Entries in freeholder George Graham (62)

Monday
Jun042018

Why is Freeholder Carl Lazzaro being dishonest?

On Sunday, Freeholder Carl Lazzaro launched a robo-call that not only disturbed the peace of the day but was disturbing in its level of dishonesty.  It is clear that Freeholder Lazzaro is attempting to deflect attention away from his own actions – and those of the Freeholder Board majority of which he is a part. 

That Freeholder Board majority – Freeholder Jonathan Rose, Freeholder Carl Lazzaro, and their “Boss” Freeholder George Graham – has made some grossly improper decisions while in a position of trust. 

Here are some questions that Freeholder Lazzaro and his side needs to answer: 

(1) Why did Freeholder Carl Lazzaro re-hire the bond counsel who failed to do his job and warn county government and county residents about the problems with the solar program contract? 

Unfortunately for Sussex County taxpayers, this lawyer didn’t even require the contract to have the basic insurances that, if they had been in place, would have protected Sussex County and its residents from financial liability.  So why did the three freeholders hire him back? 

Why are Sussex County taxpayers paying this man? 

(2) Why did Freeholder Jonathan Rose give a no-bid contract worth $518,000.00 to the lawyer who allowed the solar scam to happen in the first place? 

This lawyer ran the state office that was the final step in the process of approving a contract that turned out to be a scam.  His office was the taxpayers’ fail-safe.  But instead of catching what was an obvious problem, his office rubber-stamped the contract and the taxpayers of Sussex County were out $40 million. 

So why would Freeholders Rose, Lazzaro, and Graham give the lawyer who signed-off on the solar scam $518,000 to investigate the solar scam?  An obvious whitewash?  No wonder Sussex County has never got back a penny on the money it lost. 

(3) Why did their side take a campaign contribution from the law firm responsible for solar? 

Why would they take a campaign contribution from a law firm that they themselves acknowledged was implicated in the solar scam?  Isn’t this the very definition of “dirty” money? 

Now we know why Carl Lazzaro made that robo-call.  To deflect our attention from what he and his crew have done in office.  

Now we know why Lazzaro and Rose are trying to mislead us again. 

They lied about solar, spent more of our tax money, borrowed more, and raised property taxes every year they’ve been in office.

How can anyone argue that they deserve to be re-elected?

Tuesday
May292018

Will Sussex taxpayers pay because Freeholder Rose posted defamatory statements about school?

Over the weekend, a blog run by Freeholder Jonathan Rose made some claims about a charter school in Bergen County.  It claimed that the school was controlled by a Muslim cleric. 

That turned out to be a lie. 

Freeholder Rose’s blog claimed that the Muslim cleric was a “terrorist”.  

That turned out to be a lie too. 

The most troubling aspect of this is that Freeholder Rose operates his blog with input from fellow Freeholders George Graham and Carl Lazzaro.  That’s a Freeholder Board majority, making their actions the actions of Sussex County!  

And just as troubling is the involvement of New Jersey Heraldreporter Eric Obernauer.  In open conflict-of-interest, the Warren County resident is also a Sussex County official. 

Here are the facts. 

The charter school (Bergen Arts and Science Charter School) has no affiliation with any political or religious institutions. Period. 

When asked, the school administration noted:  “The only exception is our professional affiliations with colleges and universities in the state with whom we collaborate in our educational programs, such as the past placement of student teachers from the College of St. Elizabeth. Some school buildings are leased from Catholic dioceses, but the schools are not affiliated with the Catholic Church.” 

The Muslim cleric that Freeholder Rose’s blog smeared as a “terrorist” is a religious leader named Fethullah Gulen.  He is a religious moderate and an ally of the United States of America, which has provided him with protection from persecution.  Gulen lives in Pennsylvania and has been praised by the Pope.  Yes, the Pope. 

Gulen is a religious leader, originally from Turkey, who opposed the hard-line Islamist regime of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.  Erdogan is the increasingly dictatorial and Islamist President of Turkey.  Erdogan has been repeatedly in the news for purging the judiciary, jailing journalists who write unflattering reports, and successfully intimidating the opposition.  Erdogan had a law passed to allow the government to ban websites and he has promised to "rip out the roots" of Twitter.  He has even attempted to censor speech in other nations, in 2015 Turkey demanding that Germany prosecute a poet who had written some verse critical of Erdogan.  

Gulen accused Erdogan of political corruption in 2013.  Erdogan responded by banning Gulen's books.  Erdogan had Gulen indicted on charges that a Turkish judge threw out.  So Erdogan had Gulen re-indicted a few months later for treasonable offenses that carried the death penalty.  Gulen fled Turkey, came to the United States, and was convicted in absentia.  He faces death if he returns to Turkey. 

Freeholder Rose’s assertion that religious leader Gulen is a “terrorist” is nothing more than a parroting of Islamist dictator Erdogan’s propaganda. As the United States State Department has stated over and over again, “Gulen has condemned terrorism.”  In fact, he was the firstMuslim religious leader to condemn terrorism, warning that it “has no place in Islam.”  Gulen wrote a condemnation article in the Washington Poston September 12, 2001, one day after the September 11 attacks, and stated that “A Muslim cannot be a terrorist, nor can a terrorist be a true Muslim.”    

Finally, an investigation by the Bergen Recorduncovered no direct evidence of Gulen’s involvement in the operation of charter schools in New Jersey.

So what we have is a blog run by the three-member majority (Rose-Lazzaro-Graham) of the Board of Chosen Freeholders of Sussex County making a false and defamatory statement against a Charter School, licensed by the State of New Jersey, and a religious leader who has been praised by the Pope and other religious leaders – and who is under the protection of the United States of America. What are these three thinking? 

Now here is the story behind the story of why officeholders like Jonathan Rose have been looped into recycling the propaganda of an Islamist dictator.

A number of New Jersey political insiders – major players in the New Jersey political establishment – work for an international lobbying firm called Mercury Public Affairs.  For example, Juan Melli was recently hired as a Vice President.  Melli is the founder of BlueJersey.com, a former associate editor and columnist for David Wildstein's PolitickerNJ.com, and communications manager for Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer.  Melli joins several other members of the New Jersey political establishment at Mercury Public Affairs.  These include Mo Butler, United States Senator Cory Booker's campaign consultant, former chief of staff, and "longtime advisor"; Michael Soliman, United States Senator and former Chairman of the Senate Committee of Foreign Relations Robert Menendez's political advisor and former State Director; and Michael DuHaime, Governor Chris Christie's campaign consultant and someone who has GOP contacts throughout the state. 

Once upon a time, campaign managers were locals who came up through the ranks alongside the politicians whose careers they helped to manage.  But as more money washed into DC and was funneled into campaigns, that changed.  Consultants proliferated and firms became larger.  Following the money, a few either merged with or morphed into public relations and lobbying (government relations) operations.  Why not?  Corporations paid big for access to politicians and there is nobody politicians love more than the person who got them elected.  

It was only a matter of time that things went global.  And that is why these New Jersey political operatives became members of an international firm representing the interests of quite a few unsavory foreign governments.  Mercury Public Affairs is itself a subsidiary of an even larger international firm that handles the image-making  for Russian President Vladimir Putin, receiving credit for, among other accomplishments, getting Putin's face on the cover of Timemagazine -- as the "Person of the Year" for 2007. 

Mercury Public Affairs began in 1999 as a decidedly Republican shop with connections to the RNC and politicians like John McCain and Mitt Romney, around 2013 it embarked on a mission to "diversify" -- meaning making the firm "more bipartisan and full-service."  Mike DuHaime joined the firm in 2009, first as a "managing director" but swiftly rising to partner.  Michael Soliman joined Mercury in 2013 and became a partner this year. Mo Butler joined as a "managing director" in 2016.  Mercury Public Affairs has 10 partners and 160 employees.  Omnicom purchased Mercury in 2003. 

Mercury Public Affairs has 18 offices worldwide -- including London; Mexico City; Washington, DC; New York; and Westfield, New Jersey.  The New Jersey offices (a satellite operates out of Trenton) of Mercury are the haunt of Messrs. DuHaime, Soliman, Butler, and other connected operatives like newspaperman Darryl Isherwood (former top political reporter for the Star-Ledgerand editor of PolitickerNJ), and "Christie campaign vet" Mark Mowers.   

In January 2015, Michael Soliman registered with the United States Justice Department, pursuant to the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938, as a person representing the Embassy of the State of Qatar.  You must have read about Qatar in the news...Amnesty International has accused Qatar of being complicit in human trafficking and modern-day slavery. Yes, slavery.  In fact, the United Nations recently gave Qatar one year "to end migrant worker slavery" or face an international investigation.   

Qatar is just one of freedom's garden spots represented by Mercury Public Affairs. Remember the controversy in Uganda, when the President of that country decided that homosexuality was a crime that should be punishable by death?  Well, the law he wanted passed was "moderated" in December 2013, substituting life imprisonment for the death penalty.   In 2015, Mercury was brought on to provide public relations, lobbying, and media monitoring services with regards to the Office of the President and the Ugandan government in general on subjects beginning with "human rights" and ending with "good governance."  For which the contract calls for Mercury to be compensated at the rate of $50,000 per month, with $150,000 up front.

Mercury also represents individuals.  Folks like Khalid bin Saqr Al Qasimi, who in 2003 led an anti-American demonstration in which he personally burned an American flag.  For its work, Mercury pocketed a $30,000 monthly retainer, plus expenses.

In January 2016, Mercury Public Affairs partner Morris Reid negotiated a contract with Amsterdam & Partners, an international law firm with offices in London and Washington, DC.  The document is marked "confidential and privileged" but is public information under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.  In August of 2015, Amsterdam & Partners signed a contract with the Turkish Ambassador to the United States to provide legal services related to a "matter of importance" to the embassy.  The government of Turkey paid Amsterdam a retainer of $50,000 a month.

While the contract stipulates that the greatest security and confidentiality be observed, under the terms of the contract between Amsterdam and Turkey, third parties may be hired "as the Firm and the Client agree in writing are necessary to further the Engagement."  And so, in March of 2016, Amsterdam hired Mercury to perform work on behalf of the Turkish government for $20,000 a month -- above and beyond what was being paid to Amsterdam by Turkey.  It is in the contract between Amsterdam & Partners and Mercury Public Affairs that we learn what all this cloak and dagger is in aid of:

The Amsterdam-Mercury contract references an "investigation into Fethullah Gulen and his organization in the United States."  We know who he is. 

The government of Turkish President Erdogan has been trying to extradite Gulen back to Turkey so they can put him to death, but the government of the United States is protecting him. In the hours after a Turkish coup attempt in 2016, Erdogan was quick to blame Gulen, while Gulen put forward the theory that Erdogan had staged the coup himself in order to consolidate power. 

TheAssociated Pressidentified Amsterdam & Partners (the firm Mercury is working for) as "lawyer(s) for the Turkish government" and quoted Robert Amsterdam:  "There are indications of direct involvement (in the coup attempt) by Fethullah Gulen." Amsterdam added that "according to Turkish intelligence sources, there are signs that Gulen is working closely with certain members of military leadership against the elected civilian government."  That sounds a lot like Freeholder Rose’s blog, doesn’t it? 

Why does Mercury Public Affairs want to be a part of extraditing a moderate religious leader to satisfy the rage of an Islamist dictator?  The answer is simple:  MONEY… FOREIGN MONEY… THE FOREIGN MONEY OF AN ISLAMIST DICTATOR. 

Why are members of the Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders associating themselves with an effort to tarnish the reputation of a moderate religious leader, which will make it easier to extradite and murder said religious leader? 

The close relationships with many in New Jersey politics that Mercury's partners and employees enjoy is a matter for deep concern.  Freeholder Boss George Graham operates a political consulting business.  Has he been hired by Mercury, a client of Mercury, or an associate of Mercury?  His public disclosure reports require him only to list his political consulting firm, not its clients or sources of money. 

Both Freeholders Jonathan Rose and Carl Lazzaro operate similar businesses that hide their sources of income from the public, making it impossible to know whether or not their assault on this moderate religious leader was inspired by Mercury Public Affairs.  In any case, as the three members of the Freeholder Board constitute a majority and they have launched this attack, they should publicly come clean about it. 

Wouldn't it be better if the Sussex County Freeholder Board stuck with figuring out how lower property taxes and cut debt instead of shilling for foreign governments?  With all this money from foreign powers floating around, the Board should avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Finally, trashing the reputation of a Charter School and calling someone a “terrorist” who isn’t are things that can get the Freeholder Board’s majority sued. If that happens, who is going to pay for it?  The taxpayer, of course!

Sunday
May272018

Failing to lower property taxes, Freeholders take up foreign policy 

Talk about being desperate.   

They’ve raised property taxes every year they’ve been in office, increased county debt, failed to start litigation to get our money back from the solar scammers, but spent a half million dollars to “study” the problem, re-hired the lawyers responsible for allowing the scam in the first place, and handed out no-bid contracts to people involved in the scam.  Now, after screwing up all that, the three-member majority who run the Sussex County Freeholder Board – Jonathan Rose, Carl Lazzaro, and Boss George Graham – have decided to involve the Board in international affairs.   

Yes, they are putting Sussex County on record as siding with Islamist dictator Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.  

Freeholder Jonathan Rose, who runs the Skylands blog , put out a statement on behalf of himself and Freeholders Lazzaro and Graham, that attacked Franklin Borough Councilwoman Dawn Fantasia. For the record, Councilwoman Dawn Fantasia is a Roman Catholic.  According to Rose and company, the inner-city charter school at which she is currently employed, is affiliated with an Muslim religious leader named Fethullah Gulen who finds himself the target of the Islamist regime of Erdogan. 

There is some debate over just how affiliated the school is with the religious leader, but that did not stop Freeholder Rose and company from labeling Gulen… and by extension Councilwoman Fantasia… terrorists. Unfortunately for Freeholders Rose, Lazzaro, and Graham (and, by extension, Sussex County government), most of the West – the United States of America, the United Kingdom, the European Union, etc. – consider the religious leader Gulen to be a Muslim moderate. 

That is why the religious leader Gulen lives under the PROTECTION of the government of the United States of America– in Pennsylvania, as a matter of fact.  And if that isn’t enough, no less than the Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church, has shown his support for the religious leader Gulen and has called him a moderate.  That’s right, the Pope says Gulen is a good guy.

But according to Freeholder Rose (and Lazzaro and Graham) anyone who has anything to do with the religious leader Gulen is a “terrorist”.  Hey, that’s three Freeholders of the five… does this mean that Sussex County is on record as declaring the Pope a terrorist – along with Gulen and Fantasia?  If so, that is some foreign policy statement!

And Gulen’s moderation isn’t something new.  In the 1990’s Gulen began working with Pope John Paul II of the Roman Catholic Church, Patriarch Bartholomew I of the Eastern Orthodox Church, and Head Rabbi Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron of the Sephardic Hebrew congregation.  All of these faiths would be shocked to learn of the condemnation by a majority on the Sussex County Freeholder Board.

Freeholder Rose’s assertion that the religious leader Gulen is a “terrorist” is nothing more than a parroting of Islamist dictator Erdogan’s propaganda. As the United States State Department has stated over and over again, “Gulen has condemned terrorism.”  In fact, he was the firstMuslim religious leader to condemn terrorism, warning that it “has no place in Islam.”  Gulen wrote a condemnation article in the Washington Poston September 12, 2001, one day after the September 11 attacks, and stated that “A Muslim cannot be a terrorist, nor can a terrorist be a true Muslim.”    

But international affairs expert Jonathan Rose (NOT!) calls this guy a terrorist?  And Rose and company imply that all who can be linked with Gulen – like Fantasia and the Pope – are terroriststoo, by association. And the fact that it is three Freeholders behind this, a majority, really makes this a very serious allegation and one that could end up getting the county sued big time! 

Here is the story behind the story of why officeholders like Jonathan Rose have been looped into recycling the propaganda of an Islamist dictator. 

A number of New Jersey political insiders – major players in the New Jersey political establishment – work for an international lobbying firm called Mercury Public Affairs.  For example, Juan Melli was recently hired as a Vice President.  Melli is the founder of BlueJersey.com, a former associate editor and columnist for David Wildstein's PolitickerNJ.com, and communications manager for Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer.  Melli joins several other members of the New Jersey political establishment at Mercury Public Affairs.  These include Mo Butler, United States Senator Cory Booker's campaign consultant, former chief of staff, and "longtime advisor"; Michael Soliman, United States Senator and former Chairman of the Senate Committee of Foreign Relations Robert Menendez's political advisor and former State Director; and Michael DuHaime, Governor Chris Christie's campaign consultant and someone who has GOP contacts throughout the state. 

Once upon a time, campaign managers were locals who came up through the ranks alongside the politicians whose careers they helped to manage.  But as more money washed into DC and was funneled into campaigns, that changed.  Consultants proliferated and firms became larger.  Following the money, a few either merged with or morphed into public relations and lobbying (government relations) operations.  Why not?  Corporations paid big for access to politicians and there is nobody politicians love more than the person who got them elected. 

It was only a matter of time that things went global.  And that is why these New Jersey political operatives became members of an international firm representing the interests of quite a few unsavory foreign governments.  Mercury Public Affairs is itself a subsidiary of an even larger international firm that handles the image-making  for Russian President Vladimir Putin, receiving credit for, among other accomplishments, getting Putin's face on the cover of Timemagazine -- as the "Person of the Year" for 2007. 

Mercury Public Affairs began in 1999 as a decidedly Republican shop with connections to the RNC and politicians like John McCain and Mitt Romney, around 2013 it embarked on a mission to "diversify" -- meaning making the firm "more bipartisan and full-service."  Mike DuHaime joined the firm in 2009, first as a "managing director" but swiftly rising to partner.  Michael Soliman joined Mercury in 2013 and became a partner this year. Mo Butler joined as a "managing director" in 2016.  Mercury Public Affairs has 10 partners and 160 employees.  Omnicom purchased Mercury in 2003. 

Mercury Public Affairs has 18 offices worldwide -- including London; Mexico City; Washington, DC; New York; and Westfield, New Jersey.  The New Jersey offices (a satellite operates out of Trenton) of Mercury are the haunt of Messrs. DuHaime, Soliman, Butler, and other connected operatives like newspaperman Darryl Isherwood (former top political reporter for the Star-Ledgerand editor of PolitickerNJ), and "Christie campaign vet" Mark Mowers.   

In January 2015, Michael Soliman registered with the United States Justice Department, pursuant to the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938, as a person representing the Embassy of the State of Qatar.  You must have read about Qatar in the news...Amnesty International has accused Qatar of being complicit in human trafficking and modern-day slavery. Yes, slavery.  In fact, the United Nations recently gave Qatar one year "to end migrant worker slavery" or face an international investigation.   

Qatar is just one of freedom's garden spots represented by Mercury Public Affairs. Remember the controversy in Uganda, when the President of that country decided that homosexuality was a crime that should be punishable by death?  Well, the law he wanted passed was "moderated" in December 2013, substituting life imprisonment for the death penalty.   In 2015, Mercury was brought on to provide public relations, lobbying, and media monitoring services with regards to the Office of the President and the Ugandan government in general on subjects beginning with "human rights" and ending with "good governance."  For which the contract calls for Mercury to be compensated at the rate of $50,000 per month, with $150,000 up front. 

Mercury also represents individuals.  Folks like Khalid bin Saqr Al Qasimi, who in 2003 led an anti-American demonstration in which he personally burned an American flag.  For its work, Mercury pocketed a $30,000 monthly retainer, plus expenses.

In January 2016, Mercury Public Affairs partner Morris Reid negotiated a contract with Amsterdam & Partners, an international law firm with offices in London and Washington, DC.  The document is marked "confidential and privileged" but is public information under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.  In August of 2015, Amsterdam & Partners signed a contract with the Turkish Ambassador to the United States to provide legal services related to a "matter of importance" to the embassy.  The government of Turkey paid Amsterdam a retainer of $50,000 a month. 

While the contract stipulates that the greatest security and confidentiality be observed, under the terms of the contract between Amsterdam and Turkey, third parties may be hired "as the Firm and the Client agree in writing are necessary to further the Engagement."  And so, in March of 2016, Amsterdam hired Mercury to perform work on behalf of the Turkish government for $20,000 a month -- above and beyond what was being paid to Amsterdam by Turkey.  It is in the contract between Amsterdam & Partners and Mercury Public Affairs that we learn what all this cloak and dagger is in aid of:

The Amsterdam-Mercury contract references an "investigation into Fethullah Gulen and his organization in the United States."  So who is Fethullah Gulen?

Gulen has been in the news since the attempted coup in Turkey in 2016.  Gulen is a religious leader from Turkey, and a one-time political ally of Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan is the increasingly authoritarian and Islamist President of Turkey.  He has been repeatedly in the news for purging the judiciary, jailing journalists who write unflattering reports, and successfully intimidating the opposition.  Erdogan had a law passed to allow the government to ban websites and he has promised to "rip out the roots" of Twitter.  He has even attempted to censor speech in other nations, in 2015 Turkey demanding that Germany prosecute a poet who had written some verse critical of Erdogan. 

Erdogan and Gulen had a falling out over allegations of political corruption by Erdogan in 2013.  Gulen's books were banned.  First, he was indicted on charges that a Turkish judge threw out, but then was indicted a few months later for treasonable offenses that carried the death penalty.  Gulen fled Turkey, came to the United States, and was convicted in absentia.  According to Wikipedia, Gulen was one of the first Muslim leaders to condemn the attacks on September 11, 2001, writing a "condemnation article" in the Washington Post, the next day.  He wrote:  "A Muslim cannot be a terrorist, nor can a terrorist be a true Muslim."

Gülen teaches a Hanafi version of Islam, deriving from Sunni Muslim scholar Said Nursi's teachings. Gülen has stated that he believes in science, interfaith dialogue among the People of the Book, and multi-party democracy. He has initiated such dialogue with the Vaticanand some Jewish organizations. 

Gülen is actively involved in the societal debate concerning the future of the Turkish state, and Islam in the modern world. He has been described in the English-language media as an imam "who promotes a tolerant Islam which emphasises altruism, hard work and education" and as "one of the world's most important Muslim figures." 

The government of Turkish President Erdogan has attempted to extradite Gulen back to Turkey to face punishment, but the government of the United States hasn't cooperated.  In the hours after the coup attempt, Erdogan was quick to blame Gulen, while Gulen put forward the theory that Erdogan had staged the coup himself in order to consolidate power.

TheAssociated Pressidentified Amsterdam & Partners (the firm Mercury is working for) as "lawyer(s) for the Turkish government" and quoted Robert Amsterdam:  "There are indications of direct involvement (in the coup attempt) by Fethullah Gulen." Amsterdam added that "according to Turkish intelligence sources, there are signs that Gulen is working closely with certain members of military leadership against the elected civilian government."

Why does Mercury Public Affairs want to be a part of extraditing a moderate religious leader to satisfy the rage of an Islamist dictator?  The answer is simple:  MONEY… FOREIGN MONEY… THE FOREIGN MONEY OF AN ISLAMIST DICTATOR.

Why are members of the Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders associating themselves with an effort to tarnish the reputation of a moderate religious leader, which will make it easier to extradite and murder said religious leader? 

The close relationships with many in New Jersey politics that Mercury's partners and employees enjoy is a matter for deep concern.  Freeholder Boss George Graham operates a political consulting business.  Has he been hired by Mercury, a client of Mercury, or an associate of Mercury?  His public disclosure reports require him only to list his political consulting firm, not its clients or sources of money. 

Both Freeholders Jonathan Rose and Carl Lazzaro operate similar businesses that hide their sources of income from the public, making it impossible to know whether or not their assault on this moderate religious leader was inspired by Mercury Public Affairs.  In any case, as the three members of the Freeholder Board constitute a majority and they have launched this attack, they should publicly come clean about it

Wouldn't it be better if the Sussex County Freeholder Board stuck with figuring out how lower property taxes and cut debt instead of shilling for foreign governments?  With all this money from foreign powers floating around, the Board should avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. 

Calling a moderate religious leader a terrorist? A Sussex County mother of three, a terrorist?  The Pope, a terrorist?  What a rotten way to spend Memorial Day!

Tuesday
May152018

The sad fates of those who trusted Freeholder Boss Graham

Around the County Courthouse in Newton they have a saying... George Graham makes a lot of friends, but doesn't keep any for long. 

Graham rose in Sussex County politics from a local Democrat official to the Republican boss of county government.  His political consulting business -- York Strategies -- was once closely associated with the campaigns of a number of Democrat candidates in Hudson County.  Remember Assembly Speaker Joe Doria?  The Hudson County Democrat was Governor Jim Florio's legislative point man in the passage of the most restrictive firearms ban in our nation's history.

George Graham and his political consulting business, York Strategies, worked for Joe Doria in Hudson County.  Graham was a registered Democrat when he worked for Doria. 

George Graham was a lifelong Democrat until switching to Republican to vote in the primary against conservatives Alison McHose and Gary Chiusano.  In the General Election that year, Graham donated to their liberal Democrat opponents and switched back from Republican to Democrat in order to vote in the 2008 Democrat presidential primary between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. 

Afraid of losing his seat on Stanhope council, a desperate Graham switched again to Republican, his current party today.  In a matter of a few years time, George Graham flipped from Democrat to Republican, back to Democrat, and then to Republican again. Graham has been a Democrat for most of his adult life and affiliated with liberals for much of that time.

Graham's political consulting business, York Strategies, which included partner James Barracato, came up with slogans like "Joe Doria is full time Bayonne" and "I'm with Joe," according to the Hudson Reporter newspaper.  Although no longer a member of the Legislature, Joe Doria is still on the campaign trail with Jim Florio, only now they campaign for gun control and against the NRA (National Rifle Association).  At a recent gathering the two called for new constraints on the Second Amendment, with Joe Doria calling the NRA "dirty".  Not to be outdone, Florio added that the manufacturers and sellers of guns were, in his words, "Merchants of Death." 

As a Republican, George Graham closely aligned himself with former Freeholder Glen Vetrano.  In 2012, Vetrano and Graham engineered the victory of Dennis Mudrick, who was elected to the Freeholder Board. 

But it didn't take long for Graham to deep six his former friends.  After securing election to the Freeholder Board himself in 2013, the following year Graham instigated the ethics investigation that brought down Vetrano, and in 2015 he ran Jonathan Rose and Carl Lazzaro against incumbent Freeholder Mudrick, who was defeated in the primary.

In 2016, Graham became the boss of the Freeholder Board -- controlling a majority made up of him, Rose, and Lazzaro.  After winning the primary that year, he successfully talked Assemblywoman Gail Phoebus into challenging Senator Steve Oroho for his seat in 2017.  This move essentially ended Phoebus' political career as well.  

Not content with ruining Assemblywoman Phoebus, Graham moved on to Republican candidate for Freeholder Herb Yardley, who Graham deliberately sought to hobble so that Democrat Dan Perez might win and the join Graham, Rose, and Lazzaro on the Freeholder Board.  Worse still was the fact that Graham involved Freeholders Jonathan Rose and Carl Lazzaro in supporting the Democrat. 

And that is why we are where we are today. 

Tuesday
May152018

The return of Dave Fanale and the anti-police wing of the GOP

We all remember the sorry episode of Dave Fanale.  He was an up-and-coming Sussex County politician in the orbit of Freeholder boss George Graham.  He was elected to the GOP county committee and to the Franklin Borough Council.  Some had him marked for bigger and better things.

And then it all started to come unraveled.  It turned out that Fanale didn't like law enforcement very much.  He had a problem with cops and started posting weird stuff on Facebook in this regard...

Yep, GOP Councilman Fanale posted a cartoon of a kid pissing on the thin blue line (representing the police) while giving them the finger.  The cartoon above was just one shot in a series of verbal and written attacks on the police.  Councilman Fanale's anti-police campaign got particularly disturbing, as it stretched on for months.

There was a huge backlash amongst the conservative, pro-police residents of Franklin... and Dave Fanale quit the Council.  For a time, Fanale moved in with Freeholder Jonathan Rose, another member of Freeholder boss George Graham's entourage. 


And now he's back. 

Among those present at Freeholder Jonathan Rose's fundraiser last month, was former Franklin Councilman Dave Fanale... the same controversial figure who resigned from the Council after leading his anti-police campaign.  Freeholder Rose shares a somewhat libertarian political philosophy with Fanale and the former Franklin Councilman is pushing for his re-election. 

At the same fundraising event for Freeholder Rose, attended by former Councilman Fanale, Rose formally threw his support to John McCann, formerly of the Democrat Bergen County Sheriff's office, and now a GOP candidate for Congress. 

Yes, that's Sheriff Michael Saudino -- the Bergen County Sheriff who was elected as a Republican, then switched to Democrat in order to destroy the Republican Party in that county, and then who ran for re-election on a ticket with Hillary Clinton and Josh Gottheimer. 

The Bergen Record has identified McCann as the "right hand man" to Democrat Sheriff Michael Saudino.  It was Saudino's feud with the Republican County Executive that undermined and ultimately lost Republicans control of Bergen County.  The coup de grace came when Saudino, a one-time Republican, joined Hillary Clinton and Josh Gottheimer on a ticket that crushed Republicans in Bergen County. 

John McCann remained Sheriff Saudino's consigliore through it all and ran for Congress (as a Republican) with Saudino's blessing and while still on the Democrat's payroll.  Sheriff Saudino has formally endorsed fellow Democrat Josh Gottheimer for re-election this year. 

The media has recently reported on 22 Bergen County police officers who claimed they were wrongly terminated or mistreated.  In a class action suit, the officers accuse Sheriff Saudino of demoting or firing qualified officers out of spite or for political retaliation.  Saudino, who supported Gottheimer for his stance on LGBT issues, is accused of allowing the "despicable and dehumanizing treatment" of a gay police officer.

A federal lawsuit filed last year contains the personal testimony of dozens of veteran law enforcement officers who fell victim to a power play by the Democrat Sheriff of Bergen County.  Here are a few of their stories:

"In 2014 my wife and I decided to have our 2nd child even though there were talks of merging The Bergen County Police with the Sheriff's Department.  we both agreed that we could afford to make this life changing decision based on the fact that the merger specifically stated there would be no layoffs, and no decrease in pay.

We had purchased a smaller home, which needed improvements... We are not going to be able to make these improvements or expand our home due to the impending layoff or pay decrease.  In fact we may lose our home if these changes take place.

My wife and I were discussing the possibility of having a third child as recently as February of this year.  However this will not happen now because of these layoffs."

***

"In 2015, I got engaged.  In 2016, I got married and purchased a home.  In 2017, I welcomed another child into my family... I have a wife and two children, ages 6 and 3 months.  Now with the threat of a potential layoff, not only will my life be affected, but my family will be negatively affected as well."

***

"I have been employed by Bergen County as a Police Officer since July, 2004.  I have recently re-financed my 30 year mortgage to a 15 year mortgage due to the promise that the Sheriff, County Executive, and Freeholder Board made that my job was safe when they merged us.  I am also the caregiver to my elderly parents... If I am demoted, I will not be able to afford the extra payments that a 15 year mortgage brings as well as care for my parents in a way that they deserve."

***

"I can personally say the moral and pride I had as a County Police Officer has been stripped away and this entire process has affected me personally.  I never knew what it was like to go to work and be unhappy.  I've always loved my career and the organization I worked for.  There are often times I get sick to my stomach thinking of how the politicians have destroyed this place and everything it represented.  My mind is consumed with thoughts of whether or not I will be able to retire..."

***

"I am a single father of two children.  I have full custody of my children... I had financial plans in place to send my oldest daughter who is currently in high school to attend specific colleges she had picked out.  With this demotion I will no longer be able to pay for my daughter's college education..."

***

"In August of 1996 I joined what I believed was a dedicated profession and well known department... I joined the United States Marine Corps Reserve in 1982... I was activated in support of Operation Desert Shield/Storm... I retired with 20 years of service in 2003.

...I have made many life choices on the promises and assurance my family and I would be able to live without the threat of losing our home or not being able to afford the basic simple lifestyle we have had in our lives.  Upon the assurance of the County of Bergen, the politicians and the Bergen County Sheriff my family committed to providing an education for my son that now involves the payment of an incredible amount of education loans."

***

"I am currently a Police Officer with the Bergen County Sheriff's Department... I am also a United States Disabled Combat Veteran.  I served four and a half years with the 82nd Airborne Division, with a fifteen-month deployment to Iraq as an Infantryman... With the promise of job security, I continued my life as any other reasonable person would have.  I recently purchased a home and have plans to marry my longtime girlfriend, whom this layoff also affects tremendously..."

***

Rose-Fanale-McCann... It's amazing how these people found each other.  That you have, in the same room and supporting the same candidate, an avowed cop-hater and the guy who destroyed Bergen County's police department.  Small world.