Give us our money back, Bernie

Bernie Re is Sussex County's longtime, well paid Treasurer.  The finance officer of Sussex County.  Bernie Re pockets $148,060 every year, plus benefits, health care, and a nice fat pension when he retires, aged 62, this year.

The average property taxpayer, doesn't have a pension, or paid benefits, or free health care.  And if he or she retires before 66 on Social Security, it is subject to a penalty.  Oh, and the average family income (husband and wife together) in Sussex County is just $87,335. 

Bernie Re was one of three Sussex County bureaucrats who were part of the Sussex County Evaluation Team.  This is the committee that recommended to the Freeholder Board that they agree to the solar scheme.  These are the assurances, Bernie Re and the other bureaucrats made to the Board: 

"The SunLight/MasTec team possesses high quality management, installation capabilities, and sound solar development experience.  In addition, the SunLight/MasTec proposal provides Sussex benefits in the following key areas:

- It provides substantial direct energy cost savings;

- It provides the Local Units the potential for additional savings through the sharing of revenues from the sale of Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) and other environmental benefits;

- Due to SunLight/MasTec's proposed capital investment, which reduces the required size of the Authority bonds, it provides a strong level of protection for Sussex from financial risk;

- It provided additional financial protection for Sussex in the form of a debt service reserve fund; and,

- It includes a restoration security providing for additional Local Unit protection at the end of contract.

Back in 2011, Bernie Re and the other county bureaucrats gave their assurances as professionals, their word, as men of honor.  Apparently his word isn't worth much and his professional standards are simply nonexistent. 

In today's New Jersey Herald, Bernie Re -- a man who Sussex County taxpayers have paid handsomely year after year -- essentially laughed in their faces and said "let the buyer beware".

Here is Bernie Re's exact quote: 

Re, though, acknowledged that he had been upset by the political storm surrounding the solar issue. He said county officials provided thorough information and that decisions were always up to the freeholders.

“Elected officials have a job to do. Nobody put a gun to anybody's head,” Re said.

"Nobody put a gun to anybody's head."  Isn't that what scammer Bernie Madoff said about his victims?  Yes, and scammer Jordan Belfort, the Wolf of Wall Street himself, said it too.  Isn't that what every scumbag scammer says?

Yes, elected officials do have a job to do.  They should have been better judges of character in selecting the county's top bureaucrats.

We've just been through tax time.  Imagine if something was really wrong and you got audited and the person who you trusted to advise you on preparing your taxes said, "Nobody put a gun to anybody's head." 

Of course, that wouldn't happen because the IRS holds the tax preparer to account.  Unfortunately, the majority on the Sussex County Freeholder Board of Crabb, Vohden, and Mudrick will not be holding Bernie Re to account.  If they did hold him to account, they would ask for their money back for the years 2011 through 2015.

Bernie Re will soon be retiring.  Laughing at the taxpayers.  Laughing all the way to the bank.  "My advice was crap," but they still paid me.  "The Freeholders should have never trusted a thing I wrote  or said, ha, ha... but they still paid me."

But there still is something we can do to make sure that a lesson is learned and that others with the same professional attitudes as Bernie Re holds are not allowed to prey on people who look at their credentials and forget to examine their character.  We can file a professional complaint against Bernie Re. 

Filing a complaint cannot undo what Bernie Re did to the taxpayers of Sussex County.  But it will stand as a rebuke to every financial officer who says of the people he is supposed to provide honest advice, "Nobody put a gun to anybody's head."