Author Archive: ReverandFiat

Cronyism isn’t only Rapant on the Federal Level, Check your Backyard

According to documents from the Harrison Township town council, Assembly Candidate and Harrison Mayor Phil Rhudy is sacrificing the citizens of his town for nepotism and campaign contributions.  Take this press release from the Dems in District 3.  

“SPRAWL CZAR” RHUDY LETS FOX GUARD THE HENHOUSE ON PLANNING BOARD

Major Campaign Contributor Given Seat on Board; Rhudy Gives Job To Wife That Puts Him on the Sideline

Tonight is another Planning Board meeting in Harrison Township. And like every other planning board meeting since Phil Rhudy became mayor of Harrison Township, Phil Rhudy will not be there to protect the interests of his constituents. Although it is typical for mayors to serve on the planning board of their town, Harrison Township is different.  That’s because Mayor Rhudy has chosen to give his wife the job of planning board secretary and therefore render himself unable to serve and make critical policy decisions when it comes to growth management in his town.

But it wasn’t enough to stop at one huge conflict of interest when it comes to the planning board. Rhudy created a second conflict of interest when he appointed Robert Pacilli, owner of RJP Builders to the planning board. Not only does this mean that Rhudy is beholden to developers, it also shows that cronyism is at play at the expense of the citizens of Harrison.

Suzanne Holst Rhudy is one of the most highly-paid planning board secretaries in New Jersey, making $32,000 a year (the maximum salary allowed by Harrison law) plus benefits, including dental coverage.  On three separate occasions, the citizens of Harrison Township have paid for dental work for Mrs. Rhudy. They have also paid her travel expenses to attend several seminars.

“Mr. Rhudy does his constituents a disservice when he chooses not to serve on the planning board,” said Russ Oster. “Harrison Township residents are clearly concerned about the sprawl that is infesting their community. Unfortunately Rhudy has sent a clear message that he puts nepotism and the interests of his campaign contributors before those of the people who he was elected to serve.”

Robert Pacilli serves on the planning board as Phil Rhudy’s appointment.  Widely regarded as the largest builder in Harrison, Pacilli recently made headlines for suing Woolwich Township to fight their open space plan.  Pacilli is owner and operator of RJP Homes and has donated thousands of dollars to the Rhudy and Zee campaign and hosted an elaborate June fund raiser for Rhudy and Zee. Attending that fundraiser was a who’s who of developers in Gloucester County.

In fact, besides the $3,000 in contributions from Doug Forrester that are currently the subject of an Attorney General’s investigation, and the $6,000 that came from the Harrison Township Republican Club, which is also under investigation for failure to file campaign finance reports, nearly all the rest of Rhudy’s campaign funds come from those looking to add to the sprawl of Harrison Township.

Clearly they have already gotten their money’s worth from Mayor Rhudy. The number of houses built in Harrison during Rhudy’s time on the Town council has skyrocketed. Anyone spending their commute home crawling along Route 322 can attest to the devastating impact that the “sprawl czar” Phil Rhudy has had on the infrastructure of Harrison Township.

But perhaps none have gotten more from their investment in the Rhudy campaign than Mr. Pacilli. In exchange for the fund raising support, Pacilli now gets to set the growth policy for Harrison Township. Given Mr. Pacilli’s dislike for smart growth laws and open space planning, residents of Harrison should brace themselves for more traffic and more sprawl.

“This is a classic case of putting the fox in the henhouse,” said Senator Steve Sweeney.  â€œI’m fighting everyday to preserve open space and farmland in Gloucester County and to provide a sound strategy for smart growth. That’s why it is so disheartening to see Phil Rhudy shirk his responsibilities. I need partners in Trenton who will stand with me on these issues, not with developers.”

So two questions remain. The first to Phil Rhudy:

What is the price of a seat on the Harrison Planning Board? If you are willing to sell out to the highest bidder in Harrison, what is for sale when you go to Trenton?

The second question is to the Sierra Club:

This is the person you have entrusted to support your interests in Trenton? The man who sells his seat on the planning board to the biggest developer in his town?

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