Has the NJBIA become a voice of woke capitalism?

Remember when Republicans were the party of business and Democrats the party of the working class? While the GOP still loyally votes on behalf of the interests of business, the days of business rewarding that loyalty with its support appear to be long gone.

Today’s corporate class votes Democrat because they (1) know the Democrats will do nothing to threaten their economic position in society, and (2) they get to publicly assure themselves that they are "good people" by doing so. Yes, for them the modern Democrat Party is a religious experience – but one that doesn’t require sacrifice.

Government intrudes on business so much these days that instead of organizing resistance to those intrusions, many businesses have made politics their partner. Government is, after all, run by politicians – so corporations hire lobbyists, fund candidates, and more importantly adopt political and social policies that signal the virtues they want the world to see. And for some, it’s sort of like the pious mob boss who makes a great show of paying for the new roof on the church, so that possible critics look the other way when his real work comes to light.

Woke capitalism is crony capitalism with a social justice cover.

Here is a succinct but very much on-point explanation by Kajal Iyer, who boils down a New York Times editorial by Ross Douthat, called “The Rise of Woke Capital.”

Ms. Iyer outlines how corporations are embracing a woke identity to couch their “malpractices” and market their products. These corporations have disrupted the traditional balance between Left and Right in America, between business and labor – its yin and yang.

Woke corporations are like hip middle aged husbands who have successfully found a young mistress, content in the continued loyalty and forbearance of the dutiful wife at home. Guess which political party is “the wife at home”?

Take the New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA) and its political action committee, New Jobs PAC, which calls itself “The Voice of Business”. When the NJBIA and the Chamber of Commerce rolled out their “Plan for an Affordable New Jersey” in July, who handled the messaging?

If you answered “the Clinton grease machine” you would be correct.

Yep, MWW, the firm that is so close to Bill and Hillary they even found a job for disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner when he was too controversial to be hired elsewhere. The biography for the firm’s founder notes that he is “known for his political contributions and fundraising for the Democratic Party” and he’s served as a Deputy Finance Chair of the DNC.

So how pro “leave me alone and let me create jobs” kind of business is this firm and what kind of messaging are you going to get out of them? The answer can be had just by going through the media section of the NJBIA website, which offers lectures on climate change and diversity as well as a host of other left-wing incantations. The rest is a course in “politics/government is your wingman”. Do what they want, pay them what they want, support who and what they tell you to support, and they will allow you to do business.

For the non-woke businessperson who just wants to make a living and create jobs, the message is one of subservience. Pay the Danegeld or the Vikings will pillage your business.

On the other hand, if you are a big pharmaceutical firm mired in controversy over the fallout from one of your products… being uber-LGBTQ can change the focus and make you one of the “good guys”. Yep, too bad about the cancer… or the opioids.

Is this the only voice for business in New Jersey?

Is it time for Republicans to quit playing the loyal “wife at home” and ask for a divorce? Why take the blame for all that corporations do, only to watch them hire the Left to provide a Leftist message that helps Leftist politicians to run against you? Wouldn’t it just be better to leave the Democrats and their crony capitalist backers in the muck and run on a message of reform and clean government?

Does anyone really believe that the “corruption tax” (so labeled in the Soprano State) has gone away? Or would the average voter say that crony capitalism has made it stronger than ever?

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.

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.

Speaker Tip O’Neill: “Reject obstructionism”

Many of the people in politics today weren’t around to actually witness the Reagan Revolution.  They have had to rely on hearsay and myth. 

There is a myth going around that President Ronald Reagan, a Republican, and Speaker of the House of Representatives Tip O’Neill, a Democrat, never had a harsh word for each other.  This simply isn’t true.

The truth is, they behaved like adults of their generation did at the time.  A less sensitive time than ours… before trigger words and safe spaces.  Men like President Reagan and Speaker O’Neill didn’t take the rough and tumble of politics personally, the way everyone appears to today… not that it didn’t hurt (but you sucked it up to get the job done). 

Here’s President Reagan himself on the subject… 

And here’s an ad the Republicans used on Tip O’Neill…

Being of men of their time, we have no idea what they would make of Congress and Washington today.  Indeed, America might look foreign to them.  But they got things done, despite their differences, and in the words of Democrat Tip O’Neill, “We expect conflict, but I hope we will reject any obstructionism.”

Planned Parenthood refuses to account for spending

It is a neat trick to disguise your business as a cult.  Generally this is the domain of some dubious religious hucksters of questionable denominations, east and west.  But you got to hand it to Planned Parenthood, Inc.  They have their followers convinced that what they're doing is religion.

Hence, their resistance to open their accounts and explain what they're doing with all the money they get from taxpayers.  During an Assembly Budget hearing earlier this week, Planned Parenthood again refused to answer questions about their finances -- such as its annual budget, annual revenue and executive compensation -- put to them by legislators. 

The kicker here is that these legislators actually support Planned Parenthood in principle -- they just want to make sure that the taxpayer money spent by them isn't wasted.  But just like any corrupt religious scam job, Planned Parenthood holds that you don't ask questions of god... even if it is your job as a legislator to protect taxpayers.

What's at stake is a proposed $7.45 million supplemental contribution to Planned Parenthood from New Jersey's taxpayers.

Two weeks ago, at a different committee hearing, Assemblywomen Holly Schepisi and Nancy Munoz asked the same questions.  They requested a breakdown of how the money would be spent, what the organization’s annual federal and state revenues are, and how much it pays its executives.  Why Planned Parenthood needs $7.45 million in taxpayer dollars, and how those dollars will be spent, still has not been answered.

To answer these questions, Planned Parenthood sent its Political Director.  That's right, they pay someone to be their Political Director.  Why?  Are they in politics or women's health?

When asked to produce a budget, the political director looked for a time as if she was going to find one up her bottom, but it wasn't there.  So she had to reply to the committee that she had no budget to share with them.  No budget?  Who works that way?  She also couldn't produce an answer as to what Planned Parenthood's annual revenues were.  For that answer, she didn't even go through the motions of finding it up her bottom.  When asked about executive compensation (what rich know-nothings like herself pocket) she flatly refused.

Why would working class taxpayers wish to spend their hard-earned money on an organization that pays an arrogant white-collar hack like her?

We understand that for the uneducated few, Planned Parenthood is synonymous with "women's health."  But it's not.  It is only one of many providers all jostling for market share.

No, you say?  It's a non-profit organization?  Sure, and so was the NFL.  And so are a lot of organizations that make billions and pay their executives millions.  Setting up as a "not-for-profit corporation" is simply a business model -- it's not an "I'm not greedy" pass.

And Planned Parenthood is greedy.  It wants total market share.  That's why it organized the way does -- to spend millions on lobbyists and even more on grassroots marketing -- to convince American women that only they provide the services that, in fact, hundreds of other organizations provide.  We're sure Macy's would like to have the same deal.

Planned Parenthood uses well-paid lobbyists and political pressure to secure government money with as little questions asked as possible.  They want to keep all the vittles for themselves and starve their competition.  Planned Parenthood wants to have a monopoly -- and we all know what that does to consumers and taxpayers.  Consumers pay more and have less choice.  Taxpayers get ripped-off.

Planned Parenthood is a classic case of crony capitalism, delivered by that master of Wall Street chicanery himself... Governor Goldman-Sachs 2.0, Phil Murphy.  On Thursday, February 15th, the entire Assembly is set to vote to give that $7.45 million to a business that won't answer basic questions about how they spend it.

And if passed, you know that Governor Goldman-Sachs 2.0, Phil Murphy, will sign it -- no questions asked.  Just like those bailouts they gave to his corrupt friends on Wall Street.  No questions asked...