May 06, 2007

2007 Union County Budget Hearings are now available on the web

The Union County Watchdog Association has posted the 2007 Union County Budget Hearing’s on their Veotag site. You can view them HERE.

You may recall that the UCWA wanted to tape the budget hearings but the county refused to grant permission. After a Star-Ledger reporter asked them about it the county decided to tape the meetings themselves. The UCWA then purchased the meeting tapes ($90.00 worth) and veotaged them and placed them on the web for free and easy public access.

I attended budget hearings last year, and this year and I believe the camera rolling made a huge difference in the process. For one, this year there were six freeholders in attendance who tried their darnedest to look like they were paying attention, when in last year’s hearings I only counted up to three who seemed to barely stay awake. Although they didn’t discuss much internal hard stuff (the freeholder handouts were not offered to the citizens in attendance), there were many more questions asked of the department heads this year which made the process a little bit more informative for the public.

In a Star-Ledger article about the county not wanting the public to tape their budget hearings the county tried to paint my motivation for being a watchdog as political in an attempt to discredit me. This does a disservice to not only me, but to all the board members and active members who contribute to the UCWA. There is no way just one person could accomplish all that we do on their own.

In the article the county pointed out that the Union County Republican Committee has been a supporter of the UCWA. This is true, but they are by far not the only contributor as many of you know. The UCWA would not refuse any monetary donation from the Union County Democratic Committee or any other political group who is interested in bringing about good government practices to Union County government.

The county's Office of Public Information claimed that I am the only person who wanted these hearings video taped; However, I'd like you to know that hundreds of people have been viewing our web-posted freeholder meetings.

Comically this department, which is charged with informing the public, claimed that the county’s taping of the budget hearings, was going to cost the tax-payers money. The employee who taped the meetings was the same employee I spied sitting in the audience last year. According to the county’s claim employees who are involved in a task cost more to tax-payers than employees who are just sitting around. It must be a union thingy. That Carla Katz is such a minx.

Thank you for your continued support, without which none of the UCWA's activities would be possible. I view these budget hearing tapings and consequent free internet access as a victory for open government and ask you to consider why the county doesn’t make this sort of information available on their website. What do they have to hide? It’s another reminder of how county government is connected to their powerbrokers and not the residents.

View article Blogger, freeholders feud on videotaping
County to do its own taping after refusing woman

Star-Ledger Thursday, February 22, 2007