[OPINION] Runnells Specialized Hospital: The Democrat Freeholder Money Pit

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Marc A. Krauss

Marc A. Krauss

by Marc A. Krauss

The Union County Improvement Authority released a Request For Proposal on September 25 for the privatization of Runnells Specialized Hospital in Berkeley Heights. The irony or hypocrisy, depending on your view, of this goes back before last week.

In August, Charlotte DeFilippo, former UCIA Executive Director resigns in disgrace after serving 13 years. DeFilippo was also the Union County Democrat Committee chairwoman who worked both positions from her home in Hillside. She was given permission to work from home by the All Democrat Board of Freeholders. Apparently, none of the freeholders thought this might be a little unethical or lack integrity. In April, Tom Neff, chairman of the state Local Finance Board, attacked DeFilippo, calling her $160,000 annual salary to oversee a staff of two people “unconscionable” and “disgusting.”

While DeFillipo was the Executive Director of the UCIA, Freeholder Daniel Sullivan was the Executive Director of the Union County Utilities Authority receiving roughly a $130,000 annual salary.

A little over two weeks ago, Freeholder Sullivan resigns from the Board of Freeholders to become Interim Director of the UCIA, the very same position his former party boss just resigned in disgrace from and he will continue serve as the Executive Director of the UCUA. He apparently has been conducting a study of merging the two agencies. Motivations unknown.

So as his first official act as the Interim Executive Director of the UCIA, Sullivan puts out an RFP for the privatization of Runnells Specialized Hospital.

Now go back to the 2010 Freeholder debates where the candidates were asked, What are the candidates’ plans for the future of Runnells? Should the county continue to operate the hospital, or should privatization be considered? This question was asked because Runnells was already operating at a loss.

Republican candidate Ellen Dickson and now Mayor of Summit stated in reference to Runnells, “I do not support selling the hospital, I think it needs to be examined.”

Democrat Freeholder Sullivan fired back at Dickson, “Don’t be misled by what you’re hearing here tonight. When you hear, ‘We’re going to examine this, we’re going to look at it,’ they have a plan to get rid of it.” Now Sullivan, as the new UCIA Director, is moving forward with getting rid of it. Not looking at examining it back then cost Union County tax payers millions. According to the RFP, in 2012 the hospital operated at $22.8 million dollar deficit. That was just one years’ worth.

In that very same debate in 2010, Freeholder Kowlaski responded “a few years ago, Runnells was not in such good shape financially.” No kidding? Then went on to say, “this Democratic team, we have made sure Runnells is self-sustaining economically and is moving very solidly in the future,” and her fellow Freeholder Linda Carter echoed the same sentiments, “Runnells is a self-sustaining hospital.”

This wasn’t true in 2010 in and it certainly isn’t true today, but it cost Union County tax payers nearly $100 million dollars waiting for the “this Democrat team” of Carter, Kowalski and Sullivan to figure it out. Essentially, the Democrats turned Runnells into a money pit.
You no longer can vote Sullivan out, but you can vote Democrats Carter and Kowalski out. Isn’t time to stop letting the All-Democrat Board of Freeholders waste your money. This isn’t about party loyalty, it’s about your wallet.

Thank you for your support and remember to vote for Krauss, Martini, and Geiger on November 5th.

Krauss is a Republican running for a seat on the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders.

 


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