Chicken served at 5

In an inspiring display of representative democracy in action, nearly 200 irate senior citizens from Passaic County turned out on Monday and gave the Board of Chosen Chickens an earful they will not soon forget, blasting their outrageous plan to plug a budget hole (resulting from political patronage jobs and out-of-control hiring practices) by selling the county's golf course to themselves, and then borrowing money to make the purchase, which will be paid back over 20 years.

But don't worry - Bill Pascrell, III, one of the great legal minds of our time (why else would he have been chosen as County Counsel??? I wonder if he ever swapped career notes with Liz Cheney) has assured everyone that Lance v. McGreevey does not apply to this case.

Wayne attorney Mark Semeraro explained it to Ashley Kindergan of the Herald News in advance of Monday night's meeting:
"The laws that prevent bonding of current expenses have virtually no purpose or meaning at all if all a public entity has to do to circumvent them is create an entity to stand in its shoes. The freeholders have stated that the sole purpose of selling this golf course to the PCIA is to generate funds to pay its bills."
But one of the several dozen speakers at Monday's forum explained it like this:

Husband - Honey, I've got a $5,000 hole in my budget, but I just can't borrow any more money.

Wife - Well, what are we going to do?

Husband - Say, I've got a nifty idea! How about I sell you my car for $5,000, and you can take out a loan to pay me for it.

That summed it up pretty well. Nothing changes in behavior, you continue to use an asset, but you "sell" it to pay today's bills using debt you can't afford.

Or as another resident said, "This is just fuzzy math." His remarks, as well as several others, including a scolding from notoriously non-partisan Clifton Mayor Jim Anzaldi, can be seen on the Passaic County YouTube page. (continued...)

As Kindergan reported in Tuesday's Herald News, opposition is growing:
"Three towns have since adopted resolutions urging the Passaic County Board of Chosen Freeholders to reconsider the deal. Officials in Wayne, where the golf course is located, authorized the township attorney last week to research legal action to prevent the sale."
And in an op-ed today, the Herald News said:
"The sale of the course does nothing to address the county's long-term budget woes. As many county residents are beginning to realize, the whole enterprise seems more like a shell game, the shifting of money around, hoping the magic works long enough so as to be passed on to another group of freeholders down the road."
Republican Freeholder candidate Jerry Holt flexed his analytical muscles at the hearing, and singled out his November opponent Pat Lepore.
"Your budget projects $10 million in revenue, but the resolution is to borrow $22 million. Where is the $12 million due to the taxpayers?

And you are going to need more money next year because you anticipate more problems."
It was a delight to see professional flag-saluter and senior citizen extraordinaire Walter Porter turn out too blast his former colleagues, and even extend a kind word to a fine ex-Mayor of Paterson, Pat Kramer:
"This is a gimmick as far as I am concerned. There is now doubt in my mind. A $950,000 deficit? It's inconceivable! Back when I served on the Freeholder Board with Mayor Rumana, we made money on the golf course.

Now, I may have disagreed with Freeholder Jim Gallagher and his father-in law over the years, but they are right in this case.

I have felt very close to the members. One year, we raised the dues a quarter and they came down en masse. This is the most diabolical decision I've ever heard of as far as a body such as yours."
Porter was followed by a cynical senior who said:
"I thought I had something to say, but you folks have your minds made up already."
The audience seemed to agree, but I am not so sure that he is right. Terry Duffy and Gallagher are already solidly against the sale, and Bruce James will probably fall in line next. Forget Elease Evans, and probably Sonia Rosado and Tahesha Way as well. But if Pat Lepore wants to keep his seat, he'd best change his mind.

Wayne Councilwoman Ann Mary O'Rourke drew massive applause when she rebuked the Freeholders for holding the hearing so early:
"I don't think that 5 o'clock in the afternoon is an appropriate time for this meeting. If it was held at a more reasonable time, at a minimum of 7 pm, you would probably have quadruple the number of people!"
Passaic County Republican Chairman, District 40 Assembly nominee, and soon-to-be-ex-Mayor of Wayne Scott Rumana also addressed his former colleagues of the Freeholder Board:
"As the mayor of the largest town and the largest taxpayer in Passaic County, let me say that this is a horrible resolution to an abysmal hiring process and budgeting process. Our children and grandchildren between 5 and 15 years old, 20 years from now, will be paying for this when they start owning their first homes.

Taking money from bonding and using it to plug budget holes is illegal. You may have found a loophole, but you are doing just that."
You know the public has had enough when an old lady makes her way down to the microphone and addresses the Freeholder Board as if she's talking to a brazen grandchild: "I mean, whatsamatter with you people?!?!" Another woman drew cheers of agreement when she suggested that this sale be put to a referendum.

After nearly 2 hours of disgruntled taxpayers' complaints (which still wasn't enough to make Elease Evans unfold her arms and drop her smug pose), My 3 Sons co-star Bill Pascrell, III addressed the crowd to repeat the same propaganda which they are apparently too stupid to accept as divine law. In short, he is as arrogant as his father. But at least the Congressman has been elected and worked his own way up. By contrast, his son is an unelected political hack.

He mentioned that the hearing was required under law. (did the law require it to be scheduled at a time that would minimize turnout of angry voters?) He also got very huffy when the crowd balked at his explanations. Typical entitlement response that I would expect from this ilk - democracy is great when their atrocious policies go essentially unchallenged, like when a mere 2 or 3 people turn up at Freeholder meetings and they can applaud their opposition. When 200 turn up, then they're on the defensive and it doesn't feel too good. ya haram...

The highlight of the entire evening, though, was an uproar when Pascrell III had the audacity to say:
"We recognize that the golf course needs work, that's why the Freeholders are willing to put in $3 million of their own money for improvements."
Audience members shouted back, "IT'S NOT YOUR MONEY, IT'S OUR MONEY!" He then reassured the crowd that law prohibits selling the golf course to a private developer, and insisted that "it will remain a golf course FOREVER." I don't believe that many were convinced.

The meeting was then adjourned, having satisfied very few taxpayers, including many staunch Democrats. I guess Pascrell III left in his own car - a far cry from the departure of his lobbying partner Dale Florio, the Somerset County GOP Chair, from the unity lunch following the Republican gubernatorial primary in 2005. Pascrell III waited outside the New Brunswick Hyatt in a stretched limo, which whisked Florio away with him.

Talk about Limousine Liberals...