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.