Gubernatorial Misconduct

 

BY Michael P. Riccards

 

The Hall Institute of Public Policy has examined the concept of prosecutorial misconduct, and with the Seton Hall Law School conducted a public lecture on the topic. Later, last month we raised the question of judicial misconduct with regards to “Judge Judy”” the highly rated television show which makes a mockery of justice. We were pleased to learn that Judge Wopner, the first television judge, apparently agrees with some of our criticisms.

 

Now, we want to raise the question of gubernatorial misconduct, specifically based on the long, investigative article in the New York Times on July 23, 2014. The Times is not anti-Cuomo, indeed it has been unimportant part of his coalition for over three years. But three of its journalists have completed a comprehesive, detailed examination of his behavior regarding his ethics commission. Only the New York Times has the in-depth resources to undertake such a study, and we are pleased to acknowledge their work.

 

Basically, the governor established a high powered commission last summer to root out corruption in state politics. Two months later, Cuomo through his staff stopped a subpoena from being served, saying “Pull it back”, which it did swiftly. The subpoena was meant to examine a media buying firm that placed millions of dollars’ worth of advertisements for the New York State Democratic Party. Unfortunately for the commission, one of those clients was the governor himself. Now members of the commission are saying that they have been hobbled from the start by the governor’s office. The Times found that whenever the commission focused on groups with ties to the governor or on issues that reflected poorly on him, they were thwarted. Ultimately, Cuomo abruptly disbanded the commission halfway through its 18 month life.

 

Cuomo and his staff have simply indicated that he created the commission and he could abridge it when he wanted. This is in contrast they say to the famous Moreland Commission which was created to investigate the Legislature. Actually the executive order of the governor made no distinction between investigating the legislature or the governor.

 

When members complained that they could not get legislators to honor subpoenas, the governor, a former prosecutor said, “It is too risky.” to force the issue.   But then he proposed that since many of these leaders, especially his nemesis Sheldon Silver, are connected to law firms, the commission should go after subpoenas for the law firms. His suggestion was positively Nixonian,

 

When the commission went on later to look at the ad agency, whose biggest client in New York is Cuomo, spending some $20 million on ads since his ill fated governor ship race in 2002, a barrier came down on the members. Cuomo was already on record as denouncing a pay to play political culture driven by large checks. But now this group that was going to subpoena, at his suggestions, law firms to look into their work, thus implicating some legislators, had no power but what he thinks he granted them.

 

Now the New York Times has raised again some ethical issues, but one should also use their tremendous resources to examinet he entire Cuomo record from his being an aide to Mario Cuomo, to Secretary of HUD, to Attorney General. This misconduct seems to be more a pattern than an aberration.

 

 

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A Rutgers Compact

A RUTGERS COMPACT

The abrupt resignation of Rutgers’ football coach, Greg Schiano, has re-opened some old debates at the University on the drain of intercollegiate athletics on the budget, especially in austere times. The coach was provided with all sorts of benefits on top of his high salary, including an $800,000 interest free mortgage. He insisted on expanding the college stadium even though its seats were rarely filled. Why the team could not use the Meadowlands stadium is a mystery. Now, after all this expense and long term bonding obligations, the University officials had to settle for a long standing assistant of Schiano’s. Despite the hype, Schiano had a fifty percent winning record, by the way.

But to large elements of the faculty, especially in the New Brunswick collection of the college of arts and sciences, the time has come to resurrect their opposition to high athletics fees and University support. Despite the supposed popularity of intercollegiate athletics, across the nation even at Division I schools athletics are financially losing proposition. It is rare that athletics, such as at Notre Dame, generate a surplus. Even then, except for football and men’s basketball, most of the other sports do not operate with a balanced budget.

At Rutgers, the athletics department spent more than $28.7 million than it generated in revenues. Of that deficit, $19.4 million came from general funds (usually state and tuition money), and $9.3 came from mandatory student fees. Rutgers has one of the ten highest operating losses in the nation. The faculty is demanding that students have to approve by referendum such a contribution, and that operational subsidies by the University be cut. Rutgers also has one of the highest faculty salary schedules, paid largely by student tuition. Perhaps the students should vote on those faculty salary levels as well. By the way, why does Rutgers New Brunswick need 910 full time liberal arts faculty in the first place? And why are Rutgers Newark and Camden comparatively poorly funded.

The athletics budget needs to be cut. Everybody but some of the coaches and a few alumni agree. But there should be a compact that faculty members at Rutgers , many of whom teach 3 to 6 hours a week, be required to each a minimum of 9 hours, and that the number of teaching assistants, especially in the sciences, mathematics and computer science be cut down. The final goal would be a fine teaching faculty who care about students at a first rate academic institution which can cut tuition 10% in two years.

A BASEBALL ANNIVERSARY
This year marks the 65 anniversary of one of the great moments in U.S. social history—the integration of baseball with the introduction of Jackie Robinson. Under the careful care of general manager Branch Rickey of the Brooklyn Dodgers, the first African American player entered the majors. Robinson was not the best black ballplayer out there, but he was the type of player that Rickey wanted: articulate, college educated, and patient with the taunts of racism. Rickey knew what was going to happen, and he prepared Robinson for the fire storm. Players of the caliber of Enos “Country Boy” Slaughter and Joe Garagiola, the mediocre catcher and later day Yankee announcer, went out of their way to let loose the torrents of racist talk against the rookie from the Kansas City Monarchs. Actually in the very early days, black players had been a part of major league baseball, passing themselves off as really “Cubans.” And the caliber of play in the Negro Leagues was high, especially with Satchel Paige who years later played in the newly integrated majors; Josh Gibson, the black Babe Ruth; “Cool Papa” Bell and a new rookie named Willie Mays, whom many experts say now was the greatest player of the modern era.

Robinson had a fine record, especially in his early years with the Dodgers. The next year Monte Irvin of Orange New Jersey integrated the other league, the American circuit, and soon other African American players infiltrated the majors. Robinson once said at the end of his life that he wanted to see a black manager, and Frank Robinson came forth after his death. Robinson was a Republican, an admirer of Richard Nixon, and an executive with a coffee company.

He became a living legend, and it is odd but appropriate that the displays at Citi field for the Mets chronicles Robinson and his teams, not Mets history. Robinson’s widow was there at Citi and she acknowledged the 65th anniversary quietly and with stoic pride.

When I was a very young kid, I used to listen to baseball shows on radio, especially Joe DiMaggio and Jackie Robinson. Soon they would both make their way onto the television. We had a 12 inch Dumont, and one Saturday morning I watched as DiMaggio was on, teaching guys like me with no talent how to hit and slide in a television studio. He was stiff and uncomfortable, and took time out to sell Butoni macaroni which he downed with a glass of milk. I was surprised; Italians did not drink milk with macaroni. Then I watched Jackie Robinson , and was startled. He was black. I went into the kitchen where my father was making sausage and peppers, and blurted out, “Pop, did you know that Jackie Robinson is black.” He looked at me, and responded, “Of course.” Then I said, “But he doesn’t sound like a Negro.” The old man quizzically glanced at me and shook his head. Only later did I see that I had, without realizing it, been a part of the legions of racist Americans that so plagued my country. Robinson that day taught me not how to slide (of which he was the master) but about race, and stereotypes, and bad judgment. Baseball taught me and later America about how we had to take a first step toward racial equality. And so before Brown v. the Board of Education, and before Selma, and before Dr. Martin Luther King, we learned about race and racism from a dashing young man on the diamond. Years later, I would laugh at my friends in Massachusetts saying that the Boston Red Sox were plagued by “the curse of the Bambino,” since their owner had sold the pitcher-slugger to New York. From that time they were shut out of the World Series year after year, decade after decade. Then one sportswriter acknowledged that the real curse was not the trading of the Babe, it was the younger owner Tom Yaukey’s refusal to hire black players like Robinson, Hank Aaron, and especially Willie Mays, and thus missing out on two generations of talent. The curse was the American dilemma, our inability to come to grips with racism and its terrible legacy.

Gubernatorial Misconduct

BY Michael P. Riccards

The Hall Institute of Public Policy has examined the concept of prosecutorial misconduct, and with the Seton Hall Law School conducted a public lecture on the topic. Later, last month we raised the question of judicial misconduct with regards to “Judge Judy”” the highly rated television show which makes a mockery of justice. We were pleased to learn that Judge Wopner, the first television judge, apparently agrees with some of our criticisms.

Now, we want to raise the question of gubernatorial misconduct, specifically based on the long, investigative article in the New York Times on July 23, 2014. The Times is not anti-Cuomo, indeed it has been unimportant part of his coalition for over three years. But three of its journalists have completed a comprehesive, detailed examination of his behavior regarding his ethics commission. Only the New York Times has the in-depth resources to undertake such a study, and we are pleased to acknowledge their work.

Basically, the governor established a high powered commission last summer to root out corruption in state politics. Two months later, Cuomo through his staff stopped a subpoena from being served, saying “Pull it back”, which it did swiftly. The subpoena was meant to examine a media buying firm that placed millions of dollars’ worth of advertisements for the New York State Democratic Party. Unfortunately for the commission, one of those clients was the governor himself. Now members of the commission are saying that they have been hobbled from the start by the governor’s office. The Times found that whenever the commission focused on groups with ties to the governor or on issues that reflected poorly on him, they were thwarted. Ultimately, Cuomo abruptly disbanded the commission halfway through its 18 month life.

Cuomo and his staff have simply indicated that he created the commission and he could abridge it when he wanted. This is in contrast they say to the famous Moreland Commission which was created to investigate the Legislature. Actually the executive order of the governor made no distinction between investigating the legislature or the governor.

When members complained that they could not get legislators to honor subpoenas, the governor, a former prosecutor said, “It is too risky.” to force the issue.   But then he proposed that since many of these leaders, especially his nemesis Sheldon Silver, are connected to law firms, the commission should go after subpoenas for the law firms. His suggestion was positively Nixonian,

When the commission went on later to look at the ad agency, whose biggest client in New York is Cuomo, spending some $20 million on ads since his ill fated governor ship race in 2002, a barrier came down on the members. Cuomo was already on record as denouncing a pay to play political culture driven by large checks. But now this group that was going to subpoena, at his suggestions, law firms to look into their work, thus implicating some legislators, had no power but what he thinks he granted them.

Now the New York Times has raised again some ethical issues, but one should also use their tremendous resources to examinet he entire Cuomo record from his being an aide to Mario Cuomo, to Secretary of HUD, to Attorney General. This misconduct seems to be more a pattern than an aberration.

Rutgers Equine Scientist Releases

“2014 State of the New Jersey Horse Racing Industry” paper:

Shows New Jersey has not remained competitive with

New York and Pennsylvania
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (November 6, 2014) – The Rutgers Equine Science Center released – “2014 State of the New Jersey Horse Racing Industry”, a follow-up to the 2009 white paper which reported the impact of slot machines and video lottery terminals on the horse racing and breeding industry, agriculture, and open space.
The authors of the current report, Dr. Karyn Malinowski, Director of the Rutgers Equine Science Center and Dr. Paul Gottlieb, Chair of the Rutgers Department of Agricultural, Food, Resource Economics, utilized indicators of horse racing industry health in comparison to two neighboring states where alternative gaming revenue supports horse racing. These indicators included: purse monies awarded, number of race days, races restricted to state-bred horses only, mares bred, and foals registered.

Data were also collected to assess the number of horse farms entering the Farmland Preservation Program and the number of preserved horse farms sold during 2010-2014, the number of horse farms currently on the market, and any changes in hay, grain, or straw production by New Jersey animal feed producers.   Malinowski and Gottlieb believe that these parameters serve as indicators of the confidence race horse owners and breeders have in the future of the industry as demonstrated by their willingness to invest in it.

The year 2010 was chosen because it was during this year that the Report of the Governor’s Advisory Commission on New Jersey Gaming, Sports and Entertainment was released and the process began for privatization of the two racetracks operated at that time by the state. Since 2010 it is evident that indicators of the health of the horse racing industry demonstrate that New Jersey race horse owners, trainers, and breeders have been hit hard by the cessation of the purse enhancement awards in 2010 and by competition from the purse and breeder incentive structures that exist in neighboring states where racing is supported by alternative gaming.

“While the horse racing industry and state government are to be commended for actions taken since 2010 to ensure sustainability of horse racing in New Jersey, indicators of the health and well-being of the horse racing industry suggest that the industry is struggling in spite of efforts by racetrack management and organizations representing horse owners and breeders,” says Malinowski.

Also reported is the fact that equine operations represent a small and declining share of New Jersey’s preserved farms, which means that their acres cannot be protected by deed restriction alone. In addition, race horse breeding operations in the state’s preservation program are being sold at a disproportionately high rate. These operations are now transitioning to other uses, including sport, competition, and recreational segments of the equine industry.

This comes at a time when New Jersey voters on November 4th 2014 overwhelmingly supported Ballot Question Two, which would reallocate money from the corporate business tax to specifically designate funds for the preservation of open space and farmland.

“There should exist a partnership, in New Jersey, between the casino and horse racing industries to enable both to remain sustainable, as competition for gambling dollars continues to escalate. Slot machines and table games in New York and Pennsylvania are impacting Atlantic City casinos now, and will continue to do so with increasing force as more gaming is put into place until the regional market is saturated. The installation of casino gaming and sports betting at New Jersey racetracks would be a relatively quick and easy way to slow down these trends, much to New Jersey’s advantage,” says Malinowski.

Any increase in gambling revenue would enhance the state budget significantly (depending on state tax revenues) and provide capital for use by the casino and horse racing industries to keep them competitive. Casino gaming outside Atlantic City would also add jobs to the state, during construction and renovations of the racetracks as well as during operation.

The 2007 Equine Science Center economic impact study of the New Jersey horse industry found the industry to be valued at $4 billion (including racing & non-racing interests) and generated $1.1 billion annually in positive impact on the New Jersey economy.

For a copy of the full report, as well as the previous papers mentioned, please visit the Rutgers Equine Science Center at www.esc.rutgers.edu.

About Rutgers Equine Science Center

The Equine Science Center is a unit of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Its mission is better horse care through research and education in order to advance the well-being and performance of horses and the equine industry. Its vision is to be recognized throughout New Jersey as well as nationally and internationally for its achievements in identifying issues in the horse industry, finding solutions through science-based inquiry, providing answers to the horse industry and to horse owners, and influencing public policy to ensure the viability of the horse industry.

For more information about the Equine Science Center, please visit esc.rutgers.edu.

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Attempts to Keep Pension System Solvent Threatens Retirees

by Salvator Pizzuro

It is evident from hearing from retired public pension recipients that the “freeze” on “Cost of Living Adjustments” (COLAs) will have an impact on other public funding, if not rescinded in the near future.

COLAs were suspended by the State Legislature and signed by the Governor about three years ago, ostensibly as part of an effort to keep the Pension System solvent. Now, retired teachers who are part of the Teachers Pension and Annuity Fund (TPAF) are speaking out.

Their pensions are frozen, yet the cost of living continues to rise each year. As one retired teacher pointed out, “Each year my rent, cost of utilities, cost of medicine, cost of gasoline, and cost of food and clothing rises. My actual income, in terms of the cost of living, is much lower than when I retired ten years ago. With two or three more years of this I can be homeless”

Indeed, many of those who retired ten or more years ago, at a time when they believed that they were receiving an adequate pension, are now concerned that their pensions, coupled with social security, barely pays the bills. In fact, some claim that they are now living in poverty.

The cost of healthcare, forever rising, is one of the culprits that places the ability of many retirees to support themselves in jeopardy.

One retiree, who 15 years ago began collecting a pension of $30,000 annually after more than 30 years of teaching, estimates that she may be homeless before the end of 2014.

Many retired non-professional workers in the TPAF system, such as secretaries and teacher aides, are receiving pensions of $15,000 or less. In addition, they are at an age where chronic illness and other geriatric issues prohibit them from holding the part-time jobs that they relied on to survive after retirement. Poverty and homelessness are no longer a vague concept to them.

The retirees indicate that they consider the most egregious part of the dilemma is to be that they are paying for the mistakes and lack of fiscal responsibility of legislators and government officials. New Jersey is one of the most expensive states to live in. Correcting the problem a few years from now, they insist, will be too late for them.

The Republican Defeat of the Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons…

The Republican Defeat Of The Ratification Of The Convention On The Rights Of Persons With Disabilities Is Emblematic Of An Attitude Of Bigotry

Written by Dr. Salvatore Pizzuro, Ed.D

Dr. Salvatore Pizzuro is a learning, transition and disability policy specialist, who represents people with disabilities at New Jersey’s Office of Administrative Law.  He holds a doctorate in Developmental Disabilities from Columbia University and an advanced degree in Disability Law from New York Law School.  He has served as a consultant for the US Congress on each reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act since its inception, and has authored numerous books, professional journal articles and research studies in the areas of disability policy, education, rehabilitation, and community acquiescence. 

When the first meeting was held in San Francisco in 1945 to form the United Nations, the prevailing concept was that all people had value, and were entitled to basic human rights, without exception.

That concept was the basis for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The convention, or treaty, has been based on:

“The principles proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations which recognize the inherent dignity and worth and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family as the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world”

It is, therefore, puzzling, that a group of Republican Senators were behind the failure of the United States to ratify the Convention, or treaty. Sixty-seven years after the formation of the United Nations, the United States stands alone as the only industrialized nation that has refused to sign the treaty over the years.

The Convention is also based on

“Recognizing that disability is an evolving concept and that disability results from the interaction between persons with impairments and attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinders their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others”

Furthermore, the Convention supports the concept that all people with disabilities should be:

“actively involved in decision-making processes about policies and programs, including those directly concerning them”

The failure to ratify the treaty makes it easier to understand how people with disabilities continue to be relegated to the status of second class citizens, devoid of the basic civil, human and due process rights that the non-disabled population enjoys. The “Second Class” citizen status, that people with disabilities continue to be burdened with, is an extension of society’s underlying attitude toward vulnerable citizens. However, the position of the conservative Senate Republicans who opposed the treaty, including Rick Santorum, toward people with disabilities, is emblematic of an attitude of bigotry.