July 7, 2004

Corruption in Jersey? Say It Ain’t So.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 9:14 pm

Machiavelli.jpgNicolo MachiavelliA federal grand jury charged a Democrat fundraiser for New Jersey’s Governor for extorting cash and political contributions from a citizen in exchange for favorable treatment by the state.

Here are the high points:

A Jersey Farmer named Halper has land that the state wants to condemn. The State offers farmer $3,000,000. A Democrat fundraiser for Governor McGreevey, named David D’Amiano, (who, when not raising funds for the Governor operates a waste hauling and recycling business) approaches the farmer and offers the state’s help with the condemnation in return for a payment of $20,000 in cash and another $20,000 contribution to the State Democrat Party.

Unbeknownst to fundraiser, farmer goes to FBI and wears a wire for future meetings.

Farmer tells Democrat fundraiser that he wants a meeting with the Governor and some county officials to discuss the price of his farm. He also tells the fundraiser to tell the government officials to use the word “Machiavelli” during the meeting as a code word in order to signify that the government officials knew of the deal and approved of the political payoffs.

At a future meeting, one of the county officials was recorded using the code word “Machiavelli”

Apparently yet another government official also used the same word:

About a month later, D’Amiano introduced Halper to the governor at a fund-raiser at the East Brunswick Hilton. During their conversation, McGreevey allegedly told another official there that Halper “was reading from ‘The Prince’ by Machiavelli to learn how to deal with the negotiations involving the farm,” the indictment said.

When recently asked about his use of the code word, the Governor responded, “It is not a code word, it is a literary allusion.” He continued, “For those of you who know me, in New Jersey politics ‘Machiavelli’ is not a far-off, remote word but all too often describes certain political antics.”

Halper eventually paid approximately $40,000 in cash and political contributions, and the state changed the price it was willing to pay Halper for the farm from $3 million to $7.2 million.

And, a good deal of it is on tape.

This could be one to watch.

Update 7/8/04: Governor McGreevey responded to the indictment, which he concedes refers to him and does so 83 times, as: (a) politically motivated, (b) conjecture and innuendo, (c) an attempt to besmirch his character and integrety, and (d) entrapment. Time will tell, I suppose.

Huh?? Are There 51 Now?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 7:50 pm

This morning on the radio I heard a recording of Teresa Heinz Kerry stating how she and Mr. Kerry (and his new pal, John Edwards) plan to visit and campaign in several states, including “The Tennessees.” When did that happen?

I presume that she and Mr. Kerry will take a private plane from their home in “The Massachusettses.”

This will be a helluva four months.

I’m Too Old For This.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 9:04 am

I am growing a zit, which is approximately the size of Finland, next to my nose.

I could use some Windex.

For What It’s Worth.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 1:21 am

I have lived all my life in New Jersey, so I think that I can say with some confidence that the Garden State is not generally known for the friendliness of its citizens. Maybe it’s because there are so many of us packed into such a small state. Maybe it’s because we have more than our fair share of con artists and wiseasses here, and we have learned to be wary of people’s motives (i.e. “What does this guy want?”). Who knows?

By contrast, I have noticed in my travels that people generally seem friendlier in other parts of the country. Passing someone, one on one, on the street almost always begets a “hello,” or “good morning.” I found myself wondering whether I may be partly to blame for my take on the apparent lack of congeniality of many Garden Staters. Although my habit is to greet each person I encounter, one on one, during my morning walk, I thought a little “experiment” was in order.

Accordingly, the other day, I made sure that I smiled and said “good morning” the same way to each person I encountered, one on one, and I kept track of the kinds of responses I received in return. On that day, I encountered and greeted six people. Three people ignored me, and two grunted something unintelligible. One person responded, “Good morning. Isn’t it a beautiful day to be outside?” What was interesting and a little sad to me was that the person who responded in kind (and then some) spoke with a clearly recognizable Eastern European accent.

I concluded from my less-than-scientifically-rigorous observations that if you’re from Eastern Europe, you appreciate being able to walk free on a nice day. It’s a bit of a shame that we often seem to be too busy, too rude, too self-absorbed, too jaded, too callous, too cynical, or maybe just too damned stupid to appreciate what we have.

Note: This is being posted several hours later than I had intended. As I was completing the final paragraph, we lost power in our neighborhood. I read outside for a while by candlelight, which made my eyes tired and served to remind me of the value of Thomas Edison’s invention. I then made myself comfortable in Mr. Recliner in a candlelit room and listened to a small transistor radio. Not a bad way to spend the evening. I’ll bet that the guy from Eastern Europe would agree.

Update: This morning’s scorecard: Three averted sets of eyes, one smile, and four “good mornings” (three of which preceded my “good morning”). Maybe those three people are not from here, or maybe they remember me from previous “good mornings” and have decided that I am neither a kook nor a mugger. :-)

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