Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Can Community Service Law Repaint New Jersey's Tarnished Image?

Assemblyman Sean Kean (R-11) introduced a measure today that would require state officials found guilty of political corruption, in addition to any term of imprisonment, to complete 250 hours of community service, reports New Jersey Politics.

Kean, along with many other state republicans, has proudly taken on the role of a "government reformer", in light of the scandals involving the administration of former democratic governor Jim McGreevy. Throughout the gubernatorial primaries, "cleaning out Trenton" played a vital role in the platforms of many of the republican candidates, and is anticipated to be on the top of Doug Forrester's list of campaign proposals. Nevertheless, democrats do not feel as vulnerable on the issue as they normally might because their candidate, U.S senator Jon Corzine, is relatively new to state politics. Although Corzine has faced criticism from opponents due to his record breaking expenditures during his senate race (including $60 million of his own) and his presumably equal war chest for the upcoming election, Corzine did not make his fortune as a politician, but from his career at Goldman Sachs, where he eventually rose to the position of chairman.

The legislation was introduced in an attempt to distinguish the "New Era" of New Jersey politics, one that the concerned lawmaker hopes will be one of honest government with common values, from the traditional image of New Jersey government as a corruption infested patronage trough. However, the idea that community service is such a daunting prospect to politicians who are currently willing to risk jail sentences in order to accomplish their political goals is dubious. However, perhaps helping the constituents that they previously deceived could inject corrupt politicians with some of that old fashioned idealism that might have motivated them to enter government.


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