2004 – The Year of Corruption
Well, you could’ve fooled us – the state is in financial crisis and racked with scandal. Here’s a list of scandals from 2004 and they all involve Democrats.
March 2: The FBI raids the offices of the Democratic State Committee and Middlesex County Freeholder Director David Crabiel, seizing records related to longtime McGreevey fund-raiser David D'Amiano.
March 17: State Athletic Control Board Chairman Gerard Gormley (D) resigns and agrees to pay $14,000 in fines for improperly doling out 227 free boxing passes.
June 22: Politically active builder Joseph Barry admits bribing former Hudson County Executive Robert Janiszewski (D) and others to win government financing for a project on the Hoboken waterfront
June 29: Hudson County Freeholder William Braker( D) admits taking $3,880 in cash and political contributions from Oscar Sandoval, a psychiatrist who wanted county contracts
June 30: Developer and premier McGreevey (D) contributor Charles Kushner agrees to pay $508,900 to settle federal election law violations.
July 6: Carteret businessman and McGreevey (D) fund-raiser David D'Amiano is charged with extorting $40,000 in cash and political donations from a farm owner in return for his promise that McGreevey would help persuade county officials to double their bid for his farmland.
July 8: A federal judge sentences former Asbury Park Mayor Kenneth "Butch" Saunders (D) to 33 months in prison for conspiring to bribe a council member for her vote on the city's billion-dollar redevelopment.
July 14: State Commerce chief William Watley (D) resigns as state investigators seize records as part of a corruption probe into the Commerce and Economic Growth Commission
July 27: Two Wall Street firms downgrade New Jersey's credit rating, rebuking McGreevey's (D) plan to borrow up to $2.7 billion for this year's budget.
Aug. 18: Leading McGreeve( D) contributor and real estate developer Charles Kushner pleads guilty to cheating on his taxes, hiding illegal campaign donations and retaliating against his estranged sister, who cooperated in the tax probe, by hiring a prostitute to seduce her husband and sending her a tape of the encounter.
Sept. 15: McGreevey (D) fund- raiser David D'Amiano admits extorting $40,000 in cash and political donations from a Middlesex County farmer and prompting the governor to say "Machiavelli" as part of a political payoff scheme.
Sept.15: Federal judge rules there will be no special election for governor this fall, dismissing claims by two Princeton lawyers that McGreevey's (D) delayed resignation deprived voters of their right to pick his replacement
Sept. 15: The federal government says it will investigate spending at the Newark Housing Authority, where director Harold Lucas (D) bought a plasma television and luxury cars shortly before laying off 99 employees "for reasons of economy and efficiency."
Sept. 22: McGreevey (D) bans some state and county-level political contributors from some large state contracts, saying his resignation had freed him to "confront challenges I have avoided in the past."
Sept. 29: Former Hoboken mayor Anthony Russo (D) admits extorting kickbacks from an accounting firm working for the city, pleading guilty to three counts of mail fraud in federal court.
Nov. 8: McGreevey(D), with no Dina Matos McGreevey at his side this time, bids farewell, saying he's "sorry, so, so sorry," and that his resignation has left him a "changed man."
Dec. 5: The Star-Ledger reveals that McGreevey (D) let favored friends, including television reporter Marvin Scott, use the governor's mansion to host private functions.
Dec. 8: Axelrod (D) pleads guilty to a federal tax fraud count, avoiding prosecution for other dubious deeds connected to the sale of stringed instruments to the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.
Dec. 22: Former Hudson County Freeholder William Braker (D) is sentenced to 41 months in prison for taking kickbacks from a county vendor.
Codey Keeps Options Open With $4 Billion Deficit
As Codey pondered his moves, state Treasurer John E. McCormac reported Dec.17 that all state revenue collections for the first five months this year totaled $9.6 billion, 1.9 percent below projections. If the revenue picture remains discouraging, Codey could be forced into a number of drastic moves, unwelcome in an election year when both the governor's office and control of the Assembly are at stake. Democrats now control the Assembly, 47-33, but tax hikes, layoffs or aid reductions could prove so unpopular that the Republicans could win the eight seats they need to take back control.
Oddly enough, however, that gloomy forecast could have a silver lining for U.S. Sen. Jon Corzine, of Hoboken, the favorite for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in next June's primary election. Corzine could bankroll his own campaign out of his well-lined pockets and therefore run as an "outsider," making him immune from any voter backlash against Democratic budget practices or tax increases. More here.
We suggest Acting Governor Codey cut spending to achieve a balanced budget. He might start with the wasteful spending we’ve highlighted in the past month or so in this blog. And he should continue cutting by eliminating all nonessential programs immediately.
Budget gimmicks, new or increased taxes are not acceptable. Further, an unsolved budget crisis is not a sliver lining for Jon Corzine. – a liberal U.S. Senator that has opposed federal income tax cuts that are most beneficial to New Jersey taxpayers. Corzine’s philosophy of bigger and “better” spending programs coupled with ever higher taxes is not a solution New Jersey voters will buy in 2005.
High Rent District
Lautenberg Looks to Federal Agencies To Stop NYC Stadium
New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg says if a stadium is built on Manhattan's West Side, it may have an adverse impact on New Jersey, including the possibility of more sewage being dumped in the Hudson River and more traffic in and out of the Garden State.
In separate letters sent last week to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Highway Administration, Lautenberg asked both agencies to determine if the stadium would pose serious problems for the Garden State. Read entire article.
Maybe we can get Senators Schumer and Clinton to stop the proposed new Giants stadium from being built using a similar approach. Sure would save the taxpayers in both states a ton of money.
New Jersey Military Bases In The Crosshairs
Nearly 100 bases have been closed nationwide since 1988, when the Defense Department began restructuring by closing installations and consolidating missions at others. New Jersey lost only one base in previous rounds but the odds are not favorable that the state will survive what would be the largest single group of closures yet.
"Political clout is certainly a factor," said Rep Rush D. Holt, D-N.J., whose central New Jersey district includes Fort Monmouth. "There are some bases that should be closed and won't be because of the clout of local politicians." New Jersey is primarily Democratic, a factor that could work against it now that President Bush has won re-election and Republicans have kept control of both houses in Congress. More here.
We’d like to make a few suggestions to our representatives in Washington. We’re quite certain the loss of jobs and government money is not popular in any state – so let the military choose the bases to be closed and when. We believe it is unlikely for the Pentagon to recommend a base be closed if it is deemed essential to the security of the country.
Our congressmen should convince their colleagues to vote up or down on the military’s entire list of recommendations - with no cherry picking. They should fight to save a New Jersey base only if its closure is selected by the congress and not the military. Should our congressmen fail to be effective advocates for the state and the country as a whole, they should be replaced in the next election. Why continue sending these guys to Congress and the Senate if they can't get the job done?
N.J. Congressmen Find No Abuse at Gitmo
After returning home from the one-day trip, the congressmen stated that they found the detainees to be treated in a humane fashion and the interrogation process to be absolutely professional. The men called the trip "a very positive experience" and said they were thankful for the opportunity to meet with the guard members and express the state's appreciation for their efforts. More than 600 New Jersey National Guard members are stationed at the base.
"They are in rather good morale, even though they obviously want to be home for Christmas. They are making serious sacrifices for all of us, and I let them know how much the people of New Jersey appreciate their efforts," Corzine said. Menendez added, "Questions remain, though, about what happened prior to this time, and that is what we want to resolve." More here.
New Jersey Taxpayer Alert
Gee, we see a third option – MCGreevey gets cut off without a dime and New Jersey taxpayers cut him a break by not pursuing criminal prosecution.
In his last months as governor, Jim McGreevey rang up $159,000 in legal bills relating to his connection to an extortion, mail fraud and bribery case and the issues surrounding his resignation.
McGreevey has also started to tap into a transition fund of up to $500,000 set up for the former governor, signing a six-month lease for office space in Woodbridge for which taxpayers are paying $2,387 a month, according to the state Treasury Department. In addition, treasury officials said he cashed in $14,737 in unused vacation time last week - his final paycheck from the state after leaving office on Nov. 15.
When McGreevey hits 60, he can expect to once again collect checks from the state in the form of a pension estimated at more than $50,000 a year. He is 47.
"I'm sure people will be miffed that taxpayers are still paying for McGreevey," said political scientist David Rebovitch of Rider University.
Rebovitch said he figured a lot of people would consider giving McGreevey access to the transition fund - which allows ex-governors money "in connection with winding up the affairs of his office" - a good deal compared with the alternative.
"I think the average taxpayer in New Jersey, if given the opportunity to buy out McGreevey's last year in office for $500,000 or keep him on, would buy him out," he said. More here
It’s All a Matter of Priorities
Sen. Jon Corzine, who will become a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee when the new Congress convenes next month, said he hopes to be able to ask detainees directly about accusations of mistreatment by U.S. interrogators. Read more of the Newark Star-Ledger report here.
Notice anything odd about this trip? We did. First, it’s the “holiday season” and the New Jersey congressional delegation is going to Gitmo to see how the enemy troops are doing. Great set of priorities guys. Second, the military says the detention camp holds roughly 550 detainees from 42 countries, speaking 17 different languages. We doubt Corzine has the language skills to ask detainees directly about anything. Third, unless the delegation brings along their own translators, the group will be relying on the translation services of the team accused of mistreating the detainees. The mission should be very productive.
However, we know the real purpose of Corzine and friend’s trip is publicity - a boondoggle to show deep concern for the welfare of terrorists and “enemy combatants” in the hands of our military. Now what does that tell you about these three Democrats representing New Jersey? They believe showing concern for the enemy at Christmas time is good PR. How little these men must think of the members of our military in harm’s way and the sacrifices they and their families make in to protect the citizens of this country. How pathetic that these men believe the people of New Jersey will look favorably upon the timing and nature of their tour.
It’s all a matter of priorities. Protecting our country, concern for our troops and not wasting taxpayer money apparently is not high on Corzine,Menendez and Holt’s list of priorities. Let them know what you think.
Something To Look Forward To
The largest-ever survey of New Jersey's doctors has made an alarming discovery: More than 1,000 of the state's nearly 20,000 practicing physicians are so frustrated with working here they plan to quit the profession or move to another state.
New Jersey Job Growth Expected to Slow in Coming Decade
Employment growth in New Jersey will slow from 1.5 percent this year to an annual average of 1.1 percent, or 47,000 jobs, over the next decade, according to the semi-annual forecast unveiled by the Rutgers Economic Advisory Service at a New Brunswick conference. Nancy H. Mantell, director of the advisory service, said most job growth over the next decade will be in the huge services sector, particularly in education and health care, the two segments that had the most growth from 1990 to 2003.
Task Force Recommends Constitutional Convention
A report being forwarded to the Legislature by the end of the year recommends that lawmakers approve a ballot question for next November asking whether a constitutional convention to change the existing property tax system should be convened. Because the state's tax structure is set in the New Jersey Constitution, voters must approve any changes.
Tax Task Force Rules Out Spending Cuts
Carl E. Van Horn, a Rutgers University professor who served as the task force chairman, said the panel was right to urge a narrow focus for the convention. He said if delegates were charged with conducting a wide review of state spending, it would open a Pandora’s box and the convention could become a venue for delegates to advance their own ideological or social concerns.
Two Republicans on the panel, Senate Minority Leader Leonard Lance and Assemblyman Kevin O'Toole, R-Essex, disagreed, arguing that the convention would be a futile exercise if delegates don't examine ways to cut spending on public programs, which are funded by property taxes.
"A convention that addresses revenues only does half the job, and its work will be negated in two to three years by increases in spending," Lance said. "This will merely provide temporary property tax relief and no true property tax reform."
Acting Governor Codey has said he would not oppose convention legislation, even though he does not think it is a panacea for reform.
- Voters in November 2005 would have to authorize the convention and elect delegates.
- The convention should focus only on reducing the burden of local property taxes, most likely with new or increased state taxes. Proposals should be "revenue neutral," meaning that total state and local taxes collected should not increase or decrease.
- The convention should be barred from mandating local spending reductions, such as forced consolidation, or disturbing constitutional language that hasz led to court orders mandating affordable housing construction in suburbs and increased state aid for low-income school districts.
- The convention should have the power to propose both statutory changes, such as specific tax laws, and amendments to the constitution spelling out general state obligations. But if the Legislature will not authorize the convention to enact statutes - a power currently reserved to the Legislature alone - the task force urged that the convention still go forward with the power to propose amendments.
- Voters in 2006 would have to ratify the convention's recommendations.
None of the panel's recommendations are binding. It will be up to the state Legislature next year to adopt or reject them, and decide whether New Jersey should assemble its first constitutional convention since 1966.More here.
Codey Eliminates “Pay To Play” For New York Giants
To add to the intrigue, a reliable source has informed us that Senator Corzine has struck a deal with Codey over next year’s Governor’s race. Codey will stay out of the race in return for being named head of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority by a Governor Corzine.
- $700 Million to build a new stadium provided through tax-exempt bonds issued by New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority
- 12 acres of state-owned land for the new stadium
- 30,000 surface parking spaces in and around the East Rutherford sports complex
- 90% of parking revenues
- Full control over all events held at the stadium
- All stadium revenue generated for all events
- Control over the companies that may advertise at the new stadium, Continental Airlines Arena and the Meadowlands Racetrack
New Jersey Gets:
- $700 million in debt but payments from the Giants against the dept
- $1 a year in rent
- Expense of constructing and maintaining a 30,000 space parking lot
- 10 % of parking fees
- The existing 76,000 seat Giants stadium adjacent to the new stadium – minus a tenant
- A football team that plays in New Jersey by the name of the New York Giants
Can’t Get This Song Out Of My Head
Common Sense for the Holidays – Washington Post
Noel Carols: Correctness and Controversy – Nation Public Radio
O Come, All Ye Faithful - Michelle Malkin Blog
Does Christmas Need to Be Saved? – New York Times
’Tis the time to feel offended, tra-la-la-la….– Fort Wayne News Sentinel
The Grinch Who Stole ‘Messiah’ – New York Post
A Jew says 'Merry Christmas' – Boston Globe
'Frosty' vs. 'All Ye faithful' – USA Today
Killing Christmas – Toronto Free Press
N.J. School Bans Christmas Carols – Free Republic Blog
Taking Back Christmas – LA Times
Compiling this list got us to thinking that perhaps the School Board’s policy and actions had more to do with grabbing “15 minutes of fame” than protecting children from the trauma of listening to an instrumental rendition of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
Ah-oh, fame comes at a price. Anti-Christmas District Hit With Federal Lawsuit. “The New Jersey school district that banned Christmas music, even by instrumental groups, from its holiday concerts has been hit with a lawsuit claiming officials have demonstrated hostility toward religion.” Read the entire article here
One more thing before we move off this topic. When this poster was young and in public school I learned to sing: The Republic of China (Taiwan) national anthem, Hanukah, Oh Hanukah, and Stille Nacht (Silent Night in German) to name a few. Each of these songs have something in common, I can remember the tune and lyrics to each of them.
I was not offended by learning another country’s national anthem – although I did think it a bit strange that my third grade class was led off each day with the Pledge of Alliance, the Lord’s Prayer and free China’s national anthem. No, the teacher was not Chinese, nor was anyone in my class. I passed it off as being perhaps one of the few songs the teacher knew how to play on the upright piano she installed in our classroom. Even then, I didn’t think she played the piano very well. But she enjoyed it and I learned the only bit of Chinese I know to this day. We learned the song’s first line in Chinese and the rest in English.
You’ll have to take my word for it that I remember the tune. The tune is catchy – maybe that’s why it won the world's best national anthem at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin Germany. Here are the words. By the way, San Min Chu-i means three principles of the people - the English title of the song.
Similarly, I was not offended by learning Silent Night in a foreign language or Hanukah, Oh Hanukah, a song about a holiday that I did not celebrate at home. I thought it was new, different and interesting. It was fun and I enjoyed it. Indoctrination? No, just a multicultural and diverse education. Hmm.
San Min Chu-i,
Our aim shall be:
To found, a free land,
World peace, be our stand.
Lead on, comrades,
Vanguards ye are.
Hold fast your aim,
By sun and star.
Be earnest and brave,
Your country to save,
One heart, one soul,
One mind, one goal
Anyway, we have to admit we like the sound of the word kerfuffle and it just seems to colorfully encapsulate this whole Christmas hoo-hah. We promise in the future to use the term more sparingly.
Noun: kerfuffle (kur’fúful)
Definition: 1.a commotion or fuss; 2.a disorderly outburst or tumult
Synonyms: disturbance, disruption, commotion, flutter, to-do, hoo-ha, hoo-hah
Origin: perhaps from Scots curfuffle (from fuffle to disorder), or related to Irish cior thual ‘confusion, disorder’
Bitten By The Hum-Bug
The article “Just Leave Christmas Alone” is excellent and can be read in its entirety here.
"Holiday celebrations where Christmas music is being sung make people feel different, and because it is such a majority, it makes the minority feel uncomfortable." -- Mark Brownstein, parent, Maplewood, N.J., supporting the school board's ban on religious music in holiday concerts.
It is Christmastime, and what would Christmas be without the usual platoon of annoying pettifoggers rising annually to strip Christmas of any Christian content? With some success. The attempts to de-Christianize Christmas are as absurd as they are relentless. The United States today is the most tolerant and diverse society in history. It celebrates all faiths with an open heart and open-mindedness that, compared to even the most advanced countries in Europe, are unique.
Yet more than 80 percent of Americans are Christian, and probably 95 percent of Americans celebrate Christmas. Christmas Day is an official federal holiday, the only day of the entire year when, for example, the Smithsonian museums are closed. Are we to pretend that Christmas is nothing but an orgy of commerce in celebration of . . . what? The winter solstice?
To insist that the overwhelming majority of this country stifle its religious impulses in public so that minorities can feel "comfortable" not only understandably enrages the majority but commits two sins. The first is profound ungenerosity toward a majority of fellow citizens who have shown such generosity of spirit toward minority religions.
The second is the sin of incomprehension -- a failure to appreciate the uniqueness of the communal American religious experience. Unlike, for example, the famously tolerant Ottoman Empire or the generally tolerant Europe of today, the United States does not merely allow minority religions to exist at its sufferance. It celebrates and welcomes and honors them.
America transcended the idea of mere toleration in 1790 in Washington's letter to the Newport synagogue, one of the lesser known glories of the Founding: "It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights."
More than two centuries later, it is time that members of religious (and anti-religious) minorities, as full citizens of this miraculous republic, transcend something too: petty defensiveness.
Same Song – Different Day
How is it that people that advocate multicultural education and diversity are often times the same ones that ban Christmas music from being performed in our public schools?
To answer that question we thought it would be helpful to define the meaning of the term “multicultural education” and highlight the policies and stated objectives of the Maplewood, NJ school system. We chose Maplewood because we’re a New Jersey blog and the school system’s ban of Christmas music has been written and talked about across the country
The National Association for Multicultural Education provides the following definition: Multicultural education is a process that helps students develop a positive self-concept by providing knowledge about the histories, cultures, and contributions of diverse groups.
From page 26 of Maplewood’s 2002 School Diversity Inventory we learn: A goal or objective of an education program should be to increase understanding and appreciation for persons of various faiths or religions.
Well, based on the authoritative definition of multicultural education and one of Maplewood’s diversity objectives we would think Christmas music would fit very nicely into the school’s education programs. So our researched continued.
This led us to review the Maplewood School District policy # 2270.- Religion In The Schools. This is the policy cited by the School Board for banning Christmas music, including instrumental renditions. The relevant passages are quoted below:
Music, art, literature, dance and drama along with religious customs and traditions, which have come to us from various elements of our national population, may be used to broaden our pupils’awareness of the many elements that comprise our diverse American culture.
Religious orientations and institutions have had a profound impact on human experience, past and present. An education excluding such a significant aspect would be incomplete.
The practice of the South Orange Maplewood School District will be to permit the inclusion of religious literature, music, drama, dance and visual arts in the curriculum provided that it achieves specific goals of the written curriculum in the various fields of study; that it is presented objectively; and that it neither inhibits nor advances any religious point of view.
Religious music, like any other music, can only be used if it achieves specific goals of the music curriculum. Music programs prepared or presented by student groups as an outcome of the curriculum shall not have a religious orientation or focus on religious holidays.
Did you notice anything about the policy? The policy makes sense until the last sentence. However, we would argue that the majority of Christmas music in not “religious music” but instead is “folk music". And here’s why.
Religious music is defined as a genre of music composed for performance as part of religious ceremonies. We would argue that the majority of “Christmas songs” do not conform to the definition of religious music, especially when performed in a secular setting such as in a public school, a town hall or public square. When performed in these settings, they can better be characterized as folk songs.
Folk songs are defined as songs traditionally sung by the common people of a region and forms part of their culture. The folk music of a culture is the music that is passed down from one generation to the next. It includes many different kinds of music: lullabies and children's singing games, tunes that people enjoy singing together or dancing to, songs for celebrations, ceremonies, and holidays. Since ancient times, folk music has been the music of ordinary people and not the ruling class. Let’s look at an example.
Although banned by the Maplewood School Board, I think we can be certain Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was not composed for performance as part of a religious ceremony. Rudolph is a folk song. In case you have forgotten the words or are unfamiliar with the song, here are the lyrics:
Yes, Christmas Eve and Santa are mentioned in the song, but the message does not focus on the Christian religion or the even the Christmas holiday. It teaches some very valuable lessons and valuing diversity is one of them. So, if Rudolph can’t pass the Maplewood policy test, even when performed as an instrumental, then all traditional Christmas songs are off limits.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Had a very shiny nose,
And if you ever saw it,
You could even say it glows.
All of the other reindeer
Used to laugh and call him names;
They never let poor Rudolph
Join in any reindeer games
Then one foggy Christmas Eve,
Santa came to say:
"Rudolph with your nose so bright,
Won't you guide my sleigh tonight?"
Then how the reindeer loved him
As they shouted out with glee,
"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,
You'll go down in history."
So we suggest Maplewood skip all the flowery language about permitting the inclusion of “religious music”; broadening pupils’ awareness of the many elements that comprise our diverse American culture; and educations excluding such a significant aspect being incomplete. The School Board policy need only state that students may not perform in any manner, music or songs that have been, or may in the future be, associated with any faith, creed, religion, or holiday.
Finally we would suggest that Christmas songs are among the most popular examples of American “folk music” and they are despised in certain circles for that very reason. These songs are an integral of part of our culture and a concerted effort is underway to remake the cultural from the top down. As in ancient times, folk music is the music of ordinary people and not the ruling class. Nothing’s changed, the ruling class still looks down its nose at our quaint traditions and music, while the cranks cheer them on.
Same Old Song
This inspired outraged WABC Radio co-hosts Curtis Sliwa, the conservative Guardian Angels founder, and outspoken left-wing lawyer Ron Kuby -- two guys who rarely agree on anything -- to poll listeners. Of 3,750 respondents, 93 percent said the ban on carols was "another example of the PC crowd going nuts."
Enlighten-New Jersey thinks Jessica Schneider, as reported by Newsday, has the right take on this kerfuffle:
Jessica Schneider, a 16-year-old who plays in the ensemble band at Columbia High in Maplewood, called the district's Christmas carol ban "kind of silly." She was among a dozen students who formed a group to perform Christmas carols outside in Ricalton Square last weekend.
"Personally, I don't know anyone who objected, and as a student who's part of the school's Jewish population, I would think I would have," Schneider said. "To me, it's just music and it's giving the community something to be happy about it."
Preschool Spending Out of Control
The Newark Preschool Council “prepares three to five year-olds for kindergarten” at a cost of $12,722 per child. The average cost per high school student in New Jersey is $11,313, the highest average in the nation. We are spending $1,400 more a year to prepare a child for kindergarten than to prepare a child for college or the world of work. Does this make sense? Is it efficient to provide services at 45 sites, with an average of 51 preschoolers per location?
This brings us to another big question - how effective has the Council been in achieving its objectives? Would it surprise you to learn that this agency has been preparing the children of Newark for kindergarten for 40 years? The record would suggest the Newark Preschool Council has failed miserably in its mission.
The Council is currently looking for a new Director of Finance, Chief Financial Officer, perhaps a step in the right direction given the program’s budget deficits. However, we suggest more than a new CFO is needed to save the children and the taxpayers of New Jersey from the Newark Preschool Council boondoggle. The citizens of New Jersey must hold our politicians accountable and demand the immediate overhaul of bloated, failing preschool programs throughout the state. We can not afford to overlook this problem any longer.
Whitman - It's My Party
The former Governor has started the Whitman Strategy Group, a consulting firm that will advise businesses and government agencies on environmental policies, international negotiations, smart growth, homeland security and emergency response issues. The group, an all female partnership, already has New Jersey offices in Peapack and Gladstone Borough and will open an office in Washington next month.
To be released next month, Whitman’s book It's My Party Too: The Battle for the Heart of the GOP and the Future of America, “takes readers inside the tumultuous world of our politics today to reveal how a moderate approach can work wonders while that of extremists only leads to more division and fewer solutions.”
Editor’s Note: While rushing to preorder Whitman’s book be careful not to order It's My Party: A Republican's Messy Love Affair with the GOP by mistake.
New Jersey Deserves Better
So what is the reaction of New Jersey’s Senators Lautenberg and Corzine? It’s just as we predicted in our post here. Read on.
Senator Frank Lautenberg (D) was seething after Homeland Security money for Newark plummeted 17 percent, to $12.4 million, while New York City's federal anti-terrorism aid soared 344 percent. Lautenberg said New Jersey got shafted although the stretch of land from Newark's Liberty Airport to the harbor "is the biggest terrorist target in the country. I don't know whether this is a political repercussion of some kind," Lautenberg vented. More here.
Senator Jon Corzine (D), who is running for Governor, said that if elected, he would work with the congressional delegation to fix the funding formula "to make sure that people in Homeland Security all the way to the top understand the exposure [to an attack] we have here." More here.
We are very disappointed in the performance of our two Senators, Corzine and Lautenberg. They failed to be effective advocates for our Homeland Security funding needs and failed to take personal responsibly for the loss in aid to New Jersey. Both Senators voted for the bill that cut funding to New Jersey. The time for action was before the bill was passed into law, not after the vote. Instead they hold a press conference where Lautenberg assumes the role of victim, blaming others for New Jersey being “shafted” and Corzine makes a campaign promise in his bid to be elected Governor.
Senator Lautenberg speculates that the reduction in funding may be a political repercussion of some kind. Hinting we suppose, that the Republican administration and Congress are punishing New Jersey because our Senators are both Democrats or because our state went for Kerry in this past election. This doesn’t seem the likely scenario, as New York with two Democrat senators (Clinton and Schumer), went for Kerry in 2004 and managed to secure a 344 percent increase in funding.
Even more puzzling, was Senator Corzine’s response to the funding cut. He promises, if elected Governor of New Jersey, to work with the congressional delegation to fix the funding formula. Mr. Corzine’s statement seems to telegraph his complete lack of confidence in his ability to represent New Jersey as a Senator and any sense of urgency to solve the funding problem. Senator Corzine wasn’t effective as part of New Jersey’s congressional delegation this year, doesn’t think he can solve the problem next year as a member of the delegation, but will get cracking on the issue as soon as he becomes governor in 2006.
We believe New Jersey deserves better representation in the Senate. We also believe the Democrats can nominate a better candidate for Governor than Jon Corzine. Mr. Corzine could have better served New Jersey if he had donated the $62 million he spent on his Senate campaign in 2000 to the state. The same will hold true for the Governor’s race in 2005.
Has the River LINE been a good investment? When the line was first conceived 10 years ago, studies predicted the passenger rail would cost $314 million to build and carry 11,200 fares a day. The reality – the River LINE cost taxpayers $1.1 billion to build and averaged only 5,506 fares per day during its peak month of July. The River LINE now can claim the distinction of being the least cost effective passenger rail line in the country.
This year the line is expected to cost taxpayers $70 million dollars ($50 million in debt repayment and $20 million in operating expenses).but generate at most just $2 million in revenue. Assuming the line attains its best average number of fares per day of 5,506 for an entire year, the cost per trip to taxpayers will be $35.
That’s right, a round trip on the River LINE will cost taxpayers $70 and the rider will pay at most $2.20. Should average ridership double and achieve the original planned estimate of 11,200 fares per day, the taxpayers will still be out $65 million every year and that’s if every rider pays $1.10 per trip.
The River LINE was a losing proposition for taxpayers based on the state’s original projections and has now grown into scandalous financial mismanagement. Just think of the ways the state could spend $70 million more effectively every year - on schools to reduce property taxes; on our crumbling roads and bridges; on existing mass transit; or perhaps a cost effective project to deal with the truck traffic problem.
Read more on the River LINE: Courier Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, UTU, NJT River LINE.
New Jersey Truck Traffic
To add insult to injury, large trucks fail to pay their fair share of road costs. The 2000 Federal Highway Cost Allocation Study found that heavy trucks underpay their share of highway costs by nearly $1.9 billion annually. We’ll bet New Jersey is undercharging trucks, but we have no way of knowing. As the report points out, New Jersey has not conducted a cost allocation study to determine the cost responsibility of each vehicle class on the roads in our state. This information would help law makers determine whether changes need to be made in order to charge each vehicle class its fair share of road maintenance costs.
We don’t know the answer to the truck problem, but it seems greater use of the rail system would be a start. While the Reason Public Policy Institute proposes a new alternative – Toll Truckways. Their concept would add specialized heavy-duty toll truck lanes to existing major highways, especially long-distance Interstate routes. These lanes would be for trucks only and would be barrier-separated from general traffic to form separate “Truckways”.
By significantly increasing truck payload capacity allowing [longer combination vehicles (LCVs)], Toll Truckways would reduce the cost of shipping most U.S. freight, making better use of the nation’s extensive highway network. By separating much heavy truck traffic from automobiles, Truckways would reduce the extent of car-truck collisions, thereby improving highway safety. By hauling more freight in fewer trucks, the Truckways would produce net environmental benefits. And by making use of toll financing this important addition to the highway system could be accomplished at much less cost to highway trust funds than paying for the Truckways out of fuel tax revenues.
Let’s hope our representatives in Trenton and Washington start planning for the future, as we shudder to think of 80% more truck traffic in the Garden State.
NY Giants Seek New $700M Stadium In NJ
If you ask us, the last thing New Jersey needs is to help fund the construction of a new stadium and for a New York football team no less. “The New York Giants” have been playing their “home” games in New Jersey since 1976. Wouldn’t you think at some point the team would have shown some respect for their host state and changed the name to the Jersey Giants or at least drop the New York. Of course why pick on the Giants, the Meadowlands stadium also hosts the New York Jets and the New York MetroStars.
We’d like to see an independent cost-benefit analysis on behalf of New Jersey taxpayers completed before anyone wastes even a dime on discussions, studies and plans for a new stadium. What’s in it for the people of New Jersey? We already know how the Giants owners will benefit – they will make more money. An NFL team derives about 70% of its income from television with the balance coming from merchandise licenses, ticket and concession sales. NFL teams practice extensive revenue sharing and therefore have a powerful incentive to maximize the components of revenue that are not shared, such as premium seating and fancy concessions. Exactly what the Giants want in their new stadium.
If a new stadium is such a great investment then the Giants should have no trouble obtaining private financing. If they can’t attract investors, then we think we can safely say a new stadium is not a good investment of taxpayer money. So that leaves the Giants with the option of staying put or finding another home. The New York name seems very portable, so perhaps Connecticut or even Los Angeles would be willing to call the NY Giants their home team.
State Spending – It’s A Matter Of Choice
Our representatives spend more than the state takes in and then they are outraged when we can’t afford to pay for the basics – like homeland security. Why don’t we hold these guys accountable? Why do we continue to reelect these people? In the end we only have ourselves to blame – so it’s time we wake up, pay attention and vote for those that know the difference between priorities and pork.
Charles Webster’s column in the Trentonian is right on point:
Democrats have spent a lot of time moaning and groaning about homeland security cash shortages over the past few years. Last year, it was former Gov. Jim McGreevey crying about the state being short-changed, but he was also the guy who failed to show up for a meeting with Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge earlier this year - opting to spend the day down the shore talking about tourism.
Now it’s acting Gov. Dick Codey and other Democrats in the leadership taking to their soapbox to complain about homeland security cuts. The state is poised to get about $31 million less in 2005 compared to this year. That’s a big chunk of change, but there is a pool of money to draw from if Codey has the intestinal fortitude to stand up to his free-spending friends over in the Assembly.
How about pulling back every last dollar of the more than $70 million Democrats hoarded into their districts this year. Let’s take back the $3.4 million that happened to find its way into GOP districts too. We could save a bundle on our homeland security insurance bucks if we just tapped into the 20 million Christmas tree dollars Assembly Speaker Albio Sires and Majority Leader Joe Roberts funneled into their districts.
These two guys spend money like drunken sailors on shore leave after a long cruise.Sires pocketed more than $8.8 million in his district, and a majority of that money--$5.75 million is for West New York where he lives and double dips as mayor. West New Yorkers can live a lot safer without the $2 million to refurbish a garage, another $2 million for street repairs and $1.4 million for upgrading recreational facilities. Who cares?
We need to be safe - pretty hard to worry about all those things if terrorists are planning a suicide mission downtown.Nix it all. Adios. Put a stop payment on all these frivolous checks and pour it into something worthwhile to everyone in the state - including those very people in Sires’ district.
Codey needs to put that money into homeland security.Sires doesn’t need $250,000 for the beautification of his dumpy town - that money is better spent on homeland security, not some over-priced flowers and a few ugly flower boxes. Oh, and there is a hefty $14 million to tap into from Joe Roberts’ district too. Put it back. Stop payment!
Roberts’ beloved Camden got $3.5 million to buy up land, a feasibility study and a nice new office for the Camden Redevelopment Agency. Puleeze! Camden doesn’t need a $3.5 million do as you please Christmas gift from Roberts at the expense of our security.
And while we’re at it, Bellmawr can wait for their $15,000 hydraulic lift and Woodbury doesn’t really need a $350,000 skate park at the expense of our security. Stop payment now!
And if Codey is looking for an excuse for being so bold - tell them that if the state isn’t safe it won’t matter how beautiful West New York streets look, and it sure as heck isn’t going to matter if we’re redeveloping anything in Camden if there’s terrorists setting off bombs in the streets.
Codey has been on a good roll since taking office. It’s time to continue in that direction and just say no to Sires and Roberts who have all this excess cash burning a hole in their pockets.
It’s the holiday season and what better present for the citizens of New Jersey then to put a stop to their irresponsible spending by redirecting all that cash into protecting us all. Does Codey have the guts to pull it off? The answer could decide if he’s acting like a governor or serious about being the governor for real.
Little More Than A Formality
Bill Proposed To Limit Governor Promo Ads
Program Prevents Property Tax Increases
Hmm, extraordinary aid is given by the state to municipalities that can prove the aid is needed in order to prevent property tax increases. Every homeowner we know across the state sees their property taxes rise year after year. Seems to us that most towns in New Jersey could prove they need aid in order to prevent property tax increases. We wonder how the towns are chosen? Elighten-New Jersey will have to look into this state program.
Update: $21 million in extraordinary aid is being granted to municipalities by the state for 2005. The aid is designed to provide short-term local property tax relief resulting from extraordinary circumstances beyond the control of a municipality. See if your community is a beneficiary.
Action Required - Corzine Releases Statement To The Press
Corzine comments on New Jersey’s vulnerability to terrorist attacks at length, but what has he actually done in the Senate to improve the security gaps here in New Jersey? How long before he criticizes this new bill and laments New Jersey has been short-changed? Does Corzine ever take responsibility or Lautenberg for that matter?
Our two Senators haven’t grasped the concept that the Congress passes legislation and funds programs, not the President. Corzine and Lautenberg are supposed to represent the people of New Jersey and the best interests of the entire country. As far as we are concerned, they spend their time promoting themselves and the Democrat Party.
Now Corzine will be take a seat on the Senate Intelligence Committee. That’s great, he’ll spend the entire year buying the Democrat nomination for governor and then campaigning for the position. Doesn’t New Jersey deserve better representation? Wake up New Jersey, Corzine’s only interest is Corzine.
Snips from the Corzine press release below, the entire statement here.
I am pleased today to vote for the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. The bill represents a critical step toward improving our intelligence capabilities.
The establishment of a Director of National Intelligence is also necessary if we are to successfully prioritize our efforts to fight terrorism, confront threats from nation states, stabilize failed states that act as breeding grounds for terrorists, and stop the proliferation of nuclear and other dangerous weapons.
Improving our intelligence capabilities is especially important to the people of New Jersey. More than 700 of New Jersey’s citizens died on September 11, 2001. At least two of the 9/11 terrorists lived in New Jersey, and the anthrax that struck Washington in October 2001 originated in New Jersey. Our state is also especially vulnerable to terrorist attack. Our transportation infrastructure, chemical plants and ports are not adequately secured, and one stretch of road has been called by the FBI the most dangerous 2 miles in America.
As a new member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I will make sure that the bill is implemented as intended, that our intelligence community has the tools and resources to protect us, and that reforming our intelligence does not result in the infringement of our civil liberties. I will also ensure that our intelligence agencies are led by the best people our country has to offer.
New Jersey’s Death Penalty
Codey, who is also Senate president, called for the moratorium yesterday as he stalled a Senate vote on a bill that would have created a 13-member death penalty study commission. The governor does not think it makes sense to do a study without a moratorium.
New Jersey has not executed anyone in 41 years, and capital punishment is already on hold as the Department of Corrections devises new lethal injection rules.
Remembering Pearl Harbor
NJ GOP Gears Up For 2005 Elections
New Jersey Republicans, who haven't won a statewide election in seven years, are hoping a new party chairman, combined with Democratic ethics scandals, can overcome what one GOP official calls a "culture of defeat" within the party. "We've developed a culture of defeat," said Bill Baroni, R-Hamilton, who was the lone Republican to oust a Democrat incumbent in last year's legislative elections. "We, as the Republican Party, need to reintroduce ourselves to the people of New Jersey and tell them what we're for and not just that we're against Democrats."
"There is such a huge difference between what the Democrats have done in their three years in power and how we see things, specifically as it relates to taxes and spending and that's why we're going to win the gubernatorial race," said Sen. Diane Allen, R-Edgewater Park..
“Democrats have a lot to answer for - fiscally, ethically and in other ways. We've had a Democrat U.S. senator drop out of a race in disgrace. We've had a Democrat governor resign in disgrace”, said Bill Palatucci, finance chairman for the Republican State Committee. “The playing field has changed. Being the party of reform is not simply saying that we're not them. We have a positive message that contrasts with the scandals of the Democrats."
Corzine Supports Kerik Nomination
Our Senator Jon Corzine seems to support Kerik’s nomination:
“I know Mr. Kerik to be an accomplished and well respected law enforcement official. I am pleased that a New Jersey native, someone from this region who bore witness to the tragedy of 9/11and served on the front lines of the response has been nominated to head the Department of Homeland Security.“
$10 Trillion and Counting
Forty years ago a young, radical journalist helped ignite the War on Poverty with his pioneering book The Other America. In its pages, Michael Harrington warned that the recently proclaimed age of affluence was a mirage, that beneath the surface of U.S. prosperity lay tens of millions of people stuck in hopeless poverty that only massive government intervention could help.
Today, a new generation of journalists is straining to duplicate Harrington's feat—to convince contemporary America that its economic system doesn't work for millions and that only government can lift them out of poverty. These new journalists face a tougher task than Harrington's, though, because all levels of government have spent about $10 trillion on poverty programs since his book appeared, with disappointing, even counterproductive, results. And over the last four decades, millions of poor people, immigrants and native-born alike, have risen from poverty, without recourse to the government programs that Harrington inspired.
U.N. Money-for-Peace Scam May Force Annan to Resign
(2004-12-02) -- U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan today vigorously denied allegations that he has overseen a complex, fraudulent scheme to pilfer billions of dollars from 191 nations under the guise of providing "global peace services."
U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, R-MN, said "this money-for-peace scam stinks even more than the oil-for-food scandal which funded Saddam Hussein's murderous regime." "To state it simply, the U.N. doesn't deliver the peacekeeping services it promises, yet it continues to cash the checks from member nations," said Sen. Coleman. "It's a global Ponzi scheme, taking money from one nation to cover obligations to another and ultimately producing nothing but paychecks and perks for an army of phony diplomats and lazy bureaucrats."
Mr. Annan brushed off suggestions that he should step down, and insisted he has fulfilled his role of fostering global peace by "holding meetings, eating in fine restaurants and speaking very softly in a charming accent."
ESPecial Talent Required
Identifying politicians with ulterior motives doesn’t seem ESPecially difficult to me. Finding a New Jersey politician that doesn’t – now that would be amazing.
Corzine doesn’t really want to “help” people - he needs to feed his ego, to self actualize. He got the boot from his Wall Street job and now needs to prove he’s still a player. And so he pretends he left Wall Street to pursue other interests – public service.
Not content with being “just a Senator” he wants us to believe his background and experience are really more in line with running the show as Governor of New Jersey. That he can do more for “the people” in a CEO type roll. Does anyone really think he will be content as Governor? Clearly he is trying to pad his resume so that he can apply for his dream job – President of the United States.
Corzine has been a poor Senator, didn’t do such a bang up job as Chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and we shudder to think how much worse things might become under a Governor Corzine. But a President Corzine – maybe his dream, it’s our nightmare.
We are not alone in our assessment, Patrick Ruffini wonders if Jon Corzine's decision to run for Governor of New Jersey is really a set-up for a Presidential run in '08.