Belated thoughts on SJEDD

Sam Fiocchi did the right thing in calling for the vote to make some radical changes in the way the county does business with the SJEDD. Yes, this is old news. Gordon Dahl was a prime example of what can go wrong when people are placed in positions simply due to their political connections. A vital component to job creation in South Jersey was grossly mismanaged, taxpayer money squandered.

Addressing the serious concerns Freeholder Bill Whelan expressed Tuesday concerning the financial viability of the South Jersey Economic Development District (SJEDD), the freeholders in a resolution called for the district to take a vote of confidence on its executive director and resolve its outstanding bills.

The SJEDD board of directors, of which Whelan serves on the executive committee, is scheduled to meet on Monday at Cumberland County College, where the vote of confidence is expected to occur. If the vote is not unanimous in favor of current Executive Director Gordon Dahl, the resolution approved by the Cumberland freeholders calls for the board to find a replacement.

It is interesting to view the board of directors of the SJEDD. Lou Magazzu served on that board. No wonder the works were screwed up…

And Bill Whelan shows his true colors. The man sees no evils, hears no evil, and speaks no evil until the lid is blown off of any scandal. Only after the press of Atlantic City does a dozen articles on the absolute fiasco and blatant waste, Bill speaks up and says,

“And when I was made part of the executive committee, I started asking questions, and began growing increasingly concerned with the answers — or lack of answers.”

Apparently Bill felt no sense of responsibility to the public to ask these questions. It took an investigation by a local newspaper before he had the guts to speak out. This is not the quality of a leader. Had the Press of AC not delved into this story, how much longer would Bill have been silent? And how much misconduct goes on in the bowels of the local Democratic Party that he refuses to address?

The more time I spend in the sewer of Cumberland County politics, the more I am inclined to agree with my friend Skip Darger. The ideal make-up of the Freeholder board would be three Republicans, three Democrats, and one Independent. But that is fodder for another article.

Back to the SJEDD. The organization is decades old, and there is absolutely nothing to show for it. Maybe it is time to dissolve the district. At the very least we need somebody to come forward with numbers – tell the public how much money was spent, and show us what we got in return.  The very fact that South Jersey could be the host of Next Gen is heartening. We need these sorts of technological jobs, and the thousands of jobs that will be created around this business park. It is worth the investment, but we need people on that board of directors that are not afraid to speak out before the media makes it a story.

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