An explosive investigative report from the New Jersey State Comptroller shows massive corruption at the Newark Watershed Conservation and Development Corp under Cory Booker ally Linda Watkins-Brashear.
Linda Watkins-Brashear, the agency’s director and a political ally of former Newark mayor, now Sen. Cory Booker, wrote unreported checks to herself to the tune of $200,000, was awarded $700,000 in two severance packages, gave more than $1 million in contracts to her friends and ex-husband, and lost $500,000 in dubious stock ventures, the report states.
When asked about the transactions by the state comptroller, Watkins-Brashear invoked her Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate herself, the report said.
Through her attorneys, Watkins-Brashear said the report wrongly laid blame at her feet and said she acted at all times with the knowledge and approval of then Mayor Cory Booker’s administration.
Is Watkins-Brashear’s claim that Booker’s administration knew about and approved of the corruption credible?
Well, according to Giambusso’s follow-up article, it was no secret:
The culture of corruption at the Newark Watershed Conservation and Development Corp. — alleged last week in a scathing 45-page report by the state comptroller — was apparently no secret to some in Newark’s political world.
When queried by state investigators about payouts he received from the agency, one contractor said he was working on a local political campaign in 2008 and recalled the “buzz’ that had been circulating about NWCDC handing out contracts,” the report states.
Perhaps most significantly, Booker installed his close friend, law partner, and campaign treasurer Elnardo Webster (also the recipient of a nifty tax abatement) as the watershed’s general counsel.
It was an extremely lucrative arrangement for Webster and the firm, which was paid more than a million dollars in the five years after Booker was elected mayor — at least $400,000 of which was not authorized:
That’s over a million dollars going to a law firm, Trenk DiPasquale, that was at the same time paying then-mayor Cory Booker a total of $689,000 under what Booker now claims was a “separation agreement,” despite the fact he reported it on his tax returns as earned income from a business in which he materially participated.
And the comptroller’s report is not kind to Booker’s partner:
The watershed was used for the corrupt enrichment of Booker allies. They were living it up on the taxpayer dime, showering themselves with cash as well as “lobster, king crab, and filet mignon,” according to the comptroller.
Was Booker himself on the take?
We know Linda Watkins-Brashear twice gave herself lucrative “severance packages” as cover for her fraudulent payouts.
If Cory Booker doesn’t want it to look like he did the exact same thing, he should start by immediately disclosing his alleged “separation agreement” with Trenk DiPasquale.
The New Jersey Senate Special Election in two pictures:
With literally nothing else on the ballot, get-out-the-vote literature did not include Booker’s name.
Congratulations to Senator-Elect Generic Democrat on his ten point victory.
Tragic report this morning from the Star-Ledger, that a Newark has suffered its fifth homicide in the past 72 hours. This comes on the heels of a recent stretch of 10 homicides in 10 days, while Mayor Cory Booker was mostly in California.
The most recent killings bring the total in Newark, whose population is less than 280,000 people, to 78 this year — up 10 percent from 71 at the same point last year according to Newark Police Director Samuel DeMaio.
If that 10 percent increase holds through year-end, there will be 104 or 105 murders in Newark this year.
As the chart shows, that would top the total from Sharpe James’s last full year as mayor 2005, and match the totals in Booker’s first partial and full years, 2006 and 2007, before his surge in police hiring turned the tide. Unfortunately, after Booker’s police layoffs the trend has completely reversed, and murders are now set to increase for the fifth year in a row, reaching a level higher than when Booker took office.
As our latest video shows, Booker has been checked out and has been as derelict with the City of Newark in his second term as he was when he let the property he owned at 130 Court St become a squatter-infested fire-trap.
The media inexplicably continues to report Booker’s false claims about murders in Newark. CBS uncritically quotes Booker’s blatant lie: “Murders are down over 15 percent, that’s a fact.” Obviously the real numbers tell a different story, as do the residents of Newark.
Nicole Jacobs dropped knowledge on the Newark Mayor today over at Energy in Depth. Some highlights:
Earlier this year, Booker announced on Twitter that the body of work he leans on when discussing hydraulic fracturing comes not from an engineer, not a geologist, not even a regulator. Instead, his inspiration comes from Josh Fox, director of the infamous Gasland films.
Mr. Booker would have been better served by listening to, say, Ernest Moniz, the United States Secretary of Energy. Moniz, who is a nuclear physicist with a Ph.D. from Stanford, says he has not seen any evidence of hydraulic fracturing contaminating groundwater.
As for the Passaic River, Booker is right: it is disgusting — so much so that the lower 17-mile stretch of the river is considered among the most contaminated waterways in the world. At one point, the river even topped the EPA’s national priority list. In 1956, the American poet William Carlos Williams described the river as “the vilest swillhole in Christendom.”
Bombshell over at the Daily Caller, where Charles Johnson reports that neighbors haven’t seen Cory Booker at his alleged Newark address on Hawthorne Avenue in years and the 2010 Census worker who canvassed the building was told he didn’t live there.
You’ll want to read the whole thing and watch the video highlights:
Quite a contrast with Steve Lonegan’s true American Dream story, which took place entirely in New Jersey. Courtesy of our friends at American Commitment:
Nothing about this guy surprises us any more. But this is rather blatant corruption:
A Newark nonprofit tied to associates of Cory Booker acted as a clearinghouse for lucrative construction contracts in exchange for donations to his charity and mayoral campaign, The Post has learned.
“The Newark Downtown Core Redevelopment Corp. was supposed to be a nonprofit that would help eliminate downtown blight, according to Mayor Cory Booker,” said Ken Boehm, chairman of ethics watchdog group National Legal and Policy Center. “Instead, the group was plagued with cronyism, overpaid political hacks and mismanagement, leading to tens of millions of dollars in wasted public and private funds.”
Dr. Richard Vedder is the director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, teaches economics at Ohio University, and is an Adjunct Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. He had high hopes for Cory Booker, but those hopes were dashed:
When I first heard about Cory Booker a number of years ago, I thought of him as an emerging Democratic leader with new educational ideas, not a prisoner to the teacher union straightjacket that led most Democrats to consistently support expensive, dysfunctional K-12 educational policies. As Newark’s mayor, Booker has supported charter schools, and earned the enmity of teachers unions. So I was intrigued when I heard he was now speaking up on higher education: perhaps, at last, a bright — he’s a Rhodes Scholar — liberal Democrat with new ideas, rather than old jeremiads about needing to drop money out of airplanes onto college campuses in order to “invest” in our youth.
So I was crushed when I read his “Bringing Opportunity Within Reach: Renewing Our Commitment to Quality Affordable Higher Education for All Americans.” It is a mostly a litany of old tired, unsuccessful ideas, and displays a misunderstanding of American higher education today.
Read the whole thing at the Daily Caller.
Yesterday I pointed out that Cory Booker has been a derelict, absentee mayor in his second term, starting with sweeping police layoffs that triggered an ongoing spike in violent crime. I used FBI crime statistics to show the trend, including an enormous spike in robberies and an increase in murders four years in a row, with a 2013 pace to make it five years in a row.
In brief, Mayor Booker’s progress on crime in his first term was more than completely reversed in his second term, when he became a derelict, absentee mayor — even as he was also an absentee landlord of the derelict house at 130 Court St, which squatters set on fire.
Today, using slightly different data, the Newark Star-Ledger reports that robberies this year will reach their highest level since 1999, as this table they included in their story shows. Cell phone thefts, in particular, have reached epidemic levels.
Even the Star-Ledger, which offered a slobbering endorsement of Cory Booker for Senate, lays the blame firmly on Booker’s police layoffs:
The city’s annual robbery total hovered between 1,300 and 1,400 from 2003 to 2009, according to uniform crime reports. But in 2010, that number jumped up to 1,655, and increased by another 23 percent to 2,038 in 2011.
Newark is averaging 195 robberies per month this year, meaning the city is on pace to see more than 2,300 robberies in 2013, marking the city’s worst annual total since 1999.
Since robberies are crimes of opportunity and often deterred by active patrols, experts said the surge could be a consequence of Newark’s massive police layoffs.
“This is precisely the kind of targeted enforcement that often must be sacrificed by police executives when they are faced with manpower shortages that strip them of the ability to move resources into a specific area for a specific crime problem,” said Wayne Fisher, a professor at the Rutgers Police Institute.
Cory Booker slashed the police force from a high of 1,317 officers in his first term to just 1,062 officers as of 2012, a decline of 251 officers or 19%. The results have been tragic.
Booker’s first term was good enough to earn him a second, but his second term has certainly not earned him a third — let alone a promotion to the United States Senate.
You don’t have to take my word for it; here is Donna Jackson of the Newark Non-Violence Coalition, who Cory Booker said “doesn’t have a political agenda. She just cares about Newark.”
Yesterday I explained that Booker’s shameful dereliction of his property at 130 Court street endangered public safety and his simultaneous railing against absentee landlords made him the biggest hypocrite in American politics.
But his dereliction of the City of Newark has been a far greater tragedy. As Newark City Council Member Ras Baraka explained:
When we discussed the MUA and asked him to come he’s never shown up.
When we discussed our taxes and asked him to come he never shows up.
When we called him to discuss the accelerated tax deal he never showed up.
We called him to discuss the watershed and the appointment of a director to the Water Department he never shows up.
Whenever there’s a real issue in the city that needs to be resolved the mayor is nowhere to be found.
The only way you can see the mayor is if you turn on Meet the Press and he’s talking about something on Meet the Press.
The real issue is: We need a mayor!
If we had a fire department that was supported he wouldn’t have to put out fires.
If we had a police department that he didn’t lay off he wouldn’t have to chase criminals down the street.
If we had a sanitation department that had snow pick up, he wouldn’t have to shovel people’s snow in the yard.
If we had an infrastructure able to deal with a storm then he wouldn’t have to feed people in his damn home.
We need a leader of this city.
We don’t need a cheerleader.
We don’t need a boy scout.
And we don’t need Super Man.
Those remarks were delivered the day after Mayor Booker attempted an illegal power grab that sparked a riot on the floor of the Newark Municipal Council chamber. Police sprayed a chemical agent into the gallery. The episode casts grave doubts on his claim to be able to improve the tone in Washington, where such an incident has never occurred.
Like Booker’s derelict house at 130 Court St that crumbled under his absentee ownership and ultimately caught on fire, Newark has crumbled under his second-term absentee mayoralty. Sadly, unlike the fire at 130 Court — where nobody was injured — Booker’s absentee second term as mayor has been deadly.
Just months into his second term Booker enacted massive police layoffs, despite the fact he had significantly raised taxes, as the New York Times described: “Taxes have risen more than 20 percent over the past three years, even after the city laid off about 1,100 workers, including more than 160 police officers. Crime has risen, and unemployment is up.”
This table shows the cold, hard facts direct from the FBI Uniform Crime Reports:
Comparing the last full year before Booker’s police layoffs, 2009, to the most recent data for 2012: Violent crime is up 24 percent, an increase of 622 total crimes. Murder, which had declined significantly in Booker’s first term, shot back up 18.8 percent. That means 15 more people were murdered in Newark in 2012 than in 2009. Robberies are up 49.8% from 2009 to 2012.
Bottom line: there were 398 more violent crimes in Newark in 2012 under Booker than there were in 2005 under Sharpe James. The bad old days are back, and then some. The progress of Booker’s first term was completely reversed by his neglectful second.
(You’ll also note that, contrary to another popular Booker claim, official data do not show a growing population in Newark, which had more residents under Sharpe James.)
Sadly, after this summer’s crime wave, murders are now on pace to be 10 percent higher in 2013 than last year, which will make the fifth year in a row with an increase. Robberies are up another 24 percent so far this year.
Booker’s second term story is a tragic one: slashing the police force has hurt a lot of people, costing many their lives.
His economic record is no better, with unemployment stubbornly above 14 percent five consecutive years despite a massive infusion of tax dollars from suburban taxpayers.
And although the absentee mayor touted a huge infusion of private dollars into the city schools from donors like Mark Zuckerberg, he had to be sued by the ACLU to reveal where the money actually went. He finally released the documents under a court order on Christmas Eve last year, when he thought nobody would notice. The documents revealed none of the money went into classrooms. Booker was about the glitz and the glamor of inking the deal and collecting the checks, but was derelict in the task of actually doing his job.
The Absentee Landlord has been an Absentee Mayor. And both his house at 130 Court St and the City of Newark have consequently been engulfed in flames.
Should his next job really be Absentee Senator?
Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who launched his campaign saying “I will match his negative attacks with positive vision. He puts up his fists, I’m going to extend a hand” today lashed out in a desperate negative attack calling his opponent former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan a hypocrite. The attack is surreal in light of the facts that:
First, Lonegan’s supposed offense: requesting state aid for his suburban town being bled dry by Trenton’s sky-high taxes, much of which are poured into Abbott Districts like Newark — which fails to teach kids to read at a cost of over $23,000 per student per year. Booker wants us to believe that Lonegan getting $250,000 back for taxpayers from Trenton when he was mayor of Bogota was some kind of bailout or somehow excuses the way largely non-taxpaying Newark rips off the rest of the state. Such as the $443 million in direct corporate welfare subsidies Newark received under the Urban Transit Hub program. But a suburban town that pays tons of taxes getting a little bit back is not a bailout. A big city getting an endless stream of largesse from the suburbs is.
But Booker, who recently said “cities are places where all good things come together and manifest the divine,” has never seen the suburbs as anything but an ATM for his big spending programs in the cities. Even though those programs have failed in Newark, where unemployment is over 14 percent. Booker is offended at the suggestion that any taxes from suburban taxpayers might end up back in the suburbs instead of disappearing into Newark’s cesspool of corruption — which happens to send hundreds of thousands of dollars into his personal bank account.
So the charge of hypocrisy against Lonegan is baseless. But it’s remarkable that Cory Booker, the biggest hypocrite in American politics, would even consider leveling that charge at his opponent. He must be delusional.
In 2009, Booker bought 130 Court Street and left it vacant while squatters moved in. As the New York Post reported:
“I think Cory Booker needs to be ashamed of himself,” neighbor Betsy Smith told The Post.
“You buy a piece of property in Newark and you do nothing. You hold your head high with your chest stuck out and say, ‘I’m the mayor of Newark!’ What kind of example are you setting?”
“A piss-poor example, in my opinion.”
“When it snows, his property doesn’t get shoveled,” said Smith, who lives in a three-story two-family row house that is attached to Booker’s former property. “We wrote many many letters to him about squatters in the yard, people using drugs — no response.”
Yet in 2011, with his Court Street house at that point derelict for two long and extremely dangerous years for neighbors like Smith, Cory Booker said this:
“Abandoned and neglected properties, if left unaddressed, can create public safety and health concerns for our residents. Externally, their presence falsely exhibits a lack of care and pride in Newark’s communities creating eyesores in our neighborhoods and imposing unfair burdens on neighborhood residents.” said Mayor Booker. “The Vacant Property Ordinance is just one more tool in our toolbox to hold owners of blighting abandoned properties accountable for their actions – and inactions.”
National Review reported that Booker violated this vacant property law, failing to ever report the property to the city as vacant and failing to post a required notice with his name and contact information. And he has still not been held accountable for his inactions – even though they did indeed lead to a squatter-set fire in 2012. Fortunately nobody was hurt. (He may have also used this house to justify a lie about his charitable giving.)
It doesn’t end there. Booker failed to report 130 Court St or his other house at 19 Longworth St on his mayoral ethics disclosure – even though he bragged in the first debate about his alleged transparency. Note the real estate holdings say “n/a”:
His Longworth St house, which is apparently vacant as he rents an apartment on Hawthorne Ave, is delinquently missing from his Senate candidate disclosure as well.
And yet this guy throws around charges of hypocrisy? Really? As Bill Clinton might say: REAL BRASS.