Entries in Freeholder Boss George Graham (10)



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.


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."


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. 


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 


Freeholder Rose's re-launched Skylands blog backed Democrat candidates in 2017

The blog that tried to convince everyone that Assemblyman Parker Space is a racist last year is back...

The "Skylands" blog that did so much to try to elect three far-left Democrats to the Legislature last year by boycotting Space Farms and trashing Sussex County Republicans on behalf of the Murphy team.  They're baaack... 

The blog tries to portray itself as part a tea party group but has nothing to do with any tea party organization in Sussex County.  Instead, the blog promotes the county insider line as laid out by Freeholder Boss George Graham.

Last year the "Skylands" blog pushed for the election of liberal Democrat Dan Perez over Republican Herb Yardley.  The blog was there when Graham's pal Maria Alampi arranged for the anti-gun Perez to speak at the Sussex NRA dinner.

Now it's back... just in time to help with the re-election of Freeholders Jonathan Rose and Carl Lazzaro. 

The "Skylands" blog is affiliated with Freeholder Rose and his pal, Dick.  Cop-hater Dave Fanale recently joined the effort to re-elect Rose and Lazzaro.  It will be remembered that after the disgraced Fanale quit Franklin Council, he moved into Rose's house.  Add George Graham into that mix and you have quite the group.


FACT CHECK: First Rose-Lazzaro ad full of untruths

The first re-election ad put out by Freeholders Jonathan Rose and Carl Lazzaro is a doozy.  It appeared in some of the weekly newspapers and is noteworthy for the litany of untruths and outright lies it contains.

Here is a copy of the actual text...

We checked the FACTS and it isn't pretty:

(1) Transparency.  The Freeholder Board majority of Boss George Graham, Jonathan Rose, and Carl Lazzaro put together a so-called transparency committee made up of them and other county politicians... that's right, to judge the ethical problems of them and other county politicians.  Ridiculous!

(2) Predictable Taxes.  Yes, they are predictable in that county property taxes go up EVERY year. They outright lie when they claimed to keep tax increases "at or below the rate of inflation." Compare the annual inflation rates and the resulting tax increases for yourself...

YEAR              Annual Inflation Rate                    Property Tax Increase

2015                           0.1%                                                   4.2%

2016                           1.3%                                                   3.5%

2017                           2.1%                                                   2.9%

(3) Efficient Government.  Empire Building by Freeholder Boss George Graham has resulted in a lawsuit by Sussex County's Sheriff Mike Strada -- an attempt at keeping the Freeholders' from turning the Sheriff's department into a political patronage playpen for Graham and the boys.  And while Sheriff Strada is fighting for the integrity of his department and protecting his employees from harassment and molestation by county insiders, Graham and the boys handed out sweetheart-deal pay raises to 50 white-collar cronies.  They did this while telling every other county employee that they couldn't even have a cost-of-living adjustment -- and they did it in the middle of contract negotiations.  The Freeholders have destroyed the morale and efficiency of county government. 

(4) Solar Litigation.  Rose and Lazzaro joined Freeholder Graham in hiring back the lawyers responsible for the solar fiasco and the resulting debt and property tax hikes.  One lawyer they hired back as bond counsel after he gave a $2,000 campaign contribution to Graham.  The other they gave a no-bid contract to for a study of the solar mess -- which, of course, whitewashed his role and the role of the bond counsel. Under Rose and Lazzaro and Graham the solar mess has only gotten more messy -- and there is still no plan to get our money back! 

(5) Fix the Transportation Network.  At public appearances, Freeholder Rose has called for scrapping the planned rail line into Sussex County that legislators like Steve Oroho, Gail Phoebus, Parker Space, and Hal Wirths have long fought for.  Rose claims that the era of "driverless vehicles" is almost here and that we should wait for the future to arrive.  This is as pie-in-the-sky as is Freeholder Rose's support for legalizing marijuana sales in New Jersey in the middle of an opioid epidemic that is killing thousands.  Irresponsible. 

(6) Promote Tourism.  "Trails and bicycle lanes" won't bring people to Sussex County -- jobs and lower taxes will. Why can Warren County cut its county property taxes but Sussex County can't?  Maybe it's because Warren County's Freeholders don't borrow unless the voters say so... Maybe it's because Warren County has two less Freeholders than Sussex County does? 

Maybe it's time for Sussex County to make do with two less Freeholders?