And the other side of the argument

I caused a stir with my previous post about privatization. Some people got hung up on words, probably due to my poor presentation, accusing me of stating that the federal government belongs in the trash collection business. I said no such thing.

Anyway, if you watched the video I posted blasting New jersey’s penchant for creating “Authorities”, hopefully you got a chuckle.  As we have witnessed in Cumberland County, these “authorities” serve one overshadowing purpose. They are a clearing house for the political party in charge to reward political hacks. It is a way to divert public money (usually assessed using fees so as not to burden the tax base, but they are still a tax on every citizen nonetheless) to reward the party faithful.

The CCUA was utilized by Lou Magazzu as a way to give pocket money and free health coverage to party faithful, including those that volunteered to get out the vote and allegedly bullied people into voting a certain party line.  It was a way to provide rewards to people that rarely attended the meetings – money for nothing.

One of our fans emailed me this article in the NY Times. It is not only Cumberland County where the abuse abounds. The article targets the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in particular. But a universal lesson can be learned.

But these criticisms fail to address an important underlying issue — the growing problem of patronage and cronyism that is infecting this critical agency, which operates the region’s airports, bridges, tunnels, ports and the PATH train system. The governors of New York and New Jersey have been unable to resist meddling in the day-to-day operations of this multibillion-dollar agency and unwilling to appoint members to the authority’s board of commissioners who will use their independent judgment to carry out a sustained program of critically needed transportation improvements without continual political interference.

The fact of the matter is, these quasi-governmental agencies serve the critical purpose of promoting the general welfare. Whether it be the CCIA in charge of  waste handling, the CCUA over local utilities, or any other “authority” – the purpose is to ensure cost-effective management and implementation of necessary infrastructure. These agencies are not for profit, because why should the general public be forced to pay a CEO of private industry million dollar salaries for a basic necessity of life such as clean and safe drinking water? Private companies should not be getting rich (1% rich) for providing proper sewage disposal, ensuring that we do not suffer third world country types of outbreaks of cholera or other uncomfortable afflictions.

I am not inferring that the people that run the authorities properly should not be justly compensated. However, they should by all means be truly qualified to do their job – and donating to a political party is NOT a qualification of anything but cronyism.

I think we can pretty much agree (unless you are blind) that these authorities have been abusive of the public trust. The politicians that have utilized them as a means of reward and punishment are complicit in violating the public trust, just as the leadership in the agencies has often been borderline criminal.

Did anyone catch this article about Elk Township dissolving its Municipal Utilities Authority?

The Elk Township committee has recently voted to dissolve the township’s Municipal Utilities Authority and grant New Jersey American Water a franchise for its water and sewer services.

The MUA had previously handled all of the township’s water utility. This is an effort to streamline the process, in turn providing cost savings to the residents of Elk Township, according to Committeeman Mike Pantaleo.

“At one point in time, many years ago at the boom of the housing market, there was a belief that the MUA could be a revenue-generating entity,” he said. “But it didn’t pan out. There hasn’t been much development.”

The move is being billed as a tax-saving move for the residents. The county cannot make money on running the entity, but apparently the consensus is that a private company motivated by profit will be able to generate revenue.

Now there may be many reasons for the inability to generate revenue, I am not that familiar with Gloucester County politics. Perhaps it was union-related or civil service related. When you get a union involved, people are allowed to earn more than they are worth, and there is absolutely no motivation for anyone to do an excellent job. In private industry, employees are evaluated annually. In government there is no such thing, and a person cannot be let go for lack of performance.

Perhaps the antiquated public pension system which should absolutely be dissolved played a part.Poorly executed contractual  benefits packages may have contributed. However, these are all things that should be addressed by people that actually have the cojones to do what is best for the taxpaying public, and will not be cowed down by bullying union representatives that seek only to increase their own kingdoms and merely pay lip service to their stated mission of working on behalf of the workers.

Okay, I have done enough damage for today. I kicked a half-dozen hornets’ nests – have a go at it folks!

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