Entries in Sussex County Taxpayers (152)

Sunday
Nov052017

County insider Dan Perez = more solar scams

Some people say that having a liberal Democrat on the Sussex County Freeholder Board will add an independent set of eyes to the board.  That might be the case if they were arguing for Bill Weightman or even Leslie Huhn -- but not Dan Perez.

Because while he may be a Democrat, Perez owes his last two patronage appointments to the very same boys on the Freeholder Board.  The same politicians who were responsible for the solar scam debacle appointed him to the Sussex County Community College Board of Trustees.  The same politicians who gave a no-bid contract to a New York City law firm to do a 62-page study costing the property taxpayers of Sussex County $518,000 appointed Perez to a job on SCMUA. 

Now Perez uses those patronage jobs to claim he is "qualified" when it is actually the proof that he is part of what he claims he disapproves of.  How can Perez take their money but not be tainted by the acquaintance? 

Remember that Dan Perez was all set to file a complaint against the bond attorney he claimed was responsible for the solar fiasco.  But after that bond attorney sent a nice fat check to a Freeholder's re-election effort, Perez dropped his complaint and didn't oppose the re-appointment of the man he claimed was responsible for the Sussex solar scam.

Does Dan Perez sound like a reformer to you?  He doesn't to us.

Monday
Oct302017

Perez, Boxer, and the $518,000 solar study scam 

Matthew Boxer was the State Comptroller from January 2008 until December 2013.  Before taking this position, Mr. Boxer was an associate with the New York City law firm of Lowenstein Sandler.  After leaving office, he returned to that firm as a partner.

Most residents of Sussex County are aware of the scandal that involved a public-private partnership to install solar panels on local government buildings, using federal subsidies.  As it turned out, the private entity responsible for the work was under-capitalized, failed to pay the contractor doing the work, was sued by the contractor, and the project stopped.  The cost to taxpayers in Sussex County is estimated at upwards of $40 million.

Sussex was one of three counties involved in this project -- Somerset and Morris were the others.  Lacking its own agency, Sussex County worked through the Morris County Improvement Authority (MCIA), although each county made its own individual contracts with the entity, called Sunlight General, a new creation with a board of directors drawn largely from a French bank.

In February 2011, the Board of Chosen Freeholders of Sussex County authorized a shared services agreement with the MCIA to implement the solar project.  In July 2011, the project was sent to the Office of the State Comptroller for review.  After reviewing all the project documents, the following month (August 2011), the project was given the okay by the Office of the State Comptroller -- headed up by Mr. Matthew Boxer.  Based the affirmative review given by Mr. Boxer's office, the Sussex County Freeholders went forward with the project.

Apparently, the project was so fashioned that by October 2011, Sussex County had received just one bid -- from Sunlight General.  And so, in that month, the Sussex County Freeholders awarded the contract to Sunlight General.

The Freeholder Boards of Morris, Somerset, and Sussex Counties all signed agreements -- reviewed by the Office of the State Comptroller (Mr. Boxer's office) -- that used taxpayer-secured debt to back up SunLight General's operations.  Unfortunately, the contracts were poorly written, the expected flow of capital was fanciful, the projects poorly planned and executed.  Allow us to quote from the documents supplied by the federal court:

Yes, the Office of the State Comptroller -- Mr. Matthew Boxer's office -- let down the taxpayers of Sussex County.  Matthew Boxer got to move on to his law partnership and the Office of the State Comptroller just keeps on reviewing what it reviews and the residents of Sussex County are left to deal with the $40 million loss in their (higher) property tax bills.  In March 2015, the Freeholder Boards of both Sussex and Morris Counties reached out to the Office of the State Comptroller and formally requested that the State Comptroller review the project -- for a second opinion.

About this time, the name Matthew Boxer resurfaced again, only now it was as part of a proposal to bring in "outside counsel" to review the solar project and what went wrong.  Two members of the Sussex County Freeholder Board, who are very close to Democrat Freeholder candidate Dan Perez, pushed for Mr. Boxer to be brought in for this purpose.  Below is a memo from attorney Dan Perez (now himself a candidate for Sussex County Freeholder) to then Freeholder Gail Phoebus:

In April 2015, the Office of the State Comptroller turned down both Sussex and Morris Counties' requests to review the solar project.  No official reason was ever provided.  However, there is an "unofficial" explanation provided in a May 26, 2015, memo from the MCIA to the Morris County Freeholders.  It goes as follows:

So it appears that the Office of the State Comptroller had conducted a review of the solar project it had signed-off on, but was unwilling to share said review.  The memo continued:

The "post-review decision not to review the matter..."  Wow. 

The Office of the State Comptroller's recalcitrance to share the review that they had already conducted or to take that review further was a loss to the taxpayers of Sussex County, but a boon to former State Comptroller Matthew Boxer, who was now being touted as the only man to do a review that was to be paid for by fresh taxpayer's money.

And so, it came to pass that in January 2016 a new Freeholder Board in Sussex County -- now controlled by the very same individuals who had been for months advocating for the selection of Matthew Boxer as the only man to review the solar project -- handed Matthew Boxer a contract for $500,000 to conduct said review.

The manner in which this contract was provided to Mr. Boxer was curious, and remains unexplained to this day.  In a letter, dated January 19, 2016, a Sussex County Freeholder wrote to Mr. Boxer's firm inquiring how he came by it.  Here is what he wrote:

To this day, this Freeholder -- a respected member of the community in Sussex County and a veteran of the Korean War -- has never received the courtesy of a reply.  Why not? 

So the Freeholder wrote to the State Ethics Commission and noted the following:

To which the State Ethics Commission replied:

The word "facts" is used when "representations" might be more appropriate.  As the State Ethics Commission did not conduct its own review of the Office of the State Comptroller's "records and emails... correspondence... other documents", it is clear that they are simply accepting Mr. Boxer at his word.

Doesn't it seem strange to claim that the person in charge of an office was so lax as to have no knowledge of what was a three-county project involving -- to start -- $100 million.  And that his office reviewed nearly a dozen similar contracts involving many more millions in public money.  Okay. let's accept that Mr. Boxer was a "delegator" without direct, day-to-day knowledge about the office he was responsible for.  How did he come to be recommended as the sole recipient of a $500,000 contract to review what his office failed in reviewing at the start? 

In its reply, the State Ethics Commission expressly invited further inquiry:

It is time for the Freeholders to establish a citizen's commission to investigate this corrupt mess and call those who have benefited to account.  Make someone like Harvey Roseff the chairman and you won't need to spend a half million dollars of taxpayers' money (property tax money!) to get the job done.

Sunday
Oct292017

Democrat Perez says taxpayers are too stupid to decide

Last week, Warren County Freeholder Jason Sarnoski wrote in to the Herald to applaud Sussex County Freeholder candidate Herb Yardley for proposing that Sussex County voters be given the opportunity to decide on any future borrowing in the county.  That's right, Herb Yardley's idea is that before the county goes off on yet another half-baked scheme that will put it deeper into debt, the idea would get debated, placed on the ballot, and the voters would decide.

 

The idea is currently at work in Warren County and in individual municipalities in Sussex County -- like Newton, where the voters recently got to decide if they wanted to go $18 million into debt or not.   The proposal was placed on the ballot and voters were asked to approve more than $18 million in bonds to fund the expansion and renovation of the Merriam Avenue School.  The $18.69 million in new debt (bonds) would have increased the tax burden on the average home by $337 annually over the next 20 years.  959 voters said "no" and 238 voters said "yes" -- so the borrowing didn't happen.  

 

Dan Perez' philosophy is to take the power to decide away from the voters and give it to local politicians.  He would rather the taxpayers  pay an additional $337 in property taxes because -- in Dan Perez' philosophy -- average taxpayers are not lawyers like him, and so they are too stupid to be trusted to decide on issues like the debt they and their children and grandchildren will be paying over the next twenty years.  Dan Perez is liberal elitism at its worst.

 

When you think back on all the spending "mistakes" that the Sussex County Freeholder Board has made, can we afford more of them?  Dan Perez thinks so.

 

Dan Perez is a Democrat running for Freeholder.  Perez is a New York lawyer who has helped many a county insider with their legal troubles.  Perez is himself an insider, who has been appointed to two patronage jobs courtesy of the county Freeholder Board. 

 

Responding to Jason Sarnoski, Dan Perez argued the case for county political insiders across New Jersey.  Perez said to "trust" the political establishment in New Jersey, despite the fact that it is one of the most corrupt in America.

 

Democrat Perez pointed to urban Democrat machine strongholds like Hudson County, Essex County, Passaic County, Union County, and Camden County as places that Sussex County should emulate.  Perez asked his followers to reject the fiscal conservative example of neighboring rural Warren County in favor of these cesspits of county corruption -- where literally hundreds of politicians and patronage holders have been convicted or have pleaded guilty to corruption of one sort or another.  Perez is asking us to embrace this filth.

 

 Fortunately, most taxpayers know better.  They want their government back in their own hands.  They want a plan to get the county out of debt, so that we can begin to talk about getting property taxes under control. 

 

The people who pay property taxes know that the Democrats' talk of lowering them is pure bullshit (because they are the party of higher property taxes) and that the Republicans' hopes to lower them are pie-in-the-sky until we get spending and debt under control.  Neighboring Warren County has such a plan. 

 

While Sussex County was stumbling from crisis to crisis, from scandal to scandal, Warren County passed an ordinance that prevented its politicians from borrowing without first getting the approval of the taxpayers.  It is a reform that works!

 

What it does is this:  Before any long-term borrowing can happen, it must first go on the ballot for the voters to decide whether or not they think it is a worthy project and they want to pay for it.  The ordinance doesn't say that you can't borrow, it just says that you must get permission from the voters -- the people paying the taxes -- first.

 

Once this ordinance is passed, the politicians on the Sussex County Freeholder Board will have to ask the taxpayers for permission the next time someone comes up with a scheme to use tax money to place solar panels all over the place, or to build a new county administration building, or to finance the sale of the county dump to private investors.  It would put any of these crazy ideas on hold until the voters can properly scrutinize the plans and then place it on the ballot for the voters to decide.

 

No wonder insiders like Dan Perez are pissing their pants!

 

Some insiders make an argument that begins with the words, "what about an emergency" -- when they darn well know that the ordinance makes exclusions for emergencies.  It also makes exclusions for anticipatory borrowing, where the money is promised to the county.  What it ends is borrowing just to spend money and give contracts to other insiders. 

 

Insiders like Dan Perez are livid over this legislation and at how it threatens them and their fellow insiders.  But taxpayers are sick and tired of being pissed-on by people like Dan Perez.  This is a reform that is long overdue.

Friday
Oct272017

Anti-hunter Dan Perez shows up to NRA dinner?

For years, readers of the New Jersey Herald and the Star-Ledger have been reading about how New York lawyer Dan Perez has represented anti-hunting activists against taxpayers exercising their legal right to hunt.  Perez even represented an anti-hunt activist who targeted hunters with personal harassment.  And Perez sued law enforcement when they tried to do something about it.

Democrat candidate for Freeholder Dan Perez representing anti-hunter activist Susan Kehoe in August 2017. Perez also represented Kehoe on another charge in 2012.

Democrat candidate for Freeholder Dan Perez representing anti-hunter activist Bill Crain in 2016. Crain has been convicted on multiple charges of harassing taxpayers who are exercising their legal right to hunt.

 

Democrat candidate for Freeholder Dan Perez representing anti-hunter activist Bill Crain in 2014. Crain was jailed for his actions in December 2016.

So how is Dan Perez "pro-second amendment" when he is so anti-hunter? 

And who convinced Perez, who nobody recalls seeing at earlier NRA dinners, to attend last night's event?  Could it be that now that Perez is the Democrat Party candidate for Freeholder, he is looking to scam a few votes?

At the NRA dinner, Perez, a consummate county insider, was seen cavorting with a quorum of county freeholders.  He even managed to get himself announced at the event.  Anything for a vote, right?

But this is a very strange development given Dan Perez' lifelong involvement with anti-hunting and animal rights groups.  Are they aware that his new GOP friends are promoting him within the NRA?  Somebody is going to be disappointed.

Friday
Oct272017

Sussex Democrats have embraced the radical "resist" movement of Linda Sarsour and the Women's March.

"When we stand up to those who oppress our communities that Allah accepts from us that as a form of jihad... we are struggling against tyrants and rulers not only abroad in the Middle East or in the other side of the world, but here in these United States of America."  Linda Sarsour, co-chair of the Women's March, speaking to the Islamic Society of North America.

For months now, organizations affiliated with the so-called Women's March have been holding rallies on Newton Green in support of illegal immigration, dropping the immigration ban on terrorist nations, funding abortion clinics, higher property taxes, the confiscation of legal firearms, and other radical causes.  Their goal was summed up by Kate Matteson, a Democrat candidate for the state legislature.

And now the Democrats top statewide candidates have embraced "no questions asked" illegal immigration and have promised to make New Jersey a "sanctuary state."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Yep, the Democrats and their party support turning New Jersey into a Sanctuary State.  Yep, the entire state. 

What that means to New Jersey taxpayers is explained by former Mayor Steve Lonegan:

"A 'sanctuary state' will mean a huge influx of people who will need the social services safety net more than average.  The Democrat gubernatorial ticket has promised to impose a so-called 'millionaire's tax' that will chase away those who currently fund the state's social safety net.  Those who are left... the middle class who can't leave because of a job, or because they can't sell their home for what they paid for it, or because their child wants to finish school -- they will have to make up for the shortfall in higher taxes.

That won't be easy, because at 26.1% of income, the cost of living in New Jersey is, according to Bloomberg, by far the most expensive in the nation.  Meanwhile, state household income is nearly seven percent lower than it was in 2008 and has only grown by a little more than one percent since then. 

Those coming to the new 'Sanctuary State' of New Jersey will enter the workforce of the gray economy, where the minimum wage doesn't apply.  But for everyone else it does -- which will leave trade union workers, manufacturing, medical care and health workers, service industry workers, and mothers with part-time jobs all at a disadvantage when competing for a job.  It will be bad news for people trying to pay their mortgage, their property taxes, those hoping to avoid foreclosure. 

And just where will all these newcomers to the 'Sanctuary State of New Jersey' reside?  Why in subsidized sanctuary housing -- courtesy of COAH and its plan to build tens of thousands of new subsidized no-questions-asked units throughout New Jersey. 

This will require massive infrastructure investment by taxpayers -- and an increase in property tax collections.  To pay for it, the Democrats intend to scrap the 2-percent cap on local government spending.  Under the Democrats property taxes rose an average of 6.1 percent a year -- triple the rate of inflation.  Since the cap, property taxes have gone up an average of just 2.1 percent a year."

"If the Democrats are successful with their idea, they will have to build a wall to keep taxpayers in," Lonegan said.  True enough.

Stay tuned...