From today's Starledger we find another story of political curruption in New Jersey. It is important to note that this investigation was started by the NYAG's office and not NJAG's office. It seems that the NJAG's office just can't find any corruption in New Jersey and as far as they are concerned there is no problem with corruption in New Jersey. What is most amusing is that the newspaper basically praises Corzine for firing the NJ Commisioner at the heart of this probe but they failed to mention that Corzine reappointed him or that NY fired their corrupt commisioners years ago not just today. They also failed to question why the NJAG's office wasn't able to ferret out the obvious corruption in the Waterfront Commission when the IG basically said you only had to scratch the surface to find graft.
It's time for a change NJ Vote for Chris Christie at least he know's which rocks to look under to find the crooks in NJ politics.
Waterfront Commission tasked with preventing corruption riddled with abuse, report says
by Ted Sherman/The Star-Ledger
Tuesday August 11, 2009, 6:20 PM
The Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor came about more than 50 years ago after public hearings sparked by a newspaper investigation exposed pervasive corruption involving mobsters and dock workers -- and later portrayed in the classic film "On the Waterfront."
A litany of charges brought today by the New York Inspector General -- from the hiring of unqualified cops with inside connections, to the turning of a blind eye to businesses with criminal ties, to the deployment of cops who sat in their cars to save parking spots for commissioners -- suggests a sequel.
A report released today details abuses and mismanagement at the Waterfront Commission, which was tasked to prevent crime at New York and New Jersey's ports.
This time the commission itself is the problem, according to a 60-page report that found the once-renowned body had become insular, answerable to no one, and riddled with internal fraud and abuse.
"This was a total agency breakdown," said Inspector General Joseph Fisch. "Instead of ridding the waterfront of corruption, this agency itself was corrupt. What you have here is a sanctuary of political favoritism, corruption and abuse."
A lawyer for one of the accused called the report a "witch hunt" and a commissioner officials said the agency has already started several internal reforms. The IG report suggests it could be a long cleanup.Fisch said there was a "militant indifference to ethical imperatives," with the commission initially fighting any inquiry into its operations.
"It wasn't a single person, but the people who ran the agency -- from the commissioners to the general counsel to an acting police chief," Fisch said. "It was difficult to scratch the surface without finding some abuse or corruption."
Michael Madonna, New Jersey commissioner for the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, was fired today by Gov. Jon Corzine after New York authorities released a report detailing abuses of power at the commission.
Gov. Jon Corzine, briefed on the report three weeks ago, has already fired Michael Madonna, the commissioner representing New Jersey, according to the governor's office. Madonna, a former state PBA president and a retired police detective, did not answer his phone at his Oakland home.
The commission, which employs a staff of approximately 100 and operates on an annual budget exceeding $11 million, oversees companies and individual workers operating on the waterfront. At the top are two commissioners -- one from New York and one from New Jersey -- who are paid $43,500 per year.
Headquartered in Lower Manhattan, its jurisdiction covers all piers and terminals within a 25-mile radius of the Statue of Liberty, including the ports in Newark and Elizabeth. But the inspector general said the waterfront commission stopped doing its job years ago.
Audits of shipping companies working the ports were more than a decade behind schedule, and the inspector general alleged the director of audit and control often kept his door closed while running a private tax preparation business at work and accessing pornography on his office computer.
The commission's comptroller did little or nothing to properly track receipts of federal funds and expenditures, the report said. According to the report, Madonna forced unqualified job seekers on the commission's police department, including one individual who failed the required test twice and then scored the highest mark ever recorded on his third try. The applicant later boasted that Madonna had given him the answers.
Another, sponsored by Madonna, was continually disoriented and "falling asleep while he was standing up." He washed out of the Port Authority Academy, primarily due to poor attendance -- despite efforts by Waterfront Commission detectives to go to his home to wake him.
Madonna also had a commission employee deliver building materials from the port to his home in Oakland, the IG report said.
The commission bought a patrol boat paid for with a $170,000 Homeland Security grant, which was supposed to be "capable of early detection of a waterborne attack." Its role, according to the report, was to deploy officers to high-risk target locations such as the NYC Passenger Ship Terminal and Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne. Instead, it was used to escort guests and VIPs during Fleet Week and other events.
The IG's investigators said former general counsel Jon Deutsch allegedly helped a friend keep his business by allowing him to put the firm in his wife's name. The friend had been convicted of storing illegally diverted international goods in his port warehouse. Deutsch was accused as well of inappropriately issuing a license to the son of a close family friend by disguising a prior drug-related conviction.
Deutsch's attorney, Lawrence S. Lustberg of Newark, called the report "a witch hunt" that was completely unfair and one-sided."It's a shocking report. Jon voluntarily appeared before the IG and in my view answered all their questions about pretty much what was in the report. He was persuasive and truthful," said Lustberg. "I can only conclude that they reached their conclusions without listening to anything he said."
Fisch said all the findings have been shared with the Manhattan District Attorney's office for possible criminal investigation.The audit was sparked two years ago, when a complaint was first filed with the New York State Attorney General's Office over allegations of abuses in hiring and poor fiscal practices. Fisch would not offer additional details, but in 2007, then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer decided not to re-appoint Michael Axelrod, New York's representative on the commission. Through an executive order, the inspector general's office launched an investigation. Since then, much of the leadership of the commission has been replaced. Former executive director, Thomas DeMaria, resigned in March 2008, two days after he imposed two-week suspensions against Deutsch, who was later fired.
Last September, Walter Arsenault was appointed executive director. He said the commission today is not the same commission that was investigated by the inspector general.
"The commission they investigated no longer exists," he remarked, citing the changes from the top down. There is a new chief of police, a new general counsel, and whole areas are being reorganized. He is also looking to sell the boat."We have an important job to do in the port. And we have not been performing it," Arsenault said.