Former State Senator Wayne Bryant got a smack on the back of the head from a jury of his peers today when they found him guilty of all eleven charges against him. On the third day of deliberations the jury delivered their verdict with a very sound, “Hey…..what the heck did you think you were doing?” Bryant will be back in court in March to hear what his sentence will be; it would seem that he will have four months to disburse his accumulated ill gotten gains or what is left of them after his defense attorney takes his cut.
There are those who have been frustrated of late because as fans of Bryant, they were not able to sing his praises in court. They wanted to espouse the good things that he has done, as if those deeds should carry weight in the jury’s decision-making process when trying to decide beyond a shadow of a doubt if he committed any criminal acts. Perhaps Bryant’s most egregious crime was his betrayal of the voters’ trust in a district that encompasses what can only be considered New Jersey’s very own “war zone” and home to some of the poorest in the USA. The city of Camden, the county seat of Camden County — Bryant’s stomping grounds — has an unemployment rate of 16.3 percent, compared to the national average of 6.9 percent, according to Federal figures on the employment website simplyhired.com.
Senator Bryant created a situation that garnered him $35,000 a year at UMDNJ to show up for four hours of work per week. And if that wasn’t bad enough, instead of working he got to read the newspaper on the taxpayers’ dime. This is infuriating to say the least. The average job in Camden only pays a salary of $22,250, with the median family income in the city currently at $18,007 a year which is not even remotely livable by anyone’s standards. It is a slap in the face of those who go daily and labor in the city that this guy had the audacity to accept a salary which is 50% higher than most when it is obvious that all he planned to do was put his feet up, have a cup of coffee, and then cash a paycheck as compensation to catch-up on his reading. The voters that looked to him with hope for the future in their eyes and in their hearts have been double-crossed because Wayne Bryant let his own greed and self-importance get in the way of their struggles to survive.
Bryant’s UMD job not only contributed to the pension he would earn thru his public jobs, but he boosted that pension further using employment as associate counsel for the Gloucester County Board of Social Services. However, the ever fleet of foot Bryant was not about to do that sort of mundane work himself, but rather had some junior attorneys from his firm actually do the work for him. And he incredibly was able to sleep at night even though he took the credit for their work to pad his own pension. Bryant was, with the additional new public jobs, now eligible to receive a pension boosted from $28,000 to $81,268 in 2006. His defense attorneys attempted to justify this fancy footwork by claiming that others were doing the same thing, as if to say that if they posed naked in Macy’s window Bryant would as well — a sight most of us would want to take a pass on viewing anyway. And what kind of deal is it when a member of a firm, having its own employees on staff, does work for a government entity and becomes eligible for a government pension? With that line of thinking any vendor performing a service for a government entity would be pension eligible as well, including the guy who repairs the broken copy machine and is actually in the employ of the copy machine company. Most would agree that this sounds like a good deal if you can get it, and where do we sign up?
Senator Bryant with this conviction has now officially joined the ranks of the “Exploding Heads of NJ,” a group of guys to include former governor Jim McGreevy, John Lynch, and Sharpe James just to name a few. These prominent individuals who committed criminal or unethical acts against New Jersey’s residents did so simply because they could. They did so because their heads were so swollen with power it never occurred to them that they were doing wrong. Senator Bryant has shown by his despicable behavior that there are people in this world that no matter how successful they are and no matter how well they are rewarded for their good works are just not capable of being satisfied and are always looking for more at the expense of others.