November 19, 2006

They could put a turkey in every pot

As previously posted, this years freeholder campaign saw the incumbent one-party ruled county government spending upwards of $250,000 tax-dollars promoting incumbent freeholders in the weeks leading up to the election.

I attended the freeholder meeting the Thursday following the election. I knew the freeholders and their in-house campaign staff would be puffed up like Tom Turkey’s gobbling on about their victory; this is exactly why I wanted to be there. I wanted to pluck some of their feathers and laugh in their faces as they grandiosely congratulated themselves.

I wanted to remind them of why they win elections and ask them to ponder what an organization like the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless could do with $250,000, and would they please consider using this money to help people in the future?

I wasn’t surprised at their win. Statistically it is almost impossible to change the course of a freeholder election in Union County. Whoever Charlotte DeFalippo puts on the Democrat line will be elected.

“The people have spoken” freeholder Sullivan pontificated. He claimed that there was a 60% voter turnout in the county and that “this was a landslide victory”. Subsequently, it’s been reported that there was a 49.5% turnout. Democrats outnumber Republicans in Union County 2-1; most registered voters in the county are unaffiliated. What really keeps the Democrats in power is that most registered voters don’t bother to vote. All 9 freeholder seats are at large therefore the Democrats don’t have to do much to turn out the votes in the cities in order to win. They have 3,000 county employees to squeeze into volunteering and unlimited pay to play money to add to the tax-dollars that they spend on their campaigns.

Sullivan also bragged about how they “get out the vote”. If you’re around places like Elizabeth on Election Day you will see county employees getting out the vote.

Whenever I venture into the County Administration building, the county’s public information officer always makes an attempt to harass me before I leave. Waiting for the elevator at the end of the meeting Seb D’Elia, who doubles as an in-house campaign manager, passed by and hissed “It’s good to win”.

It is illegal to have public employees working on campaigns while they are on the clock.

Freeholder Scanlon thanked these employees “I want to thank all the Department Heads and employees; I know that you were pulling for us”.

Strangely enough, on Election Day the County Manager, who is Senator Ray Lesniak’s nephew, was seen pulling for Republican Mayoral Candidate David Cohen in Berkeley Heights. Voter fraud is being alleged there, but I’ll save that for another post.

Freeholder Mirabella bellowed “I will continue to be proud of our record, personally and collectively, I am only humbled by the trust and support the people have put in us.” Mirabella, who was the chairman of the board this year, has consistently refused to answer the public’s questions regarding a host of topics.

The county is planning on building an animal shelter, during the freeholder debates Mirabella spoke about how the “municipalities have been doing a terrible job of taking care of the animals” and that many “are needlessly euthanized”.

Mirabella, nor any other freeholder, has ever publicly acknowledged their responsibility in regards to the two prisoners who were needlessly euthanized in their jail cells. In two separate recent incidents prisoners died very preventable and agonizing deaths. Another 22 year old prisoner had to have his voice box removed because his cancer went untreated. A 17 year old hanged himself on an exposed sprinkler head which the county left unrepaired for 17 months.

The voters that cast a ballot for Mirabella obviously have no idea that he shouldn’t be trusted, even with their dogs.

Mirabella delivered the biggest laugh of the evening with this closing act “I’d like to congratulate all the winners of this years election” he then blabbered on about only Democrats that won and finished his segment with Linda Stender “She is a terrific lady who worked very hard…, she was up against a machine…., she was outspend by a million dollars…”. Mirabella did not offer similar condolences to his opponents on the Republican line.

Freeholder Sullivan stated “The voters are very smart in this county and very discerning”.

I questioned the intelligence of the people who blindly vote down the democrat line. I will back this up with the freeholders own campaign literature of which I am an avid collector of. No one could insult their voter’s intelligence any more than the county democrats. If they truly believed that the voters who keep them in power are smart and discerning then they wouldn’t send their voter base literature that suggests that they are running for the office of President of the United States of America: Click HERE

Sheriff Ralph Froehlich signed two letters endorsing the Democrat freeholders. What makes his letters noteworthy is that they were on phony official Sheriff's Department letterhead. The longest serving law enforcement official in the nation sent his constituents a flim flam campaign piece worthy of Boss Hog: Click HERE

Freeholder Holmes, who doesn’t quite get the concept of the First Amendment, stated “I don’t believe anyone has the right to criticize the voters”.

Can a voter be smart and discerning yet not care about domestic violence? During my comments I did poke fun at the voters who keep this regime in office, scandal after scandal, although most of their scandals are only reported on this blog and don’t make the local main stream media, therefore voter ignorance is justified to some extent. I brought up the fact that in 2004 70,000 people cast a vote for Freeholder John Wholrab despite the fact that he was arrested and charged with allegedly beating his live-in-girlfriend just 6 weeks prior to the election.

Despite it all....Let us give thanks

I sat down at my computer today with the intention of writing about being thankful as well as hopeful for a better future.

A few days ago I sent out an email to our watchdog list asking for donations. The immediate response I received has been overwhelming and inspiring. I am thankful that there are intelligent Union County residents that care where ¼ of their property tax bill is going and how it is being misspent and misused. Even though we are in the minority, together we can make a difference by shining a light on government. Despite the statistacal fact that the Union County Democrat machine will not be out of power any time soon, I am still confident that change is in the air and it is attainable.

I’m also grateful to know that there are good people at a higher level who are committed to changing the culture of corruption in this State. The abuses the freeholders so freely get away with stems from the lack of law and the lack of commitment to enforce the ineffectual laws that are in place. I’ve had the honor and pleasure of meeting Paula Franzese who heads the State Ethics Commission. She is pushing for a complete overhaul of the state’s ethics system. Among the priorities of the Commission are to enact a uniformed and meaningful ethics code for not only the State, but the county and local governments as well.

As a member of the Board of the New Jersey Foundation for Open Government I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside passionate open government activists from across the state. We are working towards increasing government transparency by putting some teeth into the Open Public Records Act and will push for legislation to overhaul the antiquated Open Public Meetings Act.

One day last week I helped out at my favorite charity. It is quite humbling to see people lined up for a free bag of food; seeing these seniors, young people with children and the disabled all needing assistance for their daily basic needs left me inspired to rage on against the machine. Property taxes are a regressive form of taxation; therefore we all suffer from government waste and corruption.

As I watched these people standing in line I wished the freeholders were there to experience the desperate need for help that is all around us. Maybe then they wouldn’t misuse over $250,000 tax-dollars on their campaigns as well as the other misspent and misguided millions. If they wanted to, they could use their absolute power and unlimited resources to literally put a turkey in the pot of every Union County family and so much more.