Home > Uncategorized > Recent Jersey Scandals Share Common Root: Privatization

Recent Jersey Scandals Share Common Root: Privatization

Jails, Water Supply, Toxic Site Cleanup, & Forests – Privatization a Failure


Three major ongoing scandals in NJ share a common root: privatization of essential public responsibilities and functions to protect public health and safety.

These cases illustrate not only isolated political scandal and corruption, but massive and systemic policy failures.

They show how the pursuit of corporate profits conflicts with the public interest and how political connections corrupt so called “market competition” and invite abuse.

In a functioning democracy, each scandal – individually – is of such a magnitude to trigger widespread public outrage, investigative reporting, and oversight hearings with witnesses subpoenaed and sworn before the rolling cameras – followed by the perp walk.

But, don’t count on any of that or any intrepid journalist connecting the dots and exposing the shared ideological and policy roots of these clearly related scandals.

So, we briefly attempt to begin that work here today.

1. Privatization of Prisons – Crony Capitalism Kills

The NY Times’s remarkable investigative journalism 3 part series: Unlocked: Inside New Jersey’s Halfway Houses” strikes several devastating blows.

A private company, with personal political ties to Governor Christie, got paid 22% more money for providing 11% less service, all while thousands of prisoners escape, and one kills a woman.

The latter has been called “Chris Christie’s Willie Horton Problem”

The Governor, in a blatant and transparent coverup, then vetoes attempts by legislators to uncover the facts.

But read the full NY Times series, for all the ugly details.

A company with deep ties to Gov. Chris Christie dominates New Jersey’s system of large halfway houses. There has been little state oversight, despite widespread problems, The New York Times found.

The Bo Robinson center in New Jersey is as large as a prison and is intended to help inmates re-enter society. But The New York Times found that drugs, gangs and sexual abuse are rife behind its walls.

As financial pressures grow, officials are using vast halfway houses as dumping grounds, The New York Times found. At Delaney Hall in Newark, low-level offenders are thrown together with violent ones. 

Obviously, protecting community safety from convicted criminals is an essential government responsibility – but it has been privatized.

2. Privatization of Toxic Site Cleanup – Murder in Slow Motion

Jeff Pillets of the Bergen Record disclosed that Christie’s Economic Development Authority (EDA) rubber stamped a $335,000 GRANT to an ex-convict with Mafia ties for the cleanup of a toxic site he himself had created, which threatened the drinking water well field of Mahwah, NJ.

(see: Toxic Cleanup Grant To Convict Fiasco Opens A Can of Worms

But the real story is not  limited to the absurdity of giving taxpayer dollars to an ex-con for cleanup of a toxic mess he himself made.

No, the story again exposes a deeply broken DEP cleanup program – and worse, now that failed program has been privatized instead of fixed.

Now, private consultants to corporate polluters (and ex-cons) make life and death decisions that impact the safety of your water supply.

Obviously, protecting the purity of the public water supply is an essential government responsibility – it too has been privatized.

I call it murder in slow motion, as cancer and other diseases associated with drinking polluted water take years to manifest themselves.

3. Privatization of Drinking Water – Failure to Maintain Infrastructure

The Star Ledger reports that a major water supply pipeline broke on Friday, causing havoc in Monmouth county, triggering severe water restrictions during a prolonged heatwave.

(see: Monmouth Water Emergency Illustrates Climate Change Risks and Reveals Deficits in NJ’s Adaptation Planning

NJ has a huge $8 billion unfunded water supply infrastructure deficit.

There is evidence that the pipeline broke due to damage it incurred many months ago during Hurricane Irene.

The private water company responsible for the disaster, NJ American Water Company, apparently failed to maintain and repair critical infrastructure.

NJ American – like all corporations – prefers to channel revenues into short term shareholder profits, instead of invest it in long term infrastructure integrity.

Obviously, safe and plentiful clean drinking water is vital for life and therefore is an essential government function.

But it too has been privatized, and we are just beginning to reap the whirlwind.

4. Privatization of Forests – Clearcuts on the Way?

And, despite this abysmal track record of privatization of essential government functions, legislation is pending that would essentially privatize Nj State Forests and put them in the hands of commercial loggers.

(see: Clearcut of Forest in Mass. Should Doom Pending NJ Legislation)

Where is The Lorax?

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:
  1. No comments yet.
  1. May 18th, 2015 at 05:59 | #1
  2. June 2nd, 2015 at 04:50 | #2
  3. June 10th, 2015 at 20:16 | #3
  4. June 29th, 2015 at 00:16 | #4
You must be logged in to post a comment.