Next Bergen Grassroots Activity: County Freeholder Candidate Forum – Tuesday October 24 at 7:15 in the Teaneck Library Auditorium – for the November 7 general election.
4 Candidates bid for election to 2 seats on this important 7-Member County Board. It sets budgets and legislates for Bergen County. All citizen rights and need need protection first at the local level. And the local level is where your ability to shape government priorities and performance is greatest !
Do even 1% of County Voters Know what the 4 Candidates for the 2 Freeholder seats stand for? – how could they unless they participate in or attend/watch the BGR Forum?
What can we do/are we doing in Bergen County during this extraordinarily unsettled period of federal decision to assure adherence to constitutional ideals and protections for all County residents. As we move toward the end of 2017, it is clear that local/county/state governments must step up and take the steps necessary to protect individual resident rights, provide efficient well-delivered services and safeguard the well-being of the most vulnerable among us. What can you do? How can BGR help?
- You: First and Foremost – Vote, Vote Locally, Be Informed Before You Vote. BGR: Provide a well-organized County candidate forum for the November 2017 election – click here
- BGR in its research and in a series of small meetings is encouraging a dialogue with both the senior management of existing media organizations and with diverse media veterans who are exploring new ways to create or expand avenues (from news print media to internet innovations) that help the public know and understand what our local government officials (county and municipal) are doing as they evaluate, assign priority and implement public policy. We are very concerned that NJMG is – in both its waning attention to local developments and its termination of so many local community newsprint media outlets – leaving Bergen County and particularly its local communities with increinasingly inadequate media communication. BGR has explicitly expressed its concern to the most senior people at the new Gannett NJMG.
- You – Nominate to us between October 15 and November 8 – a name (s) of the person who should receive the 2017 Byron Baer Award – i.e. who has done the most to promote transparency in Bergen county and/or municipal governance. BGR will in December 2017 name the 6th annual 2017 Byron Baer Awardee for Excellence in Public Service and make the award on Byron Baer Award night
- BGR repeatedly – both in “public input” at Freeholder meetings and in a series of meetings with County personnel – is pressing the County to take the needed steps to achieve simultaneous broadcast/internet transmission of County Freeholder meetings – of their budget hearings, their Wednesday afternoon work sessions and the evening formal meetings. The Freeholder Board member response has been positive. The Board knows it needs to reach a broader public so that Bergen residents know/see what the Board does. The County is getting closer – with the help particularly of the expertise of BGR trustee George Bumiller. But as of October 15, we are not there yet! It may happen on October 18! Can you help? Yes – drop a note to one or several Freeholders (click here for email addresses and tell one/them getting meetings broadcast is important to you and your neighbors!)
- Know your half billion dollar ($) County budget BGR reps are typically the only non-County employees tracking/attending the Freeholders’extensive budget work sessions during the month of April. Generally the County appears to recognize that it will – likely in 2018 – have to pick up or replace key programs that protect County residents that the federal government appears poised to leave behind. The best summary of the County budget introduced by the Freeholders is the one by Record reporter Steve Janoski click here The County budget that was actually introduced on April 26 by the Freeholders was about $1M less than what the County Executive had proposed and may be found at click here In 2017, BGR pressed for – and got for the first time – internet release on the County website of the County Executive’s proposed annual budget You Watch this space for news of Freeholder budget meetings and plan to attend at least those meetings where the work of the particular departments about which you are most interested will be presented (drop an email to us now – [email protected] – asking us to directly inform you when/where the County Executive ‘s budget is available and the schedule of Freeholder budget meetings.
- Continuing crises about transparency and access to pre-meeting public information You If you have not heard/read the speech made n January 1916 by Byron Baer awardee, recent Bergen County Assignment Judge Peter Doyne, do take time watch/listen. Put simply, Judge Doyne focused on very tough choices about access to information about law enforcement actions and about providing adequate pre-meeting information about agenda items to be addressed at public entity meetings. The issues he raised continue to work their way through the courts and through the state legislature. Doyne’s speech sparked an important followup discussion among a distinguished panel that night – Click here for both the Speech and the panel discussion. BGR is continuing in 2017 to track developments on both of the issues Doyne raised.
- Public School Funding Formula: NJ has long struggled with how state support of public education funding – and the formulas used to distribute it – should be set. The state constitution’s requirement that the state provide “thorough and efficient” education for the state’s children has for 4+ decades convulsed all three NJ state government branches – with each decision having widely diverse impacts on our state’s many school districts. The Governor’s recent proposal that state aid be based on a specific state support $ number for every child have only sharpened the debate. BGR is evaluating how best to provide the public with a forum that explores how to to implement the constitutional & the legal & moral imperative to educate all children well. In the meantime, see the history of how this issue has vexed all three branches of state government and frustrated local school boards: http://www.state.nj.us/education/archive/abbotts/chrono/
Bergen Grassroots, Inc. is a non-partisan, non-profit corporation, with a unique mission: to assure the integrity and transparency of all Bergen County public institutions and evaluate how well they protect the most vulnerable among us. BGR leaders attend almost every County Freeholder meeting. We track and report County decisions and we host forums and/or enable awareness of all county electoral candidates and selected municipal elections.
How do I get to the Teaneck Library AUDITORIUM?
BGR’s 2016 Initiative in Search of Municipal Best Practices Criteria focused on Transparency continues. BGR’s is engaged in an effort to rate Bergen County’s 70 municipalities in terms of governmental performance. If you have not already done so, please take the survey online and “grade” your town’s openness and transparency. To see and take the survey Click here To examine BGR’s earlier work on this issue Click here