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N.J. Gov. Spends Year Explaining Errors
AP via ^ | 12/20/2002

Posted on 12/20/2002 2:17:42 PM PST by GeneD

After getting elected on a promise to look out for the people's money, Gov. James E. McGreevey has spent much of his first year explaining away junkets, helicopter rides and a mysterious $110,000-a-year aide.

Even poetry has proved poor politics for the Democrat: He has been accused of racism for trying to remove New Jersey's poet laureate over a Sept. 11 memorial verse critics called anti-Semitic.

"This administration seems to create their own problems and then rather than solve them, try to cover them up," said Carl Golden, a Republican political analyst and former aide to former Gov. Christie Whitman. "They seem to want to grow another foot so they can shoot that one, too."

McGreevey, 44, came within one percentage point of defeating Whitman in 1997, then came back four years later to win a landslide victory over Republican Bret Schundler by de-emphasizing his Ivy League background and boasting of his blue-collar roots.

He pledged to impose fiscal discipline, restore public trust in government and end business as usual in Trenton. Among other things, he called for bringing back the post of public advocate, whose job was to fight for consumers against state government. He also faulted Whitman for allowing political insiders to get contracts for the state's electronic-toll system and auto-emissions testing program.

But things have soured since then.

The blame is squarely McGreevey's, many contend, because he has tried to run the Statehouse the way he did Woodbridge, the commuter suburb where he was mayor for 10 years.

"He doesn't know how to do it any other way. That's the way the mayor operates," said political analyst Nick Acocella. "Mayors are control freaks because you can do it. The state government is enormous and you can't get away with it."

In one recent poll, only 37 percent of voters said they approve of the way McGreevey operates as governor. When it came to issues like the budget, taxes, the economy and jobs, only one in three backed him.

In an interview this week, McGreevey said his biggest problem was not understanding how complicated it is to get something done in government.

"It's a matter of learning, growing. The important thing is that if you're going to do it, you're going to make mistakes, and that's inevitable," McGreevey said. "The important thing is to learn from those mistakes, to learn those lessons, and to move on. I've worked to learn those lessons."

McGreevey took office last January battling what he said was a projected budget gap of $6 billion.

But the governor's choice to head the state police, Joseph Santiago, quickly drew fire. Santiago resigned in October after a flurry of criticism and news reports about bankruptcies and assault charges and alleged organized crime ties. Santiago denied the mob allegations.

Meanwhile, McGreevey was ducking complaints that his homeland security adviser, Golan Cipel, was not qualified and that as an Israeli he could not get the needed security clearances. Cipel refused to speak to reporters and the administration withheld details about his duties, even after McGreevey reassigned him to an unspecified job with a $110,000 salary.

Cipel has since left state government, but Amiri Baraka refuses to go. He has rejected McGreevey's calls to resign as poet laureate. The governor has pressed for legislation giving him the authority to fire the poet, prompting activists to accuse him of racial insensitivity.

In July, McGreevey headed to Ireland on what he called a trade mission. Four months later, he admitted that taxpayers should not have been stuck with the $70,000 tab for banquets, shows and stays in boutique hotels. Included in the costs was a $16,000 bill for cell phone use.

"Who's he calling? My answer is everybody," Acocella said. "There's no chain of command. He's the hub and all his folks report to him."

A few weeks later, a newspaper reported that he made personal trips in the State Police helicopter. McGreevey responded by saying the Democratic State Committee would pay for 12 of the trips. The administration refused to say where McGreevey flew.

Change may be coming. McGreevey is getting a more experienced chief of staff, Transportation Commissioner James P. Fox, who was once Sen. Robert Torricelli's top aide.

Rider University political scientist David Rebovich said McGreevey's troubles might end if he relinquished some duties: "McGreevey now needs someone to say that to him and he needs to respect the advice of those people."

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events; US: New Jersey
KEYWORDS: amiribaraka; golancipel; jamesemcgreevey; jamespfox; josephsantiago

1 posted on 12/20/2002 2:17:42 PM PST by GeneD
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To: GeneD
Wow! What a shocker! The people of NJ elect another sleazy democrat and find out that he's thief! People of that state have no right to complain; they are consistantly offered alternatives to voting in crooked democrats and they never do.
2 posted on 12/20/2002 2:23:24 PM PST by KC_Conspirator
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To: KC_Conspirator
McGreedy's going down bump
3 posted on 12/20/2002 2:24:22 PM PST by Unknown Freeper
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To: GeneD; Coleus; Alberta's Child; Ziva; ELS; dbwz
It's a sad state of affairs.

The Supremos.jpg: Click to view full-size version

4 posted on 12/20/2002 2:27:31 PM PST by Incorrigible
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To: GeneD
NJ politics and media are very strange. It's common knowledge in Trenton and in the NJ media that McGreevey is gay (or at least bi). Only the leftist Asbury Park Press, however, even alludes to it, particularly while covering the story of his homeland security advisor, who is one of his--ahem--special friends. His first wife left the country and took their daughter with her, and the second wife appeared just in time to provide a new baby for the election.
5 posted on 12/20/2002 2:34:10 PM PST by Sanjuro68
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To: GeneD
Meanwhile, McGreevey was ducking complaints that his homeland security adviser, Golan Cipel, was not qualified and that as an Israeli he could not get the needed security clearances. Cipel refused to speak to reporters and the administration withheld details about his duties, even after McGreevey reassigned him to an unspecified job with a $110,000 salary.

Cipel is allegedly McGreevey's boyfriend. My cousin-in-law is fairly high-ranking in the NJ State Police brass and tells me that Cipel, whom McGreevey hired after meeting Cipel on vacation (?!?), regularly sleeps over the governor's residence near Princeton and accompanies the McGreeveys on outings and vacations which no other state employees other than his security detail does.

He swears up and down that they're lovers.

6 posted on 12/20/2002 2:39:28 PM PST by wideawake
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To: GeneD
Tell me NJ isn't as bad as the posters make it sound. I just can't fathom how the Rats win elections considering the people they run.
7 posted on 12/20/2002 3:17:47 PM PST by shrinkermd
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To: shrinkermd
GREED, CORRUPTION, to name just two. Did you know that Lisa Beamer actually wrote a letter to the NY Times saying that NJ voters should vote for him and overlook Toricelli's indiscretions because he has been helpful to the widows of 9/11......also adding an attack on President Bush for only lately agreeing to a commission to study the intelltigence failure that led to the attacks.

Definitely something in the water in NJ..........

8 posted on 12/20/2002 3:58:49 PM PST by OldFriend
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To: OldFriend
Greed and corruption do operate to an extent in New Jersey but I think the Democrat's real power is in a skewed population base. New Jersey is a state of many contrasts. It is per capita one of the wealthiest states in the nation. One political problem for Republicans is population density and related political affiliation. NJ has heavily populated urban areas Paterson, Newark, Jersey City, New Brunswick, Trenton, Camden, Atlantic City that are solid Democrat and their power greatly overshadows that of the more rural and affluent Republican county's like Somerset, Morris, Warren, Sussex, Hunterdon, Ocean and Cape May.

The Democrat "get out the vote" apparatus in many of the cities is also excellent and really blows away similar efforts in the Republican stronghold regions where it is sometimes very difficult to prod tardy voters into getting to the polls.

Another demographic problem in some of the traditional affluent Republican strongholds is that they are being swamped with "new rich" and "just made it into the upper middle class" transplants who have alot more money than sense and tend to hold on to their traditional Democrat voting practices.

Contrary to popular belief, the northern portion of the state (specifically the NW quarter) contains the strongest Republican bastions (Morris, Somerset, Hunterdon, Warren & Sussex counties). The southern portion of the state is very rural and has large undeveloped areas but with the exception of Ocean and Cape May counties, it's pretty much in the Democrat's lap.

One bright spot for the future is that many of the newly upwardly mobile families in NJ are starting to realize that now that they have alot of money, there are a bunch of Democrats trying to take it away from them.

One negative spot for the Republicans however is land use policy. Overdevelopment and sprawl are HUGE issues in NJ and Republicans who side with big developers are going to get their clocks cleaned in the future..especially in currently Republican areas where sprawl, out of control development and open space preservation have become defining issues.
9 posted on 12/20/2002 7:36:53 PM PST by XRdsRev
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To: KC_Conspirator
ah, hem, not all of the people. I think about 900,000 of us voted for Schundler and we will try again in 2005 and it looks like McSleazy is helping.
10 posted on 12/20/2002 7:49:11 PM PST by Coleus
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