For years now the only pieces of fiction I have been reading are either by Christopher Buckley or the auditors for Union County. Whether it’s fudging OPEB disclosures or failing to mention raiding the Open Space Trust Fund (a $10 million annual tax that sunsets in 2020) to pay operating expenses this deceptive reporting (I mean by the auditors not Buckley) have kept investors, who heretofore have accepted as gospel that municipalities would somehow always pay back their bonds, in the dark and eventually out of luck and money.
Archive for the ‘Union County Government’ Category
The Star Ledger reported that Union County is being sued over alleged sex assaults at the juvenile center but what they did not report is that, because of the county’s participation in New Jersey’s flourishing pay-to-play system, county taxpayers are already on the hook for up to $100,000 in legal fees to mostly connected law firms as county counsel determined that the fourteen defendants in Fowler v. UC, et als need different outside law firms to represent them with each of the firms starting the meter at $10,000, an amount that, based on past experience, will escalate regularly over the course of the case to what should eventually hit six figures for each. Those firms:
2014-235 VICE CHAIRMAN MOHANED S. JALLOH: Resolution Introducing and Approving the Annual Budget of the County of Union for the Fiscal Year 2014.
During this meeting the freeholders announced to employees of a nursing home that the powers-that-be decided to sell their place of employment thus jeopardizing their jobs and benefits as well as deflecting any responsibility for the building of a sports complex at the county college all while being mum on any budget details, even the criminal (except possibly in New Jersey) aspects.
In this context: mushrooms
As quoted in Steven Hart’s book American Dictators on Depression-era political bosses it could apply in modern-day New Jersey with only a few new words (Hurricane, Sandy, Christie) or (unemployment, Union, County, government) and some new wrinkles.
I started attending Union County freeholder meetings about six years ago in part to get material for a weekly column I had in what is today the LocalSource and was then the Kenilworth Leader. At the time, to my amazement, the freeholders were not answering questions and I got an article out of it. Subsequently they started answering questions, to varying degrees, but this year it looks like they have relapsed (note that this video is unedited – the pause was really that long):
These ‘public servants’ smugly refuse to answer to the public. “It’s public comments not public questions” and we don’t need to answer to those who:
- pay the taxes
- take time to attend these meetings for no remuneration
- research the issues
- suffer the abuse and ridicule of those who expect they will have us pay for their defined benefit pensions and lifetime health benefits.
Shame on them:
Forms season almost done and the 33 filings still due are prepped so here is a potpourri of material that piled up over the last couple of weeks that would normally merit full blogs:
Somehow it has become a scandal when a retired government employee gets another public job that pays a salary. In an article out this week by New Jersey Watchdog the focus is on those retired on disability who get jobs working for the governor wherein state pension board member John Sierchio makes the point:
“These people are playing within the rules of the game. But the rules of the game are so absurd, they need to be changed.”
Exactly! Rules made up in essentially secret meetings based on advice from ‘experts’ paid to justify the needs of those who seek to benefit personally always seem to wind up over-benefiting those people who do pay attention (a cohort that excludes the general public and the media).
But once we have the rules then why vilify someone who plays by them and gets a windfall? Do you attack trial lawyers who get 40% of an injury settlement? Or TPAs who get 20 basis points for a 5-life-plan that happens to hold $10 million primarily from a DB rollover? Or Alex Rodriguez?
But I could be wrong. So noticing that the list of New Jersey retirees had been updated to June, 2013 I decided to search through pension records of Union County Freeholders to see if there was anything particularly irksome.
Really dumb ideas (Pension Obligation Bonds, starting up a restaurant) get justified even without any proof that a government can make them work. Vested interests sucker gullible, venal politicians into believing they can turn any half-assed project into gold since the politicians are infallible. After all, didn’t they just win an election?
The POB ploy blew up in Detroit and in Union County it’s the Red Knot. Both ideas seemed really stupid at the time but upon reflection…..
Can you videotape in a public place in New Jersey? According to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press the rule is:
Hidden cameras: It is a crime of the third degree to photograph or record the “intimate parts” of a person or one engaged in a sexual act in a place where the person has a reasonable expectation of privacy, and to disclose any images obtained by these means. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:14-9. The law, however, does not criminalize the use of recording devices for other purposes in areas to which the public has access or there is no reasonable expectation of privacy (i.e., filming conversations on public streets or a hotel lobby)
And that was for HIDDEN cameras recording “intimate parts” and the expectation of privacy. My camera was out in the open in a public meeting room and focused on a door, not on any “intimate parts” involving sexual acts yet two lawyers plus a political flunkie said I couldn’t tape.
Give a political operative truth serum (in the guise of an emergency meeting that only ‘insiders’ were supposed to know about called to accept the resignation of his embattled benefactor) and you get their truth:
“I just want to say that it has always been my observation over the years that probably the most dangerous people to effective government are known as commentators. Commentators are those people that sit back and take pot shots and cherry pick and do things to make governmental officials look bad. I didn’t really realize that until I got into government because I in fact was in the private sector before that but Charlotte, on behalf of all government officials that are not just commentators but rather doers, I thank you for being the type of government official we would all like to be, strive to be, and in our wildest dreams will probably never accomplish. Thank you again Charlotte……L-A C-O-R-T-E”
I’m not not making this up. That’s what he really said. See: