The following was in today’s The News. We include it in Magazzu Watch because of Lou’s close kinship with Al Kelly, and the huge funneling of tax dollars to Tri-County with absolutely no accountability. Employees steal, the leadership is unaware, and the state attorney has to investigate corruption because Magazzu refuses to hold the agency to any standard of conduct.
To the Editor:
New Jersey has been much in the news because of its latest political scandal involving more than three dozen political officials and religious leaders.
The scandal adds to our state’s reputation for corruption and greed and casual approach to ethics.
Only recently has the state Legislature passed a law that forbids the holding of multiple elected positions. Sadly, the Garden State continues to be a punchline for late-night comedians.
We can only hope that local politicos will take heed. But the future does not look promising. One of our own officials, Albert Kelly, has announced tentative plans to run for mayor of Bridgeton. Mr. Kelly already holds a post of political and social importance in South Jersey. Though he is not an elected official, as CEO of Tri-County Community Action Partnership, his position is an office of public trust. It involves combating poverty in Cumberland, Salem and Gloucester counties. Tri-County receives funds from all levels of government.
As a public official, Mr. Kelly must guard against the slightest whiff of impropriety or conflict of interest. Yet he shows an embarrassing lack of awareness regarding such dangers. According to a recent article in this newspaper, the State of New Jersey has directed Tri-County to eliminate a conflict of interest between child care services and child care referral within the agency (The News, Aug. 25, “Tri-County must split child care referral, child care”).
But Mr. Kelly does not grasp the problem. “We’ve been doing this for 17 years, and nobody has complained before,” he says in the article. In response, he will create a separate corporation for child care referral. Why is a referral agency needed? It appears to be an unnecessary level of bureaucracy.
Who will instruct and guide Mr. Kelly in public ethics if he runs for mayor? How can Tri-County accept funds from or through any municipal or county government with Mr. Kelly in public office? How can Mr. Kelly be an impartial, effective CEO of an agency that covers three counties if he is mayor of a town in one of those counties? How can he be an effective mayor with this particular day job?
How is he able to function as CEO even now as a member of Bridgeton’s City Council? Does Mr. Kelly propose to resign as CEO if he runs for mayor? He has not mentioned the possibility.
Yet that is the only way he could guard against a conflict of interest between the two jobs. Like many small towns in the Rust Belt, Bridgeton is awash in problems. We need enlightened leaders who can give their undivided attention to those problems.