February 19, 2007

County will not allow budget hearings to be recorded

The Union County Watchdog Association recently requested permission of the County of Union to video tape their budget hearings. It was our intent to then upload the hearings to our website for free public access.

The county will not allow the UCWA to record the hearings. The County will not be recoding the hearings either despite recently spending $110,000 tax-dollars upgrading their audio and visual equipment.
Re: Your notice of intention to video record the Budget Hearings of the Fiscal Affairs Committee

Mrs. Renna:

Receipt of your February 11, 2007 notice of your intention, pursuant to the “Guidelines For The Utilization of Recording Devices During Open Public Meetings of The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders” to video the meetings of the Fiscal Affairs Committee scheduled for February 21, 2007, February 24, 2007, February 28, 2007 and March 8, 2007 is hereby acknowledged. Please be advised that, for the reasons set forth below, you will not be permitted to video the aforementioned meetings of the Freeholders’ Fiscal Affairs Committee.

Please be advised that the referenced “Guidelines” do not apply to working-Freeholder Committee Meetings, which are routinely held in conference rooms; but rather they apply to Open Public Meetings of the Board as a whole, held in the Freeholder Meeting Room. As you well know, the committee meetings in question relate to the County’s 2007 Budget and historically such budget meetings are attended by Freeholders that are not committee members. With the probability that 5 or more Freeholders will attend some or all of these meetings, the County, pursuant to the “Sunshine Law,” publicly notices same. These Committee meetings do not constitute traditional “Open Public Meetings” and there is no public participation permitted at these working meetings of the Committee. Additionally, the conference room, where this Committee convenes, is not conducive to videotaping activities while Committee hearings are being conducted. Of course, the public is given every opportunity to participate and comment at the public, budget hearings conducted by the full--Board of Chosen Freeholders.

Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter and anticipated cooperation.

Nicole L. DiRado
Nicole L. DiRado, RMC, MPA, Clerk of the Board
Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders

Worrall Community Newspapers
Officials embark on budget process

By Lauren DeFilippo, Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 14, 2007 1:29 PM EST

UNION COUNTY, NJ - The county’s 2007 budget is expected to be introduced to the freeholder board this week.

County Manager George Devanney announced his $415 million executive budget last month, which included the elimination of 50 positions and, for the fifth year in a row, an increased tax levy.

After the executive budget is announced, a copy is sent to the state for approval. Following that approval, the freeholders commence budget hearings, and make amendments. The revised budget is then introduced during the month of May.

The freeholder board typically adopts the budget in June. The county’s fiscal year begins on Jan. 1

Those hearings, which are open to the public, are set to begin Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. on the sixth floor of the County Administration Building, located on Elizabethtown Plaza.

During each hearing, department heads present their budget requests to the finance committee and propose potential cost saving measures. The schedule of departments has not yet been released.

Other hearings are slated for Feb. 24 at 9 a.m., and Feb. 28. and March 8 at 5:30 p.m..

Following the hearings, the freeholder board will make changes and recommendations to the budget.

The county budget is typically adopted in June.
Lauren DeFilippo can be reached at 908-686-7700, ext. 119, or unioncountyb@thelocalsource.com.

February 14, 2007

Governor Jon Corzine has confidence in Power Broker Driven Union County government

The freeholder’s reorganization meeting held on January 7, 2007 is something to be seen to be believed. Thanks to Veotag you can see the meeting by clicking HERE.

All Union County Democrat political dignitaries were in attendance. Also present were the Chairwoman of the National Democrat Committee and Governor Jon Corzine who gushed on about his beloved home county……

......"One of the things I have the most confidence in is the quality of our county government, particularly as I've seen it operate here in Union County over the years. I believe that the quality of effort by the people that have served this great county is remarkable and we would all be well served to see their efforts brought to bear to try and reduce the cost of government by making sure we look for economies of scale.....It is hard to imagine a compounding rate of property taxes at 7%......It is a remarkable burden for our citizens to bear and hopefully in the next few days and weeks and hopefully not much longer than that those of us that care deeply will come and act and make decisions...I know this great freeholder board has done this time and time again… God bless you. Have a Happy New Year. It's wonderful to be with you.”
Gov. Jon Corzine, January 7, 2007

Every major New Jersey newspaper warned the voters that Corzine would continue party boss driven politics as usual.

The Asbury Park Press on 10/23/05
Forrester best hope for tax, ethics reform
Forrester has campaigned with a sense of urgency – a prerequisite to attacking the major problems that have been left unsolved by Democrats in Trenton and the political bosses pulling their strings. New Jersey needs someone who is committed to breaking the stranglehold of the unelected power brokers and to reducing the crushing burden of taxes by reducing spending. Forester can do it. We’re convinced Corzine won’t even try.

The Star-Ledger 10/30/05
Doug Forrester for governor
Jon Corzine has championed as a U.S. senator, he hasn’t convinced us he can stand up to the entrenched bosses of his party or to the powerful public employee unions.
Put simply, Corzine appears to suffer from the same disease of wanting to please everyone that contributed to the downward spiral of James E. McGreevy’s administration.

The candidates for New Jersey governor have made property taxes the chief issue in this election. But obscenely high property taxes – highest per capita in the nation – are only a symptom of the chronic illnesses that infect New Jersey: an antiquated tax structure, runaway spending and a culture of corruption that rewards the politically connected.

The Bergen Record Sunday, October 30, 2005
Recent Democratic rule has too often been a disgrace
We would have liked to write a glowing recommendation of Democrat Jon Corzine to be New Jersey's next governor. But we can't.

Although we have admired Mr. Corzine's advocacy for social and environmental issues and the many courageous stands he has taken in the U.S. Senate, the 58-year-old Hoboken resident has made huge campaign contributions to the political bosses and other insiders who give New Jersey a horrible reputation and drive up the cost of governance.

What's more, Mr. Corzine's million-dollar donations to black ministers and other financial dealings that surfaced during the campaign reinforced an appearance that he uses his money to buy people's support. Despite his strong points, the senator has a troubling blind spot when it comes to the ramifications of his generosity.

Republican Doug Forrester, 52, of West Windsor, has run a campaign that has been relentless about ending corruption and restoring the public's trust in government. For these reasons more than any other, The Record recommends Mr. Forrester for governor.

Acting Gov. Cody’s efforts notwithstanding, recent Democratic rule has too often been a disgrace. A year ago, Gov. James McGreevey resigned under an ethical cloud. The bosses strong-armed the Legislature to pass such rotten legislation as sham campaign-finance reform and an expedited building permit process for deep-pocketed developers. Pay-to-play deals - in which contributors are rewarded with government contracts - have been rampant, and they still persist at the county and local levels.

Mr. Forrester, a wealthy business owner, says in no uncertain terms what he promises to do: End pay-to-play at all levels and dispatch the Democratic bosses back to their lairs.

To Mr. Corzine's credit, he did stand up to Bergen County Democratic Chairman Joseph Ferriero in order to get Loretta Weinberg, then an assemblywoman, chosen to replace retired state Sen. Byron Baer. He needs to assert this sort of leadership a lot more.

Mr. Corzine insists that he will, but the fact is that he has bankrolled the bosses in order to gain their support over the past five years, and he'd have a far tougher time than Mr. Forrester in curbing their influence. After all, his money helped enable the recent climate of corruption.

February 11, 2007

2007 Video meeting minutes posted

The January 18, 2007 video meeting minutes of the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders are now posted on the Union County Watchdog Association's website. Although the county spent $110,000 on new video and audio equipment you will see that the footage is blurry and the audio is scratchy. It's just what we've come to expect of Union County services.

You can view the meeting by clicking HERE.

The next regular meeting will be held this Thursday, February 15, 2007. The UCWA will make every effort to broadcast this meeting on the web as soon as the county releases the tape.