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Monday, October 1, 2007

Assemblyman Jerry Green comes under scrutiny

Assemblyman Jerry Green (D-Plainfield)

Plainfield's Assemblyman Jerry Green comes under scrutiny in today's lead in Gannett's 8-day series on legislative ethics and the need for reform.

The story's focuses are on Green's work as Vice President for Local Affairs at the Westfield-based Alman Group, his legislative responsibilities as chair of the committee which oversees ALL housing legislation and local government legislation and oversight (think Department of Community Affairs), and his activities on behalf of such local needs as those of Muhlenberg Hospital.

It is a tangled web, and Green is at pains to point out that he does not PERSONALLY benefit financially from any of the interconnections. And that he only gets compensation from the Alman Group on a 'project-by-project' basis. The details on those projects, however, are not forthcoming. Nor can you find out anything about Jerry Green's relationship with Alman Group clients from the profiles on its website.

And that is where the issue lies, from my point of view. If all of this stuff is above-board and legit, what is the reason for lack of full disclosure? Complete transparency can only help Green overcome the doubts of those who are suspicious. And why wouldn't one want to do that?

There is always the feeling that the secrecy is like a rock under which all kinds of creepy, crawly things scurry to get out of the light if it is turned over.

Sunlight is such a good thing. And we need more of it.

Meanwhile, rumors are flying that Chris Christie is looking into matters involving other Union County Dem powerhouses, to wit --

  • Sen. Ray Lesniak: There is talk of having arranged a $75K/year no-show job at the Rahway Valley Sewerage Authority for East Rutherford Mayor James Cassella, where land use approvals were needed by various clients of Lesniak's firm involved in development there. It would be comforting to voters to know this is not true;

  • Asm. Neil Cohen: Questions are being raised about whether Cohen has any connection to an attack mailing against Roselle mayor Garrett Smith during last year's Primary campaign. The mailing turns out to have been made by a non-existent group, whose 'treasurer' appears to be fictitious. Hiding the identity of someone who pays for political communications is a crime under NJSA 19:44A-22.3;

  • Asm. Joe Cryan: Cryan, who is also chair of the state Democratic party, is being challenged over contributions alleged in August 2005 by the Union County Boys and Girls Club and the Center for Hope Hospice, both nonprofits, to Cryan's re-election fund. Contributions by nonprofits to political campaigns are, of course, of interest to the IRS.
Meanwhile, today's Bergen Record reports that the unspoken hope of the Democratic Party in this year's legislative sweepstakes election (ALL seats are up), is that voters will be more concerned about the size of their rebate checks than about corruption and reform in Trenton.

We shall see.

-- Dan Damon

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