Into a dancer you have grown
From a seed somebody else has thrown
Go on ahead and throw some seeds of your own
And somewhere between the time you arrive and the time you go
May lie a reason you were alive but you’ll never know
Jackson Browne – For a Dancer
The new year finds us with two fewer government watchdogs.
In an email blast to his followers last month Mark Lagerkvist announced:
New Jersey Watchdog got whacked! My five-year tenure as its one and only reporter now sleeps with the fishes in the Hudson River.
Effective Dec. 3, my contract ended with Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, the news site’s non-profit owner.
It was a great run. NJ Watchdog led the way in exposing double-dipping, disability scams and other abuses that left New Jersey with a pension and benefits deficit nearing $200 billion.
NJ Watchdog also took on the hypocrisy of Chris Christie. We exposed the cost of his political ambitions to New Jersey taxpayers – and we beat him in court three times to win the release of public records his administration wanted to hide.
Last year, NJ Watchdog was named the state’s best independent news site by the New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists. Our investigative stories on Christie and pension abuses also won back-to-back New York Press Club Awards for political reporting. Our work was often featured by television, newspapers and other news outlets throughout the state and nation.
While I say farewell to my NJ Watchdog alter ego, it’s not goodbye to New Jersey journalism. This investigative hound has a future filled with new tricks.
Meanwhile, you can find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Mark-Lagerkvist-Jerseys-Watchdog-601229296697490/ – and reach me by email at Mark@Lagerkvist.net.
The Franklin Center, according to their latest 990 form, gets about $10 million in donations annually to spread the philosophy of their donors through channels like njwatchdog.org which, via Mark Lagerkvist, carried a number of stories on New Jersey pensions, most involving double-dipping, that planted some seeds in the public mind.
With the mainstream media unable (or unwilling) to focus on relevant topics we are often left to ferret out information on our own or with the help of a very few. Mark Lagerkvist was, for me, one of the few*. He will be missed.