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.