March 11, 2007

Another one quietly bites the dust

Note: I would have liked to have put a photo of Freeholder Adrian Mapp in this spot, but the county no longer alows you to download photos of freeholders from their taxpayer funded website.

Although it hasn’t been officially announced or reported outside of blogs, rumors have been circulating for weeks that Freeholder Adrian Mapp of Plainfield will not be getting the Democrat line this Primary Election Day.

The Plainfield Plaintalker reported this week that Mapp will be replaced by Plainfield Councilman Rayland Van Blake. The only questions to be answered are will Mapp put up a fight and how soon will Van Blake replace Mapp on the Board?

Mapp is up for election this year and the Union County Democrat machine runs their freeholder candidates as incumbents taking full advantage of the tax-payer funded county Public Information Department press releases; upwards of $250,000 of county publicity from a commercial that runs right before election season kicks off, and mailers that arrive in the weeks before Election Day; and the supposed ‘free’ concerts in the park which showcase the incumbent freeholders.

During the 2004 campaign I remember Mapp stating during a freeholder debate, “with my financial skills I can’t wait to get my hands on the budget and go over it with a fine tooth comb.” There is no doubt in my watchdog mind that the clock started ticking at that moment and Mapp’s freeholder days were numbered before he was even officially elected. Mapp never appeared to be accepted by the freeholder board. He rarely appeared in photo ops.

When Mapp packs up his belongings from his county office he will have to wipe off the dust that has collected on his ‘fine tooth comb’. If Mapp ever got to examine a financial record he didn’t reveal his findings to the public. I doubt the county let him near a financial document during his tenure as freeholder. Although Mapp has accounting skills he has never served on the Budget Committee.

Mapp joins a long line of freeholders who were recently replaced after falling out of favor with the Union County Democrat machine. Freeholder Mapp replaced Freeholder Louis Mingo in 2004. Mingo fell out of favor when he backed Plainfield Mayor Al McWilliams for Mayor that year. McWilliams had begun a new political party in which Mapp became a member of called ‘The New Democrats’. Mingo didn’t put up a fight. He left office quietly, so quietly that it wasn’t found out until months later that the county created a job for him and he was allowed to keep his county car and cell phone.

2004 was a big year for replacement freeholders. Freeholder Nicholas Scutari was nominated for the Senate after Senator Joseph Suliga announced that he would not seek re-election after a drunken casino incident in Atlantic City.

When Freeholder Scaturi was promoted to Senator he was then replaced briefly by Freeholder John Wohlrab of Linden who served until he was arrested and charged in an alleged domestic violence incident two months before the 2004 election. Wohlrab was then replaced by Freeholder Nancy Ward of Linden. It was so close to the election that Wohlrab’s name remained on the ballot even though Ward was the candidate. Despite his recent arrest over 70,000 people voted for Wohlrab but it was Ward who was sworn into office. This election proved that anyone on the County Democrat line will be elected.

It was widely rumored that the real reason Wohlrab was forced out was because he wasn’t getting along with Union County Democrat Chairwoman Charlotte DeFalippo. But, like Mingo, Wohlrab chose to go away quietly. He is still involved with the Democrat machine in Linden and was Mayor John T. Greggorio’s campaign treasure in 2006.

Freeholder Bette Jane Kowalski of Cranford came to the board in September 2004, she replaced Freeholder Mary Ruotolo on the ballot. Ruotolo was aligned with the former county manager, Michael LaPolla, who had been recently unwillingly replaced by Senator Raymond Lesniak’s nephew. Rutolo had been appointed to the freeholder board shortly after her husband; the late Union County Prosecutor Andrew Rutolo’s passing. Rutolo also chose not to go public with her political career demise. She stated the old "I want to spend more time with my family" and accepted a position at the Turnpike Authority.

Mapp recently accepted a position with the town of Roselle where two fractions of Democrats are currently fighting a hand to hand combat of sorts. It would be a breath of fresh air in county politics if Mapp would honestly tell the public what his experiences were as a freeholder and why he never got to review the budget and report what he had found as was promised during his campaign.

I truly would like to believe that there are organized ‘New Democrats’ in Union County that are willing to do something about the machine politics running their party and destroying residents quality of life. They can't reform their party by quietly accepting banishment. This allows them to keep their public employment and protects the machine and affords them a chance to remain somewhat a part of it with hopes of being an insider again one day. If the new democrats don’t expose the system, they won’t be able to fix it.

Freeholder Mapp is the fourth freeholder in three years to be tossed to the political graveyard heap by the Union County Democrat machine. What more proof is needed that Union County Freeholders have to answer to the powerbrokers who appoint them to office and not the people who elected them?

A clueless public, dominated by registered Democrats, elects freeholders to serve “They the powerbrokers” and not “We the people”.