Opinion: Who is calling the shots?

By PHIL GUERRIERI SR.

In 2007 and 2008, a group of citizens, myself included, asked Mayor Bernie Platt and Council President Steven Polansky to adopt local laws to make the process for awarding no-bid professional service government contracts more transparent and to end the corrupting practice of “pay to play” contracting. Platt and Polansky said they didn’t agree with that need and refused to act.

After the Cherry Hill Reform Committee twice collected enough signatures to force such laws on the ballot, Platt and Polansky flip-flopped. They then advocated passage of public contracting reform laws. They decided to have the Town Council enact the reforms rather than have the public vote them in on a ballot.

Platt and Polansky touted themselves as political reformers who have made Cherry Hill “one of the most transparent” communities in New Jersey. With much fanfare and self congratulation, their intentions were announced and heavily advertised to the public.

Now in the wake of a whistle blower lawsuit, a federal corruption indictment, and one or more corruption indictments “on the way,” Cherry Hill citizens are left with these questions to ponder. How pervasive is the pay to play culture, the “wink and nod” acceptance of questionable or illegal bid actions in township government? Are Council members involved in the “look the other way” mentality? Is there any supervision or oversight pertaining to expenses when managers attend conventions?

Are there any guidelines/procedures that dictate appropriate and inappropriate actions for employees who deal with vendors and professionals doing business with the township? When was the last time Township employees had training about state law, or a course in ethics?

Who is calling the shots?

Phil Guerrieri Sr. is the vice chair of the Cherry Hill Republican Organization.