Friday, April 20, 2007

Is Albio Sires or Richard J. Codey Next In New Jersey's Corruption Scandals?

An attack on my computer this morning has frozen my monitor, making it impossible for me to access my msn site. I will struggle against this virus during the course of the day. Hackers continue to damage these works. Someone does not want you to read about New Jersey corruption. Because of today's computer attack, I may be unable to write at all. I will do my best to continue doing so -- somehow.

I once lived in a society that guaranteed every person freedom of speech. I am not sure that I still live in such a society. I am struggling to make sure that my child will also live in a free society. If more than two days pass without a new posting, please believe that this will not be voluntary. I will do my best to correct the errors inserted into these essays, every day. April 20, 2007, at 9:53 A.M.

Jonathan Miller, "U.S. Expands Investigations of Grants In New Jersey," in The New York Times, April 19, 2007, at p. B5.

"A federal investigation into the awarding of grants has expanded to the Town of West New York, apparently to include the former Speaker of the State Assembly, who was also the town mayor -- ALBIO SIRES."

"Federal prosecutors have subpoenaed state budget documents from the period when Albio Sires, who is now a Democratic congressman, was the Assembly speaker and the mayor of West New York, in Hudson County, the town attorney said yesterday."

"The investigation is part of a wider investigation begun by the United States attorney for New Jersey, Christopher J. Christie, who is investigating whether state legislators and officials benefitted improperly from so-called Christmas tree items, which typically involve special state grants for pet projects that are added to the budget at the last moment."

"Last month, three Democratic state legislators were issued subpoenas seeking explanations of their relationship to institutions that received the special state grants."

Quid pro quo?

"Daniel E. Horgan, the West New York attorney, said in a telephone interview yesterday that the documents subpoenaed from the town concern grants as far back as January 2004, and that the town handed over documents as recently as Monday."

"... Mr. Horgan confirmed that two grants under investigation included $2 million to the West New York Parking Authority in the 2006 fiscal year, to refurbish an abandoned garage; and $250,000 to the West New York Senior Outreach Transportation Program the next fiscal year, to buy two buses for the elderly. The grants were first reported by The Associated Press." (emphasis added)

My estimate is that an abandoned garage can be "refurbished" for MUCH less than "$2 million." For $3 million, they'll turn Guttenberg into a garage. West New York and North Bergen, traditionally, have served as home turf for much organized crime in New Jersey. A former police chief in West New York was indicted, as a co-conspirator, in an illegal gambling machine operation and prominent real estate figures were (and are?) reputed to serve as secret partners of officials, which often results in the approval of their zoning variance applications -- no doubt in exchange for kickbacks.

Drug money flowed through the streets in Hudson County during the late eighties and beyond, a "connection" with Miami on the part of prominent individuals in the area, allegedly, allowed for the creation of a "pipeline" of ... uh, "merchandise" and people from Florida to New Jersey -- and vice versa. And I do mean "vice." (See "We don't know from nothing.")

Historically, a lot of politicians and lawyers in West New York like to wear "pinkie rings" and dabble in the cement business.

I met Albio Sires and spoke to him -- this was years ago -- and I would be very surprised, if not shocked, to find that he would be interested in stealing public money. I am confident that he is an honest man. His original motivation for entering public life, as with so many other people, was to help end an era of local corruption. There is still lots of corruption in Hudson County, although definitely not more than in Camden County or suburban Essex County. Reformers who find themselves elected and wielding power tend to lose that fire in the belly with the receipt of "perks" of one sort or another.

These are the people appointed in New Jersey as judges or selecting judges from among their ranks. Many members of the New Jersey judiciary are political bag men or well-connected mediocrities, a few are stupid, some are legal illiterates. I plan to spend time this year discussing the imbecilities and unethical conduct of specific judges in New Jersey. I will keep an eye on this situation. I have a feeling that there is more coming.

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