About The County Watchers
The County Watchers was founded in 2005 by Tina Renna, Sergio Bichao and Patricia Quattrocchi as the blog of the Union County Watchdog Association.
The County Watchers strive to shine a light on Union County government by “watching” and investigating county spending and practices.
We publish this blog to share what we find. We also give citizens their own tools to monitor county government by using the Open Public Records Act to obtain and then post government records on the Union County Watchdog Association’s website.
Thank you for watching Union County government with us.
Tina Renna is President of the Union County Watchdog Association (UCWA) a non-profit 501(c)3 organization founded in 2005. The UCWA strives to make county government more transparent by gaining access to public records and being a public resource for information. She is one of several writers for the organization’s blog “County Watchers”.
In 2013 she became the first New Jersey blogger to be found protected by the New Jersey Newsperson’s Shield law. The law is one of the strongest in the nation and provides journalists virtually absolute protection against questioning by law enforcement. Renna prevailed in a motion to quash a Union County Prosecutor’s subpoena seeking to query her concerning her investigative reporting regarding county generators improperly being used by county employees during Superstorm Sandy.
Union County Superior Court Judge Karen Cassidy found that Renna’s writing met all three factors to qualify as a journalist: Whether Renna had a connection to news media, whether her purpose was to gather or disseminate news, and whether she obtained her information through “professional newsgathering activities.” “These original posts are arguably newsworthy and constitute ‘news’ under the Statute,” Cassidy wrote in her opinion. “In addition, her method of talking to sources, attending freeholder meetings, and using Open Public Records Act requests … is sufficiently similar to the methods used by traditional news media entities.”
In 2005 Renna was honored by the New Jersey Foundation for Open Government for her community activism for greater access to public records and meetings. In 2012 and 2013 she received a Better Journalism Award from the New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists for on-line reporting. In 2013 NJSPJ awarded her their Tim O’Brian Award – “Best Investigative Reporting Using the New Jersey Open Public Records Act Online”.
You can reach her at tinarenna (@) unioncountywatchdog.org, 908-418-5586
John Bury is an Enrolled Actuary with his own pension consulting firm in Montclair servicing over 400 clients. He is a long-time political observer having had over 200 published letters in the Star-Ledger for which he received one of the latest (and last?) Silver Pen Award in 2008.
He also blogs on burypensions (and is picked up occasionally on conservativenewjersey and businessinsider) primarily on actuarial issues with an emphasis on public pension plans where he is the foremost proponent in the nation of federal oversight of these plans that are being bankrupted by short-sighted politicians and unions and has been quoted on pension issues in national publications and media.
You can reach John at firstname.lastname@example.org