Haystacks Calhoun asked me to post this opinion piece. It speaks for itself.
Long and Balicki: Outside and Personal Interests Abound
Since Doug Long and Warden Balicki are now in place as Lou’s successors at as Cumberland County Democratic Organization (CCDO) Chair, it is worth reviewing them a bit.
First Long. According to reports filed with the state, Mr. Long himself (i.e., not including donations made by his law firm) since 2001 (not including most 2011 contributions, which are not yet available) has contributed $27,950 to state and county political causes. Of that amount, $20,450 (73%) has been given to non-Cumberland Co. causes (i.e., Camden, Gloucester Co. interests) and 5,000 (18%) has been given to Cumberland Co. interests (another $2,500 was given to Sweeney and I don’t count this in either tally since his district includes parts of Cumberland Co. and other counties). Long’s giving ($18,250) to the county Democratic committees is similar, with $8,250 (45%) going to Camden Co., $5,500 (30%) going to Gloucester Co., and only $4,500 (25%) going to Cumberland Co. His pattern of giving makes it clear that Long’s interests are to the north where Sweeney and Norcross run things. In fact, as recently as April 19th Mr. Long made a $1,500 contribution to the Camden Co. Democratic Executive Committee.
Balicki’s political donations to state and county political causes according to state records: $500 Thompson/Pepitone (2010), $2000 Gloucester Co. Democratic Executive Committee ($1,000 each in 2006, 2007), $350 Doug Fisher (2005), $600 to Cumberland County Democratic Organization (2003). Balicki’s donations are much less, but the large donations to Gloucester Co. Ds to point to outside connections. More concerning about Balicki is not what he gives but what he receives. According to public records, Robert Balicki receives a pension of $50,456 from the state of New Jersey. He has been receiving this since 1998. Of course, Balicki is not retired and currently works full time as warden in Cumberland County at a salary of $99,500. So he receives $149,556 annually from the state.
My quick review and conclusion is that Long cannot be trusted as being a true representative of Cumberland Co.’s interests, his outside connection and contributions making this all too clear. Balicki, on the other hand, is a local (with terms on the Millville School Board), but he has been on the public dole a long time and he too has connections to Sweeney (and thus Norcross) through his stint as warden in Gloucester County. Furthermore, Balicki serves at the pleasure of the freeholder board and reports to them at their meetings every month. This is a most unusual arrangement, especially if the Rs take control of the freeholder board next year.
The CCDO made terrible choices for co-chairs, and only one member, Pab Sungenis, had the guts to recognize this, and it appears he was rewarded with a dead rat on his stoop (who would stoop so low?). (Look on the bright side Pab, former state senator and critic of the Camden Co. Democratic machine, Alene Ammond, received a severed pig’s head on her stoop when she stepped out of line. Too bad Pab doesn’t have a law degree as he would be looking at a judgeship, Donald Norcross once saying that one way to get rid of “troublemakers” is to make them a judge.)
People throughout the state and nation are being made to make sacrifices, the most recent example being the votes in the NJ state legislature this week on pensions and collective bargaining (Sweeney and Van Drew will campaign using rhetoric that they made “tough choices,” while ignoring that their inaction in previous legislative session is what caused this crisis.). However, where is the sacrifice from the politically connected? Long’s got plenty to give and Balicki takes in plenty, pulling off the neat trick of simultaneously being retired and working full time.
Some comments here were critical of Pab and me for suggesting that Lou was not a Norcross lackey or sycophant. While this is a complicated issue – Lou clearly doing the Camden and Gloucester County bigwigs’ bidding in his later years, it can be said of Lou that he was not endorsed by Norcross (Norcross not yet having the broad power base when Lou was getting into the game) . However, I am not sure we cannot say that about the current CCDO co-chairs.
(As an aside according to ELEC , State Senator Sweeney over the past few years has raised $1,472,627 and spent $526,615 for his June 2011 primary. State Senator Van Drew raised 291,935 and spent $311,287 for his primary. Sweeney’s and Van Drew’s opponents for the primary: nobody! It sure costs a lot of money to beat nobody!)
Lou’s domination of the Democratic party locally made me leave my party locally. I don’t think the recent appointments of Balicki and Long (or the shenanigans of Sweeney and Van Drew. who demand sacrifices from everyone but themselves) will do much to bring us disenchanted Ds back into the fold.