Saturday, December 31, 2005


Courier-Post newspaper publishes a human interest story about Mayor Metzner.

...She has gained popularity in the community, a status reflected in the turnout of nearly 200 people in August at a bipartisan dinner honoring her.

"She is one of the most remarkable people I have ever met," said dinner organizer Gordon Sunkett, Winslow's recreation director. " "Honorable' is the best word to describe her."

Sunkett, a Democrat and former president of the Camden school board, added: "No one will outwork her. Her compassion and her respect transcends all parties . . . and I'm living proof."

Women carried the day for GOP

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Courier-Post Staff

They didn't set out to be mayors and they didn't become Republicans until politics demanded that these previously unaffiliated women choose a party.

Today, Winslow Mayor Sue Ann Metzner, 58, and her counterpart in Waterford, Lorie Toussaint, 55, stand as an improbable pair.

Both are the elected leaders of their Lower Camden County communities, where registered Democrats collectively outnumber Republicans, 2-1. They won by relying on smarts, populist themes and voters willing to buck the powerful Camden County Democratic Party.

"I seem to always choose the more difficult road, rather than the easier road," Metzner said, reflecting on her choice to become a Republican in 1985. "It was . . . just choosing to side with the underdog at that point."

Neither mayor was running in last month's elections. But voters endorsed the approach of Metzner and her three GOP colleagues on the Winslow Township Committee by ousting an incumbent Democrat, Barry M. Wright. With a 5-4 majority the Republicans will take control Jan. 6.

Voters re-elected two GOP incumbents to the Waterford Township Committee, although they reduced the Republicans' 5-0 margin by one seat. While Metzner is popularly elected, Toussaint, who was first elected to Waterford's governing body in 2001, was chosen by her colleagues as mayor in 2003 when the GOP took control. Toussaint was re-elected mayor in 2004 and 2005. Her tenure is expected to end at reorganization Jan. 7 when she plans to support Republican Committeeman Tony Clark, a former mayor, for the post.

The GOP's successes have come despite the Democrats' record of winning elections nearly everywhere in the county. Beating the dominant party may be challenging, but it does happen at the local level in New Jersey, said political science professor David Rebovich. Character counts

"When people look at local government, they're not looking at party affiliation or ideology. They're looking at the character of their local officials and the quality of services they receive," said Rebovich, managing director of the Rider University Institute for New Jersey Politics. "I guess we could throw in tax rates as a third factor. And if it happens to be that Republican office-holders are satisfying local voters, then so be it. People will cross party lines."

Toussaint spent most of her childhood in South Philadelphia before her dad bought what became the New Atco Diner in 1965 and moved his family to Waterford. She graduated from Edgewood Regional High School, now Winslow Township High School, and eventually took over the family restaurant, which would become her base of operations in future political battles.

Toussaint didn't have electoral aspirations until 1997, when she learned about the township's move to mandate connections to a planned expansion of the public water system. The next year she registered as a Republican and ran for office.

"The people saw that she really, really cared about what happenend, that nobody could afford it on (a) fixed income," said her friend Lorraine Evans. "Those whose properties did not warrant hooking up and had perfectly good wells . . . shouldn't be forced to do something they couldn't afford."

Evans, a Berlin Borough resident and registered independent, owns The Barn Door on the White Horse Pike. The custom-shed business was threatened by the township's Pinehurst plan to take the property and others by eminent domain to spur commercial development. Crazy woman

Fighting the water ordinance, the repeal of which she led in 2002, and successfully fighting the eminent-domain plan, raised her profile. But it still took Toussaint four tries to get elected and another year to unseat the Democratic majority.

"The Democrats used to portray me as this crazy woman, out of control," she said. "I was persistent. I never gave up. I believe we were on the right side of the people."

"Lorie is unique as a mayor, as a politician, as a person. The thing about her success, if you could say any one thing, would be that she cares. She really, truly cares," Evans said.

While Democrats have long held a registration edge in Winslow, township voters have a history of electing Republicans, including 19 consecutive years of GOP mayors.

Metzner, who grew up in rural New York state, began attending township meetings in the early 1980s to inquire about development problems in the new subdivision where she lived, which was still under construction.

After her only sibling, Michael, died, in 1985 at age 34, "I really had a whole void that I needed to fill in my life." She attempted to get immersed "in something outside of myself." Growth years

Metzner registered with the GOP, in part because her husband, Edwin, had always been a staunch Republican. She lost a race for township committee in 1987 before winning in 1988. She first won the mayor's office in 1995 after retiring as an executive in a financial consulting firm.

"We were growing . . . and I kind of felt that we needed to have, and deserved to have, a mayor who was really committed to our town and to our residents and willing to put in the time. Because those growth years, just like (with) your children, are the most important years," she said.

Metzner, who is legally blind because of macular degeneration, was re-elected to four-year terms in 1999 and 2003. She has gained popularity in the community, a status reflected in the turnout of nearly 200 people in August at a bipartisan dinner honoring her.

"She is one of the most remarkable people I have ever met," said dinner organizer Gordon Sunkett, Winslow's recreation director. " "Honorable' is the best word to describe her."

Sunkett, a Democrat and former president of the Camden school board, added: "No one will outwork her. Her compassion and her respect transcends all parties . . . and I'm living proof."

Staff writer Alan Guenther contributed to this article. Reach Erik Schwartz at (856) 486-2904 or

Talk about this and more on the Courier-Post forums!

Monday, December 26, 2005


Below is a reprint of a Courier-Post story originally published on December 26, 2005.

Judge's assist in question

Monday, December 26, 2005

Courier-Post Staff

Barry M. Wright's re-election strategy required the assistance of a dear friend, a judge, who may have broken a rule to supply it.

If so, that wouldn't be the first instance of possible misconduct linked to Wright's campaigning via golf cart.

A Democratic member of the Winslow Township Committee, Wright canvassed for votes by driving a golf cart on township streets, a practice the retired police officer has defended but is against the law, according to state officials.

His helpful friend is lawyer Michael A. Diamond, the Democrat-appointed municipal court judge in Winslow. Diamond also serves in three other Camden County towns.

Wright, seeking voters' support for an ultimately unsuccessful campaign, used Diamond's utility trailer in October to tow the golf cart to different neighborhoods in his ward, according to township police records and photographs taken of Wright by a Republican activist.

If he provided the trailer for Wright, Diamond may have violated the state Code of Judicial Conduct, which prohibits judges from making "a contribution to a political . . . candidate."

Allegations of rule violations by judges are investigated by the state Supreme Court's Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct. The nine-member panel includes two retired state Supreme Court justices, four lawyers and three members of the public. The committee can recommend penalties up to and including removal from the bench.

Diamond, 51, of Winslow, declined to comment.

Wright's campaign didn't report the assistance to the state Election Law Enforcement Commission in its filing last month.

Jeffrey M. Brindle, ELEC's deputy director, could not comment on a specific case. He said the loan of equipment to a candidate or campaign must be disclosed.

"That would have to be reported as an in-kind contribution," he said. "The philosophy is to add sunlight to the process, so the public has the ability to see who is . . . providing contributions to candidates . . . That is in the public interest."

The maximum penalty for a first-time ELEC violation is $6,000.

Neither Wright nor Maryann A. Frye -- the Democrats' campaign treasurer, who signed the ELEC report -- returned calls to discuss the matter.

Diamond serves as the municipal court judge in Voorhees, Chesilhurst and Hi-Nella. He made a combined $103,600 for his work as the judge in those three communities last year, records show. Diamond also has a busy law practice based in an office off Route 73 in Winslow.

Township resident Jeffery Adams, 47, said he might be willing to give Diamond the benefit of the doubt in this case.

"If he didn't do anything immoral or unethical -- judges are people just like me and you -- and if it was in a friendly form, I'm OK with it," said Adams, owner of a mortgage brokerage and a title company.

The cost to rent a trailer such as Diamond's -- $60 a day at one local firm -- wouldn't have much burdened the Winslow Democrats' campaign account. The campaign, which saw its two other incumbents win and a challenger lose, reported spending $22,000 on the November election and a balance remaining of $63,400.

With Wright's loss to Republican Nick LoSasso, the GOP will gain a 5-4 majority at the township committee's reorganization meeting Jan. 6.

Reach Erik Schwartz at (856) 486-2904 or
UNofficially Winslow Notes:
Courier-Post Newspaper is available on-line. You can review the last seven days of newspapers for free.

And who owns the golf cart?

(Click anywhere on the photographs to enlarge.)

Click here for UNofficially Winslow's report of Wright and his golf cart. Includes audio clips of several Committee members including Wright claiming his golf cart is exempt from registration and insurance requirements. Wright tells the Mayor he will provide a copy of his exemption. UNofficially Winslow requested a copy, from the Winslow Clerk's Office, using an Open Public Records application. A copy of the Winslow Police response to the records request is also posted here.

Click here for the October 24, 2005 Courier-Post story regarding Wright and his golf cart.

Click here for the Courier-Post Editorial Board's October 30, 2005 opinion about Barry Wright and his golf cart.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


During the December 20, 2005 Mayor and Township Committee meeting, Committeewoman Lawrence questioned the $453. one time expense of a Santa suit. Holcomb supports Lawrence's question.

this is an audio post - click to play(0:38)

UNofficially Winslow did take note that Lawrence and Holcomb did not attend the annual Winslow Township tree lighting and festivities on December 2, 2005. Hundreds and Hundreds of residents attended the event where the children were able to have their picture taken with Santa.

Committeeman Cooper:

"...So let me get this straight. Your questioning the four hundred and some dollars for a suit for one Chris Cringle, and your not allowing questioning of thousands of dollars ($616,000.) being paid to Churchill Associates. Is that what I am to undertand? (Silence in the room) I would like an answer on that".

Lawrence Mumbles:

"You can understand what you want to understand".

Committeeman Cooper:

"For the record, someone is questioning $453. for a costume, and yet by a 5-4 majority we can not question or even look at thousands of dollars ($616,000.) in payments to Churchill Associates. Does that sound right by anyone? Am I hearing that right?"

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UNofficially Winslow understands that Santa did make several appearances in Winslow Township with the suit in question. In effort to return to the season's holiday spirit, UNofficially Winslow provides this link to a (Click here) December 22, 2005 Courier-Post story.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

COURIER POST: Outgoing Winslow Democrats award contracts to contributor

UNofficially Winslow notes:

The Courier-Post article below notes quotes from the official audio recording of the Winslow Township meeting. UNofficially Winslow has previously posted audio clips from the same meeting. While the audio clips are still available on this website, right below the Courier-Post story, the audio is from UNofficially Winslow's own sources and not the so called official recording. The UNofficial version was recorded live at the same meeting.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Courier-Post Staff

On Election Night, the Winslow Democrats doused their sorrows with $1,900 worth of drinks and dinner at Filomena's in Berlin Township after losing a single race that will swing control of Winslow's government to the Republicans.

Municipal engineer Robert L. Churchill paid the bill, the latest in a series of checks he or his firm has written to the township Democrats, totaling more than $93,000 since 2003, records show.

Two weeks later, the departing Democratic majority on the Winslow Township Committee awarded him four contracts worth $616,000 in the face of vehement opposition from the Republicans. The township has paid Churchill's firm $2.1 million this year and $1.9 million last year, records show.

Deputy Mayor Barbara Holcomb, the Democratic leader, defended the awards, citing critical infrastructure needs.

"To delay them in my mind is criminal," Holcomb said at a Nov. 22 Township Committee meeting. "To delay them to the first of the year for other appointments for other engineers to have to come in and do reviews and get brought up to speed and take time . . . that would be irresponsible for us."

Holcomb did not return calls Monday; her comments were transcribed from the official audio recording of the meeting.

The new work, on sewer projects and a park, would not take place until 2006, when the township engineer won't be Churchill, according to Mayor Sue Ann Metzner, leader of the incoming GOP majority.

Metzner questioned the legality of using bond money to pay for sewer projects different from those originally intended without securing the Township Committee's approval for a bond amendment. A bond amendment requires six votes out of nine.

"Yet we were denied the ability . . . to get advice from the bond counsel before they took this action," she said in an interview. "I think that's unconscionable."

In a series of party-line 5-4 votes, the Democrats turned back the Republicans' efforts to delay the contracts. The resolutions passed by the same votes. Holcomb later requested an opinion from bond counsel on the sewer projects.

During the Township Committee meeting, Committeeman Al Cooper called the awards to a campaign contributor "the elephant in the room . . . The four projects are political paybacks," he said, according to the audio recording.

Holcomb, who is vice chairwoman of the Camden County Democratic Committee, disputed that allegation: "I do take offense to that . . . elephant remark. I sat here . . . back in 1996 and there was a change in majority, and I saw so much stuff get rammed through that it was ridiculous, and I said that was something I would never do. And now here we are . . ."

"Doing it," Cooper interjected.

Holcomb listed "an abundance of contracts that we could have come here tonight to try to . . . put through. But what's before you tonight is something that's been in every engineering report for the last couple of years."

She cited a recent sewer break that cost Winslow some $500,000 to repair and called the new work "critical to the operation of our sewer system."

Resident Janet Polhill, 39, said she supported the Democrats in elections and on this issue. "If they did it, it must be OK," she said.

Reach Erik Schwartz at (856) 486-2904 or

Friday, December 02, 2005


We all know that the best way to save taxpayers money is to place every possible Township contract out for competitive bidding. Sadly, this has not been the way the rogue majority Democrats have chosen to run our Township.
The articles below describe how the no-bid process worked for Commerce Bank and the Winslow/Camden County political machine. This is just one example among many of how such deals hit us all in the pocketbook.
The Commerce Bank articles below happen to be one of the more blatant examples of no-bid contracts. This case resulted in national publicity in newspapers from New England to Florida. We try our best to promote our Township and create favorable publicity. Unfortunately, widespread publicity such as this does significant damage to those efforts. Not only are taxpayers' monies being squandered directly, they are also paying indirectly for the loss of home value associated with a negative township reputation.

Please click here to review the Courier-Post articles concerning Winslow Township and Commerce Bank.

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