Joe DiVincenzo Cancels Clancy/Palatucci CEC Bid on Immigration Detention Facility

A highly unusual turn of events has just occurred  in the politics of Essex County, federal immigration detention plans, the commercial world of Community Education Centers (CEC),  pay-to-play activities, and suspect contracting procedures. As the Star-Ledger reported on Thursday, Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) announced it had signed a new five year, $50 million contract with Essex County that would triple the number of federal immigration detainees being held in the county jail system. The new contract was designed to give ICE access to 800 beds at the county’s Newark jail and up to 450 beds at adjacent Delaney Hall. Education and Health Centers of America (EHCA), a non-profit shell agency, subcontracts its work to for-profit CEC which owns and operates Delaney Hall. EHCA was the winner and sole bidder in an accelerated, flawed county bidding process for the 450-bed portion of the ICE agreement.

As the N.Y. Times reports, County Executive Joe DiVicenzo yesterday announced he had signed the agreement with federal authorities to house the 1,250 immigrants. However, in a surprising turn around, DiVicenzo added that the county would not accept EHCA/CEC’s bid and would put out another request for bids in the fall. Such must have been an embarrassment for Essex’s powerful County Exec. In addition, John Clancy who is the Board Chair of both CEC and EHCA and Legal Director Bill Palatucci, a close Christie confidante who works for both agencies, must have been dealt a surprising blow as CEC had already started its advertising job search to fill positions at Delaney Hall. Furthermore, PolitickerNJ recently reported CEC employees donated $6,600 to DiVincenzo in 2006, and $25,000 overall in Essex County. In the four years since, the company’s employees have donated $22,450 into Essex coffers. PolitickerNJ further reported that CEC/EHCA “has benefited from nearly $500 million in state and county contracts over the years, and has recently come under intense scrutiny – not only by lawmakers – but also by the state comptroller.”

Beyond the issue of a county using flawed bidding and granting an award to a politically connected organization which makes substantial contributions to local campaigns, is the broader concern of fair and humane treatment for immigration detainees. “Essex County has shown that profits come before human rights,” said Karina Wilkinson, a co-founder of the Middlesex County Coalition for Immigrant Rights and a frequent critic of Essex County’s detention policies. Immigration advocates have long expressed concern about ICE, the Essex County Jail and CEC detention procedures.  

Comments (5)

  1. 12mileseastofTrenton
  2. Bill Orr (Post author)

    Fall out, as reported by the Star-Ledger, now includes the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency decision to re-examine its deal with Essex County.

    Although the ICE and CEC deals are essentially a county matter, PolitickerNJ has reported  on questionable state involvement in its relationship with CEC. The state provides aid that benefits EHCA/CEC through Essex county. In the current fiscal year Essex County received $18 million with the entire sum going to EHCA/CEC for use at their Newark facilities. CEC Legal Director Palatucci and his wife both maxed out their personal contributions to Christie in his run to the front office, providing $13,600 in total between the primary and general elections.

  3. koleary

    and not the contract that was canceled.  Immigrants will still be held in Delaney Hall under an existing contract between CEC and Essex County.  

    Joe D stated in another news article that he planned to allow EHCA/CEC to benefit from the contract with ICE from now until December when they would re-issue to bid package.  In essence EHCA/CEC would be benefiting from a public contract without having had to compete for it.  

    As yet there is no admission of the fact that, unless I am missing something, it is virtually impossible to craft a competitive bid if Delaney Hall is THE facility referred to in the contract with ICE.  Delaney Hall is owned by a subsidiary of GEO and leased by CEC.  Without the agreement of CEC and potentially GEO, Essex would not be able to bring in a third party to run Delaney.

    There is an agenda item on the Essex County Freeholder meeting scheduled for tomorrow night in Irvington which refers to the IGSA between ICE and Essex County not the agreement between Essex County and EHCA/CEC.  However, it appears the two are inextricably linked at least in the short term.  A look at the bid that Essex County submitted to ICE and the agreement that Joe D just signed would likely reveal much more.

  4. kwilkinson

    Wednesday’s Essex freeholder meeting at the Irvington town hall (7pm) should be interesting.

  5. firstamend07

    How can this Clancy/Palatucci private prison company still even be allowed to bid on this project while resolution has not even occurred regarding the overcharges that State Comptroller Boxer revealed pertaining to the Corrections Dept. Halfway House contracts?

    There are still questions about the legality of the relationship between the ” non-profit” EHCA and the ” for- profit” CEC.

    It makes no sense to hire a company that may have already violated the law.      


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