Tag Archive: Tom Moran

Tom Moran Predicts Wins for Stender and Adler

In his year-end predictions column, Star Ledger columnist (who we like but have differed with on Chris Christie) predicts that Democrats Linda Stender and John Adler will win Congressional elections this fall.  In the below choice, he selected B:

8. The biggest win for New Jersey Democrats in 2008 will be: ]  

a) Congressman Rob Andrews is elected to the U.S. Senate after Lautenberg bows out of the race.

b) Sen. John Adler and Assemblywoman Linda Stender, both Democrats, win seats in Congress that are now held by Republicans.

c) They try another referendum to fund stem cell research, and this time they win.

Moran also thinks that Sharpe James will skate since he did not personally benefit from the land sales.  

I'm hopeful he's right about Congress and wrong about James.  Stender and Adler deserve to represent us in Washington, and James deserves to go to jail.

The Tom Moran Crusade

My first question was “should Chris Christie have to include Tom Moran’s articles as paid adversiting?” While not entirely serious, it is becoming increasingly frusturating that the Star Ledger allows Moran to use its pages to stump for Christie’s impending Gubernatorial bid.

In an article on the cover of today’s Ledger, Moran recognizes what could be a growing problem for Christie: his decision to award former Attorney General John Ashcroft’s consulting firm a contract that is valued at somewhere between $29 and $52 million. http://blog.nj.com/n… Knowing this could create problems for Christie in the future, Moran assumes his usual role of Christie apologist and asks New Jerseyans to give Christie our “gratitude” for all of his work. What troubles me is the internally self-contradictory tone in both Moran’s column and Christie’s words.

Moran describes how Christie “gives speeches these days that come about a half-inch short from being campaign stump speeches. The theme is that voters must show zero tolerance toward politicians with conflicts of interest.” Yet less than ten paragraphs later he asks us to forgive Christie because, in Moran’s view, the totality of his work is noble. Wouldn’t this be the functional equivalent of Christie giving corrupt politicians a pass because they are also trying to do good deeds? Or do Christie’s words not apply to the United States Attorney because he is not technically a “politician?” Either way, I agree with Christie. We should show zero tolerance towards our politicans with conflicts of interest. That is just the reason why I am so troubled with Christie’s decision to award Ashcroft, a potentially huge Republican fundraiser, this multi-million dollar contract. I don’t know what Christie’s motives were, but I find his behavior to be troubling for someone who will seek to campaign as “Clean-As-A-Whistle Chris.”

Author’s note: This is my first diary here and I would greatly appreciate feedback as to what you liked, did not like and how can I improve. Thanks!

Lonegan Interview: The Lost Tapes

Earlier this week, Tom Moran had a sit-down with Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan.

MORAN: You are generally looked to as the leader of a conclave in New Jersey, of conservatives disaffected by their government and the state’s Republican Party.

LONEGAN: That’s right, Tom. It’s a real movement we have here.

MORAN: How did your movement single-handedly defeat last week’s referendum on stem cell research.

LONEGAN: We were absolutely critical. I had 2,000 real activists, and we rolled into action on this. That’s how we were able to put up 15,000 signs in less than two weeks. If we had more money, we would have beaten the open space referendum, too. And given another two weeks in the cycle, we would have easily recalled the governor and elected me.

MORAN: Mayor, might I then ask why, if you had such a movement with 2,000 “real” activists, was it necessary you hire undocumented workers to assemble your signs?

LONEGAN: (Confused) I’m not following you here.

MORAN: Well, why not have the 2,000 activists assemble the signs?

LONEGAN: (Indignant) Are you crazy? This is a movement and my people are activists, but they’re not fanatics, they’re not zealots! The kind of dedication needed to assemble a sign — it could take hours!

MORAN: Then what do you do when you need to assemble signs?

LONEGAN: You go to a street corner in Palisades Park and pick up a few Latino day-laborers. Assembling signs to advocate for a core-belief is no job for an activist.

MORAN: But they weren’t legal.

LONEGAN: I didn’t know that. I just assumed that if they’re standing on a street corner looking for work, they’ve got to be here legally.

MORAN: But don’t you see the hypocrisy of hiring these men to assemble your movement’s signs, while railing against illegal immigration, and in doing so lumping together everything that is Spanish-language and of Latin-American orientation into the sphere of lawlessness and criminality?

LONEGAN: Got you there, Tom. I’ve never paid an illegal immigrant in my life.

MORAN: Touche, Mayor. Touche.

Moran Nails It

Tom Moran says Democrats need to sober up:

New Jersey voters told pollsters this summer that they supported embryonic stem cell research by a margin of 71 percent to 19 percent.

Those are numbers you normally find only when you ask people if they love their mothers.

So the fact that those same voters soundly rejected the stem cell initiative on Tuesday’s ballot was a shock, maybe even a turning point.

The meaning was unmistakable. Voters no longer trust Democrats to handle their money.

They’re not ready yet to switch partners and hand power to Republicans. But they want their Democrats to sober up.

This vote was a warning shot from the voters, and perhaps a sign of things to come. They weren’t ready this time to abandon the Democrats, but they know something is very wrong with the budget and they’re tired of gimmicks and further debt.

Quote of the Day

Tom Moran chides New Jersey’s legislators for turning good ideas – investing in stem cell research and preserving open space – into fiscally irresponsible choices which will plunge our state further into debt:

Which means that the poor, abused New Jersey voter will again face a rotten choice on Election Day.

You can oppose these good causes, allowing the bulldozers to have their way next year, and crippling a promising effort to fight disease. Or you can vote for them, and make yourself a minor accomplice in the state’s financial ruin.

The Fight For Good Government

This probably won’t come as news to anyone who reads Blue Jersey, but Tom Moran has a must-read column about the fight within the Democratic party to restore good government and end the fundamentally undemocratic abuses of power brokers and public office holders:

Democrats in Bergen County are fighting a civil war that pits a small band of reformers against one of the richest and most powerful machines in the state.

The surprise is that the reformers, led by Sen. Loretta Weinberg, are winning. They have survived every attempt by the machine to knock them off.

And now they are switching to offense by unmasking the greedy habits of their own party’s leadership — an insiders’ club that is enriching itself with big public contracts. […]

This, of course, is driving the machine Democrats insane. Weinberg and her merry band have turned from the barricades to fire backward at their own officers. It is a mutiny, plain and simple.

And let’s hope the rebellion spreads, because it’s probably the only hope for reform in this long-suffering state.

The Republican Party is an empty shell these days. So for now, change has to come from within the Democratic Party.  […]

So far, most Democrats are watching and waiting. Some whisper to Weinberg in the hallways of the Statehouse, encouraging her. But they won’t stick out their own necks.

“Too many of them, their goal is to get re-elected,” Weinberg says. “But there’s got to be the next goal — what do you do when you get there?”

Blue Jersey has long publicly opposed the trading of jobs for political loyalty or the rewarding of contracts for campaign contributions that is rampant in Bergen County (and other parts of the state). It’s surprising (okay, not really) how often elected officials and other insiders will privately tell us they agree, but remain publicly silent. Many are simply not willing to risk their jobs to challenge what appears to be an unstoppable juggernaut. So while the “merry band” Moran talks about appears small, the support runs deeper than it looks, which may explain why they have been successful so far.

Any time the issue of corruption and good government is raised, the straw man that’s always foisted up is that because the “reformers” aren’t 100% squeaky clean, they can’t possibly be fit to try to set the bar higher for good government. For example, though Moran seems to disagree, there is obvious hypocrisy in calling for an end to dual office-holding while remaining a dual office-holder yourself, as is the case with Assemblyman (and Englewood councilman) Gordon Johnson. Whether the conflict is real or perceived, Johnson should step down from one of his two elected offices, because when it comes to the public trust perception is reality.

While this is no doubt a struggle for power and control in Bergen County, for me, this isn’t about Senator Weinberg or Assemblymembers Huttle and Johnson so much as it is about good government. And that is what they represent. They no doubt understand that if they take control and resort to the same undemocratic tactics abused by the current power brokers, they should expect another merry band to challenge them…and eventually win.

Time to Reform a Broken Justice System

Tom Moran chides Governor Corzine for not doing enough to stop the violence. Two of the suspects in the execution-style murders of three Newark students had been previously charged with violent offenses, but were out on the streets anyway. Gun control laws may help, he says, but our entire criminal justice system is in need of overhaul:

For one, he could change the drug laws so that we stop flooding the system with nonviolent offenders. That would allow cops, prosecutors and judges to focus on cases like these murders. And it would free up space in our prisons for the robbers, rapists and killers.

“Our system of justice is just not made for the volume of cases we have today,” says Barnett Hoffman, a retired judge from Middlesex County and chairman of the state’s criminal sentencing commission. “It would be helpful to concentrate on the violent offenses.”

New Jersey is way behind the curve on this. Nonviolent drug offenders occupy about one-third of our prison beds, the highest portion in the nation. Even Texas diverts more drug offenders into cheaper and more effective treatment programs.

Moran is right, and Mayor Cory Booker has also been saying these things for a while:

Our nation is not expending all of these national resources on violent offenders. The majority of the Americans clogging our courts and prisons are nonviolent offenders primarily engaged in the use, sale or distribution of drugs. Violent or not, offenders should face punishment — whether they throw litter on a Newark street or come to a Newark street to buy heroin. But when the punishment perpetuates the problem, when it destroys lives instead of correcting them, when it saps taxpayers of their precious resources, when it perpetuates the hideous legacy of racial injustice, when it aggravates cycles of poverty and undermines the very principles we seek to uphold, we must seek change.

As Moran points out, any such changes to our justice system will inevitably draw charges of being “soft on drugs.” The reality is that those lacking the courage to change a broken system that perpetuates violence are failing the victims of violent crimes, the overburdened police and the taxpayers.

Call for Letters to the Editor: Chris Christie’s Lie

Last week we caught Chris Christie in a pretty blatant contradiction in stories he’s told to reporters, so blatant that we feel comfortable calling it a lie.  No one we’ve contacted — reporters, editors, columnists, bloggers, my dog and hamster — have been able to explain the completely different stories he told, and different reporters have verified that they repeated Christie’s stories correctly.

Yet for some reason not one blog (besides BJ) or newspaper has reported this.  So we’re asking you, the great Blue Jersey activist crowd, to write to the newspapers that reported the different stories and note the contradiction.

The Star Ledger, Washington Post and New York Times all reported that Christie learned that he had been on the list to be fired but had been removed in March during a single phone call.  Tom Moran in the Star Ledger included details that Christie was by a pool with his family on vacation in Florida when he was e-mailed to call in, and went inside the room to make the call.  His reaction in March was “completely stunned” (NYT – 5/18), “completely shocked” (WaPo – 5/17), and “speechless” (SL – 5/18).

But in a recent Daily Record editorial board, and we have confirmed this with someone who was in the room, Chris Christie told a completely different story.  According to this version, Christie was told on the phone in December 2006 that he was on the list and it wasn’t until January 2007 he learned on another call that he was off the list.

This is not a case of someone being confused, or misremembering a few facts about something that happened a long time ago.  Every specific of the story — how he found out, when he found out, how many calls it took, what state he was in — is different in the two versions.

This is a case of a US Attorney lying at least once, and maybe twice since we can’t rule out that neither story is the truth.  Given that the whole US Attorney firing scandal has been driven by lies and misdirection, having another player in the scandal lying to the public and media is a big deal.

So we’re asking you to write just a couple paragraphs — no more than 200 words — noting that Christie lied and that he did so on the record.  Send them to the papers that were told the different stories, and let’s hope they get in.

Good luck!

Boss’s gift to Christie: Nearly firing him

Because this article is no longer on the nj.com website, we are reproducing it here.

Boss’s gift to Christie: Nearly firing him
The Star-Ledger
May 18, 2007
by Tom Moran

Chris Christie was in Florida watching his children splash around a pool two months ago when he received an urgent e-mail from a senior official at the Justice Department telling him to call.

It was from John Elston, a man he had known for years. Christie stepped into his hotel room, dialed Elston’s number, and got the shock of his life.

Elston had a warning for him. The growing scandal over the firing of eight United States attorneys was about to come his way.

Christie, in fact, had only narrowly escaped being fired. His name was on one of the original kill lists. It was removed only a few weeks before the decisions were made final. This one was a close call.

“I was speechless,” Christie says. “I just could not believe I was someone who was being actively considered for being fired. It makes you search yourself and ask: `Was I doing my job well?’

“But I came to the conclusion that afternoon that this wasn’t really about me. It was about them.”

The responsibility for this entire mess, Christie says, lies squarely on the desk of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

Christie has spoken with Gonzales since that day at the pool, but he has not bothered to ask why he was on the list, and why he was taken off.

“He doesn’t even recall, from what I’ve read, why he approved the people who were fired,” Christie says. “The people who were fired deserve answers. I’m curious. But on the other hand, I’ve got a job to do and don’t want to get distracted.”

So does Christie believe that Gonzales should resign?

He won’t go that far. But he won’t defend Gonzales either, a telling omission if ever there were one.

“He’s my boss,” Christie says. “I don’t take any view on that. I just don’t think it’s appropriate.”

Listen carefully, and you can hear the walls around Gonzales crumbling. Christie was speaking the day after the Washington Post reported he was one of 26 U.S. attorneys considered for firing, news that deepened the scandal.

Also yesterday, Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, predicted that Gonzales would not survive.

As for Christie, he was never given an explanation for any of this, even when he pressed Elston, the man who put his name on the list.

But given what we now know about the breathtaking incompetence of Gonzales and his senior staff, no reasonable person can hold this against Christie. If this crew didn’t like him, that’s probably a good sign.

The irony here is thick. We know now that Christie was almost fired by his fellow Republicans at the same time Democrats were criticizing him as a partisan hack – during the 2006 election season.

Democrats were angry then because Christie had issued a subpoena seeking information on a real estate deal of Sen. Robert Menendez. His Republican opponent, state Sen. Tom Kean Jr., made that subpoena the centerpiece of his campaign.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg called Christie’s behavior “sinister.” U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman (D-9th Dist.) accused him of trying to “steal” the election. And so on.

So how will this latest news play? It could go either way.

The near-firing helps inoculate Christie against charges that he is a political servant of the White House. But his critics could just as easily argue that his friends in the White House protected him in the end.

Christie says he racked his brain trying to understand this one, and none of the familiar explanations seem to fit.

Voting rights cases that have created friction in other U.S. attorney jurisdictions have not been an issue in New Jersey, nor have immigration cases. Christie has prosecuted plenty of gun cases, another Bush administration priority. And he says that no one at the White House or the Department of Justice has ever contacted him about a corruption case – even his many prosecutions of fellow Republicans.

The latest official evaluation of his office came in 2003, roughly 18 months after he took over. And it was full of praise for Christie’s management skills.

Desperate for some theory, Christie is wondering if it was personal, not political. He was appointed for a two-year stint on a panel of 17 U.S. attorneys who offered advice on policy, from guns to white-collar crime. And he wonders now if his blunt style was too much for the Washington crowd.

“Some of my colleagues told me I said things in a very Jersey way – with not a lot of varnish,” he says. “Maybe that angered people.”

Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, the Democrats’ most fierce critic on the firings, said yesterday he found it “befuddling” that Christie was on the list. And Patrick Meehan, the U.S. attorney in Philadelphia, said his fellow prosecutors were puzzled as well.

“It’s astounding,” Meehan said. “Among his peers, Chris stands out as one of the most admired. If you were to create a list of the U.S. attorneys who have had the greatest impact, Chris would be one of the top two or three names I’d put on it. This defies explanation.”

For New Jerseyans, the big question is how this could affect Christie if he decides to run for governor.

“I think about that only because people bring it up to me all the time,” Christie says. “But I don’t focus on that. If I do my job the best I can. . . . The future will take care of itself.”

Let’s pause here for a reality check. Christie knows his record on corruption makes him a star in New Jersey, and creates a delicious contrast with Democrats who can’t seem to get their act together on ethics.

Republicans here are on a monumental losing streak, and Christie remains their best hope of breaking out of it.

Gonzales could not change that, even if he wanted to.

Tom Moran may be reached at tmoran@starledger.com or (973) 392-1823.