Another focal point of Soft Corruption by William E. Schluter that we are familiar with in Union County is patronage pools. Let’s dive in (page 132):
Most of new Jersey’s autonomous authorities and agencies were established to provide a specific public service – transportation, public works, seage disposal, housing, solid waste management, water supply. They are also veritable gold mines for public patronage.
The state has about 350 local authorities, boards, and commissions that rely on patronage to fill most positions. Added to these are nearly thirty state authorities, which provide more than 28,000 public jobs. These amounts are not unlike the expansiveness of authorities in other states.
The rationale for independent authorities is simple: they have their own revenue streams; they can provide a specific public service distinct from the services provided by the governments that formed them; and they can issue bonds to raise money for capital projects without affecting the government’s credit rating. To political power brokers, authorities have another prupose: they are a patronage pool. These organizations are anything but politically independent. They are managed by commissioners who are allied with the elected officials who appoint them. The commissioners understand, moreover, that one of their duties is to reward the party faithful with jobs at the agency and to favor the vendors who are reliable campaign donors.
Among the vendors listed in the latest bills for approval by the Union County Improvement Authority (UCIA):
- Rainone Coughlin Minchello
- NW Financial
- MAST Construction Services
- Neglia Engineering
- Pinnacle Consulting
Current UCIA commissioners: