Sent to you by jcase via Google Reader: Christie's crony capitalism
via Articles » peoplesworld by Thomas Riggins on 8/14/12
If you are looking for evidence that Republicans are more devoted to
the the interests of the one percent than to the masses of the American
people, you need look no farther than New Jersey, which has the
happiness of being governed by Republican Chris Christie, who openly
and unashamedly uses the office of governor to feather the nests of his
über rich supporters at the expense of the very people of the garden
state who elected him.
Not too long ago, the New York Times ran a series of articles on the
condition of the state's privately run halfway houses-- the places
prisoners go to get more rehabilitative help on their way back into
society. If these privately run halfway houses are incompetently or
corruptly managed there are at least three big problems for the people
of New Jersey. First, the prisoners are not getting the rehabilitative
help they need to function in society. Second, the citizens are exposed
to potential criminal victimization due to the malfunctioning of the
halfway houses. Third, the tax money paid out to the privatized firms
running the halfway houses is being wasted.
The government of New Jersey cannot be indifferent to this situation.
The State Senate and the Assembly went into action after the New York
Times published reports such as the following: "The Bo Robinson center
in New Jersey is as large as a prison and is intended to help inmates
re-enter society. But The New York Times found that drugs, gangs, and
sexual abuse are rife behind its walls."
And the Bo Robinson center was only one of the halfway houses exposed
by the Times in a three part series published in June. The series
revealed the whole system is shot through with crime and corruption and
is being used as a cash cow by the private companies that are running
What sane politician would not want to end this abuse? The Legislature,
controlled by Democrats (but not by enough to override a veto) had to
put up with Gov. Christie's veto back in June when they tried to make
the halfway house industry more accountable. The Legislature wanted to
receive quarterly reports on what was going on and also be informed
what actions the industry was taking to protect the inmates from
violence, drugs, and other forms of abuse.
The Times reported on Christie's response: "In a message to the
Legislature, the governor said he issued the vetoes because the
reporting requirements were burdensome and threatened the security of
the facilities." That is the GOP mantra, by the way, that all
regulations and supervision of private interests are "burdensome."
But the story doesn't end there. On August 8, the Times reported that
Christie has taken further action to water down any government
oversight or regulation of the halfway house industry. The Legislature
had also arranged to have the contracts with the private operators
reviewed and audited. Just how is the state's money being used?
Christie objects and says he won't sign this new law unless "all
existing contracts, including those with halfway house operators, were
exempted from the audits." What legitimate business needs to be
protected from an audit?
Christie's position is that current contracts should not be audited,
according to the Times, "because his administration already properly
supervised them." Oh? Then why did the Times report on a system full of
violence, drug use, and sexual assault if the contracts were properly
As deep throat said, "Follow the money." It turns out that the state's
largest private halfway house contractor is Community Education Centers
(they run the aforementioned Bo Robinson center) whose senior vice
president, William Palatucci, is both a trusted political advisor to
the governor and his former law partner. Not only that, but Christie
was a paid lobbyist for Community Education Centers before he was
governor. Crony capitalism is alive and well in New Jersey. What would
the whole country look like if run by these supporters of the one
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