Behold Pablo, Jon and that Czech writer

Behold Pablo, Jon and that Czech writer

03/11/2007  APP

TRENTON — Gov. Corzine should have told the whole truth from the start. He thinks he can shut down any investigation by saying something is private or that politicians can determine what is news. Were that the case, Watergate would have remained a third-rate burglary.

Take the developments surrounding his former squeeze, Carla Katz, union chief and real estate maven. Reporters asked how much total he forked over to her and Corzine keeps saying it is personal.

He gave her a $470,000 mortgage for a country estate, then forgave it just before he announced his candidacy for governor. She is living in another big house while she does a 3,200 square foot addition to the first place, although it isn't clear where the money for that addition is coming from.

Beyond that there is a condo in Hoboken which just happens to be in the same building as Corzine's place. She bought that for $1.1 million through a company she created and is the sole officer listed. It is not clear where said company gets its money. She says the reason she needs a place in Hoboken is to be near Seton Hall, where she attends law school on a full scholarship, one she got after Corzine promised $1 million in donations to the school.

Corzine admits there could be other financial arrangements — sending her kids to private school most often is speculated — but he doesn't want to talk about that, either. It could be embarrassing if he financed private school for her kids in Pennsylvania but opposed vouchers so ordinary people could educate their kids where they want.

Considering that Katz is head of one of the bigger state employee unions and Corzine took charge of negotiations with said unions, none of this is personal.

Listed as registered agent for Katz's new company, Neruda Hoboken, is divorce lawyer Barry Szaferman. One of his firm's other lawyers, David Beckett, was brought on board by Corzine as chief of the Office of Employee Relations. That means Beckett negotiated with Katz's union.

Katz's condo-buying company is named for Pablo Neruda, pen name of a Chilean writer and communist politician. Known for erotically charged love poetry, Neruda must be a Corzine favorite. There are striking similarities. Neruda served as a senator for the Chilean Communist Party. Corzine served in the U.S. Senate and is left of center. Neruda's pen name was derived from a famous Czech writer. Corzine is also well known as a check writer. Witness all he wrote for Katz.

Bucco's debacle: Sens. Anthony Bucco, R-Morris, and John Adler, D-Camden, are trying to undo their legislation that boosted the size of county tax boards unnecessarily — at a cost of about $1 million a year. That may be getting somewhere. The chairs of the committees that would hear the bill say it may get voted on this spring.

You may recall Corzine, whose mantra has been save money, nevertheless nominated political types for the unnecessary jobs.

The call: After eight and one-half weeks, Motor Vehicle Commission chief Sharon Harrington got back to me, with apologies. 'Nuff said.

Minority for sure: Republicans demanded to know who authorized $55,000 in taxpayer money to hire a lawyer to fight a federal subpoena to find out how the Legislature is spending taxpayer money. Then they went into a secret meeting with ruling Democrats and came out like wimpy little girlymen. Republicans are worthless as watchdogs. And deserve to be the minority. Shut up with the tough talk, GOP, until you can deliver on something.

Hughes departure: Connie Hughes is resigning from the Board of Public Utilities, that globe-trotting outfit with the secret bank account Corzine refuses to clean up. Guess he will claim it's personal. It's being sued by a whistle-blower. Hughes' departure opens up an opportunity to appoint a Republican replacement. Corzine should consider Christie Todd Whitman, who has served on the board and registered recently for an industry convention as a board member from Jersey. Guess that was her last successful gig.

She's baaacck: Corzine appointed Diane Legreide to be economic development czar in Atlantic City. She was in charge of the Motor Vehicle Commission when the modernization and reforms took place. If anybody can get AC on track, it's her.

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