investigative piece in yesterday's New York Times
an interesting issue regarding complicity in ethical
misconduct: is there an obligation not to be complicit with
misconduct at a different governmental level when, arguably, that misconduct
financially benefits one's own government?
According to the article, when Bayonne, NJ was in deep financial
trouble in 2010, with the state talking about bailing it out
the way it had bailed out Camden in 2002, the Port Authority of New
York and New Jersey purchased a piece of land from the city (1) that
the port authority had no use for and (2) at a price substantially
higher than it was worth (in fact, the year the purchase was made, the port authority wrote down the
value of the property). This apparently
fraudulent purchase meant that the city would be in solid financial
shape, at least for the short run.
The apparent purpose of this purchase was not only to help the city
of Bayonne, but to solve a dilemma for New Jersey's governor, who
"was confronting a huge deficit in New Jersey’s budget, while trying
to keep a campaign promise to not raise taxes." The purchase shifted
the problem from the state to the port authority.