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5Reasons
01-02-2005, 10:38 AM
Yet another Newark politician (although this is fairly old news) that has so many conflicts of interest that is makes your head spin. I have at least one source that has been working antiRice senior info for quite some time. I've resisted posting this information because, in general, I am pretty pro-Rice. However, if half the stuff my source is telling me is true, then Rice need not apply for the Mayoral position. We've had enough of this era; it's time for Newark to move in a different direction.

Note: As always, the Ledger is at least 1 year late and only has half the story. I have another $$$ connection between Rice and the NHA, but I'll see how Rice decides to play this one. Knowing our cowardly leaders, they'll do their usual punkish routine. They'll shut up and hope the whole thing blows over.

Miss Tam-Tam
01-02-2005, 02:35 PM
Nice work if you can get it:

State Senator Salary: $49,000.
Deputy Mayor of Newark: 83,000.
Estimated Salary as
NHA Vendor Employee: $99,999.*

*(When pressed, Senator Rice said he as not "getting rich" from the job, describing his salary as less than $100,000 a year).

Estimated Annual Salary
Before Taxes: $231,999.

When I grow up I want to be an elected official in Newark. I will not be getting rich from it, nor will I use my status on the payroll of a substandard housing developer for influence. Promise. :rolleyes:

JoefromPGH
01-02-2005, 03:12 PM
Nice work if you can get it:

State Senator Salary: $49,000.
Deputy Mayor of Newark: 83,000.
Estimated Salary as
NHA Vendor Employee: $99,999.*

*(When pressed, Senator Rice said he as not "getting rich" from the job, describing his salary as less than $100,000 a year).

Estimated Annual Salary
Before Taxes: $231,999.

When I grow up I want to be an elected official in Newark. I will not be getting rich from it, nor will I use my status on the payroll of a substandard housing developer for influence. Promise. :rolleyes:


Does he work 24/7?

5Reasons
01-02-2005, 03:29 PM
Tam,

Trust me. His income is more than that.

rice2006
01-02-2005, 07:04 PM
I cannot access a link to this article from the Star Ledger website, my only way of getting news via internet since I am here in Ecuador.

He is my father and I did not even know about this NHA consultant fee of $99,999.

Can someone send me a link so that I can read it for myself?

If it is true, it is another clear example of the need to change the culture and politics of Newark and NOW. Not with general platitudes, but with a specific plan of action.

It is why I offer at least the beginning of that kind of debate:

www.ron-rice.com

counterattack
01-02-2005, 07:09 PM
You have too give it too the Booker machine they said they would start the press wheels in '05 and they have not wasted any time.

This story will dampen any hopes Rice has of becoming Mayor if not kill them altogether this will definetly stop any more perspective Rice backers on comming out of the closet. Now Booker has the option he really wants to run against the man himself Sharpe James, LET THE BATTLE BEGIN!!!!!

I will have to confer with my boy Rock from SEIU on this see where his head at, I will get back too the forum on any new developments.

By the way........................HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!!

Miss Tam-Tam
01-02-2005, 07:58 PM
Does he work 24/7?

Here's the relevant excerpt from the Ledger article, regarding the time that Senator Rice puts into his position at the construction company. I assume that's the position you are asking about?

Here goes:

<<Sheila Dennis, a Gomes employee, said most weeks Rice is in the office one day a week, or sometimes just calls in to see if he is needed. She said Rice is not involved in the bid process, which she oversees.>>

Miss Tam-Tam
01-02-2005, 08:01 PM
He is my father and I did not even know about this NHA consultant fee of $99,999. Can someone send me a link so that I can read it for myself?

Ronnie, Jr., for some reason the Ledger did not link the article to their on-line website. Please don't quote the $99,999 figure. I was being sarcastic. ;)

I'm a very fast touch typist. I might just post it here verbatim.

Miss Tam-Tam
01-02-2005, 08:09 PM
Newark Politician Straddles Fine Line
By Jeffrey C. Mays, Star-Ledger Staff

Ronald L. Rice is a busy guy.

The Essex County Democrat is a state senator who makes $49,000 a year. He also is a deputy mayor of Newark, earning $83,000 as a top official in the state's largest city.

And for the past six years, Rice has been on the payroll of Tony Gomes Construction, a local company that has won $48 million in contracts from the Newark Housing Authority. Most of that money has come since Rice was appointed deputy mayor in 2002, records show.

Over the past two years, the housing authority -- which is under federal review for its spending and hiring practices -- has named Gomes the developer on three major construction projects worth $34 million, despite the company having little experience in that role. One one project, Gomes was selected despite a below average rating by the housing authority's own consultant.

Rice, 58, who recently announced plans to run for mayor in 2006, said he saw no conflict between his public duties and his job as vice president of government and public affairs for a firm doing business with a city authority.

"Mostly, I identify problems and help him (Gomes) fix problems," said Rice, how is one of three deputy mayors. "The conflict would be if you influence something. I don't sign contracts, I don't get jobs, I don't build."

However, documents obtained by The Star-Ledger show rice has directly lobbied newark Mayor Sharpe James -- who appoints the housing authority's commissioners -- as well as the commissioiners themselves on Gomes' behalf.

The documents detail lobbying that took place in 2001, while Rice was a state senator but had not yet been apointed deputy mayor. In an interview, however, Rice confirmed he has continued writing letters to colleagues on the developer's behalf since being named to the city post.

Miss Tam-Tam
01-02-2005, 08:19 PM
"That's what government affairs is," Rice said. "I've written to other people on his behalf."

State law prohibits local officials from using their public offices for personal gain. Among other things, the Local Government Ethics Law of 1991 prohibits an official from accepting a private job that "might reasonably be expected to prejudice his independence of judgment in the exercise of his official duties."

The law also forbids officials form appearing before "any agency" of their local government on behalf of a private client for "any cause, proceeding, application or other matter."

James, who appointed Rice deputy mayor for supporting his 2002 reelection bid, said he did not consider Rice's private sector job a conflict of interest.

"The deputy mayor has no influence over the housing authority and the awarding of contracts," James said.

As deputy major, Rice's main duties are dealing with residents' problems and other constituency services. And while he has no direct control over the housing authority, his boss does. James appoints the authority's six commissioners subject to approval of the city council.

The mayor said if a commissioiner told him Rice wrote a letter or made a phone call on behalf of a developer, he would be "terminated immediately."

A spokesman for the Local Finance Board, which oversees ethics and conflict of interest questions on the municipal level, declined to offer an opinion on Rice's situation. Spokesman E.J. Miranda said a formal complaint would have to be filed before the agency reviewed the matter.

But Alan Rosenthal, a professor of public policy at the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University, said such straddling of public and private interests raises serious ethical questions.

"Having someone employed full time as deputy mayor doing business with a private company that works for the city is not the way to run government," Rosenthal said.

"If we are concerned about legislators taking a free meal from lobbyists, then Newark ought to be concerned about its deputy mayor doing business with the city in a private capacity."

Miss Tam-Tam
01-02-2005, 08:27 PM
Gomes, who was born in Angola to Portuguese parents but has lived in Newark for 30 years, said he offered Rice a job after meeting him at a 1998 fund-raiser. At the time, Gomes was a masonry contractor, working mostly in Jersey City. He said he thought hiring Rice might help his company grow and offer some protection against being exploited by large clients.

"You can't fight the system, so bring a portion of the system with you," said Gomes, during a recent interview at his Johnson Street office.

Rice, who keeps a small desk at Gomes' office, would not say how much he earns from the construction company. When pressed, he said he was not "getting rich" from the job, describing his salary as less than $100,000 a year.

Sheila Dennis, a Gomes employee, said most weeks Rice is in the office one day a week, or sometimes just calls in to see if he is needed. She said Rice is not involved in the bid process, which she oversees.

A Man of Influence

Perhaps nowhere was Rice's influence more apparent than in the housing authority's redevelopment of the Otto Kretchmer high-rise public housing project.

The last of the city's family high-rises, Otto Kretchmer was imploded in 1996 as part of James' plan to rid the city of the hulking housing complexes that officials felt symbolized crime and despair. A New York City firm -- Edmonds Group LLC -- was named as the developer in April 2000 after submitting the lowest bid.

John Edmonds, the company's chief executive officer, said he asked housing authority officials to recommend a local company to hire as general contractor and they suggested Gomes.

"They said Tony Gomes had not been designated a general contactor, but was a good subcontractor and they wanted for him to have an opportunity to grow," Edmonds said in a recent interview.

Miss Tam-Tam
01-02-2005, 08:36 PM
Soon after joining forces, the two clashed over issues ranging from design to payment schedules, Edmonds said. In trying to resolve the disputes, Edmonds said he felt Gomes had the inside track with the authority because of Rice.

"He (Rice) was a prominent local politician and was vice president of Tony Gomes' company. Every time I went to a meeting at the Newark Housing Authority, Mr. Rice would already be there finishing a meeting," Edmonds said.

When problems between Gomes and Edmonds escalated, Rice wrote a series of letters to the housing authority defending Gomes' work.

In a September 2001 letter, Rice wrote that the problems between Gomes and Edmonds "might be part of a smoke screen to further delay the completion of the construction of the Otto Kretchmer Homes project, and even worst (sic) an attempt to try to disqualify TGCC Inc. (Tony Gomes Construction Co.), as a future bidder of NHA projects."

The letters were sent to James, council President and Housing Authority Commissioner Donald Bradley, authority Executive Director Harold Lucas and authority board Chairman Zinnerford Smith, among others.

In 2002, with disagreements still bogging down the project, Edmonds said he told the housing authority he wanted to dump Gomes as the general contractor.

"I said, 'Tony will go.' They balked and said, 'Why don't you consider going, instead,'" Edmonds claimed.

In August 2002, one month after Rice was appointed deputy mayor, the authority dismissed Edmonds and then contracted with Gomes to finish the project for $6.87 million. The Otto Kretchmer Homes opened in April, three years behind schedule.

Miss Tam-Tam
01-02-2005, 08:48 PM
The Contracts

Gomes has since been named developer on three housing authority projects.

The first contract -- for $8.35 million to build 56 townhouse units scattered at four locations throughout the South Ward -- came in September 2002, just two months after Rice was named deputy mayor. In February 2003, Gomes was named developer on a 75-unit townhouse project near Grafton Avenue in the North Ward for $12.56 million. And in January, he was awarded a $14 million contract to build 88 units of housing in the South and West wards.

The latest contract was given despite reservations from an outside consulting firm about Gomes' ability to do the job. At the time, the company had yet to finish any project it had started.

"I would prefer to see them successfully complete at least one project that has been awarded to them before they receive another one," the consulting firm, Barbera & Barbera CPAs of New Providence, told the housing authority. In its report, Barbera & Barbera, which routinely examines bids for the authority, also expressed reservations about Gomes' ability to finance the project.

Gomes was nevertheless awarded the contract after Claremont Construction of Far Hills, whose bid was rated superior, was removed from the project in November 2003. At the time, Claremont had completed three authority projects and was described by Barbera & Barbera as "liquid, well managed and capitalized very well."

Oliver Lofton, general counsel for the housing authority, said Claremont's bid was rejected because it failed to include certain overhead costs. When Claremont protested, the housing authority froze a separate $14.8 million contract it had awarded the firm until it withdrew the complaint, according to a housing authority memo obtained by The Star-Ledger.

Rice, meanwhile, downplays his role in the company, attributing its success to factors such as Gomes' status as a minority company and its willingness to hire local and minority contractors.

"His prices are always reasonable; he's a local and he knows the business," Rice said.

He also insisted his role in the current administration did not grant the company special access.

"I've had access to people before I became deputy mayor," Rice said. "I've always had access."

Jeffery C. Mays covers Newark City Hall. He can be reached at jmays@starledger.com or (973) 392-4149.

5Reasons
01-03-2005, 09:29 AM
You know, I bet nearly ALL of the council is getting fed by the NHA either directly or indirectly. Here's what the dumb a$$ Fox Ledger didn't tell you. Not only is Rice getting some scratch from Gomes, he also has a Titling company that does business with the NHA. I don't how much extra $$$ he's making off of that, but he is. Hector "Macho" Corchado, who has been bought more times than a Hawthorne Ave Ho, is also in the sauce. (In fact, he has implosion written all over him.). Hector's son has a computer contract with the NHA which bring in a nice piece of $$$. Does anyone seriously doubt that Corchado's son got those contracts through a fair process??? Give me a break. Besides, there are so many allegatations about who's paying for his vacation trips to exotic islands it makes your head spin.

Now all of us knows that Donald "8 checks" Tucker is nearly on his death bed and he's still has more income streems than you can count. In fact, this guy runs a substandard daycare center and our incompetent/punk a$$ council gives him a certificate of appreciation.

Charlie Bell has at least two income sources totaling at least $250,000.

Reverend Mamie has at least two income sources and she tells us to pray to God for comfort, meanwhile she's banging one her staff members even while her husband is virtually near death.

Gayle Chaneyfiled's husband is rumored to be so radioactive that he glows in the dark. It has been alleged that he would be brought up on something. Since that hasn't happened to date, I can't validate that rumor. But that is the rumor.

I mean, Newark could solve half these problems (well, maybe not half) if we had ONE SIMPLE RULE. Let our elected officials and their immediate family release their tax returns to the public on an annual basis. Newarkers would be shocked to see what goes on.

But, then again, thanks to their greed and incompetence, the orgy ends in 2006. Booker, his whole political movement, is built on the arrogance of power of the half ****!n wits we have in office.

counterattack
01-03-2005, 12:33 PM
If Gail husband has not already been brought up on charges and I know he should have, then I would say he is wearing a wire look at him he's not doing any time everyone better be careful talking too him I would suggest you pat him down but he might like that.

LastCubanStanding
01-03-2005, 12:44 PM
This is totally ridiculous and embarassing for the city. Just because it has gone on for a long time doesn't make it right.

jmax
01-03-2005, 02:42 PM
Bottom line is that Rice Sr. had about as much of a shot as David Duke does of winning the mayoral race.

He should step out of the race-- and he should be investigated. However, my prediction is that Newark, as usual, will grunt and look the other way. In other words-- no one will file the complaint necessary for the proper authorities as lined out in the article to investigate.

J. Sharpe James, J.D.
01-03-2005, 04:07 PM
Since when did the FEDS, FBI or Attorney General have to WAIT for a formal complaint to investigate anyone? There were no FORMAL complaints when the Feds and Attorney General went after Mayor James, Not ONCE, But TWICE.

Miss Tam-Tam
01-03-2005, 04:58 PM
If Gail husband has not already been brought up on charges and I know he should have, then I would say he is wearing a wire look at him he's not doing any time everyone better be careful talking too him I would suggest you pat him down but he might like that.

And that's exactly why the former Mayor of Irvington, Sara Bost, got sent to the big house. When she patted her business administrator, David Fuller, down for a wire the Feds picked it up on their listening devices and eventually charged her with obstruction of justice. Although Bost wasn't expected to serve any time, the Federal Judge in her case was so disgusted with her behavior that he made her do a year at Club Fed. The lesson to be learned is this: Just because you didn't feel it doesn't mean he ain't wearing it. :D

Miss Tam-Tam
01-03-2005, 05:00 PM
Bottom line is that Rice Sr. had about as much of a shot as David Duke does of winning the mayoral race.

He should step out of the race-- and he should be investigated. However, my prediction is that Newark, as usual, will grunt and look the other way. In other words-- no one will file the complaint necessary for the proper authorities as lined out in the article to investigate.

Does the complainant have to be a Newark resident? Look for the Repubs to take a shot.

rice2006
01-03-2005, 08:26 PM
I knew I could depend on you. Man, even I was not aware of this. But you know, I will have an opinion to write when I get back from Ecuador, once I have digested this and talked with others.

But it does go back to what I have been saying now for over 4 years: the lack of a real ethics in government policy for the city of Newark allows this type of behavior to go on and it is all legal.

In 2006, do not just change bodies in our government, but elect people committed to real fundamental changes in the very institutions of power and let them be specific about how they are going to do so and THEN do the hard part once they are elected, HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE!!!!

ProSouth
01-04-2005, 02:34 AM
Unfortunately, the present day group of politicians have:
1. Taken on the exact same behaviors as their Jewish and Italian predecessors by making money at our expense while the citizens suffer. What makes what is taking place today much worst is that at least back then they didn't have to fight the evils that we face and accept today. And Newark got better services then (like my dad always says, Addonizio was a crook, but the streets were clean) and
2. Played not only the citizens of Newark as fools but played African Americans as stupid and ignorant by thinking that they can get this type of thing off and we are not going to do anything about it. If they thought we would not tolerate it they would not do it. We must raise out intellect and our expectations. Until we do that nothing will change. And that goes for the Booker machine as well. We have had too many politicians go to jail for criminal crap. Some of it is because the Feds will scrutinize a Black mole hill way before they will even recognize the smoke of a white mountain the size of Mt. Everest. But the main reason is politicians lack of respect for the people of Newark.

Rice, Sr. is a smart man. Now for me this answers the question of why he would take a job with the man who openly disrespected him and his family. MONEY and ACCESS. Why else would this construction company hire him if it wasn't to use his position as Deputy Mayor/State Senator to get better, easier contracts ?

I'm interested to see what Sharpe does about this.

5Reasons
01-04-2005, 02:40 PM
Pro,

That's exactly the point. They are doing all of these schemes because they have NO RESPECT for the people of Newark. I sure hope they all have back up plans because I'm already salivating at delivering a nice good ole fashioned Bradley Court beatdown to this crew.

They have enough private interests and I can assure you that they will soon be spending a lot more time in the private sector.

The new crew that takes over has to be serious with ethics reform and that should include TERM LIMITS, releasing of tax information of themselves and their immediate family and divestment from any company that does city business.

5Reasons
01-06-2005, 09:50 AM
I see Senator Rice is back on the front page. It looks like the Fox Ledger smells blood in the water. Of course, the article had MORE INNUENDO than anything. In fact, in the last paragraph they state that the prosecutor stated he didn't feel intimidated and that he thought there was NO WRONG DOING.

The Fox Ledger strikes again. Even when they have Rice over a barrel, they overplay their hand and make him look like a victim. Geez, the Fox Ledger is getting out of control.

jazzyken
01-06-2005, 09:56 AM
Prosecutor: Rice put in good word for builder
Hudson official says phone call was odd
Thursday, January 06, 2005
BY JEFFERY C. MAYS
Star-Ledger Staff
Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio wasn't sure why he was getting a call from state Sen. Ronald L. Rice (D-Essex) about three weeks before Christmas.

DeFazio, a veteran prosecutor, said he thought Rice wanted to talk about a bill before the Legislature involving the gradual state takeover of county prosecutor's offices -- a proposal DeFazio opposes.

Instead, DeFazio said Rice called to put in a good word for Tony Gomes, the owner of a Newark construction company whom Rice has worked for as the vice president of government and public affairs since 1998. Gomes has a case pending in family court, and DeFazio said Rice, who is also a deputy mayor in Newark, called to express his support.

"He's a good guy," DeFazio remembers Rice, who identified himself as a state senator, saying in the brief call. "He was vouching for Mr. Gomes."

Rice, in a telephone interview, initially said he didn't "know anything about that" but then acknowledged making the call. He said he was simply trying to set up a meeting between the prosecutor and Sheila Dennis, an employee in Gomes' office, and that he was unaware of any pending court case.

"I asked him if his office would meet with (Dennis)," said Rice, adding he does not remember calling Gomes "a nice guy."

Rice's business dealing with Gomes, whose company has won $48 million in construction contracts from the Newark Housing Authority, is under review by Mayor Sharpe James to see a conflict of interest exists. Most of that money has come since Rice, 59, was appointed deputy mayor in 2002, records show.

Over the past two years, the housing authority -- which is under federal review for its spending and hiring practices -- has named Gomes the developer on three major construction projects worth $34 million, despite the company having little experience in that role. On one project, Gomes was selected despite a below average rating by the housing authority's own consultant.

Documents obtained by The Star-Ledger show Rice wrote letters to James, as well as several housing authority officials, on Gomes' behalf in 2001. At the time, Rice was not yet a deputy mayor, but he was a state senator.

In Hudson County, DeFazio stressed that Rice did not ask him to take any action on Gomes' pending case, nor did he feel intimidated. However, at no time during the conversation did Rice tell DeFazio that he was on Gomes' payroll, Rice and DeFazio said.

Rice put Gomes' employee Dennis on the phone with DeFazio, and she began to question the motives of the plaintiff in the case. At that point, DeFazio said he told Dennis that one of his assistant prosecutors would call her back. DeFazio said the assistant prosecutor advised Dennis to tell Gomes to "come to court represented by counsel."

DeFazio said he cannot discuss the details of Gomes' case because it is in family court. The court usually handles cases involving domestic violence and child support.

Gomes was out of the country yesterday and unavailable for comment, Dennis said.

DeFazio said he thought Rice's call was strange, adding he would not have taken it if he knew the senator wanted to talk about a particular defendant.

"I would say it's highly unusual," DeFazio said.

Rice said he did not feel the need to disclose that he worked for Gomes because "I wasn't calling for any official business or capacity. I didn't know he (Gomes) had a case then, and I don't know if he has one now."

Dennis said she asked Rice for help in contacting someone in the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office.

"I asked him to find someone I can speak with," Dennis said. "He has access to all the numbers and people. Anytime I need a number I call his office. It's quicker than calling directories."

A spokesman for the state Division of Criminal Justice, which has oversight of all county prosecutor's offices, said it is up to the local prosecutor to decide if Rice's call was an attempt at influence. The division would investigate only if the county prosecutor made a request, he said, adding that Rice's call was not unusual.

"Prosecutors are contacted by legislators, business people and members of the community every day regarding defendants' cases or to put in a good word," said spokesman John Hagerty. "The mere call to a prosecutor's office for information about a defendant is not unusual."

DeFazio, who has spent 25 years as an assistant prosecutor and superior and municipal court judge, said he can't remember a similar call, but stopped short of saying Rice's actions rose to the level of wrongdoing.

"I think Rice wanted to show he had access," DeFazio said. "I don't think Rice was looking to do anything untoward."



Jeffery C. Mays covers Newark City Hall. He can be reached at jmays@starledger.com or (973) 392-4149.

LastCubanStanding
01-06-2005, 09:59 AM
Do you think he knows he did something wrong? Do today's politicians get that feeling in their gut that normal people get when they are doing something shady, or is this part of their engrained behavior?

I just don't understand losing a career and a reputation over a couple of bucks.

5Reasons
01-06-2005, 10:06 AM
I have a more critical question. What in this story is NEWS WORTHY? What makes this story "front page material"? Can we please deconstruct this stupid article by the Fox Ledger? This article is about a phone call to set up a meeting in which no one can tell me whether or not it happened in which the prosecutor that received the call stated he felt no threat or was giving any order. In the end, this stupid article can't even confirm if the meeting ever happened. The other person involved hasn't even been contacted.

Here's the deal: if this person Dennis received preferential judicial treatment, the Fox Ledger would have blasted that in the article. The fact that it is not even mentioned says something about what occurred -- or in this case, didn't occur.

The Fox Ledger has completely lost its way. 2/3rds of the article is a rehash of Sunday and other NHA work they've done. This is unbelievable biased journalism.

And please remember, I think Rice Senior should either resign or give up his position in Gomes. I am FOR ethic reform. The Fox Ledger can be for ethic reform by showing a few journalistic ethics.

The ONLY thing that would justify this article is if they have something ELSE on Rice and they are just setting him up (with this jab article) for the hook.

LastCubanStanding
01-06-2005, 10:14 AM
If they had this information, it should have been included in the original article. I agree that it is a rehash of the original story.

BTW, I bet phone calls like the one mentioned happen daily, despite what DeFazio says. Illegal, no....unethical, yes.

I concur...resignation is in order.

jazzyken
01-06-2005, 10:27 AM
Were are giving the SL too much power. they are a newspaper. We as competent citizens of this city should differentiate between fact and fiction. The SL jounalists are chasers. They "hear" a story and they run with it. They put on blast who they dislike that particular day.

Now that I have said this... he should resign. Honestly, he should not have been hired in the first place. There is enough of accountability to go around. Who is in charge of the Ethic Committee in the city of Newark??? His name should be in the paper as well. Someone gave him the okay to do this for years. I am sure this is not his first time "making a call". Track back records. Pull tax reports. How much money has he made with this unethical behavior? Hold him accountable. But in reality if he felt like it was a problem, he would not have done it. The city has made back door deals for decades. This is nothing new. He is just the lamb!

counterattack
01-06-2005, 02:06 PM
Clearly this is King Booker and his friendly reporters trying to take down the competition if this is all they got they have a tough road ahead of them total waste of journalistic writings.

5Reasons
01-06-2005, 02:11 PM
Counter,

I think I have an idea of who's pumping this story and trust me - it ain't Booker. In fact, it is way off the beaten path and someone not really involved in city politics. But there are other elements to this story I haven't heard, so the SL must be getting another "info feeder" that I haven't tapped.

Miss Tam-Tam
01-06-2005, 11:25 PM
I see Senator Rice is back on the front page. It looks like the Fox Ledger smells blood in the water. Of course, the article had MORE INNUENDO than anything. In fact, in the last paragraph they state that the prosecutor stated he didn't feel intimidated and that he thought there was NO WRONG DOING. The Fox Ledger strikes again. Even when they have Rice over a barrel, they overplay their hand and make him look like a victim. Geez, the Fox Ledger is getting out of control.

Today the Ledger printed the following editorial in which it referred to a letter sent to them by Mayor Sharpe James. Yet nowhere in the newspaper did I find the text of the letter that was written. Did I miss it? Did anyone else see it? It is my assumption that the Mayor had intended for the newspaper to share his letter with its readers. It did not, even though it made reference to it. Apparently the Ledger didn't care for the Mayor's criticism. The mark of fair and balanced reporting is to put *everything* out there -- even the slams. A publication with the confidence of its journalistic ability welcomes criticism. The most respected Pulitizer prize-winning newspapers and magazines have always done it. The Ledger reveals much about itself by its actions. This is just one example of why the Ledger cannot rise above mediocrity. Oh well, I guess fish heads have to be wrapped in something:

<<Senator, city official and lobbyist all in one
Thursday, January 06, 2005, Star-Ledger

One would think that being a state senator and a deputy mayor in Newark would keep Ronald Rice busy. Apparently not.

Rice also works for Tony Gomes Construction Co., a private firm that has snagged $48 million in Newark Housing Authority contracts, mostly since 2002, when the state senator became deputy mayor.

Rice, who gets $49,000 as state senator and $83,000 as one of four deputy mayors, was hired as vice president of government affairs for Gomes Construction for "less than $100,000," he says.

Rice says the three jobs do not pose an ethical problem. Mayor Sharpe James has asked the Newark Housing Authority and the state Department of Community Affairs, which watches over the ethical conduct of local officials, for their opinions.

The question and its answer seem pretty easy to us. Should a top city official be allowed to lobby for a private company doing business with a city agency? No.

What is it about Newark and New Jersey politics that makes that such a tough question to answer?

And why ask the NHA? The ethically challenged authority is under federal review for its own questionable hiring and spending practices.

Moreover, Gomes Construction started out as a subcontractor on a major NHA project. Gomes got into a dispute with the general contractor, who wanted the company terminated. It was 2001, Rice was working for Gomes and was a state senator but not yet a deputy mayor. Rice earned his private pay by sending the NHA, James and others a letter upholding Gomes Construction's side in the dispute.

By the time the dust settled, Rice was deputy major and the general contractor was suddenly replaced by Gomes. The firm went on to earn millions more in NHA work -- even though the NHA's own consultant expressed concern about the company's ability. The NHA ought to explain its own actions before it opines on whether Rice's behavior is ethical.

Rice says he cannot approve NHA contracts and so has no influence over what the agency does. Anyone who believes that does not understand how influence is peddled in New Jersey. Rice sits in the Senate and at the right hand of a powerful mayor. He is not the only multi- office-holding, two-master-serving politician in the state. He's part of an unfortunate New Jersey tradition that must be brought to an end.

James, in a letter to The Star-Ledger, quarreled with only one part of the news report about Rice's affairs: that Rice was named deputy mayor because he supported James' re-election campaign. That is uninformed speculation, the mayor wrote, saying Rice was appointed because of his long history of public service.

"I suggest you leave your opinions and editorializing for the Editor's page ... Your editorial page has never been silent against this administration."

No, we haven't, and for good reason.>>

NHASoldier
01-07-2005, 01:42 AM
Just for clarification: Gomes was the general contractor and Edmonds Developers were the developers. At the time, Edmonds was the first minority (and maybe the last) development firm ever hired by the NHA. Of couse, after its experience with the NHA, the company is no longer in business. Now, that is truly a shame. As to Mr. Rice, Sr., contacting the Hudson County Prosecutor, that was just plain dumb. The question is, why didn't Gomes hire a lawyer and have the lawyer contact the Prosecutor? I can only surmise that the good senator was flexing his muscles in a county not of his own. He's lucky DeFazio did not try to go after him.

5Reasons
01-07-2005, 09:37 AM
Moran piece in the Ledger isn't bad and the cartoon on page 20 is hilarious. I don't think Rice can recover from this. I'm sure the op-eds from citizens in the next few days will start chiming in.

Either way, I've always doubted that Rice could raise the money. With this scandal, I'd be interested to view his ELEC reports for the upcoming quarters to see if he can raise any money. Someone inside his camp needs to do some real soul searching. Simply put, if he can't raise at least a million by the summer, then there's no point in going forward into the '06 season. He would be better served to hunker down and see if he can fight off those itching for his Senate seat in '07. And you can bet that with this scandal that he'll draw serious opposition in the primary.

Now that Rice has done the right thing and resigned, does anyone have any faith that Johnny Jones will do the same?

jazzyken
01-07-2005, 10:13 AM
Newark politician quitting job with construction firm
Friday, January 07, 2005
BY JEFFERY C. MAYS
Star-Ledger Staff
State Sen. Ronald L. Rice said yesterday he is resigning from his position with a Newark construction company that has won millions of dollars in contracts from the city's housing authority.

Rice, who is also a Newark deputy mayor, maintained his public and private jobs did not represent a conflict of interest, but he said his employment with Tony Gomes Construction created the "perception" of a conflict.

"Sometimes perception can be just as detrimental as the real thing," said Rice, 59, who has worked for Gomes as vice president of government and public affairs since 1998.

Rice's decision follows a story in the Sunday Star-Ledger detailing how Gomes' company received $48 million in contracts from the housing authority, with the bulk of that money coming since Rice was named a deputy mayor in 2002. Gomes won the contracts despite little experience as a developer.

The Star-Ledger also reported that Rice called Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio last month about a case Gomes has pending in family court. DeFazio said Rice identified himself as a state senator and insisted that Gomes "was a good guy."

In a resignation letter dated Jan. 5, Rice thanked Gomes for hiring him and said he is quitting effective today with "great regrets."

"I know that it is in the best interest of all for me to keep my commitment to make certain that the city of Newark ... continues the progress that we witness today," Rice wrote in the letter, a copy of which was sent to Mayor Sharpe James.

The mayor could not be reached for comment yesterday, but Rice said James did not force him to resign.

"I can't be pressured into doing anything by anybody," said Rice, who added that he still plans to run for mayor in 2006.

Gomes was out of the country yesterday and unavailable for comment.

The Local Government Ethics Law of 1991 forbids a public official from accepting private jobs that might "prejudice his independence of judgment in the exercise of his official duties." The law also prohibits officials from appearing before "any agency" of their local government about any matter on behalf of a private client.

James on Tuesday said he planned to ask the state Department of Community Affairs, which oversees municipal conflicts of interest, and the housing authority to help him determine if Rice's private sector job represented a conflict of interest. Earlier, James said he did not believe the position represented a conflict because Rice did not appoint housing authority commissioners.

However, in 2001, before being named deputy mayor, Rice wrote letters to James and housing authority officials on Gomes' behalf. The authority is under federal review for its spending and hiring practices.

Rice, who listed his position with Gomes on state and city financial disclosure forms but is not required to disclose his salary, said Gomes paid him less than $100,000. Rice's salary as a state senator is $49,000. He earns $83,000 as a deputy mayor.

Rice said the issue of conflict of interest is larger than himself and believes the Legislature should provide more guidance

"The issue is those scenarios where there's no conflict but there may be a perception," said Rice. "Right now the law relies on individuals like me to make the proper decision after weighing the facts."



Jeffery C. Mays covers Newark City Hall. He can be reached at jmays@starledger.com or (973) 392-4149.

counterattack
01-07-2005, 02:28 PM
If you read this article you can clearly see that the wind is out the sail we plan too do a lot of things that we don't do, I still plan too run for Mayor .........means I am not running .

ProSouth
01-09-2005, 10:32 AM
I agree with counter that Rice is finished. He is done as a mayoral candidate in '06. If True, what's funny about the call he made to the Hudson County Prosecutor is that they dissed him. Let's be real, Hudson County politics and the judicial system is one of the most corrupt in Jersey. They can teach Newark politicians truck loads about influence peddling and back door deals. The prosecutor took his call and then dissed him and sent it to an AP. I bet they (Hudson County) recorded the phone conversation.

It's just funny how these politicians have NO regard for their respectability or the respectability of the city. I bet you the average Newark citizen could not contact the Senator and ask him to make a phone call on their family or any other court matter. Yet he works for the citizen of the City of Newark.

BTW: Doesn't he or Didn't Rice, Sr. work for PSE&G???

5Reasons
01-09-2005, 03:53 PM
I think Ron's situation says something about a system that 'currupts' everyone. It is a system that has lacked ethics and nonaccountability for so long that all of the lines become blurred. And frankly, I somewhat agree that many elected officials don't have the proper respect for Newark citizens. But again, should they? What have CITIZENS of NEWARK done over the last 20 years to DEMAND that their elected officials respect them? As Craig Baskerville use to tell me during my days as an employee of the BORG (UMDNJ), "people deserve the government they get."

Newark's failure to produce a successful democracy is part of a much larger theoretical argument that has gone on for more than 2,000 years. Simply put, can the poor and the low educated properly govern themselves? Now for over 2,000 years of government theoriticians would tell you NO. Aristotle would argue that democracy gives you "men of low birth" ruling. John Adams stated that "all democracies eventually destroy themselves." That's John Adams the SECOND PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

And we need to be clear about how the practice of democracy arose. The Greeks INVENTED democracy after they became rich because of their slave labor. The slave labor freed them from the daily/taudry tasks of existence. It gave them surplus time, and obviously, surplus wealth. (The poor have neither the surplus time nor wealth to properly participate in a democratic system). And their conception of democracy was only for men. So what we are calling democracy was actually only a democracy for the oligarchy. Even the founders of this country who craved freedom were quick to restrict the participants because of the potential and the fear that democracy couldn't work.

So, now we are back to trying to create a model even against over 2,000 years of rhetoric and theory in which the greatest minds have looked at the concept of democracy and nearly all concluded that it cannot work with the poor and uneducated.

I just don't know if Newark, in its current conditions, can truly have a democracy. We can maintain the democratic mechanisms (the right to vote. the right to protest, etc.) but that doesn't make it a true democracy. We don't have healthy civic discussions. And we surely don't have healthy mechanisms to turn our civic discussions into reasonable policy.

Note: Pro, I do disagree with one thing; I've always found Rice Senior accessible. I've never asked him to make a phone call, but I never got the impression that I would have to "do a favor" just to get him to take a look at my issue. He's a good guy that got caught up in a bad system and he's only human. In the words of the old machine boss George Washington Plunkett, "I seen my opportunities and I took 'em".

In 2006, we will change the tone of Newark politics. This era must be put to bed one way or the other.

myhomenewark
01-10-2005, 04:22 PM
I think you're on to something. But it doesn't have to be that way, not in this country. To get poor people involved it's going to require a great deal of education and, more important, a charismatic figure who can distill the issues for all poor people into simple language and a few tangible issues. Although the working poor can spend a lot of time trying to make ends meet, they still don't have to gather wood, churn butter, spin fabric to sew into clothes or the many other things that modernism has removed from their daily existence.

Here's one issue the poor can be rallied upon with the right person leading the charge: free, compulsory two years of college for every child in this country. The poor should be exposed to a greater ability to grasp the complexities involved in the decisions made that affect their lives. The main problems of the poor are hopelessness and ignorance (IMHO).

While I'm at it I'll go on to Issue two: teach capitalism beginning at grade one so that even those who drop out in middle school at least have incipient exposure to what a company "share" is, what an IPO is or what good credit allows.

Or not start doing these things... and remain with the class politics as usual--which driven to their "macro" extent will most assuredly destroy Enlightenment, intelligence, And The World (cf, Radical Islam; urban uprisings; West African diamond wars; etc., etc.). I know I'm on a tangent; I just see common threads between societies that are about cultivating people versus societies which choose to exploit people's inferiority complexes and the powderkegs created because of that. What worked in the 19th and 20th century and before that will destory the world in the century to come.

LastCubanStanding
01-10-2005, 05:38 PM
I met Mr. Rice back in high school. I thought he was different than the other Newark politicians. I guess I was wrong. How naive of me, I thought he was clean and actually cared about Newark. I remember he got in trouble for reporting stuff on his police radio as he drove around, and actually got involved in locking people up. That impressed me.

Maximus
01-10-2005, 05:57 PM
Look at Gayle. Remember all that press she got for not accepting city council perks right after being elected? Well guess what? She's now one of the fattest fat cats on the council! How sad.

Miss Tam-Tam
01-11-2005, 12:09 AM
Look at Gayle. Remember all that press she got for not accepting city council perks right after being elected? Well guess what? She's now one of the fattest fat cats on the council! How sad.

The old advice works best for overfed city officials: when you start packing on the pounds from the free lunches wear black!

http://www.ci.newark.nj.us/Site_Images/Municipal_c.jpg

5Reasons
01-11-2005, 10:17 AM
I've always said that ONE PERK we should give all of the council members is free membership to a gym. I think that when somone is elected, the People of Newark deserve to know their weight. They should then have to weigh in on an annual basis.