Union County Freeholder Incumbents Debating Themselves

By John Bury | October 30, 2014

The Westfield Leader decided this year to throw a few questions at candidates in next week’s election and among the videos on their website were the Union County incumbent freeholders speaking around a few issues:

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Paying for the Solar Panel Fiasco

By John Bury | October 24, 2014

Why was there a special meeting of the Union County Improvement Authority (UCIA) on October 14, 2014?

The list of resolutions from that meeting are now posted and Resolution No. 93-2014 resolves:

that the Executive Director is authorized to make the October 15, 2014 debt service payment for the renewable energy program from Authority funds not to exceed Seven Hundred Thousand Dollars ($700,000)

Those Authority funds are your tax money which will be coming either directly from the county with their own special authorization or possibly from the sale of Runnells (which at that same meeting was also moved to December 1, 2014).

Where is that money going?  Per UCIA Approved Bill listings, over $2.1 million so far to the usual suspects who duped you (as represented by the freeholders) into this fiasco.

Former Assemblyman Neil Cohen Not Disbarred

By County Watchers | October 23, 2014

The verdict of the New Jersey Supreme Court on former Assemblyman Neil Cohen is in and he remains a lawyer though he may not practice law for an indeterminate period of time.

Compare that to the case of former Hoboken Mayor Peter J. Cammarano, who pled guilty in 2010 to accepting $25,000 in bribes from an FBI informant posing as a crooked developer, and last month was permanently disbarred with the court ruling:

“Any discipline short of disbarment will not keep faith with the court’s charge to insure that the public will have confidence in members of the bar and in those attorneys who are privileged to serve as public officials.”

These actions by Cohen, as reported in today’s nj.com story, then do keep the faith according to the NJ Supreme Court:

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$667 Million In Liabilities You May Not Know About

By John Bury | October 22, 2014

The 2013 audit for Union County is out with a spate of interesting material but, as is my wont, I start with Note 15 on Other Post-Employment Benefit (OPEB) costs, basically health insurance for retirees.  This had been fraudulently reported for years but in 2013 the county broke down and got a valuation done.  There remain questions about the validity of this report but it is far better than the previous methodology which consisted of pulling off random projections from the first OPEB valuation done for 2007.

Comparing Notes 15 for 2013 and 2012 we learn two important things:

  1. The estimated cost of retiree health care benefits less assets set aside to fund them as of 2013 comes to $667,300,978.  This is the value of benefits promised that future taxpayers will likely have to pick up.
  2. The county continues to sweeten these benefits

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UCCF 10/16/14 Miscellany (Including Cranford on UCC Field)

By John Bury | October 19, 2014

Cranford asking about the status of the UCC Soccer field project:

Grants and the Budget:

Questions and no answers:

UCCF 10/16/14: Kemper Contract Extended Again

By John Bury | October 18, 2014

2014-855: Amending Resolution No. 2014-533 to extend the contract with Kemper Sports Management to provide Golf Management Services until December 1, 2014; and further amending Resolution No. 2014-796 to increase the operational funding for the golf courses through December 1, 2014 in an amount not to exceed $250,000 for a total amount not to exceed $6,201,183.


UCCF 10/16/14: Jail Situation

By John Bury | October 17, 2014

2014-854: Authorizing the County Manager to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with the County of Hudson for the assignment of employee, Diana Youst, as Acting Superintendent of the Union County Juvenile Detention Center for the period of October 27, 2014 through December 31, 2014 in the toal amount not to exceed $32,000.

Why this resolution?

And what about those rumors about the Union County jail closing with prisoners being housed in Hudson County?

The Christie reference to Hudson County:

UCCF 10/16/14: Runnells Update

By John Bury | October 16, 2014

At tonight’s freeholder meetings there was about $1 million in Open Space Trust Fund money doled out to 19 municipalities who had contributed about $9 million into that fund (the remainder being appropriated by the county to pay employees, maintain their own parks, and pay off phantom debt)  and sent representatives to pick up those oversized checks.  Thankfully the idea was only to take pictures unless the recipients grabbed the microphone so it only lasted 32 minutes that you might see over the weekend.

The big news was the lack of movement on the big news.  Again the Kemper contract for golf operations was pulled from the docket and Kemper’s old contracted got extended through November.  There was an update on the proposed soccer field at Union County College.  The closing of the Union County Jail was addressed.

But first, the situation with Runnells:
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New Family Court House Staffing Costs a Mystery

By Tina Renna | October 16, 2014


An Open Public Records Act request seeking documents that would show the cost analysis and staffing projections, of the pending Sheriff’s Department coverage of the new Family Court House building was answered with 10 position controls showing new positions have been created, not yet filled, at $34,950 each, totaling $340,950, and a completely redacted memo from the Sheriff’s Department titled “Projected Staffing Needs for the New Family Court House Building”.

There is no telling if more positions will be created in the Sheriff’s department, and if there will be any promotions to supervise the new hires and building.

Similarly, an OPRA request seeking the projected costs of the maintenance coverage at the new building returned no documents.

An undated Union County Press release doesn’t state the cost of the project. The release projected the opening to be December 2014. However, the building doesn’t appear to be any where near completion at this writing. Questions asking for staffing costs during open public comment at freeholder meetings, where most of the people in the above photo were present, have gone unanswered.

Another posting on the County website outlines the project, with no costs listed. The projected opening date is December 2013.

UCCF 10/9/14: Union County Jail Closing

By John Bury | October 13, 2014

Accroding to an nj.com story just about everybody has been told that the Union County jail will close though PBA Local 199 still made their points at the last freeholder meeting.

County Manager Faella explains the situation

More from PBA Local 199:

County Counsel Barry responds to PBA on OPRA request

Before Freeholder comments PBA Local 199 leave en masse