Tag Archive: Charles Mainor

Koch Conspirators

There’s an old Middle Eastern saying, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” I don’t buy into this philosophy, but it does provide a starting point for evaluating that enemy of my enemy.

Today, the Koch Brothers’ organization, Americans for Prosperity, released a 2014 scorecard of New Jersey legislators. AFP has a simplistic philosophy – government and taxes are bad. However, the real world is more nuanced than that, but it’s interesting to see how AFP rated some of our New Jersey legislators.

What’s Happening Today: Fri. 12/27/2013

THE SAD SAGA OF HALFWAY HOUSE MISDEEDS, GOV. CHRISTIE’S EFFORTS TO MINIMIZE THE PROBLEMS & THE LEGISLATURE’S INACTION

Many will remember the NY Times three-part series of articles in June 2012: UNLOCKED: I. As Escapees Stream Out a Penal Business Thrives, II. At a Halfway House Bedlam Reigns, and III. A Volatile Mix Fuels A Murder. Blue Jersey and other news sources wrote extensively about the problems, including Governor Christie’s disinterest in the matter and the legislature’s hearings chaired by Sen. Bob Gordon (D-38) and Assemblyman Charles Mainor (D-31) which promised action but produced nothing.

In the most recent development the NJ Law Journal reports this week, “The family of a woman murdered by a halfway house inmate who absconded after faking a seizure can sue the State contractor who operates the facility, a federal judge in New Jersey has ruled.” The contractor is Community Education Centers (CEC) from whose halfway house David Goodell absconded and hours later murdered a woman. The Journal continues, “The judge on Monday allowed to stand claims that the facilities – mismanaged, understaffed, and plagued by a high rate of escapes and other problems – breached their duty of care to the eventual victim.” Viviana Tulli was the tragically murdered victim.

Viviana Tulli’s sister Stella Tulli-Makowski had opened the Assembly hearing with testimony of heart-felt emotion and listened to Assemblyman Charles Mainor (D-31) say, “When escapes, gang activity, drugs and sexual abuse are widespread and yet Governor Christie opposes improved oversight, something is wrong and terribly unacceptable.” Sadly efforts from Sen. Loretta Weinberg and others were dismissed by Gov. Christie, and no reform bills were past by the Legislature. After hearing the court’s decision this week StellaTulli-Makowsk says, “I am greatly disappointed in the lag time in halfway house reform. To me, I feel like empty promises were made to stave off the public.”

One of the few tangible results has been that Christie’s close friend and political confidante Bill Palatucci, who for years served as a Senior Vice President at CEC, quietly resigned from his post there. Stella Tulli-Makowski  goes on to say, “If people really wanted this reform, it would be happening… not lingering in limbo. What will it take for a real, honest approach of trying to repair this broken and corrupt system?  Another murder? Or will the death of a public official’s loved one finally get the ball rolling?… Please, don’t talk about it….be about it.”

Naughty or Nice?: U.S. Senators Robert Menendez (sponsor) and Cory Booker (co-sponsor) along with 32 other co-sponsors are taking heat for introducing Senate Bill S1881: Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013. Ten Senate committee chairs are circulating a joint letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, urging him to reject then effort by Menendez to tighten sanctions on Iran and warning that his bill could disrupt ongoing nuclear negotiations.” Press Secretary Jay Carney said, “The president would veto it.”  Nonetheless, as the NY Times points out, the bill would only “impose new sanctions on Iran if it failed to conclude a nuclear agreement, or stick to the terms of its interim deal, with the United States and other major powers.” The bill permits a 180-day wait – and – see period before imposing further sanctions. If you like the bill join the company of other sponsors including Sens. Chuck Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Mark Kirk as well as Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz.  Apparently birds of different feathers flock together.

American Hustle (Hollywood style): This funny movie, with excellent actors and great dialogue, has a basis in the infamous Abscam scandal and “some of this [in the movie] actually happened.” It takes place in New Jersey with stereotypes we Jerseyans have learned to love and hate. It brings back memories of past crooks including scam artists, greedy politicians, and devious federal agents. Perhaps it also reminds us that such folks are still with us. However, let’s not take the Jersey angle too seriously. It’s just a movie. What it portrays is universal and as a story it is a damn good one.  

One year later AFTER Assembly hearing for Halfway House reform

promoted by Rosi

Today marks the one year anniversary of my testimony at the Assembly hearing for the Halfway house system in NJ and I’m still awaiting to see how this saga unfolds.  

If you recall- my beloved younger sister, Viviana Tulli was strangled by David Goodell , a CEC escapee ,on our mother’s 60th birthday on August 30, 2010.

I have read with interest all published articles seeing what is being done in the name of reform and I still wait for an outcome.  

Yes, I do understand this all takes time, but how much longer? Are the powers that be at CEC waiting me out?? Come on guys, you can do better than that.  As you can see- I’m not giving up that easily.

I have been blessed with the outpouring of support and guidance by so many, including your very own Rosi and Bill Orr.

I have requested appointment to the Halfway House task force- or whatever it will be called- to ensure reform does happen.  Who better to be on that task force than myself?? I have a very personal interest in this and will not give up.

I have made contact with several legislators for help in suggesting my appointment- hoping I can make a difference in some way.

I’m an everyday person TRYING to turn my sister’s horrible murder into a positive triumph for  us.  Not an easy feat.  

I recall my testimony last year- and become emotional- emotional as I was that day. My voice cracking, my attempt to hold back my tears as I spoke- all while heavily pregnant.

This rollercoaster ride that began almost 3 years ago has not been a fun ride.  There have been great ups and horrible lows, with some twists and turns for flair.

How can I right such a huge wrong on behalf of so many entities.  Yes, I will admit David killed her.  David, one month ago in court did ADMIT to faking a seizure and gave graphic  detail on “grabbing her by the neck and strangling her.”  When asked if his intent was to kill Vivi- he responded “yes.”

So, rehabilitation for a violent offender at a halfway house facility? Please, show me.

Due to my filed lawsuit against CEC, I can’t speak much about it- in case it hurts us.  What a crock.

 

#NJAssembly Gun Safety Vote Scheduled for Thursday

Gun proliferation advocates are like mosquitoes on a damp summer day. No matter where you turn, they show up. They outnumbered the gun safety advocates at the governor’s task force meeting in Camden earlier this month. Their shouts at the Senate Majority Leader and Committee Chair at the Assembly’s St. Valentine’s Day hearings were palpable. Now, they’re preparing to make their voices heard in the Assembly chamber as that body is set to vote on gun safety legislation on Thursday. Among the bills to be considered is one that prohibit sale of guns to individuals on the terrorist watch list. Incredibly, no Republican on the Law and Public Safety Committee voted for that bill. Other common-sense legislation includes limitations on magazine size and armor-piercing ammunition.

No doubt, the NRA weapons-industrial complex is planning to bus in hundreds of the same boisterous advocates to the Thursday voting session. Hopefully, those who support gun safety laws will not be a silent majority. There’s at least one group that is busing folks from North Jersey to attend the session. Whether or not you can be there, be sure your Assembly members (and sadly, there are Democrats who are in the clutches of the NRA) know how important it is to strengthen New Jersey’s gun safety laws. There was a good turnout at the Jersey City rally on a cold January day (photo). Let’s repeat that and make sure our lawmakers know their constituents demand gun safety.  

Some Thoughts on Yesterday’s Gun Safety Hearings

Yesterday, the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee held seven hours of hearings on 20 bills aimed at improving gun safety in New Jersey. This morning, GOP Assemblyman John Amodeo was quoted on the New Jersey Republicans’ Facebook page:

“One more gun death is too many,” Amodeo, R-Atlantic, said. “We need stronger penalties against those who repeatedly put other people’s lives in danger to stop them before another tragedy occurs.”

Well, actually that did not happen. The quote is accurate except I substituted “gun death” for “drunk driving.” Amodeo and his colleagues are touting legislation they introduced to increase drunk driving penalties. And I applaud their action.

No Republican voted for stronger gun safety standards yesterday. You see, the gun lobby is much stronger than the drunk driving lobby.

The arguments that the gun lovers used yesterday translate well into the realm of drunk driving.

“Let’s just enforce the existing drunk driving laws. That will get drunk drivers off the street.”

“If someone is driving drunk, they are already a criminal. So more laws will just detrimentally impact law-abiding citizens.”

Rally for Gun Control in Jersey City

While a rally for sensible gun laws was being held on the National Mall today, a group of about 200 New Jerseyans came to Lincoln Park in Jersey City to rally for similar controls at the state and federal levels. Hosted by Jersey City Major Jeremiah Healy, a slew of Democratic elected officials spoke about how to prevent the next Columbine or Newtown.  While the temperatures were very cold, this did not dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd or the speakers.

Not a single Republican was on the stand. This should not be. Our children’s’ safety and that of ourselves should not be a partisan issue. Just like the Koch Brothers should not be dictating our energy policies, the NRA and their patrons should not be endangering our kids. As with marriage equality, the GOP is simply on the wrong side of history.

Stay tuned to Blue Jersey. Over the next few days, I’ll post some of the comments from the speakers including Congressman Frank Pallone, former Governor Jim Florio, Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, Senators Barbara Buono, Bob Gordon, and Ray Lesniak, and Assembly members Joe Cryan, Angelica Jimenez, Connie Wagner, Charles Mainor, and Jason O’Donnell.



A Sign of Progress in Halfway House Reform

Following legislative halfway house hearings four months ago, Assemblyman Chales Mainor (D-31) Chair, Law & Public Safety Committee, has introduced five new bills. They could have a substantial impact on halfway house operators (particularly the largest, Community Education Centers), inmate security and services, and public safety. Mainor is joined by primary sponsors Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-15), Gilbert Wilson (D-5), Daniel Benson (D-14), Nelson Albano (D-1) and Joseph Cryan (D-20). The text of the bills has not yet been posted, but the brief description of each and my comments in brackets, suggest that key issues are being addressed:

  •  A3502 – Requires DOC to conduct quarterly site visits at residential community release programs. [In the past there have been insufficient monitoring site visits.]

  •  A3503 – Establishes “Task Force To Review Residential Community Release Programs” to review this State’s halfway houses and make recommendations concerning security and inmate services. [A lack of security and inmate services have been a significant problem.]

  •  A3504 – Prohibits pre-trial county inmates charged with first, second, or third degree crimes from being placed in halfway houses. [Placing such inmates in halfway houses, never designed for such prisoners, has been a major cause of violence, escapes, and drugs.]

  •  A3505 – Requires the Division of Purchase and Property to award contracts to halfway houses; sets forth certain contract requirements. [Removes contracting from Department of Corrections, which has mismanaged the awarding and overseeing of operators, and creates needed new standards.]

  •  A3506 – Requires residential community release programs to file certain financial disclosure documents with DOC. [There has been a lack of halfway house financial transparency and incidents of overbilling.]

    These bills and others still need to wend their way through the legislature and may face opposition from Governor Christie who has blocked previous reform efforts. They are a good start.  

  • CEC Investigation: The Dirty Little Secrets of EHCA – Part VIII

    Stella Tulli recounts the events of her sister’s murder by a CEC escapee, and her own painful, frustrating and hear-breaking experiences in this Blue Jersey diary.

    Following Monday’s Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee’s aggressive questioning, particularly of CEC, we learned more about this secretive private organization and the calamitous disarray at its halfway houses. However, Blue Jersey research into CEC’s non-profit arm – Education & Health Centers of America (EHCA) – reveals disturbing new details. EHCA was created to circumvent the law that requires only non-profits can receive halfway house contracts from the Department of Corrections (DOC). We have learned that EHCA reduces transparency, adds unnecessary costs to the halfway house operation, allows selected individuals to receive dual compensation, lets CEC retain profits in EHCA which are nontaxable, offers no firewall between the two firms, and donates to organizations from which it seeks favors for CEC.

    EHCA’s most recent non-profit 990 tax filing provides a wealth of information. In the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011, EHCA received $71,049,271 in revenue from NJ State & local governments. It passed on only $69,038,017 to CEC as a “support service fee,” to run the halfway houses. EHCA kept $2,011,254 (2.8% of EHCA revenue). With EHCA, CEC gained a second entity to divert NJ government funds away from direct CEC services and into separate coffers controlled by CEC.

    What did EHCA do with its $2,011,254? First of all, $664,435, which could have been spent on inmate services, was treated as EHCA retained earnings and added to its fund balance. As an entity designed theoretically as a “pass through” organization to get funds to CEC for program purposes, it became a repository to divert funds and allow John Clancy as Chair of both CEC and EHCA to do as he wished. These retained earnings held by the non-profit EHCA are nontaxable, whereas, if they were retained as profit by the for-profit CEC they would be subject to tax. In effect, EHCA reduces CEC’s taxes.

    Here are some additional uses for the $2,011,254 pocketed by EHCA. John Clancy paid himself $350,000 as Chair of EHCA, claiming to work 30 hours per week for EHCA – an entity which represents only a fraction of CEC’s total activities in 15 states. This salary excludes whatever he received from CEC as its Founder and CEO to which he likely dedicates the majority of his time. In the process he is using a NJ non-profit organization receiving our government funds  to pay for work most likely performed on ventures in other states. The total compensation costs of this “pass through” agency for its officers, directors, trustees and key employees was $581,863. Other salaries were $262,292, and employee benefits and payroll tax were $84,855.  A lot of costs just to pass government funds to CEC.

    Other expenses included legal: $112,332 and accounting: $31,500. With no real difference between the two entities, EHCA added occupancy costs: $60,019, office expenses: $22,073 and other costs for insurance and depreciation.

    During Assembly testimony Dr. Robert Mackey, CEC Senior Vice President, testified about the required “firewall” erected between CEC and EHCA. Nonetheless, Dr. Mackey stated he received part of his salary from EHCA and that his responsibilities span many states.  Assemblyman Joe Cryan (D-20) rightly scoffed at the notion of a “firewall” as Mackey and Clancy work for both organizations. Not mentioned by Dr. Mackey was that Maria Carnevale, as an employee of EHCA with compensation there of $102,600, is also listed in the CEC website as part of the “CEC Management Team” as Assistant to John Clancy, presumably with an additional salary.

    Beyond the fold: more about the fake firewall, donations, the impact of EHCA, and the need for change.

    CEC Investigation: Our Legislators Take Action – Part VII

    After years of groups and individuals raising warning signs about problems in halfway houses, the issue was placed in stark relief in a N Y Times devastating series of articles Unlocked by Sam Dolnick. On Thursday the Senate Legislative Oversight Committee chaired by Bob Gordon (D-37) and vice-chaired by Barbara Buono (D-18) will hold a hearing. On Monday the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee chaired by Charles Mainor (D-31) and vice chaired by Gilbert Wilson (D-5) will hold another hearing. The goals are to understand the problems and bring about solutions.

    The Problems: Past articles in the Blue Jersey CEC Investigation series have highlighted serious improprieties regarding halfway houses – particularly those of Community Education Centers (CEC), which last year received $71 million out of $105 million in government expenses. It is a story of CEC’s Founder John Clancy who used a dubious agreement from a prior Attorney General to set up a shell non-profit company and then through large political contributions, lobbying, PR, a well connected legal VP, and friendship with a U.S. attorney and later governor to create a large corrections corporation. With insufficient monitoring from the Department of Corrections (DOC), this company ran facilities that bred an atmosphere of inmate drugs, escapes, violence, gangs, rapes, and deaths. With unqualified staff, security was compromised, the public at large was placed in danger with unnecessary escapes, and the goal of helping to reduce recidivism was given short shrift.

    Christie confidante and CEC Senior Vice President, William Palatucci aided, abetted and defended CEC. Governor Christie as a lawyer at Dughi and Hewitt, as U.S. Attorney, and later as governor at a minimum praised and enabled the activities of CEC. He failed to implement remedies that other more responsible parties were calling for over the years, and he may have done so willfully and improperly. Now we are at the point where the valid role of halfway houses is being discredited, and the largest company in New Jersey is facing such severe financial problems that the DOC might need to take over at a moment’s notice thousands of inmates lodged annually in CEC facilities. CEC failings are not confined to NJ DOC contracts, but extend to those held by NJ local governments and such states as Texas, Alabama, and Colorado.

    There are numerous solutions. The agreement that allowed CEC to use a non-profit organization as a front, in contravention to established regulations, should be ended for any future contracts and possibly existing contracts. CEC was able to build a monopolistic position, and it is now time to enable legitimate non profits to compete fairly for DOC contracts small and large. The Boxer audit laid out key recommendations for remedies, and it is essential to establish what progress DOC has achieved so far and to assure the recommendations are met. Dangerous inmates should not be lodged in halfway houses. The security and living conditions of inmates need to be improved. Process measures must be established to assure that the goals of reducing recidivism through drug treatment, job readiness, and other skills preparatory to re-entering the general population are being well administered. More qualified staffing is important. Pay-to-play regulations urgently need strengthening. People like Governor Christie should be disabused of the notion that privatization brings huge savings, as previous studies have shown that such savings are scant. Goals should include integrity, safety, and reducing recidivism not an elusive search for savings.

    Below the fold are suggestions for some of the individuals who should testify and what questions legislators might ask the individuals.