Category Archives: Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders

APP Editorial: Shameful start out of the box

Here is an editorial that the Asbury Park Press has gotten right and if you read the comment posted by readers afterwards, they all seem to agree:

The new 5-0 Republican majority on the Monmouth County freeholder board got off to a disgraceful start this week: Its first order of business was rescinding its tough 2008 pay-to-play campaign finance restrictions. Welcome back to the world of one-party rule.

The old ground rules, passed in response to Operation Bid Rig, a sting targeting money laundering and political corruption that led to the arrests of 13 politicians in the county in 2005, was a huge step in putting an end to the sort of legal bribery that allowed graft to flow freely.

The freeholders now seem to believe that graft and corruption are a thing of the past. Either that or they want to cement their one-party grip on the board, briefly lost the past few years, by ensuring campaign contributors are aptly rewarded when it comes time to handing out contracts.

Under the previous rules, individual contributions were capped at $300, while a firm’s contribution was limited to $2,600. Candidates could not accept a contribution from another county’s political party in excess of $2,600 per election.

Now that those rules have been rescinded, the board will be guided by the state’s lenient “fair and open” bidding process for counties and municipalities, which state Comptroller Matthew Boxer has said is anything but.

In a commentary in the Press last year, Boxer wrote, “The pay-to-play law presents few, if any, real obstacles to local government entities seeking to reward politically favored vendors with public contracts … a series of fatal flaws have essentially rendered the pay-to-play law meaningless at the local government level.”

What reason did the freeholders offer for changing their minds? Freeholder Lillian Burry, who voted for the tougher pay-to-play regulations in 2008, said they made sense then: “It appeared at the time to be a very necessary thing for us to do,” Burry said.

But now? Burry says the 2008 rules may be “too harsh” and proved “very confusing to the professionals.”

The freeholders apparently would have us believe that the people who want to do business with Monmouth County were absolutely flummoxed by the 2008 county standard, and could not fathom the differences between the county’s rules and the “fair and open” process.

If the freeholders adequately educated potential contract bidders to those differences and they still couldn’t get it, those aren’t the sort of people the county should be hiring in the first place.

What is clear is the freeholders’ action was shameless. They should reinstate the tougher pay-to-play rules. If they don’t, citizens should express their disgust at the polls.

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, editorial, Lillian Burry, Monmouth County, Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders, Operation Bid Rig, pay-to-play

Monmouth Freeholders adopt weak State pay-to-play rules, abandon stronger County rules in place since 2008

Fortunately, former Monmouth County Freeholder Amy Mallet is still on the job as a outspoken member of the public. The Middletown Patch reported on 1/31/12 that this year’s all-GOP Freeholder Board voted unanimously last week to loosen the County’s pay-to-play rules, and Amy was there to call them on it!

In a vote on Jan. 26th, the Board chose to abandon the tougher County pay-to-play rules for the lax State ones. The reason given by the Board is that contractors were confused by the County rules. However, many other municipalities and counties have the stronger pay-to-play rules in place, so contractors doing business in other towns would already be familiar with them.

The Board’s decision opens the door to rewarding politically connected persons and businesses with County contracts. The move weakens competition and may have the direct effect of increasing property taxes in line with higher contract costs. It’s hard to imagine why any ethical publicly-minded governmental body would do such a thing, unless for personal benefit. It appears the Board members have chosen to grant themselves the latitude to direct contracts at will to ensure their pockets will be lined at election time.

State Comptroller Matthew Boxer said himself that the State pay-to-play law does nothing to prevent the practice by local governments. In September 2011, he released a 20-page report “blasting the law for being toothless” as put it.

The effectiveness of Christie’s Tool Kit at holding down property taxes would be vastly improved if it closed the loopholes in the State’s pay-to-play law. But until that happens, it is incumbent upon local governments to do what’s right by having strong pay-to-play rules of their own.

Public advocacy group The Citizens Campaign is calling for the public to attend the Monmouth County Freeholder meeting on Feb. 9th, when the Board will be asked to reinstate the stronger pay-to-play policy. For details, check out their facebook page and if you can, make plans to attend.

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Filed under Amy Mallet, Facebook, Middletown Patch, Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders,, pay-to-play, property taxes, the Citizens Campaign

Amy Mallet Reflects Back On Her Time As Monmouth County Freeholder

The following letter was received from Freeholder Amy Mallet

Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”- Former President Teddy Roosevelt

I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to serve the people of Monmouth County for the past three years. I am proud of my accomplishments which began with promises I made three years ago.

Monmouth County is now a major developer of clean, renewable solar energy at no additional cost to taxpayers. This effort provides environmental and economic benefits now and in the future. User-friendly computers offer the public a chance to learn about our solar savings in real time at four county locations. This initiative has served as a model for other solar projects that are being planned and developed throughout Monmouth County.

A key element in Government must be transparency. I proposed using digital technology so that everyone in the public can hear unedited proceedings of our meetings. Today it is simple from any computer via The home page has a button “Listen to Freeholder Meetings”. This is transparency, but only a start.

Our Legal Department was restructured due to past instances of excessive billing. We hired an in-house counsel to serve in a full-time capacity. This brings accountability and efficiency to our legal matters and has saved over 1.3 million dollars in just over two years.

I lead the expansion of the Veterans Interment office to include professional Veterans Services. Through the passion, diligence and long hours of our trained Veterans Service Officers and Veteran volunteers, this office is busy helping veterans in Monmouth County every day.

A comprehensive Aging Advisory Board brings energy and ideas to helping our seniors. We introduced the free Wellness Discount Program for all residents which offers discounts on prescription medication and other health products and services. Through the Office on Aging, we also established the first caregiver respite program in our county.

I called for changes at Brookdale Community College in order to take it in a better direction. This call came after researching and questioning budgets, meeting minutes, policies and procedures. We need to do what is in the best interest of our students, while providing a premier learning environment, quality education and facilities to our college.

The backbone of county government is our staff, taking us through the day-to-day operations. Many are on the front line directly helping residents care for their health and well-being, improving the safety of our roads and bridges, maintaining our justice system, imprisoning criminals at the jails, disposing and recycling our waste, staffing our libraries, parks and many functions residents do not see.

As liaison to Human Services during my tenure, it is my hope that my successor has the passion to serve as a voice in helping our neighbors who are most vulnerable. This requires an understanding of the needs of those who are less fortunate. They are our neighbors, friends, families and constituents. These individuals and families may be homeless, unemployed, hungry, home-bound, emotionally or developmentally disabled, handicapped, seniors, caregivers, troubled youth, drug and alcohol dependents, returning veterans and so many more. Our staff tends to these needs with a case load which has been growing weekly during these difficult economic times. While the demand for services is that much greater, they have still been able to hold the line on their budgets.

I must point out the areas where I believe there is more to accomplish:

Boards and Commissions which are autonomous require Term Limits. Many residents don’t realize that these entities control spending of millions of tax dollars and influence policy. The makeup of the boards should also be diverse. Turnover would make for a healthier environment. Lack of turnover is contrary to the oversight expected from residents.

Continued consolidation of duplicative functions.

Transparency needs much more work. Meeting Minutes of all autonomous boards and commissions need to be online. I already made this request twice. The website is only as good as the information contained within it. In addition, we should list all employees and new hires online (name, position, department, salary, start date)

Ethics reforms are needed. The Democratic majority instituted an Ethics Board in 2009 which was reversed by the Republicans at their first opportunity. This voluntary board would have been quite busy given the questionable situations which have arisen. Government should not be left to police itself, and history tells us there is too much at stake here to be ignored.

Advertising Panels on our bus fleet will serve many purposes including a new revenue stream. My suggestion is that we start by cross-promoting our Care Centers to bring awareness and fill additional beds which will be a revenue source. After testing the program, we can promote this program to outside entities for advertising revenue.

In the words of John Quincy Adams “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” I hope that my leadership will inspire more residents to ask questions, get involved and exercise their right to vote. Let’s never forget that this is a government “of” the people, “by” the people and “for” the people. Anything short of this is unconstitutional.

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Filed under Brookdale Community College, ethics reform, Freeholder Amy Mallet, Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders, Monmouth County NJ, open government, transparency, veterans services

Amy Handlin Gets Tony Palughi Loyalty Award

This scathing letter that doesn’t pull any of its punches against Republican Assemblywoman Amy Handlin, appears online at the Atlantic Highlands Herald.

The letter was written by the former Republican Chairman of Freehold Township Romeo Cascaes and gives some very strong reasons why she shouldn’t be supported by fellow Republicans in a reelection bid for her 13th District Assembly seat tomorrow.

Dear Editor,

I would like to nominate Amy Handlin for the Tony Palughi Loyalty Award. She has certainly earned it.

The Tony Palughi Loyalty Award, which I just created, should be awarded to the person who has consistently spit upon those most responsible for their own success.

As you know, some years back Tony Palugi got himself into a peck of trouble with the feds, then turned on Harry Larrison by incriminating him in order to receive a lighter sentence. Harry had been like a father to the bum.

Now, once again, Ambitious Amy throws Harry Larrison under the bus, when in fact she should thankfully pray for him and for all Harry did to further her career in politics (Harry would affectionately call Amy, “The Gentle Lady”).

First, he supported Amy in her initial quest for the nomination. Without his support she would never have advanced up the political ladder. Moreover, when Amy rankled many Republicans who had worked hard for her elections over the years, it was Harry Larrison who, on at least two occasions, saved Amy from being dumped from the ticket. When most Republicans abandoned her, it was Harry Larrison who asked me to help her raise funds for her empty war chest, produce campaign materials and other such necessities of a successful re-election effort. I assure you Harry did a lot more than I did on Amy’s behalf.

I knew Harry Larrison for 40 years. I never once detected a crooked bone in his body. He loved Monmouth County and worked very hard for it. He was a visionary who looked beyond the problems of the moment to plan for a Monmouth County “for our children’s children.” No one, dead or alive, has done more for this county than Freeholder Director Harry Larrison, Jr.
Now, on the eve of her latest re-election campaign Amy comes out with a new book about her years on the Board of Chosen Freeholders – calling it “Crony Capitalism.”

She was a member of the Board for 16 years; why has she waited so long to “expose” this nasty system. Where was she for 16 years? She had 16 opportunities to vote against Harry Larrison as Director of the Board, the leader and head crony; 16 opportunities to speak out and do something.

She did nothing!

Instead, for 16 years she was an integral part of it – she was a Principal Crony – and helped perpetuate its existence, if in fact it did exist at all, other than in her mind.

When Tony Palughi was appointed Bridge Superintendent, did Freeholder Handlin rise in protest? No! She did nothing! In fact, she willingly accepted Tony’s help in all of her re-election campaigns without so much as a whimper.

So now, Amy Handlin authors a book about the bad Republican freeholders just before her two Republican running mates are vying to retain their well-deserved seats on the Board. The timing of the release of her book is intended to help Handlin get re-elected but it sure won’t help her fellow Republican freeholder candidates.

As always, Amy Handlin thinks only of Amy Handlin.

Amy Handlin is a self-absorbed, self-righteous human being who doesn’t deserve the loyalty of Republicans nor the electorate.

Romeo Cascaes
Former Republican Chairman
Freehold Township

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Filed under 13th Legislative District, Amy Handlin, Harry Larrison, ltive District, Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders, Operation Bid Rig, reelection, Tony Palughi

Asbury Park Press Endorses Amy Mallet for Freeholder

The Asbury Park Press today endorsed Amy Mallet’s re-election bid for Monmouth County Freeholder. Here is some of what the APP had to say:

“…As with any elected body, bipartisan representation tends to keep both parties on their best behavior.

The long stretch of 5-0 GOP domination in the late 1990s and most of the following decade proved unhealthy for the county’s political culture.

For that reason and more, we support the candidacies of incumbent Amy Mallet, the lone Democrat on the board…

Mallet, 55, who is seeking her second term, has been the strongest voice … for open government and fiscal restraint. Mallet also established the Monmouth County Veterans Service Office and was responsible for the largest solar project in the county….

…Mallet’s allegations that Burry provided patronage work to friends and allies, and was casual about hiring procedures, have merit.Burry also supported, unlike Mallet, signing off on the questionable deal that would pay Manalapan’s Republican mayor, Andrew Lucas, $1.15 million to preserve his farm in Manalapan.

The deal has been put on hold by the State Agriculture Development Committee, pending a ruling from the State Ethics Commission….”

Unfortunately for Mallet’s running mate, Bill Shea, the APP chose not to endorse him as well. It seems that the APP has once again decided that it would be better to “bullet” their endorsement than take a definitive stand that would provide much needed support of Freeholder Mallet while she sits on the dais in Freehold.
Shea is a bright and energenic guy that wouldn’t be intimidated by others on the board and he would provide the much need 2nd vote that would allow many items to be discussed or brought to a vote.

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, Bill Shea, endorsement, Freeholder Amy Mallet, Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders

Middletown Issues State Of Emergency in Wake of Hurricane Irene; Evacuation Of The Bayshore Is Urged

As posted on the Middletown Township website

Middletown has issued a state of emergency as of 10:00AM Friday the 26th of August for Middletown Township following Gov. Chris Christie’s and the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholder’s declaration of a state of emergency in advance of Hurricane Irene.

Right now, residents living in coastal and low-lying areas are urged to evacuate voluntarily, especially those who have experienced flooding before.

Evacuation Routes

Weather Updates –

Additional Hurricane Information.

Monmouth County has established Red Cross shelters in Holmdel High School, 36 Crawford’s Corner Rd., Holmdel, and Wall High School, 1630 18th Avenue, Wall. The shelters will open at 5 p.m. today. Please note pets are not allowed in the shelters.

Directions to Holmdel High School

Get Google Directions to Holdmel HS

Wall High School Directions

Middletown Township will provide information updates as they become available via

Telephone using the Reverse 911 system,

Middletown Emergency Radio Station 1620 AM

The township website at,

The township’s television station viewable on Comcast Channel 20 and Verizon Fios Channel 26, and E-mail and cell phone text message.

Residents must be registered with the Township Citizen Communications System to receive e-mail updates and cell phone text messages. Residents can register for alerts and updates at Registration is not required to receive Reverse 911 phone messages.

Gov. Christie warned potential visitors not to come to the shore this weekend, and he urged residents and visitors along the shore to leave tonight.

A state of emergency will allow the Office of Emergency Management to mobilize all county resources and direct them where they are needed to protect life and property. These actions can include ordering mandatory evacuations and controlling traffic on all roadways.

Irene is expected to arrive Saturday night and continue with high winds and rain throughout the day on Sunday. The governor said he is considering ordering a mandatory evacuation, and the county will follow suit if and when that decision is made.

For everyone else, it is important to prepare for the storm before it hits.

Middletown Emergency Management Coordinator Charles W. Rogers strongly suggests that residents assemble a kit of emergency supplies, creating an emergency plan and tuning into local radio and television for current information.

Recommended items to Include in a Basic Emergency Supply Kit:

· Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation

· Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food

· Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both

· Flashlight and extra batteries

· First aid kit

· Whistle to signal for help

· Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place

· Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation

· Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities

· Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)

· Local maps

· Cell phone with chargers

Additional Items to Consider Adding to an Emergency Supply Kit:

· Prescription medications and glasses

· Infant formula and diapers

· Pet food and extra water for your pet

· Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container

· Cash or traveler’s checks and change

· Emergency reference material such as a first aid book or information from

· Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate.

· Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold-weather climate.

· Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper – When diluted nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.

· Fire Extinguisher

· Matches in a waterproof container

· Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items

· Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels

· Paper and pencil

· Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children

Plan – create an emergency plan – Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so plan a way to contact one another, such as enlisting the help of a third party in another state as a contact, and review what you will do in different situations.

Stay informed – Listen to local radio and television for information on storms and other emergencies

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Filed under emergency kits, Gov. Chris Christie, Hurricane Irene, Middletown NJ, Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders, state of emergency, the bayshore

Board Appointments Lead to Term Limits Debate Among Freeholders; Freeholder Amy Mallet voted against the reappointment of a Board of Health member.

Written by Jacklyn Corley, Manalapan Patch

The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders appointed members to county boards during Thursday’s regular meeting in Freehold.

On the Mental Health Board, Helene Kalkay, of Holmdel, and Sally Pari, of Morganville, were reappointed to three-year terms; David Stout, of Wall, was reappointed to a one-year term; and Ian Nussbaum, of Little Silver, was appointed to a two-year term.

On the Board of Health, June Counterman, of Roosevelt, and Judy Thorpe, of Freehold, were reappointed to three-year terms.

Freeholder Amy Mallet, who has advocated term limits for county boards, voted against Counterman’s reappointment.

“My concern is the consecutive numbers of years served, and in this situation it’s since 1978. Someone can serve for as long as 10, 12 years, but after that I’d like to see more rotation,” Mallet said.

She noted that her vote was not a reflection of Counterman’s work, which she characterized as excellent, but was merely consistent with her position on term limits.

Freehold Lillian Burry said the county’s Board of Health was in dire need of members and has difficulty reaching a quorum to hold meetings. The board currently has a vacancy for a term that ended June 30.

“Here we’re proposing to take a very dedicated, hardworking member and saying ‘Thank you for your service. We’re going to give you the golden handshake, but we don’t need your services anymore.’ And now we’re down another person on the Board of Health. It just defies logic,” Burry said.

All other appointments were approved unanimously.

Read more….Here

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Filed under Freeholder Amy Mallet, Manalapan Patch, Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders, term limits

>Atlantic Highlands Library Is Monmouth County’s Newest Branch

>I found the following press release from Monmouth County somewhat interesting since Middletown’s Township Committee threatened to turn over the operation of the Middletown Library to the county earlier this year if it did not receive adequate reserved funds handed over to it, so that the funds could be applied this years Township budget.

While the circumstances behind Atlantic Highlands transferring its’ library over to the county was no less controversy, you didn’t have the public grandstanding and threats by it’s town council Like you did in Middletown that sparked such public outrage amounts library supporters.

ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS, NJ – Monmouth County will officially welcome the Atlantic Highlands Library as the Library System’s on May 1, marking the addition of the 13th branch to the largest circulating library system in the state.

“It is with great enthusiasm that we welcome Atlantic Highlands as our newest branch in the Monmouth County Library System,” said Freeholder Lillian G. Burry, liaison to the Library Commission. “Atlantic Highlands is home to my daughter and grandchildren, and I know first-hand what a wonderful community it is. A library branch there only makes it more special.”

The Atlantic Highlands Borough Council last year voted to join the county library as a branch, and the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders confirmed the action in a vote in December.

“We are so pleased that the people of Atlantic Highlands have chosen to expand our long association by becoming a branch of the library,” said Renee B. Swartz, Monmouth County Library Commission chairwoman. “We will always be mindful of the faith you have demonstrated in our institution and honored that you entrusted the operation of the Atlantic Highlands Library to the library commission.”

Beginning May 1, the library at 48 Avenue C will offer new expanded hours:

Mondays, Wednesday and Saturdays – 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tuesdays and Thursdays – 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Fridays – 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

During the past few months, work has been ongoing to make the borough library’s computer system and catalog compatible with the county system. The library is currently located on Avenue C while its new home is under construction as part of the renovations at the borough hall on First Avenue. The renovation project expected to be completed later this year.

The county library headquarters is located in Manalapan. Libraries with branch status in the county system include the Eastern Branch in Shrewsbury, Allentown, Atlantic Highlands, Colts Neck, Hazlet, Holmdel, Howell, Marlboro, Ocean Township, Oceanport, Wall and West Long Branch.


Filed under Atlantic Highlands, budget surplus, Middletown Library, Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders, Monmouth County Library

>Sign The Petition Calling For Term Limits For Members of Monmouth County Boards and Commissions

>A petition in support of establishing term limits for members of Monmouth County’s independent Boards and Commissions as proposed by Freeholder Amy Mallet is making the rounds.

Establishing term limits is an idea long over due, for the life of me I don’t understand how Freeholder Mallett’s colleagues on the Board of Chosen Freeholders can be opposed to implementing them after what has gone on around the County over the past several years.
It shouldn’t matter if board or commission members serve voluntarily or not, no one should sit on a board for nearly 50 years like some will be doing once their current terms expire. It leads to graft, corruption and complacency.

The petition states:

That the recent events at Brookdale Community College, which revealed a disturbing lack of financial oversight, occurred during the tenure of a Chair and Vice Chair of that Board of Trustees who have enjoyed terms of 23 and 16 years, respectively.The fifty-six (56) volunteer members of our county’s seven (7) Boards recommend policy, oversee budgets, make purchasing decisions, become involved with contracting and hiring, and generally oversee the operation of programs and services that spend tens of millions of taxpayer dollars. They are not elected and most residents have little understanding of, or access to, how they carry out their responsibilities. The Board of Freeholders appoints Board members and frequently allows them to serve for decades.

This petition advocates for the rotation of these important Board members. Term limits are set policy for many professional and business boards. Shorter terms promote more objectivity, creativity and accountability while lessening the chances of complacency. Freeholder Amy Mallet has proposed a Resolution to be voted on by her fellow Freeholders that would establish such term limits. By signing this Petition you are expressing your support for this Resolution which limits Board members to terms that do not exceed 10-12 consecutive years. You will also be taking a significant step toward increasing the accountability of these Boards and the likelihood that their members will carry out their duties in the best interests of the citizens of Monmouth County.

To sign the petition click >>> Here

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Filed under Freeholder Amy Mallet, Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders, petition, term limits, volunteer boards and committees

>Letting The "Sunshine" In Monmouth

>By Monmouth County Freeholder Amy Mallet

Common sense tells us that government is more responsive and ethical when its actions are open to public scrutiny. As Supreme Court Justice Brandeis famously said, “Sunlight is the best of disinfectants.” Woodrow Wilson, who appointed Brandeis to the Supreme Court, wrote about the need to shed light on the government. He said, “Light is the only thing that can sweeten our political atmosphere.”

As far back as the 1890s several states were already experimenting with disclosure rules to combat corruption in campaign finance. This is not a new conversation. Modern times change the delivery, but history provides us with perspective, and sometimes even inspiration.

The digital age allows more opportunities to let the sun in than ever before. We are living in unique times where technology creates new, exciting opportunities to widen access between the public and government. New tools such as imaging, scanning, the Internet, mass storage capacity and millions of hand-held devices have the potential to give people better insight into governmental decision-making, budgeting and spending.

This progress allows for two-way communication. For example, through the county Web site, individuals can send an e-mail with concerns or comments on a particular issue. The success of our political system requires that citizens be involved.

Human nature is such that elected officials who see no public interest in their activities are more likely to stray from the core interests of their constituents. At its worst, circumstances where elected officials face an apathetic public provide a breeding ground for corruption and abuse. Citizens need to care about how we govern, understand how government works and be aware of the issues we are addressing. They also need the tools to hold elected officials accountable for their actions.

Since taking office, I have advocated for certain changes geared toward a more transparent, accessible government:

In 2009, the Board of Chosen Freeholders supplemented online meeting agendas with the resolutions that were up for consideration by the board. This allowed the public to see more than just titles of these items.

Also in 2009, Monmouth County embraced social media and developed Facebook and Twitter sites.

In 2010, Monmouth County also began posting its proposed budget online. In the past it was posted only after it had been adopted.

Also in 2010, at my request and at little expense to the taxpayers, our Clerk of the Board moved from an antiquated tape system of recording minutes to digital recording technology. I would like to say this brought us into the 21st century, but it is more accurate to say it brought us out of the 1980s. This simple improvement has now allowed staff to more accurately transcribe the minutes, freed up space that had previously been used to store cassette tapes and gave the freeholders and staff immediate access to the important discussions that take place.
I am proud that as a result of moving to digital recordings of freeholder meetings, full audio of regular and workshop meetings are now available on the county Web site,http://www.visitmonmouth.comThis allows residents who are unable to attend meetings to hear the discussions that took place and stay more engaged in issues that are relevant to their lives.

The benefits of this technology go beyond convenience. We find ourselves in troubled times where citizens and the governments that serve them confront dire financial challenges. Municipal, county and state governments must be held to the highest standards of efficiency and productivity. The best means of reaching that goal is to pull back the curtain. In addition to posting meeting minutes and the budget we should post expenditures and employment and other contracts.

Despite these technological advances, I recommend that residents attend the meetings. They are generally held at the Hall of Records, 1 East Main St. in Freehold, with workshops at 2 p.m. and regular meetings at 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Thursday of each month. There are exceptions when the board takes the meetings on the road. A full and detailed schedule of meetings, as well as a wealth of other information, can be found on the county Web site.

Moving forward in this fashion would be a marked departure from the way many of our local public bodies have approached accessibility. But as technology advances excuses for failing to make this type of information available will evaporate.

Public officials need to be imaginative and efficient in organizing and making these documents available to the public. They should be encouraged in the knowledge that their efforts to promote government transparency fulfill the intent of those who founded our great country and ensures that the power entrusted to elected officials will not be abused.


Filed under Facebook, Freeholder Amy Mallet, Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders, New Jersey, sunshine laws, transparency, Twitter