See also the commentary of Matt Caruso on this.
"Passaic County has a $33 million budget gap. The county's Board of Freeholders proposes selling the county's only public golf course in Wayne to the Passaic County Improvement Authority in order to help close that gap.
The deal sounds tempting, and might even be profitable. But right now there are just too many questions unanswered to give this project the green light."
A number of citizens, mostly Republican activists from Wayne organized by Attorney Mark Semeraro, turned up to speak their minds and point out the fiscal irresponsibility of the proposed transaction. They were less than welcome, judging by Freeholder Director Elease Evans' selective enforcement of the 3 minute time limit for public comments.
Several people spoke and spoke well. Wayne Mayor, soon-to-be-Assemblyman, and Passaic County GOP Chair Scott Rumana politely took the Board to task in saying, "You can't do this. You may find a loophole that will allow you to do it, but it's unethical." It was a pleasure to see the Party Chairman leading the charge and stimulating some activism on a key issue.
The best remarks were those of Wayne Councilman Joe Scuralli. He gave the Board an earful and a lot of technical mastery, criticizing their fiscal short-sightedness by stating, "Liquidation is a tactic that bankruptcy lawyers use...this is a classic ponzi scheme." Evans immediately cut him off after that. (continued...)
Semeraro himself read a strongly-worded letter from Assembly Minority leader Alex DeCroce (who faces a primary challenge from Jay Webber and Larry Casha) that referenced a lawsuit he and Joe Kyrillos filed against former Governor Jim McGreevey several years back, that makes bonding to cover current expenses illegal.
Among the other speakers were Wayne Councilman Joe DiDonato, Freeholder candidate Joe Stinziano (aka "Stinz"), the Wayne Republican club President, and former Wayne Councilman Bill Van Gieson.
The reaction of the Democrats on the Freeholder Board, as well as their unelected lackeys, was predictable and pathetic. Their first line of defense was to once again consult the paleolithic fossil record and bring up the debt associated with the PCUA and Governor Whitman's pension fund bonding. Then, County Counsel William Pascrell, III, star of My 3 Sons and one of the great legal minds of our time, took a swipe at Rumana and DeCroce, accusing them of "throwing barbs". He described as "irresponsible and reprehensible" the mere suggestion of anything illegal. Billy3 warmed our hearts by saying that his daughter knows that illegal behavior leads to incarceration. He did not specify, however, whether the youngster believes that 2 wrongs make a right, which seems to be the example set by his sugar daddies on the all-Democrat Freeholder Board who buttress all of their fiscal ineptitude by citing shortcomings of long-gone GOP officials.
Elease Evans was hot under the collar as usual and quite annoyed at the nerve of anyone to dissent. She made it clear that "we are not hurting the taxpayers. The taxpayers will not pay a dime for this." The title of this post relates her characteristically snotty rebuttal to Romitelli's rhetorical question, "would you sell your car to make this month's mortgage payment?" But the best was Freeholder Pat Lepore, who chided the speakers for "political grandstanding" during "campaign season". Hello, it's April, not October. He blamed Rumana for approving $100M of debt on his watch when he was a Freeholder back in the 1990s. Thus, the budget shortfalls are due to "legacy debt" and "fiscal difficulties due to rules coming out of Trenton." For Rumana and the Republicans to criticize, according to Lepore, is "the pot calling the kettle black."
Both Billy3 and Lepore questioned the validity of the criticisms because no alternative cost savings were suggested. Here's one: let's start by having each Freeholer list, by name, 10 county employees that should be laid off.
Chapeau to Freeholders Jim Gallagher and Terry Duffy for voting no on this lunacy.