Wednesday
May232018

ROSE & LAZZARO HIRED TARGET OF LETTER AFTER CONTRIBUTION 

In March of 2015, a Sussex County Freeholder wrote to the county counsel with concerns about several lawyers retained by Sussex County:

(The full, 17-page correspondence is available from Watchdog upon request)

In July 2016, Freeholder Boss George Graham engineered a no-bid contract for the very law firm identified above as being at the very heart of the solar scam that has cost Sussex taxpayers upwards of $40 million.  Freeholders Jonathan Rose and Carl Lazzaro dutifully followed Graham. Here is what Freeholder boss Graham said in 2015 about the lawyers he turned around and gave a no-bid contract to in 2016:

"It's all the same people that dug the hole, and every time I ask for a clear, third-party fresh set of eyes, they throw in somebody else that appears out of the past. How many times can you recycle the same names? Are they protecting specific people, or are they protecting the county?” (NJ Herald, March 28, 2015)

This is what then Freeholder Gail Phoebus said:

"Mr. Weinstein had clear conflicts of interest. Far from recommending ‘independent' counsel to guide us through a complex negotiation, you led us to the partner of the attorney who shares responsibility with you for failing to obtain a performance bond... All of this raises serious questions.  (While) Mr. Weinstein negotiated the solar project settlement and rendered advice to the freeholder board, whose interests was he serving”? (NJ Herald, March 28, 2015)

So why did Freeholders Rose and Lazzaro follow Boss Graham and bring Weinstein back?

...in September 2014, the county freeholder board appointed Weinstein as special counsel to guide it through that process.

The appointment of Weinstein -- whose law partner, John Cantalupo, had been on retainer to the county since 2011 for legal services related to county-backed bonds issued on the solar project -- was criticized last year by then-Freeholder Gail Phoebus, now a state assemblywoman, who called it a conflict of interest.

While offering praise for Wednesday's presentation, Roseann Salanitri -- also of Sandyston -- tempered her praise with criticism over the fact that a large portion of it was given by Weinstein.

"He was the same counsel that represented us on (last year's) settlement, and that settlement contained ‘hold harmless' clauses for just about everybody and their grandmother," Salanitri said. "I don't know Mr. Weinstein and have nothing against him personally, but I believe this presentation is not as credible as it could have been if it had been conducted by someone (else)." (NJ Herald, July 29, 2016)

Freeholder Boss Graham defended the appointment of Weinstein, saying:  "He's the only one who has institutional knowledge after all the other people who ran out the door." (NJ Herald, July 29, 2016)

Why did Freeholders Rose and Lazzaro -- one-time critics of the solar scam -- become its enablers?  

When Graham was on the outside, as a minority member (with Phoebus) of the five member board, Graham did one thing, now he does the opposite.  Now, as the boss of the Freeholder Board (controlling three votes of its five members – himself, Rose and Lazzaro) Graham is comfortable with those he used to call the bad guys and has even taken campaign contributions from them.

Where Sussex County taxpayers had?  Was all that anti-solar business an act by Jonathan Rose and Carl Lazzaro?  They need to step up and do some explaining.

Tuesday
May222018

FACT CHECK: McCann campaign spins tales about candidate’s past

John McCann has brought up that silly claim again.  About him and his chart and how it saved America. 

He first did it last summer, while he was still directly employed by the Democrat Sheriff of Bergen County.  John McCann shopped around a tale about how he stopped HillaryCare and saved America. Here is a transcript of a video recording of McCann telling his tall tale to the Sussex County Republican Committee on December 27, 2017.   

"I'm the only candidate with an actual proven record of doing things... I was gone (sic) to the United States Senate to take on the Clinton Health Care Plan.  I designed a chart, it was presented to the country, and the chart was credited -- by others, not by me -- with saving the United States from 16 years of government controlled healthcare." (Candidate John McCann, on video) 

Many people familiar with the long battle to stop the Clinton Health Care Plan disputed John McCann's story.  They said they never heard of him and accused him of taking credit for the work of dozens of others.  They noted that there was a plethora of graphs and charts but that only one got national coverage.  It wasn't John McCann's.

The Clinton Health Care Plan began with a speech by President Bill Clinton in September 1993.  Legislation was introduced in November 1993.  Hearings were held and the debate went into 1994.  In January 1994, Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) unveiled his famous chart that detailed the bureaucratic morass that was the Clinton Health Care Plan. As the legislation was amended, dozens of subsequent charts were built off this one, noting those changes and updates. 

Earlier this year, we published a link to a C-Span video of the United States Senate Floor on January 27, 1994.  The video is 11 hours long and unedited.

https://www.c-span.org/video/?54084-1/senate-session

At two hours and thirty minutes (2:30) into it, Senator Specter speaks on the issue and appears with his famous chart. About six minutes into his speech, he explains that staffer Sharon Helfant was responsible for creating it. He goes on to explain how the Washington Posthad a story a day earlier mentioning Helfant and her role in developing the chart.  Numerous national newspapers covered it, and in each story, Sharon Helfant is credited with creating the chart.  John McCann is not mentioned.

C-Span caught the whole thing and it is now part of history.  Numerous newspapers wrote about it.  The campaign of candidate John McCann has disputed that history.  Presumably with their candidate's approval, they issued a media statement that made this boast by the candidate:  "Yes, I authored the chart that killed Hillarycare."

The statement by John McCann's campaign continues:  "A conservative blogger made an accusation regarding my involvement in stopping Hillary Clinton’s healthcare proposal back in the early 90s when I was a fellow in former Senator Arlen Specter’s office (R-PA), insisting that I have overstated my role and plagiarized a graph used to stop Hillarycare.

The basis of these accusations stems from a CSPAN video in January 1994 where my boss at the time, former Senator Specter, credited Sharon Helfant (whom I never worked with) for creating a chart (I never saw) to help explain how bad Hillarycare was for American taxpayers."

The McCann campaign included a paragraph from the Congressional Record for August 10, 1994, at the tail end of the battle to stop the Clinton Health Care Plan.  By this time, it had been amended and re-amended.  The legislation went through more than 130 permutations and, in the end, was scrapped when the Democrats lost control of Congress in November 1994, and were unable to bring the bill up in 1995, as they had planned.  Here is that snippet from the Record:

 

Read it carefully.  "John McCann, an internon my staff who helpedme prepare the chart on the Mitchellhealth care bill." 

Thousands of names of individuals and groups are read into the Congressional Record each year for everything from boy scout troops to the winners of fishing tournaments.  It is a  small favor, often bestowed by members of Congress.  Rarely does it become the centerpiece of someone's candidacy for Congress. 

The McCann campaign also included a paragraph from a letter from Senator Specter's office to John McCann's professor at the Fels Center of Government, where he was a student:  "In the summer of 1994, the Senate rejected the Clinton proposal to take over one-seventh of the entire U.S. economy in large measure because of John McCann’s charts and graphs which clearly showed the flaws and weakness of the proposal." 

Again, read it carefully: "John McCann’s charts and graphs..."  

Plural.  As an intern, John McCann obviously worked on many updates and permutations of the original chart (which he now claims not to have seen, despite the news coverage of it, or Ms. Helfant, who he claims not to have known, despite her prominence on the Specter staff and her preeminence within that staff on matters related to health care).   

Of course, it is a grandiloquent letter of recommendation, which either means that Senator Specter's office was prone to that sort of thing or that they liked and appreciated John McCann's work as a college intern.  Neither alters the record, which is clear.

When he is not outright fibbing, John McCann is prone to puffing himself up to make himself look like more than he is.  Pity.

Monday
May212018

Does Sussex County government have its own #MeToo problem?

Which member of the Freeholder Board majority told a Franklin councilwoman that she belonged on a pole in a strip joint?  Was it George Graham, Jonathan Rose, or Carl Lazzaro?  

In a letter printed in the Sparta Independent today, Franklin Council President Dawn Fantasia recounts some of the things said to her, a Republican local elected official and mother of three.  Fantasia writes: 

"...my opponents' supporters have labeled me a 'political prostitute,' 'pimping' a message as a 'spokesperson.' I've been in a public meeting when referred to as a 'lackey' who 'belongs in a cage like the animal you are.'

It's been said directly to me by a currently elected county official and those in his circle that my name 'sounds like you should be dancing on a pole.' 

And last: that 'you don't belong in MY Republican party.'" 

Fantasia called the comments, "crass buffoonery," adding:

"If you know anything about me, you know that in my life, I've overcome significant obstacles and raised three outstanding children as a single parent. I've been a teacher, mentor, volunteer, advocate, and a school principal in a public charter school, empowering students and families to believe that with hard work and discipline, anything is possible.  

I fully support - and am supported by - those who also want to strengthen our infrastructure while protecting the most vulnerable: our seniors, veterans, and children. I'm a fierce advocate of our police and first responders; I've made it a priority to ensure those who protect us have adequate staffing and resources to do their jobs with fidelity.  

I support a strong, skilled workforce, and above all, our taxpayers. I'm proud of my record of fiscally-conservative spending, differentiating needs vs. wants, and I'm secure in my own moral compass, knowing the decisions I've made are good and right.  

My personal experience and interactions with the Republican party have been logical, principled, and based upon mutual respect. That is the Republican party I know in Sussex County. Regrettably, I cannot say that sentiment applies to my direct experiences with my opposition."
 
 

http://www.spartaindependent.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20180520/OPINION03/180529999

We are informed that details of the abusive and bullying behavior towards women by some county higher-ups are about to break into the open.  We're told that Councilwoman Fantasia's is only one account among many. 

Monday
May212018

Pro-Abortion all his career, McCann has been frightened into claiming he's Pro-Life

It is a testament to the power of ideas.  A recognition that the voter base of the Republican Party -- those loyal souls who come out in primaries -- are solidly conservative on SOCIAL issues, solidly PRO-LIFE.

Despite all the nonsense spouted by the GOP establishment about big tents and new technology it is MESSAGE that decides who self-describe as members of a party and who show up on election day.  And so long as the NJGOP uses the word "Republican" in its title, that message is a NATIONAL one.  It does not flow from 150 West State Street in Trenton, but rather it exists in the national ether -- in the brain impulses of every sentient being with a reaction, one way or the other, to the word "Republican".  

The job of state and local leaders is to find a way to sell it.  You don't get to remake the brand. 

A case in point:  John McCann. 

The cabal of local operators who were part of the deal that resulted in the McCann candidacy were out and about last summer telling anyone who would listen that Steve Lonegan was TOO CONSERVATIVE. In particular, they targeted those pesky social issues, like abortion, which they claimed were "holding us (the NJGOP) back" and preventing them from winning. 

Look, the only Republican candidate to win statewide in New Jersey since 1997 was both solidly Pro-Life and Pro-Second Amendment.  Now we're not saying that Chris Christie wanted to be.  We're not saying that he liked it.  What we're saying is that he knew better than to not to be anything but a social conservative.  That is what "Republican" means, dummy.  You can't wash it off.

Argue until you are blue in the face but you are stuck with it.  All a Republican gets when he or she sucks up to the opposition or its allies is their justifiable contempt and the anger of people who would otherwise turnout out for you because they have been, once again, betrayed. Keep doing what you are doing and you are on a one way course to extinction.  

So the people who brought you John McCann have put their candidate out there for nine months -- since before McCann left the employ of that pro-Sanctuary State darling, the Democrat Sheriff of Bergen County, the hand of hands... Mikey Saudino. And in all that time, John McCann has preached a message of how "moderate" he was on abortion. 

Oh, he'd tell some crowds that he was "Pro-Choice" but most of the time he'd say things like how he was "personally opposed" to abortion and a "moderate" on "abortion rights".  After all, this is the same guy who predicated his 2002 campaign for Congress against conservatives Scott Garrett and Gerry Cardinale on his view that they were both "too conservative" on social issues to win a General Election.  McCann is the same candidate who called himself an "Arlen Specter Republican" a few years before Specter ended his career as an Obama Democrat.

Now, over the last ten days, voters in the 5th congressional district have been receiving mailers claiming that John McCann is a Pro-Life conservative.  And not only that, McCann now claims to believe that "life begins at conception".  

Yep, it is late in the campaign.  McCann wants to have a shot at winning.  McCann did a poll and it became obvious that not even having the party "line" in over 70% of the district was going to save him.  Social conservatism trumps county party lines.  Needs must.

Sure enough... the light bulb went on and with it the recognition that you need to be a social conservative to have a chance at attracting a great many Republican voters -- whether you are running in the primary or the General Election. Take a look at these mailers...

 

 Of course, this is John McCann and being who he is, he's not going to play it straight. In McCann's not-quite-right brain, he probably believes that avoiding the word "Pro-Life" provides him with an out if he should win the primary and face Democrat Josh Gottheimer in November. 

No. It's not going to work that way. 

First, McCann is a Republican.  For most people, that makes him Pro-Life whether he is or he isn't.  All he does by squawking about it is to piss-off people who might have voted for him because they are Pro-Life. 

If you believe in abortion, a pro-abortion Democrat is always better than a pro-abortion Republican, because a pro-abortion Democrat votes for Nancy Pelosi for Speaker.  End of story.

Second, McCann is now on record as claiming that he believes a human life is ended if it is interfered with at any time from conceptiononwards.  For a start, he should check with his wife, an OB-GYN doctor in New York City, to see if any of the offices or hospitals she's been affiliated with hand-out the morning after pill.

How does he think he can walk that back?  

Will he tell voters that yes, he believes that human life begins at conception but that he also believes in women's rights to abortion?  That will make him a worse monster than any pro-abortion Democrat because at least they dispute that they are taking a life.  McCann will end up saying that it is human life but that he doesn't mind if it is being exterminated.  That's quite a place to be.

But these are the kinds of conundrums Republicans place themselves in when they refuse to live up to the values and principles of the political party to which they freely affiliate themselves.  Instead of honesty... you get people like John McCann.

Of course, this is John McCann and being who he is, he's not going to play it straight. In McCann's not-quite-right brain, he probably believes that avoiding the word "Pro-Life" provides him with an out if he should win the primary and face Democrat Josh Gottheimer in November.

No. It's not going to work that way.

Sunday
May202018

QUIZ: Which is more stupid? (1) Handing out raises when you are in the middle of contract negotiations...

The Freeholder Board majority who run Sussex County government is made up of Freeholder Boss George Graham, Freeholder Jonathan Rose, and Freeholder Carl Lazzaro.  In our opinion, they have done a lot of stupid things while running the county and they've let us down.  Heck, we once supported them, so we are really disappointed in their antics. 

Below are just a few of the stupid pranks they've pulled since taking over.  So here's our quiz for today:  Which do you think is the most stupid? 

(1) Handing out raises when you are in the middle of contract negotiations. 

On May 9, 2018, smack dab in the middle of negotiations with unions representing most of Sussex County's employees, these three knuckleheads pushed through pay raises for 50 employees -- some already earning six figures. 

(2) Hiring the same lawyer who signed-off on the solar project to "study" what went wrong with the solar project, in order to assign blame and take appropriate legal action. 

In 2016, one of the first things the three Freeholders (Graham-Rose-Lazzaro) did was to hand out a no-bid contract to the law firm that employed the former State Comptroller, whose office did the final approval and gave the go-ahead for the failed solar project that has cost Sussex County taxpayers over $23 million so far.  

To make matters worse, they said nothing when the former Comptroller himself conducted the interviews, wrote the report, and whitewashed his former office and everyone else.  

End result:  The "study" cost more than $8,000 a page (over $500,000 total).  No harm, no foul, no money back. 

(3) Taking a $2,000 campaign contribution from the bond attorney who failed to blow the whistle on the solar project and then hiring him back.  

It was the job of the bond attorney to protect Sussex County taxpayers and he didn't.  But after getting a $2,000 contribution from his law firm, the three knuckleheads hired him back. 

So which is the stupidest to you?

Send your responses to: info@sussexcountywatchdog.com