Munsey Park mayor’s brother-in-law declines job

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The brother-in-law of Munsey Park Mayor Frank DeMento, who was recently appointed to a newly created village administrator position, has declined the job after the village was criticized by residents and former officials.

Daniel Breen, DeMento’s brother-in-law, who was hired in January 2016 as one of three full-time utility workers and received a promotion two weeks ago, will continue in his current role, according to a statement released by the village on Tuesday.

“The village Board of Trustees will continue its search for a well-qualified candidate, in an effort to increase efficiency within the village, decrease delays in certain village business, present an overall cost savings to the village and in general to contribute to a more user-friendly environment for the residents of the village,” the statement said.

The issue is on the agenda for the Board of Trustees meeting on Thursday.

Efforts to reach Breen were unavailing, and DeMento did not respond to an email request to comment.

The Board of Trustees voted 3-1 on May 10, with DeMento abstaining, to appoint Breen to the position.

After the decision to appoint Breen to the village administrator position came under fire, the village defended the move in a statement, saying Breen had taken on additional responsibilities beyond his job description and would help oversee administrative and on-the-ground work.

Among the duties of the village administrator are to “oversee and coordinate activities of all village departments and village employees,” “oversee enforcement of rules and regulations” and “prepare work schedules and detailed maintenance reports,” according to the resolution that created the position.

“It would seem that he thought the better of it or Frank thought it was no longer reasonable for him to pursue it,” former Mayor Harry Nicolaides said of the decision.

In an interview last week, Nicolaides said that the village couldn’t be farther from transparent, saying that since DeMento replaced him in 2013, the village has taken action without informing residents. “The scariest part is that many residents have since contacted me, and unfortunately they’re all afraid to speak up because they fear retaliation,” he said.

Nicolaides also said that he does not see why there is a need for a village administrator when the village has hardly grown over the past 30 years.

Former Mayor Sean Haggerty declined to comment until he had more information.

The village clerk-treasurer, Barbara Miller, said last week that she was not made aware of the appointment before the meeting and was “shocked” that it was not mentioned on the meeting’s agenda.

While she thinks Breen is kind and capable, Miller said she thinks the appointment was unnecessary and is concerned that he lacks the qualifications to oversee other employees. She said he has had no government experience other than his job as a utility worker for the village.

“What if I end up training him for the next couple of months, only to be replaced?” Miller said last week. “Not only can the board let me go, but under Dan Breen’s new job description, he, too, can let me go.”

Breen is currently making $42,000 a year. 

The village ethics code prohibits any village officer or employee from supervising a relative. DeMento abstained from the 3-1 vote to appoint Breen, but the village Board of Trustees has authority over his position.

Miller also said she does not think the new job was submitted to civil service authorities, which would play a role in determining the qualifications required for this type of position.

But the village’s statement said the job and Breen’s appointment “were fully vetted and are compliant with the Village Code and applicable law.”

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