July 30, 2006

"Not on our watch!"

The recent revelation uncovered by the Union County Watchdog Association that Freeholder Rick Proctor has been appointed by the Union County Democratic Committee and then put on their ballot and elected two times while keeping from the public that he had two complaints filed against him alleging sexual harassment, among other things, has led the UCWA to file an expansive Open Public Records Request.

We find it necessary to conduct an on-site inspection of all complaints, briefs, and settlements for 36 law suits that have shown up on county resolutions in the years 2005 and 2006. View OPRA request

The Star-Ledger can not be trusted

We aren’t quite sure what these law suits allege. What we are now sure of is that “IF” the Union County media knows about these law suits it isn’t informing the public about them. A Star-Ledger reporter knew about the recent Proctor case “months ago” according to an attorney involved, yet hasn’t written a word about it to date. Proctor was sworn in to his new term just “months ago” in January. Also note today’s fluff piece about Assemblywoman Stender’s run for Congress. The Ledger article doesn’t mention a word about her securing lucrative contracts for her husband’s printing firm while she was a freeholder or her present employment with the county.

Above: Public Information Officer D'Elia photographed while taking photo's and harassing women at a polling station on Election Day. D'Elia insisted "I did not take pictures of those women."
The county’s public information officer has been quoted in the Ledger trashing my OPRA requests looking into county business. He’s lamented and lied “by requesting reams of documents she believes she will expose overspending, officials, said, she has forced the government to spend upwards of $100,000.” He then gives a lame accounting, without back-up documentation, to prove his claims of how he arrived at this $100,000 figure.

D’Elia’s salary happens to be just a hair under $100,000 – not including his lucrative “public servant” benefits. Who would the taxpayers rather inform them? The county’s self-serving public disinformation office who are proven liars with obvious connections to muffle the media or the Union County Watchdog Association?

The county can not be trusted

The county tried to cover up this freeholder law suit by excessively redacting executive session meeting minutes as well as broke other rules required by the Open Public Meetings Act. This suit has cost the taxpayers $25,000 to date and it’s just getting started! Proctor is due to give his deposition this week. We propose that the county do away with the entire million dollar a year office of public disinformation – and fetch those documents for the UCWA! We’ve come to that conclusion long ago.

This investigation will produce “reams” of paper; however, on-site inspections don’t require copying unless the requestor specifically asks for them.

I expect the county to counter that this request will “shut down the entire legal department." I propose they shut down the entire county government until taxpayers are informed as to how our officials are conducting themselves and involving us in costly law suits.

Going forward the UCWA will request documents for all new law suits. A freeholder being appointed and elected twice while keeping skeletons in the Star-Ledger’s closet with attorney’s paid for with tax dollars won’t happen again – not on our watch.