Freeholder Crabb misleads public again

In his attempts to mislead Sussex County taxpayers, Freeholder Director Phil Crabb is sounding more and more like one of those old comedic send-ups of a flannel-mouthed politician.  Case in point:  Crabb's pal Johnny Eskilson got caught trying to "clean up" the document trail as he leaves office.  Clean up, as in shred and incinerate. 

Crabb failed to return any calls or emails or text messages when asked about it for the story in Wednesday's New Jersey Herald.   But having a day to rehearse, Crabb did his best "good old country-boy, I wouldn't lie to you" Senator Claghorn routine at Wednesday's Freeholder meeting. 

 

The Freeholder Director must have had his fingers crossed when he tried to calm the public present at the meeting with the smooth words that the records that the County Administrator had sought to destroy were just odds and ends, nothing important.  "A few bid hearings" and what not, Crabb told the taxpayers attending the meeting.

But Freeholder Crabb's words do not reflect what is listed on the legal request filed with the New Jersey Department of the Treasury.  That document (CR-AA-0005), a "Request and Authorization for Records Disposal" was filed by the personal secretary to the Sussex County Administrator on April 9, 2015.  It was approved by the Sussex County Administrator that day. 

Yes, let's say that again.  The Sussex County Administrator had his personal secretary, Cathy Williams, "request" that the records be destroyed.  And then he approved her request.  How cozy is that? 

Office of the CountyAdministrator
Sussex County Administrative Center
One Spring Street
Newton, NJ  07860

Email: jeskilson@sussex.nj.us 
Telephone:   (973) 579-0250
Fax:  (973) 579-0259
Cathy Williams, Secretary 

At last evening's Freeholder's meeting, Crabb complained about the volume of the records the Board had to deal with -- and he received some sympathy from those members of the public in attendance.  But guess what?  Crabb was pulling your chain again. 

 The actual volume of the documents written on the official legal request (Form CR-AA-0005) to destroy these documents is 1 cubic foot.  That is 1,728 cubic inches or less than a standard piece of carry-on luggage (2,250 to 2,500 cubic inches).  That is nothing like what Crabb described.

But the most important part is this.  This legal request to destroy the documents (pictured below) is EXACT about what is to be destroyed.  EXACT. 

 

First, go to "1.A Agency Retention Schedule Number".  This legal request reads: "C820000-009".  What this means is listed in the 33 page document you can access here:  http://www.nj.gov/treasury/revenue/rms/pdf/c820000.pdf

It means pretty much everything. 

Second, go to "9. Record Series #".  The legal request reads: "0511-0000".  Now it gets a little more specific.  According to the Record retention policy set forth by the State of New Jersey Division of Archives and Records Management (DARM), Record Series 0511-0000 are “the recordings of public meetings".  This is supported by the accompanying description found in the official legal request:  "Recordings of Public Meetings - Public Officials - Audio/Video (Analog and Digital)".

Thirdgo to "12. Inclusive Dates".  The legal request reads: "From 01/1992 To 04/2013".  

What this means is that Sussex County asked for permission to destroy EVERY recording of EVERY public meeting (and recordings of "public officials" at non-public meetings, read Freeholder Board executive sessions) in whatever form (analog and digital) covering the dates January 1992 to April 2013. 

And when that is done we will have no actual record of what went on during the discussion stages of the solar project that has cost Sussex taxpayers millions. Because those discussions occurred from late 2010 through 2011.  All we will have are summaries of what happened.  No actual evidentiary record of what was said.  Just a summary approved by the very parties that may be subjects of the investigation.  Real cozy, huh?  Real convenient too.