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Friday, August 27, 2010

Rooster Call: $400 Million Screwup and More

This morning Crime, Politics and Policy starts a new, semiregular feature: a morning recap of notable events, trends or cases from previous days.  If possible, links to the original source articles, reports or cases will be provided.  Commentary from yours truly will be added where I determine it is warranted.
The Obama Administration is in rapid response mode, refuting New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's absurd claim that it wasn't the Christie Administration's fault for failing to answer a simple question that was asked on the application for federal Race to the Top funding; the Christie Administration's deliberate evasion of a question cost it points which were the margin of difference (or error) in not getting a mere $400 million for state schools.  A review of an earlier draft -- one agreed upon between the teachers' union and Christie's education commissioner -- shows that the question had been fully answered in the draft, but then was rejected by Christie and subsequently revised
So New Jersey's Governor Christie (aka: the next president of the United States), or his appointees, tried to avoid admitting that they reduced school funding as a percentage of total state budget expenditures by a whopping four percentage points -- and in the process cost the schools $400 million. 
In the private sector -- the real world -- a $400 million screwup gets you fired -- if you're lucky -- and usually gets you sued...or even investigated for possible criminal wrongdoing.  
Given the fiscal irresponsibility that passes for establishment Republican orthodoxy these days, that monumental screwup gets you on the short list for the presidential nomination.  
From this corner, if Christie were a Democrat, he'd already be facing a recall movement. 
In the meantime, more than one in ten homeowners in New Jersey are "seriously delinquent" on their mortgages, reports Friday's Wall Street Journal.  Think that $400 million couldn't come in handy, Chris?
A blind governor lies about whether he intended to pay for World Series tickets -- but he's blind!  David Paterson couldn't just listen to the game on the radio, and now there's a recommendation for a criminal inquiry and possible state criminal charges for perjury and/or obstruction of justice
New York City's bureaucracy is legendary, but taking nine years after the 9/11 attacks to get the go-ahead for construction of new office towers is still remarkable...and abominable. 
Memo to Larry Silverstein:  Next time, build a mosque and it's like putting an EZ-Pass on your application...or bribing someone.  Mention you want to build a mosque, and the city, state and federal government will all trample on the First Amendment principle of separation of church and state and intimidate any and all community opposition to facilitate your project. If this isn't special, preferential treatment of a particular religious project, I don't know what one is. 
All I know is, in New Jersey there are about two dozen local politicians who thought they were doing the same thing for a man they thought was a developer, and who in reality was an admitted felon-turned-government informant running a sting operation. (For reference, google "Solomon Dwek" and "Operation Bid Rig" and see what you find.)  I don't see much of a difference.  Do you?
Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer who counsels people on lawsuit stress management, litigation and business negotiations. He can be reached at and 917-696-2442.

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