Joan Whitlow for NJ Voices: Jury didn’t split hairs between wrong and illegal
Both land deals were presented to the council without plans, blueprints or details. There was some lip service about getting more information at a later date. The very next day, however, as the council went through its usual rapid-fire voting on tax abatements, resolutions and ordinances, both land deals were approved without question or pause.
That’s the way things were done in Newark. They shouldn’t have been. It was wrong.
After the corporate scandals of Enron and Worldcom, congress introduced the Sarbanes-Oxley Act to reform board-level accountability. Among it’s key goals, the act created an internal control certification for senior officers of a company to personally certify that the numbers reported to Wall Street are accurate and complete. These senior officers are since 2002 are now personally liable for fraudulent activity around their books, whether they instigated it or not.
If we really want to introduce some controls to prevent these kinds of shenanigans with city resources, we might consider a similar certification for the City Council. One might expect fewer shotgun blast approvals of city measures if council members could be personally fined or imprisoned for implicitly supporting wrongdoing.