Thomas Jefferson said "The strongest bulwark of a democracy is an informed and enlightened citizenry." Government works best when people pay attention and nowhere is attention more needed than at the local level. Over the past several months it has been revealed that Montville Township has a $4.8 million surplus sitting in the Water and Sewer accounts. That is money that has been paid by rate payers in what can only be called money government didn't need and taken out of the pockets of the people for whom they provide a service.
Last month the governing body passed a resolution to purchase land from at least two people who have been politically and potentially economically involved with members of the governing body. Records show that one of the sellers, Bob Gannon, was Jim Sandham's campaign manager and has other interests with Sandham. Sandham pushed very hard at the public hearing to justify the $1.8 million value. They applied and been given a grant from the county for $1.3 million for the purchase of 35 acres of floodway, wet lands and some uplands. An appraisal was done back in 2009 when the application was submitted and approved but it was based on a Montville Township engineer's own estimate of how many houses could be built. It has to be the first time in history that a buyer worked so hard to increase the value for the person they were buying from.
Here is the kicker on this whole sordid affair. Just last year after getting the biggest gift of an appraisal the sellers made a tax appeal and the county tax board reduced a portion of the land down to $600 thousand. Now the sellers are getting paid at a value of $1.8 million barely six months later. Ron Soussa, one of the owners at the time the grant was given has been at various times the Republican Club secretary, amember of the open-space committee, a member of the economic development committee and State Senator Pennachio's landlord. He also hired one of the township committee people as a contractor for another building while this application was progressing. He launched phony websites to get rid of elected officials he couldn't control and it certainly seems he has a much friendlier governing body now but who is really to blame? Last year's general election brought out a whopping 25 percent of the voters. Seventy-five percent sat on their butts and didn't bother. School Elections rarely top 25 percent even though schools take 65 percent of the property tax dollar. This year all the best people will come out because, after all, it is for president.
The Tea Party launched a full out attack on the Towaco Fire Department over $75,000 and the township committee cut their budget. Here we are talking about $ millions in either incompetence or cronyism or worse and how does the public react? Not at all. Not a peep from the Tea Party. Not a peep from Republican Club Officials who apparently condone this behavior so that they can keep power and not a peep from every day citizens.