Leadership vs. Demagoguery
Forrester criticized his Democratic opponent, U.S. Sen. Jon Corzine, for not speaking out publicly on the housing authority's record. The authority has been designated a "troubled" agency by federal housing officials, leaving open the possibility of a takeover.Forrester’s “funding the wrong people” remark refers to Senator Corzine’s support of and campaign contributions to Democrat politicians who control the City of Newark and the state. Many find Corzine’s support of Newark Mayor Sharpe James indicative of his willingness to back even the most ethically challenged politicians to further his own political ambitions.
Jon, it's time to lead. You've been listening to the wrong people. You've funded the wrong people ... Something is horribly wrong here."
Newark’s Housing Authority has been under a cloud of ethical and financial mismanagement charges since last fall when HUD ordered the authority to return $3.9 million of the $6.5 million granted to the city by the federal department. The grants were provided to fund housing for the city's low and moderate-income residents. The authority instead diverted the funds to build a hockey arena.
Additional financial abuse at the Newark Housing Authority came to light last September with reports that executive director, Harold Lucas spent $1 million to refurbish the authority's headquarters, complete with a plasma television for the director. Lucas also spent money on a luxury vehicle and paid his daughter $25,000 to run the authority's beauty pageant. A lack of record keeping and questionable accounting and management practices resulted in a “troubled” authority rating by HUD.
So what was Senator Corzine’s response to Forester’s call for a federal takeover of the authority? Was Corzine outraged about the abuse of funds and the poor people hurt due to what would be charitably described as incompetence? No, Corzine’s spokesperson attacked Forrester and President Bush:
Ivette Mendez, a Corzine spokeswoman, found Forrester's comments disingenuous, asking why he remained silent when President Bush was gutting federal housing programs.It all depends on the meaning of "gutted", we suppose. The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s budget increased from $30.416 billion in 2004 to $31.264 billion in 2005. As the Star-Ledger reported on July 7, one HUD program provided $5.6 billion in federal funds to housing authorities for the purpose of building new homes for the poor, but $2.6 billion remains unspent. Out of 224 HUD revitalization grants awarded in a dozen years, only 42 projects have been completed.
So Forrester’s calling for responsible management of Newark’s Housing Authority is disingenuous, why? Because he’s a Republican? No explanation or proof provided, just another baseless attack. Everyone is supposed to believe whatever outrageous charge that comes out of the mouth of Corzine or one of his backers. False attacks and backing people that enrich themselves at the expense of the poor is okay because Corzine is a Democrat. We’ll say it again, facts do matter. At least they do to folks who actually care about the people of New Jersey.
When you lack a logical argument or any facts to back up your position you change the subject and cast aspersions:
"We think it's great that Doug Forrester has finally shown concern about the burdens faced by low-income New Jerseyans who are faced with the high cost of living in our state," she [Mendez]said in a statement. "Where has he been all these years?"New Jersey’s high cost of living is caused by what? Tax cuts for the rich? Where has Forrester been all these years? Where the heck has Corzine been? We were under the impression Corzine was the Senator from New Jersey and a leader in New Jersey’s Democrat Party that controls Newark, not Doug Forrester. Corzine wants to be viewed as a leader and yet he blames everyone else for his lack of results and effective leadership.
Mendez said Corzine supports the investigation that is under way to determine the propriety of the housing authority's spending practices. If it turns out taxpayers were shortchanged, "serious changes must be made and appropriate action must be taken by authorities," she added.Corzine backs the investigation? Does he have a choice? How much proof of financial mismanagement and taxpayer abuse is required for Corzine to call for a change? The authority isn't rated as "troubled" because it does a fantastic job. Does someone have to be indicted before Corzine believes action should be taken? How many more examples are required for voters to come to the conclusion, Corzine is not the guy to fix the waste, fraud and financial mismanagement in the New Jersey?
There is hope. Residents of Stephen Crane Village, the housing authority complex visited by Forrester, had this to say:
Residents complained to Forrester about everything from no water to water leaks to broken windows to refrigerator and stove problems.It is difficult figuring out who to trust, but the poor people in Newark might consider this question: How’s Democrat control of the city and state worked out for you so far?
Some tenants dismissed Forrester's pleas as typical campaign rhetoric, but more than a few said a change in party leadership in Trenton couldn't hurt.
"Mr. Forrester seems like he's on the right track," said Eugene Roberts, 49. "I could be wrong, but he appears sincere. Jon Corzine joined the group that looks out for the big guys."
But Regina Cook, 55, added: "You don't know who to trust."