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6/17/2020 - Freeholder Board Censures Surrency

Cumberland County, NJ (June 17, 2020) The Cumberland County Board of Chosen Freeholders took the extraordinary step of censuring Freeholder Jack Surrency at its June 16, 2020 Work Session Agenda meeting in response to a written statement by Surrency posted on Facebook and the online publication Insider NJ. Surrency’s statement accuses County officials of “misappropriating county funds” totaling more than $386,000 to pay for “disinfecting services at the jail in March, April and June.”

The motion for censure was proposed after County Administrator Kim Wood took time at the close of the Freeholder meeting to express her “shock, outrage and sadness” regarding Surrency’s public statements. Wood indicated that the COVID-19 disinfection related expenditure was authorized by two resolutions approved by the Freeholder Board. Wood pointed out that Freeholder Surrency seconded the motion to approve a resolution to authorize extraordinary expenditures for COVID-19 related expenses and voted in favor of a second resolution authorizing the payment of the very same disinfecting service invoices he publicly described as unauthorized. Wood stated that the invoices included the cost to disinfect all County facilities including three disinfection treatments at the County Jail in contrast to Surrency’s statements that the expenditures related exclusively to the County Jail. Wood stated that Surrency failed to contact her office prior to publishing what she described as the “defamatory” accusation, indicating that a “simple phone” call would have clarified any confusion he may have had over the cost of disinfection services. At the conclusion of her remarks, County Administrator Wood provided Freeholder Surrency with a letter demanding a written public retraction be posted on the Facebook site “Progressive Democrats for Cumberland” and Insider NJ.

After listening to Wood’s remarks, Freeholder Director Joseph Derella expressed his “disappointment” with what he described as “very disheartening” damage to the “working relationship” among the Freeholders and County officials caused by the “complete misinformation” included in Surrency’s public statements. Director Derella indicated that Surrency’s public statements accusing County officials of misappropriating funds were an attack on not only the County Administrator and her staff, but also the members of the Freeholder Board who approved the expenditure for COVID-19 related disinfection of County facilities. Director Derella called upon the Board to take formal action to disapprove of Freeholder Surrency’s misstatements, resulting in a 5-2 vote to censure Surrency for his written public statements regarding public expenditures for disinfection of the County jail. Both Director Derella and Deputy Director Darlene Barber stated that they supported the censure vote “with regret”, they indicated that the symbolic action was necessary to convey their lack of confidence in Freeholder Surrency’s conduct and their disappointment with his public attacks on County Officials with whom he previously had close working relationships. While Freeholder Surrency voted against his censure, he offered no explanation for his public statements regarding the alleged misuse of County funds for disinfection services.


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