As the calendar moves forward toward an expected announcement from current NJ Governor Chris Christie on his candidacy as the potential GOP nominee for president in the 2016 election, stories about – and soundbites from – Christie abound.

With the radio tuned to news in the background, I listened to some of these stories and soundbites today.

I’m left feeling that Chris Christie has no moral compass. Christie is apparently willing and able to lie about almost anything and everything.

Here’s a soundbite from Christie’s appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, June 7, responding to recent comments from Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton who called out for significant expansion in voter access, calling out several prominent GOP leaders – including Christie – accusing them of purposefully limiting voter access in their states through policies such as voter identification requirements and limited early voting.

Said Christie: “She doesn’t know what she’s talking about. In New Jersey, we have early voting available to people. I don’t want to expand it and increase the opportunities for fraud. Maybe that’s what Mrs. Clinton wants to do. I don’t know.”

Christie continued, “But the fact is: folks in New Jersey have plenty of an opportunity to vote. And maybe if she took some questions some places and learned some things, maybe she wouldn’t make such ridiculous statements,” he said.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/chris-christie-hillary-clinton-is-clueless-on-voter-fraud/

What Christie failed to note in his response is that it is more common in New Jersey (and many other states) for elected and appointed public officials to commit fraud then it is for a voter to commit fraud.

And, more alarming: Just 31% of eligible voters in New Jersey exercised their voting rights in the 2014 election. [http://www.electproject.org/2014g]. Seems to me that the real opportunity here is to address and/or eliminate existing obstacles or impediments to help increase voter participation, not creating more obstacles which have the probability of discouraging potential voters.

Chris Christie: You are both a phony and an opportunist, and it’s very sad that you were elected to a position of trust (Governor of New Jersey) and as such, (a) you have tremendous power over the infrastructure and inner workings of our 11th largest state, and (b) you have tremendous influence over the functionality and decisions of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the public authority which builds, operates, and maintains critical transportation and trade assets in the NY Metro area.

PANYNJ controls a network of aviation, rail, surface transportation and seaport facilities which annually move millions of people and transport cargo throughout the New York/New Jersey region.

We can only hope that the ongoing ‘Bridgegate’ investigation will soon expose your culpability in the ensuing mess that (at best) inconvenienced hundreds of thousands of bridge users on those days where access to the bridge was restricted; and (at worst) exacerbated economic losses well into the 100’s of millions of dollars through a ripple effect to commercial entities in the Tri-State region, and throughout the U.S.

I, for one, would be delighted to see you spend the next 8 years, or so, in the Big House, not any other house.

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The Walrus recently learned that former Town of Somers Supervisor Mary Beth Murphy was appointed as executive director of the Westchester County Tax Commission by County Executive Rob Astorino, a fellow Republican. The job, which enjoys a six-year term, pays $132,155 a year.

Ms. Murphy told a local media outlet that she was “…very grateful for the opportunity to serve the people of Westchester, I was supervisor for 16 years, and I certainly dealt with tax issues during my tenure there. It brought exposure to multiple levels of government. “

The Westchester County Tax Commission ostensibly serves as the repository for the assessment rolls from the county’s multiple taxing jurisdictions; is tasked to provide advisory services to municipalities concerning assessments and assessment procedures; and produces an annual report to the county Board of Legislators.

Off hand, I’m thinking this person is absolutely unqualified and not fit to serve in this position. But, that is the nature of a system where officials are often elected to office based on a ‘beauty contest’ enhanced by a campaign war chest of dubious origin; then those ‘elected officials’ are free to appoint political hacks into positions which can have dramatic impact on society.

This pretty much says it all, another quote attributed to Ms. Murphy from her tenure as Supervisor in the Town of Somers: “We have a good way of reporting our tax bills, and did not see a desire for it by the constituency. The town has a very good reputation for its tax rate.”

According to what source? And on what standing?

The old “Home Rule” defense rears it’s head again. And, it was a great idea in pre-revolutionary war days. Sometime after the Civil War, Home Rule became obsolete, yet we still follow that logic in 21st century New York State?

Wondering why Westchester County has won the prize to become the highest property tax location in the U.S.? It’s entirely due to Home Rule and the incredible waste and duplication of services which result.

Most egregious? The folks in the wealthy white suburbs who are willing to pay through the nose to fund their quasi-private public schools, town and village police, etc. but who balk at the idea of providing any support at all to County taxes which in turn support social safety net services for their less fortunate neighbors.

I spotted this headline, and couldn’t resist clicking on it. The intro says,

“Two studies released last week {August 2013} confirmed what most of us already knew: the ultra-wealthy tend to be narcissistic and have a greater sense of entitlement than the rest of us, and Congress only pays attention to their interests. Both studies are consistent with earlier research….”

This does seem to ring true for the most part. I think there are those rare individuals who were raised in privilege — maybe 3rd generation blue bloods? — who have minimal affectations and are really decent people.

As I’ve heard said, ‘they were raised right.’

The truly self-centered seem to be the pirates who rose from a proletariat family to economic aristocracy on their own – hell-bent on becoming rich and powerful – no holds barred.

My poster child for this syndrome is Joseph Cassano, who grew up in Brooklyn, where his father was a policeman. He earned a political science degree from Brooklyn College in 1977. No blue blood here!

In 1987, American International Group (AIG) hired Cassano as Chief Financial Officer for their Financial Products group.

By 2000, Cassano had risen to the position of CEO of the AIG Financial Products group, which had developed a very lucrative business selling Credit Default Swaps to various Investment Banks as protection against their potential losses on mortgage-backed securities.

Some said that Cassano was at the very center of the Great Recession due to his leadership of this lightly-regulated AIG subsidiary which seemed capable of writing its own rules on how it assessed risk; on how it priced risk; and how it compensated executives.

It has been reported that between 2000 and 2008 — the year he left the company — Joseph Cassano’s compensation from AIG was more than $300 Million.

Cassano walked away free, absolved of any improprieties by federal prosecutors.

Meanwhile, U.S. taxpayers injected $182 Billion into AIG to prevent it from destroying our American financial system.

What a fabulous inspiration for young people on how to achieve the American Dream!

August 2013.

Westchester County is known as the bucolic gateway to the Hudson River Valley. Located just north of New York City, Westchester has a plethora of attractions, including castles, mansions, historical sites, and the iconic Playland Amusement Park in Rye.

Westchester boasts thousands of acres of parks and nature preserves; world-class museums and performing arts venues; exclusive shopping, wineries and orchards; public gardens; excellent dining; and year-round, family-friendly fairs and festivals.

That’s what current Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and his cronies would like the world to know and believe.

The real Westchester County consists of 45 independent communities on a land area of 450 square miles. Just under 1 Million people live in Westchester, and they are racially, economically and culturally segregated.

From the City of Peekskill (population 24,000) where 51% of the population is white, 14.5% live in poverty, and the median family income is $65,585; to the City of Rye (population 16,000) where 90% of residents are white, just 2.3% live in poverty, and the median family income is $210,824; the contrasts are dramatic.

Meanwhile, it is very clear: Current County Executive Rob “I cut your taxes” Astorino has no shame.

Much like Don Quixote jousting at windmills, Mr. Astorino loves to do battle with various federal agencies. As he stamps his feet and screams, “I want my Maypo”, he tries to divert attention away from the huge financial penalties Westchester County Taxpayers face because of his incompetence, inability to lead and inexperience managing an organization of any size.

The most recent revelation?

The County had been given a deadline of April 2012 to provide Ultra Violet treatment to the water in Westchester Water District 1 which serves White Plains, Scarsdale, Mount Vernon and Yonkers.

Career professionals in the County had developed solutions; Astorino allowed the progress afforded by the solutions to grind to a halt.

Now, we find out that the County has been in violation of the mandate to deliver clean drinking water for 16 months, with probable fines of $37,500 a day. 16 months x 30 days x $37,500 is $18 Million. That’s a lot of money!

Cryptosporidium is the pathogen that is often behind the syndrome sometimes known as “Montezuma’s Revenge.”

It is highly resistant to chlorine disinfection, which is the primary form of disinfection used at most water treatment plants.

As long ago as 1999, the US EPA published definitive research showing that UV treatment is the only reliable and effective treatment system against all pathogens, including Cryptosporidium.

It is somewhat surprising that CE Astorino would mess with folks in Scarsdale.

His predictable pattern of abuse and benign neglect tends toward Mount Vernon, Yonkers, Port Chester, Peekskill and New Rochelle. Those folks just don’t seem to make time to come out to vote, and they mostly don’t make campaign contributions.

Maybe his campaign advisors told him, “Don’t worry, boss. People in Scarsdale don’t drink tap water. They drink bottled water. They will never find out that we are sending them potentially dangerous water.”

Hopefully, some of our neighbors in Scarsdale who do vote will get a bit vociferous about the gamble Astorino and his cronies seem to be willing to take with the physical (and financial) health of fellow Westchester residents.

The Environmental Protection Agency filed a lawsuit against Westchester County this month after county officials refused to enter into a consent decree to resolve the violations.

The potential legal fees and fines are astronomical.

What is even worse?

The lack of UV treatment puts thousands of Westchester residents (the majority of whom are registered Democrats!) at extreme risk of serious illness or even death from drinking improperly treated tap water.

Pretty clever political strategy, I think.

If you can’t convince the other party you have a solid plan and strategy, then disable or kill them so they can’t vote.

Brilliant move, Mr. Astorino!

The Town of Clarkstown — located in Rockland County in New York’s lower Hudson Valley — today is a suburban town comprising 47 square miles with a population of 84,000.

Clarkstown is predominantly white and middle class. According to the 2010 Census, just 4.5% of the people who live in Clarkstown are at or below the poverty level. The median household income is $102,000 and the median home value is $500,000. About 80% of the homes in Clarkstown are owner-occupied, and the majority were built after 1950 as Rockland County transitioned from a predominantly agrarian economy to a bedroom community for the New York metro region.

In 2010, CNNMoney.com named Clarkstown the 41st best “small city” to live in America, which was the highest such ranking in New York State.

One would think that in a stable suburban town like Clarkstown, public safety would be of paramount importance to residents, yet the job of policing would be less stressful than in nearby high-density, inner-city areas where danger lurks around every corner.

New York City — one of the most complicated places in America in terms of ensuring public safety — has a police force of 34,000 supervised by the New York City police commissioner who earns annual salary of $215,000.

For some reason, Clarkstown has a history of providing the highest compensation to police officials in the lower Hudson region. In Clarkstown, an entry-level police officer makes a base salary of $62,000.

In nearby and contiguous towns, entry-level police officers earn between $40,000 and 43,500 per a year in base pay.

In 2010, it was reported that then-Clarkstown Police Chief Peter Noonan was the highest paid municipal employee in New York State — earning just over $301,000.

At the time, he was supervising a force of 173 police officers, of which 147 made more than $100,000 in base salaries, not including overtime and other earnings.

Noonan retired in 2011 after spending 33 years in the Clarkstown police department, the last seven as Chief.

When he retired, his annual pension was calculated to be $193,892 based on the formula New York State uses to calculate pension benefits.

A recent recalculation by the NYS Comptroller’s Office has added nearly $13,000 to Noonan’s retirement benefit, bringing it to $206,398, the highest pension for a retired cop in New York State.

Noonan now has the eighth highest pension among municipal retirees in New York State and is one of 10 pensioners with an annual benefit exceeding $200,000.

You think Detroit has problems?