Letter to the Editor: Former OEM Coordinator Speaks Out About Being Terminated

After being let go by Mayor DePaola on Nov. 7, former OEM Coordinator Paul Malool gives his side of the story following his termination.

The following is a letter from Paul Malool, former OEM Coordinator for the township of Scotch Plains.

As reported in this newspaper, as well as others, I was “relieved of my duties” as the Scotch Plains Emergency Management Coordinator last Wednesday, the day after Election Day. Not coincidentally, I was removed by Mary DePaola, who lost the election for Mayor by an historic margin. DePaola cited “poor performance during and after the storm” as her reason to remove me from the position I have held for almost twelve years.

What she neglected to say is that it was her performance that was poor, before, during and after the storm.  During my tenure in this position, I have prepared for, and responded to, 4 hurricanes, numerous extreme weather events including excessive heat, snow, nor’easters, and flooding, all without one complaint from anyone.

The difference between this storm and those events was that I had the full cooperation of the sitting Township Manager and Mayor each time. This time, however, they were nowhere to be seen.

The Township Manager, who lives an hour away, could not get into town many days, and the Mayor did not attend all the meetings, or answer phone calls or texts.

These two people are essential in a disaster, because they are the designated “Public Information Officers,” – the people responsible for communicating to the public and the press - as noted in the emergency plans that I have prepared every year which have been approved by the New Jersey State Office of Emergency Management.

I informed the Township Manager of this role on the pre-disaster meeting on the Friday before the storm, which was attended by neither the Mayor nor the Police Chief. I then informed the Mayor of this when I met with her to sign the emergency declaration.

In fact, this is why I continually sent updates to the Mayor so she could include them in her updates to the public. In addition, it is the mayor’s responsibility to interface with PSE&G. Each mayor should have the cell phone number of the regional representative for their town.

As an emergency planner for the past twenty years for the state and federal government,( including State Police and FEMA) and as one of only 1100 worldwide emergency managers certified by the International Association of Emergency Managers, I am confident that my preparation, response, remediation and recovery skills are unmatched.

During this storm, I set up a command post at the Southside Firehouse because it had a full generator and so that I would be able to respond to fire calls, because I am also a Battalion Chief in our volunteer fire department.

If the manager or mayor needed to charge their cell phones so they could communicate better, perhaps they should have come to the command post.

I set up a shelter, acquired a generator (one that I have made requests to purchase for the last five years), set up a warming station, distributed MREs, organized the acquisition, storage and cooking of approximately 200 pounds of food for our senior citizens without power, while participating in numerous conference calls and meetings with the county and state OEMs.

While the mayor is entitled to appoint the emergency management coordinator, she is not entitled to rewrite history. A true leader takes responsibility for their actions – or inaction as the case may be.

Michael Lewis November 15, 2012 at 01:17 AM
Just a small question / observation because I many not remember this correctly. At some point in discussions relating to the potential merger of the two police departments was it not proposed that Fanwood Chief Trigo head up the merged entity and the SP Chief take on a role similar to that he is taking on now pending his retirement down the road? If my memory serves, it is an interesting side note to this broader discussion.
Holden MaGroin November 15, 2012 at 03:09 AM
I'm Holden MaGroin and this is for Sean. I thought you were honoring me with a title. Imagine my disappointment when I saw that Tbh didn't mean The Honorable and Benevolent. But that's ok. I don't understand why you do not miss our exchanges. I thought you would like an exchange of opinions. Of course you are not able to say the mayor did everything right. Quite the opposite is true. I understand the need to try to spread the blame. I was looking for our exchange when you were defending the urinating UC encroachers but couldn't find it. So I clicked on your name to short cut my search. My oh my, I missed all your comments congratulating Marty, questioning Glover, trashing Dems, etc. etc. I'm glad you found me refreshing, with the power back on a shower will do wonders. I am confused though. You say me saying how I loathe the old regime was the only relevant part of my comment. Like that paints me strictly as a Dem. Yet you come on here postulating on sharing the blame like your some neutral arbiter. I expressed why I loathe, such as the cronyism of questionably qualified appointments, rudeness to citizens, using religious bigotry to stifle questions, etc, etc. Can you help me with your objections to change or defense of the offensives vie mentioned? ( and by the way documented with links along the way)
NAD November 15, 2012 at 03:36 PM
Holden, It is great to see you back! I have an extra skip in my step because of it.
Holden MaGroin November 15, 2012 at 07:48 PM
I'm Holden MaGroin and this is for NAD. Why thank you. As stated above, the MaGroins made it safely through the storm, hunkering down in the Hind's bunker. Herbie had a generator and his FIOS was working so I was able to follow all the details from Westfield and Fanwood. I even visited the library to stay informed. Since some do not appreciate my frivolity, I thought it best to remain strictly a reader during the dark period of the last couple of weeks. Besides, there were plenty of comments that were able to capture what I was thinking and they were written better than I am capable of. Plus, seeing what happened to the OEM, and guessing I'm probably non-grata with the ousted regime, it is most likely best I keep my political comments to a minimum until Glover screws something up or DePaola fires someone else prior to January.
Just a fan November 18, 2012 at 02:33 AM
Let's give a shout out to the Rock Em' Sock Em' Radiers! Did anyone witness what I saw today?


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