NJ's Shadow Government
I've recently discovered a small group called the Union County Watchdog Association, that also has a blog, The County Watchers. As you might surmise, their primary focus is Union County: political activity, financial issues, freeholder shenanigans, etc.
This is a good idea that needs to be duplicated elsewhere in the state. NJ county government is neither transparent nor accountable, and this situation provides ample opportunities for corruption and waste. NJ county government also tends to operate in the shadows, dominated by county party organizations and outside the spotlight usually focused on state or local government activities. For example, what do you really know about the background, powers, and activities of your own county executive or freeholders?
Thanks to the internet, watchdog groups and blogs now have much better tools to monitor county government, accumulate relevant data in easily accessible formats, and communicate their findings to taxpayers, voters, and other interested parties. The internet also makes it possible for an individual or small group to have a large impact.
Whenever I read about proposals for municipal consolidation or regionalization, I shudder to think that my own town or our schools might fall under the control of Bergen County politicians and bureaucrats. If more NJ counties had groups like the UCWA, we would increase the visibility and accountability of such people, and greatly reduce the corruption and waste that constantly plagues our state.