"Warren County voters will decide this November whether the freeholder board should expand from three members to five. The current three-member board authorized the public referendum Wednesday. A group of residents had been circulating a nonpartisan petition to get the expansion question on November's ballot.” (Olanoff, Express-Times)
The good bet is that this year in November the voters in the northwest county of Warren will add two new Freeholders to their ranks. Currently, they have three freeholders, and they are the last holdout in the state to have a freeholder board that size. All the current freeholders are Republicans.
Hunterdon County added two more freeholders in 1998. And, quite frankly, I am not sure if it has made any difference with regard to the efficiency in the County workload or the cost of running the government.
However, I am always shocked when those purveyors of smaller and smaller government ---the conservative libertarian Republicans --- actually wish to increase its size. Their reason can be summed up in the words of Hackettstown Councilwoman Nancy Brown who said, “It's not bigger government, it's better representation.”
Yeah! That’s the ticket! When Republicans want bigger government, they just say that it’s ‘better representative government’ that they want. Now, I see. Why wasn’t that clear before?
The truth is, even with just three freeholders, Warren County residents have outstanding representation. Case in point: Hudson County has a population of 608,975, and nine freeholders. That’s 67,663 people per freeholder. Now, Warren County has a population of just 102,437 and the current three freeholders. That’s 34,145 per freeholder. Warren County has fewer residents per freeholder by almost half: So, even with just three freeholders, Warren County residents have better representation than those who live in Hudson.
Another supporter of bigger government in Warren, is Mr. Libertarian Conservative Republican himself, the former Warren County freeholder and current Assemblyman, Mike Doherty. Of course, when it comes to stem cell research, that’s where his desire for bigger government stops. He firmly opposed the New Jersey Stem Cell Research Bond Act, a $450 million bond referendum that will provide financing for stem cell research grants to eligible institutions over a 10-year period. This is even though the people in a completely democratic process will decide this on in November.
The real reason Doherty wants bigger government in Warren: So that the Republicans can meet privately in caucus to discuss county legislation without violating the Sunshine Law. That’s it: Private meetings of Republicans to discuss legislation.
Right now, if two of the three Republican legislators meet to discuss any county issue ---even casually at a political event --- it is possible that they could violate the Sunshine Law.
Doherty told the Express-Times, "Down in Trenton, we caucus before we go in for a vote…[A]nd we cannot do that here in Warren County, and that's a detriment to good government."
So, a “detriment” to good government is the lack of secret meetings of Republicans? Because the Republican freeholders cannot meet privately to discuss county business, Doherty wants bigger government? Is this better government?
Folks in Warren County should have a better reason than that to increase the size and cost of their county government.