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Forrester busted in pay-to-play deal

As reported by others, after basing his entire campaign on ending corruption, government waste and pay-to-play, The Philadelphia Inquirer yesterday busted Forrester and his company for wasting taxpayer money through pay-to-play deals:

While running for governor, New Jersey Republican Douglas Forrester has received $3.4 million in business from a Burlington County agency tied to the GOP machine that helped make him the party’s gubernatorial candidate.

Moreover, the government contracts awarded to Forrester’s company were brokered through the son of a powerful South Jersey Republican, State Sen. William L. Gormley, who also played a key role in Forrester’s nomination.

Forrester’s company, BeneCard Services Inc., was chosen by the Burlington County Special Services School District to manage its prescription-benefits program in 2004 and again in 2005. Since 2003, Forrester has contributed nearly $60,000 to county Republican coffers.

The school district selected BeneCard even though other companies offered lower costs for each year, and it renewed the contract this summer despite a 37 percent price increase by BeneCard.

Princeton Packet on Holt visit to Drinking Liberally

(Cross-posted from Princeton’ Drinking Liberally blog)

Holt makes case for Corzine
By: Marjorie Censer, Staff Writer
10/18/2005

Speaks before town-gown Drinking Liberally group

U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (D-12) made his case for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jon Corzine in front of a crowd Thursday at Drinking Liberally, a weekly, progressive event.

 The meeting, held at The Annex on Nassau Street, was the largest yet for the recently formed organization.

 Rep. Holt praised the members of the group for their already active involvement, but said they must do more to ensure Sen. Corzine’s victory in November’s election. He said people initially took for granted that Sen. Corzine would win, but now that his margin over Republican opponent Doug Forrester has narrowed, it’s time to get involved.

 “He won’t win unless we do our part,” Rep. Holt told the crowd of more than 50 people. “I know I don’t need to tell you, because you’re out here, but you need to tell others.”

 Rep. Holt praised Sen. Corzine’s commitment to a grassroots campaign and to his emphasis on involving individuals.

 “If we don’t restore a sense of government by and of the people in the state, a victory on Election Day is pretty empty,” he said. “The reason I’m so excited about Jon Corzine is he gets that.”

 Princeton University students and townspeople alike attended the event. The Princeton Drinking Liberally organization is one chapter of nearly 100 in the national club. It meets weekly at The Annex; its first meeting was Sept. 15.

 State Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Princeton Borough) came to the event to meet with Rep. Holt and the local attendees. He said this was not his first Drinking Liberally event.

 “This is a very important election,” Assemblyman Gusciora said. “It will control the direction of New Jersey the next four years. It’s very encouraging when you see the turnout.”

 Juan Melli, a Princeton University graduate student and one of the chapter’s founders, said he was thrilled with the event. Though the organization typically holds unstructured discussions, he said Rep. Holt did an excellent job of addressing the crowd. Mr. Melli particularly praised his explanation of the campaign.

 “To a lot of people, that was useful,” he said.

 Rep. Holt remained after his brief address to talk with the attendees. During his speech, he asked audience members to talk to their friends and keep them involved.

 “Lapsing into apathy, as too many Americans are doing, will give us the government we deserve,” he said.

Any Bergen County volunteers out there?

Can you confirm or deny this? (from The Inside Edge):

Update: I called the BCDO and they wouldn’t say anything. The person I spoke with gave me the number to Victory 2005. Still no denial or confirmation.

Update 2: In response to an email inquiry, Erin Corcoran, coordinator of the Bergen County Democratic Organization, says that the rumor “is not true at all”.

Update 3: Three sources confirm that Wally Edge’s report is not true. One source was in the BCDO HQ and said that volunteers were making calls that mentioned Jon Corzine.

Taking a dive in Bergen?

Insiders are wondering whether Bergen County Democratic Chairman Joseph Ferriero will seek a measure of revenge on Jon Corzine by keeping his army of field workers on the sidelines between now and Election Day. Corzine, of course, hurt Ferriero dearly by backing Loretta Weinberg’s successful bid to replace Byron Baer in the state Senate. A Bergen source now reports that Democratic volunteers in Bergen are being instructed to make phone calls only on behalf of the two Democtratic candidates for freeholder, incumbents David Ganz and Bernadette McPherson. Corzine’s name has apparently been cut from the script. A Bergen loss is a tough pill to swallow for any statewide candidate. It’s the state’s biggest county and has backed every statewide winner, with one exception– Corzine in ’00, who lost Bergen by 5,000 votes. But there’s a potential risk for Ferriero as well. If a poor Corzine showing topples Ganz and McPherson, the Democratic freeholder majority will shrink from 6-1 to 4-3. And that would position Democrat Valerie Vanieri Huttle, who will finish out the last year of her freeholder term even as prepares to enter the state Assembly, to side with the Republicans on votes crucial to Ferriero, in effect stripping the chairman of control of the board.

How to deal with local Democratic cronyism

Ive recently turned my political attention to the local level and I am quite dismayed with the blatant cronyism apparent therein.  What I find most disturbing is that this is under a Democratic administration.

I live in Rutherford in Bergen County.  Our mayor, also a freeholder, and members of her council, have been known to garner jobs/appointments for family and friends.  For example, during the tenure of one such council member, his brother-in-law landed a job in the police force and his sister as a school nurse.  There are also rumors of an illicit affair involving the mayor, but that is hearsay.  

Some citizens of the town tired of the environment and switched party affiliation to run as Repubs.

Is that the best way to deal with cronyism on the local level?  I have been interested in running in town though I would rather not run on a party ticket with any affiliation to Forrester and Dubya.  Additionally, the Democrats in town are riding on the coattails of Corzine which makes it difficult to criticize one and not the other.

Basically, what is the best way to change the local party from within without indirectly benefiting the Repubs?  There is the Green party, but nobody seems to take them seriously.

Jersey’s Illiberal Democracy

Wikipedia lists the absence of democracy, or so-called illiberal democracy, as a condition that is favorable to the development of political corruption.  Can we make a case that New Jersey is an illiberal democracy?  Let me count the ways.

Technically speaking, an illiberal democracy could be any democracy that is not a liberal democracy. However, the term is almost always used to denote a particularly authoritarian kind of representative democracy, in which the leaders and lawmakers are elected by the people, but tend to be corrupt and often do not respect the law.

Well, New Jersey does have elections, so the people do, indeed, elect the leaders and lawmakers.  Well, at least we elect a Governor that gets to appoint a whole lot of leaders.  So we have the first part covered.  Do our leaders “tend” to be corrupt?

Even those who like Doug don’t really LIKE Doug

I almost feel bad for the guy. It seems like even those who support Forrester only do it grudgingly (Remember Steve Forbes’ “strong” endorsement?). They don’t actually like him or his ideas much. This morning I read the Courier Post’s predictable endorsement of Forrester. I don’t know who I feel worse for – the editorial staff that had to write it, or Forrester. The first thing they say about him:

That’s not to say we support all of Forrester’s ideas. Without question, we hope he edges closer to Corzine’s stances on issues such as the occasional but strictly limited use of eminent domain and the funding of embryonic stem cell research.

Okay…so why DO you support him?…

Montgomery owes Evesham

This was the headline and editorial that appeared in the Saturday, October 15, 2005 edition of the Courier Post  

Former Councilwoman Jamie Montgomery sold her township home in June and allegedly moved out of the county before she resigned her office in September. Recently, she returned her council salary for June through September.

She still owes the township. She not only owes residents a truthful explanation about her residency over the summer, but also for money spent to pay her benefits and pension. It’s not likely to be a lot of money, but no resident should be forced to pay for the kind of shenanigans it appears Montgomery and her council cronies pulled over the summer.

In a lawsuit brought by former council candidate Roger Nogaki, Montgomery didn’t contest that she had moved to West Deptford after she married Sept. 3. But she told her constituency she lived with her mother in the township after selling her Evesham home in June. Records show she had taken a mortgage on the West Deptford home in May.

Montgomery resigned Sept. 19, 10 days after the deadline for holding an election to fill her seat. This would have allowed the GOP-controlled council to appoint someone and prevented Evesham residents from making that choice. A judge agreed with Nogaki this was unfair and a Nov. 8 election is scheduled to decide who should succeed Montgomery.

But this outrageous end-run attempt around Evesham residents isn’t over. Montgomery should either return township funds spent for her benefits and pension or truthfully explain why she deserves to keep taxpayers’ money.

McGreevey a Drag on Corzine?

The Sunday New York Times has an article in the Jersey section about the Governor’s race and how boring it has been so far.  Okay, point taken. The article has plenty of discussion about the big name Democrats and Republicans who have been in the state to campaign for Corzine and Forrester. The crux of the article is the claim that it’s just not clear how the big names are helping (or hurting) the candidates.  But at the conclusion of the article, Jennifer Duffy of the Cook Political Report says that Bush probably hurts Forrester as much as McGreevey hurts Corzine.

What?

First off, like him or not, McGreevey’s public approval rating in NJ is just over 50% the last time I looked.  But GWB’s approval rating nationwide is barely 40% and in NJ it’s lower.  I don’t think that Corzine should be doing public events with McGreevey and he isn’t.  But this race is tight and getting tighter.  The Corzine folks should be linking Forrester with Presdident Bush and Vice President Cheney every minute of the day.

That picture of Forrester and Cheney in the NYT today is a nice start.  Let’s see more of that.

If the party bosses take their ball and go home, progressives must pick up the slack

Wally Edge at The Inside Edge recently posted the following two entries regarding a feud between Jon Corzine and the county chairmen:

Civil War

It might not be enough to cause him to lose, but Jon Corzine seems to have a very real problem among a constituency that largely supported his bid for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination: County Chairmen. Consider this e-mail to PoliticsNJ.com from one of the most powerful Democrats in New Jersey, who asked that his name be withheld: “Big problems out there. The chairs are not moving. The Ferriero thing has created the attitude that Corzine has no memory. It is not about forgiving him. The feeling is that whether he wins or not gives no benefit to the county leaders. Democrats are a party without a candidate. They are in a no win situation. Loretta [Weinberg] has become the poster child for Corzine’ s absence of memory. Even when it started, most pols thought Corzine was doing it with a wink from [Joe] Ferriero. The court cases proved it wasn’t true and now Ferriero is stuck with a state senator he didn’t want, any chairman’s nightmare! Even I was surprised that Tom Moran got [John] Currie and [Phil] Thigpen on the record in the Auditor.”