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There's no defending New Jersey

By Alan Caruba
web posted August 16, 2004

The former Governor of Louisiana, Edwin Edwards, used to say, ""They'd have to catch me taking money under the table or find me on top of a chubby boy to get what they're after." What they were after was a jail term for the charming rogue and they got it. The cause was money, not some chubby boy.

New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey announces he will resign November 15 during a news conference at the Statehouse in Trenton, N.J. on August 12
New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey announces he will resign November 15 during a news conference at the Statehouse in Trenton, N.J. on August 12

Now we have in James McGreevey, the not-resigning-soon-enough Governor of New Jersey, the confession of a gay extra-marital affair and a host of charges of corruption involving a number of people who have given money to his campaign. That pretty much fulfills Edwards' formula for losing a public office as the result of what we shall gently call inappropriate behavior.

The fact is, New Jersey has been poorly served by a succession of governors starting with Jim Florio, a Democrat who raised taxes and got thrown out in favor of Christie Whitman, a Republican who further ran up state indebtedness with bonding schemes and such. When she stepped aside early as President Bush's choice to run the Environmental Protection Agency, the voters were left with an interim Governor, Donald T. DiFrancesco, who was forced to step aside under the shadow of wrongdoing. The voters eventually chose McGreevey over Bret Schundler, a Republican who wanted to give the taxpayers a break.

In the meantime, the Democrats had forced former Sen. Robert Torricelli to step aside from running for reelection due to allegations of corrupt behavior and replaced him barely weeks before the last election with former Senator Frank Lautenberg. This shameful political heist was blessed by the NJ Supreme Court and confirmed by the voters.

Former Governor Whitman was invited to leave the cabinet when it became apparent to everyone that she had no clue whatever about the environment. I often tell friends from out of state that, in New Jersey, we don't trust any air we can't see.

The duplicity, corruption, and just outright stupidity this brief recounting of our chosen leaders (I am a lifelong resident of New Jersey) is offered by way of indicating that something is terribly wrong with voters who have demonstrated a virtual death wish so far as any sensible governance of the state is concerned.

Sadly, aside from the personal embarrassment of the Governor and whatever assessment New Jerseyeans make of this latest debacle, the real damage he has done the State is to sign, just days ago, a bill that puts aside 450,000 acres of a northern New Jersey area called "the Highlands" from any further development. In doing so, he robbed every home and property owner of its value because, in the name of protecting the environment, he rendered that property worthless. No new homes or apartments will be built, nor will any other kind of development. Welcome to the People's Republic of New Jersey.

Add to this the appalling indebtedness of New Jersey and the impossibly high property taxes, and "New Jersey and you. Perfect together" no longer applies to anyone living here. The Garden State is, for all practical purposes, in the poorhouse. For that we can thank the succession of Governors and the most profligate, for-sale-to-the-highest-bidder legislature in the nation.

Therefore, if you think your state is the worst run in the nation (other than pre-Schwartzenegger California), I invite you to measure it against New Jersey and will caution that there is no defending New Jersey anymore.

Alan Caruba writes "Warning Signs", a weekly commentary posted on the website of The National Anxiety Center. © Alan Caruba 2004

Other related stories: (Open in a new window)

  • Garden State snakes by Ted Lang (June 24, 2002)
    Ted Lang marvels at the corruption of both Republican and Democrat politicians in the state of New Jersey and how everyone keeps getting off when they're charged
  • How to make millions in politics by Steven Martinovich (June 18, 2001)
    Steve Martinovich reviews the exhaustive Bad Bet on the Bayou: The Rise of Gambling in Louisiana and the Fall of Governor Edwin Edwards, a story of old-fashioned corruption
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