"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance

 and a people who mean to be their own governors

 must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Like It Or Not, These Are The Facts

During a recent editorial board meeting at the Courier-Post, Assemblywoman Nilsa Cruz-Perez ( D-Camden) was asked about Sen. Wayne Bryant's ( D-Lawnside) $270,000 contract to represent Camden City in eminent domain matters against residents. Under the agreement, Camden taxpayers are footing the bill for one of their representatives in Trenton to aid their city in removing them from their homes.

So how did Cruz-Perez answer the editorial board’s question? She said: "I think it's a conflict of interest" Finally a politician that is willing to state the obvious, even when it places a member of her party in a bad light. Good for Cruz-Perez, right? Well, not quite.
"The city of Camden and the 5th Legislative District is blessed to have Wayne Bryant as our senator," reads a written statement handed out by her campaign manager. "He is my friend and colleague, and I believe he acts at all times appropriately and with the best interests of the district and the city of Camden."
What happened to the “conflict of interest’? "(Cruz-Perez) called me personally and told me she was misquoted," Bryant said Wednesday in Trenton.

Claiming someone has been misquoted or quoted out of context is the ready excuse of politicians and their supporters. People are willing to buy the excuse, because the media has so often been guilty of slanting the news, twisting words and quoting people out of context. This is one of the reasons we often note, saying or printing something doesn’t make it so. What are the facts?

Cruz-Perez did say she thought Bryant’s contact with Camden was a conflict of interest and the Courier-Post says they can prove it. You see her remarks were made in front of two reporters, an editor and a tape recorder.

"The facts are the facts, whether state Sen. Wayne Bryant, D-Lawnside, and Assemblywoman Nilsa Cruz-Perez, D-Camden, like them or not." So says the Courier-Post. This is just one more example of a Democrat enriching himself to the detriment of the very people he is supposed to represent. And one more example of a Democrat willing to go out of her way and say anything to excuse fellow party member's actions.

The Democrats’ pretense of representing or helping the poor has been exposed one more time. Like it or not, those are the facts. Will our friends on the left admit there is a problem with the connected Democrats and their friends themselves to taxpayer dollars? Can they begin to understand why those on the right might object to the level of taxation, when everyday we are treated to yet another politician abusing the system and leaving crumbs for the poor? We will prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

Sinking Feeling


Friday, April 29, 2005

Another New Jersey Connection To Terrorism, 9/11

Just one more reason to renew expiring provisions of the Patriot Act and to crack down on illegal aliens:

The Justice Department disclosed for the first time yesterday that two of the Sept. 11 terrorist hijackers used computers at a New Jersey state college library to access the Internet and order their airplane tickets.

The government identified the hijackers as Nawaf al Hazmi and Khalid al Mihdar, both of whom lived in an apartment in Paterson before the 2001 terrorist attacks and were on the jetliner that crashed into the Pentagon.

A Justice Department spokesman refused to name the college, but an official for William Paterson University in Wayne said last might that investigators came to the school's library following 9/11 and seized a number of public access computers.

Just Because You Say It, Doesn’t Make It So

This falls into the – “everyone has a right to their opinion, but not their own set of facts” category.

Chanting "Save our courts!" more than 100 people gathered on the steps of the Bergen County Courthouse on Wednesday to protest Republican efforts to appoint "right-wing judges" to the federal courts.

Rep. Steve Rothman, D-Fair Lawn, vowed in a statement distributed by spokesman Brice Peyre to oppose "forever" out-of-the-mainstream judges bent on rolling back decades of progress on civil rights, the environment, workers' rights and religious liberties.

"This is about insane people getting on the court," said Josephine Cilia, 52, of Fort Lee, a teacher at Cliffside Park High School. "Everybody ought to be here. It's a question of the fundamental rules of democracy."

"The right wing is trying to take over the entire system of government, including the last resort - which is our judiciary, which is fundamental to our system of checks and balances," said Lewis Miller, 33, of Mahwah.

Teddy Stern, 22, of Englewood said he traveled to the courthouse after hearing about the rally from his mother. "I'm troubled that the conservative right is interpreting the Constitution a lot like they interpret the Bible, which is to say selectively, to support their own agenda," he said.

Joan Mokray of Franklin Lakes said protesters are counting on New Jersey Sens. Jon Corzine and Frank Lautenberg to help stop the GOP effort.
For one we wish reporters would ask: “Rep Rothman, can your provide some examples of Priscilla Owen and Janice Rogers Brown’s attempt to roll back civil rights, workers’ rights, religious liberties or devastate the environment?” Hey, protesters: “Can you cite an example to back up your charges?”

Repeating accusations over and over does not make them true. Rothman’s objections to Judge Janice Rogers Brown’s nomination have no basis in fact. To read the truth about Judge Brown see this report or Thomas Sowell’s "The Lynch Mob Gathers for Janice Rogers Brown, Part I, Part II and Part III."
The fact that Justice Brown received a 76 percent vote of approval from California voters in an election to confirm her appointment to the state Supreme Court hardly fits the label that Senator Schumer and other liberal Democrats are trying to pin on her.

California voters are hardly known for being on the far right. Yet they gave Janice Rogers Brown the highest vote of approval among the four justices on the same ballot.

The truth carries little weight -- if any -- in political efforts to block judicial nominees.
A picture is worth a thousand words and this liberal cartoon should tell you where the obstructionists are coming from:


Corzine On Social Security

What is Jon Corzine’s plan for Social Security in 2005? We couldn’t find one, but here’s a bit on the “Clinton-Corzine Plan” as Corzine liked to call it, back in 2000.

From Social Security This Week - May 29, 2000

The May 8 issue of Social Security This Week commented on the race for the Democratic nomination for the Senate in New Jersey, which pits former Governor Jim Florio against ex-Goldman Sachs financier Jon Corzine. Both candidates claim White House backing for their Social Security plans. Corzine favors the original Clinton administration plan for the government to invest a portion of workers payroll taxes in the stock market, while Florio adopts the “second edition” administration plan, touted by Vice President Gore, in which all forms of market investment are deemed too risky.
From The New York Times - May 12, 2000
Both former Gov. Jim Florio and Jon S. Corzine tried to appeal to the elderly, who are expected to make up a large segment of the Democrats who vote in the June 6 primary. In their heated remarks about ways to extend the solvency of Social Security, the candidates even disputed whether President Clinton had turned away from his own plan to invest part of the Social Security trust fund in the stock market.

Mr. Corzine, whose staff has described the proposal as the "Clinton-Corzine Social Security Plan," said the plan would yield greater returns than investing in government bonds, and ensure the system's viability for future generations.
From Social Security This Week - May 8, 2000

Vice President Gore, in his recent battle with George W. Bush, now claims that the administration did not in fact ever propose such investment.

How did Corzine react to these statements? “We’re certainly surprised, but not nearly as much as Bill Clinton must be,” said one Corzine aide.” In fact, as the Times reveals, Mr. Clinton’s spokesman said earlier this month that the president still supported the concept.

Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.), another New Democrat, says, “In spite of the political rhetoric” by Gore, “this is the progressive approach. It would be irresponsible not to do it.”

In a May 10 column in the Albany Times Union, Matt Miller writes that “Kerrey, a longtime leader on entitlement reform, told me that if Gore moves from vague language about ‘secret plans’ and ‘risky schemes’ to poison the well for honest talk about Social Security’s long-term woes, he’ll ‘join the debate’ to hail Bush’s leadership and slam Gore’s irresponsibility.”
We guess Senator Corzine’s plan for Social Security is to “poison the well for honest talk about Social Security’s long-term woes” - Mr. Corzine’s “Second Edition Plan.”

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Join The Debate

From The Philadelphia Inquirer:

If you could stand in front of the Republican candidates for governor of New Jersey and ask them a question that they had to answer, what would you ask?

That is not a rhetorical question: The Inquirer is cosponsoring the May 17 gubernatorial debate for the Republican primary with New Jersey Network and the Gannett Newspapers of New Jersey. Several of you will get a chance to attend the debate in Trenton as The Inquirer's Citizen Voices contingent and ask the candidates your question on live television.

So send us your questions about New Jersey issues. We -will also pose some of your questions to the candidates on the op-ed pages of the paper and in our endorsement interviews with candidates.

Submit a question via e-mail to sjvoices@phillynews.com or via regular mail to the South Jersey Commentary Page, 53 Haddonfield Rd., Suite 300, Cherry Hill, N.J., 08002.

Keep questions to 40 words or fewer, and let us know your name, address, telephone number, e-mail address and party registration.

What Do You Mean By Moderate?

Today Ann Coulter writes:
Democrats want to terrify people by claiming Bush's judicial nominees are nutcase extremists hell-bent on shredding the Constitution — as opposed to liberals' preferred method of simply rewriting it on a daily basis — but they're terrified that someone might ask them what they mean by "extremist." So let's ask!
We tried a similar approach to a reader's comment on our Wing-Nut Alert post:
Reader: Can't we find a moderate Republican to clean up this state?

Enlighten-NewJersey: Must admit we're at a loss, what positions would a "moderate" Republican or Democrat hold?
So far no answers – perhaps moving our question to the main page will catch people’s attention.

What do Freeloaders Do Anyway?

"It is just another example of these guys making a living off of public service and being more concerned with building their power base than serving their constituency," said Brian Daneman, 44, of Little Silver.

Freeholders, Freeloaders – what’s the difference? Article here.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Cash-Poor Schools And The Magic Cap

The Courier News reports:

Acting Gov. Richard J. Codey signed an executive order Tuesday aimed at ending waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer money in the state agency spending at least $8.6 billion building schools.

But even with Codey's signature, money to cash-poor school districts covered by the Abbott vs. Burke funding-equity case remained locked up as the state inspector general continues her work.
“Cash-poor school districts covered by Abbott”? Under what possible definition can the Abbott school districts be considered cash-poor? Let’s look at a good example:

Newark City, an Abbott district, spends $714,095,883 on public schools for an average of $15,796 per student with 11.8 students per teacher.

84 % Funds from the state = $599,840,543
9 % Funds from Newark Property Taxes = $64,268,630
6% Funds from Federal Government = $42,845,753
1% Funds from Other = $ 7,140,959

Newark provides less than 10% of their school funding from property taxes and spends nearly $15,796 a year per student - and the Courier News wants you to believe the Abbott school districts are cash-poor? The only one’s cash-poor are the taxpayers in the non-Abbott school districts. (To be fair, the MSM usually refers to the Abbott schools in this manner, it's just not a Courier News misnomer.)

Why does Newark pay only 9% of the cost of its own public schools? The courts capped the maximum amount Newark is allowed to spend on its schools to the amount the city spent in 1991. Unfortunately, school performance in Newark hasn’t changed much since 1991 either.

This arrangement of course frees up Newark to spend the city’s revenue on such essential things as $210 million for an ice hockey arena and $36 million on a money losing minor league baseball stadium. (The people in Essex County got stuck with paying the debt service of $500,000 a year for the baseball stadium.)

Is there any incentive for Newark’s politicians and bureaucrats to spend money wisely, to hold down costs or fight waste, abuse and all manner of corruption surrounding public school spending? I think you know the answer. Absolutely none. And don’t think Newark is a unique example of an Abbott school district – the financials for each district may be found here.

Meanwhile people like Scott Raab and his wife, Lisa Brennan who live in Glen Ridge, New Jersey are upset because their son’s class has 27 students. With average property taxes of $14,100, Glen Ridge taxpayers pay 91% of the town’s public school costs. Average cost per pupil? $10,078.

Now back to that $8.6 billion for school construction Codey is trying to protect from waste, fraud and abuse. How’s that money being allocated to New Jersey’s School Districts?

The construction fund includes $6 billion for spending in the Abbott districts. DeMarco said that money is "not 'frozen' frozen" but rather must be approved by Cooper [the state's new Inspector General] before it can be expended.

"It's a step in the right direction, and it comes none too soon," said Senate Minority Leader Leonard Lance, R-Lebanon. "That bonded money has now been spoken for, the $8.6 billion. ... Not all of it has been spent, but it has been spoken for. I do not believe the Legislature will permit a second round of bonding without making sure the system is without questions."
Yes, that’s right the $8.6 billion that was supposed to fund all the Abbott school construction needs and a bit for other school districts - it's all gone and the state has not even completed half of the scheduled projects.

How’d that happen? Same incentive system, the Abbott school districts don’t pay toward the construction of their schools.

And today Steve Wynn opened the second most expensive hotel in the world, the Wynn Las Vegas, with a price tag of $2.7 billion. (The second link offers a better description of the hotel.)

Our best hope - separation of school and state. Our next best hope – vote for Bret Schundler. Looking to make matters worse – vote for Jon Corzine.

Do We Need To Draw You A Picture?

Secretary of State, Regena Thomas has three photographers on her department’s payroll. Jerry Casciano, director of the "Gov.'s Photo Lab" earns $108,842, photographer Jennifer Caruso is paid $45,276 and photographer Courtney Burke is paid $36,529.50, according to documents supplied by the Department of State. No information was provided on the total cost of medical insurance, pensions and other state provided benefits for the three employees.

"After our continuing review of what's going on in Secretary of State Regena Thomas' office, I just can't in my wildest dreams understand why she would be controlling about $200,000 worth of photographers out of her office," Assemblyman Joseph Malone, R-Burlington, the ranking Republican on the Assembly Budget Committee, told Millennium Radio.
Apparently our illustrious Secretary of State Regena Thomas can’t imagine why her office needs these essential services either:

A spokeswoman for Thomas confirmed that the three photographers are still on the payroll, but told Millennium she "doesn't know what the pictures are used for or where the photo lab is."
Thankfully Acting Governor Codey knows:

Kelley Heck, spokeswoman for acting Gov. Richard J. Codey, said in an e-mail that staff photographers take pictures at events attended by the governor and their pictures "are used for a variety of purposes within the governor's office."
Heck, this may even be a bargain, how much did we pay for McGreevey to have his portrait painted as part of his transition to “private life”?

When Helping The Poor Is A Con

This post contains a great example of your tax dollars hard at work helping the poor, but first our rant. When are people going to wake up and realize politicians and other “public servants” have been using the excuse of helping the least amongst us as an excuse to enrich themselves and their friends? The Poor, the children! Baloney!

There is so much money being spent by government that it’s nearly impossible to stay ahead of the brazen squandering of hard-earned taxpayer dollars. Everyday there is a new outrage uncovered. Fraud, bribes, theft, pay-to-play, financial mismanagement and the list goes on-and-on. How bad do things need to be before it dawns on voters that they are being taken for suckers?

Far too many New Jersey politicians and their buddies in “public service” have been engaged in a con game – convincing people that they will receive more from government than they are required to pay in taxes. This can’t possibly be true for the majority of taxpayers and yet people fall for this game over and over.

Vote for me and under my plan “you just pay a little and we’ll get the other guy to pay a lot”. Trust us, we’ll take care of you and help the poor at the same time. More money for education! What they really mean is –“more money for me.” Whether it’s more money in their personal pocket or more money under their control for the thrill of power, it’s all the same - a con.

The government taxes us in so many different ways, it’s impossible for the average person to figure out how much they actually pay in taxes. That’s all part of the con game. Everyday we learn of more corruption, fraud and abuse concerning government funds - whose money do you think these people are wasting – the other guys? You’re not getting your money’s worth and the people truly deserving our help, wind up with crumbs.

It may be time to rethink how we pay for government services, the present system isn’t working. The huge sums of taxpayer money sloshing around are apparently too tempting for many in positions of trust to keep their honesty intact. For those that start out dishonest, government service and business is an electromagnet.

Now on to the latest outrage:

Newark’s city housing authority has been ordered to return $3.9 million of the $6.5 million granted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide housing for the city's low- and moderate-income residents.

According to a review by federal officials, the funds were improperly used to buy a dozen building lots in a redevelopment zone designated for a sport’s arena for the New Jersey Devils. Newark’s housing authority, managed by executive director, Harold Lucas plans to challenge HUD’s order to return the funds.

HUD also found other problems, including missed deadlines for building low-income housing; failing to perform housing inspections and ensuring housing units were up to federal standards before families moved in.

Financial management practices of the housing authority were called into question last September, when $1 million was spent to refurbish the authority's headquarters, including the purchase of a plasma television for Lucas. Lucas spent money on a luxury vehicle and also paid his daughter $25,000 to run the authority's beauty pageant.

The HUD review also lowered a series of performance ratings for the housing authority, placing it in a category of being at risk for a takeover by the federal government.

What does it take for a government employee to be fired?

Wing-Nut Alert!

Bret Schundler received an endorsement from the New Jersey Right to Life group on Monday. Apparently this is not good news, because as the Star-ledger reminds us “no abortion opponent has won statewide in New Jersey since the Supreme Court decided Roe vs. Wade in 1973.” [Are there abortion proponents? Never mind, we know what they mean.]

Every report we could find provided essentially the same insight into the group’s endorsement of Schundler - the endorsement by the “anti-abortion lobby” may have helped him win the Republican primary election four years ago, but observers say it contributed to his double-digit general election loss.

Our search on “Schundler” with Google news provided 18 hits and every one was a report on this latest endorsement. A representative sample of the reporting may be found here: Philadelphia Inquirer, Star-Ledger, Newsday, NBC, and 1010 WINS.

Each report chose to lead off, not with the name of the group providing the endorsement, but with an anti-abortion or anti-abortion rights group lead – ensuring the reader understood the negative implications of receiving the thumbs up from such an extreme group.

The not so subtle message - this endorsement may put Schundler over the top with the right-wing Republican nuts that vote in the primary, but will lead to sure defeat in a general election. Wishful thinking?

This is all very interesting and Schundler did receive the endorsement, but what do abortion rights have to do with the gubernatorial election? As the Star-Ledger pointed out, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Roe vs. Wade back in 1973 and last we checked the Governor of New Jersey has no authority to overturn that decision. Pro-life, pro-choice – a Governor can’t change the law of the land.

Call us crazy, but the abortion issue has absolutely nothing to do with this election, any more than a candidate’s opinion on drilling for oil in ANWAR is relevant to the governor’s race. Oh, and how many nominees for Governor of New Jersey have been pro-life since 1973 and lost election? One? How many pro-choice candidates have lost? Seven? What a revelation - we can see the headlines now.

Talk about a distraction. And the Democrats believe discussing corruption in New Jersey is a distraction from the issues? Pleeeze! If there is a "single issue" voting block out there that will make the difference in this election, somehow we think that issue will be taxes. Maybe the media could provide some non-biased reporting on something the Governor can influence. Now it's our turn for wishful thinking.

P.S. This post has been brought to you by a pro-choice, former Independent and soon to be, Republican primary voter.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Only In America

The Blue States Conservatives has a post by USMC-Vet about a Los Angeles Hispanic television station that has put up this billboard along a California freeway. As you’ll note, the ad touts Noticias 62 as being broadcast from Los Angeles, Mex ico.

USMC-Vet, a resident of “the People’s Republic of New Jersey”, does a great job of explaining the import of the billboard and the story behind this brazen marketing program. A veteran of the Gulf war, you can also find the Vet posting over at The Word Unheard.

Meanwhile, Democrat Senator from Massachusetts Teddy Kennedy is commemorating the first anniversary of the Abu Ghraib scandal. And as the WSJ, Best of the Web would add - Mary Jo Kopechne could not be reached for comment.

And speaking of the WSJ, Best of the Web:
More than 700 people joined religious leaders and Democratic politicians at two rallies yesterday to denounce Christian conservatives' use of a Louisville church as a platform to advocate prohibiting filibusters against judicial nominees.

Speakers called both the assault on filibusters and the injection of religion into politics "un-American" threats to religious freedom and to constitutional checks and balances.

The larger of the two rallies, designed to counter a telecast from Highview Baptist Church last night, took place at Central Presbyterian Church near downtown Louisville.

Honey, They Shrunk The Kid’s School Aid

Voters this past Tuesday rejected a school budget in Cherry Hill, New Jersey that would have translated into higher property taxes for residents. The Courier Post provides two sides of the issue with these quotes.

"I'm against anything that raises taxes," said Stewart Levine, 62, a Cherry Hill retiree who opposed the district's budget. "They asked for too much," said his wife, Sylvia, a 58-year-old executive.

But Karen Judge, 38, a Cherry Hill mother of two, described the district's budget as "money put to good use." "I voted for my children," said Judge, who took her two school-age youngsters to the polling place at Clara Barton Elementary School.
We wonder if these people realize that more is spent per pupil in New Jersey than in any other state, heck more than in any country in the world. No matter,it’s not enough for some.

Continuing on. Here are a few questions we would like to ask the Karen Judge’s of the state. Why don’t you and the other parents get together and give the government the extra money you believe necessary to properly educate your children? Nothing is preventing you from giving the money if you so desire. Wouldn’t that be putting your money to good use?

We’ve probably given parents all over the state a great idea and soon the schools will be rolling in all the extra dough needed to provide a quality education to New Jersey’s children.

If that initiative doesn’t pan out, parents may want to consider this:

Superintendent Morton Sherman in Cherry Hill noted state aid, which was flat this year, now provides about 11.5 percent of the district's budget, down from 25 percent 15 years ago.
New Jersey’s state budget has gone from $12.2 billion fifteen years ago to $27.4 billion this year. The state’s budget has more than doubled, yet state aid to Karen Judge’s school district has been cut by more than half. Gee, how did that happen?

The state is spending more than ever before on education; it’s just that the politicians have chosen not to spend it in Ms. Judge’s school district. As a matter of fact, they have chosen to allocate less money for her children’s education. Oh, and the Levine’s are feeling the pinch too, in much higher property taxes.

All of the Ms. Judge’s out there may want to take some time to understand the issues and then vote for representation in Trenton that will provide the leadership to end the aid disparity, even if it requires a constitutional amendment to take the courts out of the school budget loop. The Levine’s might also consider their situation come November – voters can bring about change.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Howard Dean Makes The Case For His Party

The Washington Post was finally noticed that the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Howard Dean has been “making unusually caustic remarks about Republicans” in his bid to convince voters to support his party.

The Post notes Dean’s “elbows appear to be as sharp as ever” and quotes Dean referring to Republicans as evil, corrupt, brain-dead and liars.

Dean was noted for his candid and often unpredictable comments during his campaign last year. Then, as now, many Democrats said they don't mind the former Vermont governor's bluntness. "You don't want a wallflower for a party chairman," one Senate Democratic aide said.
Imagine if a Republican had made the same derogatory comments toward any group of people. Would the Democrats mind then and would the news of the comments have remained out of the national news? We’ll go out of a limb and suggest the comments would be on the news 24/7 and splashed on the front page of every major paper in the country.

Dean’s counterparts in the Republican National Committee have noticed.

"It's odd that Howard Dean says he wants to earn the respect of those who live in the red states, but chooses to not only attack their views but attack them personally," RNC spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt said. "Americans want to hear an agenda, rather than name calling."
Red states, blue states – Dean has attacked the majority of Americans, all 62,040,606. It’s hard to believe the sophisticated people in the “blue states” find Dean’s arguments compelling reasons to vote for Democrats. The again, perhaps Dean is just too nuanced for blue-staters like us to understand.

Why Vote Dem - Template

The Murder Case Of Chemist Geetha Angara Still A Mystery

Back on February 8th, senior chemist Geetha Angara was murdered at a Totowa, New Jersey water treatment plant. At the time of her death, her family asked that Mrs. Angara not be forgotten and for the public to keep pressure on authorities to find her killer. We have not forgotten about the mother of three and have posted on this subject whenever new information was made available.

It’s been nearly a month since our last post, but unfortunately neither the Passaic Valley Water Commission nor the Passaic County Prosecutor has released any new information on the Angara case. We will continue to post on her case until her killer has been found and justice has been served.

Links to our previous posts shown below:
Tension High At Water Treatment Plant Where Chemist Geetha Angara Was Murdered - March 27
Investigators Narrow Focus In The Geetha Angara Murder Case - March 12
No Internal Security Systems Present At NJ Water Treatment Plant - February 23
This Is Some Coincidence - February 20
NJ Chemist Murder Investigators Looking For A Motive - February 19
Three Suspects Identified In NJ Chemist Murder - February 18
Chemist Death At NJ Water Treatment Plant Ruled a Homicide - February 16

Forrester Sues Over County Party Lines

Winning county party lines was Republican Doug Forrester’s strategy for snagging his party’s nomination for Governor in June’s primary. The party line is considered important because of the advantageous ballot position party line winners enjoy. Many party loyalists have a tendency to vote for candidates endorsed by the party, as well as, the candidates on the first line of the ballot. The better your placement on the primary ballot, the better your chances of winning.

Well, Doug Forrester didn’t win all the county party lines, so he has taken to the courts to solve his problem. Apparently Forrester has filed suit against his six Republican challengers, the state’s Attorney General and Bergen County Clerk Donovan in an attempt to cancel party lines for June’s primary election based upon convention results. He wants the court to award him the first line in all counties.

It’s hard to believe the perceived establishment candidate is waging war on the Republican county bosses and organizations through the courts. This tactic of going to court over candidates, ballot and voting is usually reserved for Democrats. We hate to see Forrester adopt a similar strategy simply because he doesn’t like an election outcome.

Forrester was cheated in the 2002 Senate race when Democrats went to court to replace Torricelli with Lautenberg on the ballet 35 days before the election. We thought wrangling a win in the courts was bad form then and we believe it is bad form now. Going to court to gain an advantage is a desperation move unworthy of a man of Forrester’s reputation.

Update: The AP has the story now too.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Leadership Or More Of The Same

New Jersey has added 30,600 government jobs in the past two years - 13,500 in 2003 and 17.100 in 2004, exacerbating the state’s fiscal woes. You have to wonder how all these additional positions could be justified during a time of massive budget deficits and skyrocketing taxes. Nothing has changed in the state, population growth, etc. that would warrant the expansion of public employment and yet this is the fastest growing sector in our state’s economy.

Economists with the Rutgers Economic Advisory Service said in a recent report that the surge in public-sector employment was bigger than any other sector of the State economy. “This is one result of statewide deficit spending, and is one of the contributing causes to the endemic property tax problem in New Jersey,” the authors said.

New Jersey’s rapidly expanding government bureaucracy, far from being a sign of economic strength, can be viewed as a drag on growth because it is supported by rising state and local taxes, which robs businesses and consumers of spending power.
New Jersey’ government no longer answers to the taxpayers, but rather to organized special interests, with public sector employees being the most organized and vocal. Woe to the politician that seeks to rein in the growth of public sector employment in favor of economic growth and cost-effective government.

The tax receivers are organized and well represented, taxpayers are more numerous, but have yet to find a way to make their collective voices heard. We believe the Republican nominee for Governor should become the leader of a united and organized taxpayer movement. Republican candidates for the state’s assembly should provide similar leadership within their districts.

All candidates should decide if they wish to represent all citizens or powerful special interests. Political ambition is no excuse for pretending to be all things to all people. Voters need to make a choice in the voting booth and candidates should let us know who they chose to represent should they be elected - before we arrive at the voting booth.

We’re looking for leadership and representation in Trenton. What are the candidates offering? Let’s take a look at this recent example concerning the Republican gubernatorial candidate Douglas Forrester and two state assembly members, Bill Baroni and Linda Greenstein.

On Thursday, Forrester said he would lay off 6,000 government employees to generate $400 million of the $700 million he needs for the first year of his plan that calls for the state to reimburse homeowners 30 percent of their property taxes.

The Times, Trenton is reporting that Forrester backtracked yesterday on his plan to lay off 6,000 state workers to help pay for his property tax plan, saying the number could be less. Forrester's backtracking from his proposal to lay off state workers came after Assemblyman Bill Baroni, R-Hamilton, one of his earliest supporters, criticized the plan.

"I will not support layoffs of our public employees and I will fight anyone who does," said Baroni, who is running for re-election in the hotly contested 14th Legislative District, home to many government employees. "I have spoken to Doug Forrester and told him that under no circumstances would I support a plan that lay offs state workers."

Democratic Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein of Plainsboro, also criticized Forrester's plan to lay off state employees. "Forrester is somebody who can't be trusted when it comes to state workers and this is the person who Baroni has endorsed and continues to support," Greenstein said. "It's of great concern to me that Forrester would seek to harm hard-working state employees in my district."

She said Baroni's criticism of Forrester's plan does not go far enough. "He's on the right track, but he needs to go further," she said. "He needs to pull back his endorsement of Forrester."

Baroni said that criticism is unwarranted. "I cannot be held responsible for what Doug Forrester says, but I'm not going to agree with everything Doug Forrester says," he said. "He's my choice for governor, but if he is going to harm my constituents I have to look out for them and that's what I'm doing.
Is there a difference in position between Republican Assemblyman Bill Baroni and Democratic Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein on government spending? Both consider government employees to be their most important constituents, to be protected at the expense of all other taxpayers. Are there really more “hard working” state workers in Baroni and Greenstein’s districts than “hard working” taxpayers from other walks of life? We doubt it, but these lawmakers place the interests of government employees first because this group is organized and powerful.

Forrester, Baroni and Greenstein must be operating under the maxim; the first job of a politician is to get elected. The problem, cutting government spending and controlling the rate of future growth doesn’t get any easier once in office. If government worker salaries, benefits and jobs are untouchable, than it will be impossible to reduce or control state and local taxes. We can understand Greenstein’s position; she represents the party of more government and higher taxes. But how will Baroni differentiate himself from his Democrat challenger? Beats us.

As Republicans, Forrester and Baroni could have taken the position that they were not out to harm government employees, but will be fighting to protect and represent taxpayers, the people that make government jobs possible. Public employees that perform essential services should not fear layoffs, but apparently there are large numbers in this group that know if their jobs were eliminated tomorrow, no one but they would notice the difference.

Republicans should show leadership and stand up to those that block the way of responsible government spending. Educate voters, provide them with a clear choice and become the candidate taxpayers can rally behind. Caving in to special interests under the slightest pressure does not inspire confidence.

Leadership requires the capacity to set a course toward a goal, to clearly articulate how the objective can be achieved and then to draw others along the same path through persuasion, influence, and exhibiting the tenacity to stay the course.

The current path New Jersey is on is not sustainable. The Democrats have chosen Jon Corzine as their nominee for governor. He has outlined an agenda for more government spending, has a record of opposing tax cuts and offers citizens more of the same. Is that what the majority of voters want, more of the same? If so, the clear choice this November is Jon Corzine.

However, if people are looking for a leader to change New Jersey’s direction, one with a plan that will treat all citizens equally and one with the resolve to turn his plan into reality, who will they look to – Doug Forrester or Bret Schundler? That’s the choice Republicans will face in June’s primary.

We are afraid Forrester has painted himself into a corner by adopting a poorly conceived property tax reduction plan that attempts to paper over New Jersey’s problems. He has come up against the first obstacle to his plan and has blinked.

Virtually anyone would be better for the state than Corzine and Forrester fits that bill, but we believe Republicans can offer the people of New Jersey a better choice. Schundler has a vision and a plan for the state and he is not afraid to buck the special interests, even in his own party. That’s called leadership and that’s why Bret Schundler is our choice for the Republican nominee for Governor.

The Emperor Has No Clothes

Doug Forrester, Bret Schundler and Assemblyman Paul DiGaetano, all Republican candidates for Governor, have come out against the proposed deal for a new stadium for the New York Giants football team.

Jon Corzine, on the other hand, who touts his authority on the economy and his experience in business, is withholding his judgment on the agreement. However, he says on the surface, it sounds like a good deal.

A cursory reading of recent press accounts would lead any reasonable person to conclude the deal is anything but good for taxpayers. Either Corzine isn’t paying attention to what’s happening in his home state or he has exposed his complete lack of business acumen. The Emperor has no clothes!

Here’s what Senator Jon Corzine had to say according to the Asbury Park Press:
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Sen. Jon S. Corzine said he was withholding judgment on the stadium deal until he sees financial details.

"I haven't seen the numbers. I don't think there's been a presentation to the board yet by the state treasurer," said Corzine, who was questioned by reporters during an appearance in Ocean Grove.

"On the surface, full (construction) cost by the Giants sounds like a good deal," Corzine said. "If I get those numbers, I'll be more than happy to scrub them."

Pressed on other details — like the remaining costs to state taxpayers of the old stadium — Corzine demurred.

The Opportunity Cost Of The Giant’s Stadium Deal

Eleven commissioners of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority voted in favor of a new stadium deal for the New York Giants, while four abstained.

Those abstaining included George Zoffinger, the Sports Authority's chief executive, who said he wanted to "remain consistent" with his past criticism of a deal he has claimed will cost taxpayers at least $150 million and will force his agency to operate at a deficit. The Authorities vice chairman Joseph Buckelew and board members Zulima Farber and David Jefferson also abstained.

The deal approved by the board calls for the NY Giants to receive control of 75 acres in the Meadowlands complex for 98 years and all revenue generated from the facilities built by the Giants on the property. New Jersey will receive $5 million a year in rent for the land and East Rutherford will receive $1.3 million a year in lieu of taxes.

New Jersey will be responsible for $124 million of debt on the exiting stadium that will be demolished to make way for the new stadium. The state will also be responsible for $30 million in utility improvements to the site. The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority will lose $19 million a year in revenue from the existing stadium.

The value of the land in the Meadowlands is never discussed in any press accounts, beyond an occasional reference to the fact that Giants stadium sits on some of the most valuable real estate in the nation.

It’s hard to believe the land couldn’t be leased or sold for far more than a paltry $6.5 million a year. Any private sector business would include the opportunity cost when calculating the total cost of a deal. The state should be required to include all costs involved so that New Jersey’s taxpayers can properly evaluate the proposed agreement. Even with the best spin on deal, it's clear it is a loser. Acting Governor Codey just doesn't want you to know how bad it will truly be for New Jersey.

The other point missing from all recent accounts of the Giants deal concerns the financing for the $700 million dollar stadium. The last reference we can find was back in December. At that time, the Star-ledger had reported that the $700 million to build the new stadium would be provided through tax-exempt bonds issued by New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority. Sounds like a sweet deal doesn’t it?

Zoffinger has argued for years that the state should be willing to let of the professional sports franchises at the Meadowlands go because they are benefiting wealthy team owners at taxpayer expense. It’s a pity no one listened. It’s not too late to tell your representatives in Trenton how you feel about this abuse of taxpayer money and property.

The New York Giants and New Jersey’s Sports Authority lawyers will spend the next three to six months finalizing a formal lease and development agreement the for new Giants stadium. When the agreement is finished, the Sports Authority's board will take a final vote on the deal.

So it’s not a “done deal” yet – take action! It’s time for politicians to understand they will pay a price for idly standing by while the taxpayers are ripped off. Politicians have an opportunity cost to pay too.

Our previous posts on the Giant Stadium deal:
Codey Eliminates “Pay To Play” For New York Giants
NY Giants Seek New $700M Stadium In NJ
Democrat’s Priorities Inconsistent With Rhetoric
NJ Taxpayers Still Owe $117 Million On Giants Stadium
NY Jets - The Other NJ Football Team
NJ Sweetens Stadium Offer To NY Giants
Giants Stadium Was Always A Bad Deal For Taxpayers
Deal For New Giants Stadium Stalled
We Want Our Bread, Not Circuses
Giant Rip Off
The Fine Print Of The Giants Deal

Saturday, April 23, 2005

The Party Of The People

EN Dem Logo 2

Friday, April 22, 2005

Yes, Senator Corzine, Laws Apply To You Too

Jon Corzine must comply with federal campaign laws while he seeks to become New Jersey's next governor according to a ruling issued by the Federal Election Commission. The FEC issued its ruling in response to Corzine's request asking whether federal rules applied to him.

Yes, Senator Corzine, the rules apply to you too. For a man that co-sponsored McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform, you’d think he’d want to set an example by living up to the spirit, as well as, the letter of the law. Corzine is very passionate about limiting campaign donations from everyone, except those from Jon Corzine and family.

Corzine wants to split hairs because FEC rules severely limit the amount of money he can raise and personally contribute to New Jersey Democrats and state political action committees. If you’ll remember, it was Corzine’s money that caused Democrat Party bosses to abandon Acting Governor Codey in favor of Jon Corzine as their nominee for Governor.

According to federal campaign laws, individuals can contribute a maximum of $2,100 to a candidate, $5,000 to a political action committee, and $10,000 to a state, district and local party committee.

Under New Jersey law, individuals can contribute a maximum of $2,600 to a candidate, $7,200 to a political committee, $7,200 to a municipal political party committee, $25,000 to a legislative leadership committee, $25,000 to a state political party committee and $37,000 to a county political party committee.

Since Corzine began his campaign for “public service” he has maxed out his donations to New Jersey Democrat candidates and groups. Senator Corzine will still be able to spend boat loads of his money on this election and we assume his children and mother will be able to continue their generous denotations to various Democrat organizations and candidates.

2004 Dishonor Awards

Check out the 2004 Dishonor Awards presented yesterday in Washington, D.C..

Democrats With Heartburn

As a follow-up our earlier post, Another Democrat Campaign Finance Scandal, the Sun has a new article today that identifies the well connected FBI informant:
Senator Kennedy's brother-in-law, Raymond Reggie, has been operating in Democratic circles for the last three years as an undercover informant for the FBI.

The disclosure that Reggie was surreptitiously recording conversations for the FBI may have caused some heartburn yesterday for Democrats who have had contact with him since 2002.

Yesterday morning, Reggie, 43, who organized fund-raisers for President and Mrs. Clinton, pleaded guilty to two felony charges, bank fraud and conspiracy.
We’ll bet this turn of events is causing more than “some heartburn” for Democrats responsible for campaign fund raising.

Why are people, like the Clinton’s, such magnates for unethical people?

The Latest Democrat Political Scandal In New Jersey

The NJ Assembly started hearings this week into the performance of the Department of State and the NJ Secretary of State, Regena Thomas. As Roberto at DynamoBuzz reminds us, Thomas was most recently in the news for a speech she made last month at a New Jersey Catholic High School on black history.

Thomas’ speech created an uproar, with students, faculty and parents describing the speech as confrontational, unprofessional and disrespectful. The Secretary of State lambasted one student for his lack of knowledge of black history and insinuated the school’s students were racist.

This incident focused attention on New Jersey’s Secretary of State position and prompted Roberto to ask, “Do we really need a Secretary of State?” and “Perhaps this would be a good time to reduce the NJ state workforce by one?”

Well, now it seems the Republicans have two reasons to ask Regena Thomas to resign as Secretary of State – she’s incompetent and she may have been involved with John Kerry (D-Ma) in violating federal election laws.

First as to the value of a State Department and the lack of demonstrated competency by the Secretary of State, Regena Thomas. You may want to take a look at the "essential services" New Jersey’s State Department provides for a mere $1.2 billion. If it all went away tomorrow, you’d never miss them.

Thomas earns $137,000 per year as Secretary of State. Her qualifications for the position? She has been a get out the vote, grass roots organizer for the Democratic Party. Working in campaigns ranging from “the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson’s during his historic bids for the presidency in 1984 and 1988” through to, you got it, Jon Corzine for Senate in 2000.

Thomas, appointed to her Cabinet post by then-Gov. James E. McGreevey in 2002 after helping turn out voters for his 2001 election win, said she plans on leaving state government at the end of her current term to devote herself to ministry.

From the Assembly Hearing Concerning Competency and Elimination of State Department

Assemblyman Joseph R. Malone III, R-Burlington asked Thomas why the department, which is slated to receive $1.2 billion in state funding in the next budget, mostly to pay grants to things such as colleges and universities, shouldn't be eliminated. Malone questioned the need for grants supporting a study of weaving Guatemalan rugs or Cambodian dance in a year of budget cuts. [Ed: Never mind lean years, how about ever?]

At issue for several lawmakers on the Assembly Budget Committee is an overdue $2 million study and a state audit pointing out lax oversight for some of the department's grant programs.

Assemblyman Kevin J. O'Toole, R-Essex, said a study on how much state business goes to minority contractors should have been finished a year ago.

Thomas said the report was delayed by an incompetent consultant hired by the administration of then-Gov. Christie Whitman and complications accessing records. she said the report only got fully under way in late fall and is just months late. She could not say when the full study will be complete. [Ed: Whitman? Gee, we thought it was McGreevey that resigned last November]

Thomas said her department has hired a full-time manager to oversee grants after an independent audit found "an overall need to improve monitoring" of awarding grants and how the money is used.

Thomas said her department has saved the state $70 million by changing the way it keeps records and charging for document requests and that arts grants drive economic growth, citing New Brunswick in particular.

Now to Secretary of State Thomas’ testimony at the hearing that may have uncovered potential violations of federal law:

New Jersey's Republican Party on Thursday called for Secretary of State Regena Thomas to resign, claiming she violated federal law by working on U.S. Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign without pay in exchange for a federal job if he won the election.

On Tuesday, she told an Assembly budget panel that she took a 20-day unpaid leave of absence from her $137,000 state job in October to work for Kerry. Thomas said she worked at no charge, using money from a pension plan to pay her expenses, because she had a job commitment from Kerry, a position she did not specify.

Party Chairman Tom Wilson and Republican gubernatorial candidate Bret Schundler have separately asked U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie to investigate the potential violations of election laws.

Under federal law, it is illegal to offer money or anything of value, such as a service, in order to secure an appointment to a government job. It is also illegal to directly or indirectly promise a position as an enticement or reward for political activity in connection with an election.

Another Democrat Campaign Finance Scandal

There is a report in yesterday’s New York Sun about the various people associated with Hillary Clinton’s 2000 senate campaign that have been found guilty of campaign finance violations and bank fraud. A Clinton aide, David Rosen will face trial next month on three counts of causing false statements to be made to federal authorities over a Hollywood fund-raising event for Hillary.

The more explosive part of the report however, was the Sun’s account of an ongoing FBI investigation of “a prominent political figure who may be involved in illegally soliciting foreign nationals to contribute to national political campaigns. The target of the inquiry was suspected of "funneling illegal campaign contributions from foreign nationals to individuals running for federal office."

Thursday, April 21, 2005

More Waste, Fraud And Abuse Of Taxpayer Dollars

Inspector General Mary Jane Cooper issued a scathing report yesterday on New Jersey’s School Construction Corp (SCC), calling for extensive reforms in the state program. Cooper's review found "lax and/or non-existent oversight" that left the SCC, headed by CEO, Jack Spencer, "vulnerable to mismanagement, fiscal malfeasance, conflicts of interest and waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer dollars."

Cooper's two-month review began after The Star-Ledger reported that schools built by the School Construction Corp (SCC) cost 45 percent more than locally managed school projects. The SCC has already blown through most of the budgeted $8.6 billion for the program and had requested $6 billion more to complete court-ordered repair and construction of new schools – primarily in the Abbott districts.

Cooper's preliminary report listed $115 million in specific questionable expenditures and challenged the rationale for hundreds of millions of dollars more. The report laid out 10 specific recommendations for shoring up the school-building program, including hiring a chief financial officer, retooling its land-acquisition program and scaling back the role of 13 private project management firms that are scheduled to collect $462.5 million from the SCC.

The inspector general also recommended eliminating $227,000 in bonuses paid to SCC employees in 2003 and 2004 and reviewing the need for three SCC regional offices. Bonuses, can you imagine they paid these people bonuses? How does Jack Spencer keep his job as Chief Executive Officer of the School Construction Corporation? There is never any penality for government employees that are incompetent. Opps, we wasted $ billions, we'll just tax you for $ billions more - you can afford it.

Republican lawmakers continue to press for more aggressive action by the state:

"There's going to have to be some consequences for some of the mismanagement that occurred these last few years," said Assemblyman Kevin O'Toole (R-Passaic), who asked Attorney General Peter Harvey to consider a criminal probe into the corporation's dealings. "The report calls out as to whether this conduct or malfeasance rises to the level of criminal activity."

Sen. Tom Kean Jr. (R-Union) called for public hearings with Senate subpoenas to compel testimony and documents. "The preliminary report contains evidence of gross waste and mismanagement that is so excessive and widespread as to require an immediate response from the Legislature."
We never seem to learn from these financial disasters. Yet, we have Codey wanting to get the tax payers futher involved in the entertainment business – the New York Giants and Corzine is calling for the state to "invest" in a whole host of risky start-up businesses. The state can't manage government responsibilities, we don't think Trenton needs to move into state owned businesses. We can't afford any more of their money losing "investments."

Remember the expression from last year's election - if it's not close, they can't cheat? Well, here's a suggestion for this year – if you don't give them the tax money, they can't waste or steal it.

Forrester's Plan For Property Tax Reduction

Doug Forrester has unveiled a plan that would provide homeowners with a 30 percent reduction in their property tax bills up to a maximum of $5,000. Forrester's proposal is similar to a tax relief plan described last week by Republicans in the state’s assembly. Both plans call for a constitutional amendment that would require the state to refund a proscribed percent of every homeowner’s property tax bill.

Forrester said his plan would be phased in over three years and would be paid for though a combination of spending cuts, including the lay off of state employees and savings achieved from slashing fraud and government excesses.

We applaud Forrester’s call for cuts in state spending - obviously fraud and government excesses should be eliminated. The Democrats have not been good stewards of our money. As the majority party, they have spent the state to the brink of bankruptcy, all the while ignoring the property tax crisis.

We are also encouraged to see another candidate for Governor has laid out a plan for property tax reduction. Pushing the problem off to a state constitutional convention is merely kicking the problem down the road, with relief well beyond the horizon. It’s a way to pretend action will be taken, when in reality it’s a hope the problem will just go away or circumstances will allow a lucky Governor to leave the mess for the next office holder.

If the Democrats can’t solve the problem when they control both state houses and the Governor’s seat, we can safely say that the incumbents lack the willingness or the skill to get the job done. The property tax crisis requires sound policy and leadership, not business as usual and abrogation of responsibility.

Candidates for Governor without a property tax reduction plan should not seriously be considered for the position. “I’ll unveil my plan later” means either the candidate has no plan or believes his plan can not withstand the scrutiny of voters. We’ve heard about secret plans before and we would suggest voters not fall for the campaign tactic again.

Having said all that, are we pleased with Forrester’s plan? Frankly, no. We had hoped Forrester would propose a plan to limit the growth in government spending – the real cause of high taxes. Forrester’s plan does not address this fundamental problem.

Property taxes are high in New Jersey for one reason – spending on public schools that has increased dramatically over the past several years. New Jersey already spends more per pupil than any other state and still, it is never enough.

Think about it, is there some magic spending number out there that would satisfy New Jersey’s educators? The United States spends more money on education per child than any country in the world. New Jersey spends more per student than any other state, making us the greatest education spenders on earth.

Can someone please tell us the spending target against which our commitment to school children is being measured? It’s very discouraging, all that money spent on public schools and in return the state’s education system produces average results.

To hear people talk you’d think New Jersey’s spending on public education was an embarrassment. The “more money for education” mantra has been drilled into everyone’s head to the point that most people actually believe we’re not spending enough. Let’s cut to the chase, we want greater results from our state’s education system, not greater tax bills. The two should not be confused.

Clearly, something is wrong with the system and spending more money isn’t going to fix the problem. In reality we have been rewarding mediocre school performance with the biggest compensation package in the world. There is no incentive for the state’s education system to change, the money rolls in no matter the results. Actually, the worse the school’s performance, the more money demanded from taxpayers.

This is what makes Forrester’s property tax plan so disheartening. His plan does nothing to rein in the growth of public school spending at the local level and it may even exacerbate the problem. How could a property tax refund potentially make the situation worse? Well, as we noted yesterday, when voters reject school budgets, school boards can appeal the voter’s decision to the state Department of Education. The department will be able to cite the “huge” property tax relief voter’s receive from the state and decide increases to school budgets are warranted because the” taxpayers can afford it”.

The state Board of Education goes against the wishes of the voters in most cases today, just think of the increases the state will be willing to approve under this new plan. The state will paint the property tax refunds as some sort of gift from Trenton, not unlike the property taxes rebates of today. The refunds may be enshrined in the state’s constitution, but will be treated as some sort of manna from the state, to be exploited for additional public school spending.

Another complicating factor is New Jersey state aid for public school funding. State revenue budgeted for education is not distributed to local districts in an equitable manner, such as through a per pupil calculation. Some districts receive a lot, some a little and some receive no state aid at all. Obviously, the school districts that receive little to no state aid rely more heavily on property taxes to fund schools.

We believe this is the problem Forrester’s plan is attempting to fix. The plan is an effort to distribute state education aid back to the taxpayer, rather than directly to the local school district. As we noted earlier, taxpayer refunds will end up in the public school budgets unless school spending is brought under control. Unfortunately, there’s nothing in the Forrester plan to put the breaks on the ever increasing state budget for education or for any other category of state spending for that matter.

Even under the assumption that during the first few years, the Governor and legislature can cut spending to fund the property tax refunds, what’s to stop out of control spending by Trenton in the future? Deficits never stood in the way of double digit increases to state spending in the past and there is nothing to suggest the future will be any different.

So after all the fraud and waste has been cut out of the budget, how will the new constitutionally mandated property tax refunds be “paid” for by the state in the future? Trenton will revert to the same method used last year to fund the property tax rebates – new and/ or higher income, sales and a myriad of taxes and fees imposed by the state.

Even if by some miracle, local property taxes don’t gobble up your state refund, you’ll be paying Trenton the identical amount in additional state taxes. Why add to the cost of government and make a project out of returning money you had in the beginning? It’s like taking money out of one pocket and putting it into the other, only extremely slowly, inefficiently and with a surcharge for the transfer.

While a step in the right direction, the Forrester/Republican assembly plan needs work. Bret Schundler has a plan that calls for a constitutional amendment to cap the growth in state spending coupled with property tax reduction.

We’ll take a proven long term tax solution over a quick, short term fix – we’ve been down the rebate/refund road before and we have nothing to show for the effort but substantially larger tax bills. If we’re going to amend the constitution, let’s solve the real problem, growth in government spending.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Dean And The Money Changers

Have you noticed the rise in the number of politicians from both sides of the aisle talking about religion? Take for example the “born again politician”* Howard Dean that is now using quotes from the Bible as a political weapon. Here’s the most recent Dean example from a speech he recently gave in Florida.

“Democrats are more in tune with most Americans than Republicans. We need to kick the money changers out of the temple and restore moral values to America," Dean said, drawing roars from the crowd.
Dean’s allusion to money changers seems an odd choice for a liberal Democrat, as the whole money changer story in the Bible revolves around people getting ripped off in the process of paying their taxes. Jesus decries that the temple has been made into a den of thieves. No Bible experts here, but somehow we don’t believe that it was the taxpayers that drew Jesus’ ire.

Dean’s rant is also a bit of a dig at the likes of Jon Corzine, bankers that make their money from “cashing in" from both ends of a transaction. Few that have held a seat in the “temple” have ever profited more as a “money changer” than Senator Jon Corzine. We’d like to see Corzine cast out of the “temple” too, but not because he was a banker.

Who’s the audience for this stuff? Are religious people motivated to vote for Democrats based upon Dean’s logic and his in your face Bible quoting tactics? Perhaps his sole purpose is to raise money from those already of like mind and they enjoy Dean’s condescending religious references. Still, we can’t see how these quotes won’t come back to haunt the Democrats in the very states they ultimately hope to make inroads.

* Born Again Politician – A washed up politician that reemerges to fight again.


New Jersey’s Sham School Elections

What a whacky world we live in where rejecting increases in school budgets are called cuts and voters have control over school spending as long as they approve proposed budgets. Is it any wonder so few people bother to vote in these sham elections?

New Jersey is rare in giving control over school budgets — and thus property tax rates — directly to voters. When budgets are defeated, it's up to municipal governing bodies to decide whether to alter the spending plans. A local school board can appeal any cuts to the state Department of Education.
Who has control over school budgets and “thus property tax rates”? Clearly it isn’t the voters – it’s the state Department of Education. Rare indeed!

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

How Low Can Corzine Go?

Roberto at DynamoBuzz has a post about Jon Corzine blogging over at the DaliyKos and as it happens, Corzine has excerpted one of his old articles we quoted from last week. Is this Corzine's answer to our post? Just kidding, we're quite sure Enlighten-New Jersey is not on Corzine's blog roll or his must read list.

To the point, Roberto reminds us about one of DailyKos blogger, Markos Moulitsas Zuniga's infamous posts that typifies his anti-American point of view. There are more than 8 million blogs and the DailyKos is the one Corzine believes most closely reflects his political ideology? Corzine couldn't find a left leaning New Jersey blog to grace with his pearls of wisdom? Did Corzine pay Kos for the privilege of posting on the DailyKos blog?

You really have to question Corzine's judgment about the people he is willing to associate himself with in order to further his political ambitions - George Norcross, Jim McGreevey, Charles Kushner and now Markos Moulitsas Zuniga. How low is Corzine willing to go for publicity?

Snips from Roberto's post:
Actually, Corzine's first blog post was last week over at the DailyKos blog. DailyKos is the Mecca of left wing democrat outrage on the blogosphere. The typical DailyKos follower thinks Hillary Clinton is a sell out and Michael Moore wasn't tough enough on George Bush in Fahrenheit 9-11.

DailyKos is operated by a democrat consultant, Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, whose claim to fame was running a picture last year of the bodies of the four American contractors who were ambushed in Fallujah. If you remember, their burnt bodies were hung from a bridge while a bunch of Iraqi savages smiled in glee. Markos' comment about the atrocity?? "I feel nothing over the death of the mercenaries. They are there to wage war for profit. Screw them."

Monday, April 18, 2005

Jon Corzine, The Lodestone

Jon Corzine has only been in politics for about five years and yet with each major breaking political scandal in New Jersey, there's an association with Senator Corzine. Let us be clear, Jon Corzine has never been charged with a crime, but he sure seems guilty of being a poor judge of character and a willingness to skirt the spirit of election laws.

There is a certain arrogance that often creeps into the behavior of the wealthy and powerful. And it is this egotism that leads to a rationalization of unethical and at the extreme, criminal behavior.

A case in point is Corzine's teaming up with Charles Kushner in an attempt to buy the Nets basketball team. Could Corzine have chosen a more corrupt person as a business partner?

Corzine expressed interest in buying the Nets and explained why he believed he was qualified for the job:
Millionaire Senator Jon Corzine says that he might be interested in buying the New Jersey Nets. When asked why, Corzine explained that after several years in the Senate, he feels qualified to manage a bunch of spoiled, overpaid prima donnas.
Jon Corzine hooks up with wealthy New Jersey businessman and major contributor to the Democrat Party, Charles Kushner to buy the Nets. In keeping with Corzine's philosophy of taxpayer investment in private businesses, the duo looks to the State of New Jersey for a bit of help:
We start with last week's news that U.S. Sen. Jon Corzine, D-N.J., and real estate developer Charles Kushner were considering making a bid to buy the New Jersey Nets. That sounded pretty good. The men, it seems, have the money to buy the Nets and keep the team in New Jersey. But now it surfaces that the senator and developer want the state to contribute $125 million to help them purchase the team.
As we’ve written numerous times, taxpayers are only asked to become "silent partners" in business ventures that can't attract sufficient funds from private investors. The Corzine-Kushner partnership wanted New Jersey's taxpayers to kick in because investment in the Nets basketball team was risky and a potential money loser.
The Star-Ledger, the Asbury Park Press of Neptune and The Record of Bergen County all reported Monday that the partners sought the help because they are wary of the financial problems facing the team. The Nets, who played in the NBA finals the past two seasons, have not made money and are expected to operate at a loss this year because of a rising payroll.
It also seems that Corzine may have needed some financial help from New Jersey because he may not have as much money as we have assumed. After spending over $60 million on his Senate bid, $40 million more in charitable and political donations to further his "public service” ambitions, Corzine may have also paid a hefty price to divorce his wife:

A former chairman of Goldman Sachs investment bank, Corzine is worth a reported $300 million though he said he expects to forfeit half of his fortune as a result of his pending divorce. Kushner is wealthy as well. As chairman of Kushner Companies, he oversees one of the New York City region's leading privately held real estate organizations.
The Corzine-Kushner partnership ultimately would have have to go without help from the state and their final bid for the Nets was placed in January of 2004. In a case of “isn’t it a small world” one of the bankers handling the sale just happened to work for Goldman Sachs.

In a dramatic attempt to keep the team in New Jersey, Kushner, the well-connected developer, and his partner, U.S. Sen. Jon Corzine, submitted an all-cash offer of $300 million just before 3 p.m. yesterday. It was spelled out in a one-paragraph fax sent to Stier and one of the bankers handling the sale, Joe Ravitch of Goldman Sachs.
The Corzine-Kushner bid came too late to be taken seriously and a Brooklyn investor won the right to buy the Nets:

Bruce C. Ratner, the New York real estate developer who wants to move the New Jersey Nets to an arena in downtown Brooklyn, reached a tentative agreement to acquire the team for $300 million, defeating a similar offer by Charles Kushner and Senator Jon S. Corzine of New Jersey, the Nets' ownership group confirmed tonight.
The next thing you know one half of the Corzine-Kushner partnership is pleading guilty to a slew of federal charges:

Real estate mogul Charles Kushner pleaded guilty in federal court to 18 charges, including retaliating against a federal witness and violating campaign finance laws. He also pleaded guilty to 16 counts of filing false tax returns through various real estate partnerships..
Charles Kushner is now serving a two-year prison sentence in Alabama and has paid some pretty stiff fines for his various criminal acts:

A federal judge sentenced multimillionaire developer and Democratic Party political donor Charles B. Kushner to two years in prison Friday, declaring Kushner's wealth, power and widespread charity don't trump criminal acts that included tax fraud, campaign-finance violations and witness retaliation.
Kushner was charged with hiring a hooker to have videotaped sex in a scheme to silence potential witnesses. The guy caught on tape was Kushner's brother-in-law and the tape was sent to Kushner's sister.

Kushner, who has given more than $5 million to Democratic campaign committees in New Jersey during the past decade, was ordered this month to pay at least $12.5 million in fines for violating federal banking laws. He also paid $508,900 in 2004 — the fourth largest fine of its kind — to federal regulators for campaign-finance violations.
Is Jon Corzine the man to clean up political corruption in New Jersey? If not the instigators of corruption, New Jersey Democrats have certainly managed to attract the worst elements in the state and Corzine seems to be the lodestone. Is there any reason for us to assume a Governor Corzine would lose his unrivaled attraction?

Gorbachev Kids Codey

Just what we need, Mikhail Gorbachev making jokes about New Jersey’s political corruption:

Mikhail Gorbachev ribbed acting Governor Codey today about his dual role as New Jersey's chief executive and Senate president. The man who led the Soviet Union until its collapse in 1991 said "all that power in one set of hands."

Gorbachev is in Trenton to mark the 20th anniversary of a sister-city relationship between New Jersey's capital and Moscow.

Lautenberg Has Become The Senate’s Number One Kook

Doesn’t Frank Lautenberg have anything better to do? If the junior senator is so concerned about the appearance of impropriety in government he might want to take a look in his own back yard. Actually, we think Frank is losing it - he's calling for another investigation.

New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg asked congressional investigators Monday to examine whether the Social Security Administration's use of taxpayer money to poll the public was legal.

Lautenberg, a Democrat, made the request to the Government Accountability Office after The Associated Press reported Sunday that the federal agency had spent at least $2 million on Gallup Organization surveys since 1998.

AP reported that the Social Security Administration hired Gallup under former President Clinton to find out how well-informed people were about the program.

White House spokesman Trent Duffy said he was unaware of any White House involvement in the surveys. He said lawmakers who serve on the congressional committees that oversee Social Security have been briefed by the Social Security agency in past years about the poll results and hadn't objected to the surveys.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Reading The Tea Leaves

Does it seem unusual for a college student to give $27,000 in campaign donations? How about $35,000 in campaign contributions from an owner of a tea shop? Who knew a tea shop would be such a money maker and so soon after first opening its doors.

Perhaps Pen & Jen would be interested in giving us a franchise opportunity in another New Jersey train station – we see a fortune behind those tea leaves.

Meet The Enlighten-NewJersey Gang

Enlighten Gang

Behold, the South Park Fausta at Bad Hair Blog here and Beck over at Incite here. Beck tells us that Beth of My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy has been collecting a gallery of various bloggers' self-portraits created using the South Park character generator.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

DeLay Can’t Hold A Candle to Corzine


Tax Revolt!

Here’s a book that has come to our attention that may warrant a trip to the local bookstore this weekend.

Tax Revolt: The Rebellion Against an Overbearing, Bloated, Arrogant, and Abusive Government by Phil Valentine

The Amazon description of the book:
Ever since the Boston Tea Party, courageous and patriotic citizens have rebelled against the government's overbearing and abusive taxation of its constituents.

This book is the powerful rallying cry to all Americans to continue to fight against our ever-increasing taxes. Using as a touchstone the heroic incident in Tennessee, when citizens converged on the state capitol to protest and repeatedly beat back attempts to pass a state tax.

Valentine weaves an inspiring story of how patriotic citizens have stood up to taxes in the past, how many intrepid constituents continue to fight, and how Americans should resist and even revolt against taxes on a state and national level.

By exploring the crippling effects of taxes on our economy and the lives of each individual citizen and drawing from the stories of other revolts (with exclusive behind-the-scenes details about the Tennessee rebellion), Valentine will anger and incite readers to action, giving them the motivation and know-how to spread the word and activate a powerful new revolution..

Friday, April 15, 2005

We Want Our Bread, Not Circuses

The new Giants stadium deal is nearly etched in stone for the next 40 to 98 years and as we predicted, our Acting Governor is positively thrilled with the coup he’s pulled off for New Jersey’s taxpayers. Codey said: “The new stadium will provide jobs, fuel the state's economy and support the community. He also called the agreement for the new stadium "the best deal for the taxpayers of any stadium deal in the NFL."

Andrew Zimbalist, an economics professor at Smith College disagrees. The new Meadowlands facility will be "definitely in the top five" on the list of best stadium deals for taxpayers, Zimbaliste said, but it is not the best. Of course sports stadiums are never a good deal for taxpayers, so you could say the new Giants stadium deal is one of the best of the bad deals. We'd hate to see the others!

New Jersey still must pay off $124 million in debt on the old stadium and up to $30 million in infrastructure costs, which include road improvements and utility costs. The Giants will pay $6.3 million a year in rent and taxes to the state. New Jersey currently receives $19 million a year in revenue from the existing stadium.

Isn’t that a great deal? Give away 75 acres of valuable real estate; blowup a stadium we haven’t finished paying for after 30 years; put out $30 million more for a new parking lot; cover all maintenance and utilities costs for 98 years; reduce the rent by $12.7 million; and the give-aways go on and on. Is there any doubt left as to why New Jersey's finances are such a disaster? Codey and his fellow Democrats are living in an alternate universe if they consider this a good deal for taxpayers. They are completely incapable of managing our money. Is any more proof required?

You want more, think about this - if the Giants were taxed at the same rate our property is taxed, the New York football team would be paying well over $12 million a year in property taxes and that’s not even including the value of the land in the calculation. Keep that in mind when Codey tells you what a good deal the new stadium is for the taxpayers. Had the land been sold and developed by the private sector, the land would be generating real tax revenue, not a phony $6.3 million per year in lease payments.

Oh, and let's not forget, the Jets' lease with New Jersey's Sports Authority gives them the right to everything the Giants receive, so the team could theoretically demand a new stadium and 75 acres in the Meadowlands.

Unbelievable? Not really - we elect clowns and as you should expect, we get circuses.

Corzine’s Demagoguery On Social Security

Here’s an interesting bit of information from National Review’s Beltway Buzz blog:

While visiting Ohio today, President Bush met with state and local public employees who function outside of Social Security and have the option of investing in personal accounts.

Ninety seven percent of Ohio’s 1,000,000 public employees and five million nationwide, exist outside the current Social Security system and can invest in personal accounts.
Doesn’t it make you wonder why Jon Corzine is fighting so hard to keep private sector workers from the retirement savings ownership and choice enjoyed by 5 million public employees? Senator Corzine’s hysterical and misleading anti Social Security choice campaign is shameful - even more so, as he previously favored investing a portion of Social Security funds in the private sector.

Corzine said he has been "consistent in trying to work for the state" on a variety of issues by "taking a thoughtful approach" and "not trying to demagogue things". How can he make a statement like that with a straight face and then make statements like this, this and this. His press releases are so ludicrous, it’s not worth wasting our time commenting further. Read them, you’ll see what we mean.

The Fine Print Of The Giants Deal

The Fine Print - From The Star-Ledger - Friday, April 15, 2005

Acting Gov. Richard Codey says the deal for a new Giants Stadium is better for taxpayers than any deal for an NFL facility during the past decade. While the Giants will bear the $750 million cost of building the stadium, and will pay the state $6.3 million a year to lease the land, the agreement has sweeteners that make it very friendly to the team.

No rent or property tax hikes for 25 years: Rent increases tied to inflation are common in major land deals, but the Giants' rent remains stable for 25 years. Also: The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which runs the Meadowlands Sports Complex, makes an annual payment in lieu of taxes to the borough of East Rutherford for the sports complex property. While that payment may rise, the Giants' contribution to it remains stable for 15 years.

No responsibility for infrastructure: The state will spend $30 mil­lion to bring utilities to the site of the new stadium and cover all costs to maintain those utilities for 98 years.

Ownership and depreciation: The Giants' owners — not the team and not the state — will own the new structure. That gives them the right to depreciate a portion of its value each year for the next 30 years. The result is a huge income tax write-off.

The banks get paid before the state: The technical term is subordination. It works like this: The Giants get to pay off their construction loans each year before they make their lease payments to the state. If the team's owners have a bad year and don't have enough money to pay both their bankers and the state, they get to pay the banks first, with no penalty due the state.

No equity requirement: Landowners usually require developers to put up a certain amount of cash. This is supposed to increase the developer's risk and incentive to finish the project as soon as possi­ble. This deal allows the Giants to finance the entire project and avoid paying any portion with cash.

Parking money: The sports authority pays to maintain the parking areas. The Giants get to keep all the parking revenues.

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