Sunday, March 9, 2008

Profiting from Eminent Domain

The Record ran a must read story today for anyone interested in how pay-to-play works, or at least the questions raised by it continuing. At issue is the relationship between a large donor to the BCDO and his work for the Freeholders as a no-bid real estate agent/consultant. From the article:

Robert Pimienta, a registered Republican from Franklin Lakes, gets a cut every time the Democratic-controlled county government signs a lease or buys property.


A week after county freeholders added that provision to his contract, Pimienta received $91,000 in connection with a Teterboro site the county condemned via eminent domain for a new juvenile detention center.


Pimienta, 48, said in an interview last week that there is no connection between his county contract and the $90,000 he and his PAC have bestowed on Democratic candidates and groups in Bergen County since 1999.

If that's dried out, we would have the best fertilized county parks in the nation.

There's no doubt Mr. Pimienta is a big time player and donor. In addition to the BCDO, he's aparantly given $61,400 to federal candidates. Previous to 2000, when Republicans ruled Bergen County, it was mostly Republicans like Bob Dole and Steve Lonegan. After 2000, it's the Democrats ranging from Hillary Clinton to Paul Aronsohn.

It's bad enough that we have no-bid contracts on non-emergency tasks, depriving county taxpayers the confidence they are getting the most value for their dollar. Now, we have an individual receiving a near reimbursement in fees for eminent domain seizure as political contributions made to the BCDO.

With the BCDO unwilling to reform itself, my hope is that the BCRO will resolve it's recent spat of ineptitude and bring the hammer down on pay-to-play. This sort of activity, with the budget crisis we face, is absolutely unacceptable.

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