Taxpayers pay for public officials? misdeeds

On Jan. 19, 2008 Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine hosted a ?town hall meeting? at the Middle Township Performing Arts Center in Cape May Court House.

Four years later, the taxpayers of Middle Township just paid a total of $100,000 to, nine of our members and our lawyers because their public school and police officials would not let us display signs or hand out literature there.

Corzine came to Middle Township to win support for his complicated plan for the state to borrow $38 billion, without a public vote, by “leasing” its three toll roads ? the Parkway, Turnpike and Atlantic City Expressway ? to a dummy agency set up by Wall Street. This money, plus interest, would be paid back with 800 percent toll hikes for the next 99 years.

Corzine said he wanted that money to pay down New Jersey’s enormous debt of $115 billion. Corzine said the state owed $30 billion in bonds, $60 billion to the pension funds for state, county, local and employees, and $25 billion to give free health benefits for life to retired public school teachers.

At that time, Jon Corzine was popular and respected by Democrats and Republicans alike in the state Legislature. In 2000, Corzine spent $62 million of his own money to win the Democratic nomination, and then election to the U.S. Senate. In 2005 he quit the U.S. Senate and spent $38 million more to win the Democratic primary and then the November election to be governor of New Jersey.

Corzine made roughly $300 million to $400 million between 1994 and 1999 when he and Henry Paulson (who later invented the Troubled Asset Relief Program as secretary of the Treasury for Republican President George Bush) were co-chairmen of the Wall Street firm of Goldman Sachs.

Corzine and Paulson replaced former Goldman Sachs CEO Robert Rubin, who left to become secretary of the Treasury under newly elected Democratic President Bill Clinton.

Jon Corzine made buckets of money for Goldman Sachs by gambling on risky investments that never failed ? because Bill Clinton’s Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury were always there to bail them out.

Henry Paulson also scored big for Goldman Sachs, spending years in China cultivating personal ties with communist leaders and getting them sweetheart deals from the Clinton White House.

Corzine first tried to sell his toll hike scheme in 2007. But his traffic accident speeding back from the Pinky Kravitz radio program in Atlantic City delayed his plans. Corzine again tried to win public support for his plan in January of 2008. He set up 21 town hall meetings, one in each county.

The first three in North Jersey worked as planned. Corzine was prepared and stated facts ? complete with pie charts and slick graphics. Articulate critics like Steve Lonegan were barred from participation. Those who were unprepared, uninformed or who rambled on about pet causes that had nothing to do with the governor’s plan could talk as long as they liked.

We of Libertyand Prosperity worked closely with former Mayor Steve Lonegan of Bogota to research the facts. We prepared signs and literature that taught the “inconvenient truths” never mentioned by the governor.

We wrote that New Jersey taxpayers didn’t owe $115 billion as Corzine claimed. Court cases and our state Constitution say we only owe the $3 billion in debts approved by voters.

We wrote that it was stupid to add $38 billion of new debt at higher interest rather than pay down $38 billion at lower interest ? unless you were a Wall Street insider sharing the 1 percent “transaction fees” ($380 million)!

We wrote that a similar scheme bankrupted Argentinain 1998, while making big profits for Goldman Sachs.

Our signs were not in anyone’s way. We politely handed our literature only to those who wanted it. We did not shout, or push or confront anyone.

Supporters of Corzine’s plan were permitted to hand out their literature and display their signs inside; they were even given a table to sign up volunteers.

One hour before Corzine was to speak, Board of Education official Walter Landgraf and the police told only our Liberty and Prosperity group to get our signs and literature off their “private” property, or be arrested.

The others put their stuff away, or moved 100 yards away. I and Lonegan stayed, and we were arrested. Our group (but not Lonegan) sued the Middle Township Police and Board of Education. Several weeks ago, they both agreed to pay us and our lawyers a total of $100,000.

Once again, innocent taxpayers ? not guilty officials ? were punished.

(Reprinted from 18 January, 2012 Current-Gazette Newspapers of Atlantic and Cape May Counties,

Somers Point attorney Seth Grossman appears on 92.1FM 8-9 a.m. Saturday. For information see, email
or call (609) 927-7333. Breakfast discussions are held 9:30-10:30 a.m. every Saturday at the Shore Diner on Fire and Tilton roads in Egg Harbor Township, NJ.

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