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Donovan Demands Gabbert's Resignation as Utility Commissioner

County executive furious the Ridgewood administrator is collecting a stipend as a member of the Northwest Bergen County Utilities Authority.

It's been a rough week for Village Manager Ken Gabbert. On Monday, Patch broke the news the council majority will call for Gabbert to resign his post on Wednesday night. Now, Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan is getting in on the action.

Donovan sent a sharply-worded letter to her former ally on Tuesday, slamming him for collecting a stipend as a part-time utility commissioner and demanding his resignation.

Last week it was revealed that in 2012. Donovan, who like Gabbert is a Republican, claims he agreed not to collect the stipend when appointed last spring.

"In doing so you have violated the trust placed in you by me, your colleages in the Northwest Mayors Association, the Village of Ridgewood and your fellow commissioners whom I appointed and who enthusiastically agreed to serve as volunteers," Donovan wrote. "Moreover, you violated the trust of the ratepayers and taxpayers of Bergen County who elected me to eliminate cronyism and abuse."

Gabbert has defended accepting the stipend, noting he's legally allowed to collect the annual $5,000 payment. A superior court judge ruled anyone appointed to the commission after his June ruling would not be eligible to collect health benefits or paid stipents. Gabbert's appointment predated the ruling.

He did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday night.

It appears unlikely Donovan can fire Gabbert. Her attempted ousting of seven NBCUA commissioners last year was overturned by the judge. 

Last Wednesday, Donovan's veto of the utility board's minutes was overrided by the freeholder board. The commissioners will continue to collect although Donovan plans on appealing the judicial ruling.

"I was elected to break up the status quo and institute an era of good government built upon a foundation of taxpayer friendly public policy," the county executive wrote in her letter to Gabbert.

"It was a government of which I thought you wanted to be a part. Why would I think otherwise when your letter requesting appointment ended with the following...'wherever you need an ally for service'? By this letter I am requesting your resignation to be tendered immediately. I wish you well in your future endeavors."

A copy of the letter has been attached to the right of this article.

Boyd A. Loving February 05, 2013 at 11:36 PM
When it rains, it pours.
delgado February 06, 2013 at 02:04 AM
The bizarre issue about this is that Donovan had no right to fire the Commissioners. She broke the law by firing the commissioners. Really broke the law, she should actually be removed from office. But instead she is appealing the court and also is now complaining about cronyism, when at the same time she just hired former Assemblywoman Vandervalk....
Alfreddie February 06, 2013 at 12:50 PM
"Gabbert has defended accepting the stipend, noting he's legally allowed to collect the annual $5,000 payment. A superior court judge ruled anyone appointed to the commission after his June ruling would not be eligible to collect health benefits or paid stipents. Gabbert's appointment predated the ruling." ...It's surprising to me that anyone would accept a few thousand dollars to knowingly put his career in jeopardy. I'm not familiar with all the facts that make it necessary for Gabbert to go and I hope everyone participating in this process did their homework, because from the reporting it seems to be another contentious mess.
jp1 February 06, 2013 at 01:20 PM
If Donovan is is the "ceo" so to speak then she should have the right to hire and fire.
Ron Knox February 06, 2013 at 02:04 PM
the ship be sinkin', folks .................
USAUSA February 06, 2013 at 02:45 PM
Donovan is a weeble wobble with a big mouth, and again spends more money fighting people in court then actually getting anything done. Gabbert is albeit a useless man is not wrong and has the law on his side unfortunately but he should tell Donovan to go stuff it like the Sheriff did!
Peter February 07, 2013 at 12:40 AM
How did this letter from Donovan to Gabbert become public? It's dated February 5th and this article is dated February 6th...and several other news sources are reporting on it as well. Sounds like political grandstanding o me.
delgado February 07, 2013 at 02:46 AM
The bigger issue Donovan is hiding is the she broke the law at the NWBCUA by illegally firing the Commissioners so she could take over the place. Also there is a screaming issue about why/how the NWBCUA appointed Bergen Party Boss Alan Marcus hand picked law firm to be NWBCUA counsel.... Donovan is going to be removed from County Exe. on what happened there.

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