Everyday November 9th: When you can’t make them see the light, make them feel the heat
With an unofficial end date to the website declared, Real Jersey City publisher Michael Shurin begins the final stretch by offering readers a peak into his heart and mind since November 9th, 2016.
First and foremost, I’d like to sincerely thank the agents, attorneys and staff of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ) for taking on corruption in Jersey City.
It seems like I’m continually reminded that, without them, crooked politicians and public officials in New Jersey would live life without an ounce of anxiety – which is completely unacceptable.
Needless to say, the conviction of ex-Jersey City Police Department (JCPD) Chief Philip Zacche changed my outlook on life and view of federal law enforcement. Getting some airtime with Sarah Wallace of the NBC 4 I-Team definitely boosted my self-esteem, inspiring me to “step my game up” and close this website out strong.
At this point in time, it’s safe to say some progress has been made, even if I know real change is light-years away.
Admittedly, I’m still far from perfect and even further from the place I want to be in life. Sometimes my emotions can get the best of me, but I won’t apologize for caring. When you know the cost of corruption is often paid with black and blue lives, it’s hard not to be enraged by the status quo in Jersey City and Hudson County.
As a journalist, I’ve come a long way since my first report from a Jersey City Council meeting. From then till now I may have found my purpose in this world. There were a lot of lows on the journey for change and justice, but from a personal, professional and spiritual level I’ve grown a lot – especially since November 9th, 2016.
Looking back on those lows, though I didn’t know it then, was meeting with agents from the Office of the New Jersey Attorney General (NJOAG). I spent 3-4 hours with them explaining all the information I had collected up until that time, including the highly questionable nature of Zacche’s off-duty work in Marion Gardens.
I even wrote about it in an Open letter to Governor Chris Christie.
Ultimately the NJOAG failed to act on corruption in Jersey City and Hudson County. In hindsight, it feels like the agents I met with likely weren’t interested in anything other than who my sources were.
They conducted no follow-ups. They took no action. They did nothing.
Like I wrote in the letter to Christie, “I wish just reporting information was enough to produce fundamental change, but my platform simply isn’t big enough.” I went to the NJOAG in good faith, not with the hope of locking up police officers, but to bring accountability and reform to a culture of corruption that’s destroying communities.
I believed, until recently, the NJOAG was a law enforcement agency the public could trust to act in good faith.
Then Peter J. Baker became Mayor Steven Fulop’s corporation counsel and almost instantly my perception of the NJOAG changed. A former Deputy Attorney General in the Official Corruption Bureau, in addition to being a former Hudson County Assistant Prosecutor, Baker was the person that should’ve been prosecuting criminals.
Now he’s essentially the Fulop Administration’s criminal defense lawyer.
“The hiring of a member of the Official Corruption Bureau is another step towards eliminating corruption in Jersey City and preserving the public’s trust in our representatives and employees,” said Mayor Fulop in a press release.
When I asked Baker on the night he was confirmed by the Jersey City Council why he didn’t investigate corruption in Jersey City, he recognized that he had a “conflict of interest,” recused himself from any matters and couldn’t comment as to why others in the NJOAG didn’t take action.
In the Jersey Journal story covering Fulop’s new corporation counsel, Terrence McDonald exclusively reported that Baker’s wife, Megan Morey, was an attorney in the city’s law department from December 2013 until January of this year. McDonald noted that “Morey hosted a fundraiser for Fulop’s re-election at Liberty Prime Steakhouse on Nov. 1, 2016,” about a month after Fulop dropped out of the 2017 governor’s race.
Without being petty or bitter, I wish someone would have told me a Deputy Attorney General from the NJOAG Official Corruption Bureau was so connected to the Fulop Administration. In retrospect, I should’ve taken my research to the FBI, and I have a hawk’-ish reason to believe things aren’t improving under NJ Attorney General Gurbir Grewal.
Which brings me to Ward E City Councilman James Solomon.
When I expressed these concerns to Solomon, prior to him confirming Baker, he gave the new corporation counsel a pass. Instead, he placed blame on Gov. Christie for the NJOAG not investigating JCPD Off-Duty Corruption.
For Solomon, a beneficiary of low-energy donors, it’s easy to live in a fact-free world catered to the politics of liberal white supremacists and their allies. Although he’s a nice person and has a heart touching life story, it’s clear he needs be educated on two points:
1. Christie had a well-documented feud with law enforcement throughout his time in office. Moreover, things clearly went downhill between Christie and Fulop when the mayor failed to endorse the governor’s 2013 reelection. The politics wouldn’t make sense for Christie to even think about influencing an investigation into the JCPD.
2. Beyond the politics not making any sense, Christie might’ve personally had it in for the JCPD. Most don’t know this infamous story, especially Solomon, but former JCPD Deputy Chief Thomas Julian definitely didn’t do the department any favors with Christie.
As the legend goes, Julian and Christie both had a child graduate on the same day from Princeton University. Somehow Julian ends up in the same area of seating as the governor’s family. At some point he decides to walk up to Mary Pat Christie, the state’s first lady, and allegedly says “I hope your son doesn’t turn out to be the piece of s*** his father is.”
Mary Pat, apparently horrified by the comment, immediately notified the governor – who in an apparent rage confronts Julian. The New Jersey State Police (NJSP) intervened to stop the incident and they supposedly conducted an extensive follow-up of Julian to determine his threat potential.
I hope those two points hit on the absurdity of Solomon’s comment to me… Unless he meant to say, besides Baker, the people appointed/hired under Christie to work at the NJOAG were either too corrupt or not competent enough to investigate JCPD corruption.
Beyond his patronizing comment, I’ve been highly skeptical of Solomon since the first time I met him.
Sometime after President Trump won the election, at the urging of a Real Jersey City supporter, I attended a “resistance” gathering in Downtown Jersey City. The meeting was led by Solomon and Arlene Stein, director of the Rutgers Institute for Research on Women.
If anything was accomplished by the Jersey City Resistance, it was publicizing Solomon prior to his city council campaign. The “Evict Trump-Kushner” movement was a farce. In my opinion, it was the least consequential battle Solomon could win and easiest to politicize for gain.
Why do I feel that way? Because when I suggested the resistance focus on the powerful lawyers that work for Kushner Companies, like Donald Scarinci, Solomon and Stein immediately shut down the idea. Without going into detail, from the tone of their response I got the hint they were more interested with playing politics than systemic change.
Blame it on sincere ignorance or conscientious stupidity, Solomon is, at best, another Jersey City white liberal that will never take on the corruption primarily destroying communities of color.
He’ll offer ambiguous comments about a statue, quote MLK on MLK Day, and market himself as a progressive champion of housing policies that accelerate gentrification. What he won’t do is challenge corruption, racism and sexism – unless it’s to highlight his “concerns” regarding the city’s lack of diversity among directors for cheap political points.
Which brings me to November 9, 2016 – the morning America woke up to President-elect Donald Trump.
On November 9, 2016, I woke up to learn a person loosely associated with the attempted murder of this website was headed to the White House. I woke up to learn my outstanding public records requests – which would’ve exposed the core of corruption in the JCPD – were killed by the courts. I woke up to realize I wasted my life fighting quixotic battles for change and justice with only a record of failure to show for my efforts.
I woke up to all that and some other things I haven’t forgotten about.
From a personal, professional and spiritual level, it was the equivalent of getting hit by a speeding train. Although I was still alive, everything inside of me was dead.
Then the congratulatory messages started coming in, one after another, for something that had nothing to do with my work. As I wrote nearly two months after November 9, 2016, in a piece titled No, I have nothing to do with the FBI’s Jersey City Police Investigation:
Many people have reached out, whether by phone or electronic message, to applaud me for getting the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to look into the Jersey City Police Department’s (JCPD) off-duty jobs program. Some of them I’ve never met, some as recently as this week.
The main problem is that the FBI investigation has nothing to do with my work (which has slightly more to do with a corrupt, politicized justice system than fraud involving off-duty jobs). While unintentional, all those “congratulations” and “great job” messages feel like a cruel punch to the gut (understatement).
It took every ounce of soul left in me to write and publish that piece. I’ll never be able to truly explain the mixture of defeat, emptiness and resentment I felt at the time.
The defeat was losing my Open Public Records Act (OPRA) complaint against the city in Hudson County Superior Court. At the end of the day, it devastated me because I believed, of all our public institutions, the judiciary would recognize the need for review of the documents.
Though I recognize potential security risks raised by Judge Daniel D’Alessandro, I obviously wish there was some form of relief provided. In reality, the ruling was a setback for transparency because off-duty assignments are now redacted due to security risk.
READ DECISION HERE (Of note, I didn’t receive the decision until November 9th via email)
The emptiness came from having nothing to show for actually challenging corruption, racism and sexism. That moment you realize you may very well be a waste of life. It’s hard to recover from that, but you move forward. However slowly, in whatever direction, no matter how much it hurts, you move forward.
I knew it was officially over when Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez attended Zacche’s retirement party, even taking a picture for social media. For me, that’s when I decided moving forward meant moving on from New Jersey altogether.
— ProsecutorSuarezHCPO (@HCPOProsecutor) June 2, 2017
The prosecutor celebrating the corrupt chief she exonerated – for the same exact crimes federal authorities convicted him for – was the nail in the coffin to what I was about from the start, specifically:
For those that don’t know me, I first entered into politics as a “quixotic” candidate for Congress, running on a platform that focused largely on ending the failed U.S. War on Drugs – among other policy initiatives that could be defined as socially libertarian and economically moderate.
It was ultimately the War on Drugs, and all the ugliness that it represents, which inspired Real Jersey City. And it was ultimately the celebration of a corrupt, former narcotics squad leader that killed it.
Though the moral arc of the universe is long, justice finally caught up to Zacche (and soon many others). Unfortunately, justice is meaningless without change.
Real change will come when drug prohibition ends and harm reduction policies are put in place. When stigmas and stereotypes stop holding us back from having open conversations. Long before silent victims are laid to rest – like JCPD officer Amy Hulings.
What’s unbelievable is that I was going to mention her in this piece, which was supposed to be published the night of the day she died. The car accident in Newark, the political cover-ups of hit-and-runs, the failed drug test that recently landed her on suspension. For a police officer to allegedly die from drug-related activity, according to sources, a system paralyzed by politics and stigmas should be charged criminally for strict liability.
The type of politics that lets a Democratic-fundraising mom intercede in the internal affairs of a police department to protect her children’s employment. The type of stigmas that lead a newspaper to report Hulings’ death was “not considered suspicious,” instead of confronting the truth and using its front page to call for change.
My heart is broken for Maureen Hulings and I don’t even know her. My heart is broken for the parents of my old friends who died from opioids. My heart is broken for all the families and communities that have been ravaged by the War on Drugs – the silent victims of horrific public policy.
My spirit was crushed when JCPD leaders were celebrating my demise back in 2015, calling me a heroin addict. My spirit is crushed by the regressive tough-on-crime laws that will never solve this problem, like charging narcotics dealers with strict liability for drug-induced death.
My hope for positive change is non-existent when Pres. Trump pushes the death penalty for some drug dealers as a solution to the opioid crisis in this country.
At least it’s good to know the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office (HCPO), unlike Ocean County, likely won’t take action over Hulings’ death because they know it won’t solve a thing. Unfortunately, that does nothing to alleviate the resentment I still feel.
The resentment you feel from having nothing to show for risking it all. The resentment you feel when a person like Trump, and all the awfulness he represents, becomes the leader of the free world. The resentment you feel when someone loosely associated with the attempted murder of this website, Jared Kushner, becoming a senior advisor to the president.
What is that loose association? Let’s take a trip in time back to another piece I wrote, Thanks, Steve Hyman – Real Jersey City moving forward + thoughts on Embankment, Mayor Steven Fulop, JC Politics:
…the Embankment will likely never be a park. If it were to be a park, I doubt that a developer cozy with Fulop would be giving Hyman pathetically low offers (Cory Joseph money) for the property.
Looking back, what a reckless piece of writing… and the Sixth Street Embankment, unfortunately, may actually become a park. Stay tuned for the piece The Art of Losing: Steve Fulop, Steve Hyman and the 6th Street Embankment.
Also, the guy offering Cory Joseph money for Hyman’s property (6th Street Embankment) was Murray Kushner – Jared’s uncle. How do I know this? I heard it with my own two ears.
For those who don’t know, Hyman was the person that provided the initial, and only, funding for this website. Though it was for merely a few months, without Hyman’s relatively minimal support I probably couldn’t have established the brand – which quickly became a nightmare for Fulop’s gubernatorial candidacy.
Furthermore, Hyman was, until sometime in 2016, engaged in a long-running legal battle to develop the Embankment. Since then he signed power of attorney to his wife, who has enjoyed a close relationship with Fulop.
In short, back in 2015, Fulop needed Hyman to cut me off and used developers to manipulate the situation. Specifically, when Hyman nearly died from heart issues at the time, his old developer “friends” started crawling out the woodwork. I won’t identify the “mastermind” developer of the plot to screw me, but when Hyman told me that his old friend “didn’t want him to die without selling the Embankment for its real worth” I sensed the end was near.
As someone reliable and close to the situation informed me, after Hyman started receiving inquiries about the property, the mastermind said Fulop wouldn’t allow him to sell the property without cutting off funding for Real Jersey City first. Hyman, being the loser he is, and not understanding the leverage he finally had, acted without precondition.
Naturally, Hyman lost. In retrospect, Fulop also lost, though not even I, nor Phil Murphy, could’ve seen why at the time. I’ll talk more about that when discussing The Art of Losing, but what Fulop failed to realize is that I was never about making money.
Money was an important resource, but a lack of it wasn’t going to kill this website.
Which brings me back to Kushner. Though I only heard Murray’s voice, my source close to the situation informed me Charles Kushner, Jared’s father, made an offer himself. Quite frankly, Jared was somewhat irrelevant in my mind, but that didn’t stop me from making the meme below back in August of 2015, long before any so-called resistance emerged.
— Real Jersey City (@RealJerseyCity) August 7, 2015
Looking back, what a difference three years make…
Anyhow, ever since federal authorities took action regarding my work, some of the resentment I felt has subsided. So much so that, as far as Charles Kushner goes, I’m willing and interested in partnering to finish the job I started back in 2015.
Think about that for a second – the new Steve Hyman (Kushner) and “public enemy number one” (Shurin) teaming-up to take on corruption in Jersey City? It would be a lethal combination for the political careers of Fulop, Suarez and some city officials (probably Solomon, too).
By now I’m sure Peter Baker has a clue what the picture below is actually alluding to, but could you imagine if Kushner and Co. knew? Let’s just say it would be significantly less costly for the city to give up $30 million in redevelopment area bonds than Kushner and attorney Eugene Paulino to find out.
Kushner or not, I’m here to finish off what I started. A mission that wouldn’t have been possible if Suarez had an ounce of integrity, like Fulop. Instead, she wanted to be attorney general, kind of like Fulop wanted to be governor – positions they’re both supremely unqualified for.
With Zacche and others now facing justice, I’ve found peace with myself. No longer am I as defeated, empty or resentful as I once was. Now that I have something to show for my work, even though there’s still so much corruption left to expose, I can move on with my life.
It still feels like yesterday when I got the call — within a week of moving into a friend’s house in Massachusetts, shortly after Pres. Trump inspired me to write about awful journalism and liberal white supremacy — that Zacche was picked up by the feds. I ran outside and let out a roar that could be heard from the Pioneer Valley, to New Haven, CT, to the shores of Rhode Island.
Maybe it was all “God’s Plan,” without a $996,631.90 budget, but I knew then, as much as I tried to fight it, that there was no choice but to come back to New Jersey. Maybe I couldn’t give Dawn Felton justice, but I delivered it to others on her behalf. Maybe I couldn’t look Carrie Walters in the face when she thanked me for giving her an outlet to express her pain because my work wasn’t done yet.
Sometimes money can’t buy the important things in life and this website is proof of that.
PUBLISHER’S NOTE: If you were supposed to be providing security in the Booker T. Washington Housing Complex, but you’re now looking forward to prison, feel free to watch the video below and think about the real-world consequences of your decisions. Another thing money can’t buy is to see how your face looks watching the video.
Anyhow, Kushner or not, the HCPO’s institutional rape and attempted murder of Lt. Kelly Chesler will not go unchallenged. Unfortunately, sometimes a man’s got to do a feminist’s job – especially with all the “progressive” fans of fake, misogynistic news in Jersey City.
President Ronald Reagan said “when you can’t make them see the light, make them feel the heat.” Judge Mirtha Ospina shined the light when she tossed the questionable evidence used to indict Chesler and three others.
Unfortunately, because First Deputy Assistant Prosecutor Peter Stoma wants to continue with his pro-rape culture prosecution of Chesler, I’m going to make sure him and a lot of other people feel the heat – from Gov. Phil Murphy to Gene Rubino.
Additionally, if anyone reading this has knowledge of official misconduct occurring in Jersey City/Hudson County they’d like to report, please feel free to send a message through the contact page. Understand that time is ticking.
The heat, and this website, will end 15 days after Chesler’s case is resolved, and will include no more than 11 posts within that time frame – in honor of Patrick Mahomes II and Alex Smith. Before that happens, hopefully Kushner and Co. reach out because I think it would be a mutually beneficial partnership that will help me get to the place I want to be in life… maybe Outsider NJ?