December 08, 2007

3rd Annual "Union County Countdown to Disaster-2007, the Year in Review."

Submitted by Bruce Paterson of Garwood

The previous year 2006 was a disastrous year for Union County government all at the expense of the residents. This year was no different. Lets countdown the year together to see how we did.

February-A lawsuit against the Prosecutors office and the county alleging that the prosecutor’s office has no standard criteria for promotion and was frequently revised to allow for promotion of certain individuals with political connections. In addition, Hispanics had a distinct disadvantage. This sergeant when he spoke up was humiliated, harassed and his assigned parking spot was taken away.

February-Even though it is written in the county bylaws that all questions from residents should be addressed to the chairman of the board, chairwoman Kowalski told a resident you can comment, but we will not answer questions. Union county-we’re connected to you but only in 1 direction.

March-subpoenas handed down to the double dipping Union county undersheriff/ assemblyman Cryan. He is being investigated as to whether certain non-profit group’s donations to Cryan’s political fund in return helped them receive state grants. Hey when your sheriff in town, you make the law.

March-Cranford’s township authorized an 8 member committee to study the county taxes they pay versus the benefits they get from the county. They state that they pay over $13 mill in county taxes, they get 10 cents on the dollar in return and the rest is unknown where it disappears to.

March-State committee of investigation requested records from the county about our dealings with Sequoia voting systems, who the county bought the voting machines from. They want to study the reliability of the machines against tampering and all political donations from voting machine companies to the county political powers. Makes one wonder about the validity of elections in the county. The county subsequently said they are retrofitting them next year with paper ballots.

March-the only freeholder on this board who has financial experience was never allowed on the budget committees and now has been tossed from the upcoming election campaign. Why spoil the county record of financial disaster by having it addressed with experience.

April-Union County schools superintendent allowed a confidential and incomplete audit report into the hands of Elizabeth Mayor Bollwage so he could use it against the Elizabeth school board in the upcoming school election. This was unethical, despicable and possibly illegal since incomplete reports cannot be disclosed to the public.

April-the saga and lawsuits of the political patronage job continues in the County weights and measures dept. Two people were passed over for promotion so a politically connected hack could get the job. This guy also finished behind the 2 others in the civil service exam. Settlement finally happened this December the total fiasco costing close to $1 million. Maybe this is where Cranford’s county tax money is going.

May-Photos were taken about a county mosquito commissioner using his county car for political campaign work. This car was taken away from him. Finally 1 accountability.

May-It was uncovered that a county financial director has been using his county car to go to the gym when he is only allowed to go portal to portal. We wonder if he uses it for his second job in Linden. No reprimand.

May-oh oh county taxes to the residents up 5.3%. Total county taxes increases 70% since 2001. Probably had to cover all those unwarranted big raises from last year. Budget up 3.6%

May- A $5 mill Lawsuit against the county and dept of economic development and an officer of the improvement authority, from a person who alleges he was being forced into early retirement for political reasons. He’s not the same political party as the director of the improvement authority.

June-Final lawsuit settlements for harassment of a sheriff’s officer. Cost $2.5 mill. Direct out of taxpayer money: $1.7 million. Maybe that’s where Cranford’s county tax money is going.

July- County quickly settles suit with a Union county watchdog organization over unreasonable fees being charged for OPRA. Cost $1,900. Stated a watchdog- "that fee was just to stop people from asking for information from the county". Union County-we’re connected to you-only when we extort money from you.

July- County receives a Homeland Security Boat to protect the county coastline. Sadly the boat’s first critical mission was to have freeholder candidate Ryland Van Blake get a photo op with it for the freeholder’s upcoming campaign literature.

July- After promising $3 million in aid for flood relief to Cranford, the county gave the town $800,000 and reneged on the rest. Cranford deputy mayor and many residents went down to a freeholder meeting to beg for the rest. No such luck it appears.

August- The county medical examiner stated that he was forced out of the position for political reasons. He is now being replaced by 2 people. His salary was $145,000. The 2 new salaries total $350,000, one for $190,000 the other for $160,000. So much for the hiring freeze. And big raises take the place.

September-Another Musicfest extravaganza, this time costing twice as much as last year. Again there was the freeholder royalty tent set up with free alcohol and food for their cronies. Although the public pays for this, they are not invited to the tent. A resident last year said instead of inviting political cronies and hacks the freeholders should invite the disabled and specialized residents to the VIP tent. No such luck. The county is now big in the entertainment business. Maybe that’s where Cranford’s tax money is going.

September- Positive proof that the freeholders don’t even know what they vote on at their meetings, especially big ticket items. A $7 million bond ordinance for a non-profit organization in Plainfield was introduced. When questioned by a resident and Freeholder Mapp, the other freeholders said they didn’t know what it was about. A resident commented on this and was promptly thrown out for her comments. Union County, we’re connected to you, especially when they are dragging you out.

October- another inmate at the county jail ends up in intensive care after possible medical mistreatment at the county lockup. There were 3 deaths in as many years in the past. It seems one risks death being in county custody.

October- Again Sheriff Froehlich who was up for election sent out a political campaign piece using the official county seal. This is unethical and more likely illegal, but hey he’s the law around here so it doesn’t make a difference whether illegal or not.

October-Five subpoenas were served on the director of the Union County Improvement Authority, Charlotte Defillippo. They are requesting several back years of financial docs on the authority, her committee’s involvement with the Roselle primary election, and her ownership of a Camelot title agency. For 2 years we have implored you to get rid of this apparently shady character but you wouldn’t. Now the county is getting a black eye with the subpoenas to Cryan and Defillppo. It’s starting to look like a criminal enterprise thrives here in the county. And the taxpayers are the victims.

November-it appears that a sexual harassment lawsuit against a freeholder is back on the agenda. This freeholder already settled 1 sexual harassment lawsuit.

November- County finally settles lawsuit regarding the death of a juvenile in the detention center from 2003. Cost approximately $900,000. Over the years, the state had taken the county to task over the deplorable conditions which went on un-repaired for 18 months until this unfortunate death.

December- The county wants to create 6 new Sheriff Captain positions. So much for the hiring freeze. With big raises to take the place.

Every year, there are common threads in the countdowns-waste, mismanagement, lawsuits from political patronage, no accountability, death and harm. We dread to see what will chronicle next year. And here in the bizarro world of Union County government this is all rewarded with raises and promotions. It stinks, this is not Union county, it should be called ONION county.