‘Just the way the system works’ in N.J.

//August 6, 2009//

‘Just the way the system works’ in N.J.

//August 6, 2009//

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‘Just the way the system works’ in N.J.After the news of a series of corruption arrests emerged July 23, business owners across New Jersey expressed frustration about the effect bribes have on their businesses and disappointment with another blow to the state’s image.

Ken Archer, chief operating officer of communications technology provider TriNet, was on a trip to Boston when the news broke. Someone described it to him as “an episode of ‘The Sopranos,’” said Archer, who said the comment made him embarrassed to be from New Jersey.

Archer said incentives to influence officials become great for businesses seeking contracts.

“The first inclination is that there’s going to be bribes, and you’re not going to be given a fair chance of competing for the business,” Archer said. He said the government should set up a committee that would investigate complaints about suspicious contracts.

Mike Callahan, industrial sales manager for Shore Fasteners and Supply Inc., of Pleasantville, said his shock came from the fact that allegedly corrupt officials were actually caught.. Government contracts sometimes seem to be tied to political connections, he said.

“I don’t want a connection. I just want a fairer bidding process,” Callahan said.

Warren Zysman, a partner in ARC Renewable Energy LLC, also said corruption in the state puts pressure on businesses to have improper relationships with officials.

“If you’re competing with 10 other companies, and you see this as a way to get ahead of the pack, I’m sure a lot of people would really consider taking that risk,” Zysman said.

“I think people’s mindsets need to change,” he said. But “I don’t know if it’s ever going to change. It’s just the way the system works.”

Suresh Puppala, president of Envaeronautical Engineering, said he couldn’t recall such a large amount of corruption arrests in the 18 years he’s lived in New Jersey. All the same, he doubts the arrests will have a permanent effect.

“It will be in people’s minds for a couple of months, but people have a short memory,” said Puppala, who recently started his environmental engineering firm out of his Hopatcong home.

Charles Schwenzer III, who owns a business specializing in compliance with government transportation, safety and environmental regulations, aimed his frustration at voters, saying the arrests demonstrate the need for term limits.

“New Jersey keeps electing these same politicians year after year,” Schwenzer said. “Nothing’s going to get done unless the attitude of the voters is going to change.”

Schwenzer said it is disappointing when he goes on business trips to hear others’ reactions when they learn his home state.

“They say, ‘You’re from the infamous corruption state,’” Schwenzer said.