Who’s Up and Who’s Down: Week of the Norcross Indictment

State Senate President Steve Sweeney called for the governor’s chief counsel Matt Platkin to resign over the mishandling of sexual assault charges brought by Katie Brennan against Al Alvarez, another state worker, according to a Press of Atlantic City story.

WHO’S UP

Matt Platkin 

The Attorney General of New Jersey (pictured, above) proved himself a consequential public servant this week as he unsealed a 13-count indictment against South Jersey Democratic Party Powerbroker George Norcross III and Norcross’ associates. According to the indictment, “the Norcross Enterprise obtained property and property rights on the Camden Waterfront for itself and others, collected millions of dollars in government-issued tax credits, and controlled and influenced government officials to further the interests of the enterprise.” We knew we had a problem at least going back to when Kevin Sheehan, an attorney at Parker McCay, the law firm of Norcross’ brother Philip, and not a registered lobbyist, lobbied the legislature to award tax incentives for Norcross-connected Camden-based entities. The real question in a corruption dumping ground like New Jersey was going to be whether law enforcement gave a damn. Norcross had very close ties with the last administration and prosecutor-turned-governor Chris Christie. Political appearances suggested Norcross and company had also cozied up to the current administration after rocky beginnings. None of that affected Platkin, who this week walked up to a podium and demonstrated hard-nosed competency and justice commitment on behalf of New Jerseyans long besieged by a sulfuric acid bath of state corruption. Platkin also did the right thing in advance of the primary when he sent Judge Zahid N. Quraishi a letter notifying him that his office will not defend the three state statutes that prescribe how New Jersey designs its primary ballots. That was gutsy. But his indictment of Norcross – innocent until proved guilty – broke through a two decades-old (and maybe longer) specific stranglehold of collective cowardice and complicity by the political power structure of New Jersey. A lady approaching 80, with no connection to New Jersey insiders, but a voter and a patriot, absorbed the news of Norcross’ indictment with a deep sense of gratitude. “There’s hope for my state,” she said. “Finally.” Credit Platkin for doing more than sitting on a perch polishing a title to protect the mildewed remains of men who counted on his protection, and going for broke, with the state’s back to the wall, for the people who really count.

WHO’S DOWN

Carl Golden, senior contributing analyst with the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University, talks about the escalation of public infighting between Gov. Phil Murphy and George Norcross over the NJEDA Task Force investigations into tax incentives which embodies a political strategy of deny everything and attack.
George Norcross III, Democratic Party Power Broker.

 

George Norcross

Innocent until proved guilty, the South Jersey Democratic Party powerbroker looked unsophisticated at the Attorney General’s press conference, showing up and sitting in the front row as if counting on his history of bullying people. It didn’t work with Platkin, who professionally forged ahead with the indictment. Norcross’ attempt to label Platkin “a coward” carried the same desperate Orwellian vibe summoned by his operatives, who a few years back tried to call then-Assemblyman Ryan Peters – a Navy SEAL – a coward. That one word alone showed the level of disengagement from reality and lack of preparation for something more than brute pushing and shoving and bull ring stare-downs. For years, “the Norcross Enterprise” has run campaigns by taking an opponent’s chief strength and blitzing glossy mail out there that presents that strength as weakness, preposterous in its dislocation from the truth. Most people stopped paying attention, but for those connected to the public trough. It worked for a while, but to hear Norcross going to that feeble playbook to combat Platkin shows once again the political establishment’s complacency and an alarming comfort level with the opposite not only of what ought to be, but – even more troubling – of what is. Say what you want about Platkin, but in a political insider universe made up of Republicans in a cold sweat around a maniac like Donald Trump for fear of a temper tantrum, and Democrats trembling in their chairs around Norcross lest he get upset, the attorney general not only showed blind guts, but public service commitment – in damned short supply in these parts, where justice too often looks fearfully bug-eyed.

 

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7 responses to “Who’s Up and Who’s Down: Week of the Norcross Indictment”

  1. IMPRESSIVE COLUMN!!

    Even I, a naive Senior Plus, Plus (age 92) residing in
    northern NJ and definitely outside of the loop, knew of the power of George Norcross. I understood that Norcross was feathering his nest with golden feathers
    while the Camden residents received little or no benefits.

    I applaud New Jersey’s AG, Matt Platkin for his vigor, and most importantly, for his courage for indicting
    George Norcross.

    Outstanding, authentic column, Max Pizarro.

  2. Now time for him to flex some muscles in Atlantic City. Both the mayor and superintendent of schools (the mayor’s wife (CORRUPT!)), are criminally charged with child abuse and allowed to stay in power? This “enterprise” is also a RACKET. Time for him or Phillip Sellinger to bring that house of cards down.

  3. Why hasn’t the corrupt criminal Glen Paulsen also been indicted? Paulsen did all of the same things Norcross is accused of as the head of the sleazy Burlington County Republican Organization for 2 or more decades. After being kicked out of his leadership position he went to work as a partner in one of George’s criminal adjacent law firms in Cherry Hill Burlington County. Paulsen should be housed in the cell right next to Norcross.

  4. Everyone ,except one person, looked at Camden as a ” dead” city. Who in their right mind would bother to invest in what was called the ” most dangerous city in America”.

    George Norcross took a chance on Camden. It was not pretty but it was effective. The waterfront, Cooper Hospital, and Rutgers -Camden expansion all have his fingerprints. Were some of his methods questionable ? Probably. Illegal ? Probably not . Norcross treaded where the ” do -gooders” never would. He understood that you do not bring a city back to life without having to take some chances and push some limits. Some feelings were hurt and some people were pushed aside, but no one was hurt. Camden did not have the luxury of worrying about bruised egos.

    Now the armchair quarterbacks and haters are on the attack. People who would never venture to Camden are lining up to go after the only person who cared.

    Camden was dead. Norcross used every means necessary to shock it back to life. Emergency CPR is not pretty, the shocks can even seem cruel, but it was necessary. Norcross performed CPR on Camden. He made money ,some of it from stretching the limits , but the real question should be ” is Camden better now?”

    The answer is YES!

  5. Hey Max this article really shows your biases. You’ve been trying to mask it for years. This article rips the faux mask right off.

  6. Pizarro, in this surprisingly terse piece, nails it. Best thing he’s ever written.
    I bet Mr. Makara is a big Sweeney supporter. I also bet, like most who defend Norcross, that he hasn’t read any of the thirteen count indictment, which makes very specific charges many of which are backed up by tape recordings. Also, Mr. Makara’s take that GN3 was Camden’s only hope is insulting to the dozens and dozens of other citizens with an interest in Camden, who never took the city for dead but were shut out by the Norcross Enterprise. Two come to mind: Luis Galindez and John Sheridan. Look them up.
    Today the indictment was also dismissed as “colorful language” by establishment D with ties to the Norcrosses Julie Roginsky and establishment Christiecrat R Mike DuHaime in Tom Moran’s yawn of an interview today. Of course, Tom Moran didn’t challenge either Roginsky’s or DuHaime’s take. Not surprising, given that Moran in the past has regarded Norcross as a “net blessing” for NJ.
    Federal and state RICO laws were put into place precisely to protect the public from corrosive, corrupt forces, like the Norcross Enterprise described in the indictment. It can be argued that enforcement of RICO has been ignored in NJ not because it hasn’t been violated but because AGs in previous administrations cast blind eyes. Why might they have done this? Well, this quote comes to mind: “In the end, the McGreeveys, the Corzines, they’re all going to be with me. Not that they like me, but because they have no choice.”
    Platkin decided he had another option and he courageously took it. If he’s successful this sinking ship of a state might be saved; if he’s not the state is sunk.

  7. Last night I attended a concert by Tower of Power on the Roland Traynor River Front Stage on the Camden river front. A disclaimer, I am a former Camden County Democrat Chairman and count George Norcross, Phil Norcross and Bill Tambussi as great friends. Last night on the waterfront reminded me of the spectacular comeback happening in Camden City. It is incredible and would not be happening without the bold action of my friends. Does George play hardball? Always has. Does he get results. Always has.
    Camden City and County have benefited in concrete and visible ways. Camden’s schools, retail businesses, restaurants, hotel, etc,, all better today because of his efforts.

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