Board Members Resign in Protest
Monmouth County Freeholders Lillian Burry and Gary Rich are facing criticism after appointing their former campaign manager to a second county job for which he has no apparent credentials or experience. Two members of the Board of Mental Health and Addiction Services resigned in protest over the appointment. Monmouth is currently facing an epidemic of heroin abuse, and the Board of Mental Health and Addiction Services is the lead agency in coordinating the response.
William “Bill” Bucco, 2011 Campaign Manager for incumbent Monmouth County Freeholders Lillian Burry and Gary Rich, was appointed Monmouth County Deputy Director of Mental Health and Addiction Services. Bucco, who was appointed to the position by Freeholders Burry and Rich, holds a degree in International Business and lists no prior job experience in the Mental Health or Addiction Services fields.
In December 2011, Bucco received his first patronage appointment to the position of Monmouth County adjuster. His new appointment as Deputy Director is in addition to his current job.
Monmouth County is currently facing an “epidemic” of heroin use, according to Monmouth County Acting Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni, with 69 or more heroin overdoses each of the last 3 years.
“Mr. Bucco has zero experience and absolutely no educational background in either mental illness or drug abuse. This is clearly a political appointment” said Larry Luttrell, local attorney and candidate for Freeholder. “Treating mental illness and drug abuse requires a deep understanding which can only be attained through specialized schooling and experience.”
“This is one more example of using taxpayer money to take care of their friends and cronies”, added Freeholder Candidate Joe Grillo. “Addiction is a serious problem-but Rich and Burry don’t care. To them, addiction services is just another way to funnel money to their political friends.”
At a Monmouth County Freeholder meeting on June 6th, 2014, Republican Freeholder John Curley stated that he received resignation letters from two members of the Monmouth County Board of Mental Health and Addiction Services – Ronald Pavalo and James Wallace. Below is a transcript of Pavalo’s letter that was read aloud by Freeholder John Curley:
“I strongly oppose the appointment (of Bill Bucco). Clearly this person is under qualified to serve in this position. After 30 years of experience with this great board, 26 years as a division employee, it saddens me to see political favoritism imposed on your office, your staff, and our mission
to serve the residents of Monmouth County. I would be remised if I failed to mention that the Freeholders reduced this county’s addiction services budget by 37% over the past 4 years. Alcohol and drug addiction, abuse, and misuse in Monmouth County is real. A 30% reduction of support can only suggest that this is not a priority in 2014.”
The Election for Monmouth County Freeholder will be held on Tuesday, November 4th.