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