Solar bailout discussed in secret

If you want to know why people are so disgusted with government that they no longer vote, look no further than what happened last Friday in Sussex County. 

At the urging of Morris County GOP insiders, some of the freeholders there prevailed upon Sussex County Freeholder Richard Vohden, Freeholder Director Phil Crabb, and Sussex County Administrator Stephen Gruchacz to hold a special, behind-closed-doors, secret session with incoming Sussex County Freeholders Jon Rose and Carl Lazzaro.  The topic: The solar scam and resulting bailout that has cost Sussex County taxpayers millions. 

Invited:  Freeholder and choreographer-in-chief Vohden, County Administrator Gruchacz, Morris County officials, and solar corporate executives.  

Not invited:  The taxpaying public.  That's right, it is your job to pay the bill.  But don't ever think that you get to question the bill.

Who got to present their spin on the solar scam?  The people who hatched it, of course.  This was an opportunity created for the attorney representing the Morris County Improvement Authority and corporate representatives from Sunlight (the company responsible for the mess) and Vanguard (the politically-connected vendors who got the lucrative contract to clean it up) to influence the incoming Freeholders behind-closed-doors and in a back-room fashion.

What was their purpose?  They strongly hinted that this secret meeting should take the place of any full investigation by the Sussex County Freeholders.  Rose and Lazzaro won on a platform promising the people of Sussex County a full investigation.

Before coming to work in Sussex County (he doesn't reside here) County Administrator Gruchacz was a Democrat Party official who worked for the corrupt machine of Essex County boss Jim Treffinger.  The federal investigation into Treffinger revealed that county government was rife with corruption -- including pay-to-play vendors deals, nepotism in hiring, and mistresses on the county payroll.  Treffinger pleaded guilty to federal charges of obstruction of justice and mail fraud in 2003.  He was sent to federal prison and ordered to pay a fine.

In less than a month, Sussex County will have new leadership.  A new Freeholder Board majority made up of Freeholders George Graham, Jon Rose, and Carl Lazzaro will out vote the remaining establishment insiders Richard Vohden and Phil Crabb.  One of their first orders of business should be a re-do of Friday's meeting, at which all the same characters would be asked in to take questions from the public.  Yes, give the taxpayers a chance to ask questions.