Cumberland County has been scammed!

MWatch has reported, along with the mainstream press, about the committees that were formed at the behest of the newly elected Republican majority in the county. We were told by the Republican leadership that these committees were comprised of “regular citizens” among others, for the purpose of finding ways for the county to reduce its profligate ways of spending. We are victims of a gigantic fraud, at least in one case.

I have received copies of the findings of the committees. So far I have only opened the Legal Committee, and I am appalled. We were lied to. The entire committee is a sham and a disgrace!

Cumberland County Legal Committee 2012

The so-called average taxpaying citizens that comprised the Legal Committee are ALL current or former attorneys, and one disgraced judge. The Library committee was not formed solely of former librarians. Why would there not be one real tax-paying citizen on the legal committee? This is worse than allowing the fox to guard the hen house; this is more akin to hiring Wyle E. Coyote as security for the roadrunner cage at the local zoo!

Does even one person not assume that a room full of attorneys will not be ensuring that they continue to keep the honey pot flowing for their own? There will be no reform – their biggest recommendation was to INCREASE the salary of the county counsel! With plenty of words and much double-speak, they have cloaked a spending INCREASE as a budget cutting measure. And there was not one average citizen allowed into these top-secret meetings to keep a watchful eye.  There will be more to come on this subject, trust me.

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5 Responses to Cumberland County has been scammed!

  1. Calhoun says:

    Carl is spot on regarding the glaring problem (and inappropriateness) of having a committee to examine the County’s legal costs and having no one but people with law degrees comprise the committee. It’s like forming a committee to examine organized crime and having the committee consist of Al Capone, John Gotti, Joseph Merlino, and Nicodemo Scarfo (The Committee’s conclusion: “You didn’t see nothing.”)

    And indeed what we got from this committee is pretty much a “You didn’t see nothing” conclusion. Under the Committee’s two options the legal budget would be between $640,000-650,000/year, thus effecting a savings of about $285,000/year (30%) from the County’s current legal budget of $935,000.

    Sounds great, right?

    Wrong!

    And here’s why.

    First the report focuses the savings based on last year’s (2011) legal budget of $935,336 (this is roughly twice the current budget of the library!). However, this fails to account for the County’s ballooning increase in legal fees over the past few years. In 2009, the County’s legal costs were $549,872 and by 2011 they had soared to $935,336 – a 70% increase in just three years! Furthermore, these increases occurred during a period in which all other budgets were being slashed to the bone.

    The report makes comparisons between Cumberland Co. and Cape May and Gloucester, yet their recommendations and proposed future budgets don’t get us anywhere near the leaner legal budgets of Cape May and Gloucester Cos. Gloucester Co. has a population of 288,581 and a legal budget of approximately $840,000 and Cape May Co. has a population of 97,253 (year round residents only) and a legal budget of $307,502. Therefore, Gloucester Co. spends about $2.91 per person per year and Cape May Co. spends $3.16 per person per year on legal costs. ( Cape May’s is actually much leaner than this number when you factor in the part-time summer residents.) Cumberland Co. is currently spending $5.96 per person per year on legal costs – roughly twice what Cape May and Gloucester County spends! Furthermore, the committee’s recommended future budget of $650,000 would mean Cumberland County would be spending $4.14 per person per year on legal costs – a figure that would still be far higher than those for Cape May and Gloucester Cos.!

    Assuming we spent $2.91 per person (Cumberland Co.’s population is 156,898) per year like Gloucester Co., Cumberland Co.’s annual legal budget would be $456,573 – a number far lower than the Committee’s proposed numbers for future budgets.

    Furthermore, this number assumes that Gloucester Co. is a county that Cumberland should model itself after, and I suspect, given the politics of Gloucester Co., that this a very poor assumption. It would be useful to know how much other counties like Sussex and Warren, spend per person per year on legal costs.

    Like Carl said foxes guarding the hen houses

  2. baba says:

    What surprises me most is that you were surprised. Time to go back to basics.

  3. WuLi says:

    It’s not that it wouldn’t be appropriate to have a couple of attorneys on the committee -they certainly have inside knowledge that most citizens would not be privy to. However – to purposely exclude ANY private citizen from this club so that the taxpayers are completely left in the dark is inexcusable. This particular committee was a total sham. And the fact that they had Paul Porreca on it further erodes any credibility. He has never (IMO) put anybody’s benefit before his own.

  4. SalarySam says:

    The e-mail starts off with a note that the first draft is being corrected. It would be VERY interesting to see the first draft and, for that matter, the entire e-mail stream back and forth. Any plans to request more info under OPRA?

  5. Guess-Who says:

    The County of Cumberland can’t even PRODUCE the Cell Phone RECORDS of former Freeholder Lou Magazzu, as they had been O.P.R.A..
    Does one believe that the County can figure out where to L{.}{.}K to retrieve this INFORMATION !?!

    Clueless individuals are making these DECISIONS.

    I have said since the beginning that it was a COMPLETE JOKE to have these so-called APPOINTED “Citizens” to these Self-Serving Committees.
    Independent doesn’t mean Independent D’s & R’s or does IT ?

    Hearing the TRUTH will hurt their FEELINGS… 🙂

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