After serving in the Korean War, as a labor union leader, taxpayers’ advocate, running a family farm, and as an elected Sussex County Freeholder, you would think Rich Vohden would take some time to put his feet up. No way! Instead, Rich Vohden is kicking (Trenton bureaucrat) ass on the New Jersey Highlands Council.
Vohden stood up to bureaucrats hoping to spend another pile of money on yet another “study”. It was a clear case of crony capitalism – government insiders taking care of a government-funded entity that they will hope to join once they retire and start collecting a taxpayer-funded pension.
Vohden stood up and shut down the move. He told the bureaucrats: “A quarter of a million dollars is outrageously high for a grant to study storm water management when all 24 municipalities already have storm water management plans… I’ve been involved politically for 50 years and ever since I got involved every time grants come up and they say well if we don’t use it (grant money), someone else will. This is a surplus. I almost feel like this is an attempt to use the surplus. There are so many problems. We have to save money and take care of our infrastructure.’’
Vohden added that he had at least twenty ideas on how the money could be better spent on helping repair New Jersey’s crumbling infrastructure.
The Observer-Tribune reported on Rich Vohden’s heroic stand in defense of taxpayers in an article titled, “Storm water Study agreement falls short of votes in Highlands Council meeting.” Reporter Mark Kitchen wrote:
“A plan to spend more than $250,000 to study storm water management in the region was defeated at the N.J. Highlands Council meeting... The measure fell 7-2, one vote short of the necessary eight votes needed for council approval by the 15-member board. The measure may be reconsidered at the council’s next meeting in July…
Council members who voted for the study included: Tracy Carluccio, Tim Dougherty, Michael Francis, Bruce James, Kurt Alstede, Carl Richko and Robert Holtaway. Dissenting were Robert G. Walton and Richard Vohden. Members James Visioli, Richard Dressler and Michael Sebetich were not in attendance.
Kitchen reported that Vohden suggested the Council… “Repair the pipes where the water is leaving the Highlands Region… Twenty five to 30 percent of it is lost through damaged pipes and infrastructure. Spend it there.’’
Robert Walton, who joined Rich Vohden in dissenting, said, “Spending so much money on the project was a waste of time and money for the council.”
“It’s a solution in search of a problem. We don’t know that there are people who want to engage in these projects or that the towns want to take on these (stormwater management planning) projects as a solution to put on the shelf in case somebody wants to use them. That’s not a wise use of taxpayer dollars.’’
Thank you, Rich Vohden, for your courage and for watching out for taxpayers. And thank your colleague, Robert Walton, too.