With his election victory, Lou is carrying out his grand plan of retribution, rewarding his friends and squashing his opponents. Since Millville has been a hotbed of resistance to Lou’s authoritarian rule, he has gone after the city with a vengeance.
The latest act was played out at Tuesday’s Millville City Commission meeting. Here’s how it went: Lou wanted to reward Lauren Van Embden, who ran on his ticket but did not get the County Clerk’s office. So he engineered her hiring as Millville’s Prosecutor. This was done despite the loud objections of the Millville police, who are quite happy with the current Prosecutor, Brock Russell, who reportedly is doing a good job putting the bad guys in jail.
However, the deal involved not getting rid of Russell. Instead, he was hired as Public Defender. The loser in this circus was Jim Swift, the Republican Public Defender who ran as freeholder against Lou’s hand-picked candidates. Lou really wanted him out. So at Tuesday’s meeting, Van Embden became Millville’s Prosecutor, and Russell Public Defender.
We like Lauren Van Embden, and even feel sorry for her, given the formidable odds she is facing: a Police Department really angry at her hiring, and, from the sounds of it, court personnel who are none too pleased. On top of the anticipated lack of cooperation she is going to get from these quarters, she has to face, as an opponent, Brock Russell, for whom, as we understand it, winning is everything. The reports are that he is very good at winning, with justice, as most of us perceive it, a secondary consideration.
The losers in all of this political BS will be, of course, the citizens of Millville. With an inexperienced Prosecutor, it is likely that more of the bad guys will go free, demoralizing the police, and harming the city. Unless, and we grant this as a possibility, Van Embden overcomes the odds she faces and matches Russell’s record of putting the bad guys in jail.
Now, how, you may ask, did we come to these dire straits? The speculation goes this way: Lou promised jobs to Commissioners Jim Quinn and Dale Finch. Maybe Quinn will get a county job, perhaps that of a retiring director, and Finch may end up in the Cumberland County Improvement Authority. To get these jobs, all they had to do was to make sure VanEmbden got her job. The mystery in all of this is Commissioner Joe Derella. We don’t understand his reasons for supporting a change that, at least in the opinion of the police — and we have to respect their opinion – places the city at risk. Derella was the third vote to hire VanEmbden. The other two commissioners – Vanaman and Shannon – voted against her. Why did Deralla vote to hire her? As near as we can tell, party loyalty played a major part.
The explanations given for their votes were pretty weak. Quinn went on about how significant it was to hire a woman “for the first time in Millville history”. Poor Jim, maybe he thought he was scoring points with women, but those intelligent women present wanted to vomit. His remarks were so patronizing and presented a further obstacle that VanEmbden must overcome. The perception will be that she got the job because she is a woman, not that she got the job because she merited it – sort of a “sex card” like the “race card”.
The only other explanation offered was that the job was not meant to be permanent and it was time for a change – this was Derella’s explanation. Well, maybe, but then why Van Embden? Why not someone with more experience? Why, for instance, was Swift not made Prosecutor?
As we see it, it all comes down to politics. VanEmbden is in because of Lou. This will, we think, haunt her. She is intelligent and talented enough to have made it on her own – it just may have taken a little longer. Now, the perception will be that she got the job because of political connections. Let’s face it, people following this issue will perceive that Lou owns her.
But, as we hear it, this is only the start. Reportedly, Lou is seriously intent on getting even with Millville. Word is that he wants to eliminate call dispatch through the Millville Police Department and to centralize it at the county level. As we hear it, this will seriously diminish the ability of Millville police to respond to citizen complaints.
Another ring of the 3-ring circus. Wait for more.