SCCC Trustee Burrell (D) running for Mayor of Vernon

So now we know what tonight’s circus is in aid of…

Politics.  Real scumbag politics.  The kind that masquerades as self-righteousness when it is really only about self-dealing.

It turns out that for some time now, SCCC Trustee Howard Burrell has been discussing and planning a comeback political career.  Trustee Burrell was a Democrat Freeholder until he was defeated for re-election in 2002 by 4,000 votes.  Sussex County Democrat Committee Chairwoman Katie Rotondi and Murphy county coordinator Leslie Huhn are both Burrell backers.  

We understood why Democrats like Dan Perez and Lorraine Parker wanted to hold an anti-Trump rally disguised as a special public meeting of the SCCC trustees, but we couldn’t figure out why SCCC Board Chairman Bill Curcio went along with it.  Now we know. 

SCCC Trustee Howard Burrell managed Democrat Dan Perez’ 2017 Freeholder race against Republican Freeholder Director Herb Yardley.  Perez lost by 7,000 votes.  Now Perez is returning the favor and supporting Burrell.

The SCCC Board of Trustees dumped a Sussex County firm as its attorney and hired the Union County Democrat machine firm of former State Senator Ray Lesniak.  So it is official.  The facts surrounding this appointment are shocking and will be dealt with in length but suffice to say that Ray Lesniak was a big defender of the corrupt practice of pay-to-play.

So now we know why some players on the SCCC Board of Trustees have dragged their colleague of seven years through the dirt for something he’s apologized for again and again…

Politics.  Dirtbag politics.  The kind of politics that sacrifices human decency, forgiveness, and pity for self-advancement. 

Sussex County Community College isn’t supposed to be about politics.  The SCCC Board of Trustees aren’t supposed to create venues by which to hang one trustee so that another can launch his political comeback campaign.

In fact, using SCCC facilities for partisan political purposes is explicitly against the rules of the Internal Revenue Service.  The process by which an executive session of the Board was called (a trustee is not “personnel” and no lawsuit has been filed by any party) and a public meeting held could pose legal hurdles for the SCCC.

Curiously, Howard Burrell launched his original political career 30 years ago in the midst of the same rhetoric being used by some Democrats today… accusing anyone they don’t like of “racism” and “bigotry” while they push legislation that even most Democrats say is anti-Semitic.  It seems some Democrats have learned nothing in 30 years.

Also worth noting are the assurances made by Trustee Burrell to the Freeholder Board at the time of his appointment just last year.  Burrell’s appointment had been held up by an earlier Freeholder Board over concerns that he would use his position on the SCCC Board of Trustees as a springboard to political office.  The current Freeholder Board appointed him after being assured that politics would not be part of it.  This has obviously turned out not to be the case and Trustee Burrell will have some explaining to do.

It looks like former Freeholder Carl Lazzaro was right about Howard Burrell and Watchdog was wrong to have advocated for Burrell’s appointment to the SCCC Board of Trustees.  We admit our mistake.

SCCC teachers union pushes hateful agenda

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is noteworthy for its aggressive, sometimes outright hateful agenda towards President Donald Trump and his administration.  In 2017, a rally organized by a local teachers union turned violent and the United States Secretary of Education was pushed and shoved in an effort to block her from entering a school.  Such violence should come as no surprise, given the level of rhetoric employed by AFT during the 2016 presidential campaign.

In a widely circulated speech, the President of the AFT endorsed Hillary Clinton and attacked Donald Trump in a most hateful way…

Clinton 'the best candidate for president'
“Hillary understands the most urgent issues confronting our country… She's proved time and time again that she is a dreamer, and a doer.”

Trump 'perilously close to fascism'
“…in my lifetime, we've never faced anything like what we're facing this year… What do you call it, when a candidate for president debases an entire religion, mocks a disabled reporter, refers to women as pigs and calls Mexicans rapists? I call it a threat to civil society, to decency and to the values that underpin our country. Frankly, it is perilously close to fascism..”

Curiously, the AFT President said those words while AFT was passing its own resolution condemning Mexico for fascist behavior.  The AFT Resolution accused Mexicans of murdering teachers and of illegally detaining protestors.  It claimed that Mexico had a policy of “arbitrary and unjustified harassment” and accused the Mexican police of using “excessive force”.  The AFT filed an official complaint with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. 

How different was this from the warnings given by the Trump campaign over the violence in Mexico?  How did AFT’s resolution not feed into the very perceptions of Mexico and Mexicans that AFT would attack Trump for?

Why is it “hate” when one does it, but okay for the other to do it?

 

AFT Local 4780

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Local 4780 represents the faculty at the Sussex County Community College (SCCC).  The Local is not without incident. 

For example, in 2010, the Local got caught up in allegations that it was harassing the then Chairman of the Board of Trustees of SCCC.  According to the official legal proceedings… 

“The College alleged that the (Local)  was engaging in conduct that encouraged individuals to harass the College’s Chair of its Board of Trustees. The College alleges that the  (Local) was responsible for individuals posting union flyers in (the Chairman’s) store without permission, distributing flyers containing  (the Chairman’s) business and home telephone numbers and home address; hanging union signs on  (the Chairman’s) business sign without permission, and calling and making harassing calls to  (the Chairman’s) home and business…

On the day of the rally, four individuals came into (the Chairman’s) business and posted six flyers on the walls in his store. Those flyers contained pictures of (the Chairman) and the College Counsel and  (the Chairman’s) home address, telephone numbers and remarks related to the College negotiations. A larger poster was placed over  (the Chairman’s) outdoor business sign.
Later on February 20, harassing telephone calls were received at (the Chairman’s) home. The callers were not identified, but they made derogatory remarks about (the Chairman)... Such calls continued through February 24, 2010.

Were these acts of “hate”?  They certainly don’t sound nice.

A quick glance through the website of AFT Local 4780 gives a flavor of who they are and the vehemence with which they attack Republicans in general and President Trump in particular.  Sussex County has a lot of Republicans and a lot of Trump supporters.  They hold clear majorities in Sussex County.  So how can the Sussex County Community College (SCCC) create a welcoming environment for them when all those teaching them belong to a union that hates them and everything they stand for? 

We ask the question:  How can Republicans or Trump supporters or those who support traditional values or who oppose illegal immigration feel safe at Sussex County Community College (SCCC)?  Take a look at what’s on Local 4780’s website and then you decide…

sccc local webpage.png

AFT-endorsed candidates won big on election night

The Nov. 7 election results were a clear and overwhelming rebuke of the fearmongering and race-baiting that embodies Trumpism… "This election was a real 'which-side-are-you-on?' moment”.

Highlights from Election 2017

In New Jersey, AFT-endorsed candidate Phil Murphy won the governor's race by 13 points, and state Sen. Steve Sweeney was overwhelmingly re-elected. These victories offer new hope and new opportunity for the people of New Jersey who for years have had a blustering bully for a governor, who disrespected educators, nurses and working people.

Like true Socialists the world over, the AFT celebrates the Marxist holiday of May Day…

AFT members make May 1 actions memorable

"Build schools, not walls" was the crisp, compelling message delivered by AFT activists at a series of May 1 actions stretching from Miami to San Francisco… Through marches, rallies and meetings, AFT members joined with immigrant communities, students, parents and engaged citizens to support public education and to fight for a more fair and just immigration system. The rallies showed collective resolve: to keep schools as safe spaces, free from immigration raids, bigotry and hate, and to demand that funds meant for a border wall be used instead to strengthen public schools.

For Rutgers AAUP-AFT members, one individual's story galvanized May 1 actions Carimer Andujar, the energetic and outspoken president of UndocuRutgers, has Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status, but her renewal was recently delayed for no apparent reason. Rutgers AAUP-AFT helped create the #HandsOffCarimer campaign, and Andujar says she thinks the bureaucratic snag has been solved. She remains fearful, however, about an upcoming renewal meeting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and spoke as part of the protests for all immigrants. Members of the Coalition of Rutgers Unions, AFT New Jersey and student organizations rallied on three Rutgers campuses to make New Jersey a sanctuary state and for a $15 minimum wage, the right to form a union and racial justice for all.

sccc local sanctuary state.jpg

 

"Our number one goal is to elect a president who shares our values and that means beating Donald Trump. But to win our endorsement, candidates will have to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. As we look ahead to Election Day, we are committed to engaging our members every step of the way."
— The AFT President

So where is the welcome for students in a Republican, Pro-Trump county?  Even if the SCCC doesn’t want to actively embrace creating a welcoming environment for traditional values, shouldn’t it at least strive to be neutral?

Hey Star-Ledger’s Julie O’Connor… this is who you are…

We all know who Julie O’Connor is.  She writes those lousy editorials about people when Tom Moran gets too bored to do it.  You know those editorials.  The ones that tell you more about the kind of day the writer is having than about anything actually going on in the world.

Julie O’Connor is part of the problem in corporate journalism today.  Here a colleague of Julie O’Connor is examined rather closely by a panel of the non-corporate/ non-neo-con Honest Left – on the Jimmy Dore show.  Enjoy…

Received opinion… (aka corporate opinion)

Amazing isn’t it?

Could Fred Snowflack pass a lie detector test to prove his moral superiority?

It’s bad enough Fred Snowflack writes for a blog owned and operated by a government contactor – an insurance operation no less – part of that grease-machine for which New Jersey is so famous.  Back in the day, when Snowflack was employed by actual newspapers, those journalists had a phrase when describing what you got from the grease-machine… they called it the “corruption tax” that made everything your tax dollars paid for more expensive.

But Fred doesn’t criticize the folks he works for these days.  These days, he argues against the Bill of Rights.  Snowflack claims that any time some Internet mob decides somebody has done anything they consider to be “offensive”, the mob has the right to have that person fired.  And Fred doesn’t seem to think this kind of extra-judicial mob “justice” will have a chilling effect on Free Speech??? 

Hey, if somebody broke the law… charge him.  If somebody broke the rules… discipline him (or her).  But if we are really going to demand someone’s head every time somebody writes or says or even “re-tweets” something somebody else finds offensive… then we better have pretty darn perfect people to start out with.  Because the Internet mob can be fickle about who it destroys… just ask former United States Senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota). 

We think it time to break out the polygraphs.  Lie detector tests for everyone! 

Every member of the Board of Trustees of Sussex County Community College (SCCC) should be made to take a lie detector test.  They should be asked every question under the sun to cover every possible kind “offensive” behavior that could be imagined at some later date by some Internet mob.  From adultery and bad words to excessive drinking and the veracity of how they file their taxes… have they ever lusted after one of the SCCC students (even in their mind, because thought crime is the real crime, didn’t you know).

We should make Fred Snowflack take it too… and the monsters he works for.  It would be a blast…

Speaking of monsters.  There’s an old saying among machine politicians in Philadelphia.  It goes like this, “If you say you’re the boss, and nobody says you aint the boss, then you’re the boss.”

John F.X. Graham probably heard it back in the day, when he was prowling around amongst the ward healers in that sainted city of brotherly love.  Back when “ethnic” meant second or third generation Irish or Polish or Italian and individual neighborhoods developed their own dialects (yes, people really did talk like Rocky back then).

John F. X. moved to New Jersey where he followed the yellow brick road of selling insurance to government entities.  Unlike South Jersey’s George Norcross, John F. X. wasn’t really interested in building a political machine.  He was content with a money machine – the old-fashioned kind, the grease machine that uses campaign contributions to lube the representatives of the taxpayers, so that their money pumps out in a nice, steady stream.

In December 2017, the Observer wrote about John F.X. and his operation – the Fairview Insurance Agency – in a “special report” about “How Insurance Brokers Reap Public Funds Without Disclosure.”  It makes for interesting reading:

Insurance brokerages that make political donations are declining to disclose large amounts of money received indirectly from public entities.

One of the biggest goldmines for contractors in New Jersey is selling insurance plans to public entities, which employ hundreds of thousands of workers across the state.

But an Observer review of dozens of public documents shows that in some cases, it’s difficult or impossible to get a complete accounting of the money going back and forth between insurance brokerages — some of which are deep-pocketed campaign donors — and the public entities that award lucrative insurance contracts.

For instance, Fairview Insurance Agency Associates is one of the largest political donors in New Jersey, giving more than $120,000 to various candidates and committees in 2016, the ninth-highest among businesses in the state, according to the state’s campaign finance watchdog agency.

The Verona-based brokerage is also a big contractor, raking in at least $1.1 million through public contracts or agreements across New Jersey in 2016.

Under state law, the firm is required to report annually all of its political donations and public contracts to the Election Law Enforcement Commission, provided it gets at least $50,000 in public contracts and makes at least one political donation of any amount. Curiously, however, some of the money Fairview gets indirectly from public entities is then reported to ELEC as $0.

The effect is that, to the average observer reading ELEC reports, Fairview would appear to have made much less from public entities and institutions than it actually got — directly and indirectly — in a given year.

Observer reviewed ELEC disclosures for five companies, only three of which were required to itemize their contracts and donations.

A review of six ELEC disclosure forms, 29 invoices, four contracts and eight resolutions by school boards and local councils revealed a loophole in state law that allows brokerages such as Fairview to not report to ELEC tens of thousands of dollars, or more, that they receive as a result of working for governments or public entities.

In 93 cases, three brokerages reported receiving $0 from public agreements in 2016 on their disclosure forms filed with ELEC...  In one case, Observer found that Fairview was paid $54,000 indirectly from Jersey City’s school board but later disclosed $0 to ELEC.

It works like this. Brokerages — which sell insurance plans to local governments — are often paid commissions or fees by third-party companies. In this scenario, the actual contract does not go to the brokerage, but to the third-party company, while the brokerage still gets a cut of the business.

In some cases, the dollar amount of these fees or commissions can be traced back by filing public records requests with local governments. Some public entities that answered such requests from Observer provided copies of the original public contracts, which in turn detailed the actual fees or commissions paid to insurance brokerages that were reported to ELEC as $0.

In other cases, there is no mechanism to piece together what a third-party company paid to a brokerage in commissions. Some public entities did not disclose or could not say how much their brokers were paid indirectly by their contractors.

In March 2015, the Jersey City Board of Education passed a resolution to award Fairview a $54,000 contract to be the school district’s prescription insurance broker for fiscal year 2016.

Fairview did not end up receiving an actual contract. The school board struck a deal two months later with Express Scripts to manage its prescription benefits plan, and in that contract, it directed Express Scripts to pay Fairview $4,500 per month on its behalf, according to a copy of the contract provided by the Jersey City school board. The school district essentially paid someone else to pay Fairview.

In the end, Fairview reported that it received $0 in 2015 and 2016 from its work for the Jersey City Board of Education, according to its annual reports filed with ELEC. The firm noted that the amounts it disclosed “do not include commissions received from the insurance carriers.” (Observer, December 6, 2017) 

Campaign contributions flowing one-way, huge contracts flowing the other… minimal to no transparency. That’s New Jersey.

The problem is… the Fairview Insurance Agency owns the news agency (InsiderNJ) that hands out the designations as to who is who in New Jersey media.  And so we come to the quote used earlier…

“If you say you’re the boss, and nobody says you aint the boss, then you’re the boss.”  It is a scam, perpetrated by a bunch of b.s. artist insurance salesmen.

John F. X. Graham owns both the Fairview Insurance Agency and InsiderNJ (he holds titles of founder and publisher, respectively).  Michael J. Graham is Chief Operating Officer of both the Fairview Insurance Agency and InsiderNJ.  Ryan Graham is the Director of Business Development for the Fairview Insurance Agency and the Associate Publisher of InsiderNJ. 

That’s it folks… John F.X.’s grease machine has its own media mouthpiece with which to skew perceptions.  And that’s a handy thing to have in an age of hollowed out local coverage and a dearth of what was once called “investigative journalism.”  The press is now routinely used to punish the whistleblower, the taxpayer advocate, citizen activist, the underdog.  It’s easy to see why.

Now don’t get us wrong, just because John F.X. is all about the money… and the money… and the money… and the money… That doesn’t mean he’s not above playing the part of the noble, the enlightened, crony capitalist.  Hey, didn’t some notorious mob boss put a roof on a church?  Doesn’t Johnson & Johnson make up for failing to warn women that their product could cause uterine cancer by being oh so woke on LGBTQ?  It pays to have fashionable connections and to assist those connections in the higher causes of fashion.

John F.X. is a friend of Hillary.  Yes, that old wind bag.  You could forgive him being a friend of Bill because, heck, who wouldn’t want a night out on the town with Bill Clinton?  He’d make a Saturday night seem like a month of weekends.  But Hillary?  You know that’s just fashion.

Nevertheless, John F.X. has been called “a top Democrat fundraiser” by newspapers like the Bergen Record and the Newark Star-Ledger.  In addition to Hillary Clinton, John F.X. raised money for John Kerry in his 2004 presidential race, and he’s been a big giver to United States Senator Bob Menendez.  In fact, it was John F.X. who pushed the idea of Menendez on a national ticket as vice president:

In January 2008, the Jersey Journal along with other media outlets reported that “John F.X. Graham, one of Hillary Clinton’s National Finance Co-Chairs, thinks that New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez would make a great choice if Clinton wins the Democratic Primary… Graham fired off an email this morning to Clinton Campaign Manager Terry McAuliffe listing politicians who would make good vice presidential material, including the choices most often brought up:  Barack Obama, Bill Richardson, John Edwards and Joe Biden.  But Menendez, a Clinton campaign national co-chair, would be the “most intriguing” choice, Graham wrote.”

“The name Richardson does not sound exactly Latino,” wrote Graham.  “The Latino voting block is becoming the most influential in this election, especially with the immigration and other economic issues confronting our prosperity.  For lack of a better term, he is the Latino Barack Obama with the experience.” 

Why would John F.X. think that encouraging people to vote along racial or ethnic lines is good public policy?  Has he not heard of the former Yugoslavia? 

Finally, John F.X. made his pronouncements while Senator Menendez was the subject of an FBI investigation.  Not that something like that matters when you are making a fashion statement.

Yes, so it seems that InsiderNJ can also be considered an outpost of the far-flung Clinton Empire.  Ahhhh, corruption at its most tasty. 

And it looks as though John F.X. is quite a big deal.  Even Wikileaks picked up loads of correspondence between John F.X. and his fellow Clintonistas.  Here is an example:

As far as the money goes, national contacts and a national reach does have its advantages.  We found dozens of John F.X.’s insurance agency’s outposts around the country.  All making him money – but northern New Jersey and Essex County in particular is his base.  It was reported in Politico (November 24, 2014) that Essex County Democrat Party boss Joe DiVincenzo’s son worked for John F.X.’s insurance agency.  He also held a full-time public job as well. 

So it was no surprise that the most corrupt political machine in the state – the Essex County Democrats – inducted John F.X. into their “Hall of Fame” in March of 2015.  InsiderNJ editor, Max Pizarro wrote the panegyric, which we suppose was less messy than the alternative. 

Now can we ask this again?  What are these people doing handing out the rankings on New Jersey journalists?  Shouldn’t some organization, like the Society of Professional Journalists, be doing it?  Or the Columbia School of Journalism?  Or anything but the god-damned grease machine itself!

Ten years ago, the authors of The Soprano State – two old-school investigative journalists – joined with journalists like Josh Margolin to decry the “corruption tax” that added to the cost paid by New Jersey taxpayers on everything to do with government.  Could they have guessed that, ten years later, not only would the tax be more imbedded and less transparent, but that the very news agencies responsible for exposing and reporting on it would now be wholly-owned subsidiaries of the same grease machine responsible for the corruption?

New Jersey… you can’t make this stuff up.

SCCC Trustees need to explain where they stand on the Bill of Rights

By Rubashov

Remember the attacks on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo?  They published something that, in this case, militant Islamists found offensive.  The militants demanded they get their way and, when they didn’t, they killed 12 people.  The trustees at Charlie Hebdo stood up for free speech and against threats – and 12 people were martyred for it. 

At the very start of our American experiment, Benjamin Franklin said:  “You have a Republic, if you can keep it.”  The battles to preserve our Bill of Rights are fought in the pages of newspapers and on the Internet and on the lips of people, no less than on the battlefields of war.     

As in the case of Charlie Hebdo, some people have demanded that an image they deem “offensive” be removed and the “perpetrator” – in this case, it was merely “re-tweeted” – be punished.  Now they are equating what they call “hate speech” with acts of actual violence.

By the way, when is a crime of violence – any crime of violence – not hateful?

When is a sexual assault not hateful?  When is assault and battery a cheerful crime? When is murder done without malice?  When is the rape and murder of a child not hate?

Officially, the rape and the murder of a child is not an act of hate.  “It is about what was going on in your mind at the time of the crime,” they explain.  In other words, the crime is in the thought, not the act.  So now we have “thought crime”.  The actual rape and murder isn’t the bad part – what makes it really bad, what elevates it to a “hate crime,” is the thought.      

Go to the United States Justice Department’s compendium of “hate crimes” for 2001 and you will find that the attacks on September 11, 2001, are not counted as “hate crimes”.  Yeah, sure, those boys who flew those airliners into the Twin Towers did it out of benign affection for America.

The fact that the official compendium of “hate crimes” for 2001 is short 2,977 victims is a testament as to how deep the rot of political correctness has gone.

In politically correct parlance, hate is what they say it is. 

And who are “they”?  Anyone who sets themselves up as a “victim” or a “victims’ group” or a spokesperson for such.  In short… any old mob.

The Democrats asked Leslie Huhn, a supporter of Governor Phil Murphy and the former Chair of the Sussex County Democrat Committee, to dig up some dirt on Jerry Scanlan, the Chairman of the Sussex County Republicans and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Sussex County Community College (SCCC).  Murphy was concerned that his illegal Sanctuary scheme was getting bad press across the state – with a big part of the pushback coming from Sussex County.

On July 22, 2019, Leslie Huhn started “following” the Twitter page operated by Jerry Scanlan.  Huhn was looking for something to be offended by and she found it.  A mob was organized to storm the SCCC Board of Trustees meeting scheduled for later that same week.  Among its members was an outspoken, self-identified “anarchist”.  Sweet.

Initially, Scanlan drew attention to the timing of the Democrats’ carefully planned oppo-attack (which it clearly was).  Then the Sussex County GOP stepped in and took control of the Twitter account from Scanlan.  Scanlan issued an apology and said that the re-tweets were part of long twitter “trains” which he had not paid close attention to, but took responsibility for in his apology. 

In more “liberal” times, that would have been enough.  But this is not how today’s Left works. 

The way it works today is that a mob is formed, the mob calls for someone’s head, that person is taken out and publicly lynched by his colleagues, the head is ceremoniously removed and thrown to the mob, the mob beats it about and tattoos the forehead with words like the ubiquitous “racist” or the fast-becoming “Islamophobe,” and then, having been sexually satiated, the mob departs… until the next time.

There is no time allowed for rational discussion, legal due process, or civil deliberation.  The mob wants its head and there are always cowards who will give it someone’s head.  The cowards’ wish is only that it not be them.

Instead of succumbing to the mob.  Instead of participating in an act of extra-judicial punishment.  Perhaps this is a teachable moment?  

The mob fears rational discussion.  Maybe it is simply beyond people whose vocabulary is limited to a very few epithets?  But the Board of Trustees of the Sussex County Community College should not place itself at the disposal of a mob.  As an institution of higher learning, it should use this moment to broaden the discussion.  It should use this moment to teach the Bill of Rights, which are our greatest cultural, political, and legal inheritance. 

This is no longer about Jerry Scanlan.  He admitted he was in error and he apologized.  The calls for further punishment (and for physical violence against him) are superfluous.  They will not make him more in error or give further weight to his admission that he was in error. 

Curiously, these calls for further punishment (and violence against his person), come at a time when the Democrat Party is on record as supporting the decriminalization of actual criminal activity, the end of mandatory sentencing for actual crimes of violence, and the extension of rights (such a voting) to actual violent criminals.  The Democrats don’t wish to make anyone safer.  They just want to police your thoughts so that nobody is allowed to oppose what they say.

The Trustees of the SCCC have an opportunity to bring reason and knowledge to the table.  Let the Bill of Rights be their guide.  The SCCC can use this opportunity to teach.  And isn’t that what an institution of learning should do anyway?