Tag Archive | "political corruption"

Working Hard at Stealing Your Money

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 Keogh, Ardis, and Mazza at Passaic County Sheriff’s Office

 

Proving once again that the Garden State is synonymous with governmental corruption is today’s report that three top-level officials at the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commissioners (PVSC) were arrested and charged with official misconduct. PVSC is the largest wastewater treatment facility in New Jersey and the fifth largest facility of its type in the nation, treating up to 330 million gallons of wastewater every day – nearly 25% of all the wastewater generated in New Jersey.


Now, it appears that among the waste requiring cleanup at the facility is its own in the form of senior management officials who have fed from the public trough for their entire careers and yet could not resist taking more than that to which they were entitled. The complaint filed by Attorney General Paula Dow alleges that the three used PVSC employees, during their regular work shifts, for improvement and repair projects on their personal residences.


Those charged are as follows: 56 year old Anthony Ardis of Paterson, a former Congressional Aide to Representative William Pascrell (D-Passaic) and one-time PVSC Commissioner who is the highest paid employee on the Passaic Valley payroll; Kevin Keogh, 45, a former West Orange Councilman and Superintendent of Special Services; and Chester Mazza, 69, of Totowa, a retired New Jersey State Trooper who serves as Assistant Superintendent of Special Services at PVSC.


All three were earning six-figure salaries with Ardis leading the way. Until recent mandated cuts in earnings, Ardis was raking in something more than $220,000 annually. Keogh was earning $186,201 and his assistant Mazza $127,276. In addition, each of them had a vehicle at his disposal for personal use: Ardis, a new Ford Expedition and Keogh and Mazza, 2009 Dodge Durangos.


Sadly, the charges against Ardis, Keogh, and Mazza are just the tip of the iceberg at PVSC. While the “Special Services” received by Ardis, Keogh, and Mazza are now clear, the need for the agency’s bloated $46.4 million payroll – including spouses and children of commissioners, mayors, friends of mayors, and the brother-in-law of a mayor who is also a commissioner – is not. To add insult to injury, PVSC has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars (cumulatively in the millions) on sweetheart, no-bid contracts benefitting the towns where its commissioners reside.


As New Jerseyans struggle with declining property values, higher living costs, and job market uncertainties, the PVSC has been an oasis for its employees and their families and friends. Fortunately, in this case, the Christie Administration has taken action.


One only wonders, however, how many other such agencies exist in this state and around our country. In Egypt, public outcry and activism has its 30-year-old totalitarian regime on the brink of collapse. In the U.S., we do not, for the most part, consider our elected leaders despots. While corruption certainly exists in the halls of Congress and our State Legislatures, the true rape of the American taxpayer occurs at the hands of bureaucrats who perpetuate their own little fiefdoms regardless of which candidate or party is in power.


Perhaps, it is time for a new American Revolution – a tidal wave that will free us from the bureaucrats who have for too long stolen from the taxpayers with impunity. Maybe, the Egyptian public has the right idea.


The Pledge

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Storm clouds are gathering over the upcoming 2010 elections, as they do most election cycles.   But these clouds are darker than those that have preceded them.  As Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate vie for our votes, each party promises the best type of control over government so as to resolve our national crises. 


The Democrat Party has pledged healthcare reform, oversight of the financial industry, workforce stimulus, transparency in government, and anything else it deems beneficial for the people (or at least, beneficial for garnering votes).  In the short time that the Democrats have controlled government, they have achieved healthcare reform, oversight of the financial industry, and workforce stimulus.  I guess you can’t win ’em all. Or, to paraphrase Meatloaf, the musical legend, “Three out of four ain’t bad.”


Unfortunately, “ain’t bad” ain’t cutting it in this country.  We are still reeling from the aftermath of the financial market meltdown that occurred in September of 2008.  That meltdown sparked a domino effect in many other markets.  Taxpayer monies were appropriated to shore up the financial industry and allegedly save the country from a deep Depression.  But the nation as a whole is in a hole and having difficulty climbing out of it.  Who is to blame?


“Not us!” say our elected officials.  “It’s those greedy financiers who caused this mess!  By   manipulating funds as well as bankruptcy laws, they gambled on a bailout and won.”  Funny how no politicians are mentioning all the bribe money they’ve accepted over the years from big business in order to see to big business’s own best interests. 


Is America better today since the bailout? What did we gain by bailing out the financial institutions?  The answer to these questions is evident.  Before September ’08, America was the most prosperous nation in the world.  What exactly was the plague that befell us?  What was its cause and who was at fault?  Absent the bailout of the financial industry, would the meltdown have been considered “a market correction” or financial Armageddon?  We will never know.


One thing is for sure.  We may have suffered from the meltdown, but we would not have incurred the debt that we have today.  Even our President, Barack Obama, has stated that recovery will take time.  With the economic situation in America worsening, who will guide us to the Promised Land?  It took Moses forty years to accomplish this for his people, and Obama is not Moses.


Seizing a political opportunity, the Republican Party has “seen the light” and offered the following Pledge to America:


  1. To honor the Constitution, especially the Tenth Amendment
  2. To advance policies that promote liberty, opportunity, defense, and prosperity
  3. To honor family, traditional marriage, and private and faith-based organizations
  4. To be transparent, honest, and careful in its stewardship in governing
  5. To uphold the purpose, promise, and hopes of a better America


They claim to pledge truth, faith, and allegiance to the people they represent, and invite fellow citizens and patriots to form a new governing agenda for America.  Gee, I thought we already had all this without their pledge!


As you can see, we’re wallowing in government’s promises yet again.  But the real pledge to the American people should be:


  1. To have one pension plan for Americans and governmental representatives (i.e., no special privileges/plans for elected officials)
  2. To have term limits for the House and Senate
  3. To have real transparency in government and abolish lobbying, which can only be accomplished by the Fat Cats among us (i.e., Corporate America, including the insurance and finance industries)
  4. To uphold, first and foremost, the welfare of American citizens
  5. To uphold signed treaties/agreements with Native American tribes
  6. To consider salary decreases for elected officials during hard times


These are a few of the pledges we need to place on the agenda in reforming government.


America was the greatest nation on the face of the earth, but power, greed, and personal financial gain has taken its toll; our political leaders have abused the power conferred upon them by public office. When social security beneficiaries are denied a cost of living increase, and our elected official vote for their cost of living increase and get it, this tells the whole story.  Shame on the politicians!


The following excerpt, taken from President Abraham Lincoln’s “The Gettysburg Address” is not only a piece of history; it is a warning concerning the fate of this nation and advice as to how to create a workable government:


“That this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth.”


It is time that those seeking political office pledge to return our government to its original Constitutional purpose:  to protect and promote the general welfare of the American people. 

Diogenes, New Jersey and You – Perfect Together!

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Diogenes Searching for an Honest Man

Diogenes, for the uninitiated, was a Greek philosopher born in the late 5th Century, BC.  An influential member of a school of philosophy known as the Cynics, Diogenes believed in living a simple life of virtue in harmony with nature.  The image of Diogenes most familiar to the modern world is that of a man walking through city streets in broad daylight and carrying a lantern in search of an honest man.  Reports of Diogenes’ search efforts indicate that he did not find that which he was seeking.

 

And so, it should come as no surprise that on the morning of July 23rd, an FBI sting operation resulted in the arrest of 44 people in New Jersey and New York on charges of corruption and international money laundering.  Included among those ensnared in the FBI’s web were three northern New Jersey mayors, two members of the State Assembly, and a number of rabbis from Hasidic and Syrian Jewish communities in Deal, Elberon, and Brooklyn.  Additionally, Joseph Doria, New Jersey Department of Community Affairs Commissioner and subject of FBI raids of his Bayonne home and Trenton office, complied with Governor Corzine’s request that he resign his position despite the fact that no formal charges against him have as yet been filed.

 

Reminiscent of the Abscam investigation that brought down, among others, a U.S. senator and a congressman some thirty years ago, the sting operation producing yesterday’s dramatic arrests employed an informant, a failed real estate developer in trouble with the FBI as what has been termed their cooperating witness or CW.  The audio tapes procured by this “wired” informant will, no doubt, seal the fate of those arrested and be among the most hilarious examples of the stupidity of those entrusted with our faith and money.

 

Human frailty, as Diogenes discovered, knows no bounds; nor does human greed.  The FBI sting and subsequent arrest of these discredited leaders, both secular and religious, should reinforce in the public consciousness the need to carefully scrutinize those whom we elevate to positions of trust and authority.  And, to the voters of New Jersey, it should be a clarion call to elect and hold accountable a new generation of lawmakers committed to ending the political corruption for which the State – perhaps more so than any other with the exception of Illinois – is renowned.

 

If we as an electorate do not do so, then our collective stupidity exceeds even that of the political and religious leaders who, blinded by greed, were captured in the FBI’s sting operation.  We have been, yet again, alerted.  Let us go forward with the persistence of Diogenes to uproot the corruption that has made New Jersey its home. 

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