Byram residents deserve real answers

True story:  The people who planned the Final Solution -- the mass murder in cold blood of 6 million human beings -- were not ghouls or trolls or monsters. They were well-educated lawyers and senior bureaucrats who came up with the plan to hunt down, enslave, murder, and then incinerate millions of men, women, and children who were no different than any of us.  Their justifications for doing so employed an exquisite legalese.  They used the law as a cover for their actions and a legalese to obscure the very meaning of words.  For instance, to "evacuate" someone was to murder him or her.


The clip above was taken from the film "Conspiracy" which should be required viewing for every high school in America.  The film closely follows the characters and details from the Wannsee Conference at which the so-called Final Solution was drawn up.


All this came to mind when we read in the New Jersey Herald this exchange between Byram Township Attorney Tom Collins and citizen-activist Harvey Roseff, a taxpaying resident of Byram.  Kudos to reporter Joe Carlson:


Last week, the Byram division of PBA Local 138 — the union that represents Byram Police officers — sent a postcard to Byram residents saying the union believed Sabatini would not approve a move to the State Health Benefits insurance package because he would lose compensation that he received because he didn’t get his health insurance through the township, thus creating a conflict of interest.


Township Attorney Tom Collins, of the Morristown law firm Vogel, Chait, Collins and Schneider, said in a statement that there was no conflict of interest in the matter.


“As township attorney, I am confirming that Mr. Sabatini, the Byram manager, has no conflict of interest, in any way, in connection with the police contract arbitration and negotiations,” the statement read by Oscovitch said. “Mr. Sabatini, as township manager, has successfully, effectively, reasonably and ethically carried out the policies of the mayor and council and Township of Byram in all respects relating to the arbitration and negotiations. I have advised you that Mr. Sabatini may and should continue to work on these matters on behalf of Byram Township.”


Byram resident Harvey Roseff, questioned how there couldn’t be any conflict.

“There are two different choices to be made,” Roseff said. “One of those choices affects Mr. Sabatini’s compensation.”


Collins responded that the negotiations are part of his role.


“The role is not in conflict. He is an employee and a manager,” Collins said. “He serves at the will of the Township Council. It is standard operating procedure.”


Roseff also said that he believed the township’s health benefits consultant, Frank Covelli, also has a conflict of interest.


“Mr. Covelli acted as the salesman, sold the health plan and got a commission on that,” Roseff said. “He (is) also the administrator of same plan and gets compensated for that. Both of those go away if the township goes to the State Health Benefits plan.”


Collins, who said he teaches law classes regarding ethics and conflicts of interest, said he didn’t see that as a conflict of interest either.


“I am satisfied they are not in any position for a conflict of interest,” Collins said.


Where is the Township Attorney's argument?  Instead of making a logical argument, he points to his credentials and says "it is ethical because I say it is ethical."  Now who gave you the power to play god?


How many times have we seen cocksure grab-ass attorneys tell us to "take it from me" and use their "credentials" as a means of blowing so much smoke up the taxpayers' collective arse.  Only later do we find out who they really are. 


Lawyers have to really screw up to get disciplinary action against them, but that hasn't stopped the list of those disciplined in New Jersey to grow to 574 pages (that's 6 to 8 lawyers a page).  Most of these lawyers get to practice again even after being disciplined.  Heck, even getting convicted for child porn doesn't get you disbarred.  Neither does selling drugs or serving time in prison for corruption.


So don't be fooled by someone who reads you his credentials instead of answering your questions.  Just as a doctor goes to medical school to learn how to defeat diseases, it is just as possible that a lawyer approaches ethics in the same way.  There are plenty of examples.