Sound Off with Carl Johnson

Tuesday, January 31 Wednesda,y February 1 marks the debut of my local cable television show. Sound Off with Carl Johnson will air for the first time this coming Tuesday,Wednesday and weekly thereafter for at least ten episodes. Tune in to QBC Channel 2 in Millville  at 1:30PM for a half hour of amusement.

I apologize to anybody that tuned in today to find me MIA. There was a miscommunication between Quinn, the QBC station Manager, and myself. My show will air on Wednesdays beginning tomorrow.

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14 Responses to Sound Off with Carl Johnson

  1. Sonar says:

    If Quinn is allowing you to have your own show, Then Magazzu is truly finished.

  2. baba says:

    The show should be called “Carl schools the little boys”

  3. baba says:

    I’ll donate $10.00 every time you call our little friend a pussy. You could make some money this way. Capitalism is good.

  4. Calhoun says:

    I am going to go off topic and sound off about the recent judge nominations for Cumberland County.

    First some background. Back in February, 2011 (Jane Jannarone Crashing and Burning?) I commented:

    “I have written critically here before about all the campaign contributions Gary Wodlinger (and his firm) made prior to his being appointed to a judgeship. I would be disappointed if the same pattern continued with the Rs. I don’t know whom the Rs are considering for judicial nominees, but I do know who the attorneys are who have made large contributions to the Rs. One name stands out: James R. Swift, an attorney in Millville. According to reports filed with ELEC, Mr. Swift contributed $11,152 to the Cumberland County Regular Republican Organization. I have hope that he gave out of the goodness of his heart and a strong desire to clean this county up. However, were he appointed to a judgeship on the heels of these large contributions, I would lose all hope.

    “According to ELEC, Swift gave $0 to CCRRO in 2008 (Corzine was guv then). In 2009, when Christie was running and the Rs positioned to make gains in the freeholder board, he gave $6,150. In 2010, with the Rs poised to make more gains on the freeholder board, thus putting them within striking distance of reaching a majority (and thus able to give plum positions to Rs, like the county counsel position) and Christie now governor (and in a position to appoint Rs to the bench), Swift gave 11,000+ to the CCRRO.

    “Based on these data the following formula appears valid: Contributions to county party organization + serious bootlicking of the party chair = plum political appointment (like county counsel) and/or nomination to the bench.

    “The Rs are now making the judicial appointments through Christie, and after November may well being making the local appointments in Cumberland County. Thus, we will see if my cyncial formula is bipartisan.”

    Furthermore, back on July 18, 2011, MWatch (Anonymous letter raises a few questions) reported on an anonymous letter it received reporting on matters surrounding attorney Robert Malestein. At the end of the letter, several questions were raised regarding contributions made by Malestein, the likelihood that he would be nominated to the bench, and the possibility between a connection between these contributions and a judge appointment.

    Based on the most recent ELEC data Swift in 2009-2010 contributed $17,187 to Cumberland County Rs. Meanwhile Malestein gave $10,000 to County Ds. He also contributed to Lou’s NACO campaign. Neither Swift nor Malestein were contributors to local politics prior to 2009.

    Now, here we are in early 2012 and who gets nominated to judegships for the County? Swift and Malestein! Alas, my cynical formula regarding how one becomes a judge in New Jersey is indeed bipartisan and I indeed have lost all hope.

    The timing of giving by Swift and Malestein and their nominations — they didn’t give prior to 2009, they gave like hell in 2009-2010, they got nominated for judgeships in early 2012 — certainly give the impression that an appointment to a judgeship in Cumberland County, New Jersey has a price attached to it. And that price remains in Republican and Democratic administrations.

  5. baba says:

    And you are surprised ?

  6. Guess-Who says:

    Calhoun:
    Is the Local GOP (CCRRO) PROVING yet again that MONEY, MONEY, MONEY is the Motivating FACTOR to Become a Judge in Scumberland whoops Cumberland County NJ. ?

    This Practice has been done by BOTH the D’s & the R’s and again PROVES that LEADERSHIP is Non-Existence.

    This 1973 Book is a nice Read; (The finest judges money can buy, and other forms of judicial pollution) Author is Charles R. Ashman
    Chapter 10 in this BOOK is well WORTH Reading 🙂

  7. CBKennedy says:

    To quote Omar Little from “The Wire”. “.. the game’s out there, and it’s play or get played. That simple.”. The judgeship appointments are @ the center of building a strong political machine. Money, lots of it moves that machine. And while the opinions and facts stated above by Calhoun & Guess-who are valid and true, and in many ways unfair and frustrating, I don’t really see an alternative. This appointment type practice is used by the ruling party on both state and Federal level. The Supreme Court–is nominated & appointed by the sitting POUS/Senate advice and is 100% of the time a member of that President’s party+political ideology. Rage against the machine all you want, but don’t expect this game to be changed anytime soon….

  8. WuLi says:

    Haystacks – I will bet that Gary Wodlinger is happy that you have new targets! 🙂

    CBK is correct – as politicized as the selection of judges is, our systems tends to work. The alternative to appointing judges would be to elect them. Some states elect judges, and if you want to see true politicization of the system, you have it in droves in an electorial process!

    At least in NJ, after a judge is seated for two years, they cannot be forced out whenever the political winds shift. This tenure is intended to allow judges to become independent, hence the strict rules preventing sitting judges from becoming politically involved.

    Elected judges are now forced to campaign, when their time would be better spent on the cases in front of them. And do we really want judges elected simply because they have better sound bites, have a nicer public persona, or spend more money campaigning?

    States where judges are elected frequently see experienced judges ousted because of an unpopular decision, and inexperienced pundits placed. A judge must be able to rule according to the law, and not be forced to rule on the whim of public opinion merely to ensure re-election.

    So as imperfect as the system of appointing judges is, and it is disconcerting that it appears that in order to play, you have to pay, it is far better than the alternative.

    The only solution as far as I can see is to legislate the appointment process, and in the future demand that prospective judges have had no partisan political involvement for five years leading up the the appointment.

    But, does the fact that an attorney supports one party or another truly disqualify them from being a judge? Every attorney I know is politically affiliated and active in one way or another. It is sort of like all cops are Free Masons. It’s a club that an attorney must join in order to further their career.

    But party affiliation does not presuppose that the candidate will not be able to rule fairly. And of course there will always be the exception that proves the rule, God knows we have had our share of current and former scumbag judges in this county.

  9. Calhoun says:

    Sorry, CBK and Wuli,I ain’t buying the “that’s they way it is” excuse. That same line was used many times in defending all of Lou’s actions.

    When we’re dealing with an (eventual) lifetime appointment we should be casting as wide a net as possible not reducing the list of candidates based on who made large contributions to one of the political parties. I know a few attorneys that would make great judges but will never even be considered because they refuse to play this horseshit game. And the most competent and ethical lawyer I ever knew eventually left the field because she could no longer tolerate the cynical culture that pervades the law profession.

    Indeed by having this implicit shakedown requirement we pretty much guarantee that the person who eventually becomes a judge will be ethically and morally compromised. How can they not be? Most of us when we’re being considered for a position cannot increase our chances by throwing big fat wads of money towards those who are making the selection. If we did it would be called a bribe and we might get in trouble for it.

    And CBK, I am perfectly comfortable when politicians appoint judges who share their political views and philosophies. However, that’s a helluva lot different than appointing someone largely based on how much money they gave. In fact, by taking into consideration, one’s political contributions, it is less certain that the judge’s views will parallel those who were responsible for his/her appointment.

    CBK sees no alternative to our current system. Really CBK?! It’s OK for a basic meritocracy to prevail in most professions, but we must have a “pay-in-order-to-advance” approach for selecting judges? Based on that logic we might as well force the next county director of mental health pony up a cool $17K in order to be considered. Want to run Public Works that’ll be $5,000. Director of Aging, $7,000. 911, $6,000, etc., etc. What’s the difference? Yes, these department head positions are often given to politically connected people, but I cannot find the strong correlation between an appointment and large recent political contributions that is all too obvious in our judgeship appoinments.

    Messrs Swift and Malestein may turn out to be perfectly fine judges. However, can there be any doubt that had they made zero political contributions over the last few years that they would have been nominated? It’s a sad sorry system that requires one to turn themselves into a whore — allowing your politcal party to f–k you repeatedly in your wallet — before you get considered for a position you want.

    No, the really good, competent, ethical, moral people who would make the best judges cannot ever become judges because their consciences won’t allow them to go through this process. This leaves a lame short list of wanton leftovers who wind up playing this sorry game.

  10. Calhoun says:

    Carl, whatever, are you talking about? I have never targeted the Honorable Judge Gary Wodlinger. I wept bucketfuls when he was transferred from Cumberland Co. to Salem Co. (OK, I was sad that my lobbying efforts to get him transferred to Hudson Co. failed; too bad Siberia is not part of NJ) If I could, I would have made a $10,000 political contribution to keep him in the County (yeah, that’s a fib). However, such avenues are only available to attorneys when they are angling for a judgeship be they Rs or Ds (that’s not a fib). For less than a luxury car you too could be a judge. Just pony up the dough to the politcal party of your choice and the robe is yours. Right James, right Robert, right Art, right Gary?

  11. SillySilly says:

    It is interesting that judgeships are split between ONLY the Ds and the Rs. I guess an independent attorney attorney stands no chance. Too bad, maybe one of them would be good for the bench.

  12. Calhoun says:

    I am going to sound off off topic again, by giving some kudos to Dean Hawk, one of the regulars at the Cumberland County freeholder meetings.

    I have been a bit of a broken record on a few things. One of them being the contributions made by employees of the auditing firm Bowman. A quick review: On 8 June 2010, ten people, not from this county, Kirk Applegate, L. Jarred Corn, Richard Culbertson, John Dailey, Joseph Hoffmann, James Miles Jr., Todd Saler, Nina Sorello, Michael Welding, and Harry Wills, all “chose” to give $500 to the Pepitone/Thompson campaign. Rather remarkable that ten people all chose to give the same amount on the same day. Even more remarkable is that they all work for the same accounting firm: Bowman & Company, LLP from Voorhees, which previously did business with the county when the Ds had control.

    At the 24 January freeholder meeting Dean Hawk got up and complained about this issue, and hoped that the new auditing firm would not be having its employees engage in such shenanigans. Freeholder Whelan spoke up that individual people were free to give what they want so long as it was reported.

    Whelan misses the point. Only a naїve idiot would accept that these ten Bowman employees (none of whom live in Cumberland County) independently decided to give the same amount of money, on the same exact day, to the same Democratic candidates (Thompson, Pepitone).

    Dean further made Whelan squirm a bit by asking him if this is how business is done. Whelan wouldn’t concede that point, but it was pretty clear he was a bit uncomfortable having to talk about it.

    Thank you Dean for doing this — something that the local news media should have reported on a long time ago.

    Back on topic, I have heard that since the premiere of Carl’s new TV show, Sound Off, there has been a rash of TV sales in the County. I know I sold mine as fast as I could! (Sorry Carl that’s an old Hummel joke that I couldn’t resist repeating.)

  13. Calhoun wasn’t Jim Swift running for Freeholder? Just maybe that money went for his campaign. Benefit of the dout! Plus a very active member in the party not a Johnny come lately.

  14. Calhoun says:

    No Swift did not run in either 2009 or 2010. I think he ran in 2008. Gary Wodlinger wasn’t a Johnny Come Lately, either. If you’re trying to convince me that the path to a judgeship does not involve giving large sums of money to your party before your nomination (but not too close to the nomination lest the masses catch on to this), save your breath. The evidence is too overwhelming.

    Doling out judgeships is a form of bipartisanship at its worst, as the Ds and Rs in both D and R administrations make sure both parties get their share of judgeships. Remember R Marchand was nominated by D Corzine and D Malestein was just appointed by R Christie. The Ds and Rs also have an unwritten agreement to co-control the N.J. Supreme Court by making sure that the high court is always comprised of an equal number of Ds and Rs and one independent.

    Christie does a good job of portraying himself as someone who shakes things up and is an outsider. However, it’s mostly an act. In his last state of the state address, he heaped praise on Donald Norcross of all people, and the Rs while they ran hard in South Jersey they never made the Norcrosses an issue. And I don’t think that was an accident. There were certain lines they weren’t going to cross due to agreements between power brokers in both parties. More bipartisanship at its worst. Furthermore, it allowed the entrenched Ds to keep their stranglehold on southern New Jersey.

    Alex your party is more in bed with the Ds than many will admit. The partisanship you do see is oftentimes more of a staged act, sort of like a wrestling match where two wrestlers in the ring seem as though they’re trying to kill each other, only to sit afterwards in the lockeroom sharing drinks talking about how they pulled the con on all of the people in the crowd.

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