Bergen County Freeholder Chairman David Ganz held up a stack of 200 phony $1 million bills that he said represents what the county will save by the board’s official decision yesterday to fold the county police into the county sheriff’s office.
“This money belongs to the taxpayer,” Ganz said, before tossing the funny money into the crowd of attendees in Hackensack.
County Administrator Edward Trawinski, in turn, said it was a fitting metaphor for illusory savings.
Freeholder Maura DeNicola, the lone member of the board to oppose the ordinance in a 5-1 vote, said it will only end up costing taxpayers in the end — for legal fees from court battles over the merger, consolidation or whatever the move is ultimately called.
Trawinski said County Executive Kathleen Donovan will veto the ordinance.
The freeholders intend to override the veto, after which Donovan ( above, left ) has pledged to take her fight to a local judge. Whichever side loses that ruling could be expected to appeal to the state’s Appellate Division. The loser in that case would then go to the state Supreme Court.
In order words: This is going to take awhile.
Trawinski said the vote shouldn’t have been held, in light of a restraining order that Donovan obtained last week that temporarily stopped the freeholders from giving themselves power to reorganize government until a judge could decide in two weeks whether they have that authority.
Freeholder Counsel Edward Florio, in turn, said the county’s legislative branch was “legislating.”
As expected, Ganz was joined by fellow Democrats Joan Voss and Tracy Zur ( above, bottom ), as well as Republicans John Felice and John Mitchell. Democrat Freeholder Steve Tanelli couldn’t make it but sent a letter of support for the majority.
Members of the union for Bergen County police officers opposed the move, saying it was political.
Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino ( above, middle ) has backed the measure, saying it will eliminate duplication and make the county-run end of policing Bergen more efficient and effective.
Amid the ongoing battle, the Bergen County Police Department and Donovan had a video produced extolling the benefits of the department.
In the video, Donovan says Bergen County police are “better than anybody else.”
The nearly 5-minute video — produced by a Washington, D.C.-based company called “Web’s Edge,” in conjunction with the International Association of Chiefs of Police — features clips of the county police department’s various units in action. It also has interviews with County Police Chief Brian Higgins and new Bergen Community College President Kaye Walter, among others.
The Bergen County Police Department provides “one-stop shopping” of services for local police departments, Higgins ( above, right ) says in the video. That includes a bomb squad, SWAT team, K9 unit, water recovery squad and other teams.
To view the video, click the link BCPD video . Then use the password: websedge .
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