October 22, 2006

Stender is the best choice to represent corrupt New Jersey

Former New Jersey Govs. Brendan Byrne and Tom Kean had the following to say today in their weekly Star-Ledger column in answer to the problem of double-dippers in the state pension system. Kean –“We’ve had a very high tolerance for corruption in this state for too long. … The press has not highlighted these cases, as they ought, to get them cleaned up.” Byrne – “The timing is right for reform. If we can’t get it now, we’re never going to get it.”

In the same edition of the Star-Ledger, Ledger editorial staff endorsed the Congressional candidacy of Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D-Union 22) as the best choice to send to represent the 7th District in Washington.

Stender began her political career in 1988 as a Fanwood Borough Councilwoman, in 1994 she was elected to the Union County Board of Freeholders and in 2001 she became Assemblywoman of Legislative District 22.

Stender, who I've heard somewhere is a Spender, has been a double dipper since the day she left her Union County freeholder seat in 2001 to be an Assemblywoman. She was promptly placed on the county payroll that January with the title “Volunteer Coordinator”, with all the implications that title suggests, she was paid $66,083 to supervise people who were volunteering selflessly for free.

Around the time Assemblywoman Stender announced her run for Congress, her county title changed to Runnells Hospital Foundation Director. The Foundation was established as a non-profit 501(c) 3 with Stender’s salary being paid in part by grant money. This organization has not met the threshold of raising over $10,000 which would require them to file an IRS 990 form. This doesn’t stop the taxpayers from having to pay Stender's $72,858 county salary for her fundraising efforts along with her staff. The Union County Manager, who is the nephew of State Senator Raymond Lesniak, mother-in-law was hired to be Stender’s assistant with a salary of $40,430.

When Stender was a freeholder her husband’s printing business was given no-bid county contracts.

None of these documented facts have been highlighted in the press. Now the Star-Ledger who calls themselves “The Voice of New Jersey” would like us to export our worst sample of a New Jersey politician to represent us in Congress. Beleaguered New Jersey taxpayers may never see reform when the media sends the message to elected officials like Stender, “Corruption pays in New Jersey why not export the operation to Washington?”