Haystacks Calhoun asked me to publish the following:
The disaffected, like me, are being told that we shouldn’t be projecting our previous concerns about Magazzu onto Whelan and Surace or the other Ds. However, I have some questions for the Whelan and Surace boosters out there that I would like answered.
1. Why did Whelan second and support a resolution back on 26 February 2009 (Resolution 2009-104) that effectively greenlighted Lou — at least with respect to the county’s code of ethics — to setup his NACo slush fund (“it’s a PAC”, no wait “It’s trade account”…[still waiting for what it really was!])? Furthermore, why weren’t the actual changes to the ethics code’s language included in the resolution or the minutes package? The resolution states only that a “copy attached hereto showing the amendments redlined”. However, there is nothing “attached hereto” on the electronic copy.
2. Why did Whelan sponsor a resolution back on 28 December 2009 (Resolution 2009-706) that would have permitted County Counsel, Brendan Kavanagh, to move from the state’s 401K-like retirement system into the much more lucrative state pension system (PERS)? Only after negative coverage here and in the papers was this effort stopped. [Aside: why are part time attorneys allowed to be in any state run pension system? Why aren’t they treated like all other contractors for the county – paid for services rendered and that’s it?]
3. Why did Whelan campaign on Rainear’s promise to take the Surrogate job at only $75,000 in 2008 and then vote on 24 Nov. 2010 to raise his salary to $107,250 (Resolution 2010-764)? If he was bound by law to give Rainear his full salary upon request (and I think he was), then why did he not at least speak out against Rainear’s flip-flop at the time of the vote? Why did he wait until the local papers ran with this story (one week after the fact and after MWatch ran a piece about it)? Also why is the actual vote [Ayes: Dunkins, Jannarone, Pepitone, Thompson, Whelan; Nays: Magazzu (his explanation: to give Sheppard some “company”), Sheppard] on this resolution missing in the minutes? Resolutions are always accompanied by how the freeholders voted, except in this instance.
4. If the county is — and has been since 2008 — in such dire financial straits that it has to give up on the county manor, library, 4-H and other valuable programs, then why was Whelan, until just recently, in favor of using county funds to build a chapel at the veterans cemetery?
5. If Whelan is more public servant than pol, I ask the following with respect to his campaign’s contributions and disbursements:
a. Why has his campaign accepted almost $12,000 (this number being based only on what is in ELEC so far) from out of County law firms and almost $10,000 from other out of county interests (engineering, IT, insurance companies)?
b. Why did his campaign make contributions (Musso and Jannarone’s campaigns made identical contributions) to Jim Fazzone’s campaign for Burlington mayoral and Gail Cook’s Distict 7 state senate campaigns?
c. Was it a good idea to accept a $1,000 contribution from Bail Bonds of America back on 4 October 2011? Whelan is not the first NJ politician or political organization to accept money from a bail bond company, but, based on my quick search in ELEC, he may be the first Cumberland County politician to do so (at least within the last couple of decades). This reminded me of the Bad News Bears (Tanner Boyle: “Hey Yankees… you can take your apology and your trophy and shove ’em straight up you’re a–!”) and the sponsor plastered on the backs of their uniforms: Chico’s Bail Bonds—“Let Freedom Ring”. In the movie it was funny; this isn’t so funny.
Why shouldn’t we believe that Surace will simply be Edward Salmon’s “in” with the new freeholder board? After all Surace is an associate of Salmon Ventures (as other political types in Cumberland County have been, including D Finch and P Porreca). From January to June 2011 (politics’ version of Spring Training), Salmon gave almost $6,000 to NJ D politicians, including Bill Whelan, Steve Sweeney, Donald Norcross, and John Burzichelli. Salmon also (so far) has ponied up $2,600 to Surace. Michael Zumpino (another frequent campaign donor) of Triad Associates (associated with Salmon Ventures) also gave Surace $1,300. (If history is any guide, they will give plenty more leading up to Election Day.) Some will say that Surace will have to abstain from anything before the freeholders having to do with Salmon. However, the other freeholders will not, and, if the Ds have the majority, I remain suspicious. I and others have written here before about the teacher-turned-politician-turned BPU Commissioner-turned-lobbyist Edward H. Salmon, and I think there is good reason to be concerned about anything or anyone that might give him or his associates more influence with the freeholder board.