After Bruce Patrson of Garwood was stopped from speaking at the Union County freeholder meeting of March 22 regarding the politics behind refusing to give the party line to a sitting freeholder I thought this brazen suppression of free speech could not go unanswered. A the the April 19 meeting I answered with these comments.
After ten years of following government in Union County I conclude that politics IS government here and as such is a legitimate topic for discussion in this Open Comment period – as is nepotism which is something that the ACLU had to remind this board of back in 2009.
Decisions are made that nobody up there has the practical power to object to. Here is the process as I see it.
Anyone who wants public money, jobs, or contracts first goes through the Union County Democratic Committee who, in a one-party county, appoint people to this board who they expect to do what they are told. What you are being told to do is to rubber stamp contracts or projects that will benefits lawyers, engineering firms, and other service providers so they can in turn donate to the Union County Democratic Committee and individual candidates.
You are allowed freedom on issues that do not impact that flow of tax money, like mountain biking in Watchung Reservation, but are expected to approve even the most blatant boondoggles like the Roselle Mind & Body Complex which would have tripled Roselle’s debt for the benefit of connected firms and individuals as well as the Union County Improvement Authority which needs money to repay millions of dollars from a prior boondoggle, the solar panel fiasco.
Any one of you who steps out of line is endangering their slot on the party line. In the case of freeholder Jalloh it was likely his support of Colleen Mahr over Nicholas Scutari for the chairmanship of the Union County Democratic Committee that cost him his seat here but his failure to support the Roselle Mind & Body Complex likely also played a role.
I see only one way out of this corrosive cycle and that is to have an open and honest dialogue so that maybe enough people will understand what is really going on and take action to stop it.
Allowing me to say all this here is a good start.