Despite laws to curb corruption, Sen. Ron Rice (D-28) told NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider that New Jersey is still one of the most corrupt states in the nation. He said he believes there are more companies like Birdsall Services Group, which pleaded guilty to moving thousands of dollars in political contributions through employees to elected officials. He also discussed two pieces of legislation that he is supporting.
Rice said while officials have passed laws to ensure transparency and accountability, “we don’t really enforce the laws and we don’t pay enough attention to it. So it’s sad, but it’s reality and I just don’t think that the Birdsall situation is the only situation in New Jersey. I don’t think it’s gonna stop at this particular court case.”
While Rice said anyone who runs for public office must raise money to get a message out and that individuals have the right to contribute to candidates they want, he said that there should be accountability and reporting. “Some laws just aren’t being enforced and people aren’t paying attention to where the big contributors come from,” he said.
This morning Rice testified on behalf of two pieces of legislation. The first focuses on making sure people get permission from property owners before putting up advertisements.
“Business people think that they can just take some makeshift flyer or pollster and put it up on the telephone poles and the trees, abandoned buildings, which, number one, litters the area and is advertising their services and their wares, such as we take care of you in foreclosure, we can give you a roof and things of that magnitude. Unfortunately consumers without a lot of income looking for a deal call these numbers and oftentimes they’re taken advantage of by these individuals or these organizations. Many of them are probably not even registered with the state,” Rice explained. “No revenue’s being paid for the advertisement. The reality is there’s an environmental problem and it’s something we need to take down and tell folks if in fact they’re gonna do that, they have to have the permission of the owners of those particular properties.”
The second piece of legislation is meant to help communities who have lost ratables from businesses exiting. Rice cited the example of Hoffmann-La Roche leaving New Jersey for New York. He said Nutley lost $9 million in property tax revenues from Hoffmann-La Roche while Clifton lost $6 million.
“This legislation is to try to bridge the gap if you will until we can get those ratables back by someone taking overt the campus, or taking over the particular business entity in any community to bring those revenues back so that the property owners don’t have to increase property taxes to provide the kinds of services or services get cut.”