The Associated Press has an excellent article on the New Jersey corruption cases recently brought by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Northern Jersey which serves as a useful primer on how political corruption and real estate development work.
As the AP notes:
The criminal complaints paint a picture of building and zoning departments where influence, connections and payoffs determine who gets a prompt hearing and a smooth approval process on their applications and who is left at the mercy of a process so seemingly dysfunctional that developers sometimes budget for bribes.
1. Start with a “development boom”.
2. Offer tax abatements to favored developers even when no longer necessary to induce investment.
3. Find elected officials who will ask few questions about the site, especially regarding public safety issues.
4. Be able to offer access to confidential information, alerts to pending government action concerning the property, assistant to facilitate needed zoning change, environmental paperwork and any other resistance within the law and within government bureaucracy.
5. Bring in developers willing to “invest” in elected officials.
In New Jersey, developers came to run local government at every level. Is there any reason to think New Rochelle is different?