Eskilson memo shows Crabb lied

On Sunday, April 12, 2014, the New Jersey Herald gave Freeholder Director Phil Crabb an entire page (over 1,800 words) in which to give his version of the events that led to the Sussex County Freeholder Board being convinced that the "Morris Model" solar program  was a good idea that deserved the County's support. 

Crabb wrote that on February 10, 2011, there was a "committee" formed of two Freeholders and "the county administrator, county chief financial officer and county budget director, along with Morris County counsels John Inglesino and Stephen Pearlman of the law firm Inglesino & Pearlman."  According to Crabb, this "committee" (Crabb's word for it) "met to discuss Sussex County's possible participation" in the "Morris Model" solar program.

There is no record of such a "committee" ever being created . 

The New Jersey Herald was well aware of this, as is Freeholder Director Crabb.  In a memo to the Freeholders from County Administrator John Eskilson, dated February 22, 2011, Eskilson wrote:

Bruce Scruton placed his usual Freeholder Agenda call earlier this afternoon. 

Eskilson then details, for the Freeholders (including Crabb) the information he provided the Herald's Scruton:

RESOLUTION J. Agreement with Morris County Improvement Authority to establish Sussex County solar energy initiative...  Capital Projects Committee and Budget Committee have discussed and are considering establishing pool of seed $ in 2011 Capital Budget. First step will be to conduct educational meetings for municipalities and school boards sometime in March.  Projects could conceivably be bid by late 3d quarter/early 4th  quarter 2011.

That is right.  In the usual and customary way, there were two standing committees of the Freeholder Board that discussed this with the lawyers from Morris County and not, as Crabb wrote, a special "committee" composed of 7 people.  That is what they call, a lie. 

And it's a lie by someone who knew the truth but lied anyway.  That liar is Phil Crabb.

Freeholder Director Phil Crabb brags about how cozy he is with New Jersey Herald reporter Bruce Scruton.  They play cards together, according to Crabb.  So we have to ask, did this cozy relationship play a role in the Herald's failure to catch Crabb's lie?

After Eskilson's discussion with Scruton, on the morning of the vote by the Freeholder Board (February 23, 2011), the Herald published this story by Scruton:

NEWTON – Sussex County is signing an agreement with Morris County that will give local county municipalities and school boards access to the Morris County Improvement Authority’s buying power for solar projects.

Under the agreement, which the Board of Chosen Freeholders will vote on today, towns and schools can get a feasibility study of their facilities done for about $5,000 and by the end of the year could have a project ready for bid, according to Sussex County Administrator John Eskilson.

He said a series of seminars for municipalities and school officials will be held in Sussex County over the next few weeks. Localities interested in sending representatives can contact his office.

The freeholder meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. today at the County Administrative Center, 1 Spring St.

The authority has already done 19 facilities in Morris County, which are producing 3.2 megawatts of power at a cost of about 10.6 cents per kilowatt hour.

The agreement will allow the Sussex County agencies to work directly with consultants, engineers and bond counsel already contracted to Morris County, Eskilson said.  

There are various state and federal programs which encourage development of solar energy production, such as energy production credits which, in some cases, can then be converted directly into cash.  

Scruton's report on the planned solar program was a less detailed version of Eskilson's spin.  It certainly lacked scrutiny.

As for who introduced John Inglesino and Stephen Pearlman to the Sussex County Freeholder Board, now that is another lie on the part of Freeholder Director Crabb.  This is what Crabb wrote in the Herald on Sunday, April 12, 2015:

In early 2011, the county freeholders were approached by the Morris County Improvement Authority to consider participating in the next rollout of its highly successful renewable energy program to local schools and government agencies.

The concept, called the “Morris Model,” was held up nationally as an example of how to produce renewable energy through public-private partnerships. It was the second project of its kind and the previous one was hailed as a success.

Actually, the guy who ran Phil Crabb's 2014 re-election effort was responsible for bringing the lawyers who were pitching the "Morris Model" into Sussex County.  Here is an email from that guy to County Administrator John Eskilson. Note the date.

----- Original Message -----
From: Rich Zeoli <>
To: Eskilson, John
Sent: Thu Nov 04 07:38:47 2010
Subject: Re: Solar Leasing Agreement

I s/w with John Inglesino last night.  He also has some involvement in the solar realm now and closing on a project for Somerset County next week.  I think would be good to also meet with him.  He can come by Wed morning as well, around 9am if we want to do a one-two punch on this subject and reschedule whatever budget meeting we had at 9.  We could move that meeting to after the 10:30 solar meeting if that works.

It looks like Freeholder Director Crabb has some explaining to do.