PARSIPPANY – Last week, Parsippany Councilmembers Michael dePierro and Loretta Gragnani, reversing their past public statements, voted for a $425,000 payout to former police Captain James Carifi. This reversal follows not only years of voting to withhold Captain Carifi’s payout, and voting to fund the township’s wasteful lawsuits against him, but also the formation of a “Unity Ticket” with Captain Carifi’s brother, Councilman Paul Carifi, in this November election.
“Let me be clear,” Parsippany Mayor Michael Soriano stated. “I would be in full support of this resolution if it carried no risk to Parsippany taxpayers. Unfortunately, this hasty action by the Council carries millions of dollars of risk. My position has been and remains that we must fully resolve this legal saga in its entirety in the shortest possible timeframe.”
dePierro and Gragnani’s resolution does nothing to resolve the still-pending lawsuits between the township and Captain Carifi, and may in fact extend them into the coming years. Prior to Mayor Soriano’s inauguration, millions of dollars were spent litigating against Captain Carifi by the Barberio-Inglesino administration, coinciding with Paul Carifi’s run for Mayor against Mr. Barberio in 2013. This disgrace was supported by dePierro and Gragnani, and has cost Parsippany taxpayers millions in legal fees over several years.
Mayor Soriano continued, “Our administration has always sought to do the right thing, regardless of politics. That is why I called for a special Council meeting on August 27th: to give the Council a chance to hear from our attorneys in person. This followed a memo to the Council regarding the legally appropriate ways to resolve these matters without damage to our taxpayers. Unfortunately, instead of stopping to consider the consequences of their reversal, dePierro and Gragnani were no-shows.”
The people of Parsippany deserve to know the fiscal danger their Councilmembers have put them in with this vote. The Council should vote to release legal counsel’s memo to the public this Tuesday, as well as personally accept responsibility for putting Parsippany’s fiscal health in jeopardy.
Despite the example set during the Barberio-Inglesino administration, taxpayers’ money should never be used to press politically-motivated lawsuits against rivals. Municipalities have attorneys in large part to advise elected officials on the legality of their actions. dePierro and Gragnani’s failure to heed legal advice could be their most expensive mistake yet.
Taxpayers should be in disbelief that this Council would risk leaving the township on the hook for millions more dollars, a direct result of dePierro and Gragnani’s years-long support of this wasteful litigation and their suspiciously-timed rejection of legal advice in voting for this payout. Apparently, this is the cost of “Unity” to Parsippany taxpayers.