Saturday, October 20, 2007

Monmouth County: Home of the boondoggle project

In Monmouth County, the public discourse about tax money has become something that has turned vicious. Monmouth County is a place where corruption has hidden behind the pleasantries of so many stale chicken dinners, and where well-tailored politicians have concentrated far more on their hair than on saving taxpayers' money.

In Monmouth, it is enough to be from the right social circle to get a fat no-bid contract, and where the lowest bidder is rarely chosen. This is why taxation has grown to the degree it has; and why seniors and business people have to vote with their feet. Between boondoggle projects (often embarked upon only for the purpose of generating professional fees for partisan attorneys) and everyday pilfering of the coffers, this county is a study in economic dysfunction.

The Asbury Park Press has done some incredibly brave work, in its Club Monmouth and other series, which has put a dent in the infrastructure of partisan crookedness. Without this work, Monmouth would still be an open sewer of corruption. Yet, the core of the corruption remains, which are the influential politico professionals who occupy the positions of paid (town and county) professionals/elected officials/party leaders, very often all at the same time.

Perhaps the worst thing that can be done to these people is to speak about them in public, in print or Online, which is what myself and some others have done. Is there retaliation for this? Yes.

If there is an epicenter for county corruption, it is my opinion that Middletown is directly at the heart of it. Where many communities are trying to fight the tide of taxation, this place finds new and more expensive municipal projects to build. Very often, the multi-million-dollar projects constructed in that town do not earn back the revenue that is invested into them by taxpayers (through the Township Committee) and leaves the question of why they were ever built begging to be asked. Sometimes the answer is community related, and sometimes it's not.

More than occasionally, the best way to answer why a project is being built is to examine who is being paid for the project itself. The purpose to community projects should be the end (the building, the park, the roadway). To believe that a project, and the money it takes to see it through, is the end itself is counter-intuitive. Why would any governing body seek to build a useless building? The most obvious answer is usually the best one, in my book. The answer is: The Money.

This practice has just gotten far too out of hand and the tipping point has arrived. It has become too expensive for the average taxpayer to afford routine corruption. Monmouth can do better, and so can Middletown. "Quality of life" is always brought up, but it is reasonable that if any governing body or government is given an endless blank check there is no end to things that could be built -- adding to "quality of life."

In my opinion, Monmouth County has received the leadership it has voted for in the past, because it's been more preoccupied with the way politicians have part their hair and less about the way they have delivered government in this county.

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