Jon Corzine - Mr. Business As usual
You don’t spend $100 million wooing party bosses, power brokers and tax receivers, as did Mr. Corzine, and then once elected risk alienating those you owe for your much coveted office. The payoffs will continue, only now it will be with appointments and taxpayer dollars. Apparently, the New York Times is disappointed to discover Corzine has not changed his business as usual approach to politics in New Jersey.
As a candidate, New Jersey's governor-elect, Jon Corzine, talked a lot about setting a higher standard for ethics in government. But off the stump, he has cozied up to the Democratic political bosses who are very much part of the problem. In his choice of someone to replace him in the Senate, Mr. Corzine had an opportunity to demonstrate which side of his campaign was real. The answer came yesterday, and it was disappointing.Based upon last month’s election results, a sufficient number of the voting public were not yearning for a break from the past. It was clear to us Jon Corzine was campaigning for governor on a more of the same platform – slavish obedience to special interests, billions more in taxpayer financed programs and tax increases to pay for them.
Mr. Corzine's pick, Representative Robert Menendez, has the experience for the job. The son of Cuban immigrants, he has steadily risen through the political ranks, becoming the third-ranking Democrat in the House. But since entering politics as a corruption-fighting mayor of Union City, N.J., Mr. Menendez has become a proponent of business as usual. He has long been an entrenched de facto leader of the Hudson County Democratic machine.
Most recently, Mr. Menendez has failed to answer questions about his relationship with Kay LiCausi, a young former aide of his. He has helped her get hundreds of thousands of dollars in lobbying contracts and political consulting work. Mr. Menendez says there is a line between his personal and public lives. But New Jersey voters have a right to wonder why that line seems to exist only to protect politicians from questioning, and never deters them from mixing their private relationships with their official duties.
The last elected governor, James McGreevey, had to resign over such a situation. And Mr. Corzine got involved with the head of a union representing state workers, then forgave her a loan of more than $400,000 when the relationship ended. Besides all this, there have been 75 corruption indictments in New Jersey over the last four years. The public has a right to yearn for a break from the past, and Mr. Menendez does not represent a clean slate.
It’s not just the Menendez pick, read Corzine's picks seem like business as usual in Trenton by Fred Snowflack:
Sad to say, Gov.-elect Jon Corzine is going down a path many have gone down before, which in itself should make it something to be avoided.Is any of this the slightest bit surprising?
Corzine on Monday announced the creation of six committees or policy groups to advise him on various state problems. Here are the topics: budget and reengineering government, property tax reform, economic development, labor and workforce development, child welfare and public education.
And on Tuesday, he announced three more in the areas of healthcare and senior issues, environment and revitalizing and investing in communities.
So much for new ideas. This is no way to get out-of-the-box thinking or the type of reform New Jersey needs.
Let's start with the policy group on property taxes, the most important issue in the state.
Two of its three members are the Rev. Reginald Jackson, executive director of the Black Ministers’ Council of New Jersey, and Peter Cantu, the mayor of Plainsboro and outgoing president of the state League of Municipalities.
Does anyone find it a bit strange that a minister is on a property tax panel? Ministers oversee churches, which do not pay property taxes.
Next, we have a mayor and outgoing official of the League of Municipalities. One way to reduce property taxes is to explore consolidating town services, or even towns themselves. That suggestion is unlikely to come from a man representing what is the lobbying group for towns.
If the governor wants legitimate reform ideas, how about finding people not associated with any lobbying group? These would be people who are not worried about protecting their organizations. In other words, people who just happen to pay property taxes.
There are millions of them in New Jersey. It stretches credibility to suggest that the governor's transition team couldn't find an intelligent homeowner to give some ideas on property taxes.
Let's move to education. One of those on that panel is the president of the New Jersey Education Association. This is a group that so cherishes the status quo in New Jersey education that it routinely supports just about all incumbent lawmakers, regardless of party or ideology. Corzine is sure going to hear new ideas from the NJEA president.
Naming committees, or task forces, or advisory panels, or whatever you want to call them, is a time-honored political tradition. The official line is that these experts will help the person in charge -- Corzine in this case -- make decisions and shape his administration.
In reality, many of these groups will do little more than protect the individual turf of their members. That's no matter: announcing these task forces gives the impression that the governor-elect is serious about tackling problems and giving the state a new look.