December 18, 2005

2005: Union County Year in Review
Or: County countdown to disaster

County resident and former GOP candidate for freeholder, Bruce Paterson, sent us the following:

January- Citizens discovered that a county bridge was being built too low, creating a flood hazard. The project was ceased.  It turns out the freeholders hired a design firm - one that donated over $500,000 over the last few years to the freeholders' political party coffers.  A perfect example of freeholder pay-to-play at its worst.  The bridge is still not fixed.

Soonafter it was revealed that the county lost a lawsuit for hiring a crony over an eligible county employee.  The total cost was $600,000 paid for by the Union County taxpayers.  An example of patronage at its worst. 

February- The county lost another lawsuit based on hiring a crony over an eligible county employee.  This time the cost was over $250,000.  

March- The county sells two properties for $1 million. Instead of putting this money back into the open space trust fund which I feel they should, they divert it to general revenue.  It appears they want to use this to fund more of their pay-to-play and patronage schemes. 

April- Another lawsuit proceeds, initiated by a mother whose son died in the county's custody at the juvenile detention center.  The child advocate from the state reported that the county was negligent in addressing and overseeing the center.  This allowed a despondent young adult to hang himself from a damaged and exposed sprinkler pipe that was supposed to be fixed 17 months prior to his death.  The county still says they had nothing to do with it.  An example of county arrogance at its worst. 

May- Uh-oh; another big county tax increase stuck to the seniors, the hardworking families and the taxpayers.  That makes it a 50 percent increase in county taxes in five years!  Financial failure at its worst. 

June- Yet another settlement of a lawsuit by the county for hiring a crony over an eligible employee.  Cost is $150,000.  Thank God they diverted that million dollars back in March. 

July- The Star-Ledger exposes the county's subversive political efforts of trying to control local towns and agencies by putting up loyal county cronies and paying for their council campaigns.  If successful, they can then manipulate them to do their bidding by controlling their salaries. 

August- Governor Cody's brother retires from the county.  No big deal except that the freeholders made sure to pad his pension with another $30,000/year at the expense of the county taxpayers.  An example of pension padding at its worst. 

September- The Star-Ledger exposes abuse of county vehicles, which apparently forces two freeholders to give up their county cars.  It is found that a freeholder (considered a part-time position) put 30,000 miles on the car at the taxpayers expense.  An example of taxmoney abuse at it worst. 

October and November- The county is now subliminally putting out their personal political agendas by corrupting non-partisan magazines and county program press releases.  An example of subversiveness at its worst.  

Last year I stood here when 2004 raises were given out and said I saw no performance to warrant it.  This year you decided to corrupt the whole county system losing millions of taxpayers' dollars in pay-to-play, lawsuits and abuse.  You deserve no raise. And it looks like the directors obviously are just getting hush money increases for letting this happen to the taxpayers.  This is all completely despicable.

December 16, 2005

Freeholders Can, So They Do

Sometimes, some things in life are just too puzzling for the average person to comprehend, especially when it comes to the actions and attitudes of others.

We human beings tend to judge the performance of other people by the same standards that we set for ourselves even when we know that we will be disappointed. This is just human nature. Ever the optimist, I will admit that I did just that this week.

What was I Thinking??
What was I thinking when I dared to believe that at least one concerned Union County resident would show up at the Board of Chosen Freeholders meeting to ask the board not to award themselves a raise in pay.

The local newspapers, as well as the paper with the largest circulation in the New Jersey had run articles as early as last week about the planned salary increases, and letters to the editor appeared this week regarding this subject and still there was no one but the regular attendees at the meeting last evening. Just the two of us.

Also in attendance was the long-time Union County representative to the state Republican committee and a woman to voice her repeated complaint that again this year the snow and ice were not removed from a stretch of sidewalk which borders county property making it impossible for her to walk to her bus stop each morning.

Have to be There
Though there appeared to be about 20 others in attendance, this is deceiving because these people are actually reporters or county employees who are meeting participants.

"Sour Grapes"
Though I did step up and voice my dissenting opinion on the amount of the county manager’s raise and that of the freeholders as well, my opinion as a former Republican candidate for the office is most assuredly viewed merely as “sour grapes." What amazes me is that this “gang of nine” justifies this raise almost as though it were an entitlement evidenced by Angel Estrada telling a reporter that he and his colleagues deserve the raise.

I am quite sure that just about everyone who is employed feels that he deserves to be paid more money for his or her labors, but there is generally some trace of altruism when one seeks public office and holding office should not be viewed as a money making proposition.

Cadillac vs Chevy
Mr. Estrada, an employee of the NJ Division of Motor Vehicles along with six other freeholders are currently on the county medical and dental plans at an average of $12,000 a year apiece. I believe that most of us thought that the state offered its employees insurance so I am puzzled by his taking part in the plan, certainly no altruism there. (Just a note: a good medical insurance plan can be had for about $500-$600 a month or $7200 a year per person. This plan must be the Cadillac as opposed to the Chevy).

What are they doing???
While campaigning this past fall I repeatedly heard the same lament over and over from county residents regarding the out-of-control spending by county government, as well as the endless construction projects, and excessive legal fees, the basic line was “what are they doing?”

Yet the residents of Union County cannot take the time out of their busy schedules to attend a meeting and ask the question themselves, perhaps doing just that would put some pressure on these board members to take the high road and say, “in fairness to the struggling taxpayers of Union County I will not vote affirmatively to increase my compensation.” But since the residents don’t come out, the freeholders really believe that they should and they do, who can blame them.

Freeholder Scanlon made a telling comment last evening during her closing statement at this the last meeting of the 2005, when she stated that obviously the residents of Union County must approve of the good job that they are doing with the exception of the three here, referring to we Republicans.

Taking the Bucks to the Bank
So there it is folks, by not saying anything to the contrary, this all-Democratic freeholder board can take it to the bank that you are all pleased with how they are spending your money. And I guess that they are right.

December 11, 2005

Christmas Bonus for the Child-Abusing Trough Swillers

This Thursday, Dec. 15, there will be two important meetings held regarding Union County government. Please choose one to attend.

At this Thursday’s freeholder meeting the one party ruled board will be giving themselves a $1,588 pay increase which will bring their salaries to $29,500 for their part-time positions. The freeholder chairman will get an additional $2,000 and the vice chair $500. This increase will be retroactive as were the last three. Despite the county spin from thier million-dollar public misinformation department, which was reported in the Westfield Leader this week, Union County salaries are not sixth in line in the state. The Star-Ledger reported that they are fifth in line in the state. Open Public Records requests which were placed to all 21 counties this year show our nine Union County freeholders are the THIRD HIGHEST PAID IN THE STATE. Behind: Hudson (nine freeholders @$36,569); Essex (nine freeholders @ $30,884); Monmouth and Ocean County freeholders are paid $30,000 but there are only five on their boards.

Their arrogance is breathtaking. They have no sense of decency to give themselves yet another raise when a law suit has just begun which resulted from the death of a juvenile while being held in their care. Not only is the detention center going to cost $20 million more then it would have five years ago, when they refused to build a new one, but the taxpayers are facing a multi-million dollar lawsuit because of their negligence.

If that’s not enough to take your breath away let me remind you of the recent Star-Ledger article that showed freeholder Daniel Sullivan driving an SUV 30,000 miles in one year with the taxpayers also picking up the bill for his insurance and gas. Sullivan and Freeholder Debra Scanlon will now be turning in their SUVs at the end of the year as well as former Freeholder Luis Mingo.

Mingo was quietly given a $60,000 county job last Janaury after "he decided" not to run again. There were no press releases on the county website or laudatory resolutions announcing his new position "that was created for him". Just an entry that showed up on the employee payroll list.

State Senator Raymond Lesniak’s nephew, the appointed Union County manager, George Devanney, has been driving a nine-seater Chevy Suburban which is designed for heavy hauling. Devanney told the Star-Ledger that he will be turning in his vehicle for “something smaller” in the New Year. We are one of 11 counties that offer our manager a vehicle. We also give our deputy county manager a vehicle.

Haven't lost your breath yet? We have the second highest-paid upper management. Most counties do without deputy county managers. Only seven out of 21 counties have this position. It was created for Sen. Lesniak's nephew. Sen. Lesniak's nephew in one of the top three paid managers in the state at 151,471. Our deputy county manager is the highest paid at $132,500. Their combined salaries put them behind only Camden, which employs a county manager and three deputies.

At the Dec. 15 freeholder meeting there will be a public hearing in which the public can speak, for no more than five minutes, and let the freeholders know how they feel about their retroactive pay raises. I’ve been there and done that and can testify to the fact that the freeholders and county manager don’t care what the public think of them. But, don’t let me stop you from telling them off. There is some satisfaction in that.

I will be attending the Change County Government forum to be held in the Summit municipal building on the same evening, Dec.15, at 7:30 – 9:00 p.m. Essex county citizens have been studying what can be done to rein in their out of control county government. It has been long overdue for Union County to join this conversation.

Please either join me in Summit or go yell at the freeloaders and Sen. Raymond Lesniak’s nephew in Elizabeth. Enough is enough.

Contact me for directions:

Salary information of all 21 counties:

December 09, 2005

Freeholders' Performance Didn't Deserve a Pay Raise

Union County Freeholders Dan Sullivan and Deborah Scanlon appear to be a bit miffed that they have been pushed to give up their taxpayer supplied SUVs. Their Scarlet O’Hara mindset of “tomorrow is another day” appears to have kicked in and along with their trusty sidekick, County Manager George Devaney, have managed to come up with the perfect we’ll-get-even plan of corrective action.

Not wanting to be left out of the fun and since no one or two freeholders can act on their own, the rest of the “gang of nine” seem to have jumped on the bandwagon and are preparing to vote themselves and George a nice fat pay increase taking effect after Jan. 1, 2006.

Already the fifth highest paid freeholder board in the state, they will be boosting their salaries, for their part-time jobs, by 5.3 percent, and the county manager’s salary by 5 percent. Obviously all of us would love to be able to control our salaries and that of our friends and relatives; however, that is surely not the case of the average county resident. And it is highly improbable that the average resident received an increase of this size from their employer this past year, if they received a raise at all.

Freeholder Vice Chairman Al Mirabella, in a Star-Ledger article on the subject, said that they were compensating for the raising cost of living. Well, perhaps Mr. Mirabella, if you didn’t raise the county taxes almost 50 percent in the last five years you wouldn’t feel the pinch quite so much, ever think of that?

And this past summer, Freeholder Dan Sullivan appeared to be almost apologetic when talking about county-owned vehicles which some employees, including himself, were in possession of 24/7.

He said he would be turning in his tax payer-subsidized SUV supposedly because during these difficult economic times it was just not good policy to expect taxpayers to finance the use/operation/gas and insurance of vehicles for workers whose county job duties did not demand they be mobile around the clock.

What a guy! But wait! A nice raise would certainly help defray the costs of securing a vehicle of his own to commute daily to his state job in Trenton.

Freeholder Nancy Ward, reelected this past November, was asked at the freeholder debates how much a freeholder earns, she responded that she didn’t know because she had “direct deposit,” in up-speak no less.

It is a pretty good bet that she will approve an increase to her pay since she doesn’t know what the numbers are anyway, and to think that this woman participates in spending over $1 million of taxpayer funds each day. How does someone not know what they earn?

Further, County Manager George Devaney, the nephew of State Senator Ray Lesniak, should be subjected to a performance review by an independent entity before he is rewarded with a 5 percent raise to his already six-figure compensation package. One has to assume that keeping spending in check would be one of his job duties and with that in mind he has failed miserably evidenced once again by the almost 10 percent increase to the 2005 county operating budget.

Rather than deserving a raise for a job well done, this freeholder board has instead betrayed the trust that the residents have put in them.
They have:
* raised taxes an average of 10 percent a year over the last five years
* paid large monetary settlements to former employees because of mismanaged employment practices
* allowed the irresponsible misuse of county owned vehicles
* comprised the quality of life of residents along the reactivated train line
* allowed a child to die, on Mother's Day, while entrusted to the care of the County Juvenile Detention Center

All the while holding no one responsible and no one accountable - least of all themselves.

November 13, 2005

State criticizes Union County Clerk for "being disingenuous" and engaging in stalling tactics"

On July 8, 2002 the state Legislature passed the Open Public Records Act (OPRA). They also created the Government Records Council (GRC) to oversee complaints against records custodians. To this date, the GRC has not found a records custodian guilty of a “knowing and willful” violation of OPRA, which would lead to the custodian being personally fined by the agency. In lieu of fining custodians, the GRC has been placing violators on their “matrix,” which was theoretically used to track custodians who repeatedly violated the OPRA.

At their November 10, 2005 meeting the GRC announced that they will abandon use of the “matrix”. It appears that the GRC has received a legal opinion that OPRA allows one and only one punitive action: the imposition of civil penalties for custodians who knowingly and willfully violate OPRA in an unreasonable manner. The legal opinion is said to have concluded that other “penalties” such as reprimands, letters of reminders, and use of a “matrix” are disallowed because they are not authorized by the OPRA. GRC Chairman Vincent Maltese remarked that he “reluctantly concedes the point based on advice received.”

I have filed fourteen OPRA complaints against the County of Union since 2003.They where found not to have complied with OPRA four times, without rising to a “knowing and willful” violation. They have been placed on the GRC Matrix three times to date, with more complaints still pending. A fifth violation was determined this past summer, and rather than ruling directly on whether a “knowing and willful violation” had been committed, the GRC referred the case to the Office of Administrative Law (OAL).

By sending a complaint to the OAL the GRC gives an unfair advantage to the records custodian who would be represented by taxpayer-funded attorneys, while a private citizen might not afford the expense of hiring an attorney to represent them. After much research I reluctantly conceded that the task the GRC placed before me, which was basically making me a prosecutor, was all but impossible.

Also decided at the November 10 meeting in 2 cases I had before them, GRC Chairman Vincent Maltese harshly criticized Union County's custodian for "being disingenuous" and "engaging in stalling tactics" in the way in which my requests were dealt with. He also said that an accumulation of such "slight infractions" although "annoying at the very least" do not support a finding of knowing and willful misconduct in any particular case.

If engaging in stalling tactics and committing slight infractions of the law, repeatedly over the years, can’t move the GRC to take action against a custodian then what will?

Executive Director Paul Dice said that he may also prepare an advisory opinion concerning the elements that must be proven before a custodian can be subjected to monetary penalties for knowingly and willfully violating the OPRA.

Many states fine records custodians without regard to their knowledge or motive. In Florida, record custodians can be fined for any violation. In Wisconsin custodians can be fined if they violate the law arbitrarily and capriciously. In both situations the custodian’s purported belief in the legality of his or her actions is no defense.

If OPRA is ever to fulfill its promise of providing freer access to government records, the GRC must start using its power to fine violators. To do that, the council will have to specifically outline what is needed for a citizen to prove a knowing and willful violation against a records custodian. This will not only cut down on a citizen’s time and frustration but will also greatly cut down on the cases the GRC would be presented with. Knowing what I know now it is blaringly apparent that the OPRA has been broken from its inception with the GRC lacking either the will or the power to impose the fines that the legislature intended them to.

As far as prying records out of the County of Union, I can tell you that OPRA and the GRC were helpful for a short period of time. When it became quite apparent that there would be no penalty for their actions the stall and delay tactics became common practice. Especially around election time. I was also given a record with a disclaimer “there may be errors or omissions on this document” regarding an employee’s paid days off. The OPRA does not require government bodies to keep accurate records.

It is little wonder to me that New Jersey is viewed as the most corrupt state in the Union. The OPRA enforcement is another example of our state condoning nefarious government practices that in other states would be considered violations of the law.

The OPRA has become another bad New Jersey joke. Who are the comedians responsible for it, the Legislature or the GRC?

Public Records Room Reported to be Like a Dungeon

The Public Records Room housed in the Union County Court House building in Elizabeth is one of the few places where the general public has unlimited access to in the county government complex. However, the County Watchers have heard it is not exactly the place where the average citizen would choose to spend much time.

The Records Room is home to thousands of public documents, both old and new, and is managed by the Union County Clerk, Joanne Rajoppi, who just recently won reelection to this salaried public position for another term.

Poorly ventilated, extremely dusty, with peeling paint and traces of mold, the room also houses title searchers who pour over the documents relating to Union County real estate transactions. Although they spend the business day working there, they are not county employees. Rather, they are employed by title companies, attorneys or even as contractors working on a per diem basis, their mission is to detect any encumbrances which would get in the way of a buyer obtaining a clear title to a piece of real estate in Union County.

Rajoppi’s office is charged with keeping county records and land-use documents dating back to the County’s founding in 1857 when Union County split from Essex County. This is a valuable historic archive, and according to the clerk, are not just stale pieces of paper. We would have to agree with her.

Recently Union County received more that $1 million in grants from the state for projects to launch record-keeping into the 21st century with technical and strategic improvements and will be split between the offices of the Union County Clerk and the Clerk of the Board of Chosen Freeholders. (Perhaps that will help Nicole T. and supervisors keep accurate employee attendance records and locate other “non-existent” documents). Some of the monies have been earmarked as follows: $311,065 for map restoration, $77,734 to pay for a records manager, and $60,000 for commercial storage. These monies come from New Jersey’s Public Archives and Records Infrastructure Support Program, or PARIS.

One visitor to the Public Records Room related to the County Watchers that it was a “Dusty old room,” which was “very stuffy” and they had almost expected to see Bob Cratchet negotiating with Ebenezer Scrooge for an extra piece of coal. However, the outside temperature was over 80 degrees that day and the room is not air conditioned nor is it ventilated so it felt like 100. It has also been reported that the water fountain was removed recently and one of the ceiling fans fell and has not been replaced. Some insiders have also reported an unpleasant odor from time to time which they feel could be attributed to the room’s proximity to the old UC jail and possible “outdoor plumbing problems” which needs no further explanation. The bottom line here is that working conditions are said to be unbearable.

Most of us working in a dusty room with mold in the corners, peeling paint that could contain lead, poor ventilation and no air conditioning in the heat of summer would be calling OSHA anonymously to complain. However, this course of action is not an option in this situation as these individuals are not employees and the few county employees working in this area have opted to keep their mouths shut, that being the case they, the title searchers, have no where to turn.

Ms Rajoppi, to her credit, takes the preservation and recording of documents/records quite seriously and has moved forward utilizing the latest technology to the fullest making these records available to the general public through the standard manual means as well as through the Internet.

At this point in time preliminary title searches can be done online, as the first page of most documents going back some 20 years can be accessed offsite but the searcher must still view the actual remaining pages in person to determine anything unusual which may cause problems with a buyer obtaining a clear title to a property. Even with the new technology in place searchers are required to spend hours in the Public Records Room.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, mold of the common variety in most cases is not a major health hazard but does pose a risk to those suffering from respiratory deficiencies, such as asthma, as well as individuals with compromised immune systems or even suffering from the common cold.

Those who are allergic to dust and mold are advised to stay out of these types of situations as serious sinus infections can occur from prolonged exposure and headaches are common among even the healthiest of individuals. One wonders just what form of mold is present and if it has been tested for toxicity - as in a building this age it could be Stachybotrys, a very unhealthy variety.

Exposure to peeling paint and the accompanying dust it creates is also less than desirable if the paint contains lead - and most paint did prior to the mid 70s. Extended exposure can lead to lead poisoning, causing a myriad of health problems even in adults.

A good HVAC system could squelch these problems and also provide a comfortable work environment.

Ms. Rajoppi prides herself on the dollars that the office of the County Clerk has managed to rake in from fees these past few years. Her recent campaign literature says her office has delivered $30 million in tax savings, though she doesn’t say for what period of time. Coincidentally, the county budget in 2005 went up just that amount this year alone so apparently it didn’t really help much to relieve the burden on taxpayers especially spread out over her five year term.

She seems to have forgotten that the very people who pay the fees for copies of the documents are the general public, the attorneys, and the title searchers employers and clients. They are the ones being short changed here.

Ms. Rajoppi would do well to campaign for the funds to tidy up things in her own space and for her own county workers as well as the visitors to the records room before she tackles funding for uncovering the hidden blue skies of the courthouse dome.

November 10, 2005

The banana republic of Union County

The numbers in Union County freeholder races don't change much from year to year. The Democrats win by the same margins. The only thing that causes a fluctuation in freeholder race numbers is the top of the ticket; presidential and gubernatorial elections bring out more voters who more than likely will vote straight down their party line.

The Democrats don't win because of "their services"; they surely don't win because of their charming personalities, or good looks for that matter. They win because all nine freeholder seats are at-large and Union County is overwhelmingly Democratic. The Republican freeholder candidates win the race in most of the towns but the large population of just a few cities outdoes the efforts of the rest of the county.

Using 2003 numbers:

Towns in which Republican freeholder candidates won the election were:
Berkeley Heights, Clark, Cranford, Fanwood, Garwood, Kenilworth, Mountainside, New Providence, Roselle Park, Scotch Plains, Springfield, Summit and Westfield.

A breakdown of registered voters of the above towns by party affiliation is: 54 percent unaffiliated & independent; 22 percent Democrat; 24 percent Republican. With a combined total of 106,306 registered voters.

Towns in which Democrat freeholder candidates won the election were:
Elizabeth, Hillside, Linden, Plainfield, Rahway, Roselle, Union and Winfield.

A breakdown of registered voters of the above towns by party affiliation is: 49 percent unaffiliated & independent; 41 percent Democrat and a paltry 10 percent are Republican. With a combined total of 142,600 registered voters.

It's not just the numbers that are stacked against the chance of ever having a watchdog on the nine-member freeholder board. There's the pay-to-play money and misappropriation of tax dollars for freeholder campaigns. There's also the county employees being used to work on campaigns. These campaign abuses are what make Union County a banana republic.

This year it was politics as usual around the county with the Democrat machine getting out the vote in the urban areas. They rent white passenger vans and stick Column ‘B’ posters in the window and drive people directly to the polls. They probably give them lunch or a light snack on the way.

In many places like School Nos. 1 and 3 in Elizabeth there were election board workers who steadfastly marched voters into the booths and told them to vote the Democrat line. In spite of a large Republican poll challenger presence. The workers were written up and we'll soon find out if it was worth all the bother. Nothing less than these workers being bared from working the polls ever again would be an acceptable outcome. Including Freeholder Dan Sullivan's beastly mother-in-law who relentlessly harassed the poll challenger assigned to her booth. Sullivan family gatherings must be a delight with that cast of characters.

There were the usual literature hand outs outside of the polls. Most likely if you approach a polling place in one of the urban areas you will be approached by some greasy looking goon trying to hand you a card with the local Democrat candidates' names on it. The goon will say something to the effect of "Don't vote for George Bush - Vote the Democrat B Line".

George W. Bush has been a favorite campaign tool for the Democrats these past two years. Apparently New Jerseans aren't taught in school that there are several layers of government with the federal government having all but nothing to do with freeholders or local municipal governments.

In Union County, the dead people apparantly have suffrage.

Its been reported that 325 dead people voted in Union County last year. At this writing there is no count on how many rose from the grave to cast their votes this year. People being marched into voting booths and told how to vote might as well be considered dead voters.

This year’s election has convinced me that people aren't reading newspapers much. However, the apathetic media always takes its toll on Union County elections. The Star-Ledger's county coverage has been awesome as of just recently, but Worrall's has slipped way down with its endorsement of powerbroker/Linden Mayor John Greggorio's appointment of Nancy Ward for freeholder.

The highlight of the debate this year was Nancy Ward responding to the question, "What is a freeholder’s salary?", she replied in that little blonde way of hers, "I don't know, I have direct deposit." This little cutie replaced John Wohlrab after his arrest for domestic violence, almost a year ago to the date, and has supposedly been making decisions about the $390 million county budget ever since.

Worrall endorsed Daniel Sullivan last year. I don't know what criteria they use for endorsements but if they are going to continue to endorse these empty-heads (Ward), who have utter contempt for the public (Sullivan), who are the powerbrokers' puppets - I'd like to see Worrall ask and then publish the response to the question "Which powerbroker anointed you and what will you be expected to do for them in return?"

County employees, including the million-dollar taxpayer-funded public information department, were seen out and about on Election Day as well as on the campaign trail. I counted at least ten county employees at the Cranford freeholder debate where they behaved like the low-class baboons that they are.

The room was packed with spectators and several reporters, yet this didn't cause the county employee/campaign workers to act like they deserve their blotted taxpayer funded salaries. For my entertainment, they placed a stooge right behind me to make comments and cough throughout the debate. I easily ignored him, after all I have teenagers and can block out juvenile girlish banter. Afterwards he was seen running to his car and locking the door behind him.

I considered it an honor when the Public Information Department took souvenir photos posing behind me. Next debate I'm going to wear my F.B.I. hat for their photo shoot.

I was amused at all the attention I received, so I was a good sport about it. I even wanted to join in the fun. I thought a swift knee in Seb D'Elia balls in a crowded room full of people would be hilarious. This isn’t cruel or violent on my part, because I don't think it would hurt him much as apparently he doesn't have any balls, seeing as he sent his underlings to harass me while he kept himself clear across the room from me. Funny, but I didn't see him leave the building. He must have been hiding in the ladies' room 'till the coast was clear.

Then there was the pay-to-play (extortion) money - Republicans were outspent 42 to 1 according to a recent Star-Ledger article.

The taxpayer-funded commercial and mailers kept pace with what the Democrats spent of our dollars on their campaigns in past years. They've spent upwards of $327,769.85 to date this year. This year, the Republican County committee has filed ELEC complaints. Good for them - and me. They saved me all the paper work of having to file a complaint for the Watchdog Association.

The Democrat freeholders win in landslides in the banana republic towns. No wonder between the sheer number of registered Democrats and the way they are manipulated by the machine.

This was my second year working as a poll challenger in Elizabeth. Elizabeth's polls are lawless in many spots. Without the poll challenger presence it would have been much worse. No doubt Plainfield, Union, Rahway, Linden, Hillside and Roselle were just as lawless.

Of course it's illegal to use taxpayer’s money to promote campaigning freeholders; county workers working on campaigns during working hours; marching people into voting booths and telling them how to vote; pay-to-play is a nice term for extortion which is highly illegal in the business community; and the rest of the shenanigans that go on Election Day. But this is New Jersey and our tolerance for corruption hasn't changed much in the past 100 years since the days of Frank Hague.

Despite all of the major newspapers and talk show radio hosts warning about Corzine, we now have another governor who is a friend of the powerbrokers and, barring a scandal, he'll be in office for the next four years. Don't expect a thing to change in the banana republic fiefdom of State Sen. Raymond Lesniak under Corzine. In fact, if the county follows the same course as previous years, they will up it another notch and be even more arrogant than ever.

They'll be upping our taxes another notch too. Somebody's got to keep feeding the baboons their bananas.

November 01, 2005

and a few more things.....

The Star-Ledger’s coverage today of the ELEC complaint filed by the Union County Republican committee was welcome news, however, a few facts weren’t stated and the egregious law braking as well as the total costs has not been exposed to the fed up over- burdened taxpaying public.

Since 2003, I have been keeping track of the costs of taxpayer paid for county campaign mailings and commercials that mostly feature incumbent freeholders who are up for re-election.

The county times these mailings around the primary and general elections. For at least as far back as 2002 the county has launched a media campaign in September which lasts through October featuring a commercial and mailer. The county has defended these mailings as needing to inform the public about services.

Today’s quote in the Ledger by powerbroker/freeholder-maker Charlotte DeFallipo was the same old same old. She must have quotes filed in her home rolodex, mailings under m and so on; or maybe they’re all taped to her refrigerator for quick reference.

Not mentioned in the Ledger article is the fact that there are no 'We're connected to you' propaganda mailings or commercials sent out during the rest of the year. All of these mailings occur during election time, it’s a documented fact. Also not mentioned is that there are nine freeholders, yet every year the three up for reelection become the stars of this literature. If you read this literature as well as the county press releases you would believe that only these three freeholders have anything to do.

What do the rest of them do?

Also not mentioned is the fact that Message and Media does the design of these mailings and produces the commercials. This firm has a long standing county no-bid contract in the form of a $6,000 monthly retainer ($72,000 a year) for ‘Creative Consulting Services'.

One of these contracts boosts that the firm was responsible for the successful county 'Image Building Campaign' which featured the branding of the logo 'We're connected to you!' on signs and literature. Along with their $6,000 monthly retainer for consulting, the firm bills for the individual pieces separately.

Message and Media also does campaign consulting work for the county Democrats as well as state-wide. The Union County Democratic Committee pays Message and Media a $5,000 monthly retainer. Do the math and it would appear that the Democrats get their campaign work for less since the taxpayers are paying for their campaign mailings and commercial.

Documents obtained through the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) have shown no description of these creative consulting services. A proposal dated March 9, 2005, consists of just four short paragraphs which Freeholder Chairman Rick Proctor refers to in a memo as, a detailed proposal, states that this no-bid contract was awarded for monthly creative consulting.

Another document states, "The services to be offered by MediaSquared, Inc., are based on the extensive involvement with the County of Union in the planning and development of a marketing plan for the county. An OPRA request for the marketing plan mentioned was returned "document does not exist."

The result of this moonlighting is that the designs and colors used are very similar. The recipient of literature would have to look very closely to know if the message is coming from their government or from campaigning politicians. This gives the campaign a double bang for their pay-to-play bucks. Because pay-to-play is another term for kick-back of tax dollars to campaign contributors, the Union County taxpayers are paying for the Democrats campaign on both fronts.

The Ledger article mentions the Union County Directions Newsletter which is supposedly published by the Union County Alliance. It is the county’s Public Information Department employees that produce this newspaper on taxpayer time in the county Administration building. Can they deny this? Most of the articles in the Directions Newspaper appear on the county website as press releases. The county charges back to county departments for advertising in this newspaper. Other advertisers are heavy pay-to-play contributors, such as Schoor Depalma.

What’s up with Kean University’s (state taxpayer money) big financial involvement with this past publication? I don’t know yet. Kean is also stonewalling my OPRA requests.

Michael Murray, the president of the Alliance, is a former head of the county’s Public Information Department. He still draws a salary from the county ($100,000) as well as having a now infamous county vehicle assigned to him. He gets a Ford Explorer with all the amenities that go along with that on the taxpayer’s dime. Yet an OPRA request seeking financial information regarding this publican was returned from Murray: We are a 501(c)3 Corporation. OPRA applies to government.

What a convenient loophole.

Let’s hope the Ledger keeps up their good work of uncovering these abuses of the public's trust. The Union County Watchdog Association is committed to staying on top of this. We will follow every taxpayer dollar that is spent on campaigns. Kudos must also be given to the Union County Republican Committee for joining the fight.

This is no small amount of money ($327,759.85 2005 to date). The mailings mentioned in the Leader article aren’t the only ones. I have filed two GRC complaints in as many weeks because the county is trying to withhold the costs of these mailings until after the election. Good, that leaves this story opened for a continuation…….. And a few more things:

I count three more stories in the above for the Ledger to sniff around at:

Message and Media’s county contract/Democrat campaign work

The Union County Alliance scam

Charlotte DeFillippo’s home office

2005 commercial:
Freeholders Proctor, Estrada and Ward are up for reelection as well as County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi

Keeping Union County Families Healthy commercial featuring Freeholder Rick Proctor
Cost: $ 23,000.00 for production of (1) :30 second TV spot
$119,824.00Cable Buy 9/12-9/25 (2 weeks)
Total: $142,824.00

2005 mailings to date: Freeholders Proctor, Estrada and Ward are up for reelection as well as Clerk Joanne Rojoppi

Keeping Union County Families Healthy mailer featuring Freeholder Angel Estrada Mailed 9/19/05
Cost: $30,000.00 (no bid) Printing Media M2 Squared (Message And Media)
$21,658.15 Postage
Total: $51,658.15

Healthcare Programs Brochure
Cost: $8,025.00 Printing Media M2 Squared (Message and Media)Postage: ? GRC complaint filed

Mailers sent to residents dated 9/15/05 – 10/20/05
GRC complaint filed. I was given postage bills without having them referenced to which mailers they go along with.

Letters addressed to Dear Homeowner sent to all property owners in 9 municipalities listing county services rendered over an indiscriminate amount of time (not mentioned is how much tax revenue is sent to the county) mailed in months of July-September
Cost: $9,787.32 Postage for only 9 letters - GRC complaint was filed on
9/27/05 for other 2 bills
Dividing this number by a .37 cent stamp would indicate that approximately 26,452 letters were mailed (minus the 2 bills missing). The county claims that there is no in-house print bill for this mailing.

Union County Directions Newspaper - Published by the Union County Alliance - Cost to the county approximately $100,000 Published right before the Primary and General elections.(See note at end of list regarding this newspaper.)

Senior Newsletter mailed during primary week featuring campaigning freeholders. 'Meet freeholder Nancy Ward' on back cover and a message from freeholder Rick Proctor.
Cost: Postage $12,768.78. Copies are done in house so the county claims
there is no cost (4 pages).

Four color pieces mailed to Summit regarding the acquiring of Open Space (which they later backed out of)- OPRA request for costs is still pending

Approximate expenditures 2005 Y.T.D. - $327,759.85
2004 commercial: Freeholders Sullivan, Kowalski, Wohlrab and Routolo were up for reelection as well as Sheriff Frohlich
•Aired beginning September and ran though October - Hop on the bus for education commercial featuring Freeholder Angel Estrada
Cost: Approximately $185,203.19 For production and cable buy.
2004 mailings:
A postage bill with no description for $26,000.00 dated 10/13/04, I am waiting for an explanation for this as of 8/27/05.
Three mailings were sent to residents just days before the general election:
Mailed 10/21/2004: Berkeley Heights Open Space mailing featuring Daniel Sullivan and new freeholder Bette Jane Kowalski
Cost: $683.39 for postage, no printing bills revealed (Note County Manager's wife was hired as township administrator shortly thereafter.)
Mailed 10/26/2004:
• Hop on the bus for education featuring Freeholder Angel Estrada
Cost: Media M2 Squared (Message And Media): printing bill $33,000.00 (no bid)
Postage for 134,273 pieces: $22,627.87 (another postage bill came up in an OPRA request for $2,819.02)
Total: $55,627.81
Mailed 10/28/2004: Senior Newsletter featuring all freeholder's up for reelection with meet Bette Jane Kowalski, Union County's newest Freeholder on back cover
Cost: $2,190.09 for postage, no printing bills revealed (Earlier mailings of this same newsletter cost $6,501.57 in postage- I don't believe the post office runs sales on postage.)
Union County Senior Newsletter - Featuring Sheriff Ralph Frohlich, front cover; Daniel Sullivan; and a back cover article titled 'Meet John Wohlrab, Union County's Newest Freeholder' . Postage $6,501.57. Copies done in house, county claims there is no cost (4 pages).
• Union County Directions Newspaper - Published by the Union County Alliance and mailed to all residents right before the primary and general elections - Cost to the county approximately $100,000 (See note at end of list regarding this newspaper.)
• Honor Student Letter - Featuring Daniel Sullivan - No record of postage. Copies done in house, county claims there is no cost. There are a lot of miscellaneous letters of this sort that showed up in an OPRA request for documents. One interesting one was for Roselle Catholic High School. This was the only private school that received honor student letters. Joe Renna attended Roselle Catholic and is still actively involved with the school.
• Union County Arts Center - Featuring Daniel Sullivan
Cost: $2,355.26 for postage on 8,176 pieces, color copies were done in-house, county claims there is no cost.
Letter to Roselle residents signed by Daniel Sullivan and Angel Estrada
Cost: $501.49 fo postage on 2,585 pieces.
Approximate 2004 total (I can't be sure I was given everything, this also doesn't include most printing and copying costs) - $379,062.80
2003 commercials: Freeholders Scanlon, Mirabella and Holmes were up for reelection
Aired begining September and ran though October *The STAR Center - Featuring Debra Scanlon
I have the service contract for the Star Center - It shows a total proposed budget of $240,831 (The county used 14% of the total federal STAR grant money on this promotion.) Also note that Message And Media did this work. Message And Media also does campaign consulting work for the Democrats Freeholder campaigns as well as state-wide.
• Runnells Specialized Hospital - Featuring Debra Scanlon, Al Mirabella, Chester Holmes. The county ran this commercial in 2000 when the same freeholders were up for election. They didn't run it 2001 & 2002. Cable buy: Approximately $186,000
2003 mailings - - All mailed within 6 weeks of the general election (I'm sure I am missing a few.)
• Open Space Trust Fund - 2003 Progress Report - Featuring Al Mirabella
Media M2 Squared (Message And Media): printing bill $33,000.00 (no bid)
Postage for 134,273 pieces: $22,627.87
Total: $55,627.81
• Open Space Trust Fund Letters signed by Deborah Scanlon & Al Mirabella
2/03 Letter mailed to all Rahway & Clark residents - Esposito Farm Postage: $863.00
August 14, 2003 - Letter - Trailside Nature & Science Center expansion
Postage: $216.57
September 10, 2003 - Letter to all Clark & Rahway residents: New leisure and recreational park for all residents of Clark.
Postage: $874.01
• Open Space Trust Fund - 5 More Acres Saved - Deborah Scanlon
Misc Postage:
Total: 5,282.30
• Open Space Trust fund - 8/14/03 - Letter mailed to Clark residents
• 2 Senior Newsletters - Debra Scanlon photo and letter on front - Chester
Holmes and Al Mirabella along with Scanlon photos throughout 4 pages (total
- 11 photos of the incumbents). Postage $12,768.78. Copies done in house, county claims there is
no cost (4 pages).
• *The STAR Center 4 page, full color, glossy brochure - Featuring Debra Scanlon, Angel Estrada (See * above)
• Sports Safety Forum postcard - Featuring Debra Scanlon
Cost: Postage - $1,270.78, Printing done in house, county claims there is no cost.

• Homeland Security brochure/The Role of Union County Government - Debra Scanlon and Chester Holmes featured on 1st page. This wasn't mailed. Copies done in house, county claims there is no cost.

• Para Transit Welcome Veterans post card featuring Al Mirabella
Cost: Postage - $2,934.63, Printing done in house, county claims there is no cost.
• Youth Sports Safety - Featuring the entire freeholder board - Cost: Postage - $1,270.78. Also sent home in children's book bags. Printing done in house, county claims there is no cost.
• And the Union County Directions Newspaper which is 24 pages and mailed to every postal patron in Union County twice a year before the primary and general elections. Featured - 22 photos of incumbents,
Scanlon, Mirabella & Holmes. Most articles pertained to programs that the incumbents were working on. Also featured 2 photos with captions of incumbent Senator Raymond Lesniak and 2 photos of Nicholas Scaturi also
running for a Senate seat.
Approximate costs:
Postage: $25,000
Printing: AFL Printing $23,000.00
SVO Printing printed the first two issues and charged $40,000 more than a second bid. SVO is owned by Richard Stender who is Assembly Woman Linda Stender's husband. She was a sitting freeholder at the time the contract was awarded.
Approximate 2003 total (I can't be sure I was given everything, this also doesn't include most printing and copying costs) - $607,939.66

October 25, 2005

Media Watch: A Letter to the Editor

October 23, 2005

Mark DiIonno
The Star-Ledger
1 Star-Ledger Plaza
Newark, NJ 07102-1200
VIA Email and First Class Mail

Dear Mr. DiIonno,

When we exchanged e-mails a few months ago I believed you were sincere in wanting to bring about a change in your Union County coverage. A change that would rely less on a taxpayer funded Public Information Department that was being less than disingenuous with the public. As I have informed you, to date, the county has not revealed to the public what this departments budget is, what employees work for this department or what the head of this departments paid days off were in 2003 and 2004. A count of the press releases on the county website proves beyond a doubt that this department exists to keep the all Democrat controlled board in power. The Ledger has never written a word about any of that.

You backed up your words with action and the past several months I have witnessed the Ledger’s coverage being less influenced by this department.

This past week that progress has totally unraveled. Robert Misseck was again quoting a freeholder who is up for reelection. This Sunday’s front page Union County Section has a feature article on County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi.

If you lived in Union County you would see the county Democrat campaign signs are featuring Rajoppi’s name as a headline.

If you’ve read any of my e-mails regarding the Public Information Department you would know that Rajoppi had a total of eight press releases and no photo ops last year. As of today, Rajoppi, who is now up for reelection, has 52 press releases and 25 photo ops listed. Now she has this lovely Sunday’s feature article by Joe Ryan to carry her team into the final stretch of their campaign.

It was a home run for the county public information department. Whoever it is that works for this department earns their keep. However, the county Democrat committee should be paying them, not the taxpayers. The Star-Ledger should not be facilitating this betrayal of the public trust.

Couple this manipulation of the press with the county spending to date approximately $400,000 of tax dollars on mailers and a commercial featuring campaigning freeholders, and it is impossible to mount a campaign against the incumbents. Residents are getting, through their tax dollars, 90 percent of their information about county government directly from the government. The other 10 percent from the government manipulated media.

This is why in the past several years county politicians have been appointed by powerbrokers; because no matter whom they put on the ballot they will get elected. Freeholder John Wohlrab was arrested for beating a woman four weeks before the election last year and because of all the positive media he had received up until then, or perhaps just because he was on the Democrat line, upwards of 80,000 people voted to reelect him.

I find this to be a reflection on Union County as a society and frankly it’s embarrassing that we are so collectively ignorant. But it isn’t society’s fault Mr. DiIonno. It’s the media’s. Only you have the power to inform people. In fact this is your direct responsibility to maintain a democracy.

Union County is not a democracy. It is Senator Raymond Lesniak’s fiefdom. I fully expect Union County’s politicians’ to conduct their business as a fiefdom, what I don’t expect, respect or condone is the Star-Ledger facilitating them. You are supposed to be better than that. You are supposed to be government watchdogs not an extension of their press corps.

Feel free to share this feedback with your staff and superiors as well as publish it. Or ignore it as you obviously have been doing all along.

Tina Renna
Union County Watchdog Association, Inc.

October 21, 2005

Berkeley Heights Soon to be "Linden West"

This election season, as well as last, I have been fascinated by how the county Democratic machine is involved in municipal politics in Berkeley Heights. What’s fascinating is that they are managing a complete take over in anonymity.

Berkeley Heights is considering a change to their form of government. They would change to an elected mayor and a six-member council. Should voters approve the change, the existing governing body would be dissolved. Anyone wishing to continue serving on the governing body would have to run again next November. All three candidates for council this year support the change, as well as massive redevelopment plans for the township.

This all sounds innocent enough until you consider that Union County Manager George Devanney, who is powerbroker/State Sen. Raymond Lesniak’s (D-Union) nephew, is on the committee which is spearheading the campaign to change the town’s power base.

Last year, the all-Republican council hired the county manager’s wife, Angie Devanney, to be the city administrator. As the county administrator of the Open Space Trust Fund she negotiated a deal for the county to buy contaminated land in Berkeley Heights with the fund. At the time of her hiring Committeeman David Cohen heaped praise on Devanney for her negotiating skills. No one mentioned that the land's past ownership included a Greggorio. Mayor John Gregorrio is the infamous Mayor of the City of Linden.

A lot of things aren’t being mentioned in Berkeley Heights.

This charter change could mean that Berkeley heights would give up five elected officials for one all-powerful mayor. Each of the current committeepersons has the full authority and responsibilities of a mayor, with one given the title to chair meetings or to sign legal documents. Now, all are accessible to the public. They work directly with town employees to resolve issues and vote on contracts, appointments and budgets.

In the strong mayor/council form, only the mayor can talk to employees or direct the town administrator. The mayor creates the budget alone and submits it to council for approval. The mayor appoints all committee volunteers and professionals, hires employees, awards contracts and determines policy. The developers would have to have the approval of the mayor. If a resident has a problem or concern, that person must find the mayor.

The council's primary function is to create legislation, which the strong mayor can veto.

The town of Barnegat is considering this same change this year and they estimate the cost to change their form of government is $60,000 to $100,000 just to rewrite and publish the town codes. I don’t know what the salaries are of the current committee people in Berkeley Heights or how they would compare with a Mayor’s salary, staff and perks. There would also be a cost for the new election next season.

No one is mentioning these costs to the voters. If Berkeley Heights votes for this change, I believe that most current labor contracts will become null and void; employees will be subject to being fired. All professionals would be at the will of the new mayor for appointment. The zoning and planning board members would get a complete overhaul as well.

What could go wrong? Or more to the point: what could go right for the county Democrat machine in this supposedly-Republican stronghold?

Suppose the newly elected all-powerful mayor of Berkeley Heights wanted to be a municipal judge when he grew up. Although he'd be a Republican on the ballot, he might be inclined to tip all the new contracts, patronage jobs and appointments to a Democrat county powerbroker who would have the power to make his dreams come true.

If this deal was being presented honestly to the people of Berkeley Heights then all the players, costs and consequences would be out in the open.

The town will be so transformed by this change in their government that the people of Berkeley Heights should also be considering a change of the town name while they're at it. I’d recommend Linden West.

October 16, 2005

County Employees/Campaign Workers

A friend of mine told me they attended a Freeholder meeting on Sept. 8 and watched in astonishment as the freeholders presented a Public Information Department employee with a resolution for his being “a political operative and a help to each and every one of us."

Even I found this public display of arrogance hard to believe, seeing as it’s illegal and all, so I requested a copy of the audio tape of this meeting and there it was for all the world to listen to: a county employee being thanked for working on political campaigns during a public meeting.

The Public Information Department is responsible for controlling the county’s day-to-day image. They churn out laudatory press releases, set up photo ops and try their darnedest to manipulate the press.

Visit the county’s ’news’ site to see for yourself what kind of public information your tax dollars is churning out.

I recommend that you do this on an empty stomach. You will not find any information relevant to your escalating bloated tax bill. What you will find is hundreds of laudatory press releases featuring photos of campaigning politicians. I actually counted all of them. Consider that in 2004, Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi had a total of eight press releases and no photo ops. As of Oct. 1, Rajoppi, who is now up for reelection, had 47 press releases and 21 photo ops listed.

I know that the taxpayers are funding this campaign publicity, what I don’t know is exactly how much it’s costing.

The county won’t tell me what the budget is for the Public Information Department or even how many employees work for it.

They also won’t say what the head of this department, Sebastian D’Elia’s, paid days off were in 2003 and 2004.

D'Elia was also a paid campaign worker for the Union County Democratic Committee in 2004 ($750.00 for get out the vote efforts). Other county employees to be paid campaign workers are: James Pallettiere $750-2004; Sean Faughan $500-2004; County Clerk Nicole Tedeshi $1,200-2004, $600-2003; Ann Lord $500-2004; $400.00-2003; Ron Zuber $1,000-2004, $600-2003; Carolyn Sullivan $1,200-2004; Deputy County Manager Elizabeth Geneveich $500-2004, $400-2003; John Salerno $500-2004; Wayne Avery $500-2004; Photographer Jim Lownery $500-2004; Judith Biniaris $1,000-2004; County Managers wife who was the Administrator of the Open Space Trust Fund Angie Devanney $2,600-2003. All of these county-employees/campaign-workers show little if any time off from their county jobs at election time.

Here are our tax dollars and campaigning county politicians hard at work in some of my favorite taxpayer-funded county-employee/campaign-workers press releases of this current silly season:

Freeholder Angel Estrada hard at work paving the roads in his Sunday best:

Snidely Whiplash listens to Dudley Do-Right explain how he will foil his dastardly deeds:

And here she is, Miss Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi attending a motorcycle rally in a black evening dress and pearls.

Press release totals as of Oct. 1: Freeholders Proctor, Estrada, Ward and
County Clerk Rajoppi are up for reelection.

Number of Releases; Number of Photo Captions
Rojappi: 47; 21
Proctor: 69; 38
Estrada: 7; 29
Ward: 6; 20
Sullivan: 15; 8
Mirabella: 14; 28
Mapp: 9; 4
Holmes: 16; 23
Scanlon: 3; 14
Kowalski: 31; 39
Devanney: 1

2004 - Wohlrab, Sullivan, Kowalski, Routolo and Ward, took turns being up
for reelection
Number of Releases; Number of Photo Captions
Estrada: 67, 25
Sullivan: 19,26
Wohlrab: 9, 20
Kowalski: 14,15
Routolo: 34, 0
Scanlon: 5, 3
Proctor: 7, 4
Mingo: 10, 4
Holmes: 3, 10
Mirabella: 6, 11
Ward: 0, 2
Rajoppi: 8; 0

2003 - Scanlon, Holmes & Mirabella were up for reelection
Number of Releases; Number of Photo Captions
Scanlon: 96; 13
Holmes: 81; 14 (note: Holmes was the liaison to Union County Parks & Rec Advisory Board and was never quoted regarding the geese gassings)
Mirabella: 29; 17
Scutari: 3; 2
Estrada: 9; 6
Proctor: 10; 2
Routolo: 2;
Mingo: 11; 6
Sullivan: 5; 3
County Manager: 4

October 11, 2005

'Union County Directions' - Fall 2005 Campaign Issue

Every household and business in Union County received a copy of the Union County Directions Newsletter last week. You receive two every year, one right before the primary and one right before the general election.

This newsletter states that it's published by the "Union County Alliance," a nonprofit organization.

What taxpayers don't realize is that they (the taxpayers) are paying for this $50,000 campaign piece which features Democrat freeholders, who are up for reelection, throughout its 24 pages of propaganda.

Not only are you paying for the printing and mailing of this piece, you are also paying the employees' salaries for the county's Office of Public Information to produce it.

I placed an OPRA request today to the Union County Alliance asking for all costs as well ad payments in association with their Spring and Fall issues. The Fall issue is in direct violation of the ELEC rules. Both issues featured Campaigning Freeholder Rick Proctor on their front covers as well as 18 photos of campaigning freeholders throughout. Most of the press releases and photos featured are ones that have have been diligently left out of the local papers - kudos to the editors.

Some quick observations regarding this last issue:

It's a "family issue" featuring the State Sen. Raymond Lesniak's Family Friendly Success Story throughout.

There is a profile on Berkeley Heights on the front cover, where the county manager's wife Angie Devanney is the city administrator, although she is not mentioned.

This continues to page 22 where there is a story about changing the Berkeley Heights charter which George Devanney is sitting on two committee's pushing for this, although neither he nor his wife's involvement is mentioned.

Page 15 has an article regarding Berkeley Heights and open space. You have Stan Laurel posing as County Manager George Devanney on page 3 upper right hand corner (prime ad placement).

The back cover is paid for by George Devanney's brother's fiefdom, the Elizabeth Urban Enterprise Zone. And Uncle Lesniak himself is pictured on page 20. The family could use this newspaper as a holiday card.

There is an article regarding the Union County Detention Center on page 16 where campaiging freeholder Angel Estrada is quoted as saying "The construction of the new facility has been a top priority of the Freeholder Board".......The project has moved quickly and we have put a good team together to complete its construction in a timely manner.....

There is no mention in this article about the county having to appear in court on Oct. 17 to answer to the death of Edward Sinclair, Jr. whose civil rights they violated due to the deplorable conditions at the facility which dragged on for years under all-Democrat rule.

The Democrats out-voted the last remaining Republican freeholders thereby shelving a plan to build a new facility. The article also doesn't mention that besides the human tragedies that have occurred under their mismanagement and disregard for basic human rights, the project will now cost upwards of $10 million more than it would have. It also doen't list all the new buidlings for county employees which took presedence over a new detention center.

Campaigning Assemblywoman Linda Stender in on page 19. Not mentioned in this article is the fact that Stender is paid $66,000 a year by the county to supervise volunteers who are working for free at Runnells Specialized Hospital. All assembly candidates are on pages 20 and 21.

Campaigning Clerk of the Board Joanne Rajoppi has an article on page 10. Rajoppi had a total of eight press releases and no photo ops in 2004. As of Oct. 1 Rajoppi, who is now up for reelection, had 47 press releases and 21 photo ops listed on the county website. All produced by county public information department employees. As was this directions newsletter.

How they covered the cost (projected at $50,000) not including salaries for county employees:
Center spread 4 page pull out - State funded Kean University as well as three separate ads
Shop Rite
Elizabeth Urban Enterprise Zone (Lesinak's other newphew and county manager's brother)
United Way
Conoco Philips
Schoor Depalma (so much for no longer paying to play)
Trinitas Hospital
Hillside Urban Enterprise Zone (Union County Democrat Chair Charlotte DeFillipo is also the municipal chair of Hillside)
Friends of Amanda sponsored this ad (interesting)
County - GED Testing
County - Vo Tech Schools
County - Union County Collect
County - Runnells Hospital
County - Recycling Event

To be cont'd.......I'll report on my adventures of wrangling public records regarding this campaign rag out of the county and the Union County Alliance which is run by a former county Public Information Officer, Michael Murray, as well as Kean University, as soon as my OPRA requests are completed.

I doubt it will happen before election day on Nov. 8. The games have already begun:

From: "directions "
Sent: Tuesday, October 11, 2005 11:38 AM
Subject: Directions

> The Union County Alliance is a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation. OPRA is for government records.

-- 1:04 PM

October 07, 2005

Freeholders Hire Expensive Environmental "Watchdog"

The following article was published in the Westfield Leader/Scotch Plains Fanwood Times, Oct. 6,2005

In the fall of 2004, just prior to the last general election, the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders announced the purchase of 17 acres of land on Snyder Avenue in Berkeley Heights.

Newly sworn-in Freeholder Bette Jean Kowalski explained the property had been the site of the Shaw Plastics company, as well as Barry Oil Service and Duffy Fuels and that the county had paid $8 million of the $13 million purchase price and had entered into a deal with the municipality of Berkley Heights who had anted up the other $5 million.

The freeholders had tapped into the Open Space Historic Preservation and Recreation Trust Fund as the property would be used for baseball fields with Berkeley Heights building a Senior Citizen Center on a portion of the land.

This particular piece of property had been tied up for years in litigation as the developer/owner had intended to construct 259 residential units, some of it would have been low-income Mount Laurel housing, which the township wasn’t exactly thrilled about. There has been no disagreement that the soil is badly contaminated and no matter what the land is used for it must be reclaimed first, surely before the kids take to the fields or the seniors roll in.

Freeholder Kowalski is quoted in the Westfield Leader at that time as saying that the existing owner would be cleaning up the property. This, by the way, was a part of the deal. Obviously the owner is willing to foot the bill for remediation just to get rid of the land as it isn’t fit for his original plan anyway. The clean up is expected to cost about $1 million.

Well, guess what? The freeholder board just voted yes on resolution #977-2005, which calls for the County Manager to enter into an agreement with PMK Group of Cranford for the purpose of oversight services pertaining to the remediation of the Snyder Avenue property in Berkeley Heights in an amount not to exceed $202.222.25 from the Open Space Trust Fund.

The contract was awarded without competitive bidding and the PMK Group has contributed $75,500 to the UC Democratic Committee between ’00 and ‘04 as well a cool grand or more to the campaigns of Assemblymen Joe Cryan, Neil Cohen and Jerry Green in ’05, and a token $300 to Linda Stender (she should complain).

There are two things wrong with this picture. If the deal called for the seller to fund the remediation, why are the taxpayers picking up such a large tab? And second: a full-time engineer could be hired in the neighborhood of $80,000 to $95,000 a year and a trailer on site to house this person for another $10,000, so what on earth is the other $100,000 for?

Why not have the property owner agree to hire the firm of the county’s choice to do the job right in the first place instead of the taxpayers providing the funding for a “watchdog”. It looks as though PMK will recoup most of their political contributions here in Union County.

Nothing can be done about this situation now. Let’s just hope that the job is done right and, as the County Manager explained to me, that we do indeed avoid another Miesel Field mess which dragged on for years.

For those who say that the numbers are fabricated or who are unfamiliar with working with databases and navigating some websites, below is a sample of the political contributions, reported by the Union County Democratic Committee, which this vendor made to the UCDC in a four-year period, from 2000 to 2004. Downloaded directly off the New Jersey Elect website into Excel

total 2000-2005 75500 Total 75,500

October 05, 2005

Golden parachute was opened at the top

On Sept. 1, Acting Governor Richard Codey’s brother Robert retired from his assignment as a deputy attorney general on loan to Union County. The county website doesn’t have any photos of Codey being sent off with a gold watch but his golden parachute is worth revisiting.

According to published reports, Robert Codey, a state prosecutor since 1988, reached an employment agreement with the county in September 2004.

His state salary was set at $93,268. Although they could have had him for free, Union County supplemented Codey’s pay by $46,731 - putting his total salary at $140,000.

This boosted his pension to about $33,000 dollars more than what he would have been eligible for had he retired a year earlier.

This deal was worked out shortly after former Gov. James E. McGreevey announced his resignation setting the stage for Codey’s brother to take over as acting governor.

The unusual salary adjustment for Codey, who’s expertise was in organized crime, was requested by state Attorney General Peter Harvey and approved by then-acting Personnel Commissioner Marjorie Schwartz.

Codey received special permission to exceed the state salary limits in cases of “extraordinary justification and compelling need.“ The public, however, was never informed of what the "compelling need" was or what organized crime cases Codey was in charge of - and no indictments by Codey were reported in the news during his short tenure.

Title 4A of the New Jersey Administrative Code requires the personnel commissioner to establish and enforce pay rates and salary ranges for civil service jobs such as deputy attorney general. Codey’s official state salary was $140,000. The maximum for his position under state regulations was $115,618.

To keep it ‘legal’ the county had to reimburse the state for the pay increase. None of Codey’s fellow 779 deputy attorney’s generals was granted similar permission to exceed that limit. His salary was more than $20,000 above the salary of his direct supervisor and 136 other deputies ranking above him. Union County Prosecutor Theodore Romankow’s salary is $141,000.

Codey, 55, has more than 30 years in the public employment system, and under special pension rules for prosecutors, this entitles him for a pension that pays 70 percent of his highest annual salary. In addition to the $98,000 a year pension, Codey will receive automatic annual cost of living adjustments and state-paid health insurance throughout his retirement. (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state the average life expectancy for white male Americans is 75.4 years.)

Appointed Union County Manager George Devanney, who is State Senator Raymond Lesniak’s nephew, defended Codey’s pay increase. “We are lucky to get a man like Bob with his knowledge and experience. Just because he is the acting governor’s brother doesn’t mean politics were involved in his hiring," said Devanney.

According to the budget proposed by Acting Gov. Codey, the state will pay out $3.8 billion for employees’ benefits in the 12 months that began July 1 - that’s 14 percent of the entire $27.4 billion spending plan. Pensions would cost the state budget $337 million, and that price tag is expected to nearly quadruple in the following year’s budget. By July 2007, the state expects it will spend more on health benefits for retired workers than for active employees. By 2010, it may cost the state $6.7 billion to pay for health benefits and pensions.

In his March 1 budget speech, Codey said “Entitlements are the driving force behind the increase in state spending each and every year." Codey vowed not to sign any pension enhancements, and he planed to name a panel to examine the benefits system.

With his personal experience with entitlements and expertise in organized crime, Robert Codey would make an excellent panelist.

October 04, 2005

Harvey doesn't want to discourage the dead from voting

Commonsense would dictate that having the fox place a guard in charge of the hen house can only lead to rampant abuse of the hens and their property. Who would the hen then turn to report the abuses? The fox or the guard? We the taxpayers of New Jersey are in the same scenario with our governor appointing the States Attorney General, who is our first line of defense against political corruption.

Recently, Republican Party officials released the results of a study that they claimed found tens of thousands of examples of possible voter fraud in the 2004 election, including instances where votes were cast by dead people.

Atty. Gen. Peter Harvey responded to the allegation of dead people on the rolls with a warning to the accusers: "efforts to stop fraud shouldn't become an excuse to take steps that discourage voters from showing up at the polls, particularly in poor urban areas."

The sad truth is that the poor in urban areas are the ones who suffer the most from political corruption. The Democrat political machines take their votes for granted, yet since the days of Frank Hague, even in death the people in these very areas have been faithfully casting their votes for the Democrat machines.

Not even evidence of dead voters will get Harvey to investigate the fox that put him in charge of the hen house. This should send every one of us hens and roosters to the polls Nov. 8 to vote in a new fox. Only a complete changing of the guard will lead to some relief from the political shenanigans that we have been suffering from since Governor James E. McGreevey was swept into office promising to change the way business is done in Trenton.

Business hasn't changed in New Jersey in 100 years. I wonder if Frank Hague is still voting...

October 03, 2005

Plainfield Plaintalker

The Plainfield Plaintalker is a beautiful example of citizen journalism. It does the work that the major papers don't want to do anymore: cover the news in our own backyard.

The 'Talker is worth a visit if you're from that neighborhood, interested in their politics, or just looking for a good read.

Good job!

A County Hack Has Something to Say

Thought we'd all benefit from knowing what the flock is thinking.

From Bob Milici:

"Tina: Can't you get your facts straight?

"'The Union County Watchdog Association is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization working on behalf of the residents and taxpayers of Union County monitoring the activity of county government and advocating change to eliminate waste, corruption and incompetence. We will be monitoring these 2005 ELEC abuses closely'

"1) You are hardly nonpartisan. You work directly on behalf of Republicans
"2) Monitoring what "abuses"? Has anyone been found guilty of an abuse? No. Just in your mind, but not in anyone's who matters.
"3) "Working on behalf of residents of Union County"? Who asked you to? Were you elected as our advocate? Face it. You're working on behalf of Tina and Joe Renna."

The End.

September 28, 2005

When it comes to campaign financing “They’re connected to you!"

Campaign Kick-Off 2005 Cost to Union County taxpayers $198,284.00
The mailer depicting a freeholder who is up for re-election which every household in Union County received the week of September 19, 2005, was not paid for by the freeholders’ campaign committee. Neither was the commercial that was contracted to run on Comcast between September 12 through the 25th, featuring the same freeholder.

The four-page, four-color mailer titled ‘Keeping Union County Families Healthy’, cost Union County taxpayers $55,460.00. The commercial with the same health care theme cost $142,824. Bringing this year's taxpayer-funded campaign kick-off media bonanza to $198,284.00.

The county has launched a similar media campaign in September for the past two years. In 2004 the cost of this campaign cost taxpayers $240,830.81; in 2003 it cost taxpayers $296,458.00.

For the past three years I have been keeping track of the county’s spending on mailers and commercials which are all timed around the primary and general elections. The county has defended this spending as need to inform the public about services. Besides the September media campaigns, there are several other mailers sent to residents. There are no 'We're connected to you' mailings or commercials aired during the rest of the year. Apparently the public only needs to be informed about services at election time.

On top of the costs for the production, printing, postage and cable buy, is the consulting fee that the media firm receives for designing and producing these campaigns. The company has a no-bid county contract in the form of a $6,000 monthly retainer ($72,000 annually) for consulting services alone. According to a local news report, this same firm has a $5,000 monthly retainer with the Union County Democratic Committee for campaign consulting.

The result of this moonlighting is that the mailers' design and color schemes are identical and they usually feature the same freeholders. A recipient of these mailers would have to look at the piece very closely to tell if the message is coming from the Democrat freeholder campaign or their Union County government.

The Union County Republican Committee has issued a press release demanding that this commercial be pulled from the air (it wasn’t) and has warned that they will file charges with the ELEC Board if the Democrats don’t claim these expenses on their October election reports as campaign expenditures. If ELEC rules against the Democrats it could lead to their campaign being fined as well as them having to pay back the county for these expenditures.

The Union County Watchdog Association is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization working on behalf of the residents and taxpayers of Union County monitoring the activity of county government and advocating change to eliminate waste, corruption and incompetence. We will be monitoring these 2005 ELEC abuses closely. If the Union County Republican Committee doesn’t take the promised steps, then we will live up to our mission statement and file the complaints on behalf of the residents and taxpayers of Union County.

This is no small sum of money. Over the past three years to date these mailings and commercials as well as consulting fees cost Union County taxpayers approximately $1,439,868.00. This is a lot of money that is being diverted from services and is an egregious abuse of the public trust.

For more information on taxpayer funded mailings, please visit our website at

September 27, 2005

Trip to Honolulu cost taxpayers $18,230.40 (to date)

Although he was only reimbursed for the lowest airline rate, Freeholder Chairman Richard Proctor traveled first class when he was attending to freeholder duties as an attendee of the National Association of Counties (NACo) in Honolulu this past July.

Along with his $29,000 stipend for being a part-time Freeholder, Proctor serves as a part-time health administrator for several municipalities. Perhaps we should all be proud that our public servants can afford to travel in first class at $2,005.30. After all, if we are paying our public servants so well it must be because we the public are well off.

But I’ve never been to Hawaii - have you?

According to his airline flight information, it seems Proctor turned this trip into a 24-day vacation. Minus the days spent at the convention. But then again, did he even attend the convention? According to records obtained though the Open Public Records Act, Proctor's airline flight information showed that he traveled 7/10/05 from Newark to LA, 7/22/05 Monterey to LA, 7/22 LA to Honolulu, 8/3/05 Honolulu to Newark. The actual conference took place between 7/14 and 7/20. Yet Proctor’s flight information shows him in California on those dates. Perhaps he swam between California and Hawaii to save us taxpayers money. If he has video footage of that, I might even vote for him.

On a positive note, I was told that Freeholder Al Mirabella used frequent flyer miles for his airfare. However he had the biggest taxi/food bill weighing in at $405.88.

Freeholders Proctor and Angel Estrada, who are up for reelection, did not hand in expenses as of this date.

Although the county paid for nine people to attend the conference, only seven attended. I was told that the county will eventually be reimbursed for the two cancellations.

From what I could gather, attendees who brought guests along were County Manager George Devanney and Freeholder Adrian Mapp.

Hawaii NACo Expenses - Conference dates 7/14/05 to 7/20/05 (Only 7 of the 21 New Jersey Counties Attended)

Hotel: Seven rooms at the Sheraton Waikiki in Honolulu $8,655.72

Registration for NAACO Conference nine people @ $415.00 per person $3,735.00

Attendee Plane Fare/Taxi&Food

Mapp: 785.13/323.38

Estrada: 704.43/N/A

Tedeshi: 661.35/194.87

Holmes: 788.20/104.00

Proctor: 661.35/N/A

Mirabella: N/A/405.88

Devanney: 953.13/258.00

Totals 4,553.59 1,286.13

Grand TOTAL: $18,230.44

According to NACo’s website ( the following are highlights of participating in the conference:

Participate in numerous educational workshops and learning opportunities.

Increase knowledge by participating in NACo’s Advanced Leadership Training Sessions.

Involve yourself in Committee meetings determining the future steps of NACo.

Have the opportunity at the exposition to conduct business with companies that sell products and services to local government.

Take part in the election of new NACo officials – including the NACo President.

Give yourself the opportunity to network with county officials representing 80% of the nation’s population.

September 22, 2005

Schoor DePalma - Pay to Player No More

The Marcus Group is a political consulting firm in Northern NJ. Founder Alan Marcus was quoted in a New York magazine article about James McGreevey and his financial backers. His quote has been appearing on the website,, for months, a subliminal message tucked over to the right serving as a constant reminder of what is wrong with the political system here in NJ. Marcus said “In New Jersey, you contribute money not for access but results. Anybody who doesn’t admit that is lying.”

It appears that one firm, Schoor DePalma of Manalapan, has decided to stop lying, according to an editorial in The Times of Trenton this week. Considered to be one of the “big boys” in the pay-to-play arena, Schoor DePalma is said to have notified its clients, which include municipalities and counties, that they would immediately stop making corporate political contributions and that employees were forbidden to provide or receive meals or entertainment with public officials or public employees.

Pay-to-play is the practice of making sizable monetary contributions to political organizations expecting to be awarded equally sizable contracts for services without the benefit to the taxpayers of competitive bidding. By informing their clients that they would stop making political contributions they have in effect shined a light in the pay-to-play closet.

Between October of 1999 and March of 2004 Schoor DePalma forked over in excess of $2.1 million to campaigns in New Jersey with $95,400 of it going to the Union County Democratic Committee. NJ Elec records indicate that this figure does not include what they have contributed to the campaign coffers of individual UC Democratic candidates for the state senate and assembly. Political contributions made by Schoor DePalma during that five year period fills 110 pages on the Elec Website! It should be noted that DePalma were able to reap over $4.1 million in no bid contracts from the Union County Freeholder board - the reward Alan Marcus was talking about.

Has Schoor DePalma decided to take the high road and rely on their excellent work reputation to secure work? Or perhaps it has just gotten all too confusing for the accounting staff. When one considers that they have to track where the contributions been made and what kind of return they have received on their investment, they may have just said, "enough is enough already!"

But perhaps there is something more going on here. Recently the firm was implicated in a scandal in Ocean County involving a former chairman of that sewage authority and an elected official whom the chairman did not identify. The chairman pleaded guilty to a single count of extortion for accepting a $15,000 kickback from the engineering firm and splitting it with the official. Federal guidelines call for at least a two-year prison term but he hopes that by cooperating with prosecutors he will win a lighter sentence.

DePalma denies any wrong doing and in a statement said that the firm will not allow its good name to be discredited. Truth be told, the damage has already been done and it is a sure bet that the feds will be looking at every move that DePalma makes from here to eternity.

It remains to be seen if other “professional services” companies will follow their lead and discontinue the practice of making contributions to political campaigns as it appears that these contributions can morph into something far more serious. A good look needs to be taken at the practice of awarding contracts without competitive bidding. Currently at the county government level there are no restrictions in place and the taxpayer is the one who ultimately bears the burden of funding political campaigns that perhaps they don’t support.

The Union County Board of Freeholders has a responsibility to the residents of Union County to see to it that their tax dollars are being spent wisely and that they are getting what they are paying for.

September 20, 2005

It's George Bush's fault stupid

The county launched it's yearly taxpayer funded campaign kick-off commercial this week. They will defend this spending as "needing to inform the public about services." Please ask yourself why the public only needs to be informed at election time.

Another ploy, which was also used in last year's election, is to get people angry at George W. Bush. The all-Democrat ruled county bashes the president several times in their taxpayer funded press release which was written by the office of public information for which the county claims they can't tell what their budget is or what the paid days off were for the head of this department. Imagine what the New York Times would do to Bush over that sloppy records keeping.

If the county can blame the federal government for all of your misfortunes it takes your mind off of the county raising your taxes 50 percent in the past 5 years and also subliminally bashes their competition in the November election. It's nothing more than political spin from a campaign consultant. Why are they spending our taxes on this? They have plenty of pay-to-play money in their war chest for campaigns.

Why don't people get angry about this? Because they don't have a clue about it. These commercials and mailers have no 'paid for by you' written on them and the Union County Media can't seem to bring themselves to inform people about this scam.

The below link is a press release from the county website. The release doesn't mention how much the commercial cost.

excerpts:....Proctor also used the opportunity to announce the Freeholder Board will soon be adding another new health initiative and making available $150,000 out of the County’s Family First funding available for health care efforts. Human Services officials are currently in the process of identifying where gaps in programs exist throughout the County, and will announce more details within the next month....
hmmmm more taxpayer funded propaganda on the way no doubt.

They could have plugged some gaps with the $187,000 they spent on this commercial. If they stick to the plot they used the past two years they will also be sending out a mailer with the same theme to every Union County household. Cost to taxpayers for postage and printing: $55,627.81. They will rudely not include a thank you note from the campaign.

And that's not all........
The company Message and Media produces these pieces. They have a $6,000 monthly no bid contract for unspecified consulting work. They also work on the freeholders' political campaigns. They charge the Union County Democratic Committee $5,000 a month. One has to wonder if they are getting their campaign pieces at a reduced price because the taxpayers are paying them $72,000 for consulting work that the county has no documentation to show for it.

I'll keep track of these taxpayer funded campaign pieces through the election season. I've been 'round that block before. The county spent approximately $607,939.66 in 2003 and $379,062.80 in 2004. I don't have all the bills; the county claims there are no bills for printing and copying done in-house.

The million dollar question is how much of these 'questionable' programs mentioned in the ad are funded with federal grant money? The 2003 commercial featured the federally funded Star Opportunity Center. An article in The Star-Ledger a few weeks after the election appeared about someone who was in the program when the money ran out. The county had to 'hobble' together the funds to send this guy out of state to complete the program.The article didn't mention the $187,000 commerical or the $55,627.81 mailer.

$242,627.81 could have put a lot of people down on their luck through this 'federally funded' program.

Imagine if it were George Bush spending our property tax dollars on his campaign. I wonder what the Union County taxpayer funded commercial featuring campaigning freeholders would have to say about that.

2005 mailings to date: Freeholders Proctor, Estrada and Ward are up for reelection as well as Clerk Rojappi

Letter dated July 2005 sent to several municipalities (the ones that lean Republican) extolling what the freeholders "have done for you!". An OPRA request was placed followed by a Government Records Council OPRA denial of access complaint which was filed on 9/20/05. County claims they don't know what I'm asking for. (Seriously, that's what they put in writing.)

Union County Directions Newspaper - Published by the Union County Alliance - Cost to the county: approximately $50,000

Senior Newsletter mailed during primary week featuring campaigning freeholders. 'Meet freeholder Nancy Ward and Adrian Mapp' on back cover and a message from freeholder Rick Proctor.
Cost: Postage $6,501.57. Copies are done in house so the county claims there is no cost (4 pages).

September 13, 2005

One party rule serves the party first and foremost

All Union County taxpayers should be very weary of Cranford Democratic Chairwoman Carolyn Vollero’s claim that an all-Democrat Cranford Township Committee would have benefits. “I think we will get things done a lot quicker with less bickering” she said in a recent Star-Ledger article.

In county races for Freeholder in 1998, which was the last year there was mixed representation on the board, the Democrats campaigned with the same rhetoric, saying that given total control they would be able to get things done a lot quicker with a lot less bickering. Unfortunately, the Democrats kept every word of that campaign promise.

Since they’ve taken total control of the 9 member freeholder board they now pass resolutions with lightening speed, most times while not releasing information to the public until the night of the meeting. They not only don’t bicker about anything during meetings, they don’t discuss much business either and they don't answer the publics questions. The public portion of the meeting is for public comments only. They vote yes on resolutions in unison without any public debate, which leaves you to wonder where are they discussing things if not in public? And who are they discussing them with if not the public? Even one dissenting voice on the board – one outsider - would put a stop to all of that.

Also consider that in the same year that the Union County Freeholder Board went all one party rule their campaign ridiculed the remaining Republicans because they wouldn’t give a surplus of money back to the taxpayers. Since winning total control, the all-Democrat freeholder board has raised their portion of our property tax bills over 50% with not one sitting freeholder willing to ridicule the board for any of the causes of the tax hikes.

No matter what the party is, one party ruled government gives outside political powerbrokers too much sway over local issues; we need a balance at all levels of government. Only healthy public debate can lead to government of the people, by the people, for the people – all the people, not just the connected polical hacks and powerbrokers.