The News has an article pondering the replacement for Gary Wodlinger for the position of county counsel. One thing is certain, whoever is selected will be a hard-core Democrat. Now this is not peculiar to Cumberland County, the entire state is screwed up in that it allows heavy contributors to eventually receive pay-back for their dedication.
The systems rewards those that contribute to partisan political interests, whether Republican or Democrat. The system is broken. For instance, the news story claims that three people are in line for the position.
Three local lawyers – Robert Malestein, Brendan Kavanagh and Arnold Robinson – were interviewed earlier this year, with one of the three most likely to be chosen Thursday to head the county’s legal department.
Brendan Kavanaugh, besides signing off on a letter sent to all registered Democrats in the county that was a blatant lie and acting as Lou’s campaign manager contributed monetarily to the CCDO last year. Kavanaugh also contributed to Lou’s secret NACo slush fund.
Arnold Robinson, prominent Millville Attorney is another hard-core Democrat. Robinson also contributed to Magazzu’s slush fund, and like Kavanaugh has benefited from almost $100,000 in county legal work in the past couple of years.
I have to with Jane Christy and Jennifer Swift that possibly it is time for the county to create its own legal department and hire, according to civil service rules and not as a result of political favors, a legal department. The county spends millions on legal fees annually, and I am certain that we could cut costs significantly with a full-time team that is not billing by the hour.
And finally we come to a name that may not be as well-known to our readers, Robert Malestein. He has been acting as interim counsel until the Freeholders could appoint a replacement for Wodlinger, now a Superior Court Judge. In my opinion, Gary is doing a fine job as judge.
The interesting thing about Malestein is that he does not turn up on ELEC. However he too contributed to Lou’s slush fund. So it appears that the only way to be selected for this position is to have supported Lou’s failed run for NACo, in addition to being a hard-core Democrat.
One has to wonder, with the county’s attorneys being so blatantly partisan, if it is possible for a Republican to receive fair treatment or judgment? I have no proof one way or the other – I am just pondering.
It took a little more digging before I discovered another thing about Malestein. According to Findlaw, he was affiliated with the law firm of Lipman, Antonelli, Batt, Dunlap etc. They too are heavy contributors to the local and state Democratic parties, both as a law firm, and as individuals within the law firm.
Now am I implying that anything illegal is happening here? of course not, we are in New Jersey where this sort of quid-pro-quo is the standard order of business. You cannot possibly get a position such as this at the county level without first contributing to the “correct” political party – that is the party that is in power, or being there supporting the party that will be in power.
That, my friends, is something that should concern everyone. With absurd amounts of money being spent on outside legal assistance, including hundreds of thousands to firms in North Jersey and from Norcross’s Camden and Gloucester Counties, it sees that our tax dollars are being squandered to repay political favors. I don’t think Lou will be in any rush to create a county legal department that would save taxpayers hundreds of thousands annually, it would take away his ability to provide even more favors to those that support his organization, and his own private bank account (if indeed the Lou 4 NACo bank account was in his own name and not a PAC as he tried to claim).