The 3 newbies put out this press release to draw attention to themselves. People of TR you made a big mistake electing these 3 attention seakers. By the way Ben if you're going to play with the adults learn to stop rolling your eyes and making child like facial expressions during the meeting.
ZeroHedge June 23, 2011 at 06:20 PM
Patience Ugly Grasshopper
Uglykid825 June 23, 2011 at 06:23 PM
The federal Indictment DID NOT LIE I am and have been a Republican for years... Just because I am not a fan of Gilmore and his partner and their attempt to ROB the taxpayers of MILLIONS of dollars on the Camp Ground Scam does not mean I am a Demo-Crapic Supporter. As for Kellaher: the story about is grandson's big Pot and Coke Bust in SOuth TOms River and his statement to the STR PD ," My Grandfather is the Mayor." is on the web.... Do some research on these low life thieves...you might give yourself an education. All my statements are fully backed up by the FEDERAL INDICTMENT of Ritacco... that 40 page document available on the US Attorney's web site which was published about 10 months ago....
Uglykid825 June 23, 2011 at 06:25 PM
The only new era in our town can only come after the US ATTORNEY hauls off ALL the TRASH to the FED PEN..... Any police department can put a gang behind bars.....It will take the US Attorney to put the OAK AVE GANG where they belong..... Since everyone here knows more than me, please explain why Nesta retired SO quick... He was making over 150K a year as the resource officer at Cedar Grove Elem. Things that make you go HUMMMMMMMMM...
john c June 23, 2011 at 06:32 PM
It's obvious that Bob Haelig has come out of hiding and is now pulling the strings on the 3 new members. Stacking the audience with supporters who all have the "perfect" question and linger around until after executive session just to make a point has Haeligs name all over it. God help TR if this is a sign of what's to come.
Gemma June 23, 2011 at 06:40 PM
Wait a second...didn't these 3 run on the platform of change? They neglected to tell the voters that the only change would be 3 complainers on the BOE. The nit picking and whining is clearly a show to distract from the fact that they don't have a clue what they are doing. Come on Lorreen is it really necessary to yell "NO" when you vote? If they honestly want to make a positive change then why not learn to work together instead of trying to spilt the BOE. NOTHING will get accomplished if they keep acting like spoiled kids.
ChromeDreams June 23, 2011 at 08:55 PM
Pravin Patel is now the FORMER Board Engineer, he was not re-appointed at the meeting, and and the "Clean Slate" team trying to claim that Holman and Frenia are Ritacco era professionals is absolutely incorrect. They were brought in several months AFTER Ritacco resigned, to replace C & G. Just setting the record straight...
Greg June 23, 2011 at 09:52 PM
I happened to be one of the people who stayed after the executive session the other night. I am NOT a Democrat or a Republican and I have NEVER been a member of either party and I NEVER will be. Plus, I have NO IDEA who this Haelig person is. So please get your facts straight before you start to lump everyone into the same group.
Martin June 23, 2011 at 10:53 PM
"The 3 newbies put out this press release to draw attention to themselves." Wrong! TR Patch wrote it (and APP wrote similarly) because it's NEWS. It's newsworthy that the old guard simply rubber-stamped the Ritacco cronies' no-bid contracts -- at 11:15 PM -- after the back-room meeting.
TRWatch June 24, 2011 at 12:20 AM
Haelig is the guy Ritacco will propably see in his nightmares for the rest of his life, most of which is going to be spent in jail. I was standing next to Freeholder Bartlett and George Gilmore the night Jack Kelly lost the Republican primary for congress. Freeholder Bartlett on Haelig, "George, you don't ever want to piss somebody off who knows where all the bones are buried."
Mr. ? June 24, 2011 at 01:17 AM
HEY JOHN C., SOUND FAMILIAR?.....OR IS IT BEENAROUNDTR... HE THINKS AND SOUNDS JUST LIKE YOU! AND SO WHAT IS YOUR REAL NAME? I CAN ONLY IMAGINE! beenaroundtr APP. com wrote: " I was at the meeting and it was obvious that the 3 new members had the room stacked with their supporters and daddy Giovine was leader of the pack. These 3 aren't going to get much done if they keep complaining about nonsense. Loreen needs to learn how to check her email so she can stop pretending no one told her about a meeting. Benny boy needs to learn how to act like an adult, the eye rolling was so 7th grade. Pavliv just likes to hear himself talk and has a big dark cloud over his head. These 3 will be the demise of TRRS. Their motto is "It's all about us".
George M. Lobman June 24, 2011 at 03:30 PM
What a waste of hot air! this is the reason that nothing gets done. Petty back fighting without a common intent. Pure political hurtles that always are raised up high enough to make the opponent jump beyond his or her capacity. If we don't slow down and work together the future will always be with an evil intent.
John C-beenaround June 24, 2011 at 09:30 PM
Wow Mr. ? Nothing gets past you! Yup beenaroundtr is me. Did you think I went into hiding? Just giving the facts as I see them. I was also at the "meet the candidates" for our 3 newbees, how about you? By the way...what's your name? Whatever it is I'm sure your one of the old time stir the pot people. It's time the 3 new people step up and do what the professed to want...make a positive change. So far I'm not impressed. Time will tell.
Mr. ? June 26, 2011 at 03:18 AM
Hey John C-B, Nope I don't stir the pot, I help make the stew/soup or whatever you like. My name is Mr. ?. And, "your just giving the facts as you see them" ? Your kidding right? The only fact is that until more BOE members are turned over, the out come will be the same. Six to three, except for what ever reason Ruether has for his vote. The lockstepers are tripping over themselves to continue the rationale that has started their downfall as the voters will continue to remove them from office. Even if Ritacco is not found guilty, in the eyes of the public he will always be, along with the incumbent BOE, at least ethically. You know, nepotism and cronyism and patronage and...... I am most amazed at your comment "It's time the 3 new people step up and do what the professed to want...make a positive change. I need you to give the answer to that question...how?. I don't think you can.
Mr. ? June 26, 2011 at 03:44 AM
Mr. Lobman, sorry, but the "common intent" is for the "good ole boys and gals club" to continue business as usual, while only the few stand up and try to make a difference. Maybe politics as usual on their side, but much of what is occurring in the TR district has been cooking for a long time! There is nothing "common" there to work together with, only difference protecting money, jobs and power while we lowly taxpayers just keep paying. We listen for a call "we must rebuild the trust" and "we will be transparent" while the public doesn't even know what goes on the executive session after public portion. Nothing ever on the agenda and look what the items where at that last BOE meeting. Not very transparent if you ask me because "they never know how much time they will have" ?? That is what Monahan said, right? Hey JCB, there you go! positive change by the new BOErs!...at least for the public!!!!!!!!


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