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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.


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