A pair of seasoned investigative reporters catalogue New Jersey’s epic political dishonesty.
Gannett Newspapers Trenton bureau chief Ingle and veteran journalist McClure (Christie Whitman for the People, 1996) demonstrate that, for Garden State pols, there is indeed such a thing as a free lunch—with lots of gravy. They point to the appointed culprits who administer the state’s medical school, the thieves who manage various school districts, the municipalities carrying costly double dippers, long-dead pensioners and unborn employees. Law enforcement is selective, the authors note, with bench and bar contaminated by patronage. As far as the mob is concerned, ethnicity, gender and political affiliation matter not at all. Chiefly by recapping their own investigative articles, Ingle and McClure present a cheerless story of oligarchy and kleptocracy covering the length of the Turnpike from Cape May to Fort Lee, the executive mansion in Princeton to the statehouse in Trenton, horse country and the Pineys, Sinatra’s native turf in Hoboken and Joe Piscopo’s down at the shore. They nail the backroom intrigues in impressive scope and detail. Only occasionally do they weaken their case with faulty evidence, as when they base their claim that there are too many government workers on the national average per square mile, rather than on population; New Jersey is the most densely populated state. The authors close with a few suggestions for improvement.
Readers won’t be laughing: The Garden State doesn’t smell too sweet here.