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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.

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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