By Bill Cleary
DIRTY JERSEY-Forty-four prominent political and religious leaders, including mayors, assemblymen and rabbis were arrested July 23rd by federal authorities on the charge of corruption and international money laundering.
What else is new?
The banner headlines about the arrest of the 44 suspects made the front page of newspapers around the world. Most New Jersey residents are no longer shocked by this type of embarrassing news. A month doesn’t go by without reading about a local or state legislator being hauled off to jail for some kind of crime.
This past Friday former State Senator Wayne Bryant (Democrat, District 5) appeared in U.S. District Court in Camden to hear his sentence. In 2008 a jury found the 61-year-old Lawnside resident guilty of 12 corruption charges.
As is normal in these cases other politicians appear in court on sentencing day to praise the disgraced bureaucrat; hoping to influence the court to hand down a light sentence. According to the Associated Press, Bryant dabbed away tears as some of his friends and fellow politicos lined up to speak on his behalf.
Lawnside Mayor Mark Bryant told Judge Freda Wolfson's courtroom that his older brother had helped the borough come out of bankruptcy in the 1990s.
After the proceedings, the mayor said he had hoped for a considerably shorter sentence and concluded that the only thing his brother had done wrong was to "legislate while black."
For those unfamiliar with Mr. Bryant he is an African American. What race has to do with this case is beyond me. The Senator was convicted not because he was black but because he got caught stealing from you and I, the taxpayers.
Apparently their cries for leniency worked as Judge Freda Wolfson sentenced the defendant to just four years in federal prison. He was also ordered to pay $113,167 in restitution.
The New Jersey U.S. Attorney's office wanted to see Bryant sentenced to 8 to 10 years.
Vincent Fumo a former Pennsylvania Democrat state senator received a 55-month term earlier this month. A federal jury convicted Fumo on 137 counts of conspiracy, fraud, obstructing justice and tax violations in March. The U.S. Attorney had asked the judge for a 10 year sentence for Fumo
How can this problem be stopped?
First, limit the time a person can hold an office to four years. Bryant was in office for 25 years before he stepped down in disgrace. Second, change the sentencing laws. Any politician caught committing a crime while in office would be sentenced to a mandatory 10 years in prison. Third, if convicted of a crime the politician would be stripped of his/her retirement benefits. It still hasn’t been determined if Bryant will be able to collect his benefits. It has been reported there is $500,000 in contributions sitting in Bryant’s campaign war chest. What will be done with those monies is not known.
SNIPPET-Last week’s CNB Poll asked the public for their opinion on the following question.
In order to reduce Gloucester City operating expenses would you favor reducing paid firefighter work hours from 24/7 to 12/5? The main fire station would be manned by paid firefighters from 6am to 6pm Monday through Friday. Volunteer firefighters would respond to fire calls from 6pm to 6am Monday through Friday and on the weekends. Two EMT’s would be available 24/7.
A total of 430 votes were received. The results 61.5 percent were in favor while 38.5 percent were against the proposal (264 yes 166 no). The poll ran for one week (7/17 to 7/24). Thank you for participating.
In 2007 Councilmen Nick Marchese, Jay Brophy and Mayor Bill James ran on a platform of change. One of their ideas at that time was to cut the $4 million operating cost of the fire department doing exactly what the majority of people favored in this recent CNB poll. Neighboring towns more affluent than ours use a similar system. A few paid men work during the day, at night and weekends volunteers hold the fort down.
As I stated last week that plan seems to be obsolete now since council has hired a new employee for the fire department increasing the number of paid firemen to 33. Six provisional firemen were also made permanent taking the oath of office at the June council meeting. Incidentally the department has 10 officers (a chief, 5 battalion chiefs and 4 lieutenants) supervising 23 firemen.
By the way I think our firemen, both paid and volunteer, are outstanding individuals. I admire all of them for their professionalism and courage. Ninety-nine percent of us would run from a burning building. These men run towards it. Thank God there are people like them willing to do the job.
TIP-The City of Gloucester City requests proposals for a survey and a proposed subdivision to be completed by a licensed surveyor for property located at 58 Crescent Blvd., Gloucester City. This property is known as Gloucester Terrace Apartments. The criteria for selections shall be experience, especially in similar projects, and pricing. Any proposals should be transmitted to Jack Lipsett, City Administrator by August 7 at 2 PM at the Municipal Building, 512 Monmouth Street, Gloucester City 08030
TIP-The PRC industrial building at 410 Jersey Avenue, Gloucester City is For Sale. PRC, formerly Products Research has been at that location for 40 years. During that period the company continued to expand until it owned the entire block. Over the years it purchase the Publishers Inc. property at 5th and Jersey Ave., the Ice House on 5th street, and a number of houses that were across the street and next to the main building that is now up for sale. The asking price for the 28,500 foot building is $650,000. The building was constructed in 1970. The real estate agent is Grubb-Ellis. one of North America’s largest commercial real estate services firms.
PRC-De Soto International is a technology and market leader in the development of aerospace coatings and sealants. PRC-De Soto International is also a leader in the development of packaging and applications systems for multi-component materials and high performance sealants for the insulating glass and utility industries.
If you have a TIP or SNIPPET to share send it to BillGCN@verizon.net or by snail mail, Gloucester City News PO Box 151, Gloucester City 08030 attention Bill Cleary.