System Fail…

The Republican made a pledge to county residents upon taking office. MWatch covered this, and all of us were honestly looking forward to positive change. So much for dashed hopes. I am not going to go point by point on their pledge today. Instead I am going to point out the first item:

1. Transparency in Government. We will draft and introduce a resolution calling upon the Board of Chosen Freeholders to adopt a County Version of the “Transparency in Government Act” which will direct County Government to create a searchable website where any resident can perform a search and see exactly where every penny of money is spent, not just a line item in a budget.

MWatch has had a lot of fun poking, well fun at Lou Magazzu and the sad condition of the county website. Outdated information, polls that didn’t work, and most egregious of all, in our eyes, was the lackadaisical attitude towards updating the minutes of the meetings. I for one did not think matters could get worse.

Now, on the positive side, the main page of the website does provide important news, updates, public notices and a list of upcoming meetings. That is an improvement. But it hardly qualifies as transparent government. For transparency, citizens that have difficulty attending freeholder meetings must have complete access to all discussions and to the minutes of those meetings. However, when one goes to the meetings portal to search the minutes and videos of prior meetings, one cannot help but be underwhelmed at the scarcity of information. For instance, the last minutes posted are from February 21.

The second item of the pledge reads:

2. Accessible Government. We will draft and introduce a resolution calling upon the Board of Chosen Freeholders to make the County’s government accessible to all by immediately making streaming video of all Board of Chosen Freeholder meetings available on the Cumberland County website.

Only four videos of the meetings have been posted – at least under Lou Magazzu the videos were available online shortly after the meetings. It seems the only way to access the minutes is to file OPRA requests, a tedious process that places a burden on county employees that should be doing other county business, and cost the requester money. And streaming of the meetings live is still a pipe dream. This is inexcusable.

Since the duly elected republican have failed to do even the minimum in fulfilling the first two items of their pledge, and in fact have taken a step backward, it would seem senseless to analyze the rest of their pledge.

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7 Responses to System Fail…

  1. Who’s job would that be?

  2. baba says:

    Don’t despair. The tables will soon turn and we can criticize the Dems again.

  3. Calhoun says:

    Politicians (Ds and Rs) work together to keep vital information away from the public when they think that that information could be detrimental to their obtaining and keeping power. Instead, they prefer that everything given to the public be done so through their filters, which polishes it so as to always look like they’re acting in your best interests. The elected pols prefer to tell you what they have been doing at their official meetings rather than you reading about it or watching it on video and making up your own mind independently. Hence, the never-ending problems of minutes or video not being posted in a timely fashion and the failure to have live streaming video. Until a few years ago one couldn’t even use the state legislature’s website to determine how our state assemblyman and senators voted on bills! Politicians (Ds and Rs) also do not want the public to have access to election information. For example voting in the county (like most places) is done by wards and precincts within a municipality. However, go to the county website and try and find information on voting patterns in these wards and precincts and you won’t find it. The scant information you will find is incomplete, results from 2011 still being listed as “unofficial”! The county has the information broken down by ward and precinct but the public never sees it. However, rest assured the party leaders and politicians have this information at their fingertips. Party leaders prefer that outsiders not have this information, since it is critical to developing effective strategies for winning elections, and outsiders can only gum up the process. D and Rs prefer to battle one another with no one else on the playing field. Besides politicians not wanting the public to know who votes for them, they also don’t want the public to know who their donors are. Thus, this information is buried in pdf files at ELEC’s website. In most of the examples I have cited, the information that is available is contained in files that are not OCRed, the images not converted to text and thus the text not readily searchable via web search engines. Next time you see the Ds and Rs battling one another at a public meeting or campaign debate, keep in mind they’re in cahoots a lot more than you think, as they secretly work together to limit your ability to participate in the process and effect change.

    P.S. On the plus side, the county website is now (more) up to date re minutes and video. More evidence that all those local politicians who claim to never visit this website (“too busy” they say) are some of its most faithful readers. Have a great Sunday, Carl, Sam, Tom, Mary, Bill, Tony, and Carol.

  4. alex dragotta says:

    I’m wondering do the Freeholders have time out of there busy schedule to look at the county website. That is why I asked if anyone knows who’s job it is to keep the website up to date. Carl maybe you should find out or inform the Freeholders that the site must be maintained. Lets give them the benefit of the doubt before going after them. This mess will take sometime to straigten out ,six months in office I believe has made some positive gain.

  5. WuLi says:

    Alex, I am truly disappointed in our freeholders. So now it is my job to inform them of their job? THEY are getting paid to do their job, and THEY made promises that I should not have to remind them of. They have hired insiders and political cronies and companies that have donated to R campaigns, the very same thing I criticized Lou for doing. I have $8,000 in legal bills directly related to this website, and one one of them has stepped up tot he plate and offered to help. The rest are content to give jobs to family and friends – meanwhile a prominent Democrat that THEY fired (simply because he was a D, because he was doing a superb job in his position) actually networked for me and got me a decent job. it is clear that most are out for themselves and their political allies that actually rate.

  6. Calhoun says:

    Busy schedules, Alex?! Sam and Carl ran on the fact that they were retired and could thus devote more time to being freeholder. Now they have busy schedules?! Baloney! Can’t have it both ways. If I were a freeholder, I would view it as a duty to check the website at least once a week to make sure it was up to date. I would do so regardless of how hectic my schedule was. It literally takes only seconds to visit the website. Given this, I accept no excuses that a freeholder’s schedule is simply too busy to find a few seconds to check the county’s website.

  7. Khaleesi says:

    ….and don’t they have County issued smartphones which makes the task even easier…..or are the for just taking photos??? ;).

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