30 Issues Day 11: New Jersey Development and Corruption

Monday, October 05, 2009

Brigid Harrison, professor of political science and law at Montclair State University, discusses the intersection of development and corruption in the context of the New Jersey governor’s race. Then, a close-up on development in Jersey City. Ward E city councilman Steven Fulop discusses ethics reform and how corruption has influenced the development boom in Jersey City.


Steven Fulop and Brigid Harrison

Comments [22]

Craig from Jersey City

I agree with Post 20: at least part of the problem in NJ is the lack of media scrutiny. There's no decent newspaper because everyone reads the Times and NPR gives us little coverage as well.

The segment on Jersey City missed the core problem: there is forever upward pressure on property taxes because of the outrageous pension and health care benefits of our public unions. And thanks to the Jersey City Council (with the exception of Steve Fulop) all the new luxury development on the waterfront is tax abated. So those folks, often wealthy, won't share in the ever increasing burden.

Oct. 05 2009 12:31 PM
Emily from Jersey City

Waterfront property in Jersey City--facing Manhattan, easily accessible by public transportation--is some of the most valuable real estate in the world. Developers don't need any incentive to build there. And yet for two decades the Jersey City municipal government has been handing out tax abatements like Halloween candy. Why, if not for the campaign contributions?

Oct. 05 2009 12:09 PM
Nick Lento from NJ

I tried calling in to raise the question of why this systemic/endemic corruption has never been investigated/prosecuted under the federal RICO statutes....which are SPECIFICALLY designed to allow for broad/sweeping law enforcement against PRECISELY these kinds of interlinked/systemic criminal activities.

The screener got the point in 30 seconds....evidently Mr Lehrer felt that the call deserved to die on hold.

Why is Brian afraid to air a call for TRULY effective law enforcement against the systemic corruption which occurs not just in NJ but throughout the whole region?

Why not at least allow the question to be asked on the air?

The issue of corruption is routinely discussed on a superficial/trival BS level.....but why, given that even the professor acknowledged that it was indeed a systemic it virtually forbidden to raise the question of why the federal RICO statutes have never been used?

Christie got about 130 convictions in 7 years, and that's fine; but if he had REALLY used ALL of the tools available (i.e. RICO) there could have been THOUSANDS of convictions...and it would actually have virtually cleaned up the whole state. Why was that never done?

If you want to REALLY make a difference with your radio station you should do a full day on the systemic corruption that infects the whole region...and invite the listeners to call in and share their stories, perspectives and ideas. Do that once a month for a year! Such a project would uncover lots of useful material and as the word spread throughout the region you would be having all manner of whistle blowers being inspired and encouraged to call in and to co-operate with law enforcement.

As it is, you insult the very concept of justice by giving this issue short/superficial "shrift".

The problem/issue or corruption touches the lives of EVERYONE in very profound ways.....why are you afraid to *really* deal with it???

Oct. 05 2009 12:05 PM
Lori from Montclair, NJ

"Joseph Doria, chairman of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission and commissioner of the Division of Community Affairs, resigned after federal investigators searched his Bayonne home and Trenton office on July 23. The New Jersey Meadowlands Commission did not return phone calls for comment." (7/29/09)

I'd love to see Bob Henley look into the HMDC/NJMC now and then. It seems to mostly slip below the investigative radar and there are 14 North Jersey municipalities that participate/benefit and/or are damaged by their decisions.

So much for the birds that use the wetlands as a major migratory stop, I can't remember the last time I saw an egret from the 15W Turnpike exit. (something I used to see all the time)

Oct. 05 2009 11:43 AM
John Weber from Jersey Shore

I agree with one of the callers that the rateables chase is totally bunk. Development makes taxes go up, not down. The proof, we are the most developed state in the nation, and we have the highest taxes. Pick any very developed town, like Woodbridge; clearly the taxes are higher there than a largely undeveloped town like Tweaksbury.

Oct. 05 2009 11:42 AM
Caitlin from Jersey City

In NYC developers usually at least pay lipservice to "affordable" and "mixed income housing"; does any of this happen in JC? I'm one of those who recently moved to JC from Brooklyn (cheaper rent, shorter commute!), but I don't have much upward mobility and I doubt I'd ever be able to afford to buy a place in JC.

Oct. 05 2009 11:40 AM
mariko from Jersey City

What about the Beacon? Horrific.

Oct. 05 2009 11:38 AM
JJ from JC

development? how about un-development? on newark ave, one of the finest restaurants in the area (Ox) closed, but we got a new late-night wing joint and a 24-hour deli. who's controlling development on what's been touted (laughably) as "restaurant row"?

Oct. 05 2009 11:38 AM
mariko from Jersey City

Please mention that a lot of those streets are private and that you can't park there. They want you to go into the garages owned by the buildings.

Oct. 05 2009 11:37 AM
peter from brooklyn

BL:please ask guest the role PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) has played in the waterfront develpoment.

Oct. 05 2009 11:37 AM
mariko from Jersey City

As I listen to you I'm also listening to constructions sounds on Duncan Ave. in Jersey City. (Between Bergen and JFK.) Everyone on our block fought this development. It is completely out of place on our block, and where the facade will be 20'-30' feet closer to the curb than other building. But Healey's ex-partner is behind the project, and so it's gone through.

And Mr. Fulop -- What about Willie Flood's reduced mental status? (I don't know if it's dementia or something else.) Should she be the county Registrar? Considering the role of that office in collecting $, isn't that leaving the door open to malfeasance?

Oct. 05 2009 11:32 AM
Bobby G from East Vollage

I don't get it. What's the difference between corruption and lobbying?

Oct. 05 2009 11:28 AM
John Weber from Jersey Shore

Development is out of control and the DEP - Development Everywhere Permitted - is part of the problem. Consider CAFRA permits; this is a permit needed to build in the coastal zone. DEP gives out CAFRA permits to 95% of everyone who applies for them. No wonder NJ looks like it does.

Oct. 05 2009 11:28 AM
Barbara from Chester, NJ

You should not promote this idea that development will increase the tax base. The people buying these new houses, are usually younger families that unless they have only one child, will eat up any tax base increase with usage of the local schools.

Oct. 05 2009 11:26 AM

what about liquor licenses? I had friends open a cafe in Jersey city and it was well know that they would have to pay someone off to obtain a liquor license.

Oct. 05 2009 11:26 AM
Mike from Bergen

What are your guests thoughts on Senator Paul Sarlo being on the payroll as an engineer for Sanzari Construction?

Oct. 05 2009 11:25 AM
paul from nyc

i think you are ignoring the role that inner city crime plays
in the overdevelopment of rural New Jersey.
people are fleeing dangerous schools in once nice towns that were developed in the early 20h century.

Oct. 05 2009 11:18 AM
dannyiselin from woodbridge, nj

I lived in Woodbridge when McGreevy was our local mayor. The policy was trees don't pay taxes like dwellers do. So now there's hardly an undeveloped lot in this vast township.

Oct. 05 2009 11:17 AM
Lori from Montclair, NJ

Look at the NJ Meadowlands, completely overdeveloped without regard to the precious wetlands or the local highway capacity. (There is always traffic there.)

They have changed the name of the "oversight" agency from HMDC (Hackensack Meadowlands Development Comm.) to the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission but they are still development oriented. For years, it was the fox in the hen house, a commission made up of persons who would directly or indirectly benefit greatly from development with virtually no one protecting the environment.

Oct. 05 2009 11:17 AM
dannyiselin from woodbridge, nj

I lived in Woodbridge when McGreevy was mayor and the policy de rigeur for all undeveloped patches in this major township was that trees and lots don't generate tax revenue. Today in Woodbridge there is hardly a lot that hasn't been developed.

Oct. 05 2009 11:16 AM

[1] add to this the total lack of regional planning. Upstream towns pave areas that drain to overbuilt downstream areas... then the 'bound brooks' of the state wonder why they have so many floods. (d'oh!)

And the Army Corps of Engineers wanted to build a flood control dam in Watchung & Berkeley Heights.. not noticing the land they wanted IS developed! And not noticing the environmental impact of having approved I-78!
How did they want to control runoff rain? By mowing down part of a forest. They didn't even notice the impact of such actiVity on Haiti... More Flooding!

Inept planning, too much money, no research, no concern with downstream impact... and so on, and so on....

Oct. 05 2009 11:09 AM

Driving through places like Middlesex, Bound Brook, Warren, Watchung and The Plainfields, one realizes that corruption -- combined with felonious incompetence -- has entirely reshaped the current day landscapes and topographies of these places. Water and ground pollution, dumping, flooding, normalization of zoning exemptions, overcrowded roadways and contempt for wildlife (as well) has come to characterize an area that has been blessed with so much natural beauty and bounty.

Oct. 05 2009 10:17 AM

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