My, but the wheels of justice turn slowly. Elaine Rabbitt, former Bergenfield Council Woman indicted for a forgery that nearly changed the course of a State Senate special election in 2005, finally got to face a judge.
I wished I could have been there yesterday, I love good courtroom drama.
For those who need refreshers on how we all got here, I offer up some old Blue Jersey Diaries:
My first diary that mentions the election in question:
It also mentions the political persecution pursued by the BCDO as political payback for voting for Loretta in the election in question. I was thrown off the county line for County Committee simply for VOTING for Loretta. Guess the fake resignation letter trick stopped working when folks got CAUGHT.
My fellow Dems from Tenafly had to actually go to court for a month after their votes were CHALLENGED because we openly supported Loretta in public (gasp!) before the election. The results of that case made Loretta Senator.
Here was the rallying cry and my real start blogging about political corruption in the BCDO:
Foiled in his attempt to get rid of Loretta by forgeries in Bergenfield, and throwing disloyal folks off the line all over Bergen County, Ferriero and Oury attempted to change the bylaws of the BCDO to allow Ferriero’s goons in OTHER districts to vote in Loretta’s district. We staged a protest outside the vote. We stopped THAT ploy in its tracks thanks to the help of Blue Jersey allowing us a place to inform folks.
In fact, here is the diary actually thanking Blue Jersey:
THEN we turned into mutineers because of the blatant attempts by Ferriero to get rid of Senator Weinberg – who you will remember consistently wins 70% of her district in general elections every time and is beloved by Dems and Republicans alike. This next diary explains WHY 50 of us signed a petition asking Loretta to run off the line. We were afraid of a fraudulent election:
Loretta, Valerie and Gordon agree to run off the line with our support:
Around this time, Jimmy Marguiles draws a classic cartoon: Loretta in bed with the covers drawn up looking at a horse’s head on the bed with a tag on it saying it’s from Joe Ferriero. Classic.
Another diary from that time with an Englewood twist:
The Real Bergen Dems form and name themselves REAL as a joking reference to Michael Wildes constant references to who is a real Dem and who isn’t. That’s how we got the name.
In fact, Loretta addresses Michael Wildes, who up to the minute Joe asked him to run against Loretta, was seen as not a Fan of Joe. His ambition just got the best of him. He was still smarting from having Valerie Huttle beat him in the Assembly special election to fill Loretta’s old seat.
The campaign kickoff for the Real Bergen Dems when Loretta, Valerie and Gordon boycotted the BCDO convention was awesome fun. Howard Dean’s brother joined us that nite while I hear, the BCDO convention where Wildes was coronated as Senate candidate was sparsely attended and morose.
Then, because we were being troublemakers before Hillary came to town to campaign, Corzine tried to quell the rebellion – the same day as his terrifying car crash:
But Joe doesn’t cave completely, court challenges fly.
Dairy to recap so far:
Because the Real Bergen Dems team wins column one in a delicious irony, a concession made is to move Loretta to column 2 in return for the BCDO annointed candidates on Wildes team to back out of the race altogether.
Meanwhile the Bergenfield tax assessor gets in hot water and Dennis Oury – Joe Ferriero’s right hand man gets found out for what will ultimately get him convicted:
Following this so far?
Primary Day Dairy.
Loretta, Valerie and Gordon thankfully win again and Tim Driscoll also wins in the Primary, a county committeeman whose signature on a resignation form was forged. He later becomes Mayor.
We then get bolder and start to ask to see the BCDO’s books.
Ferriero then targets the women of the BCDO for being angry at being thrown off the line for supporting Loretta. The women are infuriated at Dennis McNerny for asking them to “take one for the team”.
We demand a convention with all the proper signatures to address our grievances.
They are so used to getting their way, they forget the rest of society frowns on Pay to Play when Dennis Oury wants to sue the state to keep his gravy train going.
We try to stage another protest because of Dennis Oury’s actions to protect BCDO’s corrupt practices:
This is when the Record begins to cover the antics of the BCDO and Joe Ferriero.
They along with Blue Jersey help us get the word out. (Thank you Charlie Stile!) Joe is terrified at the possibility of another insta-protest, now that his actions are getting press and cancels the BCDO meeting out of fear.
His right hand – Lynne Hurwitz is afraid as well. She is Chief of Staff for Bergen County, the Hackensack County Committee Chair, and a powerful force at the BCDO. She is like Joe’s Karl Rove.
Because of what happened in Bergenfield and the case in court today, Loretta begins working to pass The Party Democracy Act which came out of the events so far.
Then, Senator Joe Coniglio gets indicted and later convicted. But there has to be another special election to replace him. Cue the bad actors…
The Bergenfield losers don’t take the Primary as a rejection of their naughty ways and pull a Lieberman by launching a write-in campaign.
The District 38 Dems all fall in line for Joe and he gets his pick. State Senators are REALLY valuable to a Party Boss. They get Senatorial courtesy – like a hold in the US Senate, they can stop appointments in their tracks.
Next, someone gets in Loretta’s Republican opponent’s ear about Loretta’s investigation of the (now found to be absolutely corrupt) Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission, and goes after Loretta for going after corruption. Joe Ferriero just so happens to collect several paychecks from these guys. Who collects a paycheck, benefits AND a consultants fee AT THE SAME TIME?? Joe Ferriero, that’s who.
Loretta then unveils her corruption fighting Clean Up NJ with Valerie and Gordon.
Joe feels the heat and lashes out again at Loretta, to which she responds:
The Senate Debate is fun. The Rebublican challengers are naturally recruited from Bergenfield:
MEANWHILE, miles from Bergenfield, other crazy BCDO antics ensue in Hasbrouck Heights when the Dems strike down anti-Pay To Play laws and promptly appoint Joe Ferriero friend Willie Ortiz:
The Star Ledger now starts carrying the story. Tom Moran dubs us the Merry Band of Reformers:
In Lyndhurst, more questionable activity as Senator Paul Sarlo (friend of Joe) loses his Republican Challenger who was peeking into the Encap affair, to a technicality.
Back to Bergenfield, where Democracy wins out on Inauguration day. Mayor Driscoll – one the victims of the forgeries for Loretta’s election, wins the Mayorship as a Real Bergen Dem and summarily kicks Oury out as Bergenfield Borough Attorney. Yay!
It’s been a few years now, and no action on the forgeries.
Another BCDO sham convention. I think Egypt has fairer elections:
The Real Bergen Dems rally again and throw another great party which Joe Ferriero’s minions do their best to spy on.
Then we announce we are going for the Freeholder seats – for real.
Then Joe gets the bad news. It isn’t just us asking to see his books. It’s the Feds.
The mainstream media FINALLY zero in on the Ferriero, BCDO corruption story and Michael Wildes gets dinged as well for stacking the Englewood Planning Board with campaign donors:
Joe is terrified just a few weeks before the Primary and then breaks the BCDO piggy bank to go after us with everything he’s got when he realizes we were really seriously going for the Freeholder seats.
We put up a candidate for Joe’s seat and he finallly has to actually RUN for his own re-election. To our utter dismay, Congressman Rothman openly supports Joe. Joe wins handily, he isn’t a leper quite yet.
And then, ah yes, the news catches up to Joe and Dennis. More comes out about how Bergenfield suffered even more at the hands of these two.
Christie then indicts Joe. He later wins the Governor’s seat as a Corruption buster with Joe Ferriero as his prize catch.
And Rothman and Corzine back away from Joe when he now appears weak.
We convince the Obama campaign to bypass teh BCDO thanks to Joe’s taint.
Suddenly Joe is losing allies:
Actual BCDO meetings are held on what to do about the Joe problem:
Another recap diary so far:
Meanwhile, the Rod Blogovovich story is making national news and now folks understand what Pay to Play actually is.
Boss Joe finally makes the New York Times:
Meanwhile BCDO antics touch Teaneck – a supposedly NON-Partisan town.
More details emerge about the forgeries in Bergenfield:
Unflattering stories about Joe’s replacement emerge:
Elaine Rabbitt finally becomes a liability and is suspended from a high-paying job in the engineering dept. Hint – she ISN’T an engineer. I find it interesting because engineering firms were the BIGGEST BCDO contributors and no-bid contractors at the same time Bergen County has their own engineering department.
Another recap of Joe Ferriero and Oury who used Bergenfield as their own private piggy bank under the watch of Municpal chair and indicted former Councilwoman Elaine Rabbitt
The BCDO without Joe at the head is still a problem:
Nothing really changes:
Fortunately, there are such things as General Elections where folks OUTSIDE the bubble of the BCDO get to vote. And they threw a mighty wrench into the Machine by voting OUT the usual characters supported by the BCDO:
It took nearly 6 years for justice to FINALLY get around to punishing the folks who forged those signatures in Bergenfield in 2005. We knew justice might never come and so we worked really hard to try to right things ourselves. Thanks to the voters of Bergen County, the Machine is finally broken. This is just the tidying up part.
I know this diary is long, but, like a good prosecutor I hope to demonstrate the consistent and relentless pattern of actions taken by folks like Elaine Rabbitt who did the bidding of Joe Ferriero, to prevent Loretta Weinberg from becoming Senator, and that these kinds of activity didn’t only happen in one town but across Bergen County and even in Non-Partisan towns.
These forgeries were just the tip of the iceberg, folks.
Thankfully, now, Ken Zisa is discredited, Joe Coniglio is convicted, Joe Ferriero was convicted, and Dennis Oury confessed. The BCDO no longer controls the hiring of Bergen County employees and the giving away of patronage jobs. The PSVC machine is also broken. Pay to Play is dying in Bergen County, because the Freeholder Board is no longer in Joe’s hands.
A lot can happen in 6 years, we couldn’t wait for justice to come to us, but now that it has, break out the popcorn folks. I am sure there are a few more courtroom dramas coming down the pike.
Look for more fireworks this year as folks are emboldened to go after the rest of friends of Joe. Elaine Rabbitt was one of them, but there are others, in much much higher positions. Stay tuned…….