Sunday, April 19, 2009

Senator Bob Loves Xanadu!

June 12, 2009 at 4:34 P.M. I am denied access to the Internet from my home computer (shared with my child), I believe, as a result of these posts criticizing New Jersey's mafia-controlled government and the activities of Senator "Bob." ("Does Senator Menendez Have Mafia Friends.")

I will do my best to regain access to the Internet while struggling against censorship. If there are any alterations or defacements of these writings, they should be understood to be part of the censorship and harassment designed to harm me. ("What is it like to be tortured?")

I am sure that Senator Menendez joins the community of nations in congratulating Cuba upon the lifting of the prohibition on membership in the Organization of American States (OAS). There are conditions attached to this invitation to Cuba concerning "democracy" and the freeing of "political prisoners." I also favor freeing political prisoners in all of the member states, including the United States of America where Mumia Abu-Jamal is still incarcerated. ("Freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal.")

Mr Menendez can prove his commitment to human rights by speaking out for the release of Mumia Abu-Jamal and by using his good offices to assist in this effort to win a pardon for a tortured dissident intellectual, Mr. Abu-Jamal.

I am afraid that further censorship efforts and defacements of this essay must now be expected despite America's commitment to freedom of speech. This may be aimed at hurting me and (even more) at embarassing President Obama, who is the leading advocate of freedom of speech in the world. I urge President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton to avoid appearances with Senator Bob, if at all possible, until the grand juries looking into Bob's "shenanigans" hand down their decisions.

June 7, 2009 Television news broadcasts anounced that "construction is scheduled to begin on a rail link" between the Xanadu mall (that doesn't exist) and New York city "from the Meadowlands." The rail link is "scheduled for completion in 2017." The same authorities stated in 2006 that Xanadu and the rail link would open in August, 2009. In 2017, they will anounce completion by 2030. The hope is that everybody will be dead by 2030.

April 22, 2009 at 2:33 P.M. Obstructions of access to these sites, blocking of Google and MSN makes it very difficult to reach my work today. No italics or bold script could be used when this article was first posted. The uncovering of a CIA conspiracy and linkage to harsh interrogations aimed at establishing an association between Al Qaeda and Iraq -- an association which was known by intelligence agents not to exist when they were trying to prove to Congress that it did exist -- this intelligence effort was made in order to provide "cover," allegedly, for the U.S. military venture in Iraq. More "Weapons of Mass Deception." A new Senate report of these matters has just been made public. Many young Americans will lose their lives as a result of this "cover."

No italics or bold script were available due to hacking into my computer when I first posted this essay. "Errors" were inserted, again, in the text. I have struggled to make corrections. More vandalism must be expected.

See "Report Links CIA to Harsh Military Interrogations," (April 22, 2009) and Peter Baker & Scott Shane, "Pressure Grows to Investigate Interrogations," The New York Times, April 21, 2009, at p. A1. Scott Shane, "Waterboarding Used 266 Times on 2 Suspects," The New York Times, April 20, 2009, at p. A1.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is rumored to be contemplating a secret trip to Cuba for undisclosed negotiations, has called on countries (including Cuba) to respect human rights. Revelations of torture, cover-ups, censorship, suppression of speech, tainted judges and courts in New Jersey and other American human rights catastrophes -- for which the U.S. is held responsible under principles of international law -- will not help with Secretary Clinton's efforts.

I suspect that Cuban-American Right-wingers (who have demonized Ms. Clinton in the past) are behind attempts to depict her as incompetent in the media, while making it appear that President Obama is behind such "shenanigans."

I urge the U.S. Justice Department to act on evidence of New Jersey's crimes and tortures by U.S. officials in order to preserve the appearance of integrity in our efforts to strengthen human rights everywhere in the world. Someday, even in New Jersey, torture will be a thing of the past. See Assata Shakur, "Prisoner in the United States," in "Still Black, Still Strong" (New York: Columbia University-Semiotexte, 1993), pp. 205-220. (Testimony of Assata Shakur, whose torture may be compared with what I have described BEFORE my discovery of this book, possibly at the hands of some of the same officials.)

April 19, 2009 at 11:56 A.M. Harassment and computer warfare continues.

March 24, 2009 at 8:45 A.M. Attacks on these writings are a daily reality, emanating from Trenton government computers, defacements, alterations, obstructions will be a routine phenomenon. Access to MSN is still a problem. Anne Milgram is rumored to be on her way out.

New attacks today make it very difficult to edit these writings, spacing has been affected, again, and (so far) all attempts to get rid of these obstructions have been unsuccessful. I will do my best to continue writing, even under these conditions. The following article appeared recently in New Jersey:

Once upon a time, at a news conference that now seems long, long ago, there was word that a dazzling paradise would rise from the SWAMPS of New Jersey.

There would be a 16-story indoor snow slope, where residents could ski on the sultriest of summer days. They would build the tallest Ferris wheel in America, an Egyptian-themed movie theater, a skydiving simulation tunnel, a candy dreamland with a chocolate waterfall and a 1,000-gallon jellyfish aquarium that would light up like a lava lamp. They called it: Xanadu.

Five years later, the 2.3 million-square-foot complex at the Meadowlands stands as a cautionary tale of the parochial politics awaiting the $787 BILLION federal stimulus plan. The same regional authorities behind a troubled train line to Xanadu are now preparing one of the biggest "shovel ready" projects in the nation -- a $9 BILLION rail tunnel under the Hudson River.

[The $9 BILLION will disappear and nothing will be built.]

As stimulus money begins to flow to state and local governments, the Obama administration last week warned state auditors and budget officers that a lot is riding on how responsibly they handle the infusion of taxpayer dollars.

[In New Jersey, most of the money will be stolen by the mafia. $1 BILLION in tax increases has been approved for New Jersey residents in 2009-2010.]

"If the verdict on this effort is that we've wasted the money, we built things that were unnecessary, or we've done things that are legal but make no sense, then, folks, don't look for any help from the federal government for a long while," Vice President Joe Biden said.

It won't be an easy task. Though most of the money will flow through states, some of the projects will be managed by local and regional authorities that have proliferated in recent decades but get little scrutiny. Obscure federal agencies that have mismanaged funds in the past will now have billions to spend. And relentlessly, fraud experts say, the common huckster will try to make a buck by rigging a bid or overbilling the government.

Xanadu is slated to open in August, [2009] but some have their doubts. The development and its publicly-financed rail link have faced delays, increased costs and recurring controversy ever since ground broke.

[In March, 2010 construction has halted and no one can say, in Governor Christie's words, "if and when" Xanadu will open for business.]

Conflict-of-interest allegations pervaded the project. Losing bidders sued. The developer endured a securities investigation and nearly went bankrupt. The train line was routed through toxic lagoons where an oil company dumped chemicals for decades.

[New Jersey is called: "Cancer Alley."]

The stimulus package allocates $350 MILLION for oversight, with plans to hire dozens of new auditors and investigators.

[A lot of that oversight money will also be stolen.]

The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners has estimated that U.S. organizations lose 7 percent of annual revenues to fraud. Should it hold true for the stimulus plan, that's $55 BILLION -- roughly the state budget of Ohio.

[New Jersey's losses due to fraud far exceed this percentage because politicians, like Senator Bob, get a piece of every pie -- including the Xanadu pie.]

"If there's money to be had, someone will come along and try to find a way to deprive you of it," said Allan Bachman, the association's education manager. "The government resources are stretched right now in terms of accountability. To add this task to them is going to be a huge burden."

I. Unprecedented Cascade of Cash.

With spending spread far and wide, the stimulus package signed by President Obama in mid-February reads like a Nano version of the federal budget. Everything from lead abatement in public housing to space exploration gets money. Some will be doled out to states and some to federal contractors, some by formula and some by grant.

The various tentacles have public interest groups on edge, given the billions of dollars wasted and abused in the reconstruction of Iraq and after Hurricane Katrina.

"It's monumental," said Craig Jennings of the open government group OMB Watch. "I don't want to be too hyperbolic, but this is something that hasn't been done before and it's a lot of money."

Some small agencies will see their budgets balloon. Take the Rural Utilities Service, an Agriculture Department bureau started in the 1930s to bring electricity to the heartland. Its broadband loan program, which in the 2009 budget had $300 million, will now administer grants and loans worth $2.5 billion.

In 2005, the inspector general found problems with a quarter of the funds the program had received in its first four years. The service spent $45 million, intended to bring Internet service to underserved rural areas, to wire 19 affluent subdivisions in the Houston suburbs. One of those, the Sienna Plantation, is built around a golf course within five miles of the city limits. Another, River Park West, is just outside Sugar Land, which has a median household income of $95,000 -- one of the highest in Texas.

Government watchdogs also might have a hard time stopping crooked contractors from getting stimulus money. One of their main shields against fraud, a database of banned contractors, is riddled with holes, according to a Government Accountability Office report last month. Companies that have defrauded the government continued to receive contracts by simply changing their addresses or because officials failed to check the system, the GAO found.

[N.J. officials are usually paid off to look the other way. Are you concerned about government corruption, Senator Bob?]

In one case, a computer-services company convicted of falsifying records received a new contract because, when searching the database, procurement officers left out a comma. In another, the owner of a medical equipment firm evaded a five-year ban for Medicare fraud by transferring the company to a neighbor, who transferred it back to the owner's wife, who used her maiden name to avoid detection.

Political thorns also await the stimulus as state and local officials fight over how to spend it.

In Texas, the stimulus dredged up an old political quarrel when the initial project list devoted money to repairing toll roads. That inflamed critics who say people shouldn't have to pay to use a road that is also built with tax dollars.

"The stimulus package came into play after all these years of battling," said Terri Hall, director of the anti-toll group Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom. "It brings up the double-tax open wound and just puts salt in it."

Complicating the politics and oversight is a maze of local and regional authorities that will be conduits for large chunks of stimulus money. ("Big Pappa and New Jersey's Third World Ethics" and "More Problems for Menendez -- Tapes!")

In the 1950s, the U.S. Census counted 12,000 such districts, which develop everything from water supplies to railroads to housing, sometimes mixing public money in partnership with private developers. By 2007, they proliferated to more than 37,000.

The original idea behind such districts was to cut through red tape and reform a patronage-driven system of public works. But more recently, appointments to these special district boards have been dominated by campaign contributors and developers, creating potential conflicts of interest that can raise suspicions about who benefits.

“Those authorities were created in response to the shortcomings of the political system and multitude of municipal boundaries,” said James Hughes, dean of the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. “In creating those instruments to solve a problem, they added additional problems.”

II. Rail Link a Critical Link.

Perhaps no place shows the potential for conflicts more than northeast New Jersey.

[No, you don't say? Dem guys think we ain't honest!]

That is where two authorities involved in helping Xanadu get rail service -- the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and NJ Transit – are hoping to land $3 BILLION from the stimulus for the Hudson River tunnel. As recently as January, local officials talked about landing stimulus money for a second rail line to Xanadu.

Xanadu was conceived in 2002 as a way to redevelop the Meadowlands, a series of wetlands in northeast New Jersey best known as the home of Giants Stadium and the Nets basketball arena. The $2.3 BILLION project has relied on hundreds of millions of dollars in public spending for transportation improvements and environmental cleanup. But as with many aspects of Xanadu, precisely how much the public has invested is in dispute.

[Wait, somebody get a calculator. No wonder they want to censor me. They don't want you to discover these facts.]

The New Jersey Sierra Club estimates the public contribution exceeds $900 MILLION [that's your money!] when property tax breaks, financing and other types of subsidies are counted. But John Samerjan, a spokesman for the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, disputes that. He said the developers have so far spent $260 MILLION for lease payments to the state and for transportation and environmental cleanup costs.

[Oh, is that all? What the hell then ...]

Inside Xanadu, workers are laying tile and installing wires. The structure itself is nearly finished, but much work remains for the tenants. Two years behind schedule, the carnival-colored complex looms over the highway as a vibrant monument to economic revitalization or a gaudy albatross, depending on whom you ask. Local newspapers have exhaustively chronicled the project’s many ups and downs.

[Any public project in New Jersey will always be "2 years behind schedule with massive cost overruns."]

In 2003, The New York Times reported that Earle Mack, who sat on the board of one of Xanadu’s developers, Mack-Cali Realty Corp., provided a private jet to then-New York Gov. George Pataki for a Caribbean trip. A month later, Pataki and New Jersey Gov. James ["You gotta pay-to-play"] McGreevey agreed to have the Port Authority finance the $150 MILLION NJ Transit rail link. Aides said at the time that Pataki wasn’t lobbied by Mack and had repaid him for the flight.

Costs of the rail line have since ballooned to nearly $200 MILLION. The connection was critical: Xanadu’s promotional materials say the train is capable of bringing 10,000 people an hour to the complex. The 2.3-mile link also would cut traffic congestion and fulfill a long plan to connect the Meadowlands to New York City by rail, benefiting not only Xanadu but the stadiums, racetrack and concert hall.

[How successful will a shopping mall be during a long-term recession? There are 5 other shopping malls within 15 minutes driving distance of Xanadu.]

By 2006, when it came time for a Port Authority vote to formally approve the rail spur, four of the 10 commissioners present had to recuse themselves. The chairman, Anthony Coscia, works for a law firm that represents the Sports Authority, [Bill 'em, Cheat 'um, and How, Esqs.] the board overseeing the Xanadu project. Another commissioner was David Mack, Earle’s brother and a director at Mack-Cali.

Xanadu’s main developer, Mills Corp., disclosed in 2006 that the Securities and Exchange Commission had opened a formal investigation into the company and that it would restate its earnings because of accounting errors.

[Jose, you got company. Several more legal eagles in Hudson County are heading for a big fall. Accounting errors? Dipping in the trust account, boys? I never did that, but they said I was "unethical." Please see "Law and Ethics in the Soprano State" and "New Jersey's 'Ethical' Legal System."]

With Mills teetering toward bankruptcy, New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine’s economic development chief, Gary Rose, helped find new investors for Xanadu – Colony Capital and Dune Real Estate, The Record of Bergen County reported.

At the time, Rose had an equity interest in Dune, The Record said, citing public disclosure forms. Rose also held stock and mutual funds in Goldman Sachs, which stood to lose more than $1 BILLION in loans if Xanadu went under, the newspaper said.

In an interview, Rose disputed The Record account and said he was only trying to help the players work together. He said he disposed of his interests in Dune as soon as he was advised they were joining Colony in an effort to rescue Xanadu.

The close connections feed skepticism nonetheless.

[Skepticism? Whatta-ya talking about? I love people. Right, Cheech?]

“If you look at who’s involved [Senator Bob?] and at what levels they’re involved,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the Sierra Club’s New Jersey chapter, “you end up seeing that this is part of this whole witch’s brew of New Jersey political insider dealings.”

[Take the canolis, Louie. Geez.]

Also raising critics’ suspicion was the decision to route the rail link through a federal Superfund site, which the Sports Authority purchased from Honeywell International for $6.2 MILLION, a price some said was unnecessarily high.

[Hey, it was worth 2 million, plus a little something for the kids. Part of the purchase price may have been coming back to the politicians under the table. Stuart Rabner was N.J. Attorney General when the project was planned. Prisco? "Stuart Rabner and Conduct Unbecoming to the Judiciary in New Jersey."]

Honeywell, based in New Jersey, has donated tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions through its political action committee in recent years. The firm has hired several former political aides and state officials, including the former assistant commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection.

“You wonder, ‘Why did they pick that site over all other places?’ ” said Mayor John Hipp of Rutherford, just south of the Meadowlands. “I think that an investigation should be warranted. It’s a disaster.”

Honeywell spokeswoman Victoria Streitfeld denied that politics influenced the property deal. The company remains on the hook for remediation on the property it sold.

[Victoria Streitfeld is a New Jersey lawyer who is duty bound to speak the truth. Make her an ethics official. See "Does it Look Like I'm Negotiating?"]

Samerjan, the Sports Authority spokesman, said it’s difficult to avoid environmental problems in the Meadowlands, given its history as an industrial landfill.

["They gotta keep picking up the bodies of dead politicians," a gentleman identified as "Fat Tony" said on Monday. Mr. "Fat Tony" is a New Jersey Superior Court judge.]

Port Authority spokesman Steve Sigmund said it’s unfair [it's all relative!] to compare the Xanadu rail link with the Hudson River tunnel. “Yes, they are both rail projects that happen to start in the Meadowlands,” he said. “But beyond that they are totally different projects.”

In the past few years, he said, the Port Authority has taken steps to become more transparent – opening committee meetings to the public, allowing public comment periods before decisions and broadcasting meetings on the Internet.

III. A New Sheriff in Town.

[They went that-a-way. We'll head them off at the pass!]

Not all stimulus projects will involve as much money or murky politics.

With the fraud in Iraq and New Orleans fresh in their minds, Democratic leaders included what they say is “unprecedented” accountability and transparency in the stimulus: $350 million for oversight, or about $1 for every $2,250 in the plan.

[Lots of luck. "New Jersey's Superior and Supreme Court Whores" and "New Jersey's Feces-Covered Supreme Court."]

Spending will be overseen by the new Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, which some have dubbed the RAT board. It is composed of the inspectors general from every major federal agency receiving money.

[You won't see them no more.]

Earlier this month, Obama appointed Earl Devaney, a respected inspector general in the Interior Department, to head the board. Given the awe and praise that followed, one might have guessed that a tumbleweed had blown through the Capitol while someone cued the theme to "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly."

Devaney’s resume includes taking down powerful lobbyist Jack Abramoff. He exposed sex, cocaine and corruption in the government’s oil-and-gas royalty program. He once caught someone taking a bribe with a camera hidden in the mouth of a shellacked alligator’s head. “Earl is not one for sweeping things under the rug,” said Joseph Hungate, chief deputy to the Treasury inspector general for tax administration.

[They won't like that guy in New Jersey.]

In a few weeks, the stimulus board will take over, the Web site where President Obama has promised that the public can track "every dime" of spending. But the president's Office of Management and Budget issued reporting guidelines that some critics say contradict his pledge.

Recipients of funds -- states, federal contractors and regional transit and housing authorities -- are required to report how they spend the money and to whom they award contracts. Those who receive funds from the recipients, such as cities and community college districts, will not. “All State A has to do is report the subgrant to City B, but City B has no requirement to report anything,” Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said at a recent hearing. “So how to do we get to the contracts?”

Robert Nabors, OMB deputy director, responded that the Obama administration was trying to balance the desire for transparency with the burden on small businesses.

“I just think this guidance doesn’t match what we’ve advertised,” McCaskill shot back. Jennings’ group, OMB Watch, is urging the administration to provide detailed data in such a way that citizen watchdogs can look for political influence.

“It’s going to be very difficult to go through reams of [documents,] find one particular contractor and say, ‘Ah! This one particular contractor has gotten 500 contracts and he’s made X number of campaign contributions,’ ” he said.

[The contributions will be made by contractors through third parties and will not be detectable on the surface of transactions. Much of the money for such contributions will come from illegal transactions, mob cash in New Jersey. Political contributions provide an avenue for money laundering mafia and drug cartel profits. Right, Senator Bob?]

Pay-to-play cases draw big headlines. But the dire economy and the influx of stimulus dollars create textbook conditions for more mundane abuse, fraud examiner Bachman said. “I’m holding my breath on this,” he said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if some period of time down the line we’re still prosecuting frauds going years back because of the stimulus package.”

Bob Hennelly of public radio station WNYC in New York contributed reporting on Xanadu. This story is part of ShovelWatch, a collaboration by ProPublica and WNYC to track the $787 billion stimulus bill Congress passed in February.

Today has been a nightmare in terms of attacks against my sites, distortions of my posts and ability to edit or proofread my work. I think these examples of public censorship with the cooperation -- or deliberate inattention -- of Trenton officials send the message that: 1) censorship is routine in American public communications and the Internet, despite disclaimers and the First Amendment; 2) the feds either can not (or will not) protect persons fighting state government corruption, where the potential felons are of the same political party as federal officials; 3) allegations by Chinese and other scholars of a sharp decline in America's fortunes and values -- evidenced by efforts to move to a new global reserve currency -- are demonstrably accurate.

I live in and love the USA. However, I am baffled by the persistence of these mafia cybercrime tactics taking place before the eyes of the world. I find it hard to believe that N.J. or U.S. lawyers and law enforcement are unable to control the harassment that I face, every day, or to provide me with the documents and records to which I am entitled by law. If this is a matter of a payoff, like most things in New Jersey, maybe I can try for a lay away plan.

Do you believe that this inability to do anything about torture and censorship of a person fighting mafia corruption will encourage others to come forward or cooperate with law enforcement efforts against organized crime in New Jersey or anywhere? Has it been long since you've seen Gloria, Bob? How about the real estate twins? ("Is Senator Bob 'For' Human Rights?" and "Senator Bob Struggles to Find His Conscience.")


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