Entries in Sussex County Freeholder (6)


On Facebook, two Freeholders contradict their vote for more debt.

Politicians sometimes forget that Facebook is public.  In all that fake bonhomie and throwing around of "likes" they forget.

And so it was a couple days ago, when a Newton councilman reflected on how the sale of a large commercial property in Newton would negatively impact residents in terms of property taxes.  Just days before, the Sussex County Freeholder Board had voted to fund the purchase of that property by the Sussex County Community College, through incurring more debt.

Curiously, two of the Freeholders who voted for that purchase and for more debt put up "likes" next to the Councilman's comments in opposition to what they had done.  Strange.

Now here is a question for voters:  Do you know who your elected freeholders are well enough to identify the names of the two?

Comments are open.


Fantasia & Hertzberg for Sussex County Freeholder Kick Off Their 2018 Campaign With More than 200 Supporters


Sparta, NJ – Dawn Fantasia and Josh Hertzberg kicked off their Freeholder campaign last night at the Mohawk House in Sparta with over 200 supporters in attendance!

Among those in attendance were Senator Steve Oroho, Assemblyman Parker Space, Assemblyman Hal Wirths, Assemblywoman Betty Lou DeCroce, Sussex County Sheriff Mike Strada, Freeholder Herb Yardley,  Congressional Candidate Steve Lonegan, CD 5  and  Congressional Candidate Antony Ghee, CD 11, Sussex County Surrogate Gary Chiusano, Franklin Mayor Nick Giordano, Franklin Councilman Stephen Skellenger, Sparta Deputy Mayor Christine Quinn, Sparta Councilwoman Molly Whilesmith, Sparta Councilman Jerry Murphy, Sparta Councilman Gilbert Gibbs as well as many other Sussex County town and county leaders. 





Freeholders ask TTF for millions in "gas tax" money

There are two ways of funding road and bridge maintenance and repair for Sussex County:                    

(1) Request "gas tax" revenue money from the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF)


(2) Raise property taxes (either "pay as you go" or by bonding, which is debt)

The Sussex County Freeholder Board knows the political risks to their own careers if they raise property taxes.  Heck, property taxes are already going up because they have failed to act to recover any of the millions of taxpayers' dollars lost in the solar debacle and instead spent another half million on top of it to a give a juicy contract to a well-connected New York City law firm.      

It is far wiser to ask for money raised through the increase in the "gas tax" and, after all, that is what the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) is there for.  But those who ask for money shouldn't be hypocritical about it.  To request and spend money from a revenue source that wouldn't have been there without the political courage of others is hypocritical.  It would be far more honest of them to just have the balls to raise property taxes and fund the county's projects that way.

Last evening, Sussex County's Freeholder Board unanimously voted to ask the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) for $2.5 million to fund transportation infrastructure in Sussex County:

The Transportation Trust Fund was broke -- without funds -- in August of last year.  Without an increase in revenue from the gas tax, this $2.5 million now coming from the TTF would have come from a property tax increase on all property owners in Sussex County.  This $2.5 million is only one instance.  If the TTF had remained insolvent and had gone bankrupt, the costs transferred to property tax payers would have averaged more than $550.00 per household.

You cannot take on the one hand and then complain about it on the other.  The Freeholders need to remain consistent.


What's up with Gail Phoebus?

We've all seen these characters before -- shoulder angels or devils, depending on your point of view.  For Assemblyperson Gail Phoebus, her shoulder conservative was Bill Winkler, and her shoulder liberal -- Dan Perez.


It was Winkler, along with Ginnie Littell, who recruited Phoebus to run for Sussex County Freeholder -- her first countywide office -- in January 2012.  They met with the future Assemblyperson at her country club/golf course and convinced her to take the plunge.  And it was Winkler who charted Phoebus' early course as a conservative "reformer" -- word for word.


Meanwhile, Dan Perez was gaining notoriety in Sussex County as the wingman of then Skylands Victory SuperPAC founder Kevin Kelly.  The two lawyers were involved in the lawsuit that broke Republican Party hegemony in Vernon Township.  And Perez was instrumental in ending the careers of a couple Republican members of the Board of Sussex County Community College.


Both Perez and Winkler are outsiders to Sussex County, although Perez has taken up residence here in recent years.  Where they differ most is in their ideological perspective:  Winkler is a conservative and a 1980 delegate for Ronald Reagan for President, while Perez is a liberal who contributed to Barack Obama.


There they sat on Phoebus' shoulders, Winkler on the right and Perez on the left, each trying to sway the ever swayable Phoebus.  One issue in particular was a point of contention:  Abortion.  When Winkler pushed Phoebus to take a tough stand on funding for Planned Parenthood, Perez called Roe v. Wade a great legal decision. 


So it was no great surprise when Phoebus ally George Graham (Sussex County's Freeholder Director) and two Phoebus committeemen from Andover Township angrily approached Winkler at a recent GOP event where he was handing out information packets on the 20/20 Vision Project  -- an ecumenical Pro-Life effort organized by the Roman Catholic archdiocese.  The goal of the 20/20 Project is to pass legislation to address the scientific fact that unborn babies are pain-sensitive at 20 weeks.  Every other country on earth recognizes this fact except North Korea, China, Vietnam, Singapore, Canada, and the Netherlands.  Senator Steve Oroho is the prime sponsor of 20/20 legislation in the State Senate.  Similar legislation has been passed in 15 states and 2017 has been designated as the year of the big push to bring our laws into line with the rest of the civilized world.


With the patronage of Phoebus and Graham, Perez has been moving up the political ladder in Sussex County.  He recently landed a plum political appointment as a Sussex County Municipal Utilities Authority (SCMUA) commissioner and he has made it known that he has his eyes set on an appointment as a Superior Court Judge. 


Of course, as a conservative, Winkler would oppose elevating such a liberal to a high court.  For that reason, Winkler had to go.  And it could also explain why Phoebus, after less than six months in office, began making moves to oust conservative incumbent State Senator Steve Oroho -- who had backed Phoebus when she ran for Freeholder and for Assembly.  Even by New Jersey standards, the short time between Phoebus' taking Oroho's support and then screwing her benefactor was remarkable.  It was real Hudson County Democrat stuff.


When Phoebus summarily fired longtime conservative staffer Lou Crescitelli as her chief of staff, the die was cast.  Crescitelli, a career civil servant and lifetime Pro-Life and Pro-Second Amendment activist, was popular across party and ideological divides for his kindness and gentlemanly behavior.  Unfortunately, he was just too conservative for the new Team Phoebus.  They only want people around them who think like them. 


Back in the Reagan Administration, they had a saying: "Personnel is policy."  What that means, of course, is that to advance a conservative agenda it is necessary to hire staff who supported conservative policies, and who work to achieve conservative objectives rather than to undermine them.  It is clear that Gail Phoebus has chosen a different course.


The Herald drops the ball on solar

On Sunday, the Herald editorialized about a working session with Senator Steve Oroho and elected local government officials.  The meeting has been called by the Senator to discuss suggestions and ideas on how road construction and other transportation projects might be accomplished less expensively and more efficiently.  The Herald would like to turn this meeting into a media circus so that they might write some salacious story to attract advertising dollars.  Senator Oroho is right to make it about the work that needs to be done.


While editorializing because they want to make Senator Oroho's working session about them, the Herald has completely neglected the Freeholder Board meeting being held the same night.  It seems that, after hearing that Oroho was holding his workshop, the Freeholder Board decided that the same night was perfect for holding its long-awaited update on the Sussex solar scam.


Not only didn't the Herald use its editorial page the Sunday before the meeting to drive members of the public to this very important meeting -- the Herald tried to publicly lobby Senator Oroho to open his working session up to the public to draw away people from the Freeholder Board meeting and allow some on the Board to claim public disinterest in the outcome of the $80 million taxpayer-funded scam. 


The Herald failed to comment on the Freeholder's agenda which allows for no public discussion of the solar scam.  It is unbelievable that the Herald missed the opportunity to draw public attention to this, and to demand that public comment be allowed at a public meeting. 


We will be reporting on this in depth, on Tuesday.