Bill Whelan ignores New Jersey Sunshine Law

Earlier today I posted an internal Cumberland County email regarding the imminent sale of the County Manor. After some tips and a little research, I have even more disturbing news.

The New Jersey Sunshine Law reads in part:

PUBLIC NOTICE: Every public body must publish its meeting schedule by Jan. 10 or within seven days of its annual organization meeting, whichever is later. A 48-hour written notice must also be given for any regular, special, adjourned or unscheduled meeting giving the time, date, location and as complete an agenda as known at time of notice. The notice must be prominently posted in a public place, usually in the municipal building, and delivered to at least two previously designated newspapers.

On September 13, 2011 at 5:30PM, a “Special Board Meeting” was held. There were no notifications in either of the local papers under Public Notices, as required by law. This is yet another instance where our Freeholders under Bill Whelan feel that the law does not apply to them – especially when they are involved in political machinations. As of today, even on the Cumberland County Website Meeting Portal, the meeting is listed sans agenda. It is apparent that the purpose of this meeting was to be kept secret.

County Manor employees were recently informed that there is no immediate plan to sell the facility. It now is apparent that not only has there been a plan to sell, the sale will happen as soon as possible.

The Accountant at the manor has only ever been visited by any Freeholder one time in the previous fourteen years. He called the meeting short when his infamous Blackberry received a call that apparently was more important than county business. And yet, we are to believe that they are making an educated decision after holding secret backroom meetings?

The Freeholders approved a feasibility study on the Manor in 2010, at a cost of $30,000. The study verified that the Manor could save $2.2 Million annually – which is pretty much what the County claims the Manor loses every year.

By reducing overtime and staffing costs, improved billing, instituting better marketing and admissions processes, and by eliminating free meals for employees, the Cumberland County Manor can recoup approximately $2.2 million annually.

So says the efficiency study commissioned by the Cumberland County freeholders in March 2010 to identify savings at the county nursing home, which has become a money pit in which $2 million is lost per year.

But now it appears that Bill Whelan is hell-bent on selling the Manor, and doing it with as little public input as possible.

I am not making a case either for or against the sale of the Manor. I am simply stating the fact that there are too many questions that have been unanswered – many of them posted here. To jump on the Bill Whelan party bus and push this through without discussing long-term consequences, looking for a one-time gain at the expense of long-term revenue is short-sighted at best. The County Manor is the ONLY real revenue-producing entity in the county. It is best to hold off a little before rewarding political allies or boondoggling the public.

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