As I suspect many of you already know, today the F.B.I. arrested 11 state and local politicians (and one non-politician who was the bagman for a politician) for various charges, all centering on bribery in exchange for granting government contracts.
The twelve were arrested as a result of an F.B.I. undercover operation, which began in June 2006 when it appeared that things were really rotten in the Pleasantville School District, which is east of Atlantic City and is one of the poorest districts in the state. Indeed, it was so rotten that in July a state monitor was assigned to keep an eye on its finances.
Posing as insurance brokers, undercover agents, with the help of cooperating witnesses one of whom had been in the roofing business, offered cash bribes in exchange for steering municipal contracts in their direction. The Jersey pols eagerly scarfed up the cash, which was often delivered in parked cars. Wanting their fellow politico-cruds to take advantage of the ready cash, the South Jersey crooks pointed federal agents north.
That resulted in the snaring of Samuel Rivera, the Mayor of Passaic, who is also a former cop and professional wrestler (I kid you not). In addition, Mims Hackett Jr., the mayor of Orange and Assemblyman Alfred Steele, who is the Deputy Speaker of the State Assembly, a Baptist Minister and the undersheriff of Passaic County were also arrested, as was Keith Reid, the chief of staff to Newark City Council President Mildred Crump, and Marcellus Jackson, a councilman from Passaic.
Rivera allegedly said, when offered the cash in exchange for contracts with the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission, “We can get you that, easy, easy.”
Marcellus Jackson, the Passaic Councilman, allegedly was grateful and optimistic as he took the cash from undercover agents, when he reportedly said, “I appreciate it, baby. … Good things is gonna happen.”
Perhaps the “Dumb as a Bag of Rocks” award goes to former Pleasantville Board of Education member Maurice “Pete” Callaway, who is the brother of former Atlantic City Councilman Craig Callaway. “Pete” allegedly took the bribes all the while knowing that his brother Craig is currently in prison for taking bribes from an undercover FBI agent.
As it happens, all but one of those arrested is a democrat. Now, before we republicans get all self righteous, remember that most politicians in Jersey are democrats, which means that, simply playing the odds will net more crooked democrats than republicans.
I do not give the state’s republican politicians a pass on this. They are part of the rotten system that has allowed this national embarrassment to continue. When was the last time you heard of a republican turning in a fellow politician for being on the take? Let me answer that for you — never.
Still, the Sheeple in New Jersey continue to elect these rogues and thieves. It boggles the mind.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Here is a simple rule for the next election:
If a candidate for any state, county or municipal office is currently in office, vote him or her out, regardless of party affiliation. Our only hope is a goddamned clean sweep.
Of course, it is more likely that I will stick a feather in my ass and fly to Pittsburgh than it is that New Jersey voters will wake the hell up.