Tomorrow Jon Corzine will be sworn in as the Governor of New Jersey, a job he paid a lot of money to get and one for which he was willing to give up his U.S. Senate, which also didn’t come cheap. He takes office at a time when the state faces a massive deficit, has the highest property tax of all the fifty states, and has been plagued by corruption. During the campaign, he said that he had solutions for all of those problems.
I did not support Jon Corzine for Governor (or, for Senator either), but as a resident of New Jersey, I hope that he turns out to be as good for the state as he promised last fall he would be. After all, if he turns out to be a dismal failure, we all lose.
I just wish I could be more optimistic.
Jon Corzine went directly from Goldman Sachs to the U.S. Senate and, as such, he’ll have to learn his way around Trenton. This is also true of several of his appointees. On one hand, being an “outsider” may be a good thing, but on the other hand, the Trenton pols, political bosses and hacks (who saw to Corzine’s nomination and election) have been there for years, and they have a lot invested in maintaining the status quo.
The problem, of course, is that in New Jersey the status quo is synonymous with a bloated state government payroll, monstrous taxes, governmental inefficiency and flat out corruption. Because it is fair to say that corruption is at the root of many of the state’s ills, it is on this front that Jon Corzine has an opportunity to make a clear showing of his commitment to keep what ultimately may be his most important campaign promise, namely to clean up the government.
One would expect that a Governor committed to draining the Jersey Political Swamp would choose as his Attorney General a person with a track record of ferreting out and prosecuting corruption and who is not generally considered to be a strong partisan. Unfortunately, Zulima Farber, Jon Corzine’s nominee for Attorney General is not such a person.
While I do not doubt that Ms. Farber is a good lawyer (she is, after all, a partner in a prestigious New Jersey Law firm), her law enforcement experience is limited to having spent three years as a county prosecutor thirty years ago.
The Asbury Park Press did not equivocate when it editorialized, “Farber is grossly unqualified for the job.” In addition to citing her limited law enforcement experience, the editorial reminded us of the last time Ms. Farber was in the news:
Farber, you may recall, was nominated for a state Supreme Court vacancy in 2003 by former Gov. James E. McGreevey. He withdrew the nomination after he learned a bench warrant had been issued for her arrest because of an unpaid speeding ticket. It also came to light that Farber’s driving record included more than a dozen motor vehicle violations, mostly for speeding or traffic accidents, and she had her license suspended three times.
The editorial chalked the appointment up to politics:
Naming Farber, who was born in Cuba, is a payback to the Latino community — Assembly Speaker Albio Sires, D-Hudson, and Rep. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., Corzine’s handpicked successor for his U.S. Senate seat, in particular. The state’s Latinos were incensed when McGreevey withdrew his nomination of Farber for the Supreme Court seat because of her driving record.
Time will tell whether Governor Corzine can fix this badly broken state and whether he can do so without taxing us all into poverty. I sure hope he can.