May 26, 2008

Personally, I'd Rather Get the Chocolates

Any day now Union County residents will be getting a special Valentine from the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders. The Valentine will not be arriving in a red satin heart shaped box filled with Russell Stover’s Little Ambassadors nor delivered by the House of Flowers in Linden, one of the freeholders favorite vendors. Rather landing in mailboxes across the county will be the Spring edition of the renowned Union County Alliance’s publication “Directions”.

NOTE: In most past years the news letter would arrive just prior to the primary election and be jammed with the faces of incumbent Democratic elected officials who were seeking reelection. . Mysteriously last year the Spring ’07 edition was rather late and we can only speculate the reasons why the Freeholders would suddenly pass up a free drop of campaign literature. However, judging by their past performance that won’t be happening again this year.

On Valentine’s Day 2008 the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders approved the annual contract with the UC Alliance for the contract period of January 1, 2008 through December 31, 2008 in the amount of $332,125 to provide comprehensive research and communications services.

The contract appears to overlap the preceding one year contract by six months which covered the period of July 1, 2007 through June 20, 2008 in the amount of $265,125. There does not appear to be any resolutions which account for the overlap in coverage or an adjustment of the contract costs. However it should be mentioned that the board also approved $29,000 (resolution 2007-797) for advertising in ’07.

In three years time, since January 2005 the Freeholder Board has forked over One Million, Two Hundred Seventy Eight Thousand, Eight Hundred and Seventy Five Dollars, $1,278,875, of taxpayer hard earned money.

And for what? One might ask.
Answer: who knows!!

The Freeholders provide approximately 80% of the Alliance’s funding so one could think that they would be some type of an extension of government and thus subject to OPRA. The Alliance claims they are not and are unwilling to release requested documents regarding their activities and associated expenditures. (That is another story for another day and can be read about here in a previous blog or two or three.)

Curious as to what they have been up to lately and how they have been spending our money we decided to check it out. A visit to their website, just click here, provided absolutely no clues at all. Except for a change in their address, and advertising rates for the “ upcoming” Spring 2005 edition, the site has remained unchanged since 2004.

It is unbelievable that the UC Alliance has taken over $1.2 million of the taxpayers’ money in the course of the last three years and all that can be shown for that investment is two over blown newsletters annually in time for Election Days and an outdated website.

Happy Valentines Day from the Freeholders to the Residents of Union County……personally, I would rather get the chocolates.