"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance

 and a people who mean to be their own governors

 must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Rush Holt On Healthcare

David Rebovich in his latest missive (Democrat campaign ad) says New Jersey incumbent Democrats running for congress can “probably coast to victory”, but “not all incumbent Democratic congressmen plan to put their campaigns on cruise control”. Rebovich's case in point is the 12th district's Congressman Rush Holt.

But due to redistricting and Holt's well-deserved reputation as an intelligent, principled lawmaker, his seat looks to be safe for the foreseeable future.

[E]xpect Holt to help some Democratic challengers for House seats in New Jersey and in neighboring states. Those challengers may find that they can advantage by adopting Holt's message, his governing style, and his multi-media campaign tactics that focus on maximizing contact and discussion with as many constituents as possible. Oh, being able to answer questions about complex policy issues won't hurt, either.
Democrats are promising to make healthcare a major issue in this year’s campaign so we thought we’d see what Congressman Holt had to say on the issue.

It is unacceptable that Medicare, the program so many seniors rely on, does not cover the cost of prescription medications available that would allow them to live longer, healthier lives.
Perhaps someone could tell Rush Holt a Medicare prescription drug plan was enacted into law in 2003, the year before the Congressman last ran for re-election. Maybe if Holt spent more time learning the facts and less time on campaign tactics his constituents would be better served.

Maybe if David Rebovich and like minded journalists spent more time covering the issues and less time on puff pieces and campaign tactics their readers would be better served. From here it looks like Rush Holt and the media are on “cruise control”.

U.S. Elderly Incur 43.6 Percent Of Nation's Hospital Bills

This is shocking news. The Star-Ledger reports a major study has found that the “elderly represent one of every three hospitalized persons in the United States and as a group are five times more likely to die during their stay than younger patients.

The study, conducted through the federal Department of Health and Human Services, also shows while the elderly are just 12 percent of the population the group incurred 43.6 percent of the nation's hospital bills, totaling nearly $329 billion.

Of course we are not shocked at all by this news. We’re just curious how a nationalized healthcare program, touted by Democrats as an election year issue, is going to change this fiscal reality.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

New Jersey Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts’ CORE

Assembly Speaker and Democrat Joseph Roberts says that a series of bills to be prepared over the summer will help to cut the size of government in New Jersey.
“Without changes in the way governments consolidate services, Roberts said, "there can be no property tax relief."
Roberts has dubbed the series of bills CORE – “Clearing hurdles to shared services, Overriding waste in schools, Reining in pension abuses and Empowering citizens”.

The first thing you should know about CORE is that it does not address the high cost of government in New Jersey’s large towns and cities where the truly big bucks are spent. The program is actually aimed at the smaller, more fiscally conservative municipalities. Here’s what CORE would do:

  • Give new broad authority to county school superintendents to get involved in local school budgets and other decisions
  • Eliminate the state's 23 non-operating school districts within a year
  • Authorize county referendums that would create new K-12 school districts
  • Reform the state's school funding formula
  • Eliminate public voting on school budgets that are within state guidelines
  • End public employee pension padding and boosting practices
  • Move school board and fire district elections to November
  • Require all municipalities to post annual budgets and details of employment contracts on a website
CORE would also change the use of the state's municipal block grant program,” which in the past was used as an inducement to share serves, so that the state would only send money to municipalities that showed government efficiencies”. It would also make changes in Civil Service rules for towns that seek to merge services.

Our Take on CORE

New authority for County school superintendents: Rather than give County school superintendents broad new authority in local school budgets and other matters, why not save taxpayers money by eliminating the position. County school superintendent jobs are redundant, duplicating work by the New Jersey department of education in Trenton.

Roberts said the time to change the county school superintendents' job is now because 15 of the 21 superintendents are up for reappointment at the end of the year. It is the time, he said, to replace those positions with new "super" county superintendents who would be appointed by the governor. Roberts said Governor Corzine supports this plan.

Should this measure pass, look for the "super" county superintendents to receive “super” compensation packages to go along with their broad new authority. Don’t look for any cost saving with this measure. County school districts here we come.

Eliminating non-operating school districts: Not much in the way cost savings to be found here, but it does give the appearance that politicians are “doing something” to reduce government costs. As Paul Mulshine points out “these districts are a model not of waste, but of efficiency. They have unpaid school boards whose sole job is to send a check to a neighboring district, which educates the kids. The only way to save on this arrangement would be not to educate the kids at all.”

Authorize county referendums that would create new K-12 school districts: File this under the theory entitled “bigger government is better government”. Roberts hasn’t explained how these referendums would work nor how larger school districts would save taxpayers money.

A look at the cost per student in the larger school districts in New Jersey should dispel the notion bigger is cheaper. Unless there are schools that could be closed and others currently existing with enough unused classrooms to accommodate a merger, where’s the savings in this idea? Fewer teachers, more students per classroom? Not likely.

What is likely is cost shifting through school district mergers. Total education costs may be the same, but some homeowners will pay more in property taxes so others can pay less. A municipality with higher property tax ratables would carry a larger share of the school tax burden and the one(s) with lower ratables would see a decrease in their property taxes. This would be a real boon to towns with a greater population (voters and school age children) and lower ratables.

Reform the state's school funding formula: Roberts is proposing a task force be set up to develop a new “public school funding formula that reflects a community's ability to pay for its schools.” However, Abbott school funding would not be included in the mission of the state task force nor would school construction aid.

Currently the 31 Abbott districts receive more than 56% of all state funding for education and have received 70% of all state aid for school construction. The Abbott school districts comprise just 21 percent of New Jersey’s public school students.

In the past five years, state aid to local school districts has increased 30% and as the Governor stated in his 2007 budget proposal, almost all of the increases in state aid have gone to the Abbott districts. As a result, Abbott districts now represent 12 of the state's 15 highest spending per student districts in the state. Further, per pupil spending in the Abbott districts is 30-35% greater than a non-Abbott school counterpart in the same county.

An equitable state aid funding formula for New Jersey’s school districts can not be developed without including the Abbott districts in the discussion. The task force would do nothing to reduce costs across the board or bring spending under control in the Abbott school districts. At best, the task force could come up with a formula that would increase state aid for some non-Abbott districts by eliminating or reducing it in others.

Eliminate public voting on school budgets that are within state guidelines: Because state spending guidelines and school budget caps are not set constitutionally, this change would give Trenton total control over annual school budget increases for local districts. Spending caps, like taxes, have a way of going up and never coming down. The state’s teachers union would effectively control the establishment of education spending guidelines and budget caps for the entire state.

Local officials and the state currently have the authority to override the wishes of voters on school spending issues. As far as we can tell this loss of control by voters has not brought about lower education costs or property taxes. It’s doubtful that total loss of control would bring about more fiscally prudent school budgets.

End public employee pension padding and boosting practices: Consider this move as political window dressing to give the appearance that something is being done about the financial crisis caused by overly generous public employee benefits.

The end of these practices is long overdue, but will not begin to address the far larger financial consequences pulic worker benefits have on the cost of government. Last year Governor Codey said state pensions, benefits are "strangling" New Jersey taxpayers. Without major reform, public worker benefits will continue to gobble up a larger share of the state’s budget and will relentlessly drive up local property taxes.

Move school board and fire district elections to November – Minor savings to be achieved with this move, but destined to politicize these offices if enacted. Should school budget voting be eliminated the reason for holding school board elections other than in November will cease making sense.

Require all municipalities to post annual budgets and details of employment contracts on a website: This is the “empowering citizens” aspect of CORE. While definitely a positive step, don’t look for a reduction in your property tax bill should this requirement become law.

The closer voters are to those spending their money, the better the chances for holding down government costs. CORE is a major move away from local control and offers little in the way of reducing the size or the cost of government in New Jersey.

Paul Mulshine summed up Roberts’ CORE scheme perfectly is his piece No big savings in little towns and he also revealed what “CORE” actually stands for - "Confiscate Our Remaining Earnings".

Sunday, May 28, 2006

On Memorial Day, A Grateful Nation Pays Ttribute

Throughout our history, the men and women who have worn the uniform of the United States have placed the security of our Nation before their own safety. America will be forever grateful for their service and sacrifice. On Memorial Day, we honor those who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom.

Defending the ideals of our Nation has required the service and sacrifice of those from every generation. From Valley Forge, across Europe and Asia, and in Afghanistan and Iraq, courageous Americans have given their lives so that others could live in freedom. These Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen took an oath to defend America, and they upheld that oath with bravery and decency. They have liberated the oppressed, spread freedom and peace, and set a standard of courage and compassion for our Nation. All who enjoy the blessings of liberty live in their debt.

This debt of gratitude extends also to the families who stood by our servicemen and women in times of war and times of peace. Each of the fallen has left behind loved ones who carry a burden of grief, and all Americans are inspired by the strength of these families.

At this important time in the history of freedom, a new generation of Americans is defending our flag and our liberty. These men and women carry on the legacy of our Nation's fallen heroes and demonstrate that the United States Armed Forces remain the greatest force for freedom in human history.

Those who lost their lives in the defense of freedom helped protect our citizens and lay the foundation of peace for people everywhere. On Memorial Day, a grateful Nation pays tribute to their personal courage, love of country, and dedication to duty.

Carnival of the New Jersey Bloggers # 54

Click the Graphic for More Information

Bob at eCache has the Carnival of the New Jersey Bloggers # 54 posted for your reading pleasure

Friday, May 26, 2006

Demagoging Stem Cell Research In New Jersey

Democrats in Trenton have been pushing for the state to spend hundreds of millions to build three stem cell research centers in New Jersey. Chanice on New Jersey for Charge pointed out back in March the absurdity of building not one, not two, but three new research centers. “The state is flat broke, but the folks in Trenton continue to spend with abandon … one for a $150 million in New Brunswick and one for $50 million in Camden … and an additional $50 million for a stem cell research facility in, you’ll never guess, Newark.

Chanice had the issue nailed. Democrats were not proposing this money for medical research, but were using this “wedge issue” as a “cover for funneling money to the powerful friends of politicians.” The $250 million would go to building contractors and union jobs in three party strongholds, not for research scientist and medical breakthroughs.

It never seems to dawn on Democrats that someone could favor stem cell research, but oppose building three separate facilities which would require redundant support departments and personnel to run them. Especially now with New Jersey facing a multi-billion dollar budget gap and huge tax increases. State lawmakers should be looking to maximize major taxpayer investments, not spreading tax dollars around on pork barrel projects.

When Republican state Senator, Tom Kean took such a stand, political opponents ridiculed him. Well, guess what? State Senate President and former Governor, Dick Codey now agrees with Tom Kean. The state at this point can’t afford the pending $325 million or the $250 million stem cell research bills. Flip-floppers? Hardly, it’s a matter of recognizing that New Jersey is broke and that piling on more state debt is not fiscally prudent.

During a news conference at a stem cell research center in Piscataway, Codey said it would be too hard to sell the proposed $325 million borrowing package to voters while the state is in such bad fiscal shape.
Yes, you read that right, Codey held his news conference at a stem cell research center in Piscataway. Or more precisely, at a state of New Jersey owned stem research center at Rutgers University. Listening to all the talk you’d never know stem cell research, including embryonic, is currently legal, funded by the federal government and taking place right here in the Garden State. Of course if more people were aware of the facts, Democrats couldn’t demagogue the issue.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Tax Man Video

Who knew the guy could bust a move – he’s the Tax Man, baby. Click to see the video. Remember only YOU can stop the Tax Man aka Governor Jon Corzine.

National Taxpayers Union has launched a new website www.stopthetaxman.org that includes research on NJ taxes, an action center, a blog and more. Check it out.

eCache Hosting Carnival of the New Jersey Bloggers #54

eCache will be hosting the Carnival of the New Jersey Bloggers # 54 this Sunday, May 28. All New Jersey bloggers and blog readers are invited to participate. Please send the posts (with links) you would like featured in this week's Carnival to: njcarnival@gmail.com.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Menendez Understands The Unifying Power Of Language

Last week Senator Bob Menendez was opining on Latino/Hispanic power and voting against making English the official language of the United States. After thinking about it, we now understand Menendez objection to the Inhofe English language amendment.

The glue that holds the Latino/Hispanic power block together is not nationality or race, but a common ancestral language – Spanish. Take away the Spanish language connection and Menendez is just another American-born white guy whose parents fled a socialist nightmare - in his case Cuba. Poles, Russians Bulgarians, Czechoslovakians, Hungarians, Romanians, etc, have similar immigrant stories, just without the Spanish language connection.

The unifying power of language is the driving force behind Senator Inhofe’s English language amendment and Senator Menendez’ opposition to the bill. Inhofe seeks to unify the country with an official common language, English. Menendez seeks to unify a political power base with Spanish. Given a choice between unifying or dividing the country, Menendez chose division.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Linda Stender Vs. Mike Ferguson for Congress

Democrats are getting excited over Assemblywoman Linda Stender's chances against Congressman Mike. Ferguson. Why? The Democracy Corps poll taken May 10-16 has Ferguson up 54-35. We’ll leave it to others to decide if the poll's demographics - 43% Democrats, 45% Republicans and 10% independents are representative of the district. (More on Democracy Corp here)

Of the 609 “likely voters” polled by Democracy Corp, Stender’s name recognition stands at 18% and importantly, only 20% considered themselves liberal, while 43% called themselves moderate and 34% conservative. Linda Stender is a self-proclaimed liberal and once her “progressive” positions become widely known in the district, it’s unlikely her appeal to voters will increase from her current generic Democrat label.

In addition, unlike forty-eight other states, New Jersey held a general election in November of 2005. The New Jersey 7th congressional district went for the losing Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Forrester by 56% vs. 44% for Jon Corzine. Mike Ferguson won re-election to Congress with a similar percentage of the vote in 2002 with 58 percent and in 2004 with 57 percent. The knocks against President Bush from Iraq to Katrina were already baked into that election cake.

Meanwhile, Jon Corzine has become an increasingly unpopular governor with a state-wide approval rating of 35 percent. Corzine has proposed a state budget calling for a 9.2% increase in spending and $1.9 billion in tax increases - hardly music to the ears of voters in the7th, already among the most heavily taxed people in the nation.

Since Stender was elected to the New Jersey state Assembly in 2002, Democrats with total control in Trenton have imposed $3 billion in tax increases - while property taxes, already the highest in the country, have continued to soar. That’s one heck of a record to overcome in a congressional district that has been won by the Republican candidate in every election since 1956.

While anything is possible, the chances of Linda Stender winning against Mike Ferguson in New Jersey’s 7th congressional district are about slim to none. You can judge the mood in New Jersey by the real fight Democrats are having to keep a U.S. Senate seat - Senator Bob Menendez is currently in a dead heat against Republican state Senator Tom Kean.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Rush Holt's 'Big Tent'

From Congressman Rush Holt on Blue Jersey:

Today I announce my campaign for reelection as the Congressional Representative for the people of the 12th Dictrict (sic) of New Jersey.

I am announcing on the web and through this blog intentionally to make the point that in my campaign and in my work as Member of Congress I seek input from citizens and I seek to build community.
No irony in that statement.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Hightstown Councilman Patrick Thompson On School Budget and Taxes

Remember the self-proclaimed loud Hightstown Councilman Patrick Thompson trying to drum up support for overturning the voter’s wishes on the rejected Hightstown-East Windsor school budget? Thompson’s wrote a post on Blue Jersey to explain: “Why will I not be supporting any cuts and why will I be aggressively encouraging all of my counterparts to do the same.”

We wrote a post in response to Councilman Thompson’s post, pointing out the errors in the facts and logic he used in his entreaty. Well, now it seems as though Thompson’s constituents have persuaded him to change his position - he’s done a complete 180.

The Hightstown Borough Council and East Windsor Township Council cut $490,250 in capital outlay projects from the rejected East Windsor Regional School District Budget at a joint meeting that ended in discord.

The Hightstown Borough Council voted 4 to 1 with Councilwoman Constance Harendza-Harinxma absent. Councilman Patrick Thompson voted against approving the budget, revised to total $73,094,466 million.

He said the reduction would save a homeowner just $10, which was an inadequate response to a budget defeat of 1,178 to 967. "We have heard loud and clear from the public that taxes are too high," he said.

Yep, Hightstown Councilman Patrick Thompson doesn’t believe the cuts to the Hightstown-East Windsor school budget have gone far enough. Less than three weeks ago Thompson was adamantly opposed to any cuts in the school budget and was complaining federal, state and local taxes weren’t high enough. What an amazing turn around.

This proves that there is hope for even the loudest, most “progressive” politicians to see sense and do the right thing by taxpayers. Perhaps Hightstown Councilman Patrick Thompson will write a follow-up post on Blue Jersey explaining why he so completely changed his position. It’s an explanation that would surely enlighten many Blue Jersey readers.

Update: Hightstown Councilman Patrick Thompson has written to explain the Trenton Times reporter got it wrong and that the article linked above does not accurately reflect his remarks at the combined town council meeting last Thursday. Thompson’s email also explained he voted “no” on the revised budget for the reasons he expressed in his original post that began this discussion.

Links to New Jersey newspaper articles typically do not remain live for long. So we have posted the complete Times article to go along with a clarification Thompson wrote on the Times piece in the comments section. Thomson emailed us a link to an article from the Windsor-Hights Herald which we have also posted in the comments to this post.

The original title to this post - “Hightstown Councilman Patrick Thompson Says School Budget Cuts "Inadequate’’ reflected the Trenton Times article. But now that we have learned directly from Thompson that no amazing turnaround occurred, we have agreed to change our “irksome” post title. Blog posts on the web last a lot longer than newspaper articles, so now the the record should be clear and complete on this matter for all future readers.

Carnival of the New Jersey Bloggers # 53

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The Carnival of the New Jersey Bloggers # 53 has been posted for your reading pleasure.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Senator Menendez: 'Power is never given, it is always taken'

New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez goes to Georgia to explain his political agenda:

US Senator Menendez (D-NJ) is “looking closely” at signing on to US Senator Russell Feingold’s (D-WI) bill to censure President Bush, Senator Menendez told Atlanta Progressive News during an in-person interview.

The US Senator was in town to discuss immigration at a panel by The Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO). Mr. Menendez is currently only one of three Hispanic Members of the US Senate; the other two are Mel Martinez (R-FL) and Ken Salazar (D-CO).

“Why not send the National Guard to the Canadian border, too? All the 9/11 terrorists entered our country through Canada, not Mexico,” Sen. Menendez said in response to President Bush’s call for troops on our southern border.

As regards the current influx of Latinos, “We enjoy the lower prices for goods and services provided by undocumented laborers but we want these human beings to remain invisible.”

Latinos constitute a trillion-dollar domestic market and they are younger by a decade than other Americans. For most, their native culture has taught them to be docile and non-confrontational. Latinos need to be energized to reflect their financial muscle.

“Power is never given; it is always taken. And as Lord Acton said, ‘Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” To counter the power of government, Menendez urged us to be an engaged citizenry who make demands on our elected officials.
As an unelected member of the Senate, Menendez may believe “power is never given, it is always taken”, but the voters of New Jersey just might believe otherwise.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

New Jersey’s Bad Pennies

The US Senate is looking into allegations that a former US senator from New Jersey urged Baghdad to give a US company, Bright and Bright, lucrative contracts under the United Nations oil-for-food program. The allegations are based on Iraqi documents, including diplomatic cables, retrieved after the fall of Saddam Hussein. For more on the story see Roberto’s post.

And in other news, Fausta says, He's baaack.

New Jersey Senators Menendez and Lautenberg Vote Against English as National Language

Why did New Jersey Senators Bob Menendez and Frank Lautenberg vote against an amendment that would make English the national language of the United States and help promote the integration of prospective US citizens? It just doesn’t make sense if the goal is to ensure a unified country and the assimilation of immigrants into the U.S. economy and culture.

Thankfully the majority of the Senate disagreed with New Jersey’s delegation and passed the amendment with 63 yeas, 34 nays and 3 not voting.

If you disagree with their vote let them know.

Senator Bob Menendez

Email Form Link

Washington DC
Address: 502 Senate Hart Office Building -Washington, D.C. 20510
Phone: 202-224-4744
Fax: 202-228-2197

Newark Office
Address: One Gateway Center - Suite 1100 - Newark, New Jersey 07102
Phone: 973.645.3030
Fax: 973.645.0502

Barrington Office
Address: 208 White Horse Pike - Suite 18 -Barrington, New Jersey 08007
Fax: 856-546-1526

Senator Frank Lautenberg

Email Form Link

Washington DC
: Hart Senate Office Building - Suite 324 - Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-3224
TTY: (202) 224-2087
Fax: (202) 228-4054

Newark Office
Address: One Gateway Center - Twenty-Third Floor -Newark, NJ 07102
Phone: (973)-639-8700
Toll Free Number: 1-888-398-1642
Fax: (973) 639-8723

Camden Office
One Port Center - Suite 505, Fifth Floor - 2 Riverside Drive - Camden, NJ 08101
Phone: (856) 338-8922
Fax: (856) 338-8936

The Preservation of Jobs In New Jersey

The headline reads: The unemployment in state zooms past national rate. Perhaps New Jersey’s increase in unemployment to 5.1 percent, well above the nation's jobless rate of 4.7 percent, is in an anomaly. Perhaps it is a warning sign of declining employment prospects in the state for the foreseeable future. James Hughes, a Rutgers University economist warns about a decline in high-paying private sector jobs in New Jersey and Governor Corzine is expressing concern.

NJ Conservative recently blogged about a meeting Corzine called with executives from “Big Drug” companies to discuss the “dangerous slide in New Jersey's economy.” The Star-Ledger piece states:

Between 2000 and 2005, while the private sector lost jobs, the many layers of government in New Jersey larded more than 50,000 new jobs onto their payrolls, complete with generous pension and health benefits that will be with us for decades.

This can't continue. And Corzine invited the executives to Drumthwacket to let them know he understands that and intends to change course.
Meanwhile, another headline reads: Corzine budget has lover. Carla Katz, president of New Jersey's largest public employee union began a mass mailing to union members urging them to "bombard key legislators with phone calls, pleading for support of Corzine's $30.9 billion budget".

The mailing came as Corzine faced mounting criticism of his $30.9 billion 2007 budget. Despite a $4.5 billion deficit, Corzine raised spending more than 9 percent.

The budget raises the state's contribution to the public pension system by over $1 billion and holds no layoffs. To fund the increase, it relies on raising about $1.1 billion by increasing the 6 percent sales tax to 7 percent.
Moving along to a state Senate budget committee yesterday, Senator William Grormley (R-Margate) asked Commissioner Roberto Torres what would happen if the Legislature did not approve Governor Corzine's increase in the state’s sales tax from 6 to 7 percent. An aide sitting beside Torres quickly did the math on a calculator and whispered the answer to Torres.

"Twenty thousand jobs," Torres told Gormley.

"Clearly that is in the purview of legislators and the governor's office," he said. "Layoffs are always a last resort."
Truer words were never spoken. The thinking in Trenton holds that public employee jobs must be preserved at all costs - even if it means the continued loss of private sector jobs and more tax increases on an already over-taxed citizenry. Your job and income are the first to go - public employee jobs and income are the last.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Menendez and Lautenberg Vote Against Protecting American Workers

Who’s looking out for the American worker? Not New Jersey Senators Bob Menendez or Frank Lautenberg. Yesterday we suggested a list of conditions as part of a compromise for any guest worker program. One was requiring employers to provide the government with a full accounting of their guest worker needs along with proof American workers can not be found for the jobs.

Today the U.S. Senate passed such a measure – The Cornyn Amendment to Protect American Workers. This amendment requires the Department of Labor to certify that there is not a U.S. worker who is able, willing, qualified and available to fill the job that is offered to the foreign worker.

New Jersey Senators Bob Menendez and Frank Lautenberg voted against it. Why don’t you give them a call, send them a letter or email and ask them why?

Senator Bob Menendez

Email Form Link

Washington DC
Address: 502 Senate Hart Office Building -Washington, D.C. 20510
Phone: 202-224-4744
Fax: 202-228-2197

Newark Office
Address: One Gateway Center - Suite 1100 - Newark, New Jersey 07102
Phone: 973.645.3030
Fax: 973.645.0502

Barrington Office
Address: 208 White Horse Pike - Suite 18 -Barrington, New Jersey 08007
Fax: 856-546-1526

Senator Frank Lautenberg

Email Form Link

Washington DC
: Hart Senate Office Building - Suite 324 - Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-3224
TTY: (202) 224-2087
Fax: (202) 228-4054

Newark Office
Address: One Gateway Center - Twenty-Third Floor -Newark, NJ 07102
Phone: (973)-639-8700
Toll Free Number: 1-888-398-1642
Fax: (973) 639-8723

Camden Office
One Port Center - Suite 505, Fifth Floor - 2 Riverside Drive - Camden, NJ 08101
Phone: (856) 338-8922
Fax: (856) 338-8936

Spending Other People’s Money

Blue Jersey has just discovered Jersey City's School Superintendent and newly elected Assemblyman, Charles T. Epps Jr is “the poster-child for why your property taxes are so high.”

He just likes to spend our money instead of his.
No kidding, that’s the Democrats’ model for government – spending other people’s money, taxpayers be damned. Epps was the handpicked candidate of the Democrat Party for an assembly seat in the 31st distinct. Democrats knew what they were getting when they recruited the guy as we pointed out last September.

Epps is an arrogant superintendent of a failing school district with an outrageous contract with the state that includes:

  • $210,520 annual salary, plus guaranteed annual raises that will bring his base
    salary to $229,343 by 2007
  • Plus bonus payments of 5% of his salary per year
  • A $10,000 tax-deferred annual annuity
  • $575,000 for 493 days of unused sick time
  • A taxpayer supplied car and a $1,000-a-month housing allowance
Democrats brushed aside objections to Epps’ contract and the time away from school business that would be required to be a member of the Assembly. Jersey City schools may be failing, but Democrats needed this man in Trenton. He’s a wizard at spending other people’s money with nothing to show for it. Just their kinda guy, plus he is a reliable vote for teacher’s unions and Abbott school districts. What more could Democrats want in a assemblyman?

And while Epps in the Assembly may be in the running as poster-child for why our taxes are so high, meet a candidate for the honor in the state Senate:

Sen. Nicholas Sacco (D-Hudson) draws paychecks from three public jobs. He serves as mayor of North Bergen, as an assistant superintendent of the North Bergen Schools and as state Senator.
Yep, just another New Jersey public employee choosing “public service — not personal gain — as their life's work.” Blue Jersey is just beginning to understand why our taxes are so high. Better late than never.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Guest Worker Program Compromise

We basically agree with President Bush’s plan for dealing with the illegal alien problem in the U.S. with one major exception - his plan for dealing with illegal aliens currently living in our country.

In reality we already have a “guest worker” program with anywhere from 11 to 20 million illegal aliens residing in this country. We suggest the President’s “guest worker” program be implemented among the illegal alien population presently living in the United States. This means:

  • Requiring registration and criminal background checks of all illegal aliens
  • Deportation of all illegal aliens who fail the criminal background check or who fail to register for the guest worker program

  • Requiring employers to provide the government with a full accounting of their guest worker needs along with proof American workers can not be found

  • A legal process that matches employers with jobs Americans won’t do with workers within the present population of illegal aliens

  • Illegal aliens “unmatched” with an employer to be returned to their country of origin

  • Approved “guest workers” to be provided with biometric identification cards to ensure employer compliance with the law

  • Strict enforcement of employment laws - hold employers accountable, no excuses

  • Guest workers losing their employment to either be matched with a new employer or returned home to their country of origin

  • “Guest workers” may apply for a green card and ultimately citizenship with no preference given to their “guest worker” status
Blog posts on immigration at The Truth Laid Bear

Monday, May 15, 2006

Raising the Cost of Living In New Jersey

Governor Jon Corzine proposed a $30.9 budget for fiscal year 2007, a 9.2 percent increase in spending over last year. This budget would increase state spending by $2.6 billion and impose $2 billion in new or increased taxes.

Taxpayers in the state cried foul, with poll after poll indicating a preference for spending cuts to balance the state’s budget as opposed to enacting new or increased taxes. As a last resort, New Jerseyans have stated a preference for raising the state’s sales tax from 6 to 7 percent rather than increasing the state’s income tax.

So what are the Democrats in Trenton considering as the July 1 deadline approaches for enacting a new budget? From today’s Courier Post Online:

Tax Increases
- Imposing a 2.5% surtax on federal income taxes.
- Increasing income tax rates on those earning more than $300,000 to $500,000.
- Raising taxes on for- profit health insurance companies
- Taxing profits earned in foreign countries by New Jersey-based companies

Other ‘Revenue Raisers’
- Confiscating the reserves of non-profit insurers, such as Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey.
- Taking money from the state's Unemployment Insurance Fund.

Budget Cuts
- Eliminating Corzine’s proposed increase in property tax rebates
- Cutting back on Corzine's proposed $1.3 billion contribution to the state’s pension fund by $300 million.

In other words, business as usual – increasing the cost of living and doing business in New Jersey. What a plan!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Carnival of the New Jersey Bloggers # 52

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Step right up to the 1st anniversary edition of the Carnival of the New Jersey Bloggers.

It’s only fair - as an alternative to this host.

Participating in an NSA Gallup / USA Today poll is not as simple as you’d think.

A culinary adventure – starts with deep-fried alligator and ends with candied crickets for dessert.

John Lennon slept here and so did the Goddess.

A Chinese box of French politics translated.

New Jersey spent boatloads of money on - what?

Why is Mommy fighting?

They have his number, but they never call.

Paridse had been abandoned.

The party has gone on long enough, it’s time to come home.

Forget a summer place. Wanna go banjo?

Only love can conquer hate, other dreams and a few nightmares.

The fiftieth Minamata anniversary.

Shut up about gas prices!

Is she a drama queen?

He may call it rambling, but it sounds like straight talk to us.

It's a death trap. it's a suicide rap – It’s New Jersey.

It would be one thing if he would just sit on her head.

What in the world did they do with the people?

The power of loooooove was a place holder until the Gaffigan arrived.

It’s not a mistake, it’s a happy accident.

Okay, who’s been calling the snake?

Up near the Million Dollar Pier in ’63.

All the news has been fit to print, so he stopped.

Hey! Did you happen to see the fastest man on EARTH?

He finds defaults so you don’t have to.

A treasure trove of art remains.

The six things college graduates need to know to succeed at life.

A mere $6 per taxpayer.

A second extreme makeover.

In Honor of Our Mothers.

Is it Déjà Vu all over again?

A factoid you won't read in the New York Times.

Iran, Iran so far away.

Anyone up for a blogger game?

Ah, ha, oh, no, don't let the rain come down.

Another sad anniversary - the murder of Sakia Gunn.

A sublime culinary experience on Saturday night with another man.

A fire-breathing she-monster ate the post. Now it's a, it’s a virtual memory.

Here they come.

Stories about the lack of human connection.

Long Branch.

The man really did have it right.

A rare breed just became rarer.

His old school hunnies.

Did she really say that?

Jersey Mystery Solved - Truth Revealed.

A behind-the-scenes look at "art people”.

Look out Michael Phelps -- this guy can swim.

A smile is a frown turned upside down.

Completely Bamboozled.

I’m from New Jersey.

It’s about twelve hours late, but our carnival has a big tent - here’s the last two cents.

Next week the Carnival will be held at The Center of New Jersey Life.

Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 12, 2006

A Right To Privacy

Xpat is calling for a codified Right to Privacy at the state and federal levels and humbly suggests the following language as a starting point:

"The right of individual privacy, being recognized as a vital and integral building-block of a free society, shall be inviolate, except in such cases where legitimate suspicion of criminal activity exists as indicated by due process of law."
Sounds good to us. We can’t wait until the government – federal and state – stops demanding, collecting, maintaining and data mining personal information on citizens’ income, banking, investments, mortgages, charitable contributions and medical expenses.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Hospital Taxes And Charity Care Costs

It looks as though Governor Corzine’s proposed $1,424 monthly tax on each hospital bed in New Jersey has been pronounced dead. The scheme was intended to raise $430 million, half to help pay for $1 billion hospitals lose each year in charity care, with the other half, $215 million, to have been diverted for unspecified purposes within the state’s budget.

The Corzine hospital tax met with stiff opposition on both sides of the aisle because while it would have applied to all hospitals, the proceeds would benefit only those hospitals treating the greatest number of nonpaying patients.

There are 25 hospitals that would benefit from the tax and 49 that would lose money, according to an analysis by the Office of Legislative Services. Overlook Hospital in Summit would lose the most, $6.5 million.

"This dog won't hunt," said Sen. Wayne Bryant (D-Camden), who ordered the state's health commissioner to come back next week with other ideas on how to generate revenue.

The governor's office had its own idea.

A spokesman for Gov. Jon Corzine shot back that if the lawmakers don't like the hospital "bed tax," they should come up with their own alternatives.
Sen. Barbara Buono (D-Middlesex) has done just that. She proposes raiding the reserves of the state’s non-profit insurers, such as Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey.

"The first step may be to change the law in New Jersey," said Buono, who is expected to be joined by two other senators today in demanding a state investigation into whether Horizon has hoarded surplus to the detriment of uninsured residents and small business owners.

Buono said Horizon's charitable mission and favorable tax treatment give it an obligation to help fund state health care needs.
An insurance company may be nonprofit, but you can rest assured the people paying premiums to Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield do not consider their payments charitable contributions. If premiums have been set too high to cover medical claims and prudent reserves, then any “surplus” should be returned to those overcharged and not confiscated by the state. Buono’s plan would amount to a tax on Blue Cross Blue Shield policy holders, not on non-profit insurance companies.

"Horizon spokesman Tom Rubino said its surplus is independently reviewed by experts and is necessary because its 3.2 million members file $9 billion in annual claims.

"Any action to raid Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey's reserve would not only be illegal, but would weaken the financial security of the state's health care system," Rubino said..
In all of these discussions it’s curious no one asks for the Governor Corzine’s plans for the $215 million that was to be raised by the hospital tax, but not slated to be used for health care. The obvious solution is to cut $215 million from Corzine’s new spending proposals. Corzine would rather increase the cost of healthcare in New Jersey with a new tax than reduce spending within his bloated budget.

But, there are other questions never asked that need to be answered. Why are hospitals losing $1 billion a year to non-paying patients? The majority of the state’s residents have private health insurance, seniors are covered under Medicare, the poor and other low-income people are covered under Medicaid and NJ Family Care – who makes up the bulk of the nonpaying patient population?

We suggest the answer may very well be the estimated 300,000 to 500,000 illegal aliens living in New Jersey. The statistics provided by Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield provides us with a tip-off. The insurance company’s average medical claim per insured is $2,813 - $9 billion in annual claims divided by 3.2 million covered by the company. One billion in charity care divided by the average claim ($2,813) brings us to an estimated population of 356,000 uncovered by insurance, a figure that matches the estimated illegal alien population in the state.

No one here is suggesting anyone, regardless of legal status, should be denied necessary medical care. We are suggesting the cost of illegal immigration in New Jersey needs to identified and rationally discussed – from education to healthcare. New Jersey has become a magnet for illegal aliens, while our neighbor Pennsylvania has not. Rather than figuring out new ways to tax citizens and raid trust funds, maybe it’s time to figure out how to reduce the number of illegal aliens straining the budget and taxpayer bank accounts.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

On Demagoging Gas Prices and Executive Compensation

What’s behind the high price of gas? If you’re interested in the facts, read this article on NPR and send it to your friends and family members. (H/T: Betsy’s Page)

Perhaps someone should send the piece to Senator Bob Menendez and others demagoging the oil/gas price issue. We also suggest someone send these same folks information about Jon Corzine’s severance package from Goldman Sachs which had almost the identical value of the retirement package received by Lee Raymond, the former chairman of Exxon, so much in the news.

When Corzine left, he owned about 4.5 million shares of Goldman Sachs stock, which made up the vast majority of his financial portfolio, then valued at more than $400 million.
The differences between the circumstances surrounding Corzine’s package and Raymond’s? Corzine was co-chairman of Goldman Sachs for about 5 years and was fired, while Raymond was the chairman of Exxon for 12 years and retired. Raymond headed up an oil company that creates jobs, pays billions in taxes and brings products to market that make our way of life possible. Corzine shared the top job at an investment banking firm, which among other things, helped make the Enron scam possible.

As BusinessWeek and The Wall Street Journal recently reported, Corzine's former firm directly contributed to Enron's collapse by creating and marketing a financial instrument that the failed energy trader used to hide as much as $3 billion in debt between 1993 and its collapse last year. So when Corzine talks about the "despicable" behavior that made Enron possible, he may be implicating himself.
There is one more difference - Corzine is now a politician and a liberal Democrat.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Newsweek’s Top 1200 U.S. High Schools

Newsweek has published its list of the top 1200 U.S. High Schools for 2006. Undoubtedly many fantastic schools made the list, but the method used by the magazine to rank the schools is totally flawed, rendering the rankings practically meaningless.

Newsweek ranked the schools according to a ratio equal to the number of Advanced Placement and/or International Baccalaureate tests taken by all students at a school in 2005 divided by the number of graduating seniors.

However, student performance on the tests, (shown as E and E % - percentage of graduating seniors at a school that had at least one passing grade on one AP or IB test), was not a factor in the ranking and not reported for many of the schools listed within the top 1200.

While the # 1 ranked high school, Talented & Gifted in Dallas had 100% of its students pass at least one test, LSU Laboratory High School ranked # 205, had only 2% of its seniors actually pass one or more of the tests taken. Here in New Jersey, Montclair High School made the list at # 211, but only 20 % passed a single test. For what it’s worth, forty-two other schools in our state also made the list.

What makes a school great is not the number of dollars spent per student or the number of AP tests it administers, but how well students master the material presumably taught in their school.

If you’re interested in academic performance and actual results - student proficiency and SAT scores - review New Jersey’s school report cards.

Monday, May 08, 2006

The Corzine Gifts

Jon Corzine gave cash gifts totaling $100,000 to nine members of his campaign and Senate staff late last year. The gifts were given in appreciation to those top aids that helped him win his bid to become Governor of New Jersey. Each gift was less than $11,000 and therefore, neither the recipients nor Corzine were obligated to pay taxes. All the lucky staffers now work in the governor's office.

So why is this being reported in the media as if there is something wrong or improper with the then Governor-elect’s gesture of appreciation? This is nothing like the $500,000, plus taxes gift Corzine gave to Carla Katz. Katz is head of the state’s largest public employee’s union and Corzine failed to report the loan, turned gift, on his Senate financial disclosure forms. That little transaction should have and did raise more than a few eyebrows.

But this? Where’s the conflict or problem to be found with Corzine’s cash gifts to valued staffers? Apparently, people are upset because the gifts were not subject to taxes. Hey, where’s our cut seems to be the unspoken theme of the reports. What’s forgotten is that Corzine already paid taxes on the money when he earned it. Shouldn’t that be enough? We think so.

How Corzine legally chooses to spend his money is his business, providing there’s no ethical conflict. There’s nothing illegal or unethical about the gifts, so enough already. Our concerns are with what Corzine proposes to do with our money - taxpayer dollars. Let’s keep the focus where it belongs and not get sidetracked into making mountains out of molehills. This situation isn’t even a molehill.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

New Jersey: Odds Are You’ll Love It!

The new state slogan developed by a marketing firm - "New Jersey: We'll Win You Over" - didn’t win over former Governor Dick Codey. Now, the statewide contest winning slogan - "Come See for Yourself” has been rejected because other states have used it in the past and it failed to pass legal muster.

So here’s our suggestion that attempts to incorporate the Atlantic City idea into the slogan, just as we assume the marketing company's proposal was aiming for:

New Jersey: Odds Are You’ll Love It!

Carnival of the New Jersey Bloggers # 51

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Carnival of the New Jersey Bloggers #51 is ready for takeoff.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Five Men Detained On Flight After It Landed At Newark

Just heard this on the radio::
Authorities on Saturday boarded an American Airlines plane and detained five men after it landed at Newark Liberty International Airport, according to a spokesman for the airport's operator.

The plane was bound from Dallas Fort Worth International Airport when an air marshal notified authorities of five men he considered suspicious, according to Marc LaVorgna, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Port Authority police took the five men into custody immediately after the plane landed at 3:20 p.m., LaVorgna said.

LaVorgna did not have more details on why the men were considered suspicious. The five men remained in custody at the airport Saturday evening. The FBI had been notified and were expected to take over the investigation, LaVorgna said.

All other passengers on the plane had been released.

Update: Five airline passengers speaking in foreign languages and carrying "aircraft flight materials" were briefly detained Saturday until authorities determined they were simply returning to their home countries after attending a U.S. helicopter training school.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

New Jersey’s Diminishing Returns

New Jersey state treasurer Bradley Abelow is now projecting the state will collect less income and corporate taxes than he originally estimated - for both this and the next fiscal year. As a result, he is also projecting the state’s budget deficit could grow to as much as $5 billion.

According to Treasury officials, collections of the Corporate Business Tax fell $150 million to $175 million short of budgeted projections while income tax revenue was down about $300 million to $10.5 billion.
Abelow warns that in light of the state’s revenue slump, he could not rule out cutting property tax rebates or reducing Governor Corzine’s proposed $1.3 billion contribution to the public employee pension system.

Abelow said the administration would first focus on finding more spending cuts before considering additional tax increases.
Reducing the state’s workforce or eliminating proposed spending increases on new or other programs were not mentioned as targets of possible cuts. Take this as a signal the meager increases Governor Corzine had proposed for property tax rebates are history. Get ready for the income tax surcharge.

Meanwhile, other states are seeing their coffers swell and federal tax revenues continue to soar to new record highs. The nation's strong economic growth is creating this tax revenue boom for most states, with the exception of hurricane ravaged states, and New Jersey.

Why are New Jersey’s income and corporate tax revenues down? Consider the effect the billions in new and increased taxes Trenton has enacted over the past few years and couple that with skyrocketing property taxes and you’ll have the answer. New Jersey has taxed businesses and residents to the point of diminishing returns.

But, the news gets worse. Abelow also announced that a new estimate shows the deficit for the state's public employee pension system is nearly $18 billion as compared to the $12 billion projection the state published just two months ago.

As the stock market climbs to a new 6-year high this news should raise a few eyebrows. Unless the state has done an incredibly poor job investing the state’s employee pension funds, the contribution deficit should be decreasing, not growing. The $18 billion figure may well be a more honest estimate of the shortfall, but consider a 50 percent increase in the estimate as a signal the $1.3 billion pension fund contribution will not be on the chopping block. Not that we believe it should be slashed. This debt must be paid sooner or later. There is no point in kicking the can further down the road.

The real problem we face is that Governor Corzine has been unwilling to address the programs and employment decisions that are driving the 9.2% spending increase in his proposed budget. He is further exacerbating the problem with calling for spending on new and expanded programs. We are all in it together; the question is how will the Governor plan to get us out.

Corzine Underestimated Cost To Expand State Coverage To Uninsured

Remember when Jon Corzine was running for Governor he claimed he had a plan to insure 776,000 people in the state for $15 million? We wrote a number of posts on the subject explaining the absurdity of the claim, as did a number of New Jersey bloggers. At the time, Corzine attempted to defend this ridiculous $15 million campaign promise with a Corzine Connection post - Corzine's Health Care Plan: Why It Saves Money and Doesn't Tax NJ Citizens.

One year later, Governor Corzine’s proposed budget for 2007 is looking to add 50,000 children to the NJ FamilyCare program for a cost to state taxpayers of $5 million. That’s just six percent of those he claimed could be covered for $15 million. His cost estimate has jumped from $19.33 to $100 per person per year, but remains every bit as preposterous as his original claim, even when federal funding offsets are included in the calculation.

NJ Fiscal Folly brings our attention to an analysis of the proposed FamilyCare expansion completed by the Office of Legislative Services. (pages 44-45) The OLS report concludes the incremental first year cost of the expansion would be approximately $40-45 million and at least $67 million* the year after. That’s under the best case scenario.

OLS assumes coverage per child under NJ FamilyCare at $1,340, considerably less than the $1,788 it will cost New Jersey for each child enrolled in the state’s Medicaid program. Using the Medicaid rate, the total cost for covering an additional 50,000 would be $89.4 million. Whichever rate is chosen, Corzine’s expansion of NJ FamilyCare is going to cost millions more than he has budgeted - even after all federal funding has been taken into consideration.

The OLS report states that New Jersey is already receiving $140 million in federal funding for NJ FamilyCare - $50 million above the federal cap of $90 million. This largess has occurred because the federal government has reallocated unused funds from other states to New Jersey. But this pool of unexpended federal funds has been declining over the years as other states have expanded their own programs. Therefore, Corzine expansion plan might very well have to be funded entirely by state taxpayers to a tune of $67 - $89 million.

The second caution here is that once the coverage has been expanded, there’s no cutting back. It becomes what Corzine refers to as a “built-in cost” that can’t be touched. This is exactly how New Jersey got into the fiscal mess we’re in today – programs are added and expanded without regard for the long-term financial consequences for taxpayers.

The Governor has already stated that New Jersey will have a $1.5 billion budget shortfall next year if his tax and spending plan is approved this year. It makes you wonder what the actual budget gap will be considering all of Corzine’s new and increased spending plans. The Governor talks of fiscal restraint and but the reality is business as usual, spend more today, worry about paying for it tomorrow.

* As Paul points out, the difference between the estimated cost for the first year and the next is due to the time required to enroll 50,000 people, not all will be covered on day one of the budget year. Enrollment will increase month by moth until the goal of 50,000 is achieved - the second budget year will reflect the full cost of coverage for the additional 50,000 for an entire year.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

New Jersey Admits Abbott School Funding Has Been A Failure

Standing before the New Jersey Supreme Court, Attorney General Zulima Farber admitted that the state has failed to properly oversee billions of dollars spent on court-ordered school reforms. She acknowledged that the Abbott school districts now spend more then the so called ‘wealthiest districts’ and that the spending has not produced results.

"As I stand here today, I cannot deny the state neglected its responsibility to provide sufficient fiscal oversight," she told the court in her opening argument. "With that neglect, we have gotten far from the original intent of Abbott."
We have repeatedly pointed out on this blog that the 31 Abbott schools districts have long since achieved funding parity and now spend 30 to 35% percent more per student than even the 'wealthiest districts’. It’s good to hear the state finally admit it.

The criteria set for Abbotts was that they be funded to achieve parity with the state's wealthiest districts. A brief filed by acting Education Commissioner Lucille Davy shows the Abbotts are already getting $500 million in aid above the parity level.
The Education Law Center, the group behind the series of Abbott lawsuits, is again suing the state, this time for $550 million in additional funding for the districts. The state has proposed a smaller increase for next year and argues the billions poured into the Abbott schools have not produced improvements in educational performance. This is another fact we have repeatedly documented on this blog and are happy to hear Acting Department of Education Commissioner Lucille Davy acknowledge it in court.
I'm concerned that we're spending $18,000 a kid in Asbury Park, for example, and their results are near the bottom in almost any measure.

"We need to figure out why we are not getting the outcomes," she said. "It's clearly not a matter of resources."
This thirty year Abbott experiment has produced no results, beyond nearly bankrupting the state and producing the highest property taxes in the nation. The New Jersey Supreme Court’s Abbott school funding decisions have been a disaster for everyone. Let’s hope the unelected robed ones will finally admit their mistake and tell the Education Law Center ‘enough is enough’. Better thrity years late than never.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Empty Classrooms In New Jersey

It would be interesting to know how many illegal aliens attend New Jersey’s public schools and how much it costs the state’s income and property tax payers. An article in today’s Star-Ledger - Crowded protests help empty some classrooms in Jersey - gives us some idea:

According to the state, about 60,000 students do not speak English as their primary language.

In Paterson public schools, about a quarter of the students took the day off in light of the national demonstrations.

Perth Amboy's usual attendance rate was down by a third.

New Brunswick's was down by even more, with the high school reporting only about half the usual attendance.

"In Passaic, a preschool that normally serves more than 300 students had just 100 students yesterday. That left classrooms nearly empty and gave school officials time to complete the school's outdoor butterfly garden. "

"We decided to use the day to finish up the project," said Maria Kenney, principal of School 17. "It ended up the perfect day for it."

Update: Assemblyman Michael has Boycott Lessons:

One of the other people interviewed for the radio news was a Pooh Bah from a New Jersey urban school district. Asked how this strike would affect his schools, he reported on one school which boasts an enrollment of 350, of which 310 failed to show up this morning.

The district at issue being an Abbott district, it spends -- depending upon how one does the math -- between $20,000 and $30,000 per year per kid educating the children of illegal aliens.

it’s a fair bet that a goodly number of the kids, upon whom we, the taxpayers, are spending uncounted billions, should not even be here.

THIS, then, is the nature of our constitutional obligation to provide a "thorough and efficient" education?

Illegals in NJ urban zones cost the taxpayers a bloody fortune. Even a hard working, otherwise law abiding [illegal alien] couple with three kids sets the taxpayers back a cool $75K or so, just in educational costs. That’s one hell of a price to pay for a cheap short order cook.

My thought, then, is that we should strongly encourage all illegals to boycott public schools. Permanently. The savings would provide our taxpayers with billions in sorely needed property tax relief.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Straw Man

From Steve Hart on Blue Jersey:

Even some of my more fair-minded and liberal acquaintances betray a slightly weird streak of nativism when the topic of amnesty for illegals comes up.

"You wanna reward people for breaking the law?" they ask, and I say, "If the law was written by WASPs to discriminate against dark-skinned people, then frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn who breaks it."
Straw man up, straw man down. That’s a mighty big ‘if’. U.S. immigration law was not written by WASPs to discriminate against people of any skin color and doesn’t. Now what’s your excuse Steve?

Update: A reader sends this picture from yesterday’s illegal immigrant protest march, along with these comments:

Hart’s post title on Blue Jersey: Immigrant Amnesty: Si se puede

Protest poster: Si se puede – The Workers Struggle Has No Borders (With picture of the communist Che Guevara)

Coincidence, I don’t think so.

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