Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Last week New Jersey was placed back on the top of the "places that are FUBAR" pile after the arrest of 44 or so people, including some high ranking elected officials in the latest corruption scandal to hit the Garden State. Among the accused are the Commissioner of Consumer Affairs and the mayors of Seacacus, Hoboken and a a deputy mayor of Jersey City.

While scanning the local rag today there was a story detailing the fact that with the exception of the Commissioner, none of the mayors have resigned or at least temporarily stepped down until the charges against them are resolved.

One of the beauties of our Constitution is that we are all presumed innocent until proven guilty. However, when you are in a position of public trust you are generally held to a higher standard. Teachers, Firemen, and Police when indicted are immediately suspended without pay and have to wait out the judicial process. If found not guilty, they are reinstated. It is all about preserving the public trust. Taken at face value you would think New Jersey values the trust citizens put in their public officials. Recently a local volunteer firefighter was convicted of Misconduct in Office and received a four year term for stealing diesel fuel. While it wasn't hundreds of gallons it was a theft consummated through his public yet unpaid position. And so, he is paying the piper in terms of his liberty for the next four years.

Sadly, this premium on the public trust is not extended to paid political types who refuse to surrender (temporarily if their protestations of innocence are genuine) their office even in the face of what seems to be overwhelming evidence. Lets face it that its a fairly safe bet that the US Attorney didn't obtain indictments in a willy nilly fashion just to grab a cheap headline or two.

Therefore the remedy seems not to be in the criminal code but rather in a well informed electorate who I hope are finally fed up enough to cause real change in November rather than be lured like lemmings over the precipice into the sea of business as usual in Trenton.

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