Democratic Mayors Pan Their Freeholder Candidates’ Call For A County Ethics Board
By Art Gallagher
Democratic Freeholder Candidates Larry Luttrell and Joe Grillo with Congressman Frank Pallone and campaign volunteers
The Monmouth County Democrats have finally put forth a proposal to improve County Government.
It is not a new idea. It is not even a good idea. But at least they have put forth an idea for debate instead of spreading the lies and baseless character assassinations that have comprised their campaign so far this year.
Their campaign had been wholly negative; primarily baseless character attacks on Freeholder Director Lillian Burry. They lied and said Burry hired an unqualified campaign worker for a mental health position. Even after their lawsuit alleging that Burry had a conflict of interest over the Andrew Lucas farmland preservation deal was thrown out of court, they continue to beat that drum. The GOP controlled Freeholder Board has cleaned house at Brookdale Community College since former President Peter Burnham was caught with his hands in the cookie jar. Yet the Democrats have been blaming Burry for Burnham’s transgressions.
Democratic candidate Joe Grillo told The Asbury Park Press that he wants to reinstate a County Ethics Board. I know I’m being generous by saying this is a proposal to improve County Government instead of calling it an excuse to keep talking about the baseless allegations they are making about Burry. But what the heck. MMM is fair and biased. Let’s play along and debunk the idea on its merits.
Gary Rich, Deputy Director, Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders
The hardest thing about being in politics is the politics. Truthfully, it’s not something I have much of a tolerance for. I’m an ideas man. I see a problem and I want to fix it. I like logic and honesty, which may sound like an odd thing to have to say, but you’d be surprised how many people these days seem to lack both completely or just don’t have the time for them. What I don’t have time for is games—they serve no one and they have no place in serving the public.
People today are looking for real leadership—maybe in part because it seems to be so sorely lacking from so many politicians or would-be politicians at all levels of our government. The people we serve need substance. Not empty accusations. Not grandstanding for the sake of show. Not whining about problems without offering solutions. And not making up facts when the mood strikes.
The truth is, in Monmouth County we’re providing that leadership. We’re making the tough decisions. We’re partnering with our municipalities to fix problems. And we’re getting things done.
The Local Finance Board, the entity within the Department of Community Affairs which oversees the ethics of local officials, has ruled that two Jackson Township councilmen did not violate State Ethics or Campaign Finance Laws when they voted to appoint their former campaign manger a job on the Jackson Municipal Utilities Authority, according to a report on Shore News Network.
Cara Glory was the 2012 campaign manager for Councilmen Barry Calogero and Robert Nixon. On January 6, 2014 Calogero, Nixon join the rest of the Jackson governing body in unanimously voting to approve Glory’s appointment to the MUA. Unidentified Jackson residents filed ethics charges with the Local Fiance Board.
The charges were deemed frivolous by Board Chairmen Thomas Neff, according to the Shore News Network report.
“Following preliminary investigation and evaluation of the facts and circumstances relevant to the complaints and upon consideration of the foregoing provisions of Local Government Ethics Law, the Local Finance Board voted to dismiss the complaints as having no reasonable factual basis.”
The state reiterated their stance, adding, “The relationship between an elected officeholder and a campaign deputy treasurer or campaign manager is simply not one, in and of itself, which poses a conflict.”
The charges against the councilmen were dismissed and Glory’s appointment remained as-is.
The issue is of significance in Monmouth County as Democratic freeholder candidates Larry Luttrell and Joe Grillo attempt to portray themselves and paragons of virtue in the campaign against Freeholder Director Lillian Burry and Deputy Director Gary Rich.
County office is participating in national pilot program
Freeholder John Curley, County Clerk M. Claire French, U.S. Passport Chief Brenda Sprague, Freeholder Director Lillian Burry and Freeholder Tom Arnone at the County Connection in Neptune, August 28, 2014
NEPTUNE, NJ – Chief of the U.S. State Department’s Passport Office, Brenda Sprague, toured the Monmouth County Connection yesterday with County Clerk M. Claire French and the Board of Chosen Freeholders.
“It is an honor for the Monmouth County Connection to be recognized by the U.S. Department of State as a Leading Acceptance facility and chosen to participate in a national pilot program studying customer service,” said Freeholder Director Lillian G. Burry. “The Connection’s enhanced services include extended hours, photo services and walk-in availabilities, which provide the American traveling public with a more convenient, seamless passport application process.”
In April 2014, the U.S. Department of State designated the County Connection as a Leading Acceptance Facility. As a result of this honor, the Monmouth County Connection has been chosen to participate in a customer service-oriented pilot program to help the Department of State better understand customer preferences. Only eight passport acceptance facilities, out of 8,500, were chosen to participate.
UPDATE: August, 27, Curley pulls nursing home sale resolution
Freeholder John Curley called this morning to say that he has pulled his resolution to sell the Monmouth County owned nursing homes from this week’s agenda. County CFO Craig Marshall is on vacation. Curley wants Marshall available to address all of the financial concerns regarding the proposed sale. Curley expects to reintroduce the resolution in September.
Reductions in Medicaid payments for long term care under the Affordable Care Act have led to increasing deficits at Monmouth County’s two government owned nursing homes.
The John L. Montgomery Care Center in Freehold and the Geraldine L. Thompson Care Center in Wall are owned and operated by Monmouth County’s government. Property tax payers have been subsidizing the long term care of the elderly, disabled and infirm residing in these facilities for decades. From 2007 through 2013 the cumulative deficit funded by Monmouth property tax payers was about $40 million. Despite cost cutting measures and union givebacks, the combined deficit this year is on track to exceed $13 million plus the cost of repairs and capital improvements required to keep the facilities in compliance with state and federal regulations, due to cutbacks in the amount that Medicaid pays for patient care under ObamaCare. 98% of the patients at Montgomery and Thompson are insured by Medicaid.
Freeholder John Curley has been pushing his colleagues on the all Republican Board of Chosen Freeholders to sell the nursing homes for years. Every time the issue gets traction or public attention, patients in wheelchairs and staff members of the nursing facilities show up at Freeholder meetings and plead with the Freeholders not to sell the facilities. The patients’ stories are heart wrenching. The declarations of love for their patients by the staff members are moving.
Monmouth County Freeholder Candidate Larry Luttrell partying with a model and squinting like Frank Pallone in Atlantic City in February, 2013. facebook photo
If you’re a Monmouth County Democrat thinking about a career in government, working on Larry Luttrell and Joe Grillo’s freeholder campaign could be hazardous to your ambitions.
Luttrell and Grillo told the Asbury Park Press that the fact that Freeholder Director Lillian Burry’s 2011 campaign treasurer, Bill Bucco, was given a raise and a promotion after three years in a county administrative job where he streamlined operations and found $200,000 in revenue due the county that was never collected is “politics at its worst.”
I must have missed their press release condemning Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto’s new job as a “consultant” with ties to South Jersey Democratic Boss George Norcross, which Preito somehow manages to do while collecting six figures from his three government jobs.
Freeholder Deputy Director Gary Rich and Freeholder Director Lillian Burry at the Italian American Festival in Ocean Township last week.
Monmouth County has received a new AAA bond rating from all three major rating agencies for the 16th consecutive year, according to a statement by the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders.
“This is the 16th straight year the County has been awarded AAA status from Fitch, Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s,” said Freeholder Deputy Director Gary J. Rich, Sr., liaison to the County’s Finance Department. “Monmouth County continues to be top-rated in how it manages taxpayer money.”
The three rating agencies rated the upcoming Monmouth County Improvement Authority’s (MCIA) governmental refunding bond series and reaffirmed the ratings of the County’s outstanding debt.
“Monmouth County continues its demonstration of sound, fiscal management. The County has been careful in its spending and continues to maintain low debt levels,” said Freeholder Director Lillian G. Burry. “As a result, we are able to have greater flexibility in delivering quality services to our residents. It shows how well the County is managing its resources and planning for the future.”
Monmouth County is the only county in New Jersey and one of less than three dozen counties in the nation that can claim to have received the highest score from all three rating agencies. The AAA rating is higher than that of the State of New Jersey and the United States of America.
Devoid of ideas of how to improve Monmouth County’s government and running on so called “issues” that have failed in the last few campaigns, the Monmouth County Democratic Freeholder candidates, Larry Luttrell and Joe Grillo are apparently hoping they can win in November by mimicking Congressman Frank Pallone’s odd facial expressions. Even their campaign volunteers are doing it.
Luttrell and Grillo have been handing out literature that blame Freeholder Director Lillian Burry and Deputy Director Gary Rich for the misdeeds of Peter Burnham at Brookdale Community College and Andrew Lucas’s alleged misdeeds in the the sale of development rights to a farm that he owns to the farmland preservation program.
By Gary Rich, Sr, Monmouth County Freeholder Deputy Director
Late last month, Governor Christie signed into law Assembly bill 3424, which extended the two percent cap on binding interest arbitration awards. I was present when Governor Christie inked his name to this bill, extending the cap through December 31, 2017.
The law which originally set the two percent cap was enacted back in 2010 when the Governor joined with legislative leaders to implement these important reforms to a segment of the government system that desperately needed revamping. Historically, it was a system that had often run amok, awarding benefits to the public unions in question without regard for the town or county’s ability to pay for such benefits.
The 2010 law was historic and vital—and temporary. The original law included a Sunset clause, which allowed the law and its terms to expire as of April 1, 2014 if no action was taken by the legislature to extend it.
The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders have opened a search for a new member of the Brookdale Community College Board of Trustees.
“This is a terrific opportunity for a resident to take a dynamic role at New Jersey’s best community college,” said Freeholder John P. Curley, liaison to the college. “Brookdale needs leaders who will help steer the future course of this quality, affordable higher education institution.”
Applicants should be interested in taking an active leadership position as a Trustee of Brookdale Community College and be knowledgeable in the opportunities and challenges of higher education. This unpaid position is for a term of four years.