Sayegh takes hundreds of dollars in contributions from developers | Paterson Times

Sayegh takes hundreds of dollars in contributions from developers


Andre Sayegh, city council president, took hundreds of dollars in campaign contributions from companies that had pending business before the city council.

During more than one occasion, Sayegh, who is running for mayor, voted on resolutions after accepting contributions from developers.

In September, Sayegh accepted a contribution of $1,250 from Michael Leighton, lawyer for the Great Falls Urban Renewal Preservation Limited Partnership, company that operates the Essex and Phoenix Mills housing complexes in the city.

During the following months Leighton repeatedly visited council meetings to secure a development and tax abatement agreement from the council.

In November, Sayegh voted in favor of granting the aforementioned firm a PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) 20-year tax abatement and a $4.5 million redevelopment deal – both pieces were inside the same resolution.

In November, Sayegh received a $300 contribution from Yassin Aburomi, owner of the 1010 South Paterson Plaza, a company that has a development project under construction at the intersection of Main and Pacific Streets.

In that month Sayegh voted to vacate that portion of land to allow for the development to take place. Subsequently, Sayegh and the entire council voted to accelerate the effects of the vacating resolution.

The council president said Aburomi is a good friend who has been contributing to his campaign for a long time. Indeed, Aburomi’s company made a previous contribution of $750 to Sayegh’s campaign.

The councilman also collected a $300 contribution from Joseph Alpert, owner of the Paterson Commons housing complex, prior to the council’s vote on a resolution associated with Alpert’s company.

Sayegh, who represents the 6th Ward, said he did not see anything wrong with having accepted contributions from companies prior to voting on resolutions connected to them. “There wasn’t any question of legality,” said Sayegh.

Voting on a redevelopment agreement after accepting a reportable campaign contribution is not exactly kosher in some municipalities and certainly not as a whole on the state level. Towns like Clifton and Passaic have passed ordinances barring such practice; however, the city has no such ordinance despite the state’s insistence.

“Every town has its own pay-to-play ordinance,” said Domenick Stampone, the city’s head lawyer, last Tuesday. “Paterson doesn’t have one.”

The city does have a strong pay-to-play ordinance for contracts, but none for developers.

In last year’s memorandum of understanding – strings that come attached with the city’s state aid – state officials dictated the city adopt a model pay-to-play ordinance that is in effect in other towns, but the city did not bother. Similarly, the state reiterated the same demand in its condition-list last week.

Sayegh said he avoids voting on contracts when the firm associated with it makes a reportable contribution to his campaign. The councilman cited a recent example from the previous regular meeting of the council when he recused himself while the council voted on a contract with Gaeta Recycling, a city based recycling firm.

During the past year, the recycling company contributed $4,150 to the councilman’s campaign, making it one of Sayegh’s biggest donors.

“I didn’t do anything wrong as far as the law is concerned,” said Sayegh.

Aburomi, the plaza’s owner, and Leighton, lawyer for the mill housing complexes, did not respond to calls seeking their comments for this story.

Correction: The original article suggested the city did not have any pay-to-play ordinance, it in fact has one of the strongest pay-to-play ordinances for contracts, but none for developers.

Related posts

  • Crazyjoe

    Funny no comments about this story… Talk about being bought..

    • http://www.facebook.com/animalabusewar Animal Abuse War

      I commented,and wonder why more people aren't.This site brings many stories others don't.you would think more people would flock here,to see stories not on other sites and to give their opinion.Paterson is so very asleep.

  • http://www.facebook.com/animalabusewar Animal Abuse War

    Towns like Clifton and Passaic have passed ordinances barring such practice; however,the city has no such ordinance despite the state’s insistence.
    That's because this city is corrupt beyond repair. That's why people say anything goes in Paterson.
    The question is, WHY IS THE STATE ALLOWING IT? Maybe our corruption is benefitting them in some way or it wouldn't be allowed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/animalabusewar Animal Abuse War

    Another issue.I read that the Zam Zam restaurant,that had no certificate of occupancy or licenses,where the fatal shooting happened several days ago,was owned by Sayeghs godfather? IF this is true,it is very disturbing that someone running for mayor,who,as a councilman closed other businesses down,because of issues,didn't ensure his own family/friends,complied with the law.
    The first thing I would do if I was going to be in the public spotlight is make sure my family and friends were adhering to the law, to show I don't favor anyone, including my family,and to avoid criticism that would jeopardize my position.
    Although I have nothing personal against sayegh,these actions and favors on his part,immediately disqualify him in terms of properly being able to be the head of anything,especially an entire city.
    choosing a mayor involves choosing a strong leader who would benefit the city, sticking to the letter of the law without and shady or questionable actions running in the background.

  • Dave Gilmore

    This situation does not pass the smell test… What's more disturbing is the individual involved doesn't see anything wrong with it,,,

  • Guest

    No wonder why when I contacted Andre Sayegh about violations being committed by Gaeta Recycling nothing got done. I left time stamped and dated letters to Andre addressing these violations on multiple occasions with pictures of violations. In the city of Paterson its the money that talks and us residents that suffer

  • Danusha Diane Goska

    Andre Sayegh how do you respond?