She just couldn't go out clean.
No, outgoing and embattled Supervisor Teresa Altemus had to throw a parting snark to Gloucester County as she ends her 16-year tenure on the Board and, presumably, her political career:
Her swan song is an e-mail to political nemesis and fellow Supervisor Louise Theberge, dripping with sarcasm and cc-ed to virtually the entire county, spammed to everyone from state senator to local dog catcher:
"Please allow me to be one of the first to congratulate you on securing the Chairman's position for next year," Altemus writes — which is Altemus-speak for: "A pox on you and your house."
Altemus writes that she understands Theberge has secured the four votes needed to become board chairwoman "and there is no need to contact ALL members of the Board to ask for their support of you as Chair...."
She then concludes in bold type: "open and transparent government ... an interesting concept, wouldn't you agree?"
Now, this reads better — and truer to purpose — if you picture Altemus typing it up around midnight Thursday wearing a wild mop of a black-and-white wig, surrounded by 101 Dalmatians.
And just for kicks, add a final "Bwaaa-haaa-haa."
Yes, it's come to this. The year is drawing down, a new Board of Supervisors is about to be seated, and Altemus — just trounced at the polls by 82 percent of the vote — couldn't make a graceful exit if her dignity depended on it.
Worse — the woman couldn't even manage a silent one.
Theberge, who has managed to maintain some professionalism through it all, grimly summed it up in Friday's paper:
"This is just ridiculous."
Yes, but a fitting conclusion to the painful, two-year slog Altemus has inflicted on the county. Back-door wheeling and dealing, cronyism, a grab at controlling the school budget even as she was suing the School Board, beating down grand jury criminal indictments and a massive recall effort, then – along with three of her supervisor pals – cynically sticking their $343,000 legal bills to county residents, most of whom are just innocent bystanders.
The saga is still ongoing, legal bills still mounting, as Altemus' foursome now sics its pricey legal beagles on the commonwealth's attorney over comments he made after a substitute prosecutor opted not to pursue the indictments, in which he dared to presume publicly that he could have successfully done so.
But back to the midnight e-mail. Altemus' three cronies quickly chimed in, likewise spamming half of Gloucester:
"Really?" huffed Michelle Ressler. "If memory serves me correctly Supervisor Theberge was one of the ones who had such 'heartburn' and was very concerned about the lack of openness and transparency when she accused you of doing the exact same thing in your bid for the chairmanship."
"I thought we had moved past all that," said Robert "Bobby" Crewe.
"Open and transparent government is my hope," said Gregory "Pastorvisor" Woodard. "I have been praying for our county and our BOS for 2 years (literally everyday)."
Woodard is vice chairman this year and also cast his eye on the top chair for 2010. He apparently concurs with a newly elected member who Woodard says believes "progression of the vice chair is the right thing to do."
Woodard didn't believe that last January when supervisor and vice chairman Christian "Buddy" Rilee expected to progress to chairman, and Woodard personally nominated Ressler, instead.
Apparently the right thing is a squishable concept, even if you do pray on it every day.
And Woodard's hope of more openness would seem more sincere if he actually tried it sometime. Instead, he's known to refuse to take constituent questions on hot-button issues, to leave when board meetings adjourn to a testy public comment period because "I'm free to leave," and is the only supervisor who declines to include his home phone number on the board contact list.
With characters like these, the board won't lose all its flavor come January.
Contact Dietrich at 247-7892 or email@example.com.