|As 44 people walked before cameras last week, their hands in cuffs, after they were arrested in the state’s biggest corruption scandal in years — but not, to be sure, that many years — even their most scandal-fatigued constituents, from the gritty precincts of Journal Square in Jersey City to the glittering new condominiums on the Hudson in Hoboken, began to wonder: Why is New Jersey so unshakably corrupt? |
That answer, it turns out, has as many nuances as corruption itself. Interviews with law enforcement officials, prosecutors and, perhaps the best authority on the subject — those arrested in previous sweeps, like Mr. Botti — reveal a culture of corruption so ingrained that it has become impossible to resist when the envelope appears.
A decade-long building boom has flooded towns with millions of development dollars, as well as wealthy businessmen eager to secure sewer permits and zoning waivers. The Democratic Party firmly dominates local politics, turning most elections into sleepy coronations. The state’s news organizations, once vigorous watchdogs, have been decimated by a deep industry downturn.
Add to all that the fact that New Jersey is divided into hundreds of tiny fiefdoms, where part-time elected officials without much education and with small salaries wield considerable power, and the heady mix of arrogance, control and promised payoffs dissolves the will of even the most determined reformer.
It also seems to dissolve their intelligence and caution, because often enough, the man with the envelope is wearing a wire.
“In New Jersey, you are encouraged to break the law,” said Alan C. Marcus, a longtime Republican operative who has worked in the state for decades, observing all matter of malfeasance.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Why does New Jersey's Culture of Corruption persist?
Dumb, low paid idiots who keep getting elected to what amounts to small fiefdoms and a near one party system.