Friday, March 10, 2017

Will Things Ever, EVER Really Change There?

Here's a thought-provoking commentary from our friend Matt Rooney at the Save Jersey Blog:
Speaking ill of the dead is undeniably in bad taste, but lying about the legacy of late public figures (particularly how they’re betrayed to the public at large by self-interested apologists) isn’t exactly a good practice either. I firmly believe that. Hate me if you want. Call me names. Whatever. I’ll sleep tonight either way.
Consider the Trenton establishment’s reaction to the recent passing of former NJDOT Commissioner Jamie Fox.
There was a well-attended memorial service this week, preceded by weeks of fawning eulogies from all sectors of N.J. political power, but what Opinion Page Editor Tom Moran posted shortly after Fox’s death serves as the most instructive point of deliberation.
Frankly I had no idea what the hell I was reading, though I do also think it’s a must read for taxpayers. It’s the most revealing piece of New Jersey political commentary I’ve read in a long time or possibly ever. 
Btw – This isn’t a strictly conservative vs. liberal thing. I’m not going to belabor the gas tax hike angle of Fox’s final act in N.J. politics or more generally my profound problems with the long-serving bureaucrat’s governing philosophy in this post. Clearly some people loved this man, and Moran (editor of the Star-Ledger‘s editorial page) was one such person.
Jamie Fox
“You can’t get to that spot without being a person who keeps his word. And Fox did that. If he made a deal, he kept,” Moran wrote of Fox in an objectively strange rant; Fox, for his part, had apparently spent his final days on dialysis including at the time of his last interaction with Moran. “But it was more than that. Fox was smart, and funny, and quick to poke fun at himself, as much as he delighted in piercing the vanities of the other players.”
Fair enough. I can think of a handful of people in New Jersey politics whom I’ve encountered over the years as a blogger at Save Jersey who belong in that category; I don’t approve of their career choices, and would never cast a vote in their favor or donate a dime to their cause, but still derive some level of fascination in our interactions as a student of politics. Humans are complex creatures, often in a way that bedevils even the most black-and-white observers of this grand drama called politics.
I still never, ever forget WHAT they are. See the difference?
Moran’s attempt at a stream-of-consciousness eulogy was weird – and more than a little tone deaf, if I may be so bold – for shrugging off the elephant in the room: Fox died facing criminal charges for allegedly defrauding the American taxpayer. 
“The most bitter moment, though, came when federal prosecutors filed a criminal complaint against him last year in connection with the infamous ‘chairman’s flight’ that United Airlines arranged for David Samson, then chairman at the Port Authority,” Moran explains. “Jamie was a lobbyist for United when the airline set up a special flight to South Carolina, just for Samson, and he was at the dinner when it was allegedly arranged.”
Sorry, Tom. It went a LOT further than that. We have the evidence. Fox and Samson’s exchanged grossly-affectionate messages (in which Fox refers to the extorted flight as “Samson Air”) weren’t very ambiguous.
Samson was sentenced in March. Fox is clearly now communing with a higher court.
Ordinarily, an attempt on Moran’s part to downplay the lowest point of Jamie Fox’s career could easily be interpreted as the result of simple politeness, or the byproduct friend’s natural affection, but for the fact that Moran’s tone implies he either (1) thinks Fox was innocent or (2) didn’t think what he was accused of doing was that big of a deal.
“He was determined to fight that charge, and while I can’t pass judgment, it is grating to have sat through the Bridgegate trial and seen far more malevolent characters walk free,” recounted Moran, recollecting one of their final encounters.
So government officials extorting special favors is less serious to the editorial board chieftain of New Jersey’s largest daily newspaper than… lane closures in which no one was hurt.
Like I said… tone deaf.
Let’s talk about what’s “grating” to the 99.9999% of us who aren’t Trenton or media elites: Moran made a national name for himself by hating the game’s greatest player (Chris Christie) but still apparently loves the game (crooked Trenton politics) at a time when New Jersey’s pension system is exploding and foreclosure rates are hitting a national high. Or at least it doesn’t bother him? It should. The disconnect between his compassion for Fox and his tacit approval of Fox’s public corruption which hurt a LOT of people is jarring.
Moran and those like him don’t use their platforms to advocate for the Average Joe and Jane.
It’s all about pushing agendas and covering for other members of the club like the late former Commissioner.
Don’t navigate away from this post until you’ve wrapped your mind around the reasons WHY Fox gets a pass. The Democrat Fox’s politics matched Moran’s own far-left worldview so Fox will be fondly remembered on the inside despite helping orchestrate (my personal opinion after reading through the charges, which I’d encourage you to do) one of the most egregious abuses of government power in state history.
They CREATED A FLIGHT FOR ONE MAN, folks! Objectively ballsier than temporarily closing a couple of lanes to piss off a mayor.
Fox died guilty beyond any engaged observer’s reasonable doubt (again, that’s my informed opinion) but also too young at age 62, and in a manner that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I sincerely hope he rests in peace.
As for the political establishment he leaves behind? And its apologists? Particularly in light of this week’s news our of Paterson?
The long-abused taxpayer of New Jersey won’t find any peace under these tone-deaf morons declare, once and for all, whose side they’re on and submit themselves to the taxpayers for judgment.

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