Considering the Corruption Coefficient

Courage to Connect NJ is an organization that seeks to have municipalities consolidate but their mission was just marginalized by a report by the Bloustein Local Government Research Center which concluded:

Once resort communities are separated out from the approximately 500 remaining municipalities, we find that the average cost of municipal government per capita, as demonstrated in each of ten population size groups of municipalities, does not differ significantly between large or small government population groups. The cost of municipal government in 2011 for municipalities under 1,900 population averages $1,271, while those over 40,000 population average $1,340; municipalities having populations between 3,601 and 5,150 experience the least costly local government per capita costs at $1,092!
So $1,300 is about the per-capita cost regardless of municipality size but what the authors in their ivory towers ignore by focusing on raw numbers is that the per-capita cost for smaller localities should be lower possibly by as much as 20% since they typically do not have much of a corruption coefficient.

I live in a relatively small town of 7,000 with a municipal budget of around $15 million.  When people ask why I don’t put in the time watchdogging Kenilworth as I do Union County my usual response is “there’s not so much to steal there.”

When you have $500 million to spend and very few taxpayers watching what you do the temptation to do what benefits you and your campaign donors is irresistible and we get connected lawyers being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for nuisance lawsuits, a non-profit being paid more hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to do little more than print campaign mailers, and a law firm that gets individual lawyers to pony up $30,000 each election cycle so other lawyers in their firm can bill the county millions of dollars for godawful advice including  pushing a solar panel scheme that will cost taxpayers $15 million but ‘earn’ the firm more millions.

Union County and Kenilworth may each be costing residents $1,300 per capita to run but cut out the corruption coefficient from the Union County budget and that cost drops to $1,100 which Kenilworth residents might also be able to achieve but only if shared services and/or consolidation remain viable options.  This Bloustein report, blatantly ignoring that corruption coefficient in larger municipalities where elections are to book passage on gravy trains, make the chances of either Union County or Kenilworth getting down to that $1,100 less likely.

4 responses to this post.

  1. The coefficient can work the other way too. When you have a small, sleepy government no one pays attention to, you don’t have people like John Bury watchdogging it. Thus more corruption.

    It is my observation in NYC that you have the most corruption where you have the least attention.

    Take the MTA. They had a corruption problem not in the departments that run the subways and buses, which everyone pays attention to, but in their small real estate department, which no one pays attention to. You have other little fiefdoms as well.


  2. Posted by Al Moncrief on November 19, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    The greatest amounts can be stolen by packing a court with your partisans, and later collecting on political favors.

    Does Public Pension Case Law Actually Protect Vested Public Pension Benefits?

    The Colorado Supreme Court has ignored Colorado public pension case law (Bills and McPhail) in reversing the Colorado Court of Appeals, and permitting a legislative taking of fully-vested “automatic” Colorado PERA public pension COLA (statutory “annual benefit increases.”)

    In granting this political favor, sanctioning the breach of Colorado PERA pension contracts, the Colorado Supreme Court was forced to disregard 60-year old Colorado case law, the court failed to conduct a “contract analysis,” the court ignored evidence of Colorado PERA’s attorneys stating that the pension benefit was indeed a Colorado PERA contractual obligation, the court ignored the bill (SB10-001) sponsor’s testimony that the pension benefit was in fact a Colorado PERA contractual obligation, the court ignored recorded legislative history of the contractual nature of the public pension benefit, the court failed to engage in the “heightened scrutiny” of the abandonment of state financial obligations required under federal case law (US Trust) and finally, the court embraced a discredited Denver District Court decision that did not bother to mention Colorado’s on-point public pension case law. No trial, no discovery, evidence ignored, state government forgiving state government debt, billions of dollars seized, pensions inflated away.

    Does the law even matter when judges act like politicians and do political favors?

    Read the complete article at


  3. Posted by George on November 19, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    What would Galloping Hills be worth if it were sold, which it can be as the staff is private sector now?


  4. Posted by Tough Love on November 20, 2014 at 10:21 am

    Not yet mentioned is a major reason why consolidation generates FAR FAR less benefits/savings in the PUBLIC (than PRIVATE) Sector.

    Corporate executives clearly know the financial benefits of mergers come from head-count reductions, both work-redundancies and of course the opportunity to clear out the “deadwood” that exist in every organization.

    In PUBLIC Sector consolidations the first order of business seems to be setting the operational rules under which consolidation discussion take place, and in ALL of the several such consolidation initiatives I have witnessed, the number one rule seems to be to protect the jobs. In other words, the foxes (i,e, the Unions) are in charge of the hen-house instead of managing in a way most beneficial to Taxpayers.

    Once head-count reductions are (mostly) off-the-table or reduced to “attrition” as retirements occur, the GOAL (financial benefits of the consolidation), is VERY rarely achievable.


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