Thursday, 19 December 2013 00:00
The Commission to Investigate Public Corruption has been given a title that tells us that the Governor has determined that there is public corruption. No kidding! Does this come as a surprise? Of course there is public corruption and it is rampant throughout the State and nation. We do not need a Commission to tell us that or even to investigate that of which we are already acutely aware.
Corruption, as we all know, stems from those greedy persons who misuse public service for their own gain. For them, it’s a power and money trip where most of their service is geared to winning re-election by accepting campaign contributions from lobbyists and
special interests. The Governor and members of the Commission are also guilty of these practices. Instead of running on their records without accepting campaign contributions, advertizing, sloganeering or even accepting public financing, they spend their time raising money for the next campaign and seeking awards that they do not deserve and which should not be given to them.
Let us take for example, judicial campaigns where we do not have merit selections. The public knows next to nothing about these candidates. The candidates form lawyer committees and accept contributions from attorneys who then appear before them and also are rewarded with assignments and referrals. This destroys the independence and fairness of the judiciary which is over ripe with corruption and abuses for political gain. Taxpayers are owed over one hundred million dollars in unpaid tax certiorari claims. Taxpayers will also have to pay those claims. Lawyers for a minimal amount of work will get up to a third of that. Look at their campaign contributions and you will see why our assessment system has not changed.
If you want to know why this County and others lose big cases at taxpayer expense look at the training programs for municipal employees including county attorneys which do not exist. Look at referrals to outside law firms who have contributed to campaigns and the work that they do which should be handled in-house.
Until the Commission and others understand that in public service as Mayor Bloomberg has said, “The best ideas should win,” we will continue to have public corruption. Commission members and the Governor will gain notoriety but nothing will change.
We can not rid ourselves of corruption until all public officials are willing to step back from current practices and not accept campaign contributions. At the same time patronage has to be eliminated. Jobs in the public sector should always be based upon real needs or the necessities of municipalities and competence of the persons being hired.
The last Presidential campaign cost over one billion dollars raised by two campaigns. This makes no sense. Why not give the money to the poor. Ego tripping by public officials is public enemy number one.
Thomas F. Liotti
Westbury Village Justice