Jane Christy speaks out on the corruption that has made New Jersey the brunt of even more jokes than usual:
To the Editor:
New Jersey’s motto, “Perfect Together” should become “IMperfect Together,” with the recent news of international money laundering and state political corruption that led federal authorities to arrest 44 officials and prominent people.
It is reported that several hundred IRS and FBI agents raided locations throughout New Jersey resulting in the roundup of mayors and Assembly people. In a news article, “Ed Koher, head of the FBI’s white-collar and public corruption division, claims New Jersey’s corruption problem is one of the worst, if not the worst, in the nation.”
This is another black eye for New Jersey. When will it stop? When will the people in this state holding public offices learn that they cannot continue to break the law? Out of the 44 in question, 43 are Democrats.
Those of us living in Cumberland County should ask if the tentacles of corruption could reach our county? Some of us think this is a real possibility, since in the last 10 years the Cumberland County Democratic Party received nearly $100,000 from Camden County, one of the two biggest New Jersey Democrat power counties. The other power county is Hudson County, represented by most of the alleged corrupted officials.
I’ll ask the question: Who among us is tightly connected to Camden? Earlier this year, our Freeholder Director Louis Magazzu, together with his Democrat- controlled Board of Chosen Freeholders, hired Camden County Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli Jr. to work as Cumberland’s planning board solicitor. Mr. Cappelli also is a member of the Camden County law firm, Florio, Perrucci, Steinhardt and Foder.
While this latest embarrassment to the world is fresh in our minds, we need to ask our local politicians more hard questions:
1. What is behind the continued rumors that Prosecutor Ron Casella will be replaced? Casella’s reappointment is long over due. A couple of weeks ago, two senators, Sen. Sweeney and Sen. Van Drew, said they were looking to name a new prosecutor for Cumberland County. Could this be a direct result of Freeholder Director Magazzu blaming Prosecutor Casella for bringing the lawsuit, often referred to as the Bigley, against us?
In actuality, it was Mr. Magazzu’s unsuccessful meddling in the prosecutor’s office and the debacle that has followed that caused the Bigley. Mr. Magazzu placed politics above professional and independent law enforcement. The irony is Magazzu continues to point the finger of blame at Casella for something that could have been avoided.
The truth of the matter is Casella needed to hire two people to effectively manage his office. Former Freeholder Director Douglas Rainear was running for re-election that year and wanted to show taxpayers a “zero” budget. He and Magazzu dug in their heels to block Casella from hiring his two employees. After many meetings and long hours behind closed doors where a lot of yelling and berating of our prosecutor took place, Casella had no choice: he filed the Bigley and he won. The law is clear: the prosecutor’s office has to be properly funded. Magazzu and Rainear both refused to abide by the law.
The courts ruled, not Ron Casella, that funding for the prosecutor be doubled. The courts also ruled that the prosecutor’s office be allocated sufficient space to operate efficiently.
Instead of the minimal cost of two employees, Cumberland County taxpayers now have to pay upwards of $12 million to renovate a building to house the prosecutor’s offices. Casella never asked for that, but Magazzu’s stubbornness cost us at least $12 million. The courts ruled not only for two more employees, but several.
Today, Casella is considered a “holdover” for re-appointment. His job is still in jeopardy. That brings us to the next question:
2. Is this the right time for our freeholder director to ask state legislators and our governor to replace Cumberland County’s prosecutor when people around the world are watching New Jersey’s ethical behavior? What is the motivation behind replacing Casella?
3. Can our county leadership continue to do whatever it wants no matter how its actions affect people? We have a little fiefdom here in Cumberland County where our leaders believe they can do what they feel like. One newspaper called New Jersey a “Culture of Corruption.” Mr. Magazzu is a master at governing by cronyism, surprise agendas and secrecy. He represents old-style politics: the boss/political machine model that has tarnished this state so badly. His kind of leadership is a model for failed government.
4. Why is Cumberland County still at the top of all the wrong lists? Magazzu will try to tell you we are all to blame. That’s not true. We, the Independent Leaders, Jennifer Swift, Bruce Peterson and myself, tried to solve the issues, but Magazzu created roadblocks all along the way, because it’s his way or no way. We know his way doesn’t work. We’re still in the same place we were 20 years ago.
5. We also need to ask ourselves why Magazzu has loaded the CCIA board with his minions. The CCIA, under the capable leadership of Steve Wymbs, is the most efficiently and effectively run authority in New Jersey. We can only assume that the freeholder director wants control of the money. I’ll need to write a sequel to this letter as a result of the CCIA board’s action Tuesday, July 28, 2009.
6. Mr. Magazzu is symptomatic of the party bosses and politicians who have made this state into the mess it’s become. We’ve been there to observe his control techniques to try to gain as much power as he can. He stifles any opposition and thumbs his nose at checks and balances. The three of us, Swift, Peterson, and I, want to make a change in county government on Nov. 3.
There have been more than 130 prosecuted New Jersey politicians. You can read about them in Bob Ingle’s and Sandy McClure’s “The Soprano State: New Jersey’s Culture of Corruption.” The Web site “thesopranostate.com” presents updates to the book and includes this latest alleged corrupted roundup.
Ingles claims that he warned Governor Corzine against appointing Joe Doria as commissioner to the Department of Community Affairs. Now Doria has resigned and Governor Corzine didn’t waste any time accepting his resignation.
I, for one, hope our law enforcement authorities do not stop until they look throughout this entire state to “drain the swamp,” as one reporter urged. I hope the authorities make the guilty with low values and corrupt intentions know they are being watched both day and night.
Jane Y. Christy
Candidate for Freeholder
Running as an Independent Leader Millville