Frank LoBiondo delivered the State of the Region address to the Vineland Chamber of Commerce yesterday at the Ramada. Both The News of Cumberland County and the Press of Atlantic City covered the event.
At the end the session was open for questions. That is when a really embarrassing thing occurred, which both news reports touched upon, but neither does it justice. Lou Magazzu stood up, and turned his back to LoBiondo, and delivered a tirade to the crowd blasting the guest speaker. Now it does not matter what side of the political fence you stand, Frank was an invited guest speaker.
The version of events as reported by Matt Dunn:
LoBiondo’s remarks lead Cumberland County Freeholder Director Lou Magazzu to respond, criticizing the congressman for his vote authorizing the war in Iraq and other policies under Bush that lead to the nation’s large debt.
The remarks, made while LoBiondo was taking questions form the public, lead to a heated exchange.
“To put some reality in the discussion, prior to Bush II, we had a surplus,” said Magazzu, who had been sitting directly in front of LoBiondo during the address. “Your vote to go to Iraq as well as national budgets we couldn’t pay for I think was a mistake.
“The thing about the two parties in Washington I don’t like — it’s Democrats’ borrow and spend versus Republicans just spending.”
The freeholder director urged LoBiondo to resist both “reactionary Republicans” and “crazy liberals.”
In response, LoBiondo grew impassioned and began pointing directly at Magazzu.
“We’re dealing with the here and now. That’s the reality, Lou,” said LoBiondo. “I believe this nation is on a disastrous march. And now Democrats are losing votes because of the policies of extremists in your party.
“If these policies aren’t turned around I think we’re heading for serious trouble.”
What both reports left out was the very small contingent of supporters that applauded when Lou spoke as opposed to half the room giving LoBiondo a standing ovation when he spoke. Lou’s first mistake was to promote an anti-business stance in a room full of business owners.
His second mistake was to act in a childish, aggressive and demeaning manner to a senior member of the House of Representatives when that person was an invited guest and speaker. I don’t care that he disagrees with LoBiondo’s stance on policy, but there is a proper way to discuss differences at a public forum and that is not to viciously attack with a pre-written script in an attempted public ambush. But, I have come to expect no better from Lou – he is unfit for public service, always has been, always will be.