Is the county attorney a hinderance to transparency?

Sussex County has been here before.

During the early stages of what became the Sussex solar scam, whenever one of the elected Freeholders attempted to get to the bottom of something or asked a tough question, the county “professionals” – those six figure earning folks paid by taxpayers’ dollars to run the day-to-day operations of the county – would try to make their elected bosses look foolish for even asking.  This is an old ploy, used by bureaucrats everywhere, at all levels of government, to consolidate power and in the process to thwart representative democracy and the will of the voters. 

It is called “rolling the Board” – trying to embarrass your elected bosses into silence so that you, the unelected bureaucrat, can get away with… well, stuff like the solar scam.  Hey, didn’t the outgoing Freeholder Board identify the County Attorney (at the time) for the part he played in the solar scam?  It’s great to recognize that a past Board was rolled by its County Attorney, but it’s after the fact, how about standing up to YOUR County Attorney so that he doesn’t roll you?

Yesterday’s Freeholder Board meeting left some observers wondering if the holdover bureaucrats from the outgoing administration were purposefully trying to sabotage the incoming Freeholder Board.  The Agenda prepared by the well-paid bureaucrats was a shambles.  

The bureaucrats failed to name an individual who was to be voted on that evening for an important appointment.  Whether through incompetence or on purpose, the name was left off the Agenda.  When Freeholders caught this and pointed it out to the bureaucrats present, they claimed that it was available through further research.  That’s not transparency.  

MEMO to the BUREAUCRATS:  The VOTERS – yes, those people who pay YOUR salaries and benefits out of their property taxes, shouldn’t have to research the name of somebody who is about to be appointed to an important, paid with benefits, taxpayer-paid for job.  You should list the name!!!

Notice just how detailed Agenda Item “G” is compared with Agenda Item “F”.  But “F” concerns so much more money… $340,500.00!!! 

Is this “walking around money” for the County Attorney’s lawyer friends?  Why don’t the VOTERS/ TAXPAYERS get to know, up-front and in the public Agenda, who is being paid all theirmoney?  

When questioned about this, the County Attorney appeared to become hostile and insisted that the missing details were public… if you researched it.  First of all, withholding information that could be easily included in an agenda is not transparency.  Do these bureaucrats think that if it’s missing then people will just shrug their shoulders and not look for it?  Maybe most will, and maybe that’s by design, but we looked.  Which brings us to our second point:  That even when you take the time to research something that should be clearly transparent, the information provided is still incomplete and substandard.  So really, no transparency at all.

See, this is how things like the solar scandal happen.  Okay, it’s just $340,500 this time – not $20 million – but bureaucrats need to learn to answer questions and not bristle when more information is requested.  The unelected bureaucrats must understand that they work for the elected Freeholders, who work for the voters/ taxpayers.  The bureaucrats do not work for county vendors or their lawyer buddies looking to get some.  The people have the right to know how every penny of their county property taxes are spent… and there should be no bad humor about it!

The County Attorney is clearly a politician – he founded a state political action committee.  The fact that such an individual now occupies a key job in the county bureaucracy is a matter for the last Freeholder Board to explain. They gave him the job.  This Freeholder Board should make him understand that heworks for them– not the other way round.