Stories we hear about Longshoreman working on the piers of New York and New Jersey are not fictional. If you wanted a job on the docks you had to pay off the foreman. In turn, the foreman paid off the supervisor and he paid off the dock “Boss” who paid off the strong-arm gangsters from New Jersey. The same held true for truck drivers. No kick-back, no job. Ironically, the most powerful boss in New Jersey was a corrupt elected politician: Mayor Hague of Jersey City.
Hague was the Mayor of Jersey City from 1917 to 1947. In the ‘30s, my father was one of his many chauffeurs. His salary never exceeded $9,000 annually. With no other visible source of income, he managed to leave a $10 million to his extended family. The story of his desk at City Hall is true. He did have a special desk built with a drawer that opened towards the person he was meeting with. At the end of the meeting, he pushed the button and the bribe was placed in the drawer and retracted immediately before anyone could change their mind. He built a political machine labeled simply the “organization.”
I’m sure he did a little bribing of his own while he was Vice-Chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 1924 until 1949. Rumor had it that if you didn’t pay the price for success or didn’t “play ball” with Hague and the Party, there would be personal consequences and political retribution. Sound familiar? Ah, New Jersey politics, what would President Harry S. Truman done without it?
Christi and Hague have at least one thing in common; they stood up to organized labor. In April of 2013, Christi vetoed a bill that favored union workers while rebuilding damages caused by Hurricane Sandy. Christi said union workers would slow the rebuilding process. Ironically, five months later, his staff closed down two toll lanes at the George Washington Bridge entrance in Fort Lee, New Jersey.
The press is leading the conspiracy charge, claiming Christi created havoc intentionally to get even with the Mayor of Fort Lee for not supporting him in his election. I’m wondering if his staff didn’t conspire to get even with him because of his veto of the organized labor bill. Knowing New Jersey politics the way I do, there could be a possibility Christy was framed.
We all make personal promises. Some, we make to ourselves for our own self interest. Some, we make to others with all good intensions in mind. Political oaths should be an extension of personal trust in government, truth within us and a promise of loyalty to the people served. It should forge solutions for our future, preserve the integrity of our Constitution and not be betrayed by any self-serving politician.
David Farside is a Sparks resident and political activist.