Tag Archive: BCDO

“Boss Joe” Ferriero Indicted Again!!!

What follows is an excerpt from a well reported article by Jerry DeMarco in “Cliffview Pilot”… (you can access the rest of the story and a PDF of the actual 75 page indictment there)  


>>>”A federal grand jury today indicted Joseph A. Ferriero, the former chairman of the Bergen County Democratic Organization, on charges of soliciting bribes and extorting payments as part of a racketeering scheme that included various grants, building projects and software contracts, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced this afternoon.

The indictment also charges Ferriero, 56, with conspiring to promote bribery and distribute payoffs, as well as committing mail and wire fraud, among other offenses.

It had been expected for months, sources had told CLIFFVIEW PILOT, and  comes three years after the former power broker left federal court in Newark a free man, thanks to a change in the “theft of honest services” fraud law by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The new indictment includes charges related to the activity that Ferriero was first accused of, while adding a pair of alleged schemes involving a real estate company in Virginia that allegedly paid $1.7 million in an effort to develop land owned by the N.J. Sports & Exposition Authority (NJSEA) in Bergen County. It also accuses Ferriero of accepting bribes through a Nutley-based attorney in exchange a favorable opinion of a software developer and his companies to various public officials in Bergen County.

Fishman accused Ferriero of running the Bergen Democratic organization as a racketeering enterprise, “abusing power for profit.”

Aaron T. Ford, who heads the Newark FBI Field Office called the indictment “another unfortunate example of someone misusing their position in our political system for personal gain. Such conduct tarnishes our political system.”

According to the indictment, Ferriero – who served as BCDO chairman from 1998 until January 2009 – “conducted the BCDO’s affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity involving three schemes: the Governmental Grants Consulting (GGC) kickback scheme, the retail and entertainment project bribery and extortion scheme and the SJC Consulting (SJC) bribery scheme.”<<<

Here is a link to the Bergen Record’s coverage…


My take on this is that it is good news for anyone who cares about justice being done…

The Bergen Machine Grinds to Life


Just like Jason or Freddy in some poorly made horror flick, the remnants of the BCDO are gathering themselves together and trying to reassemble like that molten metal cop in Terminator II. (I’ve seen too many movies – I know – I am mixing up my monsters.) But these folks collecting themselves are not a happy sight for the good guys. In real life – the good guys are the Democrats in Bergen County who want transparent government and actual democracy.

Just in time for the DCBC “convention” on March 5 (now called DCBC because the BCDO brand became too toxic), the arm twisting and fear-mongering have begun. The goal is to have Committee folks who still believe they were elected by the public to represent them by vetting and choosing the best candidates to grace our ballots in the June Primary, wake up on March 5 and think they are in Russia – or North Korea. You know, only having one choice all the way down the ballot. Aforesaid choice being hand-selected by the Ferriero wing of the Bergen County Democratic Organization, which allegedly includes Hackensack Democratic municipal chair Lynn Hurwitz – who was the Bergen County Chief of Staff for the $ 3 million dollar man, former County Executive Dennis McNerney.

According to reports from multiple sources within the Democratic Party, phone calls are allegedly being made and pressure applied to make sure that candidates Monica Honis and Robert Kovic drop out and leave no choice for Freeholder candidates. Honis was a Real Bergen Democrat and Kovic is a Hackensack Attorney who worked in the County Counsel’s office. Neither candidate is a “machine” candidate. Which is why the Ferriero-crats want them out of the running.

The goal is to take back the County government by the Ferriero wing of the Democratic Committee by anointing Jim Tedesco, former Mayor of Paramus, and Christopher Tully, Councilman and protégé of Kevin Clancy of Bergenfield. Lorraine Waldes, School Board President of River Vale is a concession made to the Progressives who support her. However, it is rumored that Hurwitz and her team are trying to make sure that the ONLY names on the ballot on March 5th for Freeholder are these three. Thereby interfering with the rights of the Committee members to have five candidates to choose from.  

Sadly the Democratic Committee of Bergen County appears to be anything but democratic.

The tactic allegedly being used here is fear to try to get folks in line and to prevent two of the non-machine candidates from either appearing on the Convention ballot or getting the votes necessary to win against the Ferriero-crat candidates.  Allegedly, the fear is being directed at the County Committee members of the 38th district with the prospect that their very popular District 38 team will be in danger should, God Forbid, democracy happen and the Committee choose Honis and/or Kovic for Freeholder candidates at the convention.

The DCBC folks forget one important thing. The average voter cares MORE about the Senate and Assembly seats than the Freeholder ones and many voters normally don’t bother voting for freeholders to begin with. The skewed perspective of the Ferriero-crats makes sense if you consider that they had spent $ 3 million on McNerneny’s seat (the County Exec seat gives you patronage power to award high paying jobs) while barely lifting a finger to help Paul Arohnson in the 5th Congressional District. They appear to care ONLY about their Freeholder seats so they can keep their machine in power at the County level and get even with Kathleen Donavan for eliminating the patronage mill. They are apparently willing to say and do anything to convince folks that the very popular LD38 team is in danger. (They’re not). The reason that the LD38 team may be being used as a chip here is because they are popular with Dems who are not Ferriero-crats. Like me, for example. The Ferriero crowd may be hoping to sway folks who have decidedly different views on transparency and democracy than they do, to help get the Machine back into power by scaring Committee members into supporting the machine candidates.

And so right now the Committees in District 38 including Paramus and Bergenfield (old stomping grounds for the ubiquitous Mr. Dennis Oury, former buddy of Joe Ferriero  and his Pay to Play antics) appear to be supporting the machine.  Should these rumors prove true, the folks from these few towns would be attempting to remove the Freeholder choice from the Committee members in the entire county of Bergen. If so, these District 38 Dems should not give in to fear and realize they may be pawns of the Ferriero-crats who would like their anointed candidates to ride on the coat tails of three very popular state legislators. That’s how coattails work, folks.

Palm, meet forehead. Bergen edition.

Being a Democrat in Bergen County isn’t easy.  The spectacular demise of the “party machine” that had a stranglehold on the political offices still has its remnants and ghosts roaming the halls and thoughts of the Democratic Party.  Sure, there was a successful election last year and there very well could be another successful showing this coming November on the County level, but the way that the Congressional race was mishandled is one of a number of things showing that the “new new” Bergen Democratic leadership isn’t really ready for prime time, and that “the other Party is worse” can only get you so far.

Witness the whole “pay-to-play” hand wringing from a few years ago – a “crackdown” that was finally passed once the Bergen Republicans forced the issue to a vote – even a watered down “crackdown” that was ultimately enacted.  In the shadows of this mess that was the biggest symptom of the BCDO’s hubris and implosion comes some frustration at an issue that, if the BCDODCBC was out in front on, could show that they are serious about governing again.

Sadly, that doesn’t appear to be the case as noted in Charlie Stile’s column the other day.

While I am taking great joy in seeing Bergen County Republican Party Chairman Bob Yudin complaining about how the watered down rules have made it hard to get their message out without greasing the palms of those who would do quid-pro-quo favors and how money essentially equals First Amendment rights, I would have hoped for a strong response and distinction from this by Lou Stellato, Chairman of the BCDODCBC.  Even moreso when the County-favored Candidate for Congress, Adam Gussen, is known by many “who know” to at least have some ties to the old-Ferriero guard – it gives a bigger and better opportunity to move forward in a new direction; a direction that is “for the people of Bergen County”.

Stellato, while not landing in the same camp as his Republican Party counterpart, did say that the rules made it “difficult to raise money”, and also wondered if County Law can supersede State law.  Both may be valid points, but as the leader of a Party that he inherited in much disarray, and among questions as to the new direction, vision and goals, there could have been a better choice of words – especially at a time when words are more powerful in terms of becoming campaign issues that can really really help the Party.

The importance and impact of Congressional races

I’ve been meaning to write something of this nature for a while now, and while my thoughts are somewhat general and somewhat specific to my hometown Bergen County, I’ll try to mix in both specific thoughts as well as general views.


The Congressional race is every other year – the only National level race that is so frequent.  The Congressional candidate (or sitting Congressman/Woman) is probably one of the highest profile politicians in the County Democratic Party.  This person has a somewhat direct line and potential influence with the State Democratic Party, the County Democratic Party and in many instances, the US Senators and Executive Branch (not to mention the DCCC or DNC).


When a County Party is in disarray, there is a ripple effect both up and down ballot.  There is an enthusiasm gap that impacts the County races (Freeholder, Clerk, Sheriff, County Executive) and also races from Town Council to School Board – who can become the next Town Councilperson who can become the next Freeholder Candidate who can become the next State Assembly or Senate Candidate or….the next Congressman/woman.  On the other hand, depressed enthusiasm and lower volunteering lead to lower voter turnout and can tip elections on a local, County, State or even the US Senate or Presidential race – if you look at a County that is as large as Bergen for example.


This leads to a stronger (or weaker) bench, directly impact the viability of the next County, Statewide or Congressional race and also indirectly impact these races for the next few cycles at a minimum.  Banking on “the other side being worse” is a short term fix at best and shows no long term vision (case in point:  tell me where there is any platform or agenda on the BCDODCBC website).


Taking this to the example I know so well – let’s take a look at a few things.  The Ferriero-led Party blew up and crashed under the weight of pay-to-play, corruption and a focus on keeping certain Democrats elected at the expense of the good of the County (and State) Party.  There was little focus or support on the Congressional race – even though Bergen is home to the overwhelming majority of Congressional District voters.  The lack of an articulated vision is still lacking from any visible correspondence or as noted above – the County Party web site. 


After the 2008 election, there was no desire to recruit or groom a Congressional Candidate – due to many factors but even in good times (see 2012’s “good times” as an example), this is hardly a focus.  Redistricting played a role, but the “bench” got swept out of office in 2009 and 2010 (which was an unmitigated disaster on the Congressional level).  I’m not sure how this impacted the Town Council races but I don’t believe there were any gains made on the State level to go along with the highly touted “comeback sweep” in the 2011 County elections. 


But I can say this:  even with 2010 being a “wave election”, another 10,000 votes overall or so (or a swing of 5,000) could have turned the Republican clean sweep into either a mixed bag or a near full hold by the Bergen County Democrats.  And while that seems like a lot, this article notes that less than 50% of close to 500,000 eligible voters in the County actually voted in the County races – and the Congressional Candidate received a bit more than half of the votes that were cast for either the County Executive or the Sheriff race.


Tell me that you don’t think that the potential wasn’t there to at least have a much better showing – even with all of the inherent flaws and forces working against Bergen County Democrats?  Certainly, the Congressional race was a lost cause and yes, those totals didn’t include the entire County but really?  The other Congressional race – with an incumbent who had the “highest profile Democrat in the County” status – is now a heated primary with yet again, nobody that stepped up or was groomed from 2010 (redistricting aside as you HAVE to plan for something like this) we now have a similar situation on the Congressional level, where the only candidate to appear on the County ballot is the Deputy Mayor of a town that was just added to the Congressional District. 


What’s more, word is already circulating about Democrats in Sussex and Warren Counties hesitant to back this candidate now.  There is a real chance to regain a couple of the Countywide Freeholder seats in November.  In fact, a strong Congressional candidate and a strong platform for the County Party would have gone a long way towards helping Senator Menendez and President Obama in their re-election efforts.  It would have had a ripple effect on the County and local races, and could build momentum for the next wave of leaders.


But it takes commitment and dedication to ideas and values – not just winning some of the next races in the upcoming election.  That will motivate people to get involved.  And the Congressional race is the lynchpin of all of this – it is the only thing that has such an impact up ticket and down ballot with such consistency.  It is the only race that can bring activists together to help and get involved on a local and national level.


Look at a strong County Party and you’ll likely find good solid Congressional races, incumbents or candidates.  Look at County Parties in disarray and you are likely to see a lack of consideration for fielding consistently strong Congressional candidates. 


All politics is local, but this year’s local officeholders are next year’s potential leaders.


5th CD Reality Check

Hello everyone! Now that I’ve finally come from under the awesome crap that had been thrust upon me by Congressional redistricting, I want to comment on posts made on Blue Jersey regarding the BCDC and Lou Stellato and their efforts to find a strong candidate in the 5th CD.

But first there are some points that everyone has to understand as to how I view things:

1. What has happened in Bergen and how it affects Democrats would be happening to the Republicans if we had a Democratic Governor.  But we don’t. So we’re left with a gigantic mess on our hands.  Also what’s happening in NJ is happening in every state that has had major shifts in population.

2. What’s occurred as a result of redistricting has caused a series of events to take place that one would expect to see only in horror movies.

3. I don’t know how many of you had a disdain for what the BCDC stood for before Stellato, (then known as the BCDO), but mine was out of this world as my town was deeply affected by the bull crap of Ferriero and the damage he caused.  Not to mention that I have a real problem with the unethical behaviors of leaders and had been trying to oust Joe long before I even became a member of his BCDO.  I am a Democrat who is a loose cannon, not a die-hard loyalist to the party and certainly didn’t want Joe at the head because he reminded me of Boss Tweed.

4. After Ferriero left, the then BCDO found out that he really wasn’t such a great leader nor a great fund raiser after all and had left the organization with hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt.

5. Then came Mike Kasparian who didn’t know what to do, and things went from bad to “you have got to kidding me, right?”  During that time, it appeared to me that the then BCDO was in a more confused state then when Mike first came on board.  To me it was “who let the inmates out and how did they get control of the institution?”   So I put my feet up and watched the lunacy, remaining the loose cannon and every now and then taking a cannon ball and throwing it when I felt the need.  I even let my displeasure show over the choice of candidates as they were nothing more than Ferriero puppets and let the powers that be know that I had a hard time endorsing most of them.  The most amusing aspect to all of this- was that I became known as a “TRAITOR” to the Democratic Party all the way down to Washington, DC!  Seriously, that’s what happens when you buck the party line: YOU are labeled a traitor!!!

6. Exit Mike and enter this new guy, Lou Stellato.  By then my reputation within the party was- “Laura Zucker is the biggest thorn in the side of the Bergen County Democrats and the Democratic Party.”  Maybe being labeled a traitor by some of the powers that be had something to do with it, but I was still here and Joe and Mike were gone!

7. My first impression of Lou was, “OK, we have another inmate who has stepped forward and got nominated to be the head of the inmates.”  Seriously that’s how I felt.  So I again put my feet up on my desk to sit back and watch the fun. However, I soon received a call from Lou- something no other Leader of the former BCDO now known as the BCDC had ever done -and an open dialogue occurred between us.

I still have a lot of grievances with the BCDC that I will make known when the time is appropriate- like when I want to drop a “bomb” at a meeting when I think it’s needed.  However, I really need to ask many of you: What in the name of sanity are all of you thinking when you attack Stellato about candidate selection in the 5th CD?

Good God, people, have you all lost your mind?  Look, the reality is that this has been one major screw up after another having nothing, NOTHING, to do with Stellato or the BCDC.

This has been a comedy of errors from the beginning, starting with Connie Wagner.  You couldn’t write a movie about this and think it would be believed because it’s just too ridiculous!

In my opinion, Wagner didn’t fit the profile of what we need in a candidate.  Whoopee, she’s a liberal, so big whoop! She didn’t stand a chance in a district with republican leanings like the new fifth.  Exit Wagner Stage Left who probably figured out the same thing. Then there was Harry Carson, who was running, and Jim McQueeny who was interested but didn’t want to run against Carson.  Then we had Terry Duffy, who didn’t want to run against Carson or McQueeny if they ran.  Then we have Adam Gussen and James Castle who are the young kids on the block, who just wanted to file for the Congressional run regardless of who else was running.

So someone tell me exactly where is Lou Stellato actually responsible for Carson’s brother dying and after a lot of soul searching, deciding to drop out, leaving McQueeny who announces he’s going to run, causing Duffy to withhold filing his papers (which one has to ask “what the hey?  Why would he do that?” But hey I didn’t write this screen play); thereby leaving Stellato with McQueeny, Gussen and Castle.

Then McQueeny all but gets the nails screwed into him by business complications and he has to withdraw leaving- OMG!  Gussen and Castle (the latter, who isn’t even in the Convention at this time).

You can’t make this stuff up! And all of this is Stellato’s fault?  What the heck are you people on?

If we look at this realistically, anyone wanting to run for Congress usually has a year to think about it. He/She looks at the ramifications for their family (especially their children if they are very young) and puts out feelers to secure funding so that they can begin to get a war chest established prior to announcing while at the same time putting together a really good campaign team.

But NONE of this happened.  We didn’t have a host of candidates preparing to run because no one knew how the redistricting would go, including STELLATO AND THE BCDC!

A liberal or a conservative candidate, in my opinion, and only in my opinion, won’t cut it in the new 5th CD.  A viable centrist with 3 million dollars actually has a chance of knocking Garrett out.  

So why don’t all of you spend your time and effort trying to find someone who YOU think is the best candidate to run and stop blaming a person and/or a group of people who have no control over life or death or circumstances just so that all of you have an outlet to project your own frustrations on by crowing about it on Blue Jersey.

Trust me, if Lou Stellato was responsible for this mess, I would have been one of the first to attack when the crap began to hit the wall – especially because I was one of the people whose lap some of the crap fell into.

Bottom line on this one:  Stellato is not to blame! Wrong Church!  Wrong Pew!  

How to demotivate activists and lose elections

Hi, my name is Adam L. I live in Bergen County and I have a problem.

I am exactly the type of person who should be writing this kind of post, and sadly, am precisely the kind of person that the Bergen County Democratic Organization, er, the “new name, same garbage” Democratic Committee of Bergen County should be alarmed is writing this kind of post.

I moved to the fifth legislative district in August 2006, just in time to do a bit of volunteering for Paul Aronsohn’s campaign against Scott Garrett – one of the very worst members of Congress.  I knew nothing about the brewing disaster that Joe Ferriero’s tenure was about to unleash on the County Democratic Party apparatus.  I was able to get a bit more involved in 2008 for Dennis Shulman’s campaign, and started to realize the rot that was forming in the County Party during the following year when I was able to help with the Governor race, the local Assembly race and get more involved in Retire Garrett, the mess of the 2010 Congressional race, the Freeholder race and ultimately getting on the County Committee.

With the recent redistricting and the “new new” leadership of the BCDODCBC, there was hope that with time to prepare, a somewhat better district, a better environment to run and the County Party talking about “the right kind of candidate can defeat Scott Garrett” – I wouldn’t be writing this kind of post in March of the election year.

Alas, I was wrong.

First, there was talk of a potentially tasty showdown between Congressman Steve Rothman and Garrett.  A race that could very well have been won and a race that even the DCCC was willing to plunk down money to fight.  And that was over before we could even start thinking about how great a race that would be.

Then, there was the anticipation of Assemblywoman Wagner running – and the exposure that would bring along with a very solid candidate, who could also attract the attention that comes along with potentially being the only female in the NJ Congressional Delegation.  And unfortunately, Assemblywoman Wagner’s month long decision to “let us know next week” turned out to also be a “no-go”.

With the Giants winning the Super Bowl, the County Committee happened to turn the heat up on the speculation that former Giant great Harry Carson would run.  Certainly an unconventional choice but clearly one that would draw attention to the race like no one else could.  And after another few weeks of speculation, that fizzled out quickly.

Once more turning to the “anyone but the popular Freeholder from another County in the District” card, another relative outsider, Jim McQueeny, was quickly the “next great hope” before pulling out the day before the big announcement that he was in.

So here we are – an elected Freeholder who was clearly being pushed aside for a “better choice that never came” was possibly just waiting for that better choice to come along and then drop out, didn’t get the necessary signatures to be on the Bergen County ballot.  And the BCDODCBC never found that better choice in their minds – leading to months of motivated activists like myself wanting, hoping, waiting and imploring to help out in a race that we desperately want to win – clearly way more than Bergen County Democratic leadership wants to win.

This will also ultimately hurt the County races – not to mention the Senate race and Presidential race – and forget about the once again lost cause of a Congressional race.

With all of the time that could have been used for the least bit of planning (or contingency planning) and the development of a bench that clearly is severely lacking, it is baffling that we have seen these events yhis year.

I have two young kids and a full time job and precious little free time.  So, why would I want to help a County Party that doesn’t want to help itself?

Bergen County Democrats – “but she’s got a new hat” edition

There is an old episode of The Simpsons where the release of a “hot new doll” threatens to take sales away from the traditional Barbie-type “Malibu Staci” doll.  While the Malibu Staci brass met to discuss the next step to regain market share, they decide to go bold – and release a “new version” of the doll which is exactly the same as the old version, but with a new cowgirl hat.  

Living in Bergen County and recently getting myself onto the County Committee, I had hopes that after what the Bergen County Democratic Organization has been through over the past few years, that there would be a bold new direction – something more than a name change to Democratic Committee of Bergen County, or a “new hat” would be warranted.

After all, this is an Organization that represented a Party which held pretty much every important position in Bergen County a few years ago – including County Executive, Sheriff, all seven Freeholders, a number of State Senators and pretty much every candidate for Congress in the District.  Then there was embarrassment after resignation after embarrassment after indictment after infighting after embarrassment after resignation- and while new BCDO/DCBC Chairman Lou Stellato attempts to steer a badly wounded ship back in the right direction, even what seems like a great move is being handled clumsily.

Rumors were flying around recently that Paul Aronsohn is being looked at to replace David Ganz – one of the remaining 2 Democrats on the 7 person Freeholder board this November.  All this while Aronsohn is supporting Ganz, who isn’t taking this rumor lightly:

“I’m running for re-election,” the former Fair Lawn mayor told Patch. “I had a very good return in all the precincts [in the primary election],” he said, adding that he’s “never stopped campaigning from the last election three years ago.”

Now, I have known Paul for around 5 years – he is a Councilman in Ridgewood (where I live), and we stay in regular touch.  When it comes to moving the BCDO/DCBC in the right direction, there are a few people – but not many – who can take a big role in doing so.  Paul is most certainly one of them and he should be elevated in a way that gives him more exposure and makes Bergen County Democrats proud to be part of this Organization again.  New “up and comers” need to be recruited and groomed, big ideas need to be considered as Bergen County Democrats try to right the ship and regain credibility with voters.

While Paul is on a relatively short list of people who can help in a big way, rumors and innuendo about forcing Ganz off the ticket – even if he is tied to former Chariman Joe Ferriero – is not a productive way to give Committee members and voters the warm and fuzzies.  It’s too bad that the BCDO/DCBC doesn’t seem to be learning a lesson when it comes to showcasing its more valuable people.

Rabbitt Season – 6 years later

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:

Kasparian resigning as BCDO Chair

Mike Kasparian, who took the reins of the Bergen County Democratic Organization after notorious county boss Joe Ferriero’s leadership collapsed under the weight of its own corruption, is out. Kasparian said today he’ll step down from his post in March.

The struggle over BCDO’s direction apparently at a new plateau, and Kasparian now on a get-out timetable, Weinberg was all compliments today, but signaled what she’s after. Special to Blue Jersey:

I am looking forward to new, fresh, inclusive, substantive and progressive leadership who will work to rebuild our Bergen Democratic Organization from the grass roots up. I would like to thank Michael Kasparian for his service.

more below

The disaster in the fifth

Two years ago, I drafted a post (edited by the good members of Blue Jersey) with a rundown of what happened in the 2008 Congressional election in New Jersey’s fifth district.  We deconstructed the voting trends in each of the four counties, discussed how outreach and messaging (and money), as well as a different strategy, are needed to (1) win Bergen County, where most of the votes are and (2) close the gap in Passaic, Warren and Sussex Counties:

But this is a low information district with an inherent Republican advantage, where a large majority of people never hear a stump speech or listen to debates.  And that is especially true in the rural areas that count for roughly one-third of the votes.  So it’s clear that very heavy handed, yet accurate, tactics must be used – and used consistently in a way that will not only reach these voters, but close the gap in Sussex and Warren Counties by 1/3 to 1/2 of the roughly 25,000 deficits of 2008 and 2004.

Now, I will admit this post may be a bit more subjective. But that’s because since 2008 (and out of that diary), I helped start “Retire Garrett”, a grassroots effort with outreach in all four counties to help recruit a candidate, solicit donors, craft message, coordinate outreach, and try to tackle the very tough feat of ousting Garrett in a fairly Republican leaning district.  I (with other volunteers) figured this would be a 2 cycle effort, but worth pursuing.