Though I have been following the escapades of the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders for a number of years, I was totally unaware that a seat on the board came complete with its very own “Bully Pulpit.” Now not to be misunderstood — I do believe that there are those public offices, such as the American presidency, or perhaps U.S. Senate which are of a high enough rank as to provide the office holder with an opportunity to speak out and be listened to on any matter, within the parameters of good taste and sportsmanship. However holding the office of freeholder does not automatically award that public official the license to publicly malign and criticize the opposition political party and candidates. Nor is it acceptable to use the public’s time to extol the self-perceived virtues of one’s own party candidates. But this is exactly what happened during the last Union County Freeholder meeting when sitting Freeholder Dan Sullivan engaged in blatant electioneering which has absolutely no place in a forum that is intended to carry out the “public’s business” — to govern the county.
The Freeholder showed extremely bad taste as well as a total lack of consideration for those county employees in attendance that may or may not be of the same political persuasion as he. It could be said he did the same to those attending members of the public who would not ever consider approaching the podium and making part of the public record a personal critique of the opposition party candidates or their performance in an outside election debate. Further, he went on to publicly belittle the GOP county chairman, who is not a county employee or on any public payroll, by name. The public should be reminded that this freeholder’s own party chairwoman is indeed a county employee. She holds sway over millions of dollars of public monies being awarded to the very companies who heavily contribute to the county political party that she chairs. The arrangement surely begs to be submitted to the smell test.
Mr. Sullivan used his position to beat-up on four guys who did not level personal attacks against him or anyone affiliated with him or the county administration as part of a public meeting — four guys who were not even in attendance at the meeting, and four guys who were not able to make defending themselves part of the public record. He frequently used the words “embarrassed for them.” Well, I was embarrassed for him as his words and body language could certainly be considered those of a “backyard bully” who picks on people who are not able to defend themselves. Frankly I was embarrassed for my own poor judgment as I thought he had much more class than to behave in this manner. I would urge county residents to OPRA a copy of the meeting tape when it is available and decide for themselves weather the freeholder was carrying on the business of the people or his own.