Book Review: The Soprano State

Good grief… When you read a book like this one, you really begin to understand what a disaster of a state we live in here in New Jersey. The Soprano State, authored by Bob Ingle and Sandy McClure, details about as much of the Garden State’s seedy underbelly that any one person can stand without dropping the book in frustration. Seriously, it took me a little bit longer than usual to read this otherwise short book (336 pages) because I would get so discouraged while reading it that I’d put it down for a few days at a time.

Look, we all know that there is corruption inherent in the government. What we do not know is if the system that corrupts the politicians or if it is the politicians that corrupt the system. After going through this book, I don’t think that I’m any closer to answering that question than I was before reading it, but I do think that I am convinced more now than I ever of one thing…

I’m registered as an independent voter due, in part, because I don’t want the Republican or Democratic parties in New Jersey to think that they can always bank on my vote. Well, after reading The Soprano State, I am convinced that staying on the rolls as an independent voter is the right thing to do in the Garden State. Why, you ask? Simple. Backroom deals and the utter waste of taxpayer dollars has been perpetuated by both political parties in this state.

The Soprano State goes in depth on many of the political backroom deals that drive the voters in this state crazy. But what I really liked was when I went to The Soprano State‘s website and noticed that the authors have added, free of charge, updates on more political garbage that you can only expect to find in the Garden State. Here is a sampling from the book’s website:

New Jersey’s long-suffering taxpayers deserve better. Newly sworn-in Gov. Chris Christie said it took him two hours to learn that instead of a $500 million surplus, he was inheriting a $1 billion revenue deficit for the budget year ending June 30. The kicker is that Gov. Corzine, also in his last week, sent by wire transfer $121 million in special municipal aid to five cities. Add that to the news that in his final week, Corzine transferred $1 million to the Legislature. Most of the money, $800,000, went to the Democratic controlled Assembly where salary accounts had been overspent in 2009. This kind of behavior is what cost the Democrats the governor’s seat.
- Michael Symons, Asbury Park Press, Jan. 24 and Jan. 20, 2010

Lee Solomon stepped down from a county judgeship to become president of the Board of Public Utilities. Solomon has worn a lot of hats over the years: assemblyman, Camden County freeholder, county prosecutor, and first deputy U.S. attorney. The Soprano State (chapters 5,6 and 7) does not have warm and fuzzy things to say about Solomon. But this is his chance to make a difference, to end globetrotting at the BPU, to scrutinize its bank accounts, its audits and its files and to hold people accountable. It’s time to give citizens of New Jersey some confidence in the board that regulates utilities. Seems like a judge and a prosecutor would be the perfect person to do it. We shall all see if Solomon fits the bill.
- Bob Ingle, Asbury Park Press, Jan. 22, 2010

Don Norcross, brother of South Jersey political boss George Norcross, has leapfrogged into a state Senate seat. When Assembly Speaker Joe Roberts decided to depart, Norcross got his Assembly seat. As soon as Norcross was sworn in, he was tapped for the Senate seat left vacant by the departure of Sen. Dana Redd, who became mayor of Camden. Don Norcross said he’d draw from the experiences and advice of Roberts and new Senate President Steve Sweeney. The message to taxpayers: nothing is going to change.
- Jeremy Rosen, Courier-Post, Jan. 19, 2010
– Bob Ingle, Asbury Park Press, Jan. 18, 2010

Ahhh…nothing like wasting taxpayer dollars to help your family and friends get ahead in New Jersey, huh? If you’re interested in learning more about the politics of New Jersey, then I suggest reading this book. From my perspective, I think that The Soprano State is required reading for all New Jerseyans.

  • Bob Ingle

    Thanks for the kind words about The Soprano State. Sandy and I appreciate your mentioning the web site: where the Update section keeps readers posted on what has happened since the books came out. As the CEO of the Associated Press says on the jacket, you start out laughing and wind up banging the table in frustration. Readers in California think it is the funniest book they have read all year. An interviewer in Australia told us he thought they had corruption until he read it. The movie version is in the works.