Tag Archive: Bergen County

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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The abrupt shuttering of the Izod Center: A travesty

Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck) yesterday in a Blue Jersey post, Transparency & The NJSE, raised six important questions about the abrupt closure of the Meadowlands Izod Center Arena. She has good reason for her concerns. She is seeking answers and is known for her persistence and success.  

As the Star-Ledger reported on January 15, “With little warning and no public notice, the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority voted this afternoon to shut down the Meadowlands Izod Arena by the end of the month and shift the remaining few events on its schedule to the Prudential Center in Newark. Officials said the Izod Center’s continuing losses left them no choice. In its agreement with Prudential, the state will keep the arena dark for at least two years, receiving $2 million in compensation for the added events.”

This action, taken with no documetation as to its need, hurts Bergen County which loses jobs, tax revenue and  local business income, as well as a near-by entertainment venue. However, there are significant advantages for other groups. A confluence of special interests and the governor appear to be at the root of this travesty.

The Ferriero Guilty Verdict: It’s Complicated

This is cross-posted from my blog at Epoch Times


[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.

Where Peace and Civil Rights Meet in New Jersey

The connection between the military and repression of civil rights is a theme that New Jersey Peace Action (NJPA) has been exploring since its founding in 1957 as New Jersey SANE. NJPA’s local “Move the Money” campaign to re-direct at least 25% of the money in the military budget to peaceful needs of communities, joined with national efforts several years ago.  

The money we need desperately for schools, jobs creation, health care, infrastructure repair and more should be taken from the overblown military budget of between $650 billion and $750 billion.

Empty Debate Chair: Yeah, the timing on this is not good for Scott Garrett

Empty red chairRoy Cho is calling Rep. Scott Garrett out for skittishly avoiding as many debates with him as Garrett could get away with. Garrett’s agreed to only one – –  on the radio, on a Friday morning at a station whose broadcast signal doesn’t even reach into most of Bergen County where most of his constituents live. In three days, Cho will be showing up at a Ridgewood candidate forum Garrett declined to attend. Cho, who is having the best week of any candidate in the state, is only tot happy to report that his opponent will be represented there by “an empty chair.”

Bad timing for Garrett. Anybody paying attention is already laughing at Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s weird debate performance Wednesday, refusing for 7 minutes of live TV to show up to the stage and debate Dem Charlie Crist, and leaving the audience staring and chuckling uncomfortably at Scott’s empty podium.  

UPSET ALERT: Roy Cho “within striking distance” of smug Tea Party favorite Scott Garrett

Scott Garrett: He’s been the worst in the New Jersey House delegation for years, a small-government ‘conservative’ ideologue who doesn’t even serve as a sensible counter-balance to the most angry, stingy and poorly informed vectors in the Republican Party; rather he has become their darling. A Tea Party crazy with a vote in the House of Representatives.

That district – the 5th – has waited for years for the right candidate. It may have found him. Roy Cho, young, organized, articulate and well-funded, is just 5 points behind Garrett, according to the Monmouth University Poll. Among likely voters, Garrett is at 48%, with Cho coming up with momentum at 43%, with 6% still undecided, and just 3% for 3rd party candidate Mark D. Quick. Pollster Patrick Murray says “[t]his race was not even a blip on most political prognosticators’ radar screens. And it should be now.”

What’s interesting is that Team Cho did this on their own, with a strong campaign structure and considerable grassroots support – but very little notice from the almighty DCCC. In New Jersey, only NJ3’s Aimee Belgard made their resource-bonanza  Red-to-Blue program, and only NJ2’s Bill Hughes is on the Emerging Races List.

“Nobody was looking at this race. I think the Democrats should take a close look at this right now. It may be one of their one or two last pick-up opportunities.”

                                 – Pollster Patrick Murray in the Ledger

Garrett, a terrible politician, has provided Cho with plenty of opportunity. That includes his sloppy efforts to paste over his disgraceful track record on Hurricane Sandy relief with campaign ads trying to rewrite him as some kind of on-the-ground local hero. Among others, the Ledger called him out on that beautifully.