To the editor:
After lots of noise about initiatives for "economic development" to encourage Millennials to live and work in Hunterdon county, freeholders John Lanza, Matt Holt, John King and Suzanne Lagay turned off the sound — to protect good-old, 20th-century, back-room politics. They don’t want Millennials to hear the sound of county government.
On Dec. 6, bumbling and faltering through excuses, they refused to publish recordings of their meetings online. Routinely convening at 5:30 p.m. and often 10 a.m. while everyone else is at work, the freeholders have always avoided the public. (Most towns hold council meetings at 7 p.m.) Now they reveal they're clueless about busy Millennials, who rely on online information channels to participate in our new world.
There's a national exodus of youth from suburban areas like Hunterdon to urban centers like Hoboken and Jersey City — places more friendly to young people's needs and agendas. Millennials expect online communication, instant information, and open government. How can county economic development czar Marc Saluk seriously expect to attract Millennials (and new business) when freeholders outlaw meeting podcasts?
After freeholder Rob Walton motioned to post recordings to the county website alongside existing minutes of meetings, the others babbled excuses. Excerpted from the official recording:
Matt Holt: "I have no objection to being recorded, the concern is the security of those recordings...My objection is how we're going to ensure that those recordings are in fact, um, secure and cannot be tampered with."
Suzanne Lagay: "Yeah, right, that pieces can't be removed out and used [coughing] without their full content and context."
Holt: "I don't think you can just arbitrarily say, take our recordings and put them up on a website."
Rob Walton: "They would be on our secured server, which has the same security as any other document that we have in the county."
Holt: "I simply will not vote yes on a resolution that is open-ended, to say, just post up our audio files on there without the complete, um, uh, inclusion of understanding what the security issues are behind that, and that we have, we have, we have looked at it from an IT perspective and, and we are secure in the nature of what we're posting."
For real, Mr. Holt? Towns and schools all around Hunterdon post recordings of their meetings! Yours have long been available by law, but they're as difficult to obtain as your meetings are to attend.
When U.S. and N.J. legislatures recently tried to roll back ethics rules to cover up government misbehavior, the public quickly rose up. Shamed legislators turned tail. Clearly, four of our freeholders have plenty they don't want to be held accountable for. They really don't want Hunterdon to be a Millennial-friendly community.
Are Lanza, Holt, King and Lagay daft, suggesting people want to live and work where they can't hear what their government is doing? It’s time to publish their big archive of recordings, and to schedule meetings at 7 p.m. when the public can actually attend. Listen to the official recordings on ExMayor.com.
Nick Corcodilos; former mayor, Clinton Township