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It’s Always About Development

Burt Ross, a former mayor of Fort Lee who turned down a $500,000 bribe when he was in office, has an interesting observation about New Jersey’s political scandals, one that I sort of touched on last month.

As reported in

Former Fort Lee mayor says potential source of NJ corruption is land shortage

From the September George Washington Bridge lane closure controversy to Trenton Mayor Tony Mack’s recent bribery conviction, New Jersey is awash in political scandals.

And former Fort Lee Mayor Burt Ross thinks he knows why: land shortage.

Ross, who was a mayor in Fort Lee during the 1970s, wrote in the Daily Beast today that New Jersey’s low supply and high demand for land is the source of many political controversies in the state.

“Land in New Jersey is worth a fortune. Corrupt politicians sell their souls for power or money, and the dense development of land is where the action is. It’s as simple as that,” he wrote……………………….

………………..recently, Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer has accused Christie’s office of linking her town’s receipt of Hurricane Sandy relief funds to her support of a private development project.

These examples show areas in Northern Jersey are ripe for potential political corruption, Ross argued……….


And of course there’s Governor Machiavelli’s land-grab scandal a few years (and corrupt governors) ago.

Keep in mind that none of this has anything to do with Belmar.  Any questions about the intermingling of government power, union power and redevelopment contracts here in Belmar is just “crazy town conspiracy theories”.


In the Beast article Ross also makes this remark:

For many years Belleville’s public officials had tried unsuccessfully to raise the money for this (senior housing) development.  When Christie was kind enough to cough up roughly $6,000,000 of Sandy aid for Belleville to build the project, it was no coincidence when the Essex County Chairman, a Democrat, and the Democratic Mayor of Belleville both endorsed the Governor’s reelection bid. The only problem is that this project has virtually nothing to do with Hurricane Sandy. In fact, Belleville was ranked 254th of cities affected by the hurricane.

 Local officials love nothing more than supporting housing facilities for senior citizens. They are not motivated simply by pure love in their hearts, but rather because they understand that seniors vote in large numbers and tend to vote for the politicians who were kind enough to find them housing.  Skilled politicians are expert in securing this vote often by putting voting booths in the lobby of the housing.  Again it appears that the governor was using Sandy aid as a political slush fund.

Of course the suspicion expressed by Councilman Bean that this is happening in Belmar, and particularly with so many Shop Rite gift cards going to the senior building is just nonsense.  If it were true, the whole $20,000 worth of gift cards would have been handed out to voters.  But apparently somebody there took the courageous step of preventing half the cards from being possibly distributed politically.

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