Lou Magazzu’s legacy lives on, and continues to cost taxpayers

Lou Magazzu is long gone from county politics, but his legacy continues to pick at our pockets. The prosecutor’s office fiasco is a quagmire that never had to happen. Prosecutor Ron Casella made the error of asking for two additional employees during a critical election year. The prosecutor’s office was seriously understaffed, crime was rampant and the office was unable to provide the necessary diligence to each and every case. As a result, repeat offenders were plea-bargained to lighten the case-load. It was much easier to release criminal than to be buried under a ton of paper.

Lou refused to allow the prosecutor to hire two employees so that the office could perform its duties properly. It finally ended up in court as a Bigley action, and the prosecutor won. The courts rightly determined that the ability to prosecute criminals should not be subject to the political whims of a tyrant. Not only did Casella get his two employees, but the staff was brought up to the legally mandated minimum level to operate efficiently. And, to boot, the courts mandated that the county provide adequate office space.  The freeholder director ensured that he had a spacious office that he rarely used, but the employees of the prosecutors office were denied the ability to even work within walking distance of each other.

So now the county was faced with providing space for the prosecutor. It is now many years after the fact, and this space still has not been completed. in fact, it seems that the entire projects was assumed by Lou to be yet another method to reward his political allies and contributors. Some of the same entities that gave us the addition to the courthouse, the roof that leaks and facade that crumbles, were brought in to do the same shoddy work at the Vine Street School project. And now with the project still incomplete, the construction company has discovered yet another reason to pick the county’s pockets. The cost overruns so far total almost a quarter of a million dollars.

The Cumberland County Freeholders next week will consider a resolution adding $142,000 to a contract with a Bellmawr construction company involved in the stabilization of the former Vine Street school, soon to be the new location of the county prosecutor’s office.

If approved, it will be the fourth such change to the contract with D’Astuto Construction, which when originally approved in March of last year totaled $2,497,000.

This latest change would make the contract would bring to total up to $2,766,513.60.
County officials, speaking at Tuesday’s work session, stated they believe this will be the last change to the contract.


5 Responses to Lou Magazzu’s legacy lives on, and continues to cost taxpayers

  1. jamesrsauro says:

    This should never happen. There will be more change orders. The bid contract was not written properly. There should of been walk through s. This is how contractors make their money. A price should of been given to renovate the building. No change orders unless the county themselves decided to do something different. This building should have been demolished. The citizens of Cumberland County will pay dearly for all the pass mistakes. This is not over.

    James R. Sauro

  2. We can blame this mess on Van Drew and Sweeney ,also there the ones who pushed Ron Casella out or we would have had a new Prosecutors Office were everyone is under one roof. This school is to small should have been torn down. They, I mean Magazzu and his little band of merry puphets. Just like the Social Service building.

  3. Guess-Who says:

    Anyone that has followed Magazzuwatch (M-Watch) over the last 3 yrs knows where I stand on this Issue.

    I had pointed out the FACTS before the Bigley Lawsuit was filed in Court and then after the DECISION to SETTLE for the $12 MILLION.

    The Citizens in Cumberland County have NOT had Total JUSTICE served on their Behalf do in FACT to the Prosecutors Office being UNDERSTAFFED and for the Lack of other Reasons.


  4. SillySilly says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but was a total knock-down of the Vine Street school precluded by historical regulations? If that is correct, was it really the best site for this project?

  5. WuLi says:

    SillySillyis correct. Alarge portion of Bridgeton is deemed historic. It probably seemed a good idea at the time, but it is a double edged sword.

    Actually, I am in favor of restoring old structures whenever possible – especially historic structures such as schools. Millville had a fantastic building where the new police station courthouse stands. the new building is an eyesore and atrocity, as is city hall, perpetrated by short-sighted politicians in the 1970’s who shall remain nameless.

    However, there were many other options for a prosecutor’s office that would have been cheaper and faster. but, they would not have offered a payday for out of county construction firms.

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