Government Transparency, Threats, And Intimidation - In Sussex County

cycle-of-transparency-580x552It is no secret that I use New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act (OPRA) to obtain information from government agencies, school districts, and local and municipal government bodies.  I have written literally hundreds of requests.  Rarely, if ever, is there a problem in getting the information requested.

That is true whether the entity is controlled by Democrats or Republicans.  Occasionally  the request requires additional clarification or specificity, other times the entity will call to ensure I know how much information I am requesting. Once in a while an entity will respond by asking for the additional 21 days they are entitled to, in addition to the 7 days they have, to respond.

I bring all of this up because last February I wrote about a “Vendor’s PAC” in Sussex County called the “Skylands Victory PAC.“  Since that post, the Newark Star-Ledger has written about these types of PAC’s and how they skirt Pay-To-Play laws and hurt taxpayers. Late last night, PolitickerNJ posted an article regarding millions being spent by a “Vendor’s PAC” in Middlesex County.

After my first article, I started getting e-mail from a couple of different individuals in Sussex County about the “Skylands Victory PAC”.  What I was learning was very disturbing, as their actions appeared to be interfering with good government in several municipalities throughout the county, while costing taxpayers an untold amount of money, yet at the same time enriching members of the PAC.

Back to the Open Public Records Act and Sussex County.  Earlier this year, I was intrigued by Sussex County businessman Bader Qarmout’s candidacy for U.S. Senate.  Using OPRA, I was able to get an awful lot of information on Qarmout, his business dealings, and troubles with various State agencies.  His response was to threaten and intimidate me, going so far as to send two thugs to my home.  Regular readers of CNJ know that this thuggery did nothing to stop CNJ’s reporting on the many problems of Bader Qarmout.

Fast forward a few months, and suddenly, others in Sussex County are resorting to threats, harassment, and intimidation as a result of OPRA requests.  I have filed dozens of OPRA requests in municipalities throughout Sussex County as well as with the Freeholder Board.  The requests were filed in an effort to determine just what the “Skylands Victory Pac” does, whether or not it helps or hurts taxpayers, whether or not it is operating by taking advantage of a loophole in our pay-to-play laws.

While some requests have been answered in the manner I have become accustomed to, many have not.  Those requests usually have these same things in common:

1)  They were made to the Township of Vernon

2)  They have not been fulfilled

3)  The correspondence back and forth regarding the OPRA requests are coming from their Township Attorney, Kevin Kelly

Kevin Kelly, who has the professional services contract to provide legal services to Vernon, is also one of the three founding members of the “Skylands Victory PAC.”

It appears to be a clear conflict of interest for Kevin Kelly to be denying and obfuscating the requests for information in Vernon Township.

Vernon Township appears to detest transparency and open government.  The requests that have been filed under OPRA, which, by law, are supposed to remain confidential (subject to an OPRA request) have quickly made their way around the county, including at least one Sussex County Freeholder.  The requests have been used against candidates running for office throughout the county, presumably by friends of PAC members.  How, better yet why, would other private citizens have access to, and know what was on an OPRA request filed with the Township of Vernon?

A Sussex County Freeholder, Rich Zeoli, is also somehow aware of the OPRA requests.  Zeoli, a radio host on WPHT 1210 “The Big Talker”, out of Philadelphia, has sent bizarre e-mails to me in an attempt to intimidate and harass me because of the OPRA requests.

Others that I know, including good friends, in and out of Sussex County, have been contacted in an effort to get me to withdraw my requests and not make any more.  Anonymous people have even taken to a blog site and threatened violence over these OPRA requests.  Apparently open and transparent government is not what Vernon Township wants to give their citizens.  Mayor Marotta seems content to let the Skylands Victory PAC run the township.  The real losers are the taxpayers.

Contrast the way that Vernon Township deals with OPRA requests to the way that Flemington Boro in Hunterdon County is dealing with my friend Joey Novick’s OPRA requests by reading this Newark Star-Ledger story.

What is the “Skylands Victory PAC” trying so hard to protect?  Why is the Township of Vernon openly flouting the Open Public Records Law?  Why is a Sussex County Freeholder contacting anyone about an OPRA request in a municipality?

In the coming days, CNJ will try to answer these questions.

You can follow Rob Eichmann on Twitter:


Tweet This Post!

10 Comments

  1. Sara says:

    You guys are cute. You keep bashing Bader Qarmout. You’re like a dog who returns to it’s vomit. I wish you all would keep your ad hominem attacks to yourself.

  2. R.K. says:

    The Gods of the Copybook Headings

    AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
    I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
    Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

    We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
    That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
    But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
    So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

    We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
    Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
    But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
    That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

    With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
    They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
    They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
    So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

    When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
    They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
    But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “Stick to the Devil you know.”

    On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
    (Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
    Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “The Wages of Sin is Death.”

    In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
    By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
    But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”

    Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
    And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
    That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

    As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
    There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
    That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
    And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

    And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
    When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
    As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
    The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

    If a dog returns to his vomit, does that mean that Bader Qarmout will return to the Democrat Party?

    Is the Democrat Party his vomit?

    You rasied the question you simple assed idiot.

  3. Sara says:

    Answer your own questions, if you’re so smart. Is the Democratic Party his vomit? Was he even a Democrat in the first place? Do you have any proof of this? Your only proof is anything that is written on this biased blog.

  4. Rob Eichmann says:

    Sara you are obviously related to Bader. Voting information is readily available and easy to get. No need to speculate or guess when it comes to that.

  5. Mark D Quick says:

    Skyland pac Just look at who…. supported Victor and who has just moved up the latter….. and now watch the events that are going to unfold with the up coming convention for the soon to be open seat in the 24th district.

  6. Bader and Butthead says:

    Oh no, not another year of Bader!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPKP86P8Fwc

  7. truther says:

    Why did Sara start this up again?

  8. Mark D Quick says:

    Actually I am not sure Bader’s going to get in the Assembly race and if he does I must say…. I am interested and here is my reasoning;

    http://photos.nj.com/star-ledger/2013/02/gun_rights_advocates_rally_in_6.html

  9. truther says:

    Good photo. Nice to see you are starting your boy out early.

  10. Mark D Quick says:

    Thank you,
    Over the past month my son has watched TV and heard people talking about taking away gun rights and limiting clip sizes. At 7 he already understands his Red Rider holds more than 10 rounds… He told me he wants to keep it, knowing I was going to Trenton about this he asked to tag along he wanted to ask somebody why they wanted his bb gun taken away…
    His high light was shaking hands with Sen Doherty and Freeholder Smith……..

    That photo for all it is..
    Best explains why I fight.. and why I am not going away…