May 18, 2006

Union County gets another pass in the press

Press coverage this week of the contaminated soil dumped in a Union County owned quarry fails to answer any questions that would be important to the health and safety of the community. As usual the reporter wrote what the county spokesperson tells him as if he's a reliable source. Whenever a serious issue arises the County Manager or the Freeholders never go on record and never answer questions. Their response this time, as always, is to tell the press to “refer all questions to county spokesman Sebastian D’Elia". The only problem with the press contacting D’Elia is that he’s a paid employee who answers to the freeholders not the taxpayers who pay his salary.

In this case, as always, D’Elia hands the reporter a prepared written statement which is vague and does not offer any useful information. For example the article states that “engineers contend the soil does not pose an imminent health threat.” What engineers? What is the level of contamination found? Is the F.B.I. investigating? The D.E.P.? If not than why? Why can’t the reporter ask questions of the director in charge of overseeing the site? Why can’t the reporter ask the County Manager or the Freeholders? They’re given Blackberry’s and cell phones at taxpayers expense why can’t they be reached to be held accountable?

Reporters must be more diligent in dealing with our county officials. There are very few New Jersey politicians that can be trusted. None of them are Union County freeholders. Information is the only thing that can keep people healthy and safe. People need the facts and names of experts and officials to be held accountable for those facts, not unsubstantiated opinions of a county spokesperson whose allegiance is to politicians.

D’Elia’s quote in the article made absolutely no sense, “Its contamination level is comparable to dirt taken from an excavated home heating oil tank.” Really? Oh O.K. Mr. D’Elia we should believe you just like we should believe that you didn’t harass those women.