Wednesday, March 01, 2006


UNofficially Winslow Responds to the front page Courier-Post story regarding Holcomb and UNofficially Winslow.


The article below appeared on the front page of the 2/17/06 Courier-Post, In many ways it just adds to a story all too familiar to the residents and employees of Winslow Township.

Barbara Holcomb, as the political leader of our Township Committee, had virtually run Winslow Township government since 1998. Under our system of Township government, all decisions of consequence are made by those who hold the majority on the Committee. During her reign as majority leader Holcomb had ruled the Township and its employees with an iron hand, creating an atmosphere of fear and forced loyalty.

Those of you who have attended our Township Committee meetings are fully aware of the bullying, browbeating and chaos she and her group create at these meetings. They have been an embarrassment to all who reside in our community.

The scandals, the huge political contributions from pay-to-play contractors, and the treatment of Township employees has been talked about throughout South Jersey and in some instances reported in newspapers as far away as Florida. Through it all, Holcomb and her group never altered their arrogant, self-serving ways.

Holcomb first attained power in Winslow through her association with the powerful Camden County Democrat Party where she holds the lofty position of Vice Chair. Through this group, which now controls most of South Jersey politics, Holcomb has access to almost unlimited funding, county political "volunteers" and other political weapons to keep her in power.

Despite these advantages and despite the fact that her party in Winslow has three times as many registered voters as her opponents, Holcomb's activities had so alienated the residents of our Township that she not only lost her bid for mayor in 2004, but followed that by losing the majority of the Township Committee in 2005.

Now, out of power, and held in low regard by so many of our residents, Holcomb and her crowd have been reduced to sniping and muttering at Committee meetings, as their only way to continue inflicting their venom on our Township. Harmless, but still shameful.

It is in this light that Barbara Holcomb has launched her latest attempt to silence this blog and strike fear into the Township employees. By filing under the OPRA act to gain access to the e-mails of all Township employees, she reminds those employees that the day may come when she returns to power. Not only does this inhibit the exchange of all types of information about our Township, it also helps assure that Township employees will be extremely reluctant to share information which could shed light on the activities of her years in power. It is a sad thing when the Freedom of Information Act which was intended to shed light and information is perverted into a tool of secrecy and coercion.

UNofficially Winslow believes that this time Holcomb's heavy handed methods have gone too far. For the good of the residents of our Township and the political organization she represents, it is time for Holcomb to resign.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Courier-Post Staff

The watched has become the watchdog.

Long a target of scrutiny, criticism and outright ridicule on the blog of a local Republican activist, Democratic Township Committeewoman Barbara Holcomb wants to know what, if anything, municipal employees are telling the activist, Paul S. Kaplan.

Holcomb filed a public-records request for copies of all e-mails between Kaplan and Winslow workers using government computers since September 2004, including those sent to or from the address for the blog, UNofficially Winslow.

On the blog, Kaplan often fixates on Holcomb, who is the vice chairwoman of the powerful Camden County Democratic Party and a confidential aide in the administration of the county juvenile detention center. Kaplan is a member of the township planning board who often serves as the driver for his friend, GOP Mayor Sue Ann Metzner, who is legally blind.

Blog entries have titles like "State Law is Not Good Enough for Holcomb," "Was Holcomb Trying to Mislead the Public?" and "Did Holcomb Mean to Insult Germans?" Most include links to audio of public meetings.

In an interview, Kaplan said the e-mails likely to turn up will be either correspondence between himself and township officials regarding his own numerous public-records requests, or messages promoting his blog sent to a handful of employees, among others.

Holcomb's inquiry, he said, "doesn't really bother me at all. Do I care that she applied for it? Do I have something to hide with those e-mails? Absolutely not. I don't care what she does with those e-mails."

He added: "There's no behind-the-scenes secrecy."

Holcomb didn't return calls for comment and it's unclear what she suspects about Kaplan and the people with whom he corresponds. But the request represents a new tactic for the leader of the Democrats who, after November's election, are now the minority party on the township committee.

"I think this is an effort to intimidate employees," Metzner, a political rival of Holcomb's, said. "This is just an underhanded way of making people feel as though they are being watched."

The request, made under the state's Open Public Records Act, also caused a minor headache for township officials gathering such e-mail for the first time.

"It takes time out of the day. It's a little bit of a hassle. I have never gotten one like this before," said Deborah A. Puchakjian, municipal clerk and township records custodian. "A lot of our different departments don't get a lot of requests."

She said the search will cover 13 departments and about 200 e-mail addresses.

"Obviously, I can't check everyone's computer. They have to submit their e-mails to their department heads," Puchakjian said.

Metzner said she turned over one e-mail from Kaplan: an announcement of the first anniversary of UNofficially Winslow.

Reach Erik Schwartz at (856) 486-2904 or

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Holcomb's records request is actually a public document in itself. Please click here to view a copy of the actual public records request submitted by Holcomb.


UNofficially Winslow has obtained information from yet another public records request which will enable UNofficially Winslow to announce by e-mail all new postings to ALL Township employees instead of just a handful.


UNofficially Winslow only publishes information after all proper documentation is obtained through public access. The documentation is then posted with the article on the website. No posting or entry on UNofficially Winslow contains information obtained from any resident, employee, or public official of the Township that cannot be supported with public access documents or recorded media. One exception is the e-mails addressed to UNofficially Winslow, which carry the responsibility from the original author.