Author Archive: carolh

Bernie Supporters – Take Heart

Watching other Bernie supporters this week was a bittersweet reminder of how I became a blogger in the first place.  I want to give them all a big hug, wipe the tears from their sweet earnest faces and tell them everything will get better,…
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Westwood Gets a Case of the Willies

On Friday, Former Bergen County Democratic Party Boss Joe Ferriero, finally reports to prison for racketeering. However, a lot of Democrats in the Bergen County Democratic machine are still here. Like Dracula’s Renfield, anxiously awaiting the return of their master,…
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Why Chris Christie Deserves the Nero Award

Cross posted from my blog at Epoch Times  

The Exxon Deal

Like many New Jersey residents, I was appalled to find out that  Gov. Chris Christie’s Administration interfered in the Exxon pollution lawsuit and prevented what would have been an incredible windfall for New Jersey, by cutting a secretive deal that would not even cover the costs of the gigantic cleanup that was at the heart of the $8.9 Billion court case.

So Many Questions

Did the Governor do it to pay back Exxon for donating half a million dollars to the Republican Governors Association which helped Christie, then head of the RGA?

Did he do it to bolster his boast in Iowa a week later that he spent the last five years dismantling the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection?

Did he do it to protect his claim to the Nero Award, an award I just invented for leaders so narcissistic that they basically fiddle while their state burns down financially, or gets poisoned by the Emperor’s friends?

Did he do it because he needs an enemy and if the Pension problem goes away because NJ just got enough of a windfall to pay for that, he won’t have a union to fight to make himself look better than Scott Walker?

Did he do it because of what Naomi Klein dubbed the Shock Doctrine? Would a large award have interfered with Christie bringing NJ to its knees so that we would blame any scapegoat he threw at us – teachers, cops, firefighters, or environmental regulations, and allow him to do anything that he promised would help us, like more tax cuts for donors to his presidential campaign?

Did the Governor, for short term and short-sighted gain only, settle at 3 cents on the dollar because he just wanted to avoid raising taxes so he could brag about that – the very same reason he soaked every commuter traveling across the GWB for tolls rather than raise taxes to fund our empty Transportation Trust Fund?

Did he do it just because it was other people’s money, and like he always orders the most expensive steak or chooses a five star hotel on someone else’s dime, or brings his entire family along when he gets a free trip somewhere on a private jet, or spends $82,000 on snacks at football games, he didn’t care.

Did he do it simply, like when he killed the ARC tunnel after years of planning by others, so he could raid that pile of money to plug holes in the budget? (I can’t help but think Christie, enamored of private jet travel, didn’t mind killing mass transit because East Coast City Dwellers who tend to vote Democrat appear to prefer trains to the pickup trucks of rural Iowa voters.)

Did he look at the short term settlement the same way he views the hard earned pennies saved by NJ state workers who dutifully paid parts of their salaries into the pension system – as a pile of money he can steal for other purposes at the very same time he insults those very same workers whose sweat he is profiting off of by handing over millions of fees to his hedge fund donors?

Did he do it because he loves pollution caused by the energy industry? NJ certainly won’t be able to clean up the mess Exxon left with the paltry settlement that Christie plans to raid for other purposes. After all, he had the law changed to allow said raid and the settlement includes other contaminated sites throughout the state.

Did he do it because offering prime publicly owned real estate like Liberty State Park to private interests can only be done if NJ is short on cash?

Did he do it just to appeal to the Republican base, like he did when turning down Federal matching funds for women’s health care? Or to appeal to his donors?

Or was it all of the above?

I am starting to see a pattern here, and I don’t like it.

More below:

The Ferriero Guilty Verdict: It’s Complicated

This is cross-posted from my blog at Epoch Times

Complicated

[Last week]  when the jury in the racketeering trial of Joe Ferriero emerged from 4 days of deliberations after an eight week trial with a mixed verdict, the jury foreman said it was difficult to follow the complicated case without a paper and pencil. I totally understand. A few years back, when Ferriero was at the height of his power, as a Bergen County Democratic Committee member I had to take to Visio to map out the complicated web of influence that drove the Pay to Play cycle (I first published that chart here on Blue Jersey)  during the eight year reign of the man known as “Boss Joe”. I had a few years to observe it, the jury only had two months.

They did find him guilty of racketeering for hiding his obscenely large percentage (up to 1/3) of the profits for software he convinced elected officials to purchase, while taking unusual steps to hide his financial interests. Although Ferriero faces a maximum sentence of 45 years behind bars, the problem with obtaining a guilty verdict on the other two schemes allowed to be discussed (there were more that the prosecutor did not focus on) had to do with two things, the way the victims perceived their role and testified to it, and the way that corruption in NJ is morphing into the private sector, where private firms are squeezed by greedy politicians. I’ll explain in a little bit.  

Ferriero Trial – Break out the Popcorn

Cross posted at my blog at The Epoch Times.  

Next week the racketeering trial of Joe Ferriero, the former Chairman of the Bergen County Democratic Organization begins. The antics of Mr. Ferriero, who the New York Times portrayed as a modern day Boss Tweed, is the reason I became a political blogger in New Jersey in the first place. Next week, the biggest rock in New Jersey is about to be overturned in front of a jury and the politicians are about to scatter every which way. It will be quite fascinating. I know I will be breaking out the popcorn.

The charges are for racketeering. A nice way of saying Ferriero ran the most affluent county in NJ like Tony Soprano, minus the murder. Everyone had to kiss his ring. Even Hillary Rodham Clinton herself when she was running for President. I remember because I was there as a Bergen County Democratic Committee member and shook hands with her husband at the Hackensack Courthouse steps. Boss Joe was the most powerful Democratic Chairman in the state, even more powerful than Democratic Boss George Norcross of the South, who ascended to power when Christie indicted Ferriero on his way to the Governor’s mansion.

These Bosses are so powerful, even Governors and US Senators are afraid to cross them. But when you make deals with them, stuff happens. Chris Christie elevated Norcross by indicting Ferriero, and then went on to make deals with Norcross, to the utter consternation of the loyal Republican legislators who faithfully refused to overturn a single Christie veto. That courting, and Christie skipping town during their convention last week, is what has caused State Republicans to seriously consider dumping their embarrassing uncle. Christie is drawn to power, and in blue NJ, the guys with power were Ferriero and Norcross. Senator Loretta Weinberg succeeded in weakening Ferriero by exposing his corruption, and Christie took the opportunity to indict Ferriero because the writing was on the wall, and it gave him some corruption busting cred, even if that was only short lived. I expect if Christie announces a run for President it will be during Boss Joe’s trial to get that credibility back.

Bridgegate Update: Meltdown

This is cross-posted at my blog at Epoch Times.

http://www.theepochtimes.com/n…

Ever since I was transfixed listening to what would be called Bridgegate testimony a year ago nearly to the day, the day that Governor Chris Christie deleted texts between himself and his aide Regina Egea, I have been following Bridgegate, live tweeting the hearings, reading everything I could get my hands on, and watching every development on TV. I tuned in today, too.

December 9, 2013, the day of the deleted texts, was the day I first realized Chris Christie’s appointees had a lot of explaining to do.  My first blog about Bridgegate was inspired by the testimony before the Committee on December 9. I actually called it Toll-Gate because it occurred within feet of the toll booth and not on the bridge and had not yet earned the name Bridgegate.

Troubled Waters

The reason I knew Christie’s Port authority appointee and former cheerleader David Wildstein, responsible for implementing the traffic jam, was in deep trouble was because I used to work for the Bergen County Traffic Department as a traffic enumerator where I counted cars at intersections. I conducted real “traffic studies”.  My very first one was on River Road in Edgewater, nearly a stone’s throw down the road from the GWB.  As a Municipal Engineer, I knew instantly what Bill Baroni had described to legislators was pure fiction and what David Wildstein had asked of PA employees was illegal and exactly which laws may have been broken.  The relevant statutes are Title 39, Chapter 4-8c(6) and 4-197.1.

Wildstein probably regrets now that what he thought was a little stunt, affected traffic for 2 Interstate Highways, I-95 and the Palisades Interstate Parkway, 2 Federal Highways, 1 and 9, Three State Highways, 4, 63, and 67, and two county roads, 56, and 505 in addition to the local approaches which handle traffic from Bergen County towns north and south – particularly from the Hudson River developments from Edgewater to Hoboken and Bergen County towns from Fort Lee to Alpine as well as New York State. There are a lot of folks still mad at him, but he probably most regrets he broke the law and may be why he tried so desperately to get immunity.

I am not surprised that there is now talk of possible indictments coming in January. Laws were obviously broken.

The Millennial Vs. The Dinosaur in CD5

Cross Posted from my Blog at The Epoch Times

A Race for the Ages

NJ’s 5th District Congressional race is catching national attention. I think of it as the Millennial vs. the Dinosaur race.  The youth vote may be pivotal here.  32 year old Democrat Roy Cho is challenging Tea Party elder Scott Garrett for what had been a safely Republican seat for many years. The differences in the candidates and their positions could not be more stark.

At Roy Cho’s HQ opening on August 4th, even I was surprised by the turnout. I had attended fundraisers for Congressional candidates in the 5th district for a few years now.  I even hosted a few. I know the district and I know the candidates, but Roy Cho has been by far the most promising according to many of the experienced campaign hands I have talked to recently. Especially the ones I met opening night.

Scott Garrett – The Invisible Man

This time I went as a blogger trying to get a sense of exactly what the chances might be of a challenger finally defeating Congressman Scott Garrett in NJ’s 5th District.  Scott Garrett, the current Congressman in NJ’s 5th was “Tea Party, before there even was a Tea Party” according to Cho. In previous blogs I have dubbed Congressman Scott Garret “The Social Darwinist Against Evolution”, and “Punxatawny Garrett”, because while voting against aid for Katrina victims as well as against aid for Sandy victims (an easy vote for him, because the only town in his district affected by Sandy was Alpine and Sandy struck an Interstate Park, not voters), constituents like me only hear from Garrett once every two years. In fact, we see the famous Groundhog from Pennsylvania more often than the agoraphobic NJ Congressman who emerges from his bunker once every two years.  According to Cho, Garrett’s public office actually has locked doors keeping the public from accessing him.  

I thought it telling that I have been receiving  more Garrett Robocalls than usual. I received an email from Garrett trying to defend his colleagues in what has been dubbed the “Do Nothing Congress” the day after Cho’s successful campaign roll-out where hundreds of Cho’s supporters were packed in the large room and even spilling out the door.

The reason this seemed extremely unusual for a 5th District rollout was the enthusiasm. Many formerly jaded politicos, the kind I could never ever get to a campaign event for a Democrat in the 5th District when I was a committeewoman here think Cho has a real chance. This is definitely new.

Bergen County Dems Bent on Destroying Palisades Risk Losing Environmental and Women’s Votes

This is a pretty angry piece, but the LG tower is worth discussing. Thoughts? Promoted by Rosi.

TonysPic

The Palisades looking southward from the Hudson River in Alpine at the NY/NJ state line.

Thanks to ethically compromised Democrats in Englewood Cliffs who allowed a 143 ft height variance in a 35 foot zone on top of the Palisades, and State Senator Paul Sarlo, who literally rallied defending it, the private sector labor unions have been dragged into  a fight that was completely unnecessary.

For those unfamiliar with the LG Electronics/ Palisades issue here is the New York Times editorial by four former NJ Governors. For over 114 years there has been an active, bi-state, as well as national, patriotic effort to protect the vista that is the Palisades. The Palisades were formed 200 million years ago when the supercontinent of Pangea split apart and what is now the West Coast of Africa separated from what is now the East Coast of North America.  Think of the Palisades  North of the George Washington Bridge as an early baby picture of North America, a view that appears unchanged since Henry Hudson sailed up it, the British scaled it chasing Washington and Thomas Paine into retreat, and as Native Americans viewed it for millennia before that.