Poverty in Cumberland County

The New York Times has an interesting article today about food stamp use. The number of Americans reporting food stamps as their only income soared 50 percent over the past two years, and the number of food stamp recipients has climbed by about 10 million during this time, resulting in a program that now feeds 1 in 8 Americans and nearly 1 in 4 children.

The on-line edition of the Times includes a map of the country that shows food stamp usage in each county.  Looking at New Jersey, we once again see how Cumberland County is distinguished in the state.  We are the county with the highest food stamp usage.  Thirteen percent of the population, including 27 percent of the county’s children, receive food stamps.  Since 2007, food stamp use has increased by 17 percent.

Now here’s my problem:  We have an agency in the county, Tri-County Community Action Agency, that is supposed to fight poverty.  This organization’s income was $41.6 MILLION in 2008.  It’s President, Al Kelly, received close to $170,000 in compensation in that year.  Vice President Ed Bethea received about $130,000.  Susan James, Housing VP, received almost $102,000, and  Ronald Johnson, Director of Finance, received almost $92,000.  Something tells me these are not the folks on food stamps.  Our county anti-poverty agency is surely working for them.

Now recall Al Kelly is a Friend of Lou.  He serves on the CCIA board that fired Steve Wymbs and hired another Friend of Lou, Don Rainear.  Lou in turn makes sure that government money — state and federal money coming down, as well as county money — is funneled to Kelly’s agency.  We saw that big time a year ago when juvenile justice money that could have been used well by municipalities went instead to Tri-County, which gave it to a shaky new organization.  Who knows how it has been used.

Citizens have been able to steer a small bit of funds to a number of very needy and very good nonprofits in the county through the county Human Services Advisory Council.  With the departure of Ethan Aronoff, the Council’s director, Lou is apparently mulling over whether the Council should even continue.  In Lou’s view, citizen involvement is just a nuisance; if he can dispense the funds himself, he can buy more loyalty and get more votes.

Well, I’ll end this Sunday morning rant.  The Times data just got to me.  So many people are in need in the county — many are hard-working people who have fallen on hard times — and the pigs slurp loudly at the trough.

So it goes.

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12 Responses to Poverty in Cumberland County

  1. WuLi says:

    Mango, what are you trying to say, that TriCounty is not efficient or even trying to meet their goal?

    You are incorrect. TriCounty does not have a goal to eliminate poverty – to do so would render the organization defunct and unnecessary. God forbid if that were to happen, these fine administrators would then be out of a job.

    Cumberland County has 156,830 people, as of 2008. 13% of the total population is 20,388 people living on foodstamps and hence, living in abject poverty.

    TriCounty could just give over $2,000 to each person in poverty – that would be $8,000 to a family of four – and eliminate the middleman. But then poor Al Kelly would be one of those on the receiving end, having to give up his $170,000 a year job, and that would be unconscionable! A man has to be allowed to earn a living on the back of the taxpayers!

  2. WuLi says:

    Here is a fun fact – Persons below poverty, according to the US Census: Cumberland County – 17.4%, NJ – 8.5%.

    Lou Magazzu’s juggernaut has one purpose, and that is to keep Cumberland County down in those rankings in order to justify ever increasing amounts of state and federal money that can then be siphoned off to his cronies.

  3. WuLi says:

    Oh, by the way – that $41.6 million going to TriCounty equates to $265 per county resident.

  4. Jim says:

    It would be good to know the actual dollar amount that gets to the people living below the poverty level versus the administrative cost of Tri-County. Lou is a stickler against most high salaried county personal. $170.000.00 isn’t exactly chump change.

  5. oinkforfreedom says:

    I think an OPRA request is in order. Then we tell the press. When folks FINALLY get tired of this then they will do something about this

  6. Lucky the Dog says:

    All these programs are yours except Tri-County. Attempt no parking there

  7. mango says:

    Lucky Dog, you’re being a little too cryptic. Have no idea what you mean.

  8. oinkforfreedom says:

    I do not either

  9. Lucky the Dog says:

    2001 a space Odyssey. Man kind can expand into the solar system but is forbidden from landing or messing with Europa. It is protected by the great being because life is possibly developing.

    Tri County is sacred territory. If you land on their planet you will awaken a sleeping Giant.

  10. Calhoun says:

    Wuli, I think Lucky the Dog has gotten into the Black Bush.

  11. mango says:

    Having just read the final Odyssey book, 3001, I get the idea. There are some places you just don’t go, or you go at your very significant peril. Cryptic as he/she is, maybe Lucky’s right.

  12. PaperCut says:

    Does Tri County get audited? Is the audit public ? Time to focus on the money trail. It’s always the key to enlightenment.

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