Why doesn’t the Herald mention the County Attorney’s role in suing Franklin?
In several separate editorials last year, the New Jersey Herald appeared to back up the clients of the County Attorney, who also represents the Herald. The trouble is that the County Attorney, who is paid by the property taxpayers of Sussex County, is on the wrong side of legal action aimed at the property taxpayers of Franklin Borough.
Last July, the Herald appeared to attempt to pressure the Franklin Borough Council, writing in an editorial…
“…Franklin officials surely are taking the issue down a slippery slope that is bound to slide right into a courtroom.
Before the Borough Council on Tuesday will be an ordinance that sets stricter requirements against disturbing steep slopes for developments, something that by all indications and records the council already approved last November.
At issue is whether the developer of a proposed 300-unit apartment complex on Munsonhurst Road can proceed using the previous, less-restrictive slope requirements or if the project will need to adhere to the new and soon-to-be-reaffirmed set.
Records seem to indicate the steeper slope requirements were indeed recommended by the Planning Board and approved by the Borough Council, but those changes did not get codified, and the previous slope formula remained in the borough's online code book.
Using the less restrictive slope requirements, JCM Investments presented plans for its apartment complex to the Planning Board in May, and in early June the board ruled the applications complete. No objections to the involved slopes were raised. Only later, at a public hearing in June, was it pointed out that the slopes formula used in the plans was no longer in effect.
…Regardless of what happens on Tuesday, the matter will most likely need to be sorted out in court.”
In its most recent coverage of the legal actions brought against the taxpayers of Franklin, the New Jersey Herald failed to mention the role of the County Attorney. It’s gone radio silent.
Why has the Herald failed to report on the potential conflict of interest that the County Attorney has placed himself in by taking on a client who is taking legal action against property taxpayers that he serves? The Herald is always banging on about full disclosure, and has even banned the children of political operatives from commenting on its website. So why has the Herald failed to consistently disclose the County Attorney’s relationship to them?
Is the Herald putting its weight behind this project through its op-eds and news coverage? When it reports on the threat of legal action against the town and taxpayers of Franklin, is it the newspaper talking… or is it the County Attorney talking through the newspaper?
The County Attorney should avoid the appearance of such conflicts. Given its role as the arbiter of elections and the host of political campaign debates and such, so should the New Jersey Herald.