UNDER THE DOME Stuart Rabner the next state Attorney General

by Charles Webster

So Gov. Jon Corzine reached into his chief counsel’s office and plucked out Stuart Rabner to be the next state Attorney General.  Rabner comes with the reputation and the credentials to back it up, so on the surface it looks like Corzine finally made a good pick.

The question is: will Rabner be his own man and do the job the taxpayers expect him to do?  Or will he turn out to be yet another political hack who turns tail and hides at the first sign of a law being broken?

Rabner is going to have almost 10,000 employees under his wing, and with the huge backlog of investigations plaguing this state, let’s hope he knows how to use them the right way.

Some investigations that need to be answered:

- Shahid Watson aka Emmanuel ben Avraham, his wife, Elinah, and Life Skills Academy:

Shahid Watson, aka Emmanuel ben Avraham, his wife, Elinah, and their Life Skills Academy has pocketed $18 million of state taxpayer’s money over the past 12 years. Why?

How did this guy manage to get a $1.5 million no-bid contract from the state for the past 12 years? The taxpayers of New Jersey sure deserve an answer.

Earlier this month, the no-bid contract was pulled but that doesn’t make the situation disappear. Rabner needs to push the investigation and provide a full and complete accounting with some very detailed answers.

For an annual $1.5 million gift from the state, Life Skills Academy was supposed to be teaching convicts various practical life skills such as goal-setting, problem-solving, financial responsibility, communication skills and resume writing.

But nobody could find evidence of Life Skills doing any of that.

The voluntary program was supposed to help guide a convict’s re-entry into society, but a review showed the help convicts were currently getting self-help services from the Department of Corrections.

We need answers now!

Oh, and while we’re on the Department of Corrections there are some other questions that need to be answered over in that expensive department.

- The 2006 Trenton mayoral election: Tony Mack lost a not-so-close, but close enough fight against incumbent Mayor Doug Palmer.

He says he lost because of some shenanigans that were carried out by Palmer’s campaign.

Palmer says no way.

But there is the little matter of a pending investigation by the state Attorney General’s Office.

Come on guys how long does it take to do this stuff? Where are the answers?

Rabner needs to push his slow-poke investigators into finding answers or finding a new place to take up space.

- Board of Public Utilities: Oh, this is a biggy. We’ve got super double secret bank accounts and millions, upon millions of dollars that need to be accounted for.

Top that off with the boss’ (Jon Corzine’s) campaign manager (Steve DiMicco) having his wife (Jeanne Fox) at the helm of the BPU and you have some serious political intrigue.

If there is going to be any political pressure to bear on the AG’s Office it’s going to come from this investigation.

So tell us, what happened here Stu?

How much money is missing?

Who spent it?

Who knew it was being spent?

And yes, the big question is: Was Fox raiding the hen house?

- Sharpe James: The multi-millionaire former mayor of Newark took a jaunt down to Rio de Janeiro on the taxpayers’ dime just before leaving office.

How many other trips and treasures have the mayor and state senator taken over the years? And we trust this guy (as Sen. Sharpe James) to be on the Senate Budget Committee.

The feds are already asking questions so Rabner is behind the curve. But that doesn’t mean that the state’s highest law enforcement official can’t get a full accounting and some convictions, if warranted.

- Wayne Bryant: Sen. Wayne Bryant has gotten the nickname ‘Oink, Oink’ for doing nothing. This guy really thinks the public treasury is an all-you-can-eat buffet trough for his own gluttonous needs. He is fond of his ability to find state money making its way into his pocket, or the pocket of a relative. This is another one of those guys we trust to represent our needs on the Senate Budget Committee, but the worse part is this guy is the chairman.

Now there are questions about his influence over state-funded Camden Redevelopment Corp. grants and his influence at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

Could this pig finally get stuck? Rabner will need to answer that question, and quickly.

- University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey: Double billings and huge dollar signs.

What happened, who is involved, and why?

- George Norcross tapes: How could it be that the surveillance tapes aimed at the all-powerful South Jersey Democratic Party boss were botched? Why is it that we can hear The Boss brag about his political clout, but we don’t have an indictment or a conviction?

- Mary Previte: Did the former South Jersey Assemblywoman and Camden County double dipper really round up a bunch of kids to fill her juvenile detention center so she could get more state funding by bloating her capacity?

- Martha Bark: The Burlington County Senator allegedly got some no-show contracts on the taxpayer’s dime. How? Why? The AG’s Office has been investigating for a very long time -- it’s time for some answers.

- Jim Davy and Angelo Prisco: As the story goes, Angelo Prisco is a Mafia capo. He got busted and sent to jail. But then he got paroled early -- really, really early. The AG’s Office is supposed to be investigating.

Part of the investigation is centered around an allegation that former McGreevey henchman turned to Department of Human Services Commissioner Jim Davy who made a phone call over to the Parole Board to expedite the matter.

He says no way.

What is the status of the long overdue investigation?

These are just some of the investigations that we have been waiting to hear answers on.

So it’s time for Corzine to insist that these questions be answered. Up to this point Corzine has talked a good game, now let’s see if he’ll actually play ball. He can’t hide from these investigations.

And if Corzine tries to hide from these investigations it will all become his baggage, even if it is some other governor’s dirty laundry.

Rabner has the reputation of being a tough prosecutor of the law. Let’s see him do it on New Jersey’s terms.

Not on New Jersey political terms, but on the terms that the taxpayers demand -- honest prosecutions of bad people.

Oh, and wait, there is one other investigation that still needs answers.

- Zulima Farber, Hamlet Goore and Angel Estrada: Rabner must remember why he is in the driver’s seat over at the AG’s Office in the first place. We need a better accounting of what the end result for Hamlet and Angel.

Are the tickets going to be reinstated?

And is Gov. Corzine going to fire Estrada.


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