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The Political Stooges Of South Jersey Show

John Reynolds |

Avatar-Three_StoogesI attended my first Gloucester Township Board of Education meeting last month for the "public hearing" of the new budget.  I wanted to get involved in the political process with my fellow residents to iron out the budget with the board. One thing I couldn't understand was why the taxes were going up 5.4% with the millions coming in from the Red Lights Cameras and the $20 million dollars worth of solar panels plastered around town that didn't cost us anything and were supposed to save us money.
A couple of residents complained about the lack of transparency because the board didn't publish the details of the budget on-line prior to the meeting; followed by the superintendent countering that the board followed the state guidelines concerning transparency; with a digression into printing the budget if they could figure out how the software works; and questions about the board 's legal obligations involving transparency that went unanswered – while the board 's legal expert sat there staring at the wall instead of offering any legal opinions on the issue –  then after 20 minutes of back and forth wrangling between residents and the board, someone notified the board that they did in fact publish the budget in the Courier Post on the previous Thursday.
I got bored and started looking around: the head of the local NJEA was sitting across from me looking at her notes, making sure the board didn't pull a fast one with the union health insurance contract, and a school administrator was there, answering questions concerning textbook procurement and expounding on the latest learning theories. I glanced at the board sitting up front and recognized a couple of people connected to the local political machine who knew as much about the education business as I did, nothing.
Finally, the transparency issue was settled and the board unanimously rubber-stamped the budget, with the exception of the politically unconnected new guy sitting at the end of the table. I wasted 50 minutes of my time watching a bad rerun of the political process in this town when I could have been home watching The Real Housewives of New Jersey

The board added a bit of last-minute drama to the proceedings when they notified the public that after scouring the budget for waste and fraud, they found a way to cut out .5% of the original proposal,  dropping the increase from 5.4% to 4.9%, thus lightening the blow to the tax payer. The crowd in attendance burst into applause, giving the board a 5 minute standing ovation. A couple of residents tried to hoist the superintendent on their shoulders and parade him around the room, but extra security was brought in from the Gloucester Township Police Department awards ceremony going on down the street to calm the residents down. 

As usual, I was unprepared and decided to show up for the meeting on the way home from work at the last minute. After sitting down, I noticed people were studying papers which I learned later were handouts outlining the new budget. After the meeting I glanced at someone's handout and it looked like the biggest item contributing to the tax increase was Health Insurance ...

And those hand-picked stooges on the Board of Education voted to use Connor Strong Norcross for their health insurance – the most expensive Pay-To-Stinking-Play option out there – without shopping around for a more "affordable" insurance in order to save the taxpayers a few bucks.

I graduated from Gloucester Catholic in '72 and live in Gloucester Township. If I offended anyone, feel free to unload on me at my blog