Thursday, May 24, 2007

New Jersey's Political and Supreme Court Whores!

Hackers have altered the spacing in this essay. I have done my best to cope with the problem. The spacing will be altered on a regular basis -- I hope -- proving much of what I am saying.

Laura Masnerus, "Witness Recovers From Overdose to Describe New Jersey Graft," The New York Times, June 7, 2006, at p. B1.
Peter Applebome, "Side Effects to a Remedy for Housing," The New York Times, June 7, 2006, at p. B1.
David Kocieniewski, "Audit Disputes $52 Million In School Medicaid Claims," in The New York Times, June 8, 2006, at p. B6.

"The case of Raymond J. O'Grady is the culmination of years of work by federal investigators, a tale opening a window on small-town graft that brought down more than a dozen public officials in a New Jersey county run by old-fashioned patronage politics." That's exactly like most New Jersey counties.

Political bosses in New Jersey's urban counties, especially, usually claiming some affiliation with big-time Democrats (who often "sell their souls" -- if they have any -- for votes delivered on election day), use local government as well as "connections" to state and/or federal government funds and influence to create fiefdoms of power and privilege. A refrain from local bosses is: "This is my territory." It may be that Republicans are just as bad. In my experience, the Democrats have been the worst crooks in New Jersey government.

Political and judicial hacks "misappropriate" funds and accumulate power for themselves and their friends, by controlling police (look up the history of the "old," and not-so-old, West New York police department), governmental administrative services and appointments to the bench. Now it appears that New Jersey schools may also have been "milked."

"School districts in New Jersey improperly billed Medicaid more than $51 million for special education programs, according to a federal audit, filing claims for thousands of speech and physical therapy treatments that they could not prove were necessary, were provided by qualified practioners or were ever actually delivered."

Where did the money go? The response to this question will be something like: "Are you a trouble maker?" As a matter of fact, yes I am. The grotesque absurdity of persons involved in New Jersey's legal sewer judging anyone's ethics is worthy of Jonathan Swift or Kafka. In a state where Supreme Court justices "field" [sic.] ethics complaints and use the mechanisms of legal ethics enforcement as weapons, against one another, the very word "ethics" acquires a foul stench. (This was the word used in a newspaper account of Mr. Rivera-Soto's troubles, as I recall.)

"You got a problem, go see Nicky or Joey. When you get to court, it'll be taken care of." This is usually followed by a deep baritone's chuckle and a puff on a cigar that looks like the Hindenberg blimp.

"No, thanks. I'll take my chances."

There are Municipal Courts where a little group of friends gathers out of earshot, right before sessions begin, seemingly working things out very nicely, long before anything is said on the record. Attorneys and litigants who are not in the club rarely get the sweetheart deals.

"Mr. O'Grady, 56, a former committee man in Middletown Township, N.J., is charged with taking $8,000 in cash to help steer municipal work to contractors, including two men who turned out to be agents of the F.B.I."

The F.B.I. has an annoying tendency to spoil everybody's fun. These "public servants" are involved in "getting" people appointed as judges and in "getting" a few "big time lawyers" on the big time bar committees. These local public servants then evaluate the ethics of others or have an influence on who gets to do so.

The opinions of such people concerning one's ethics should not be all that troubling. I am always far more critical on myself than any such person could ever be, and more entitled to make such judgments. The disgusting pimps and whores in New Jersey's legal profession and establishment are fond of altering the spacing in paragraphs in my essays. If they supply someone like Poritz with a sexual partner, they get to slide.

"Mr. O'Grady was among 15 local officials arrested in February and March 2005 in a continuing investigation called Operation Bid Rig" -- one of several unfolding in New Jersey right now, by my estimate, and the best is yet to come! -- "which started in 1998." A key witness against him is a veteran of Jersey politics, "Anthony J. Palughi," who "recently retired as Monmouth County superintendent of bridges, and agreed to tape conversations with Mr. O'Grady, among other officials, when he [Palughi] was arrested in December 2004. [Palughi] pleaded guilty in August 2005 to setting up bribes for other officials and pocketing money for himself."

Somehow New Jersey state authorities missed this criminal organization and activity for forty years or so. The reward for New Jersey Attorney Generals doing as little as possible about state political corruption is usually a spot on the Supreme Court. The powers that be in Trenton were far too busy arranging for judges to have their portraits painted (at your expense) to worry about corruption, especially their own. The corruption is also at your expense. Mazeltov.

"Along with other recordings that the jury heard when the trial opened last week, the tapes track the two men discussing their 'deals,' all in dialogue that could have been lifted from a 'Sopranos' script -- accents and expletives included."

Lawyers in New Jersey have been known to utter these immortal words: "Hey, what do you know? I don't know about this? You know about this? ... I don't know from nothin' ..." So much was left out of my law school experience, like the exact meaning of the word: "Geez."

Mr. Palughi admitted that he had no qualification for the county jobs that he held for more than 20 years. "In his $92,000-a-year job as superintendent of bridges, he said, he worked mostly as a chauffer for freeholder Director Harry W. Larrison Jr., one of the two elected officials who died." (You won't see him no more.) And here is the "bottom line" in New Jersey:

"That's how the system worked for years and years, no matter what party was in," [Palughi] said, "It's a sin [and a crime!] that it had to work that way, but it did." You said it, Anthony. Usually, the only party in power has been the Democrats. How come we never put you on the Supreme Court? You are a man of wisdom. "Take the canolis."

Meanwhile, back at the Supreme Court building in Trenton: Continuing problems of corruption, graft and incompetence surrounding the New Jersey Supreme Court's -- allegedly well-intentioned -- "Mount Laurel" decision, requiring "developers" ("Hey, Fat Tony, isn't your cousin Phil a 'developer'?") to provide specific amounts of moderate to low income housing have made New Jersey's Supreme Court and that decision the national example of judicial incompetence in usurping legislative functions. Scary, huh? How many judges are in the child porn business, Mr. Palughi?

It is one thing when judges are fearless in upholding individual rights, at the level of Constitutional principles. It is quite another when they decide to "fix" society by dictating social policy in areas where they lack economic or other technical expertise to even understand what the difficulties are, let alone to prescribe solutions. Republicans and advocates of judicial restraint -- when it comes to courts formulating public policy in general -- have a point in advocating caution; liberals are right, however, to insist that courts must not shirk their responsiblity to defend persons' rights, even when they are unpopular for doing so.

It might even be a good idea to protect people from interference with their free speech rights. I couldn't get into my own group today because of continuing obstructions and harassment -- harassment which is content-based in my opinion -- and certainly we should especially avoid censoring critics of political abuse. I am unable to print items from my msn group receiving only a blank page with the following address at the bottom:

http://ad.doubleclick.net/adj/N2998.MSNAdDirectResponse/B2304119.3;sz=728x90;ord=159625831?cli...

New Jersey's Supreme Court fails on both counts, in terms of activism and restraint. It caters to majority prejudice on the death penalty and other issues, even as it deigns to instruct others concerning construction and engineering matters, not to mention sewage treatment options. All of these are matters as to which Supreme Court justices probably know less than most people, certainly less than those in industries adversely affected by their inadequate rulings and decisions.

Mayor Cassella of East Rutherford -- that's not far from the big stadium -- was quoted as saying: "I think the obsession [is] to look like you're doing something for the unhoused poor, to use the judge's phrase, [but] there's a lack of common sense, a total lack of looking at the real world."

Sometimes judges don't want to look at the real world, Mr. Mayor, like when people are being tortured, secretly, by persons affiliated with the government -- or maybe the court itself -- so as to get information that is to be used against them. Sometimes judges can't really do much because there are behind the scenes bosses telling them what to do. David Kocieniewski, "No Title and No Elected Office But Influence Accross New Jersey," The New York Times, January 7, 2006, at p. B1 (Profile of alleged Camden Boss "George Norcross III").

Who really calls the shots at the Supreme Court? Who is the real "Chief Justice"? Who's the "boss"? If the spacing between paragraphs has been affected in this essay, then it means I must have struck a nerve. Take a look at the New York Times article cited above.

This may come as a shock to citizens of New Jersey, who never elected such figures and may not even have heard of them. Democracy? Ethics? Sure. How do people put up with this for years? Ideology. Yes, I plan to get into Antonio Gramsci soon. They simply cannot conceive of any other way of life. Government is the province of organized crime and there is nothing that one can do about it. Maybe you can get along with them, the hoods, so they'll toss you some crumbs now and then. Also, fear. People are scared and do not trust either courts or police in New Jersey. I don't blame them. The same goes for the legal ethics enforcement system, which is also controlled by political forces.

Street wisdom says that the police will pick you up one night and you'll be framed for something. Nobody sees you again. Ethics charges maybe. Media smears also work or the Jersey Syndicate. Judges may be aware of it, but they'll look the other way. "That's how it works in America." I was told this by people who understood local government much better than I did, without the benefit of a law school education.

Well, it is not how it works -- and certainly not how it should work -- in America. There is a little something called the Constitution. Sometimes you can actually get the powers that be to abide by it. There is also the FBI (Scully, is that you?) and U.S. Supreme Court. Maybe by preventing efforts to obstruct and silence critics in the "blogosphere," like me, the system can demonstrate its legitimacy. I will not allow hoods and political leeches to define the society in which I raise my child. I will not surrender my faith and trust in the U.S. Constitution because too many men and women have paid the ultimate price for that document to be something more than an exhibit under glass. We must not break faith with those who have defended it -- or with those doing so today in Iraq -- by being afraid to stand up for its principles.

You want to know what is essential to America? Remember the Revolutionary War slogan that said: "Don't tread on me"? I promise you that spirit of individual rebellion in ordinary people is still very much alive in America. That spirit is essential to what this nation is all about. That independence is the aspect of U.S. politics and culture which people everywhere in the world admire and respect. It is this quality that all people respond to in American cinema. If you want one example of what I mean, see Rodney A. Smolla, Jerry Falwell v. Larry Flynt: The First Amendment on Trial (New York: St. Martins, 1988).

"Americans tell powerful leaders to get lost. The people only do what they think is right." Some version of these statements will be found to meet with approval everywhere in the world. The fear today is that, with all the media manipulation and corruption, these statements may no longer be true. But then, there are many wonderful Americans in all walks of life -- such as myself (irony?) -- who tend to express occasional mild disagreements with governmental actions, often living to tell the tale ... for a while. This is to say nothing of our humility and the attractive fragrances we wear at parties.

This contrarian irreverence is embodied in American folklore and cinematic mythology. The American rebel persona is what is great in the "images" of John Wayne ("he breaks the rules, but gets the job done!"), Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, James Dean, Paul Newman, Sydney Poitier, Denzel Washington or Susan Sarandon, Gina Davis, Carol Lombard, Mae West, Meryl Streep, Halle Berry and so many others. (See the ultimate "Chick-flick" Thelma and Louise.)

Independence and rebelliousness is not an aspect of contemporary America that is seen much these days. It should be. Rich and poor people have always fought in America's wars. This is an attitude that cuts across the political map, which should always be alive and well. Anybody seen Noam Chomsky? Bill Buckley? Jon Stewart? Sarah Vowell?

Let's fight to put those Jersey boys away and leave a better society to our children. No justice, no peace. A good place to start is with Ken Zisa as well as the cesspool that is Hackensack and the Bergen County courthouse.

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