If Christie reeks then how much must New Jersey smell not to have noticed earlier?

Yet another hit piece on New Jersey governor-for-the-moment Chris Christie appears in the latest issue of the New Republic (Chris Christie’s entire career reeks.  It’s not just the bridge) but this one is a little different in that it puts Christie’s actions in context (i.e. in New Jersey).  Among the more telling excerpts from the article:

The problem with Christie isn’t merely that he is a bully. It’s that his political career is built on a rotten foundation. Christie owes his rise to some of the most toxic forces in his state—powerful bosses who ensure that his vow to clean up New Jersey will never come to pass. He has allowed them to escape scrutiny, rewarded them for their support, and punished their enemies. All along, even as it looked like Christie was attacking the machine, he was really just mastering it.

To say that corruption was a problem in the Garden State was an epic understatement—its political system might as well have been expressly designed to facilitate public fraud.

In most of the United States, the big political machines have been broken, or reduced to wheezing versions of their former selves. In New Jersey, though, they’ve endured like nowhere else. The state has retained its excessively local distribution of power—566 municipalities, 21 counties, and innumerable commissions and authorities, all of them generous repositories of contracts and jobs. The place still has bona fide bosses—perhaps not as colorful as the old ones, but about as powerful. The bosses drum up campaign cash from people and firms seeking public jobs and contracts, and direct it to candidates, who take care of the bosses and the contributors—a self-perpetuating cycle as reliable as photosynthesis.

At first, Christie said the arrest had been left to the marshals. But later, he cast Treffinger’s treatment in moral terms. Corrupt officials, he said, shouldn’t be coddled—they were “worse than the street criminal because the street criminal never pretends to be anything but what he or she is.” (Local lawyers wondered whether the public shaming might be linked to Treffinger’s observation, caught on a wiretap, that Christie was a “fat fuck” who “wouldn’t know a law book from a cookbook.”) “The perception was that the U.S. attorney was sending a message,” one lawyer told me.

By taking down some of the state’s bosses while leaving others off-limits, Christie had effectively turned the supposedly apolitical role of prosecutor into that of kingmaker. It was a brilliant strategy. New Jersey offered such a target-rich environment that Christie was able to get credit for taking down a slew of crooked officials and build alliances with some of the most powerful bosses in the state at the same time.

Legislators told me of seeing GOP colleagues who had threatened to defy Christie on key votes leaving his office in tears or drenched with sweat.

Christie used a corrupt system to expand his own power and burnish his own image, and he did it so artfully that he nearly came within striking distance of the White House. When he got cozy with Democratic bosses, people only saw a man willing to work across the aisle. When he bullied his opponents, they only saw a truth-teller. It was one of the most effective optical illusions in American politics—until it wasn’t.

The story goes on for 13 pages when you print them all out but with each new example of sanctioned corruption masquerading as government (that I am all too aware of from examples in my own backyard) two thoughts kept intruding:

  1. Where in this equation do the silenced majority of citizen-outsiders factor in; and
  2. how is a REAL reformer ever going to rise though the feculence that is New Jersey party politics?

17 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Anonymous on February 14, 2014 at 5:19 am

    JOHN CORZINE DIDNT SEEM TO WANT TO WIN THE ELECTION, NOW WE MAY ALL REALLY WONDER WHY. WOW!

    Reply

  2. Posted by marbs on February 14, 2014 at 10:58 am

    I like the title “Governor for now” I just do not think Christie will ever resign, nor would he be impeached as long as Norcross is as powerful as the article infers. The legislature talks tough but that’s about it. The only hope would be criminal charges against both the Gov and Lt Gov. If the investigations ongoing had access to clean e-mails not redacted ones (Gee this not national security stuff) it could easily be determined who ordered or knew about the bridge closure etc.I would love to see who Bridget Kelly CC’d on her e-mails. Everyone has high priced lawyers including the Gov (on our dime at the discounted rate of $650 per hr) to stifle this investigation. The only wild card will be when one of these lawyers has their client spill the beans for immunity but they better hurry and get there quick. My money would be on Kelly or Wildstein.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Anonymous on February 14, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    Christie is nothing more than a useful idiot. He most certainly was not and is not the smartest person in the room. Now his enemies will destroy him. I’m not expecting change anytime soon. The smoke and mirrors game is up!

    Reply

  4. Posted by Anonymous on February 15, 2014 at 1:12 am

    Hey John, when will the COLA appeal be settled? any news or ideas

    Reply

    • I know almost nothing about how appellate judges work so I can’t speak to timing.

      Currently they’re asking for briefs on the impact of the Internal Revenue Code on this issue (and something about an Arizona case) and those should all be filed by the end of February. However, the New Jersey plans got favorable determination letters from the IRS in 2012 so someone will put that in a brief and the IRC issue goes away. All we have is the judges getting an extra month to mull over their decision which, based on what I saw in that courtroom, looks like it will be to restore the COLAs.

      Reply

      • Posted by Tough Love on February 15, 2014 at 1:27 am

        Quoting…”All we have is the judges getting an extra month to mull over their decision which, based on what I saw in that courtroom, looks like it will be to restore the COLAs.”

        Thereby hastening the system’s demise …. followed by pay-as-you-go (accompanied by massive and ongoing tax increases), until Taxpayer’s finally revolt.

        Reply

        • I agree and one of the reasons the judges will rule for the COLA return (aside from the state having a pathetic case) is that the imminent demise of the system is not on the radar of the judges thanks to the phony actuarial numbers that have been consistently presented for the sole purpose of loweing contribution levels and I don’t think the state included anything about the horrendous funding level of the plans in the arguments. It may have paid off for them if they had asked Milliman to mark up their Detroit report for New Jersey..

          Reply

          • Posted by Tough Love on February 15, 2014 at 1:59 am

            Not to mention that these judges would certainly like THEIR COLA increases when they retire.

  5. Posted by Anonymous on February 15, 2014 at 4:58 am

    wow are the judges that greedy that they are really concerned about the COLA for themselves only.

    Reply

    • Posted by Tough Love on February 15, 2014 at 12:03 pm

      Seems to be the case ……….

      When the law suspending COLAs was passed, the judges (actually, it was a single greedy judge, but applicable to all NJ judges) sued to have it overturned (with reference to judges only) on the basis that NJ’s Constitution says that judicial pay cannot be impaired.

      Notwithstanding that it was a stretch for the Court (meaning OTHER JUDGES in NJ) to find that judicial “pay” included pension COLAs, the Court found in favor of the judges and re-instituted pension COLAs for them.

      It took an electoral vote changing NJ’s Constitution to make the COLA suspension applicable to NJ’s judges.

      ————————–

      This time, if reversed, it will likely reinstate the COLAs for everyone,

      Reply

    • Posted by Tough Love on February 15, 2014 at 3:29 pm

      I’m stunned. Based on the $$ figures, the Unions got VERY ltiile back.

      I’m guessing the Union membership will not approve this deal.

      Reply

  6. Posted by Eric on February 15, 2014 at 8:30 pm

    John:
    As I said, the cost of living adjustment should only be reinstated for those who have already retired before the change in the law came into effect. You said that the handbook for retirees promises this raise; people acted upon it and retired. Those that did not retire, know ahead of time that they will not receive the cost of living adjustment and may stay at their job, retire later, seek other employment before retiring etc.
    As I said, I know a retired Superior Court Judge who pays for his medicals. Trenton told him that the medicals will increase, but he can use his cost of living adjustment to help defray that cost.
    It only seems fair to those who depended upon the law at the time should not later be penalized by an unfair change. They cannot recover.
    I know Tough Love will crucify me for this position, but it seems a way to arrive at a just conclusion to this mess.
    Eric

    Reply

    • Posted by Tough Love on February 15, 2014 at 11:36 pm

      No crucifixion, I just find comparisons of what Public Sector workers get to those of comparable PRIVATE Sector workers to be more appropriate …………. not one Public Sector worker group to another, or a Public Sector group simply demanding what was promised without consideration of whether that “promise” was tainted by the Unions buying the favorable votes of those granting the promised benefits.

      Reply

    • Posted by truthnolie on February 16, 2014 at 9:35 am

      “the handbook for retirees promises this raise”

      No…It is called the handbook for MEMBERS which promised the raise when someone entered the system (i.e.; got hired).

      Anyone who entered the system before it was changed in June 2011 (and surely anyone who is vested) could claim that they took the job because they factored in that not only would they get a pension upon retiring but there would be a COLA adjustment to go along with it as stated in the MEMBER handbook at the time of hiring (pre 6/2011).

      “Those that did not retire, know ahead of time that they will not receive the cost of living adjustment and may stay , retire later, seek other employment before retiring etc.”

      Not always so…..in the case of police/firefighters there are mandatory retirement ages so they can’t just “stay at their job” or “retire later”. In the case of NJ State Police the mandatory ret. age is 55.

      So you should do more research before you post idiotic, simplistic solutions without knowing what you’re talking about.

      Reply

      • Posted by Richard on February 23, 2014 at 11:50 am

        Hey, it is what Toughlove does. Like Stalin going after the kulaks because they had a cow and it wasn’t fair.

        Reply

  7. Posted by Anonymous on February 16, 2014 at 10:42 am

    Those representing the state will then have their colas reinstated also, no??

    Reply

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