Candidate brags to local media about NBC “hit job” on Sheriff

By: Sussex County Watchdog

Since its founding in 2012, the contributors here at Watchdog have generally been just ordinary citizens, not professional journalists.  Nevertheless, we have got the ball rolling on a number of big stories in Sussex County – including the illegal negotiations to sell the county solid waste facility (caught in time and prevented), the solar program that ended up going bust (which ultimately cost taxpayers $26 million), the corruption at the county college (leading to the resignation of several trustees), and environmental issues impacting the health of county workers (CWA members) in Newton (which was addressed after our report).  Whether via tips or submitted columns, we publish stories that address the bad behavior of the government and corporate establishment.  

Generally we work with for-profit corporate media, which is advertising based. As we do not run ads, we do not have a need for click-bait, as they do.  Nevertheless, we respect them for the work that they do.  So we were shocked when a local media person had a story concerning a media organization outside the county – in New York City, in fact – that was using Sussex County to attract viewers.  

Apparently, a candidate for Sheriff in the upcoming GOP primary – Andy Boden – bragged to local media that he had arranged for a “hit job” on his opponent, Sussex County Sheriff Mike Strada.  It seems that Boden said the “hit job” would be about how Strada has suspended him for running, and that now he must work construction and that his wife had to take a job.  Boden claimed that the “hit job” was being done on his behalf by a friend of a friend who has a show on NBC out of New York City.  

Andy Boden is a rather sad case.  Earlier this year, a police psychologist found him “unfit for duty” and he was placed on leave.  Boden went to Sheriff Strada and asked him to restore him to duty – which meant giving him back his power over people, a firearm, handcuffs, and badge.  The Sheriff’s office told Boden that he needed to get well first and re-evaluated by a mental health professional, before he could be re-instated. 

Boden’s case mirrors the current national debate concerning mental health and gun laws.  Should employers act when they observe traumatic stress in employees (in this case, confirmed by a mental health professional) or should they wait until after something actually happens?  It is a complex issue.

Boden’s case has been further complicated by his candidacy, which was not his idea, but rather that of a local union fighting to preserve the jobs of corrections officers at the Sussex County jail (the Keogh-Dwyer Correctional Facility).  The jobs of many who work at the jail were put in jeopardy by the passage of Bail Reform, a bi-partisan bill aimed at reducing the number of people incarcerated while waiting for trial.  Before bail reform, many innocent people were locked up for weeks or months simply because they couldn’t afford the cost of bail.  They often lost jobs, homes, and relationships while they were locked up – only later to be found “not guilty” or have the case against them dismissed.

After bail reform became law in New Jersey, jail populations began to diminish drastically and elected officials started to consider shared services agreements that would allow them to close or scale-down some facilities and save money for taxpayers.  The August 2014 “needs assessment” on the Sussex jail (Keogh-Dwyer Correctional Facility), conducted by Pulitzer/Bogard Associates LLC, clearly outlined the devastating impact keeping the jail open would have on county taxpayers.  Making the jail compliant with basic standards would cost $11 million in short term and $64 million in long term expenditures. 

At the insistence of county Freeholders, Sheriff Strada has been working to scale-down the jail and enter into shared services agreements with Morris County. An agreement to house Sussex County’s female inmate population has recently been reached (and the quality of life for female inmates markedly improved, according to media reports).  

A working group that includes county bureaucrats, elected officials, and union leaders has been working to place every corrections officer likely to be displaced by the plans for the jail.  It is our understanding that County Administrator Greg Poff will shortly announce that positions have been found for every officer likely to be displaced.  Unfortunately, some union people have continued to oppose any changes to the jail.  They’ve complained about the length of the commutes to other facilities and such.  And it is this group who recruited Andy Boden as their candidate and spokesperson.  

They have been using their media contacts to shop around “dirt” on Sheriff Strada and even used a fake Facebook account to distribute a fake video of an “incident” between the Sheriff and a female firefighter, which was later found to have been doctored by the media (including the Star-Ledger/ NJ.com and the New Jersey Herald).  After the media spoke with the female firefighter, who confirmed that the incident never happened, Andy Boden claimed to have had no knowledge of it – despite the fact that Boden’s campaign managers had met with the local party chairman and threatened him with the release of the video some 48 hours before it was released.  This according to a legal statement given by the party chairman.

Boden’s managers went to a well-known statehouse blog in Trenton with their “dirt” – but after the reporter reviewed the transcript of the public hearing Boden asked for regarding his “unfit for duty” status – the story that was written was not to Boden’s liking:  

Incumbent Sheriff Mike Strada faces a challenge from corrections officer Andy Boden, who suspended earlier this year after a police psychologist ruled he was unfit for duty.

Following his suspension, Boden has mounted an offensive against the three-term sheriff, accusing him of endangering his deputies and misusing public funds.

“My decision to run is to end the culture of harassment and mental abuse that Strada has created and fostered. His actions, along with his posse’s, will come out in the upcoming weeks,” Boden said. 

Boden has been suspended since early March. The New Jersey Herald first reported his suspension.

In testimony provided to the New Jersey Globe by Strada’s campaign, a police psychologist said he or she could not rule out the possibility of Boden harming someone if he was allowed to continue working while receiving therapy.

The psychologist recommended the corrections officer receive additional treatment to restore fitness for duty.

“Lt. Boden was to engage in individual treatment outside of the treatment that he had already been receiving with his wife with the sole purpose on managing his stress level, identifying coping mechanisms that work for him so that he could return to his position,” the psychologist said.

For further reading, visit New Jersey Globe at…

https://newjerseyglobe.com/local/sussex/mud-flies-in-sussex-sheriffs-race/

Watchdog is attempting to find out just who the NBC person is who Andy Boden was speaking about when he told local media that a “hit job” was being done on Sheriff Strada.  Stay tuned…

Hugin should think before hurting the GOP any further

Bob Hugin’s campaign for the United States Senate was a disaster.  Everyone associated with it should be embarrassed, should wear the scarlet letter “L” as an external sign of their shame and contrition.

But there will be no contrition because these are people too proud to admit that their “vision” was flawed, that they outspent an extraordinarily flawed incumbent three to one and still lost badly.  Hugin lost to Bob Menendez, a Democrat incumbent so flawed that one in three Democrat primary voters rejected him.

What’s worse is that the Hugin campaign was deliberately designed to suppress traditional Republican turnout while enormous amounts were spent to create a surge amongst “soft” Democrats and Democrat leaners who had soured on Menendez.  The result of this strategy is best summed up when veterans of the Hugin campaign brag that they “won six Congressional districts.” Too bad that in five of those six districts, the Republican candidate for Congress lost, including two incumbents.  

As recently as 2016, all six of those districts had been represented by a Republican.  Now, just one remains.

Writing in the New Jersey Globe today, David Wildstein notes the re-emergence of Bob Hugin, addressing a meeting of Mercer County Republicans, placing his stamp of approval on the state’s first transgender candidate for the Legislature.  Here we go again. Let’s not learn the lesson that $40 million wasn’t enough to convince voters that Republicans are more reliable social liberals than Democrats, instead… try, try again.

The candidate Hugin spoke on behalf of is Jennifer Williams.  She is running for Assembly in the 15th Legislative District, a district that Republicans have almost no chance of picking up in 2019.  But because Jennifer Williams is the first transgendered candidate of either party to run for the Legislature, she will become a focal point of the 2019 campaign cycle.  Williams worked on Hugin’s campaign, so perhaps Hugin will provide her with the resources to make her campaign even more of a focal point.

The trouble is, 2019 will be a low turnout election, and Republicans are not fighting a statewide campaign but instead, are fighting to hold on to a few remaining Republican enclaves.  Is this the time to be highlighting “a different kind of Republican” or is it time to drag everyone who is likely to vote Republican to the polls? And as for non-traditional Republican voters, are these more likely to be LGBTQ voters or poor working class Roman Catholics?  Yes, there are choices to be made and making one choice often negates the other. So which is the surer bet?

Unfortunately, from all the hype, all we know about Jennifer Williams is that she is what some call a “transwoman”.  That is likely to be of little use in motivating traditional Republican turnout and – in the era of Donald Trump – unlikely to motivate enough LGBTQ voters to make up for what you lose.  The hoopla resulting from this “first” will most certainly bleed beyond the borders of the 15th District, turning off and giving up as it goes.  So that Republicans could neither gain the 15th or the boost necessary to save endangered seats.

For the good of her party, Jennifer Williams should play down the significance of her “gender” and instead focus on a message that aggressively defines the Trenton Democrats as what they are.  But can Williams even use the term, “Trenton Democrats”, as a negative in Legislative District 15? Williams claims to be a “conservative”, well this would be the time for her to craft a message that illustrates what that means.

Candidate Williams has secured the endorsement of the GOP establishment in Mercer and Hunterdon Counties.  We suspect that there will not be much competition for such a thankless task. We wish her well but hope that she does not become the “face” of this year’s Republican legislative campaign in New Jersey, and we hope Bob Hugin doesn’t make it his mission to make it so.

Will FBI investigation of Dover First concern Bhimani?

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Democrat Assembly candidate Lisa Bhimani is Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill’s best friend.  Bhimani is also a big fan of the work of a group called Dover First. The following story was reported in the New Jersey Globe recently:

FBI questions Dover officials about undocumented immigrants voting, sources say

Federal agents interviewing local political leaders today about ’18 Democratic primary

March 13 2019

Federal Bureau of Investigation agents are interviewing Dover Democratic leaders and volunteers today about local politics, including questions about undocumented immigrants voting in the 2018 primary election, two sources confirmed.

FBI agents appeared at the homes and workplaces of several local officials this morning, the sources said.

Among those questioned were supporters of Dover First, an insurgent group that won control of the local Democratic party last June and ousted three incumbent aldermen.

You can read the full article at New Jersey Globe:  

https://newjerseyglobe.com/local/fbi-questions-dover-officials-about-undocumented-immigrants-voting-sources-say/

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GOP Chair Scanlan slams Democrats on Murphy ties

Late this afternoon, New Jersey Globe’s David Wildstein covered an exchange between Sussex County Chairs Jerry Scanlan and Leslie Huhn of the Republican and Democrat county committees, respectively.  Responding to Huhn’s earlier announcement that Trenton lawyer-lobbyist Deana Lykins and ethically challenged attorney Dan Smith had been recruited by Governor Murphy to target Sussex County natives Parker Space and Hal Wirths, the GOP’s Scanlan delivered with both barrels:

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Sussex County Republican chairman Jerry Scanlan wonders why his Democratic counterpart, Leslie Huhn, isn’t taking on Gov. Phil Murphy and the issues involving his former aide, Al Alvarez.

“As a woman, Chair Huhn should question why has it has become unsafe for women to volunteer on Democrat campaigns – and why, when they do come forward, a cover-up ensues and victims are treated so poorly,” Scanlan said.

Scanlan says that if Democrats want to do something about “job creation, transportation issues, high property taxes and the opioid epidemic,” they should put those questions to Gov. Phil Murphy.

Scanlan’s comments came after Sussex Democratic chair Leslie Hahn announced her slate of Assembly candidates opposing incumbents Parker Space (R-Wantage) and Hal Wirths (R-Wantage).

Hahn’s candidates in the 24th district are former Senate Democratic staffer Deana Lykins and former municipal court judge Dan Smith. 

“They need to ask Governor Murphy and the Trenton Democrats why they slashed school funding in LD24, placing pressure on local school boards to raise property taxes,” said Scanlan.

“They need to ask Governor Murphy and the Trenton Democrats why they added almost $2 billion in new state taxes – part of which to cover the cost for their Sanctuary State scam and more benefits for illegals.  Now they are looking to raise taxes again and have even passed a bill placing a tax on rain water.”

“Until she has answers to these questions, Chair Huhn should agree with us that there is a need for more Republican legislators, not less,” said Scanlan.  “Nobody wants to see Murphy’s one-party state become even more unbalanced.”

Huhn issued her endorsement “on behalf of the Sussex, Warren, and Morris County Democratic Organizations”.  Word has it that local Republicans could not be more delighted.

Pushing for a $15 minimum wage, the Star-Ledger pays its drivers $10 an hour (are any undocumented?)

The Star-Ledger doesn’t report the news.  As Editor Tom Moran wrote (November 1, 2018):  “Our core mission is helping voters decide which lever to pull.” 

That’s right, the Star-Ledger is a advocacy organization.  First and foremost, you can always depend on the Star-Ledger to lobby for its own bottom line. 

For years, the newspaper was a strident supporter of the New Jersey State Supreme Court’s Abbott Decision – which forces working class families in suburban and rural New Jersey to subsidize the property taxes of wealthy corporations and professionals in urban areas.  Among those wealthy corporations was the parent corporation that owns the Star-Ledger, whose property holdings were so extensive in Newark that the city named a street… no, make that a plaza, after the Star-Ledger

Now comes this new hypocrisy.

A few days before Christmas, the New Jersey Globe reported that while editorializing for a $15 minimum wage, the Star-Ledger  was paying workers at $10 an hours, with no benefits.  The corporation that owns the Star-Ledger is itself owned by one of the richest families in America. 

Here’s an excerpt from the New Jersey Globe:

The state’s largest daily newspaper ran an advertisement in Wednesday’s print edition seeking drivers for newspaper deliveries willing to work 2-3 hours daily, “starting around 3 AM,” with a typical bi-weekly compensation that starts at $400.   That could mean less than $10-per-hour.

To get a job like that, applicants must have their own cars. Star-Ledger drivers – they call them Delivery Service Providers — receive no benefits; they “are independently contacted, meaning they are self-employed” and receive 1099s.   Minimum wage laws do not apply.

There is no paid vacation time, no workers compensation, and since drivers do not handle collections, there are no gratuities involved.

“The job, once the bastion of neighborhood kids looking to make a few extra bucks on their bikes, has evolved into a grueling nocturnal marathon for low-income workers who toil almost invisibly on the edge of the economy,” wrote Associated Press reporter Michael Levenson in 2016.

Today the Star-Ledger once again editorialized for drivers’ licenses for resident undocumented immigrants illegally in the United States.  Is this another self-serving position for the owners to take?  Will this help drive down the cost of newspaper distribution?  We wonder if there are any internal memos on this?

While the Star-Ledger and its owners are up on all the latest virtue-signaling, paying just enough lip-service to reassure the cocktail set that they are good and worthy people, their actions seek to drive down the wages of American workers, while creating an immigrant class of toiling wage slaves.  Raising the minimum wage is a farce until you can control the gray economy that doesn’t abide by such rules.  Normalizing the gray economy (by things like drivers licenses) will only solidify its position as an alternative workforce.

And while the Democrats talk about the minimum wage, Governor Murphy is doing his utmost to flood the state with illegal labor that every economist tells us will drive down wages.  When there is more of something, you pay less, we all know that.  Either the Democrats are well-meaning but stupid, or they are engaging in the very same hypocrisy that the Star-Ledger is engaging in.

Here is the original New Jersey Globe story:

https://newjerseyglobe.com/media/star-ledger-editorializes-in-support-of-15-hour-wage-but-pays-drivers-much-less/