Entries in Freeholder boss (2)


The return of Dave Fanale and the anti-police wing of the GOP

We all remember the sorry episode of Dave Fanale.  He was an up-and-coming Sussex County politician in the orbit of Freeholder boss George Graham.  He was elected to the GOP county committee and to the Franklin Borough Council.  Some had him marked for bigger and better things.

And then it all started to come unraveled.  It turned out that Fanale didn't like law enforcement very much.  He had a problem with cops and started posting weird stuff on Facebook in this regard...

Yep, GOP Councilman Fanale posted a cartoon of a kid pissing on the thin blue line (representing the police) while giving them the finger.  The cartoon above was just one shot in a series of verbal and written attacks on the police.  Councilman Fanale's anti-police campaign got particularly disturbing, as it stretched on for months.

There was a huge backlash amongst the conservative, pro-police residents of Franklin... and Dave Fanale quit the Council.  For a time, Fanale moved in with Freeholder Jonathan Rose, another member of Freeholder boss George Graham's entourage. 

And now he's back. 

Among those present at Freeholder Jonathan Rose's fundraiser last month, was former Franklin Councilman Dave Fanale... the same controversial figure who resigned from the Council after leading his anti-police campaign.  Freeholder Rose shares a somewhat libertarian political philosophy with Fanale and the former Franklin Councilman is pushing for his re-election. 

At the same fundraising event for Freeholder Rose, attended by former Councilman Fanale, Rose formally threw his support to John McCann, formerly of the Democrat Bergen County Sheriff's office, and now a GOP candidate for Congress. 

Yes, that's Sheriff Michael Saudino -- the Bergen County Sheriff who was elected as a Republican, then switched to Democrat in order to destroy the Republican Party in that county, and then who ran for re-election on a ticket with Hillary Clinton and Josh Gottheimer. 

The Bergen Record has identified McCann as the "right hand man" to Democrat Sheriff Michael Saudino.  It was Saudino's feud with the Republican County Executive that undermined and ultimately lost Republicans control of Bergen County.  The coup de grace came when Saudino, a one-time Republican, joined Hillary Clinton and Josh Gottheimer on a ticket that crushed Republicans in Bergen County. 

John McCann remained Sheriff Saudino's consigliore through it all and ran for Congress (as a Republican) with Saudino's blessing and while still on the Democrat's payroll.  Sheriff Saudino has formally endorsed fellow Democrat Josh Gottheimer for re-election this year. 

The media has recently reported on 22 Bergen County police officers who claimed they were wrongly terminated or mistreated.  In a class action suit, the officers accuse Sheriff Saudino of demoting or firing qualified officers out of spite or for political retaliation.  Saudino, who supported Gottheimer for his stance on LGBT issues, is accused of allowing the "despicable and dehumanizing treatment" of a gay police officer.

A federal lawsuit filed last year contains the personal testimony of dozens of veteran law enforcement officers who fell victim to a power play by the Democrat Sheriff of Bergen County.  Here are a few of their stories:

"In 2014 my wife and I decided to have our 2nd child even though there were talks of merging The Bergen County Police with the Sheriff's Department.  we both agreed that we could afford to make this life changing decision based on the fact that the merger specifically stated there would be no layoffs, and no decrease in pay.

We had purchased a smaller home, which needed improvements... We are not going to be able to make these improvements or expand our home due to the impending layoff or pay decrease.  In fact we may lose our home if these changes take place.

My wife and I were discussing the possibility of having a third child as recently as February of this year.  However this will not happen now because of these layoffs."


"In 2015, I got engaged.  In 2016, I got married and purchased a home.  In 2017, I welcomed another child into my family... I have a wife and two children, ages 6 and 3 months.  Now with the threat of a potential layoff, not only will my life be affected, but my family will be negatively affected as well."


"I have been employed by Bergen County as a Police Officer since July, 2004.  I have recently re-financed my 30 year mortgage to a 15 year mortgage due to the promise that the Sheriff, County Executive, and Freeholder Board made that my job was safe when they merged us.  I am also the caregiver to my elderly parents... If I am demoted, I will not be able to afford the extra payments that a 15 year mortgage brings as well as care for my parents in a way that they deserve."


"I can personally say the moral and pride I had as a County Police Officer has been stripped away and this entire process has affected me personally.  I never knew what it was like to go to work and be unhappy.  I've always loved my career and the organization I worked for.  There are often times I get sick to my stomach thinking of how the politicians have destroyed this place and everything it represented.  My mind is consumed with thoughts of whether or not I will be able to retire..."


"I am a single father of two children.  I have full custody of my children... I had financial plans in place to send my oldest daughter who is currently in high school to attend specific colleges she had picked out.  With this demotion I will no longer be able to pay for my daughter's college education..."


"In August of 1996 I joined what I believed was a dedicated profession and well known department... I joined the United States Marine Corps Reserve in 1982... I was activated in support of Operation Desert Shield/Storm... I retired with 20 years of service in 2003.

...I have made many life choices on the promises and assurance my family and I would be able to live without the threat of losing our home or not being able to afford the basic simple lifestyle we have had in our lives.  Upon the assurance of the County of Bergen, the politicians and the Bergen County Sheriff my family committed to providing an education for my son that now involves the payment of an incredible amount of education loans."


"I am currently a Police Officer with the Bergen County Sheriff's Department... I am also a United States Disabled Combat Veteran.  I served four and a half years with the 82nd Airborne Division, with a fifteen-month deployment to Iraq as an Infantryman... With the promise of job security, I continued my life as any other reasonable person would have.  I recently purchased a home and have plans to marry my longtime girlfriend, whom this layoff also affects tremendously..."


Rose-Fanale-McCann... It's amazing how these people found each other.  That you have, in the same room and supporting the same candidate, an avowed cop-hater and the guy who destroyed Bergen County's police department.  Small world.



Leaked document questions need for solar study

One of the first actions of the new Sussex County Freeholder Board in January of 2016 was to spend a half million dollars of taxpayers' money on a study to figure out how the county's solar project went sour.  The solar project, which was the brainchild of Morris County politicians and the Morris County Improvement Authority, ultimately cost Sussex County taxpayers millions -- and with the bill set to go as high as $40 million, the pain will be felt in higher property tax bills for many years to come.

Led by Freeholder boss George Graham, a political consultant who counted a number of Hudson County Democrats as his clients, the incoming Freeholder Board hired a New York City law firm to conduct a review of the failed solar project in Sussex County.  As the New Jersey Herald reported on January 28, 2016:

A private investigation of Sussex County's embattled solar project, to be led by ex-State Comptroller Matthew Boxer, gained authorization Wednesday night.

In a 3-2 vote, the county freeholder board approved an agreement hiring Boxer and his firm, Lowenstein Sandler LLP. The review will take up to a year, with the payments by the county to the law firm capped at $500,000.

(Note that the review which was to "take up to a year" is still not completed.)

How did the taxpayers of Sussex County end up on the hook for a $500,000.00 contract to hire a New York City law firm?  Whose idea was it to hire the firm? 

Did the selection process begin in the open, at the Freeholder Board meeting in Newton, or did it take place months earlier at a political campaign meeting about taking over the Freeholder Board, long before the majority of those freeholders voting in favor of it were even elected?

Since handing out the contract, the stated goals of the $500,000.00 study have been somewhat downgraded.  In January 2016, its supporters told the New Jersey Herald (January 28, 2016) that they could "recover $20 million" for Sussex County taxpayers.  By the end of last year however, the Freeholders who supported the study were singing a different tune:  "We've got to finish up and close out the solar process." (Star-Ledger, December 31, 2016)

Now leaked executive session minutes from the Freeholder meeting of September 18, 2014, show that the Board understood exactly who was at fault and how to proceed in order to claw back taxpayers' money.  Even then Freeholder Gail Phoebus, who from the minutes appears to have had some difficulty in comprehending the complex financial arrangements of the solar project, understood who the culprits were:

Understanding who was at fault and how to proceed in order to recover taxpayers' money were the very reasons cited for having the study that is now costing Sussex County taxpayers another half million dollars -- only now, there appears to be no appetite by the Board to get any money back.  On top of this, the Board has continued to employ some of the same consultants and attorneys they blamed for the problem back in 2014 -- 3 years ago!

The uses for the 1603 money are very clearly specified by the United States Treasury Department: 

1603 Program: Payments for Specified Energy Property in Lieu of Tax Credits

The purpose of the 1603 payment is to reimburse eligible applicants for a portion of the cost of installing specified energy property used in a trade or business or for the production of income. A 1603 payment is made after the energy property is placed in service; a 1603 payment is not made prior to or during construction of the energy property.

With a study going on for a year and costing taxpayers $500,000.00, why hasn't this been acted upon?