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Re-Tread: NJ To Take Fox For Another Spin

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Oldie, but not so good: A 1975 Jamie Audi Fox

From Blue Jersey:

The Senate Judiciary Committee has just commenced confirmation interviews for Jamie Fox as Transportation Commissioner, Richard Mroz as Chair of the Board of Public Utilities, and Upendra Chivukula as a member of the BPU. (You can listen here.) Both Fox and Chivukula are Democrats, a surprising step for Governor Christie. Fox has worked in the past for leading Democrats (he coined the powerful phrase “I am a gay American” for the resigning Gov. McGreevey), but has also served as a former Transportation Commissioner and Deputy Director at the NY/NJ Port Authority. Rumor has it that Christie, whose transportation fund is calamitously broke, may surrender his “no new taxes” policy and with help from Fox promote a gas tax increase. It is hard to remember when Christie nominations were scheduled so quickly before the Judiciary Committee. These appointments should sail through the vetting process today, and may even be presented this afternoon at a full Senate session.

Yeah, the legislative Democrats will let him sail right through all right.  He’s their kind of guy.

From NorthJersey.com:

Some of New Jersey’s most influential lobbyists — including a onetime Democratic operative now making more than $500,000 a year — are set to collect public pensions, their reward as political appointees to part-time government commissions.

Several get an even sweeter deal: lifetime enrollment in the state’s health care plans, leaving taxpayers on the hook for yearly premiums that average $5,200 for individuals and $13,000 for families. Among them is Jamie Fox, a former transportation commissioner and chief of staff for Gov. James E. McGreevey, whose $11,954-a-year appointment to the Local Finance Board enabled him to remain in the pension and health systems after McGreevey resigned, leaving Fox without a Cabinet-level job. Last year, he was paid $513,000 as a lobbyist……

(Part of the way he earns that $11,954 on the Local Finance Board is to dismiss ethics charges against people to whom he has made campaign contributions.  This activity resulted in ethics charges being filed against him by our own Ted Ehmann.)

New Jersey has the second lowest gas tax in the country.  This is an intolerable situation to the Democrats in Trenton and their union supporters.  New Jersey is supposed to lead the nation in every form of taxation.  How can we be second to last?  This will not stand!

Help is on the way.  Fox will have an important ally helping him to promote a tax increase.  He will be assisted by a “blue ribbon” coalition!  (BTW, if you hear of anyone ever being in any sort of “blue ribbon” group, you know he’s no good.)

From NJSpotlight:

COALITION PUSHES TO REPLENISH STATE’S TRANSPORTATION TRUST FUND

NJ Forward includes gas tax increase as one funding option, urges merger of transportation agencies and more public-private partnerships
With New Jersey’s Transportation Trust Fund running on empty after years of overborrowing, a blue-ribbon coalition has banded together to push for a stable source of funding for transportation projects, consolidation of the state’s five transportation agencies and authorities, and increased reliance on public-private partnerships to finance major initiatives.

New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce President Tom Bracken, who is chairing the Forward New Jersey reform coalition, was determinedly diplomatic in emphasizing that the group is simply offering a menu of revenue options for consideration by Gov. Chris Christie, who has refused to raise taxes during his first five years in office and is even less likely to agree to do so if he runs for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, as expected.

But it is significant that the coalition — whose 25 members also include an array of regional chambers of commerce, contractors associations, labor unions, and former state transportation commissioners — topped its list of revenue options with several gas tax increase options…….

 I guess we can expect to see this scene repeated in the months ahead.

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Last week I reported that New Jersey has among the worst road conditions in the country despite the fact that our highway spending is the most per mile of any state.  With the way things are developing, we are going to add some distance to our lead.

AshBritt State Contract Originally Meant As Backup

Joy writes:

This was the original email sent Nov. 2 from the NJ League of Municipalities before Maggie Moran became involved.

http://www.njslom.org/letters/2012-1116-DLGS.html

November 2, 2012 – STORM DEBRIS REMOVAL
To assist State government and local units on an expedited basis with storm cleanup, the NJ Division of Purchase and Property executed a contract for debris removal with AshBritt, Inc. (State Contract # AG-0630). The company’s services will supplement other State, county and municipal cleanup efforts on an as-needed basis. If you are in need of an emergency vendor to remove storm debris from public properties and public rights of way, or if your current vendor is not available or unable to adequately address your emergency debris removal needs, your local unit may contract with AshBritt, Inc. under the terms of this contract. However, it is important to note that this contract is optional; your local unit does not have to utilize the contract or the services of AshBritt. For questions, please email Gordon.Ball@dca.state.nj.us

“Hi Honey, How Was Your Day At The Office?”

“I can’t talk about it.  That would be a conflict of interest.”

Office email exchange with Executive Director William Dressel of the taxpayer-supported New Jersey State League of Municipalities:

 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Maggie 11-06 12:48

Bill 11-06 12:51

Bill 11-06 1:57

 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Maggie 11-07 9:01

Maggie 11-07 12:11

Bill 11-07 12:15

Maggie 11-07 12:18

Bill 11-07 12:22

Maggie 11-07 3:06

Bill 11-07 3:09

Bill 11-07 3:28

Maggie 11-07 3:36

Lori 11-07 3:47

Bill 11-07 4:09

Maggie 11-07 4:14

Bill 11-07 4:17

Maggie 11-07 4:18

Bill 11-07 4:20

Maggie 11-07 4:28

Maggie 11-07 6:07

(It went out.)

League letter

 

Meanwhile, down the street in Belmar:

Colleen email

 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Maggie 11-08 8:35

Danielle 11-08 11:25

Danielle 11-08 12:10

Bill 11-08 12:24

Taran 11-08 12:34

Maggie 11-08 1:05

Bill 11-08 1:13

Maggie 11-08 1:16

Bill 11-08 1:23

Maggie 11-08 1:28

 

Fast forward to May 8, 2014

From the Asbury Park Press:

Belmar lawsuit over Sandy debris inching toward trial

 

Belmar officials could soon be called to testify in a lawsuit alleging the borough illegally fired a contractor within a week of bringing them in to remove the borough’s Sandy-mangled boardwalk.

John de Rouville signed a $100,000-contract with Belmar on Nov. 3, 2012, just days after superstorm Sandy had made landfall, to grind up and haul the remnants of the wooden planks and pilings that once made up the town’s boardwalk, according to de Rouville and the lawsuit he filed in December in Monmouth County. A few days later, the two parties agreed on a $165,000 deal to continue their debris removal work.

“And then on Friday morning (November 9) we were approached and told that we had to cease and desist by noontime,” de Rouville told the Press on Wednesday.

He said the borough gave him no indication that his work was unsatisfactory, but Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty said the borough sees it differently, calling the lawsuit “frivolous.”

“Their contract was terminated because of lack of performance,” he said Wednesday.

Belmar next entered into a no-bid contract — as they did with de Rouville and legal under emergency circumstances — with AshBritt Environmental, the Florida general contractor with a business connection to Doherty’s family and the state’s company of choice for debris removal. De Rouville said he believes this was no coincidence.

“You second guess yourself and wonder ‘What did we do? What didn’t we do?’ and then you see in hindsight that it was purely political,” de Rouville said.

Doherty denied de Rouville’s assertion.

“It’s important to note that they were not terminated because of AshBritt,” the mayor said. “One had nothing to do with the other.”………………………..

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Jim Bean would like to know what’s going on.

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He is told who is running the show here (and it’s not Bill Young, as claimed.)

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Hit Week

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Explanation here:

Maggie’s Letter – Style And Substance

In yesterday’s mail:

Maggie Moran

112 Inlet Terrace

Belmar, NJ 07719

September 17, 2014

 

Fellow Belmar resident,

My name is Maggie Moran and I am the wife of our Mayor Matt Doherty. (So far, everything she said is true although there is a grammatical error; the word “mayor” should not be capitalized and should have a comma after it.)  In recent weeks, Matt’s political opponents, including former Mayor Ken Pringle, have made a series of baseless allegations about my business and me. (I’m not sure what allegations she considers to be baseless.  It’s not like someone is out there telling people she was born in Kenya or something. Everything I’ve heard from Jim Bean or Ken Pringle, and everything I’ve written and said myself  is taken from the public record and is completely documented.  Reputable and disinterested news sources such as the Asbury Park Press and the Newark Star Ledger are asking the same questions we are.  And why is she referring to Democrat Ken Pringle as a “political opponent”?  Is it because he has been critical of the mayor?  This is a tactic we’ve seen over and over from these people. They brand any and all criticism as being political in nature and then dismiss it as such.  I find that very frustrating.  Oh, and there’s too many commas in that sentence.  The first one should have been left out.  And it would have sounded better if she said “about me and my business” instead of the other way around)  I want to take this opportunity to communicate with you directly and set the record straight.

I have a public affairs firm in NY and NJ called M Public Affairs – we work solely with private clients and have 20 employees.  (Yeah, her clients are private concerns like AshBritt, Ferreira Brothers, and LIUNA.  The question is whether she is using her influence in the government to help these private clients.  In fact, her bio page on their website lists all her government connections and the powerful politicians she has been senior advisor to.) 

These allegations have been made through direct mail and even at the homes of voters, and I expect that, unfortunately, it will continue through the election season. (Skip the first comma.) Please know that what has been said, and what is likely to be said is simply not true.  (This one is missing a comma.  And this paragraph really should have been closer to the beginning of the letter, before she starts defending her work at M Public affairs.)

I want everyone in town to know that M Public Affairs has NO business in Belmar. It never has, and it never will. I have no clients that provide me or my firm with any financial or other benefits in regard to Belmar. Belmar is where I raise my family, not where I perform work for any clients.  (It’s true that no impropriety has been proven.  But the standard is supposed to be the appearance of impropriety.  And the possibility of impropriety is appearing to everyone except, perhaps, Mr. Magoo.)

I love this town, and I love raising my three children here. My kids and I should not have to endure rumors and baseless allegations because Matt is our Mayor. (She’s out there overtly bragging to her private clients about how much political influence she has and then she feels all sorry for herself when people ask questions about it.  It’s not like you’re a stay at home mom like Tracy Bean, or work for the phone company like my wife.  And again, in that context the word “mayor” should not be capitalized.  It’s capitalized when it’s in front of his name as a title, just like Mr. or Dr. are capitalized.  It’s also capitalized when it’s part of the name of a specific entity such as “the Mayor and Council”.  So many people capitalize it every time it’s used.)  Matt works very hard for the people in Belmar. During and after Sandy he took a lot of time off from his full time job as a Financial Advisor (Caps?) to stabilize and rebuild our town. (He didn’t stabilize our debt, that’s for sure.)  I am proud of Matt and the work he and all of the great employees of Belmar performed during and after that crisis.

I hope Matt’s political opponents stop making false and misleading allegations about me. (Yeah, stop telling people she was born in Kenya!)  Our town deserves better and I could not stand by any longer and let Matt’s opponents continue to undermine my reputation. I thank you for reading this letter and hope these baseless allegations do not distract you from the great work being done in town.

 

Sincerely,

Maggie Moran

Style, I’ll give her maybe a C.  Substance?  I’ll let you decide.

 

Comment Of The Week

From “Thick Headed”

How much money has Doherty wasted, that is the article to write. He has had 3 defeated plans of the boardwalk, each plan with architectural drawings costing tens of thousands.
1. Public changing rooms with private showers – defeated
2. Rooftop mini golf on 8th ave pav. – defeated
3. 2 story pavilion at Taylor – defeated
4. Total projected defeated at the polls.

Honestly Jim Bean deserves a chance to restore Belmar

Residents first, we have had 4 years of outside business owners being first.

Thanks, “Thick Headed”, now I don’t have to write it.

We’re #1 (By A Mile!)

From Jay Edgar, of the NJ Libertarian party:

Today the Reason Foundation released its 21st Annual Report on the Performance of the State Highway System. This report ranks the quality and spending on the state highways based on data reported by each state for 2012 and part of 2011. Our legislators should be hanging their heads in shame while the taxpayers should be sharpening their pitchforks.

The condition of New Jersey highways ranks very low while spending per mile far outpaces the rest of the nation. New Jersey spends 12.5 times more than the national average per mile. This is over 3 times more than Massachusetts, the next highest spender…..

LIUNA Apprentice Training Manual

hammer3

Now bear in mind if you can’t learn this but you want to hammer nails in Belmar anyway, you will get a raise and be paid the journeyman’s rate.

Today’s Letter

I expect over the next six weeks the mayor will be using enough paper to kill more trees than an entire ipe wood boardwalk would have.  (Where’s Jeff Tittle when we need him?)

Anyway, this is today’s:

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 5.53.56 PM

The petitions, signed by 418 voters, don’t ask for a special election.  They ask that the language favoring certain union companies be removed.  

If the mayor and council refuse the will of these 418 voters, the remedy is a special election.  Also note that given more time, a lot more signatures could have been collected.

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 5.54.03 PM

 You don’t know “bullet” points.  You only know points.  (Those points can be bulleted in a letter.)

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I don’t know if he’s talking about the rest of the language in the ordinance or specifically the language that we find offensive, but I think that probably not one signer of that petition gives a crap about what the New Jersey Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors thinks of the ordinance.

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Obviously if the signers believed that to be true, they wouldn’t have signed.  It looks to us like it was enacted to protect the mayor’s cronies.

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This is impossible right on the face of it.  How could limiting bidders to union shops who support union apprenticeship programs not raise the cost of projects?  

And paying journeyman’s wages makes any bidder completely uncompetitive.  I am told that this language raises the labor costs of a project by around 40%. 

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Again, they may have a similar ordinance but without the specific language we are objecting to.  What I do know is that over 500 towns in New Jersey have no such restrictions on bidders.  And they get a lot more bidders than we do.

 It is unacceptable that we had to choose from only three bids received on the most recent pavilion plan.

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If a company is non-union they have to pay journeyman’s wage.  Non union companies will not even bother trying to get work in Belmar.

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Again, I don’t know how similar the language was, but like I said at the last Council meeting if we are going to follow New Jersey’s example we are heading for certain bankruptcy.

Anyway, I guess the mayor didn’t want to mention that the bill he is referring to was VETOED by Governor Christie.  

And as far as Rible and Kean voting in favor of that, I guess you all should have voted for me when I ran against them as a Libertarian in 2011.  I would have voted “no”.

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We don’t need a special election.  Just do what the people ask.  

And if we end up needing a special $17,000 election, it will still be cheaper than living with this law in place…..a lot cheaper.

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First of all, he can avoid a costly special election by doing what the 400+ signers asked him to do, which is to revert the ordinance back to the way it was.  

I really can’t see how a compromise can be made, but he’s not even going to give the specifics until October 1.  I hope he doesn’t expect an answer on the spot.  And actually it would be unethical for the committee of petitioners to compromise with the mayor without consulting first with all the signers.  

The compromise should have come before the petitions were collected.  At this point, if he won’t just cede to the wishes of the petition signers, we might as well just have the election.  As I said it would be a lot cheaper than the long term cost of not having it.

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Back To The Futures

Many of you know that I was the very first Belmar resident to publicly speak out against the union apprenticeship requirement added to our bidding law by ordinance 2014-1.  It was the night of the ordinance’s First Reading and Introduction, January 28, 2014.

The Coast Star reports:

………….While Council President Brian Magovern said adding this amendment will ensure companies bidding “meet the standards of the borough of Belmar” and have been trained to do the work tasked, a few residents questioned the amendment, particularly the apprenticeship program requirement.

Dave Schneck, of C Street, asked why having a company participate in an apprenticeship program “takes precedence over just your fiduciary responsibility to get the lowest price for the taxpayers.”

Acting borough attorney Edward Washburne said the state statute is written so a borough does not have to hire the lowest bidder because they might not be the lowest responsible bidder.

“It’s written to take financial and public policy considerations — keeping them in mind,” he said.

But, Mr. Schneck said, by not giving it to the lowest bidder because they do not partake in the apprenticeship program, “it seems to me that you’re not acting in the interests of your constituents. You’re acting in the interest of someone else.”

That someone else, he said, could be Robert Epifano, chairman of Epic Management, in Piscataway, the company that rebuilt the borough’s boardwalk after Hurricane Sandy and was awarded the contract to rebuild two pavilions at the beachfront.

Epic utilizes such an apprentice program and Mr. Epifano is a management trustee for the Laborers’ International Union of North America [LIUNA] Training and Education Fund, which “provides curriculum, instructor training and support services to more than 70 affiliated Laborers’ International Union of North America training centers [Training Funds] located throughout the United States and Canada,” according to their website, located at www.liunatraining.org/index.cfm.

“This seems to me to be a conflict right there” and a “way to give Epic an inside line on some of these bids,” Mr. Schneck said.

Ms. Connolly said the amendment would not prohibit companies from being awarded a contract as Metra Industries, in Little Falls, and MSP Construction Corp., in Newark, who are currently doing water infrastructure improvements in the borough, would both qualify under the amended ordinance.

According to Ms. Connolly, “you can be a completely non-union shop and still qualify.”

Mr. Schneck said there was also a conflict of interest as Maggie Moran, Mayor Doherty’s wife, once worked for LIUNA.

Mrs. Moran worked for LIUNA for two years, from 2010-2012.

“This has to be looked into,” Mr. Schneck said. “This doesn’t smell right.”

“Your responsibility is to the public. To do this work as cheaply as possible,” he said. “Not to have us subsidize union training programs. This is not right.”

He had asked the council to table the ordinance until it has been “explained to the satisfaction of the public.”

The governing body declined to do that and voted on amending the ordinance.

Prior to Councilman Bean’s vote, he echoed what Mr. Schneck said.

“I don’t think our job up here is to find better businesses to do work for us. I think our job up here is to get the best bang for the buck and to make sure the job is done correctly,” he said. “I don’t know how forcing people to have apprenticeships is going to fix that.”

He then talked about the “coincidence” that Belmar hired two companies, AshBritt and Ferreira Construction, that Mrs. Moran had ties to in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and that now the borough is amending its ordinance to include the apprenticeship qualification when the chairman of Epic sits on the board for LIUNA, which Mrs. Moran used to work for.

Councilman Magoven said “I think you’re giving the mayor’s wife too much credit for being a power broker.”

“She has a small office in South Belmar, New Jersey,” he said. “She’s not affecting an international company getting contracts to come to us in Belmar. She’s not that powerful.”………..

Hmmm.

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Maybe this should be changed to read:  Maggie Moran is some woman with a tiny, little office in South Belmar and no power.  In fact, nobody ever even heard of her.

Anyway, here’s the Back to the Futures part.

Before there was the shadowy “Building the Future Foundation” that sent so much “Vote Yes” literature to our houses last month, there was the “Building Our Future 2012″  campaign organization which succeeded in convincing New Jersey voters to pass a $750 million (!) higher education construction bond.  As Ms. Moran points out above, she managed the campaign.

Here is what the popular blog More Monmouth Musings reported about it in October of 2012:

………imagine that a group of politicians, unions, business groups, colleges, gas and electric companies, water companies, insurance companies…pretty much everyone who supported Corzine’s plan to sell or lease our highways and his plan to borrow $450 million to fund stem cell research comes along and asks you to guarantee a $750 million loan to build, equip and expand facilities on college campuses.

Again, not hard to imagine because its happening. The group is called Building our Future: Yes on #1. Its list of donors smells like #2 if you’re concerned our New Jersey’s fiscal health and your own.

As of October 10 the group’s donors had kicked in $900,000 to persuade you to vote for their largess, according to The Star Ledger. (Ultimately they raised over $2 million.)

Most of Building our Future’s donors have a financial stake in the passage of referendum, which could create dozens of large construction projects on college campuses across the state.

The group’s first donors include: PSE&G ($200,000), New Jersey Carpenter Contractor Network ($100,000), New Jersey Resources ($100,000), Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters PAC ($100,000), New Jersey State Electrical Workers ($100,000) and the American Federal of Teachers New Jersey ($10,000).

William Paterson University was the first higher education institution to donate to the cause, with a $33,000 check, according to the ELEC filing. University officials said the money came from private donations to the William Paterson Foundation, the school’s nonprofit fund raising arm.

This group knows how to raise money. $900,000 since they were formed in August. They also know how to spend it. Save money? Not so much. Their web site cost over $18,000.

The Corzine connections to the group run deep.

Maggie Moran was the first chairperson of the group, according to their ELEC reports. Moran was Corzine’s Chief of Staff when he served in the U.S. Senate. She was his Deputy Chief of Staff while he was governor. Laura Matos was the group’s first treasurer. Matos served in the governor’s office for Jim McGreevey, Dick Cody and Corzine. Moran and Matos are now partners at M Public Affairs, Inc. Building our Future: Yes on #1 shares office space with M Public Affairs in Lake Como. Building our Future: Yes on #1 and M Public Affairs have the same phone number. Of the $188,000 Building our Future: Yes on #1 spent through October 9, $55,000, including the $18K web site, was paid to M Public Affairs.

The new chairman of Building our Future is union leader William T. Mullen. The new treasurer is John Duthie who is also the treasurer of the NJ State Laborers PAC and the Laborer’s International Union of North America………….

As of this writing, “Building the Future Foundation” has not made any campaign filings to the state, at least none that we can find.

Stay tuned.