Glen Vetrano: Man of the Year???

 

If anyone wonders why Sussex County is getting a reputation as a corrupt backwater, look no further than who was named "man of the year" by the Branchville Businessmen's Club.  No, it's not the 1970's.  Yes, it is a businessMEN's club.  Sussex County still has them. 

For some reason, the Sussex County Municipal Utilities Authority (SCMUA) promoted the event, which was held last week.  So who did they name? 

The Branchville Businessmen’s Club announces the recognition of Glen Vetrano as its Man-of-the-year, 2014. He will be honored at the open meeting of the organization to be held at the Walpack Inn on November 20, 2014.  A 6:00 PM cocktail hour will be followed by a brief meeting and sit down dinner with recognition activities to honor Glen specifically citing his many contributions to the club and Sussex County Community.  Glen is a long term member of the club and has served actively on the executive committee with special attention to the Membership function of the Club.  He is a past President of the BBMC, serving back to back during 2012 and 2013.  Glen is a retired Firefighter with the rank of Lieutenant for the Paterson Fired Department. Glen will be recognized for his contributions to the our club and to Sussex County including: past freeholder, Board Member to Sussex County Community College, The Sussex County Farm and Horse Show/NJ State Fair and many other contributions to other organizations.  We invite friends and associates to join us to recognize Glen.  The cost is $30 for dinner, reservations are recommended.

Shouldn't that be former "Board Member to Sussex County Community College"?  Isn't he the guy who had to resign after he got caught breaking ethics rules, voting on a contract for a vendor he took money from, not reporting it on his official financial disclosure, and then not telling the truth about it?  After finally admitting to it, he had to resign.  How does that sort of behavior merit an award or the title "Man of the Year"? 

Maybe Sussex County can't help itself?  Maybe it is stuck in a kind of small town mentality that won't let it grow up and recognize that people can be capable of both good and bad?

The Republican Mayor of Sparta gets in trouble, the former Democratic County Committee Chairman is sentenced to six months in prison, a former Sussex County newspaper editor is convicted of abusing two girls, a Franklin Councilman has to resign over juvenile Facebook posts, and everyone uniformly expresses shock and cannot understand why such a "nice guy" suddenly turned bad.  Maybe the bad was there all along but they couldn't get past the small town smile?

Take the case of former Sussex County Undersheriff and Byram Councilman Rick Meltz.  He was the quintessential "nice guy" and small town "goodfella".  Everybody liked the guy -- until he was arrested in 2013 for his involvement with New York's infamous "cannibal cop", the NYPD's Gilberto Valle, who planned to stalk, kill, and eat his female victims. 

In January 2014, the Honorable Councilman Meltz pleaded guilty to planning to kidnap, rape, and murder women.  According to the New Jersey Herald, Meltz and his co-conspirators planned to "attack and kill multiple victims, including the wife, children and other family members of a co-conspirator."  Meltz and his co-conspirators also discussed what they referred to as the "snuffing" of "women, children, and infants."  With the FBI's tapes rolling, the former Undersheriff dispensed tips on how to kill without getting caught, such as "removing a victim’s teeth to avoid dental identification, taking off the fingers to avoid fingerprint identification, and chopping off and disposing of the head."

This is an extreme case for sure and nobody is trying to equate the crimes of Councilman Meltz with ethics violations.  The example is used because even in this extreme case those interviewed by the Herald expressed complete shock that this "nice guy" was capable of anything improper.  Take the poor Mayor of Byram for example.  He told the Herald:  "I was shocked when he was arrested and now equally shocked that he pleaded guilty. . . I took over Rick’s spot on the council and lived in the same neighborhood as he did."  The Mayor added that Meltz was always a "nice guy" and that "his house was the one in the neighborhood that one would consider safe."  The Byram Mayor told the Herald, "His was the house that you told the kids to go to if something bad happened."

On June 2, 1998, Rick Meltz nearly won the Republican nomination for Sussex County Sheriff.  Meltz lost to incumbent Bob Untig 4,406 to 4,752.  A close call.