and the bid goes to the…HIGHEST BIDDER!

NJ.com picked up the story that I broke here over a week ago.

The Cumberland County freeholders during a post-closed session vote last month decided to drop the county’s regular auditor of more than 30 years in favor new company.

The freeholders, by a vote of 5-0, were so eager to make the change that they awarded the auditing contract to Ford Scott Associates, an Ocean City firm, despite the fact that they had presented the most expensive bid — worth $148,500.

Jason Laday did get some so-called explanations for this inexplicable decision to put the screws to Cumberland County taxpayers. It was disappointing that the two lame-duck freeholders, Dunkins and Jannarone opted to skip one of the last freeholder meetings of their term. At least their actions proved what I have ascertained all along – they had never intended to ever serve the public. Their terms in office were self-serving ego trips, and as soon as they saw they were out, they decided to act like spoiled brats and renege on their duties to vote on the public behalf.

The subject – hiring a county auditor. For thirty years the county has been firmly entrenched under Democratic control. Over the last decade we have seen property taxes double, and we have seen county spending rocket out of control. During that same period, a massive budget surplus was used in lieu of spending reductions resulting in a projected $10 MILLION shortfall this year. This financial situation was created by political maneuverings to hire cronies and hacks and to reward political contributors.

I have supported the Republicans because they promised this would change under their rule. They lied.

The county’s regular auditor, Bowman & Company, out of Voorhees, presented a $140,625 bid, while a third company — Hutchings, Farrell, Myer & Allison, from Freehold — bid $141,500.

Freeholders Carl Kirstein, Tom Sheppard, Sam Fiocchi, Mary Gruccio and Bill Whelan approved the resolution, following a a closed session during the Dec. 27 meeting.

I have to agree with Gary Simmerman with his questions to the Freeholder Board. Of course, the only reason he is opening his mouth on this particular vote when he has historically been silent when the D’s have done the same is he is planning to run for Freeholder this year. At least that is what I hear. Joe Derella will likely be his running mate (a brilliant move by the CCDO, if these rumors are true).

“I just wanted to know why it didn’t go to the lowest bidder,” said Simmerman. “Also, it’s worth stating that Bowman knows this county, and with a new freeholder board, it’s important that we have someone in there who doesn’t need to be acclimated to the county.”

Kirstein is correct that it is time for a change, fresh eyes are critical if we expect to see improvement. However, rewarding a company that has been a major Republican player rather than going for the lowest responsible bidder is NOT the change that Cumberland County taxpayers wanted.  If change was really wanted, then opt for the second lowest bidder. The second lowest bidder is, as far as I can tell a non-partisan accounting outfit. I can find no trail of contributions by this company to either party. I find it truly offensive that a non-partisan business is precluded from doing business in Cumberland County; merely changing the guard while continuing with the same unethical practices should be reason to upset every concerned voter.

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7 Responses to and the bid goes to the…HIGHEST BIDDER!

  1. tom rabbit says:

    If Bowman was doing such a bang up job why is the county in the shape it is in? New majority new everything, the public elected new majority to clean house and everything must go. From the auditor the the appointments to department heads. Why not? What will we find? County government is to big, to expensive, and to corrupt. If this new auditor finds us 10% saving the difference will pay for itself.

  2. WuLi says:

    Nobody said Bowman was doing a bang up job. they had the job for one reason – they were contributors to the D’s. Now we have another firm that got the job for the exact same reason – just a different party. It stinks.

    However, you are partially correct that all appointments and department heads need to at the very least be closely scrutinized, and half of them do have to go. The ones that have been a magnet for lawsuits should have been gone the first week of the new administration. the ones that are unqualified should also be ousted immediately.

    And the freeholders that appointed these hacks should be publicly humiliated for failing to do their utmost to protect the taxpayers and ensure quality leadership at every level. Bill Whelan needs to apologize for voting to appoint the unqualified Surrency and losing matching funds in the process, and he needs to grovel for appointing Matlock. the Matlock fiasco will blow wide open one fo these days, and mark my words, you heard about it here first!

  3. tom rabbit says:

    In a world of unicorns and rainbows doing a good job should be all we are looking for but this is the poorest county in one of the richest state in the country. Money for politics does not come from here it comes from other areas of the state. Over the past thirty years a section of our state has been designated as a dumping ground for poverty. Cumberland county is it and low income housing, prisons, criminals and the undesirables all are welcomed here. How has that happened? MONEY!!!!! it’s an industry here and D’s have been paying people for to long.

    My point is the professional appointed by the D’s are NOT working for the betterment of Cumberland county, but for the betterment of there home counties. To ensure they have a place to throw out their trash. Just because it’s cheaper does not mean it’s better, and we need better some twenty years ago.

  4. WuLi says:

    You have no argument there – for too long Cumberland County has been the dumping grounds for the rest of the state. It’s no wonder that we have random shootings on a regular basis in Millville and Bridgeton – we embrace felons when they are released, and give them a list of social services available for them so that they can stay here upon their release.

    The D’s have turned political money laundering into a well-oiled machine. Money is donated to other counties and those firms get jobs here. We have outlined the way pay-to-play laws are legally skirted often on MWatch.

    BUT – it doesn’t justify it when the R’s do the same thing. Not one freeholder has offered a viable explanation as to why the LOWEST bidder was not selected. Change? The lowest bidder would have been a change. If the lowest bidder is unqualified, then tell us! if they are qualified, then the only explanation is that the R’s have pulled a page from Lou Magazzu’s playbook and are resorting to political cronyism.

    I know this is going to make me unpopular, but I am used to that! The truth is the truth, and I am not going to sit by quietly as the party that I helped put into power does the very same things I blasted the D’s for.

    This is all about one thing – INTEGRITY! If the new party is going to do the exact same thing as the old party, then we all might as well give up and stop voting, because it is apparent that voting doesn’t change a thing other than the faces. I do not like being lied to and used. And I would guess that most voters do not appreciate it either.

  5. WuLi says:

    A fan of the site contacted me today with a counter-point to some of my comments about Bowman & Co. This person has a lot of experience in the Cumberland County Treasurer’s Office, including first hand experience with Bowman & Co. They also tend to lean Republican. the following are some excerpts (edited to protect their identity) of an email:

    “I have seen many changes over the years, including the “auditors”. In the early 70s the Republicans appointed new auditors, and I do not remember seeing them in our office more than 4 times during the year when they were appointed, talking only to the Treasuer at that time, who by the way, was there more than just Thursdays!

    “I worked many years with the Auditors of Bowman and I have but the utmost repect for those I worked with not only the partners and but also their staff on all levels. They were very helpful in assisting you in the most efficient way of completing any task necessary to complete a thorough and accurate audit. I learned more from them than anyone who worked in the Treasurers office in an official capacity.

    “As Auditors, there is only so much they can do. If the controlling party opts not to take their advice, this cannot be put on their shoulders. I know someone, well qualified to work in “an official” capacity of the Treasurers Office warned of impending problems and was thanked by being publicly embarrassed at a regular Freeholder meeting, and subsequently chose to resign.

    “So do not blame Bowman for the short comings of the budget, blame those who have no serious background in government accounting. Please do diligent research before you “put them under the bus”!!”

    I want to thank this person for their lengthy (I cut quite a bit out) explanation. They were intimately involved in the daily operations of the Treasurer’s Office for decades. They know of what they speak, and their perspective is refreshing.

  6. Calhoun says:

    I have no argument with what Carl’s source has stated. However, I still don’t think Bowman should have been given the contract (Carl, wasn’t Bowman the low bidder, the nonpartsian firm coming in a close second and the hired R firm being much higher?).

    And here’s why. Back in October of 2010, I wrote a detailed account of contributions to the county Ds. In that report I wrote the following:

    “Personal contributions to campaigns should come from those who believe in the candidates. That’s why I have (rarely) chosen to give to a candidate’s campaign. Given this assumption, I must conclude that a remarkable coincidence took place on 8 June 2010. On this date ten people, not from this county, Kirk Applegate, L. Jarred Corn, Richard Culbertson, John Dailey, Joseph Hoffmann, James Miles Jr., Todd Saler, Nina Sorello, Michael Welding, and Harry Wills, all chose to give $500 to the Pepitone/Thompson campaign. Now it is remarkable enough that ten people all chose to give the same amount on the same day. But wait! There’s more! They all work for the same accounting firm: Bowman & Company, LLP from Voorhees, New Jersey! What are the odds?!”

    In 2011, after these “individual” contributions from all those Bowman employees, Bowman was retained by the freeholders for 2011. That’s BS. Does anyone honestly believe that these ten Bowman employees all independently decided to give the same amount of money to the Cumberland County Ds? And if they didn’t then someone at Bowman is guilty of some serious ethical lapses. And that should be reason enough not to hire them.

    Sadly, this issue has never been reported beyond this website. The local media never picked up on it. Of course now that the Rs are in control the Cumberland News is all over this. Quite telling. Nonetheless, I will take it.

    Spot on Carl about Simmerman. And he will make a very formidable candidate. He been vocal about the Manor and now this contract. Look for him to be there too if the freeholders move to close the library. And he’s a snappy dresser too; Quinn calls him the Johnny Carson of the County. Of course, he was the treasurer under Magazzu and all the smoke and mirrors budget. However, if the first few freeholder meetings are any indication the Rs will never bring any of this up.

  7. Guess-Who says:

    Calhoun: Here it is for those Individuals who are new to MWatch (Magazzuwatch) from 10-26-10.

    https://magazzuwatch.wordpress.com/2010/10/26/

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