April 23, 2008

County can’t spin a live performance

On January 31, 2007 the Union County Watchdog Association announced that it will be posting complete video coverage of Union County Freeholder’s meetings on its website. A press release stated: “Union County government accounts for 1/4 of our property tax bills and constituents have a right to see and hear what goes on during local government meetings,” said Tina Renna, president of Union County Watchdog Association.

In January 2008 we announced that we would be lobbying towns to show freeholder meetings on their local cable access channels. The freeholders stopped distributing meetings to towns a few years ago. We have been very successful and most cable viewers can now access freeholder meetings on at least one channel.

Our website has always been a model of which we would hope that county government would want to emulate. When we started obtaining public records and posting them on the Internet the county did not post any public documents on their taxpayer funded site. The county now posts their meeting minutes and past meeting agendas on their site.

Big whop-de-do and I’ll tell you and show you why I believe that.

The county controls what is recorded in their meeting minutes. The last meeting I tagged for our Veotag account, a video enhancement service, was a good example of how the county twists words made by residents who are critical of them. As with everything we post on our website, it is hoped that the county would get the message and use their million dollar public information department and post this information themselves. This will never happen because even if they spent a hundred million dollars on public information they can never spin a live performance.

Here is two examples how the county is dis-informing the public with their meeting minutes.

Union County Freeholder meeting March 13, 2008:
The official meeting minutes state: Tina Renna, Cranford, New Jersey, does not support the idea of the Board sponsoring and attending the African Heritage Parade and other Parades. She also commented on the Presentation to Mr. Lynch and said that although he is a great guy, he should not be honored at Freeholder Meetings.


The official meeting minutes state: Tina Renna, Cranford, stated that she is the President of the Union County Watchdog Association and commented about the audio equipment for Freeholder Meetings, she spoke about the proposed budget and quoted County Manager Devanney who stated that the increased budget is due to mandated expenses, such as health insurance, pensions and increase in salaries for the Union County Sheriff and Police Departments.