There is a lot to get to from tonight’s freeholder meeting (what’s going on with the UCUA stipend scandal, who’s going to run Runnells; who’s going to run golf; who’s going to get $3 million more for making plans to build a stairwell) but first, official representatives of county corrections officers through PBA Local 199 wanted to make one point perfectly clear…..
After Tina Renna continued seeking answers as to what is going on with the county jail:
To which County Manager Faella confirmed that there have been negotiations with Hudson County:
Then representatives of PBS Local 199 came up to the podium. Were they going to ask the freeholders to consider the welfare of their members and plead to keep the jail open or at least keep layoffs to a minimum? Or were they going to demand that these rumors about the jail closing either be confirmed or denied so the people they are supposed to represent could have some job and benefit security? No, their priority was:
To which Tina Renna responds:
Note from Tina Renna:
Recent history has taught us that it is the mode of operation for Union County government to meet in secret with the players and when all their ducks are in a row then they let the public know as little information as possible. Ref: Runnells & Oak Ridge Golf Course.
I want to get at the truth.
If I were representing members of PBA Local 199 I would reach out to the PBA’s in counties negotiating with Union County and ask them to help get information from their administrations who might not be so secretive. Better yet, they might want to brag about the possibility of incoming revenue. It’s election time, I’d hurry up if I were you……
The Union County Watchdog Association was copied on the following email which was sent to the Union County Utilities Authority attorney:
From: Mark Boehme
Sent: Thursday, September 18, 2014 12:01 PM
To: Mayor of Clark; Mayor of Summit; Tina Renna; Seb D’Elia – Union County; Senator Kean Jr.; Assemblyman Bramnick; Assemblywoman Munoz; Mayor of Cranford; Mayor of Elizabeth
Subject: OPRA request
Isn’t it a bit ironic that I made this OPRA request. on 9/9 and these “stipend refund payments” are dated 9/15 (this past Monday) and 9/18 (today)? Didn’t the board give Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Brennan a deadline to pay back the money? Why was this money not repaid until I requested evidence of repayment?
This entire issue is an embarrassment given that it was only uncovered because of the diligence of Tina Renna, who in my view, has done more to support Union County taxpayers than many, if not most, so called “public servants”.
It would save us all a lot of time, expense and effort, if we simply let the Union County Watchdog Association overtake the oversight role of county functions, given the abysmal track record of those currently in place.
The UCUA both on an operating and oversight basis make a complete mockery of “public service” and is clearly part of the problem in New Jersey, not part of the solution.
UCUA Stipend Investigation Conclusion
Among the purchases in a $38,793,236 Bond Ordinance 759-2014 was:
Which was explained as being for:
In 2006 Union County upgraded the freeholder meeting room equipment for what was advertised to be $78,000 but wound up being almost $120,000 with bills for items like wall mounts, speakers, and cables that could still have some life left in them.
Gloucester County closed their Jail as of July 1, 2013 and they say it’s a success:
Gloucester County corrections officers were fighting for their jobs in June 2013.
The county was emptying prisoners from its jail in Woodbury, and the state’s public defenders were urging a Superior Court judge to stop officials from closing the county correctional facility.
One year later, corrections department protests are silenced, lawsuits are winding down to settlements, and the reconfiguration is becoming a statewide model of “a new era of corrections,” according to Gloucester County administrator Chad Bruner.
“It’s amazing it’s a year later,” Bruner said Friday, days from the official one-year mark on July 1.
In his 22 years with the county he’d been a part of other shared-services initiatives, including county-wide dispatch, EMS and tax assessing.
Signing shared-service agreements with Salem, Cumberland, Burlington and Essex counties, and getting everyone on board — including the prosecutor’s office, court administration, the assignment judge, public defenders, municipal police, and the county sheriff — “was the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” he said.
The county’s female and juvenile inmates had been housed in Camden and Salem counties since 2009. Moving the male population — an average of 350 men — to other facilities was the final stage in “closing the paradigm of corrections.”Starting in July, all arrestees were transported by corrections and sheriff’s officers to the Salem County Correctional Facility for processing, then held at the Salem jail or transported to other facilities. Gloucester County’s officers transport prisoners from the facilities to the Justice Complex in Woodbury for court appearances, then back again as needed.
When freeholders announced the move in March last year, the plan was touted to save $10 million a year starting in 2016. It’s on track for more than $11 million in savings, Bruner reported this week.
All four counties renewed contracts with Gloucester. All but Essex dropped the per-day rates.
Salem officials signed a 10-year contract with two 10-year options. The 30-year contract, effective May 1, includes a rate decrease from $100 to $83 a day. Last year, the jail housed an average of 213 prisoners a day.
Cumberland and Burlington signed one-year contracts. Cumberland will receive $100 for the first 100 prisoners and $83 for each additional man housed.
Burlington’s rate dropped from $100 to $83, but the jail will receive a minimum of 30 Gloucester prisoners and a maximum of 75.
Essex will remain at $108 per inmate, the federal per-day rate it receives for housing federal prisoners.
Prisoners needing drug treatment are sent to the Albert M. “Bo” Robinson Assessment and Treatment Center, a secure facility in Trenton, for $75 a day, Bruner added.
With lower renegotiated rates, Bruner said the county is on track to save $8 million in 2015 and $10 million to $12 million over the next 25 years.
If it hadn’t been reconfigured, and a 164-person staff slashed to 59 uniformed and civilian workers, the county corrections department would have cost the county $29 million, Bruner said.
The restructuring provides the county “everlasting savings,” he claimed.
Bruner has presented Gloucester County’s corrections model to the state’s League of Municipalities and the New Jersey Association of Counties.
“I tell them, ‘For it to truly work, you have to get counties looking to get out of this (jail) business, and counties looking to get into the business,” he said.
Is Union County looking to get out of the jail business too? It’s just a rumor now (as per usual in this county) but if it happens here are the numbers:
Joe Cryan is slated to be the new Union County Sheriff despite the views of Paul Mulshine and….
This freeholder meeting changed the future meeting schedule (because of a Jewish holiday conflict there will be a double meeting on 9/18 replacing the meeting previously set for 9/25) plus there was Bruce Paterson on Joe Cryan as UC Sheriff and pay-to-play, tens of millions in bonding including buying $100,000 of video equipment and $432,000 for a residential property in Scotch Plains plus two freeholders announcing at this catered meeting that they were accepting the $4.25/day food stamp challenge ……but first:
Campaign Fiance reports for county parties were recently released by the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (NJELEC) and the contrast between the money going to Democrats and Republicans in Union County is striking.