I received this email from Cindy Zirkle today, which I am posting in its entirety. I asked permission, and she consented. Cindy is one of the voices in the county that I truly admire, and I appreciate her forthrightness and bluntness. I will add some thoughts afterward.
First, belated but sincere congratulations to this site for improving the political scene in Cumberland County. For years deception, control and manipulation were the norm and now we have a shot at regaining democracy. However, I am very bothered by the posts that continue to degrade Bill Whelan and link his name with Lou. As many of you know I served on the CRHS board with Bill for 10 years and it is very easy to assess a person’s integrity when faced with the simultaneous task of providing the best education while being responsible to the tax payer. When Bill told me he had been asked to run for Freeholder by Lou my immediate reaction was total negativity. During the first year we clashed many times on issues I saw that I felt were downright wrong, but by the second year (and it takes fully 3 years to understand all the complexities of the County) he not only saw the power wheel that radiated from Lou but was determined to all he could to rein in the games and power struggles that were part of daily county life.
First and foremost Bill is a family man and will freely say his 34 year marriage to his beloved Carol is what matters most, followed by his 9 children. How he manages to be COO/EVP of a local bank, serve as Freeholder Director and still show up at 90% of his children’s athletic events is a daunting time management task. But that is perhaps the major difference between how Lou viewed the job and Bill does. Bill is NOT a “politician” (a term that is more hated now than at any other time in our democracy), he is a PUBLIC SERVANT in the way that people used to view election to office. The exposé of Lou coincided with Bill’s father’s final months and eventual death. He will say his father was the greatest man he ever knew, a humble man who put family and God first. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and in Bill there is a Whelan legacy that goes back many generations.
I want the county managed (not run by) a Freeholder board that understands their statutory role and responsibilities. That realizes the entire country is in dire economic conditions and that very, very hard decisions and cuts will have to be made in popular deserving programs. Jim Dunkins took a “raft of sh..” over issues with the Social Services department. As a MANAGER I am confident that he will correct the personnel problems that caused the issue, but it falls to the hired staff not the Freeholders to efficiently run these kinds of programs. Look at the election issue that Ernie and I are caught in the middle of (see: https://freedom-to-tinker.com/ for a fabulous overview by our expert from Princeton. Should a board of elections member be allowed to serve as a county and state party leader? Who appoints the board of election members? The Governor. So if you need an issue to investigate and correct Carl, the ability of an American citizen to cast a vote and know that the process is not subject to tampering, that the vote will be counted correctly, please use your proven powers to expose and “fix” this very serious issue.
What saddens me the most about politics in a number of towns, at the County level and higher is the venomous hostility that people cannot seem to get past. If all the energy was focused on making positive changes rather than the negativity that is directed personally towards those individuals willing to try to serve (and this goes for both parties) we could accomplish so much more. Instead, so much valuable time is spent defensively that the process grinds to a halt. At one of the first meetings I attended after Bill Whelan was sworn in a person in the audience asked him “what does the Freeholder board have the statutory responsibility for”. Bill in total honesty said he was still trying to get an answer from the state. That his approach would be to fund statutory requirements and then see what was left over for the niceties we have all come to expect from government. Unfortunately those niceties: the Manor, Library, 4H to name a few are all incredibly valuable to society, as is an open space program, parks, recreation and the list goes on. In an environment where residents are absolutely unwilling to discuss tax increases these niceties are history unless picked up by the private sector. But we cannot, must not, blame the person who is giving us the news. If there is a bright light in County finances it is Bill Whelan. He clearly sees the problems, knows the games that have been played over the past decades that has gotten us where we are, and knows that only through cutting can he balance our budget. Want the services back? Call him and tell him to increase taxes. The math is simple and we need Bill Whelan.
I understand the reason for this site, and as I said I FULLY support what was accomplished. It is very difficult to go from “attack mode” to “reasoned analysis” but Carl, you are a person with enormous talent and I hope that transition can take place.
It is this sort of feedback that I thrive on. It is this sort of support that has made MWatch what it is.
And, I confess that I have given the new Republican Freeholders some leeway; I have not criticized certain votes, writing them off as newbies getting the feel for the CumbCo political scene. At the same time, I may be more harsh on Bill Whelan, also a newbie, and not cut him the same slack I cut others. I guess only time will tell.
The last thing I want to be accused of is being a political hack, or hypocritical in the way I treat people. However, I confess I remain extremely cautious of anybody that was groomed by Lou Magazzu.
Personally, I don’t care who is in charge, as long as, as Cindy so succinctly stated, they understand “their statutory role and responsibilities. That realizes the entire country is in dire economic conditions and that very, very hard decisions and cuts will have to be made in popular deserving programs.” And, I agree with her whole-heartedly that the election fraud scandal that we saw in F airfield Twp is a critical issue that MUST be at the forefront of our attention.
And I do feel that a pendulum swing in party leadership of the county is mandatory in order to even begin seeing the changes necessary to bring this county back to a fiscally responsible condition.
And Cindy, again I thank you for your honest correspondence and support.