"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance

 and a people who mean to be their own governors

 must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Bob Menendez Flip Flop

Just wanted to remind everyone about another contradictory story Bob Menendez has told concerning his rental deal with a federally funded non-profit agency.

1996 Excuse:
“Menendez said he had no hand in arranging the lease, which was handled by a real estate agent and lawyers for the North Hudson Community Action Corp., and did not realize his building would be housing a federally funded agency until after the deal was done.” -- Jersey Journal - 1996

2006 Excuse:
“Menendez said he didn't see any conflict of interest in the rental arrangement because the House ethics committee gave him a verbal green light before the lease agreement was finalized. He also argued that he rented the property at below-market rates.” -- Philadelphia Inquirer - 2006

Below market-rates to all comers? House ethics committee "green light" before, after or never? This is one of the reasons Bob Menendez is under criminal investigation.

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Monday, October 30, 2006

$35 Billion Dollars Later

The New York Times writes “In New Jersey, System to Help Poorest Schools Faces Criticism”. Gee, we wonder why? $35 billion dollars later and second graders in Abbott school districts now learn PowerPoint. Reading and math are so 20th century.

“What we know is lots of money has been spent, and in some places, there is very little to show,” said Lucille E. Davy, the education commissioner.
Here’s the school spending summary the state’s Attorney General and Education Commissioner recently gave to the New Jersey Supreme Court, the real powers to be in the state.

In FY1998, the Abbott average comparative cost per pupil was $8,438, the State average comparative cost per pupil was $7,979, and the I & J [128 wealthiest school districts] average comparative cost per pupil was $8,205. By FY2006, the Abbott average had grown 69% -- to $14,287. Such an amount far exceeds the FY2006 State average comparative cost per pupil of $11,056 and the I & J [wealthy] district average comparative cost per pupil of $11,320.
The $14,287 average cost per Abbott student is just the “comparative cost per pupil” and doesn’t count the additional federal and state funding received by the 31 districts. The total average cost per student in Newark was recently pegged by the Star-Ledger to be about $29,000.

In the meantime, state education officials plan to audit all 31 Abbotts in the next year after finding that the highest-spending districts were making the fewest gains.
$35 billion dollars later and the state is just beginning to realize there’s a problem. They’d better make that forensic audits, because something tells us there’s more than one Bad Superintendent in the business.

Funding Stem Cell Research

How much should the federal government spend on stem cell research? You’ve heard politicians say “I support stem cell research”, but have you heard any of them explain how much the government should spend? Have you heard any candidate give even a ballpark estimate of what should be spent, say, over the next two to five years? We haven’t.

But, let’s assume someone comes up with a nice round number and oodles of federal dollars are budgeted for the research. The next question - where are we going to spend it.? Obviously not in New Jersey.

According to Democrats, before the state can get into the stem research cell business New Jersey first needs to build three stem cell research facilities - one in New Brunswick, a second in Camden and a third in Newark. For some reason it hasn’t happened and it’s not a lack of money that’s stopped the construction projects. For the past two years the majority party in Trenton has found an extra $300 million plus in the budget for “Christmas Tree” grants - each project undoubtedly more important to achieving the greater good than research facilities.

So if millions, billions or trillions of additional federal dollars for stem cell research were made available tomorrow, New Jersey evidently lacks the faculties to do the work. Perhaps other states are better equipped to expand research, but it must be a closely guarded secret because the details have yet to emerge.

Then there is the matter of finding additional researchers with the expertise to effectively use any additional funding “in a field that already has a shortage of talent”. Stanford University stem cell scientist Irv Weissman, who played a key role in passing California’s 10-year, $3 billion stem cell research investment, is worried about funding being wasted.

Weissman is most concerned that the considerable monies available could lead to the wasting of funding on sub-par research. He advocates carrying the money forward until it can be well spent, perhaps on expensive clinical trials that are years away.
One thing is for certain, the federal government is not stopping scientists from conducting stem cell research. In fact, the United States is the world’s leader in the field, including research with embryonic stem cells. Contrary to what many people believe, the federal government currently funds the four major research types - human embryonic, non-human embryonic, human non-Embryonic and non-human non-embryonic. (See chart below for federal funding 1999-2006).

Federal funding for embryonic stem cell research has been restricted to lines that have already been created, but these federal restriction do not apply to research using private funds or to the research conducted in other countries. Yet, “more than 85 percent of all the published embryonic stem cell research in the world has used the lines approved for funding under the Bush policy”. It was the Bush policy that led to federal funding for embryonic stem cell research for the first time.

Every county engaged in embryonic stem cell research has regulations and restrictions– some countries are more restrictive than the U.S., some less. But all governments recognize there are moral and ethical implications to the research that must be addressed in the law and public policy. To label people wrestling with these ethical questions as “religious extremists” who oppose science and slam dunk cures is disingenuous at best.

Special interest groups and politicians have created such an emotionally charged atmosphere on this subject it’s nearly impossible to have a rational discussion about stem cell research. Listening to political ads and talk shows would leave most people with the impression that there is a cadre of “Bush Republicans” blocking cures for Michael J. Fox, children with diabetes and grandmothers with Alzheimer's. An objective presentation of the facts would dispel this “urban legend”, but political demagoguery rules the day.

The chart below shows federal funding for stem cell research from 1999 through 2006. You’ll notice it has doubled since 2001.

Click to Enlarge

Total stem cell research funding includes: Human Embryonic, Non-Human Embryonic, Human Non-Embryonic and Non-Human Non-Embryonic. *Subset of total stem cell research funding

Sources: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – National Institutes of Health and Legislators Toolkit: Federal Public Policy

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Bob Menendez Enlists Aid From Noted Criminal Defense Attorney

According to an item on Sixers, Bob Menendez may be in a bit more hot water with federal authorities than he’s previously been willing to admit. Why else would an appointed U.S. Senator need the help of a criminal defense attorney?

Yesterday we learned that despite repeated denials that he is under federal criminal investigation, Bob Menendez tapped nationally renowned criminal defense attorney Joseph Hayden to contact the U.S. Attorney's office on his behalf.

The Menendez campaign claims that Hayden contacted the U.S. Attorney's office as a "favor." A Menendez spokesman declined to detail the nature of Hayden's conversations with federal authorities stating, "I'm just not going to go there."

If Bob Menendez wants the voters of New Jersey to give him a six year term in the U.S. Senate he must answer these important questions. Why is Hayden engaged if Menendez is not under investigation? What did Menendez learn from Hayden after the initial phone call? When did the first contact between Hayden and the U.S. Attorney's office take place?
You may remember Joseph Hayden as the defense attorney for Jayson Willimas, the former basketball player and NBA announcer for NBC who was on trial for shooting a limousine driver at his home in New Jersey.

The Democrats’ One Percent Solution

Bob Menendez has a solution for plugging the coming shortfalls in the Social Security and Medicare systems - roll back the “Bush tax cuts” for the top one percent of federal taxpayers. To address the sky rocketing costs of Medicaid, Menendez looks to the same one percent to pick up the tab. He also claims he’d balance the federal budget and fund his plan to cover forty million Americans without medical insurance by raising taxes on the top one percent.

Does Bob Menendez seriously expect us to believe the top one percent, 1,303,712 federal tax filers, will be able to pay for that spending? It certainly sounds good to the remaining 99 percent, but is it realistic?

To put things in perspective, the top one percent currently pay 37 percent of all individual federal income taxes and New Jersey’s top one percent pay 42 percent of the state's income taxes. The bottom 50 percent of federal tax filers - 82.5 million - paid less in federal income taxes than New Jersey’s 2006 state budget. Confiscate all the income of the top one percent and it wouldn’t cover Menendez’ plans and he knows it.

Menendez doesn’t believe in innovative or market based solutions to problems. He believes in more government programs, more spending and higher taxes. And why not, it’s worked so well in New Jersey.

Then there’s Jon Shure, the Democrats go to guy on state tax policy. Shure is pushing lawmakers in Trenton to increase the state’s income tax on the wealthy - those earning $250,000 or more - to pay for $1 billion in “property tax relief”. Shure also wants Trenton to tax all 401(k) retirement account contributions. Somebody has to pay for the bankrupting pensions and retirement benefits for public employees, so what better way to finance those benefits than taxing away the other guy’s retirement benefits.

"No tax system is immune to a tanking economy," Shure said. We just wonder why Bob Menendez and Jon Shure are hell bent on making it a reality.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Religious Extremists?

When you read or hear the phrase “religious extremists", what comes to mind? People who in the name of their religion engage in suicide bombings, beheadings and other acts of terror? Or do you think of law abiding Christians, Jews and others of faith living in the United States?

Now take a look at this ad that has been appearing on a number of websites, including those of all major New Jersey newspapers.

How low can Assemblywoman Linda Stender go in her bid to win a seat in Congress?

Friday, October 27, 2006

Virtual Debate Between Kean and Menendez Completed

The Hall Institute has posted the final series of questions and responses in the debate between Tom Kean and Bob Menendez for the U.S. Senate. Links to the candidates’ opening statements, plus responses and rebuttals for the previous seven topics may be found here.

If you’re interested in learning where Kean and Menendez stand on some of the most important issues facing our country, we highly recommend that you check out the candidates' responses and rebuttals in this virtual debate.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

New Funding Formula For New Jersey’s Public Schools

The Education Law Center, famous for bringing the Abbott School lawsuits, recently sued the state and won. The Center’s executive director, David Sciarra, was dying to get his hands on a state report that analyzed the cost and funding of public education in New Jersey. Sciarra got his wish when earlier this month Superior Court Judge Linda Feinberg ordered the state to release information from the study.

The study, commissioned by the McGreevey administration, was conducted by Augenblick, Palaich, & Associates, Inc., (APA) a Denver-based consulting firm. The analysis compared actual school spending district-by-district, with what should be spent, as determined through a complex formula. (See summary cart below)

Sciarra probably wishes he had never sought to have the findings made public.

The report concludes that the 31 “needy” Abbott school districts, spent a total of $3.9 billion in the 2004-2005 school year, but need a fraction less, $3.875 billion. The Abbott districts are funded primarily with state aid, with local taxes shouldering, on average, only 11 percent of school costs. Average actual cost per student in the Abbott districts is $14,287. The study recommends a small reduction in funding to an average of $14,196 per student.

The study found the 407 school districts labeled “middle-income", spent a total of $7.978 billion, but need to spend $8.511 billion, an additional $533 million. Many of these school districts were deemed to be seriously under funded, others greatly over funded, and few districts were close to spending the recommended amount. The ratio of state aid to local funding also varies widely among these districts. Average cost per student for the middle-income districts is $11,056. The study recommends an average funding per student of $11,830 for the school districts in this category.

According to the report, the 128 school districts categorized as “wealthy” spent a total of $3.14 billion, about $166 million more than the consultant’s formula deemed necessary. For these districts, state aid is minimal and local property taxpayers pick up an average of 94 percent of school costs. The wealthy districts spent an average of $11,320 per student, while the study deemed an average of $10,720 per student as adequate.

These are not the findings Sciarra had hoped to uncover. Earlier this year, the Education Law Center sued the state of New Jersey for $550 million in additional funding for the Abbott districts and lost the case. The state argued that funding parity with the wealthiest school districts had been achieved by 1998, and that the Abbott school districts were already getting $500 million in state aid above the parity level. As the state’s brief to the New Jersey Supreme Court stated:
In FY1998, the Abbott average comparative cost per pupil was $8,438, the State average comparative cost per pupil was $7,979, and the I&J [128 wealthiest school districts] average comparative cost per pupil was $8,205. By FY2006, the Abbott average had grown 69% -- to $14,287. Such an amount far exceeds the FY2006 State average comparative cost per pupil of $11,056 and the I&J [wealthy] district average comparative cost per pupil of $11,320.
After reviewing the report, Sciarra called the consultants’ recommendations “not credible” and said, "Clearly, the department's effort to determine education costs was not professional, rigorous or thorough." He’s mad because the report didn’t recommend hundreds of millions more in state spending for the Abbott schools, but his conclusion is correct – the consultant’s recommendations are incredible.

The Education Law Center has published the cost and funding information from the Augenblick report on its website. Here you can see what your school district spends and the amount deemed necessary under the recommended funding formula. To determine your school district’s average cost per student and the recommended spending per student, divide each figure by the district’s enrollment, which may be found here.

The chart below provides the summary level information based on actual spending as compared to the consultant’s recommended funding (DOE Adequacy) for each school district category.

Click to Enlarge

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

NJ Supreme Court Rules on Gay Marriage

Here’s the New Jersey Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage. Same rights, no marriage licenses and it’s back to the Legislature.

We told you. It was the timing.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Gay Marriage In New Jersey – This Year’s October Surprise?

New Jersey’s Supreme Court is liberal to be sure and has shown no reticence in just making stuff up - the state’s Constitution and the common meaning of words ignored to reach desired results. Still, we think gay marriage advocates may be in for a letdown when the long anticipated ruling comes out tomorrow.

New Jersey’s attorney general has argued that the Legislature, not the state Supreme Court, should be the branch of government to make gay marriage legal. That seems logical and given that other high courts have recently reached that conclusion, we strongly suspect New Jersey’s court will rule in favor of the state. But we aren’t betting on the court’s logic or judicial restraint, but rather on the political calculus.

Up until today we wouldn’t have had an opinion one way or the other as to how the court would rule. But the on again, off again, and finally on again schedule for handing down the decision tomorrow is a big tip of the hand.

A ruling in favor of gay marriage would be topic one in the state, drowning out all other issues for the balance of the campaign. Major reverberations would be felt around the country and the last thing Democrats, and particularly Bob Menendez, need are hot debates about activist courts and gay marriage.

The timing of the court’s decision can be controlled and a decision to legalize gay marriage in New Jersey certainly could have waited until after the election. A ruling against gay marriage can’t hurt Democrats and may well help their electoral chances.

Court imposed gay marriage in New Jersey is not going to happen. We might be wrong - but if gay marriage becomes legal in New Jersey tomorrow, the ruling will become know as The October Surprise of 2006.

Monday, October 23, 2006

NJ Election 2006 – Taxes and The U.S. Economy

The editors of the Star-Ledger in their article, The best choices in the House races”, tell us that: “Taxes and the economy are a major focus of the campaign in the 7th District”. Why just the 7th remains unclear. We believe most voters in New Jersey are focused on those issues, although little ink has been spilled by the state’s largest paper on the facts surrounding federal taxes and the U.S. economy.

We believe most voters favor keeping the U.S. economy growing as it has for the past 19 consecutive quarters since the “Bush tax cuts” were enacted. These tax cuts have facilitated a growing economy, low unemployment, federal tax revenues at record levels, the stock market hitting all-time highs, as well as, a shrinking U.S. budget deficit. Not to mention the side benefit of saving every New Jersey taxpayer money (see chart below).

Given the choice between a candidate who favors retaining the “Bush tax cuts” and one who favors repealing them, it seems an obvious choice in the 7th. Vote for Congressman Mike Ferguson. The Star-Ledger explains, “Ferguson is an enthusiastic booster of President Bush's tax policy and the effort to make his cuts permanent”. But, the Star-Ledger has endorsed Linda Stender because she favors repealing most tax cuts and therefore, the editors conclude, “Stender should represent the people of the 7th District”.

Here’s how the Star-Ledger described Stender’s position and record earlier this month “She wants to repeal most of the Bush tax cuts” and “she's been party to the mess Democrats have made in Trenton, supporting all the spending and tax increases since her election in 2001.” Wow, voters should be rushing to the polls to elect Stender. We’ll see.

The Ledger uses the same “logic” for their endorsement in New Jersey’s 5th Congressional District. They describe Congressman Scott Garrett as ”a traditional conservative who can also be stubbornly independent of his party”, but endorses Paul Aronsohn because he “opposes making permanent the Bush tax cuts”.

As the facts clearly show, the “Bush tax cuts” have increased the federal tax burden on “the rich”, tripled corporate tax revenue, and now the U.S. Treasury is raking in record amounts of tax receipts. The budget deficit has been cut in half since the recession of 2001and taxed-to-death New Jersey taxpayers have been able to keep more of their own money. We’d call those accomplishments. (See charts below)

The notion that increasing taxes would not adversely affect the U.S. economy defies economic logic. Governor Jon Corzine, hardly one to shy away from tax increases, has been fending off his own party’s calls for raising New Jersey’s income and business taxes because he recognizes the negative impact these increases would have on the state’s economy and treasury.

Government can create tax polices that either hinder or enable economic growth, but it can not create wealth, it can only take it away. We the people grow the economy though our investment and hard work, not the government or politicians. The “Bush tax cuts” produced an environment conducive to higher levels of investment, entrepreneurship, productivity and the creation of new jobs. The American people responded and produced.

Tax increases on work and investment, as the Democrats endorsed advocate and the Ledger applauds, would have the opposite effect. It shouldn’t come as news to anyone that if you tax something you get less of it – think of the so-called sin and carbon taxes.

The Ledger and the other usual suspects have yet to explain how raising federal taxes would benefit the people of New Jersey. Fewer dollars in the wallets of New Jersey taxpayers is not a boon to anyone in the state – from the richest to the poorest.

The state of New Jersey receives the lowest percentage of federal funds for every dollar our taxpayers send to Washington because we are “the richest” state in the Union. Just as the wealthier communities in New Jersey receive the least amount of municipal and school aid from the state, so it goes with federal aid to New Jersey. No matter the tax rates, no matter who controls the Congress or White House, as long as the state has a higher average income than the rest of the states, it will remain that way.

New Jerseyans don’t pay enough in taxes – federal, state and local? Give us break. We’ve lost all hope on the editors of the Star-ledger, but you can send a message this November 7th. Send the tax increasing politicians packing.

Tax Savings For Every New Jersey Taxpayer

Increased Tax Burden On Wealthiest Americans

Federal Corporate Tax Revenue Has Tripled

Record Levels of Federal Tax Revenue

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Google Bombing The Election

The left hopes to “Google bomb” their way to victory in this year’s election. Mike Ferguson and Tom Kean are the two New Jersey candidates on the hit list. Here’s how Google Bombing The Election is supposed to work:

The campaign will proceed as follows:

Step One: With help form readers at Dailykos and MyDD, I will compile a list of seventy article, one for each targeted race. Every article will focus on a different Republican candidate, and will be written by as generally trusted a news source as possible. It will also present as unflattering a view on the Republican candidate as possible. All of these articles will be placed into a database that I will maintain with the help of willing volunteers.

Step Two: Once the database is complete, BlogPac will purchase Google Adwords that will place each negative article on the most common searches for each Republican candidate. Simultaneously, I will produce an article on MyDD that embeds that negative article into a hyperlink that names the Republican candidate. I will then send a copy of that post out to as many bloggers as possible, who can also place the post on their blogs. One posting of this article will be enough.

Step Three: All further discussion of the Republican candidates in question on all participating blogs should include an embedded hyperlink that will increase the Google search rank of the article on the given candidate.

The result of this should be that the most damning, non-partisan article written on every key Republican candidate for house and Senate will appear both high on every Google search for that candidate, and automatically as an advertisement on every search for that candidate. BlogPac will cover the costs. The netroots will supply the research.

Aftermath: If this program is successful, after the election the advertising and Google-bombing program will continue. However, instead of targeting Republican candidates, it will be done in order to benefit and increase the search engine visibility of the very best local, progressive blogs around the country.

Resources: The list of Republican candidates to target can be found here: Republican candidates in key House and Senate races.
We hope they spend every last dime they can get their hands on. Blue Jersey will be at battle stations.

There’s another upside to this campaign. We’ll have a great list of the most partisan hacks chosen by the radical left. Anyone want to take bets on the authors of the articles chosen for Ferguson and Kean?

Update: Dan Riehl has more.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Menendez Mendacity Continues and the AP Spins

Once again we find the media working on behalf of Bob Menendez. First the New York Times wrote a Tom Kean gotcha post, believing Menendez had caught Kean in a trap before a Jewish voters group.

Then the New York Times posted a second piece because it was Menendez rather than Kean who was snared in the trap. Trochilus Tales has the details.

The New York Times followed up the two posts with an article that proves Menendez lied twice to the voters and then later tried to pressure the Times’ reporter to change Menendez’ comments on the Times’ posts.

To counter that damning report, the Menendez campaign has managed to get the Associated Press to publish an article that enables Menendez to revise and extend his remarks and spin the story against Kean.

From the New York Times' latest article (entire article here):

On Wednesday night, the two United States Senate candidates in New Jersey addressed several hundred people at Temple Beth Shalom in Livingston, N.J., as part of a forum sponsored by the Metro West Jewish Federation.

During their hourlong sessions, Senator Robert Menendez, the Democratic candidate, and his Republican opponent, State Senator Thomas H. Kean Jr., were asked about Mr. Lieberman, who declared his independent candidacy in Connecticut after being defeated in a Democratic primary by Ned Lamont.

In a written question from an audience member, Mr. Menendez was asked why he supported Mr. Lamont. Mr. Menendez said that his support of Mr. Lamont was a “mischaracterization,” adding that he supported Mr. Lieberman’s run as an independent candidate.

“I wish him well and hope he returns,” he said.

With that, Mr. Menendez — who 24 hours earlier had been engaged in a tense radio debate with Mr. Kean — warned the crowd that Mr. Kean, who was to speak next, would try to tell the crowd that Mr. Menendez supported Mr. Lamont.

About 40 minutes later, when Mr. Kean was asked about Senator Lieberman — who despite his independent candidacy said he would continue to caucus with Democrats — said, “I think he is the right individual and I look forward to serving with him.”

After a pause, he added, “My opponent, by the way, supports Ned Lamont.”

It appeared that Mr. Kean had played right into his opponent’s hands.

But yesterday morning, after the two New Jersey candidates’ comments were posted on the “Empire Zone,” a New York Times political blog, a spokesman for Mr. Menendez called this reporter and asked that the senator’s comments be changed.

“What he was meaning to say is that he has enjoyed working with Senator Lieberman and looks forward to serving with him should he be re-elected,” said the spokesman, Matthew Miller. “But his official endorsement is for Lamont, and he supports the party.”

When asked why Mr. Menendez had endorsed Mr. Lieberman at the synagogue but tried to back off the next day, Mr. Miller would only say that Mr. Menendez supported the Democratic nominee.

Not surprisingly, the Kean campaign jumped all over Mr. Menendez.

“Bob Menendez went before a group of concerned Jewish voters and tried to hoodwink them,” said Jill Hazelbaker, a spokeswoman for Mr. Kean.
Now read the AP’s version of the story, apparently ghostwritten by the Menendez campaign (the entire article here):

The latest dust-up in the state's contentious Senate race has nothing to do with New Jersey politics. It's over whether New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez supports fellow incumbent Joe Lieberman or his Democratic challenger, Ned Lamont, in the Connecticut Senate race.

On Friday, the Republican Jewish Coalition accused Menendez of deceiving a crowd during a recent candidates forum during which he said he supported Lieberman, who is an Orthodox Jew.

During that event, which was sponsored by a Jewish organization, Menendez was asked why he supported Lieberman's Democratic challenger, Ned Lamont. Menendez has thrown his support behind Lamont, who defeated Lieberman in the Democratic primary. Lieberman is running as an independent.

"I didn't support Ned Lamont and not Joe Lieberman," Menendez said during the Wednesday night forum in Livingston. "The reality is I'm privileged to serve with Joe Lieberman. I think he is a tremendous United States senator and certainly I supported him when he was running in his primary."

The audience broke into applause as Menendez added, "I wish him well."

Menendez spokesman Matthew Miller said the senator endorsed Lamont after he beat Lieberman in the primary, but that he had supported Lieberman in the primary. Miller put the blame for the spat over his candidate's statement on the shoulders of the Republican state senator looking to unseat Menendez.

"This is another desperate attempt by Tom Kean Jr. to make something out of nothing," said Miller. "Bob Menendez has great respect for Joe Lieberman and would be proud to serve with him in the Senate if he wins his re-election campaign, but he supports the party's nominee and that has not changed."

Friday, October 20, 2006

False and Fabricated

Linda Stender’s campaign for congress is not resonating with voters in New Jersey’s 7th congressional district. So she sent out a mailer in a pathetic attempt to cash in on the Mark Foley scandal and smear her opponent, Congressman Mike Ferguson. The Linda Stender for Congress mailer was based on a gossip column from 2003. Not only is the gossip “old news”, it’s also “false and fabricated”.

From ABC News:

A Democratic flier slams Rep. Mike Ferguson, R-N.J., for allegedly hitting on a college girl while drunk at a Georgetown bar. Ferguson denies the girl's version of events, which appeared in the Washington Post's gossip column in 2003, and the bar manager who witnessed the whole thing calls her story and the Democratic flier "false and fabricated."

David Nelson tells ABC News that he was advised by the bar owner not to have any comment when reporters called even though Ferguson's staff asked him to tell reporters what had happened. He regrets that decision.

"What she said isn't true," Nelson said after being shown the flier, "and these fliers are wrong. He's a married man, with kids — the story's false and he shouldn't have to go through this, politics aside."

Thursday, October 19, 2006

New York Times Falls For Menendez Mendacity

*** Also See Updated post - Menendez Mendacity Continues and the AP Spins ***

Tom Kean can’t catch a break from the liberal media in the New Jersey area. Today, John Holl for the New York Times writes Kean Falls Into Lieberman Trap:

The two [Bob Menendez and Tom Kean] appeared at a candidate forum yesterday sponsored by the Metro West Jewish Federation, and they discussed the usual topics: the Iraq war, Social Security, and stem cell research.

And both candidates were asked about Lieberman’s re-election bid. Mr. Menendez, who appeared first, said he supports Mr. Lieberman’s run as an independent candidate. “I wish him well,” he said, “and hope he returns.”

He then warned the crowd that Mr. Kean, who was to appear second, would try to tell the crowd that Mr. Menendez supports Mr. Lamont.

About 40 minutes later, when Mr. Kean was asked about Senator Lieberman, he said, “I think he is the right individual and I look forward to serving with him.” After a pause, he added, “My opponent, by the way, supports Ned Lamont.”
It looks like the New York Times fell into the trap of believing and repeating as fact whatever comes out of Menendez’ mouth. Here’s a statement that appeared on the Bob Menendez campaign website on August 8, 2006 after Lieberman lost the primary to Lamont.

"Joe Lieberman is a good friend and an excellent Senator who has served his country with dignity. He ran a hard-fought campaign, but the voters of Connecticut have spoken, and I support their decision. I fully support Ned Lamont's candidacy."
The next thing you know Menendez will be telling voters he supports tax cuts and enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws. He’ll say anything to win the senate race in New Jersey.

Update: Get a load of this:

The Menendez camp is having to backtrack on the Senator’s comments before a Jewish group that he supports Joe Lieberman’s re-election.

Several hours after our blog item about Menendez and his Republican challenger voicing their support for returning Lieberman to the Senate, Matt Miller, a spokesman for Robert Menendez, called to clarify the senator’s statement.

Mr. Menendez, it turns out, does not support Joe Lieberman’s re-election bid and fully supports Ned Lamont, the Democratic candidate.

“What he was meaning to say is that he has enjoyed working with Senator Lieberman and looks forward to serving with him should he be re-elected,” said Mr. Miller. “But his official endorsement is for Lamont and he supports the party.”

More Menendez Mendacity:

Can a Corrupt Politician Be Elected To The U.S. Senate?
Bob Menendez: The Early Years

Bob “I Barely Broke Even” Menendez
Menendez Sets Off Ethical Alarm Bells
Bob “I Barely Broke Even” Menendez Busted
Bob Menendez Digs A Deeper Hole
Another Menendez, North Hudson Community Action Center “Coincidence”
Menendez: You Put Your Hand On The Bible
Creating A Culture Of Corruption In New Jersey
Menendez and the Jersey Corruption Devil
The Menendez Machine In Action

Mike Ferguson Vs. Linda Stender – October Outlook

Given the closeness of the U.S. senate race between Tom Kean and Bob Menendez you really have to scratch your head and wonder why anyone thinks Linda Stender has a chance of defeating Republican Mike Ferguson in New Jersey’s 7th Congressional district.

In 2005, the district went for the losing Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Forrester with 56 percent of the vote. In 2004 Ferguson won with 57 percent of the vote and in 2002 with 58 percent of the vote. As national Democrats have been forced to pump money into New Jersey in an attempt to save Menendez, what scenario makes a Stender upset seem even remotely possible?

The lefty Democrats on Blue Jersey are pointing to voter ignorance as key to a Stender win:

You can't walk this district for a week and find a dozen people who know who Charlie Rangel is, much less what committee he is in line for. Hell, I'm pretty sure most of them don't know what the Ways and Means committee does.
We have a great deal more regard for the voters in NJ-7 than Linda Stender’s backers and we’re willing to place a large bet that that more than a dozen people in the district are familiar with Charlie Range. He’s on TV news talk shows frequently and is often quoted in the media:

Rangel's accession to the chairmanship of the committee would likely end six years of tax cuts by the Republican- controlled Congress. He said he ``cannot think of one'' of President George W. Bush's first-term tax cuts that merit renewal.
That is not music to the ears of taxpayers in New Jersey’s 7th. The most heavily taxed voters in the county will not be supporting Linda Stender whose position on taxes mirror Rangel’s. As the Star-Ledger reported about Stender on October 8 - “She wants to repeal most of the Bush tax cuts” and “she's been party to the mess Democrats have made in Trenton, supporting all the spending and tax increases since her election in 2001.”

If voters don’t know Stender’s record and positions now, they will by the time November 7 rolls around. As for Charlie Rangel (D-NY), here’s what he recently had to say:

“When I become chairman of the Ways and Means Committee,” he said Thursday night in front of the Hudson River School paintings at the New-York Historical Society, “we will have power over the entire tax system, Social Security system, pension system, Medicare and all international trade.”
That may well be a socialist’s dream come true, but it’s a taxpayer’s nightmare. The odds of Linda Stender defeating Mike Ferguson for congress range from about slim to none.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


The Free Enterprise Fund Committee released a campy new television ad, “Politicos,” to highlight New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez’s shady record as a politician, which is more reminiscent of a character on HBO’s “Sopranos” than of a respectable United States Senator.

The television ad is a part of the Free Enterprise Fund Committee’s effort nationwide to alert people about the dangers of moving America backward to the days of higher taxes, higher unemployment and weaker economic growth.

The video” Politicos” may be seen here. Transcript below.

[Theatrical Mafia thug v/o] We got a problem. Our boy down in Washington, Bob Menendez, he’s caught in this Federal investigation. Right. Feds start looking at these fixed contracts, ba-da-bing, we’re in it, but deep.

And worse, this guy Tom Kean, he wants to clean things up--even cut taxes. Hey, where’s our take in that? "We need to get the bosses to fix this thing, like they did with Torricelli. You got Lautenberg's number?"

[ANNCR] Tell Bob Menendez his high tax record is a crime. The Free Enterprise Fund Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising.

Impersonating A New Jersey Congressman

A 26-year-old law school student, Njock Eyong, was arrested for impersonating New Jersey Congressman. Donald Payne. (D-Essex), “so he could obtain visas for relatives and others in his native Cameroon”. Eyong is a native of Cameroon who lived in Washington, D.C., before going to Minnesota for school.

Njock Eyong is charged with impersonating a federal official, possession of fraudulent visa documents, and fraud by wire scheme, according to an Oct. 11 indictment in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

Eyong also faxed documents from Washington to Berlin, Frankfurt and Cameroon, according to the nine-count indictment. If convicted, he could face substantial prison time.
Eyong certainly seems “resourceful” and well connected:

While in Washington, he worked as an intern for New Jersey Democratic Rep. Donald M. Payne. In summer 2003, Eyong used the congressman's signature machines and official stationery to demand that visas be issued, said Barbara Kittay of the U.S. attorney's office in Washington.

Eyong also has worked for Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, and as an intern for Judge Vanessa D. Gilmore, a federal judge for the Southern District of Texas.
Eyong, was known as a student leader and fiittlingly went by the nickname “NJ”.

At William Mitchell, Eyong, known by the nickname "NJ" gained the respect of fellow students for his volunteer work. He was involved in student government and in the school's Jewish Law Society.

Eyong, president of the Student Bar Association at William Mitchell College of Law, is known as a student leader and an article on the school's Web site says he plans to become a civil rights trial lawyer.
A “criminal conviction could jeopardize Eyong's plans to become a lawyer”, but a run for politcal office in the Garden State can not be ruled out.

Eric Janus, vice dean for academic affairs at William Mitchell, said Eyong has been "a very engaged and active student here."

Janus said Eyong voluntarily took an indefinite leave of absence from his position with the Student Bar Association this month. Janus said he expected Eyong, who is in his last year of law school, to continue his classes.

"We are honoring the presumption of innocence," Janus said.
Somehow we missed this story in New Jersey’s newspapaers.

The Seamstress

Many a hard working mother has watched her son turn his back on the values she demonstrated and tried to instill in her child. Al Capone’s mother, Teresina, was a seamstress. Bob Menendez’ mother was a seamstress. The values and occupation of one’s mother are beside the point. Blame the sons for their own life choices and leave the mothers be, they tried their best to no avail.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

I Can Only Imagine

Perhaps you’re already familiar with this story and have seen this video, we had not until today. Can – The father-son bond of Dick and Rick Hoyt.

Strongest Dad in the World

43 years ago, when Rick was strangled by the umbilical cord during birth, leaving him brain-damaged and unable to control his limbs. "He'll be a vegetable the rest of his life;"

Dick says doctors told him and his wife, Judy, when Rick was nine months old. "Put him in an institution."

But the Hoyts weren't buying it.

They noticed the way Rick's eyes followed them around the room.

When Rick was 11 they took him to the engineering department at Tufts University and asked if there was anything to help the boy communicate. "No way," Dick says he was told. "There's nothing going on in his brain.

Tell him a joke," Dick countered. They did. Rick laughed.

Turns out a lot was going on in his brain.

Rigged up with a computer that allowed him to control the cursor by touching a switch with the side of his head, Rick was finally able to communicate.

And after a high school classmate was paralyzed in an accident and the school organized a charity run for him, Rick pecked out, "Dad, I want to do that."

Yeah, right. How was Dick, a self-described "porker" who never ran more than a mile at a time, going to push his son five miles?

Still, he tried. "Then it was me who was handicapped," Dick says. "I was sore for two weeks."

That day changed Rick's life. "Dad," he typed, "when we were running, it felt like I wasn't disabled anymore!" And that sentence changed Dick's life.

Eighty-five times he's pushed his disabled son, Rick, 26.2 miles in marathons.

Eight times he's not only pushed him 26.2 miles in a wheelchair but also towed him 2.4 miles in a dinghy while swimming and pedaled him 112 miles in a seat on the handlebars--all in the same day.

Dick's also pulled him cross-country skiing, taken him on his back mountain climbing and once hauled him across the U.S. on a bike.

Makes taking your son bowling look a little lame, right?

And what has Rick done for his father?

Not much--except save his life.
Read the entire article, Strongest Dad in the World, by Rick Reilly as published din Sports Illustrated.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Crunch Time on Property Taxes

This doesn’t happen very often, so we thought we’d bring this to your attention – The New York Times agrees with Enlighten-New Jersey:
If there were any doubts that the New Jersey Legislature must reduce the state’s soaring property taxes, a Census Bureau report earlier this month should wipe them away. For homeowners with a mortgage, the state has the highest median housing costs of any state in the nation. Property taxes play a major role in those high costs.

James Hughes, dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers, says high property taxes together with high income and business taxes are having a negative impact on the state’s economy. They are certainly working against Gov. Jon Corzine’s efforts to bring industry to New Jersey.

We have an expenditure problem, not a tax problem,” Dr. Hughes says. The high annual increases in spending by schools and government at all levels mean that even if the Legislature were to raise income or sales taxes, the additional money would be eaten away in just a few years and the situation would again be as bad as it is now.

This means Trenton will have to make big, painful cuts in spending if taxes are to be brought under control. Health and retirement benefits for state, local and school employees, including teachers and police officers, are under discussion. But even those, which will face fierce opposition by public employee unions, will not be enough.

And then there is school spending, which few people want to talk about. At an average of about $11,500 per pupil each year, school spending is higher than in any other state, and it may have to come down. So too may the high rate of spending for schools in Newark, Jersey City and more than 25 other poor municipalities designated as special needs districts. These districts, which are supposed to receive the same amount of public money as the state’s highest-spending districts, receive more than $14,000 per student.

We’ve been explaining the causes of and the solutions to New Jersey’s property tax crisis since we began this blog. It’s great to finally have a major newspaper, and an ultra liberal one at that, agree with us. Better late than never.

Can a Corrupt Politician Be Elected To The U.S. Senate?

Bob Menendez likes to claim he courageously helped bring down a corrupt mayor and state senator, William Musto. Musto and six other Union City officials were ultimately convicted on 36 counts of racketeering, extortion and fraud, but we could never understand what role Menendez supposedly played that would enable him to list that accomplishment on his resume.

The story goes like this. A mob connected construction firm was given a contract from Union City officials to renovate two city high schools. The contractor, Rudolph Orlandini, paid city and school officials $700,000 in bribes so that he could over bill the district by more than $2 million for the construction work.

The scheme collapsed when the school board ran out of money before Orlandini had finished work on the school construction projects. Under pressure for more cash from his organized crime associates, Orlandini sought protection from the Feds. He confessed to his role in the scam and became a government informant, taping school board and city officials.

So Orlandini is the snitch who alerted the Feds to the crimes in Union City. Musto and six of his buddies took the bribes and the city was over billed by more than $2 million for the work. That leaves Menendez, the chief financial officer for the school board (that’s the tile Menendez lists on his official congressional bio for the job), as the guy approving the inflated payments and writing the checks to Orlandini’s firm.

Trial transcripts obtained by the Star-Ledger, show Menendez admitted that he had written two, one million dollar checks to Orlandini, for the same invoice. That’s a pretty big mistake Menendez failed to catch, either before the checks were written or after being cashed during account reconciliation.

Anyway, what’s so courageous about Menendez' actions? Menendez didn’t go to the authorities - the Feds came to him after being tipped off about the scam by Orlandini. According to transcripts of the trial, Menendez warned his political mentor, Musto about the federal probe. The trial transcripts also show Menendez didn’t come clean about tipping off Musto until after he found out from newspaper accounts that the secretly recorded tapes did not implicate him in the bribe taking. If Menendez wanted to take sides with the Feds, why did he tip off Musto?

As for helping to bring down the corrupt Musto, The Star-Ledger reported that even after Menendez was fully aware of the federal probe and “after 12 appearances before a grand jury that ultimately indicted Musto and six others, he supported Musto's bid for re-election as state senator and mayor”. Are these the actions of a man on the side of taxpayers and the law, or of a man completely tied in with the corrupt political machine?

So where does the courageous corruption busting part of the Menendez story come in? Apparently, Menendez wants people to believe he was heroic by testifying in court that he overpaid the contactor by $2 million. Menendez also wants people to forget that after the trial he said "I had no choice but to testify. I did not go running to Newark.” The record clearly shows Menendez was hardly a forthcoming or willing witness.

Menendez also claims he braved his court appearance by wearing a bulletproof vest, but the guy who actually brought down Musto and company, Orlandini, wound up in the federal witness protection program after he testified. Menendez safely continued his political career in Hudson County. His corruption busting story just doesn’t add up.

Menendez was the “little fish” the Feds let get away to catch the “big fish”. Unless you believe the Philadelphia Inquirer’s latest excuse for Menendez’ role in the scam – “he unknowingly approved overpayments to a contractor.” Writing two one million dollar checks for the same invoice takes the “unknowingly” excuse off the table for us, no matter how cavalierly Menendez is known for spending taxpayer money.

The latest news reports that Menendez used his congressional office to help a racketeer, that he pocketed money from a federally funded agency, and that his right hand man was taped shaking down a government contractor in Menendez’ name, hasn’t exactly dispelled his reputation as a corrupt political boss. But will any of this matter in the election?

To answer the question we posed in the title of this post - can a corrupt politician be elected to the U.S. Senate? – our answer is yes. New Jersey has a history of electing one corrupt political boss after the next. We suspect the strength of special interests backing guys like Menendez, coupled with apathy on the part of many of our fellow citizens, makes the disgusting potential possible. But, our hope springs eternal that this time will be different.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

No Excuses This Year, Vote!

According to an article by the AP’s Tom Hester, Senate candidates ready to get voters to polls, New Jersey has 4.8 million registered voters. But an article by the Star-Ledger’s Rick Hepp, State looks to old rolls for election, explains there are more than 6 million people on the state’s county voter registration rolls. That’s a hefty 1.2 million difference between the two reports.

The 4.8 million voter registration number most likely comes from the cleaned up State list, with people no longer eligible to vote in New Jersey removed, as required by law. However, the county voter lists with 6 million plus is the one that will be used for this year’s election.

This will be the fourth straight year New Jersey’s “state Attorney General's Office failed to comply with federal voting laws.” A 2005 study uncovered thousands of cases in New Jersey where ineligible people voted, voted more than once or voted posthumously in the 2004 election. By the time a suit wound its way through the court system it was too late to remove ineligible voters from the registration rolls in time for the 2005 election.

Last year the state provided a completely unbelievable excuse for failing to comply with the law. A representative from the state Attorney General's Office told Superior Court Judge Linda Feinberg the state’s “registrar was unaware that this was one of his obligations."

"That is almost impossible to understand," replied Feinberg.

Feinberg turned to Deputy Attorney General Karen DuMars, who was representing Attorney General Peter C. Harvey. "This is the first time this has come to the attention of the attorney general," DuMars said.

"I'm dumbfounded. I just don't understand it," Feinberg responded. "The notion that this was a statutory responsibility that was unknown to the registrar is just hard to swallow," Feinberg said.
This year’s excuse is that the statewide voter registration system that was supposed to have been operational last January has encountered problems:

The agreement between the U.S. Attorney's Office and the state Attorney General's Office stalled the full implementation of the statewide voter registration system, as required under provisions of the federal Help America Vote Act. The system, which was supposed to be ready by last January, has had significant programming problems during testing that could disenfranchise voters, officials said.

The state contracted Covansys Corporation in March 2005 to develop, install and implement the statewide system. Covansys subcontracted the work to PCC Technology Group, which failed to meet specifications and was removed from the project last January.
New Jersey voters who will be disenfranchised this year due to voter fraud can take comfort in knowing the state has agreed to be in compliance with the law next year.

The state has agreed to have its system fully compliant with HAVA by May 30, 2007. As part of that agreement, the state must also take "reasonable steps" to identify possible duplicate registrations, deceased registrants and registered voters who became ineligible to vote due to conviction of an indictable offense.
Meanwhile, Hudson County Democrats are finalizing their election plans:

The county Democratic leadership held their weekly meeting yesterday and Sen. Majority Leader and HCDO Chairman Bernard Kenny made it clear to everyone what was expected of them in the Senate race. Kenny said Menendez needs at least a net vote result of 58,000.
David Rebovich provides additional insight:

David Rebovich, managing director of the Rider University Institute for New Jersey Politics, said Republicans will likely focus on suburban areas, with Democrats targeting urban areas in Camden, Essex and Hudson counties.

But Rebovich said Menendez may need extra effort for his urban focus because those areas lack competitive U.S. House races. He said the lack of competitive House races may depress voter turnout throughout the state.

"So he (Menendez) is going to have to spend some street money," Rebovich said, referring to how New Jersey candidates typically pay people about $50 to round up voters on Election Day.
As bleak as this may sound, New Jersey’s urban machine can be beaten, if taxpayers vote. If you’re sick and tired of high taxes and political corruption in New Jersey, take away the machine’s power – Vote! Don’t let the machine politicians get away with one more scam – Vote!

The election will be held on Tuesday, November 7. If you haven’t registered, you have until October 17 – here are the county locations and office hours. For registered voters unable to make it to the voting booth on Election Day, for whatever reason, here’s how to vote by Absentee Ballot.

No excuses this year, Vote!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Bob Menendez’ Record On Taxes

“Bob Menendez said the election was about issues that affected people's lives.” What issue affects the lives of New Jersey’s residents more than taxes?

Menendez has made no secret of wanting to repeal the “Bush tax cuts” and consistently talks about raising taxes on “the wealthy”. In government speak, New Jersey taxpayers are “the wealthy” as our state has the highest average income in the nation. Menendez fails to acknowledge that the "Bush tax cuts" have been good for New Jersey taxpayers and also good for the country.

The “Bush tax cuts” have enabled the creation of 5.8 million new jobs, a 4.6 unemployment rate and 19 consecutive quarters of economic growth. Federal tax revenues have reached an all time high, resulting in a dramatic decrease in the deficit. The stock market continues to hit new highs. If Bob Menendez had his way, New Jersey taxpayers would have less in their wallet and our economy would be sputtering along.

Menendez has a long record on tax issues, voting against the interests of New Jersey taxpayers every time. Whether it’s voting against eliminating the marriage penalty, against reducing income tax rates and credits, against reforming the Alternative Minimum Tax, against eliminating the estate tax, against tax cuts for small businesses, against reducing taxes on capital gains and dividends – Bob Menendez has been a reliable vote against tax relief for the citizens of this state. (See list of key votes below)

USA Today recently published an article explaining how every taxpayer has benefited from the tax cuts Bob Menendez has been against and favors repealing:

Americans of every income have benefited from a drop in federal income tax rates as Bush administration tax cuts enacted since 2000 took effect, an independent analysis of newly released IRS data shows.

But those earning $75,000 to $500,000 are shouldering a larger share of total taxes paid as millions more of them earn higher incomes and get hit with the Alternative Minimum Tax, the analysis also found.

The analysis showed, for example, that a taxpayer who earned $35,000 in 2000 would have paid 8.54% of that income — $2,989 after credits — in federal taxes. In 2004, federal taxes would have accounted for 5.12% of that taxpayer's annual income, or $1,792. That represents a 40% decrease in tax burden.

Millions of upper-middle and moderately high-income earners also benefited from tax rate cuts. But the analysis shows their savings was limited by the Alternative Minimum Tax, which eliminates some deductions and credits they could otherwise claim on federal tax returns. The levy particularly hits those whose high state and local taxes become ineligible for federal tax deductions.

For instance, taxpayers who earned between $100,000 and $200,000 in 2004 paid 22.5% of all federal taxes, up from 19.4% four years earlier. Those who earned between $200,000 and $500,000 in 2004 paid 17.9% of all federal taxes, up from 15.4% in 2000, the analysis showed.

Millions of lower-income Americans — those earning $25,000 annually or less — have been taken off the federal tax rolls. In 2000, roughly 29 million tax returns had no federal tax owed. Four years later, the number rose to about 43 million returns.
Can New Jersey afford to send Bob Menendez and his tax increasing pal, Linda Stender, to Congress? Menendez says he wants to talk about the issues - let him defend his voting record and let him explain why he wants to increase your taxes.

Below is a list of key votes cast by Menendez on tax issues:

Voted YES on Repealing capital gains tax cut. (Feb 2006)
Voted NO on revising the Alternative Minimum Tax (Dec 2005)
Voted NO on retaining reduced taxes on capital gains & dividends. (Dec 2005)
Voted NO on providing tax relief and simplification. (Sep 2004)
Voted NO on permanently eliminating the marriage penalty. (Apr 2004)
Voted NO on making the Bush tax cuts permanent. (Apr 2002)
Voted NO on $99 B economic stimulus: capital gains & income tax cuts. (Oct 2001)
Voted NO on Tax cut package of $958 B over 10 years. (May 2001)
Voted NO on eliminating the Estate Tax ("death tax"). (Apr 2001)
Voted NO on eliminating the "marriage penalty". (Jul 2000)
Voted NO on $46 billion in tax cuts for small business. (Mar 2000)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Too Many Hospitals In New Jersey?

New Jersey has 81acute care hospitals and Governor Jon Corzine thinks there may be 25 too many. He’s signed an executive order establishing an 11-member commission to study “whether all our hospitals are necessary, whether they are suitably located to meet health care needs and whether state funding is properly distributed among them”.

Corzine said he's hopeful the panel's recommendations might help the state save money, but said New Jersey may simply rearrange how it allocates money to try to tackle health care disparities among regions and races.

The state provides about $1 billion per year to hospitals to pay for treating uninsured patients. This fiscal year's budget also includes millions in direct grants to hospitals and health systems affiliated with hospitals. [Not to mention the billions the state spends on Medicaid and NJ Family Care.]
Earlier this year Corzine tried to slap a $1,424 monthly tax on each hospital bed to help pay for charity care, but was shot down when it was revealed losing hospitals out numbered the winners by a margin of 2 to1. In other words it was a cost shifting scheme, with urban hospitals coming out as the winners and suburban hospitals the losers.

The New Jersey Hospital Association has said 40 percent of the state's hospitals lost money last year and the average hospital earned a 1 percent profit.
Given the precarious financial picture of the state’s hospitals, adding another big ole tax never made sense to us. It certainly wouldn’t be much help in “bringing down the cost of quality health care.” Maybe Corzine’s idea for rearranging funding by region and race will win the day, because cutting staff to coincide with hospital closures doesn’t seem to be on the table.

Corzine said he did not expect any physicians or nurses to be laid off as a result of the panel's findings. The commission will issue its report by June 1, Corzine said, to allow the recommendations to be put in place by the 2008 fiscal budget
It will be interesting to see who Corzine appoints to the commission, what they ultimately recommend and if they can get a handle on identifying the uninsured being treated in New Jersey’s hospitals. In any case, we doubt much has changed since the last state commission looked at the hospital funding problem back in 1999.

A One-Trick Pony

The Hall Institute has posted the latest question and candidate responses in the debate between Tom Kean and Bob Menendez. Menendez begins his response with this:

While Pro-Bush, Pro-War Tom Kean Jr. is taking his campaign into the gutter at every turn, I'm focusing on the issues and standing up to President Bush.
The question Menendez was answering was about the environment. Talk about a one-trick pony.

Here’s how Tom Kean begins his response:

As residents of the nation's most densely populated state, New Jerseyans understand the importance and challenges of protecting our natural resources.
Kean’s response leads into the topic under discussion, Menendez goes completely off topic and resorts to name calling. Does Menendez’ approach really appeal to voters? He just seems stuck on nasty and unable to focus on the issues he's asked to address.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Menendez: The Bob and Weave

Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez told The Associated Press Wednesday that he has not been subpoenaed in any federal investigation, a claim Republican opponent Tom Kean Jr. continued to maintain.

"There is a subpoena that has his name on it that was issued by an impaneled grand jury and delivered by the FBI," Kean said during an interview with the AP. "That's a fact."

Watch New Jersey Democrat Senator Bob Menendez "bob and weave." The video includes Menendez's appearance on ABC's This Week in which he acknowledged being under federal investigation and his later denial of said investigation during a recent debate.

Let’s Ask The Voters

Sen. Bob Smith (D-Middlesex) said. "We need the consent of the governed. People have to decide how much government they want and what they are willing to pay for it." Smith is Co-Chairman for the Joint Committee on Government Consolidation and Shared Services.

Smith said he envisions the creation of countywide districts as a referendum on the 2007 ballot. Voters would be asked to approve the creation of an administrative school district that would handle purchasing, transportation, human resources, curriculum.

The question would also give a range of the tax savings people could expect.
Smith offers no proof that consolidating school districts by county would save taxpayers money. Any “range of tax savings” from county school consolidation printed on ballots would be made up with no basis in fact.

Expert after expert testified before Smith’s committee that county school consolidation would not bring about meaningful cost reductions and might well increase costs and property taxes.

Frank Belluscio, a spokesman for the School Boards Association, said yesterday school district consolidation has to be explored "on a case-by-case basis."

We want to make the legislators aware of the land mine that they need to remove if they are serious about making school district consolidation a property tax reform strategy -- namely, school consolidation will increase property taxes in many places," Belluscio said.
As we have shown many times, New Jersey’s own experience with large centralized schools districts undermines Smith’s premise that meaningful cost savings can be achieved with his plan. The 31 Abbott school districts already have the advantages cited by Smith for county school consolidation – from centralized administration to transportation. Yet, the 31 Abbott school districts spend an average of 30 percent more per student as compared to the rest of the state. Let Smith and company prove their theory in the Abbott school districts to the benefit of everyone in the state.

And by all means let’s ask for the consent of the governed. Let’s put it to a vote and ask whether or not people want to continue with the current arrangement with 56 percent of school property tax relief allocated to Abbott districts with just 22 percent of the state’s student population.

Let voters know funding parity with the wealthiest schools districts was achieved by the Abbott school districts in 1998 and now exceeds that goal by hundreds of millions each year. Let’s ask voters if they wish to continue these massive subsidies to the Abbots which have enabled these districts to spend 30% to 50% more per student than the rest of the state while producing failing schools and students.

Let’s ask the voters, but let’s give them the facts before they cast their ballots.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Menendez Smear Campaign Caught On Tape

Fausta describes how desperate the Bob Menendez for Senate campaign has become and provides a link to a must see report by WCBS TV on the anatomy of a smear campaign against Tom Kean by Menendez. The report entitled Behind the Scenes of a Political Smear catches the Menendez team in action. Check it out.

Update: Step 9 - Tom Moran writes: Listen to military families? Not Kean

Monday, October 09, 2006

Corzine Considers Turnpike Privatization

Governor Jon Corzine is considering selling or leasing the New Jersey Turnpike to private enterprise to help finance “the staggering costs of long-term transportation and school construction projects”. Experts have said if Corzine decides to put the operation of the Turnpike out for bid, the state could receive as much as $30 billion, depending how the deal is structured.

The appeal to the Corzine administration of turning state assets into cash grows from the dire financial straits faced by the state. Debt has mushroomed to more than $33 billion, and funds to pay for school construction and transportation projects have nearly run out.
The fact that private businesses would be willing to pay big bucks for the Turnpike and still believe a nice profit can be made should be a tip-off to citizens as to the amount of waste fraud and abuse of taxpayer dollars in government.

To figure out who has their hands in the Turnpike cookie jar just wait to hear where the howls of protest come from as a possible deal is discussed. Public employee union leaders are beginning to make political noise and politicians used to getting a slice of the job and construction action will be fighting tooth and nail to keep their gravy train rolling.

This ought to be fun to watch - a self-described “progressive” Governor pushing for privatization, explaining how “big business” will be able to provide better service to customers, for the same costs, while turning a profit. The down side however is the Governor’s plan to turn over the billions in Turnpike proceeds to the school construction cartel, ensuring the waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer dollars will continue.

New Jersey’s taxpayers owe billions upon billions to public employee pension and health insurance trust funds. Governor Corzine should use all proceeds from the sale of state assets toward these debts. Let’s face it, New Jersey is broke and the state is actually owned by the states’ public employee unions. Better to pay them off with state property before they come after an even greater share of what little we are allowed to keep of our own private assets.

Update: Bob at eCache has more.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Welcoming Respectful Political Dialogue

This is a quote from the About Blue Jersey page:

Blue Jersey (www.bluejersey.net) is a blog about New Jersey politics, written by over a dozen New Jersey residents. While we all have different political views and opinions, we generally consider ourselves to be progressives. However, we welcome guests of all political views, as long as they engage in respectful dialog.
Now read Xpatriated Texan’s post “NEWS FLASH: "Blue Jersey" Unfair to Republicans”. In his extremely nasty post, the Xpat, takes after a Blue Jersey diarist, wilson40, for supposedly being a Republican. We’ve read the examples Xpat links to and are hard pressed to detect a conservative or Republican bent to wilson40’s posts or comments. Some of the comments cited by Xpat must be unavailable to unregistered users, because several links led to nothing. So if Wilson40 wrote something “Republican” we were unable to view it.

The target of Xpat’s derision and wrath was certainly respectful in all his writings, at least all we were able to view. As far as we can tell wilson40 must be guilty of writing opinions counter to Xpat’s and perhaps other Blue Jersey bloggers. Xpat’s post is totally disrespectful of wilson40 and distorts much of what the person actually wrote. Here’s a snip from Xpat’s post:

Our troll of the week is from the Asshat Trolls of Greater New Jersey. They are an odious tribe that tend to marry cousins at an alarming rate and ocassionally [sic] brag about being their own grandfather. Ask an Asshat Troll his/her favorite food, and you'll probably hear something like "Boogers" or "Earwax". I can't keep the site's PG-13 rating if I tell you the others in the top 5. Say hello to "wilson40".
Xpat's post goes downhill from there. We bring this post to your attention, not because we agree with wilson40’s politics, because we have no idea what those might be, but to point out the level of discourse encouraged and promoted on the Blue Jersey blog. Keep in mind the Xpat, Thurman Hart, is an adjunt Political Science Professor at Montclair State University, New Jersey City University and College of Staten Island. It certainly makes you wonder how “welcoming” he is of dissenting political views in his classrooms. It’s clear Blue Jersey will not tolerate opposing views. Xpat ends his post with this:

Traditional internet wisdom is that if you "feed the troll" by giving it attention that you will encourage it. Maybe, but this type of asshattery is just too funny to let it slip by. I actually hope wilson40 continues to write stupid things that are obviously from someone who doesn't have a Progressive bone in their body.
To ignore your base level of discourse Xpat is to leave the impression your fellow citizens find your style of disagreement convincing or within the bounds of “respectful dialog”. Here’s a News Flash for you, they don’t. Wilson40 is a person and not an “it”. It’s sad you’re unable to acknowledge another’s humanity, simply because you disagree with their opinion. Perhaps you have lived in a “progressive” echo chamber for so long you believe you can without someone calling you on your hypocrisy.

Wilson40, if you’re a Democrat we hope we didn’t give the Blue Jersey bloggers something else to hold against you. If you’re a Republican, you might want to rethink your position on using taxpayer funds for mega public employee salaries, especially for Rutgers football coaches. Regardless of your political leanings you’re always welcome to post your opinions here.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

'Everybody's A Little Bit Gay'

David Corn, the original outer of Valerie Plame and lefty author of the book, Hubris, has been taunting Republicans with a list compiled by gay Democrats.

There's a list going around. Those disseminating it call it "The List." It's a roster of top-level Republican congressional aides who are gay.
The Gay Patriot has been writing extensively about liberal gay Democrats using “The List“ as part of a three-year game plan to harass, out and blackmail gay Republican politicians and congressional staffers. He further explains how the left uses gay individuals in an attempt to divide the GOP and win elections.

For those being intimidated and blackmailed, this can’t be a good time. However, it might be a good idea to keep in mind this exchange with Gay-American, liberal Democrat and former governor of New Jersey, Jim McGreevey:

And I asked him, 'Why did you think I was gay?' And Jim McGreevey said, 'Everybody's a little bit gay.'

Apparently liberal gays have everyone on “The List’.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Contrarian or Without Portfolio?

One New Jersey municipality has a median household income of $46,683 and another, $81,599. Both towns are in the same county, but one spends $11,001 per public school student and the other spends 20 percent more – $13,214. Does that seem fair to you?

Does the difference in spending per student seem unfair when you consider the residents in one town pay 91 percent of the cost of their schools through property taxes and the other town pays only 13 percent?

The residents of the town with the greater average household income pay a higher average state income tax than the people in the town with a lower average income. The state income tax is used to reduce school taxes which greatly benefits one town more than the other. Does spending 20 percent more per student seem unfair given how much more one town’s residents pay in taxes than the other?

It seems more than fair to us. Plainfield is the town with the lower average income, higher spending per student and extremely low reliance on property taxes for school funding. The other town is Scotch Plains. We thought it would be helpful if you had a few facts before reading the rest of this post.

Yesterday we wrote about Governor Jon Corzine calling for the consolidation of the state’s school districts by county. “The Contrarian” on Blue Jersey has excitedly picked up on the idea:

While the Gov is touting the obvious cost savings of such a measure, a bonus benefit would be that it would promote increased diversity in the 21 county school districts, although he did not get into specifics.
Supposedly the purpose of school consolidation is to reduce property taxes, but we have long since debunked the “cost savings” myth, as have the experts testifying before property tax reform committees in Trenton. If the experts had said otherwise or if lawmakers could point to consolidation success stories the Gov would have provided a few “specifics:” That’s why the objective for consolidation has been expanded to include achieving “diversity”.

As we explained yesterday, the real purpose for school consolidation is to give Democrats control over $20 billion in property taxes and 21 patronage mills. But, the Contrarian wants readers to buy into the diversity angle:

New Jersey is insanely segregated by race and class. Most often, municipal boundaries are the dividing line between a future of hope and expanding horizons for young people or one of little opportunities. In my home county, just stroll from poor, crime-ridden Plainfield into tony Scotch Plains next door, a distance of only a few hundred yards. Compare housing values and school performance data.

While I don't think that the Governor's plan (if enacted) will destroy neighborhood schools, it may make school administrators more serious about designing relevant curricula and other policies if their students hailed from a broader spectrum of households. It would also benefit students from all social, ethnic and economic groups who will be exposed to peers who aren't just like them. Third, making rich people sweat from time to time is probably a good thing.
What nonsense. The racial makeup of “tony” Scotch Plains is nearly identical to the state of New Jersey. But what difference should it make if more Asians or Native Americans live in the town as compared to the desired diversity template? It has nothing whatever to do with lowering property taxes.

People who earn more money often live in more expensive houses than those who make less. This is hardly an insane concept or unique to New Jersey. The Contrarian may want to ask Linda Stender, a resident of Scotch Plains and a frequent poster on Blue Jersey, if her neighbors work hard to make a living or if they sit around eating bon-bons waiting for their trust fund checks to arrive.

Opportunity is there for kids in both towns, but it’s up to the students, with encouragement from their parents, to take advantage of the most expensive education in the United States. And if Plainfield school administrators are lousy or not sufficiently “serious about designing relevant curricula and other policies” - fire the administrators, because we are giving them more funding per child than Scotch Plains. If the teachers are lousy, fire them, because we are paying Plainfield teachers more than the teachers in Scotch Plains. But don’t give us this baloney that administrators, teachers or students are going to improve by waving the county school consolidation wand.

For Governor Jon Corzine and others in the Democrat Party, county school consolidation isn’t about saving money or diversity, it’s about grabbing additional power and tax revenue. For the Contrarian it’s probably about envy and spite. What else are we to make of his final comment on the subject – “Third, making rich people sweat from time to time is probably a good thing.” Well, at least we finally found out the “progressive” definition of rich – a household income of $81,599. Which only goes to show the Contrarian doesn’t “stroll from poor, crime-ridden Plainfield into tony Scotch Plains” or vice versa very often, if ever.

Plainfield has a number of well known residents, including one former Governor of New Jersey. Earlier this year Jim McGreevey purchased a 17-room, $1.4 million “palatial home” in the Union County city. The “ivy-covered Georgian Colonial” boasts eight bedrooms, five fireplaces, four bathrooms, a solarium, butler's pantry and in-ground swimming pool.

McGreevey’s Plainfield home, situated on 1.7 acres, was originally built for a founder of the New York Stock Exchange. Its gardens were designed by the firm of noted landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who created Central Park. Here’s a picture:


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