Segura has long gotten contributions from businesses and other politicians...directly or via the joint candidates committee that supported "the Palmer slate" of himself, Council President Paul Pintella and Cordelia Staton in 2002 and 2006. Some of these contributors, like former Senator Bob Torricelli or Stowell Fulton of Atlantic Associates end up doing lucrative business with the city. (In 2006, Torricelli and/or his ex-wife gave a over $10,000 to Palmer and his slate. In the same year, Stowell Fulton gave $2600 to the joint candidates committee, Trenton 2006 and Bernard Fulton, also affiliated with Atlantic Associates, gave $2500 to Palmer's campaign. This was prior to the enacting of the Pay-to-Play ordinance now in effect.)
Mr. Chester, on the other hand, is making his first run for public office. Along with his wife, Alysia, Chester was instrumental in getting the city's Pay-to-Play law adopted through referendum. A law, by the way, drafted and vetted through the Citizen's Campaign...a non-profit, non-partisan corporation working to clean up New Jersey's extremely corrupt political system. That neither of them completely understood the technicalities of the law they helped get passed is unfortunate.
But the real question was, how did this happen to come to light at this time.
Some of our operatives started digging around in the reports available from the NJ Election Law Enforcement Commission (NJ ELEC) website to see what they could find out about this situation. Strangely enough, the candidate reports readily available online didn't show anything about the specific campaign contributions referenced in the press reports.
Going back over the text of Friday's article in the Times (as opposed to Friday's reportage in the Trentonian) the Front Stoop staff got the sense that the information leading to Borden-Perlman's disqualification must have been found elsewhere.
Further research revealed that any business entity receiving more the $50,000 in aggregate from any public entity must provide a Business Entity Annual Statement (Form BE) detailing any and all contributions made to local, county or state candidates, PAC's or Political Committees. This form, once completed by the potential vendor, would be submitted to NJ ELEC.
Borden-Perlman has a long history of making political contributions. Apparently and appropriately the firm disclosed the campaign and political contributions they made in Trenton and Mercer County, assuming all the while they were within compliance of the law and eligible for the contract.
Even Alacqua seems to agree there was no intent to break the law. The Times reported:
The law bars violators from getting city contracts for four years, but Alacqua said it appeared that Borden Perlman did not deliberately break the law. He noted that the city discovered the violation only because the company voluntarily disclosed its campaign contributions in compliance with a state law that applies to insurance companies.
Somebody in the business office at city hall must have been doing their due diligence and taken notice that there might be some questions about the legality of certain contributions and taken it upon him or herself to flag the contract.
But who would do such and thing and why?
Here's the scenario the conspiracy committee at From the Front Stoop has come up with:
The Acting (after more than a year!) Business Administrator for the City of Trenton is Dennis Gonzalez.
Reportedly, Dennis Gonzalez was brought to Trenton on the recommendation of Manny Segura. (They knew each other from Perth Amboy. Gonzalez's wife was the campaign treasurer for Segura's 2002 run). This was all "fine" until Manny decided to bolt from the Palmer sphere of influence and strike out on his own.
For his part, Gonzalez would remain a loyal Palmer soldier. (He'd probably be unemployed if he wasn't) What better way to maintain the master's favor than to take a shot at the defector.
And, as a bonus, Gonzalez got to throw some dirt on Zachary Chester who bested him in a battle of nerve and words a couple of years ago. Chester, you may recall, made a very public inquiry about the status of various development projects (then under the purview of Dennis Gonzalez as Housing and Economic Development Director). Gonzalez, never the statesman, threatened to sue Chester if there wasn't a retraction (retraction of what, no one was ever quite sure).
The information on what Borden-Perlman undoubtedly thought were perfectly legal campaign contributions was given to Special Counsel and Palmer Puppet Joe Alacqua.* No doubt accompanying the documentation was a strong suggestion to kill the Borden-Perlman contract. Should Chester and Segura have their integrity questioned or images smeared in the process...oh well, bonus for Gonzalez.
And should the contract go to another vendor, with deeper pockets and stronger ties to the Democratic party in New Jersey, so much the better for Palmer and company. (see POLITICKERNJ blog on the Battle for Trenton).
The denizens of the Front Stoop admit they don't have first hand knowledge of any of the above. It is offered up merely as a suggestion of what might have occurred.
We leave it to the reader to decided for him or herself.
*Let the record show that in Saturday's Times Mr. Alacqua was reported as saying he opposed the legislation when it was proposed because it was too strict.
"It just doesn't make any sense. If you have a contract, you can't give anything," he said.
He should have been happy to have the ordinance adopted as it would save him having to donate the $2850 to Palmer and company every few years as he did in 2006.