Mayor has a bone to pick with the Sentinel

While the Sentinel may try to claim that your reporter fully vetted its article on the DCA report, I beg to differ with you. Your reporter sat in my office talking on my telephone to a state representative responsible for the preparation of the report, and was told that she had a draft copy and not the final report. After that telephone conversation, she never asked me one question as to how this happened, why there were issues in her draft copy that were not in the final report, or, for that matter, much of anything other than small talk. But I guess good journalism is not the foundation of good editorial policy at the Sentinel.

Also, as I said in my previous letter, there were drafts of the report as there are in any audit or consultant’s report. If the borough paid a consultant to review our police department, which in retrospect we probably should have, there would have been many drafts of that consultant’s report circulating. The purpose of these drafts is to seek comment to insure the accuracy of information contained therein. These reports are never intended to be final, thus the word “draft.” Anyone who has had any experience with consultants knows that this is the pattern of development of reports on agencies in both the public and private sector. Therefore, I am surprised that the Sentinel would see that as so extraordinary.

Additionally, for the Sentinel to endorse certain aspects of the report without expecting any supporting evidence is also extraordinary. I would expect a newspaper in a climate where taxes are escalating to demand accountability as to how tax dollars are spent. But I guess the Sentinel wants to keep all of its editorial options open.

If the borough spends more money to provide services, even if there is no evidence that they are needed, and taxes go up, then we can be criticized for raising taxes. But again, if we don’t spend tax dollars because there is no evidence of need, we are accused of not recognizing that we live in a “post 9/11 world.” I guess that is also good journalism.

Finally, there is one area on which we can agree and that is there is a need to reform the DCA auditing process because, as I said before, it is deeply flawed but has the potential to provide much needed advice to communities to operate efficiently, thus saving tax dollars.

Edmund O’Brien

mayor of Metuchen