Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Politics of Corruption and Waste in New Jersey.

Ronald Smothers, "Trenton to Investigate Financing of a Meadowlands Project," The New York Times, February 1, 2007, at p. B2.

"TRENTON, Jan 31 -- A North Carolina company that in the last decade has taken on a number of major development projects in New Jersey has come under scrutiny from the governor and state legislators because of tens of millions of dollars in state support it has received for a project in the Meadowlands that it has not yet begun to develop."

Yeah, but "how much of this dough is coming home to me and the boys?," New Jersey politicians wonder. "We gotta wet our beaks a little," they say with a noisy chuckle in Trenton, especially in the Senate building. After all, TENS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS is not what it used to be.

"The concern goes to the heart of an array of arrangements over the last four years in which the company, En Gap Golf, a subsidiary of Cherokee Investment Partners, has received state loans, issued bonds secured by local property tax revenue that has not yet been realized, and collected fees for disposing of dredge spoils from Newark Bay without completing development of any part of the 800-acre site."

"Money for nothing and the chics" -- uh, not "chics," I mean "female persons" -- for free. Well, maybe not for free, but at a discount. "On the one hand, but on the other hand ..." Senator Bob said.

"... developers of the site ... have received $20 in taxpayer-backed incentives for every dollar of private capital [that has been] put up, even though the understanding was that the venture would be financed almost totally by private investors."

Wow, what a deal boys and girls! You put up a dollar and you get twenty dollars back from the chumps -- I mean "the government" -- to build stuff, then you don't build nothing. So that's kind of like stealing the twenty dollars, huh? Awesome. It sounds like Hollywood. I'm down with that. Let's "invest"! Wow, the OAE doesn't care about millions. Wonderful. A lot lawyers had to put this deal together. Don't they sound like "ethical" lawyers working out a nice scam like that?

O.K., maybe you gotta send back five out of the twenty under the table to keep judges and politicians greased and happy, but hey, it's their money anyway. So gives a shit? Not me. You're still coming out ahead by fifteen. What a country! Only in America!

Reputable members of the New Jersey Bar Association may have nothing to do with this transaction -- not at this time, to the best of anyone's recollection, though they can neither confirm nor deny anything at all, ever, not even whether they can confirm or deny stuff.

Jersey boys in the state Assembly are heard to mutter: "Some trouble makers are complaining about this sweet deal. What's their problem? We should send somebody over there to explain things to them politicians in the U.S. Senate with a baseball bat. Anybody seen 'Cheech'?"

The New York Times and Senator Loretta Weinberg are shocked:

"... 'It seems that they are getting a windfall [No! Ya think?] from state taxpayers before even doing the work to be done,' said Senator Weinberg, who had been a strong supporter of the project."

What does the "E" in OAE stand for? In response to these allegations, members of local political clubhouses and New Jersey Judges like to say:

"Loretta, I don't know about you. You're starting to give us a headache. What part of this do you not understand? A little for me, a little for you -- and everybody's happy. The lawyers take care of everything. They're really ethical, them New Jersey lawyers. And they stay on top of things. How's the family, by the way? Everybody eating all right? I'm going to send you a fruitbasket, kid. You're really gonna to want to keep the stuff in it, 'cause it ain't fruit ... You know what I mean?"

"Nothing's easy no more, Fat Tony. Who knows what's what? You know what I mean? Geez."

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