Democrats Looking To Play 21 For Big Payoff
Experts brought in by Democrats to testify before the Joint Committee on Government Consolidation and Shared Services failed to bolster the consolidation theory, but that hasn’t dampened the Democrats' enthusiasm.
Marc Holzer, a public affairs school dean at Rutgers-Newark, estimated government consolidation could save taxpayers 3 percent to 5 percent a year, but didn't detail how that savings would be reached. "The savings are hard to document," he said.Despite this expert testimony, Sen. Bob Smith (D-Middlesex), co-chairman of the Joint Committee on Government Consolidation and Shared Services, is moving full steam ahead with the plan to consolidate New Jersey's 616 districts into 21 county school districts. After the committee hearing Smith said “he foresees countywide districts saving as much as $1.6 billion annually.”
Ernest Reock, a retired Rutgers University professor said, “It appears that there are some potential cost savings [1.85 percent] that could be made through the consolidation of school districts, especially in administrative costs," Reock said. "Whether this is large enough to justify the turmoil and disruption involved is open to some serious question."
John Yinger, a Syracuse University professor, told legislators he analyzed 24 New York school consolidations and found taxpayers saved only when small schools merge. For instance, he said two 300-student schools could save 24 percent by combining, but two 3,000-student schools would save no money.
"There are two benchmarks for successful regionalization," said Mike Yaple, a New Jersey School Board Association spokesman. "One, voters need to provide their approval and nothing should be foisted on them by Trenton. Two, we need studies to demonstrate the economic and educational benefits. What we have today is speculation."Actually, we don’t have just speculation. The 31 Abbott school districts already have all the of the advantages cited by the champions of county school consolidation – “school administration and business matters such as human resources, salary negotiations, purchasing, transportation, and curriculum decisions handled from a central office”. Each of the 31 Abbott districts also has another advantage consolidated county school districts could never have – they are geographically compact.
So how has the economies of scale and central control theory worked out right here in the Garden State? The 31 Abbott school districts spend an average of 30 percent more per student as compared to the rest of the state and just about every school in these districts is failing in student achievement. Then there’s the more than $6 billion for school construction the Abbotts blew with little to show for it. Is this the model Democrats want the rest of the state to emulate? Apparently the answer is yes.
For example, taken as a total, Somerset County school districts are already much less costly and more efficient than the Newark school district on every measure. Newark’s average cost per student is 39 percent higher than Somerset County’s and the city’s administrative costs are 65 percent greater. Do Democrats actually expect us to believe merging 616 local school districts into 21 county districts will produce savings? The 31 large and centrally controlled districts prove otherwise.
"Our system is the most wasteful and inefficient in the country," Smith said. "We have to make some pretty significant changes in the way we deliver education."That’s the big problem. Democrats aren’t willing to admit where the “waste and inefficiencies” are occurring in New Jersey’s system. The state’s Abbott schools are the definition of wasteful and inefficient – spending more than any other schools, not just in the state, but in the entire country, to achieve pathetic results.
The Abbotts are gobbling up 56 percent of school property tax relief while accounting for just 22 percent of the state’s student population. State income tax revenue, funds that may only be used for property tax relief, has increased 61 percent since 2003. Yet, property tax relief has not increased for all but the Abbotts and a few other special cases.
Democrats know these facts and are looking to keep the gravy train rolling under the pretext of “property tax reform.” They’ve tapped out state taxes so it’s on to local governments they don’t control and the big jackpot – property tax revenue. Just think what the politicians and their buddies could do with control of 21 consolidated county school districts and $20 billion in property taxes. Of course, that's just it, Democrats don't want you to think.
“Priming” New Jersey Voters
Of course this is spun into bad news for the Kean campaign by the FDU pollsters and the media. FDU’s press release begins, “President Bush and the conflict in Iraq continue to hurt the Republican candidate in New Jersey's senate race.” Not one word in the release is devoted to what’s causing Menendez to trail in the poll.
The Associated Press bypasses the senate race entirely in favor of Poll: New Jerseyans not bullish on Bush. The senate race isn’t even mentioned in the article save for the following vague references, even though there is only one statewide election in New Jersey and that’s the senate race between Kean and Menendez.
Democratic strategist Rick Thigpen said Iraq has become a difficult political problem for any Republican running statewide in New Jersey.Then there’s the “priming” FDU used in the poll:
But Republican strategist Mark Campbell said "media coverage of the conflict will likely never portray anything but bad news coming from the region."
"As a result, liberal Democrats can sound like moderates and get away with it," he said.
In the study, half of the respondents were asked questions about President Bush and the war in Iraq before answering questions about the Senate race, and half were asked about the Senate race first. Among those respondents who were asked about Bush and Iraq first, Menendez held a two point advantage, 41 to 39 percent. But among the respondents who were not primed to think about the war in Iraq, Kean held an 11 point advantage, 47 to 36 percent.The only issues the FDU survey “primed” respondents to think about were President Bush and the war in Iraq. The last Rasmussen poll of New Jersey voters asked respondents to name their top voting issue from a list of six choices:
28% of New Jersey voters name the economy as the top voting issue for this fall. While that’s typical of most states, the second choice was not. Corruption is the top issue for 18% of Garden State voters. The war in Iraq (18%) and national security (14%) are close behind.Curiously, the FDU surveyed failed to “prime” respondents with the top two issues named by New Jersey voters and the ones most unfavorable to Bob Menendez’ positions and record – the economy and corruption.
A June Quinnipiac University poll stated:
In an open-ended question, with any answer allowed, 46 percent of New Jersey voters list taxes as the most important problem facing the state today, higher than any problem listed in any Quinnipiac University statewide or national poll.An earlier Rasmussen poll found:
Sixty percent (60%) of New Jersey voters say that tax hikes hurt the economy. Just 15% say that they help. Kean has a solid lead (56% to 26%) among those who believe tax increases are bad for the economy.As for corruption, Bob Menendez is the poster boy for what ails New Jersey’s politics. When Governor Jon Corzine appointed Menendez to the senate, here’s what the disappointed New York Times had to say:
Mr. Menendez has become a proponent of business as usual. He has long been an entrenched de facto leader of the Hudson County Democratic machine.Since the Times editorial, voters have learned more about Menendez’ ethical lapses and ties to corruption cases: his lucrative relationship with a nonprofit agency to which he steered millions in federal funds, his one million dollar check "error" to a mob related construction contractor, the previously secret $80 million Board of Public Utilities bank account investigation involving the wife of his senate campaign chairman, the Turnpike Authority chairman found guilty of ethics violations who remains the finance chairman of the Menendez campaign.
Mr. Menendez says there is a line between his personal and public lives. But New Jersey voters have a right to wonder why that line seems to exist only to protect politicians from questioning, and never deters them from mixing their private relationships with their official duties.
There have been 75 corruption indictments in New Jersey over the last four years. The public has a right to yearn for a break from the past, and Mr. Menendez does not represent a clean slate.
It makes you wonder what the poll results might have been if respondents had been “primed” with the top issues concerning voters and the men currently in the senate race instead of the one who isn’t?
Menendez Sets Off Ethical Alarm Bells
Back in June of 2005, Mike Hill pointed out the political shenanigans going on with the North Hudson Community Action Corporation as described in an article from the Hudson Reporter. The top jobs at the agency are high paying political plums - $185,000 plus.
The relationship between North Hudson Community Action Corporation and Menendez was a very cozy and lucrative one. Menendez collected over $300,000 in rent from the agency and more than $30,000 in political contributions from the non-profit’s employees. The agency even named the lobby in the agency's West New York headquarters the "Congressman Robert Menendez Pavilion" and honored Menendez as its "man of the year" In 2001.
The late CEO of the agency Michael Leggiero contributed $11,450 to Menendez campaigns and made only one other contribution to another candidate going as far back as the 1980 election cycle. Coincidentally, the agency’s other two top managers contributed to Menendez campaigns and only to his campaigns. Ann Dudsak and husband have shelled out $6,000 to Menendez since 2000 and Michael Shababb and wife contributed $3,000 to the Menendez’ senate campaign in 2006.
Now two state officials have filled a federal ethics complaint against Menendez for violating conflict-of-interest rules for collecting more than $300,000 from the agency for which he helped secure millions in federal dollars.
Craig Holman, an ethics analyst at Public Citizen, a left-leaning public-watchdog organization in Washington, said the lease deal breached House ethics rules.Menendez brushes off his relationship with the agency as business as usual:
"That is a violation of the ethics code of Congress," Holman said. "He [was] in a business relationship with this entity so he should not be taking any actions on their behalf. It does have the appearance of corruption.
Menendez said there was nothing inappropriate about his financial ties to the organization. He said he received clearance for the arrangement from the House ethics committee, though he did not obtain a written opinion.Passing “the Torch”:
Menendez's financial disclosure forms filed with the House Ethics Committee showed the rental income as required, though not the source.
The last time the committee took action against a senator following an investigation was in 2002, when New Jersey Democrat Robert Torricelli was accused of violating ethics rules by accepting gifts without disclosing them. The panel ultimately admonished Torricelli, and he dropped his re-election bid.“Does Menendez have an ethical alarm bell? If so, when does it go off?”
Update: Michael Shababb's contributions to Menendez were $3,000, not $2,000. We regret the typo, since corrected.
Menendez: You Put Your Hand On The Bible
Another Menendez, North Hudson Community Action Center “Coincidence”
Bob Menendez Digs A Deeper Hole
Bob “I Barely Broke Even” Menendez Busted
Bob “I Barely Broke Even” Menendez
Bob Menendez: The Early Years
Somewhere In New Jersey
Public employee double-dipping isn’t a major factor in New Jersey’s twin crises, sky-high property taxes and a bankrupt state government, but it is emblematic of the unchecked plundering of taxpayers under the guise of “progressive” public policy which has caused the double disaster.
The Mob That Whacked Jersey chronicles the state’s history of corrupt politicians, aligned with public employee unions, lining their pockets and squandering billions squeezed from taxpayers under the pretext of helping the poor.
Two interlocking forces drove the spending: first, the rise of powerful public-sector unions that pushed effectively for higher pay and benefits, bloating municipal and school budgets and blocking needed reforms not just in cities but across the state; second, the growth in Jersey cities of a new kind of political machine that diverted federal and state urban aid into political favors and patronage, wasting billions on useless and often crooked programs, and turning the cities into expensive wards of the state.Financial mismanagement and corruption scandals are so ubiquitous in New Jersey it’s almost impossible to even remember just the recent cases – Camden schools, Zulima Farber, UMDNJ, Sharpe James, state Treasury Department, Wayne Bryant, Turnpike Authority, Charles Epps, Board of Public Utilities, John Lynch It’s a full-time job keeping New Jersey’s rogues gallery up to date.
Fresh from “solving” the state’s budget crisis by increasing spending and taxes, Democrats in Trenton have now taken up “property tax reform”. Their idea of “reform” is to protect public employees, maintain the disproportionate allocation of state aid to the cities and to search for new ways to grab additional taxpayer money.
The Democrats’ latest power and money grab tactic is school district consolidation in the suburbs. State Senator, Bob Smith (D-Middlesex) summed up the strategy with a bank robbing analogy saying, "I call it the Willie Sutton theory: That is where the money is". We also know how the plan works in practice.
Seaside Park residents are looking for a way out of the Central Regional School District in Ocean County because of the state imposed “fair funding formula”. Seaside Park property taxpayers shell out nearly $51,000 per student per year while the other four towns in the district pay $5,500 to $11,700 per pupil.
A similar situation has prompted talk of secession in the neighboring Southern Regional School District, where property-rich communities on Long Beach Island pay the lion's share of the costs of a high school dominated by students from inland Stafford Township.Former Rutgers professor Ernie Reock, considered by many the leading expert on local government in New Jersey, further exposes the scam:
He looked at the data on school spending, which absorbs the bulk of property tax revenue.The “some reason” is the same one that made New Jersey a taxpayer’s nightmare – the politician’s ability to seize and spend other people’s money to enrich themselves and their supporters.
What he found is that most of the money goes to teacher salaries and benefits, which would not be affected by mergers.
When he examined towns that had agreed to share a high school -- just the sort of move that was supposed to save money -- he found their per-pupil spending actually increased for some reason.
Somewhere in New Jersey lives an individual who holds 11 public jobs...
Bob “I Barely Broke Even” Menendez
In 1983, Bob Menendez bought a house at 535 41st in Union City for $92,000. In 2003, he sold the property for $450,000.
During his period of ownership Menendez rented the property out, initially for $3,100, then $3,200 and finally for $3,400 per month. That’s a minimum of $376,800 in rental income for the 10 years, assuming 8 years at the lowest rental rate and one year each at the higher two.
The average mortgage rates in 1993 ranged from a high of 7.53 to a low of 6.59 percent. Let’s use the highest average rate and round it up to an even 8 percent. In order to calculate the highest possible mortgage payment, let’s also assume Menendez borrowed the entire purchase price of $92,000 and took a 10 year mortgage. That would bring his mortgage payment to $1,116.21 per month., for a total of $133,945 in mortgage payments.
In 2003, the average cost of insuring a home in New Jersey, including contents, was $585 per year. Of course, Menendez wouldn’t have needed the contents insurance, but let’s assume this higher level of coverage and round the cost up to an even $1,000 per year. Menendez’ total cost to insure the property for the ten years would be $10,000.
According to Hudson County property tax records, Menendez would have paid a tax of $8,614.88 on the property as of 2005. While Menendez wouldn’t have been paying that amount during the ten years he owned the property (property taxes have been increasing by about 7 percent per year), let’s assume he did. Tens years of property taxes at this rate would be $86,149.
So, under the worst case scenario Menendez shelled out $230,094 for his mortgage, insurance and property taxes and on the revenue side he took in total of $826,800 from rent and property sale proceeds. That’s a minimum gain of $596,706.
You have to ask yourself, why would Menendez claim he barely broke even on this property when it’s pretty obvious he did quite well for himself? For the answer to that, read the rest of the story.
Menendez: You Put Your Hand On The Bible
Another Menendez, North Hudson Community Action Center “Coincidence”
Bob Menendez Digs A Deeper Hole
Bob “I Barely Broke Even” Menendez Busted
Menendez Sets Off Ethical Alarm Bells
Menendez: You Put Your Hand On The Bible
MenendezBob Menendez: The Early Years
Keeping A Straight Face - Part II
Some winger twit connected my post on the outpourings of racism coming from every level of the conservative asylum to a WaPo story about the Democrats puling an ad…Here’s the original quote we posted from Hart:
We hear time and again from right-wingers that their stance on immigration is truly color-blind: it's sheer coincidence that the people they're most angry about happen to have dark skin. It's always been tough to hear that argument and keep a straight face...And here’s the quote we used from the Washington Post:
Democrats dropped an ad that Hispanics had criticized as unfairly depicting illegal immigrants as terrorists.The Democrat ad “showed footage of a person climbing over a corrugated metal border fence and another preparing to climb it as the words "millions more illegal immigrants" form on-screen”.
Hart regularly equates a stance against illegal immigration with racism, as he did in the highlighted post. We paired the quote from Hart and the one about the DSCC ad with three points in mind. One, to show Democrats were apparently trying to convey a strong stance against illegal immigration. Two, Democrats obviously didn’t buy into his opposition to illegal immigration equals racism equation or they wouldn’t have created the ad and three, the Democrats’ Bush bashing ad backfired.
Hart’s “analysis" continues:
Since the baby winger provided no context beyond the two links, it's hard to tell what he's on about. Is he saying the Democrats are racist because they took down a picture that might have offended Latinos? (The Republicans wouldn't have taken it down -- scare stories about al-Qaeda possibly smuggling operatives across the Rio Grande are holy writ for the likes of Michelle Malkin and Hugh Hewitt.) Just what point is the poor thing trying to make?Under Hart’s theory, one would assume creating and posting an ad decrying “millions more illegal immigrants” would be the racist transgression, not taking the ad down. But admitting that would place Hart in a bind wouldn’t it? If Hart stuck by his assertion that being against illegal immigration is racist, he would be snaring Democrats in his trap. If he acknowledged a legitimate case can be made against illegal immigration with no underlying racist motive, there goes one of his favorite insults to the right-wing.
So, Hart pleads confusion, muddies the waters and goes on the attack. To counter the fact the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee put up the ad, Hart claims the unknowable - “Republicans wouldn't have taken it down”. Democrats took down a video, not a “picture” as Hart states. There’s no “might have offended Latinos” as Hart equivocates, articles on the ad brouhaha make that quite clear. Latino groups objected to the ad for “depicting illegal immigrants as terrorists”, not for the conservative pundits’ concern he cites of “al-Qaeda possibly smuggling operatives across the Rio Grande”.
Hart concludes his “analysis” with:
That's the trouble with wingers -- they so often operate from private obsessions that are difficult for outsiders to understand. Conservatism has always been a matter of emotion rather than analysis, but the Bush years have exacerbated the problem.On this we can agree – “the Bush years have exacerbated the problem”. Go over and check out the posts on Hart’s Opinion Mill. We think most people will get our point without further explanation.
Democrats Play The Blame Game
Gov. Jon S. Corzine on Monday signed into law a bill requiring the state to release an annual report on companies that have at least 50 employees enrolled in the state's FamilyCare or Medicaid programs.What’s the point? Obviously the people enrolled in state health insurance programs are either not working or work in low paying full-time or part-time jobs. What difference does it make where they work and if they are employed by a firm with 50 or more employees?
The annual state report is to include the employer's name, the number of its FamilyCare enrollees and Medicaid recipients, the number of its employee spouses and dependents, whether the company provides health insurance and the cost to the state for providing health care to the employer's workers and families.
Bill sponsor Sen. Barbara Buono, D-Middlesex, has said the law will let the public know which companies are "putting more pressure on an already strained system" and making it tougher for the state to provide basic health care.What logic. Why stop at healthcare expenses? The state subsidizes a myriad of expenses for low income people - housing, food, education, etc. Following that logic, if companies are responsible for their employees, plus dependents healthcare, employers are then also responsible for all of their employees’ expenses. Of course they're not responsible for any of their employees' expenses and most people understand that.
Employers offer jobs where salary plus fringe benefits equals total compensation. Job seekers are free to accept or reject any offer. It is not the employer’s job to figure out if the compensation offered is sufficient to cover a person’s living expenses. That’s the responsibility of the job seeker.
Lawmakers have created the programs that are straining state resources. It’s time they took responsibility for the financial mess they have created instead of trying to pin the blame on business and other taxpayers.
Suing the State of New Jersey For Economic Harm
If economic harm from taxes is a legitimate cause of action before the court, perhaps a class action law suit against the state on behalf of New Jersey’s taxpayers is in order.
Carnival of the New Jersey Bloggers # 65
Is a parking problem really a good thing?
The federal budget deficit continues to shrink as a result higher-than-anticipated tax revenues.
Roderama discusses the problems with medical insurance.
Schadenfreude reports suspicious activity to New Jersey Transit.
Democrats launch a new war strategy.
Parenting lesson from the Amazing Giant Panda.
On life hacking and loving what you do.
If you want to have more balance, more inner peace, or more time for yourself, try C.P.R. for a balanced life.
Surviving New Jersey Blog suggests a pure and gentle approach.
Jim at Parkway Rest Stop recommends a Chocolate Sledgehammer.
Matt Stoller’s Megalomania
I just wish they’d get rid of the Blogometer, which they just can’t get right.How condescending and self-serving can one person be, not to mention clueless?
There’s a larger problem here, which is that you cannot just segment off blogs into their own little box. Or rather, you can on the right, since right-wing blogs are basically irrelevant. But on the left, there is no blogosphere that can be separated from the progressive movement at large…
Good to see Beutler taking Stoller and company down a peg or two in his post MyDD’s Matt Stoller Dissembles And Smears Non-Partisan Journalists.
Update: Glenn Reynolds notes Matt Stoller's anti-Blogometer Fatwa.
Keeping A Strait Face
We hear time and again from right-wingers that their stance on immigration is truly color-blind: it's sheer coincidence that the people they're most angry about happen to have dark skin. It's always been tough to hear that argument and keep a straight face...From yesterday’s Washington Post:
Democrats dropped an ad that Hispanics had criticized as unfairly depicting illegal immigrants as terrorists.
Math and Literacy Requirements
“Gov. Corzine plans today to address a new issue: trade-school students bound for blue-collar jobs who need math and literacy skills as much as, or more than, classmates bound for college campuses.”
There’s only one way we can win. We’ve got to help our candidates give back as good as they get.
We’ll meet every shameless attack with more energy, every distorting ad with more passion, and every ugly appeal to fear with more determination."
Menendez Owes Governor Kean An Apology
Sen. Lance Says Menendez Resorted To The "Politics Of Personal Destruction," "Gutter Politics" And "Filthy Mudslinging"
Trenton, NJ - Senate Republican Leader Leonard Lance released the following statement today:
"As many of you know, I had the great and distinct honor of working in Counsel's office for Governor Tom Kean. I learned then what the rest of America knows now. Tom Kean is more than a decent and honorable man. He is a man of great integrity, a man of the highest moral caliber, and man whose ethics are beyond reproach. He is the most prominent New Jerseyean to serve the nation since Woodrow Wilson. During his forty years of public service, he has embodied the highest ideals captured in the notion of public service.
I'm here today because I am very disappointed. This morning I opened the newspapers to see that Senator Menendez's campaign is attacking the integrity, character and even the morality of former Governor Kean. Matt Miller, Mr. Menendez's spokesman, has accused Governor Kean of quote "morally questionable" behavior and of quote "shaking down" executives at a company in order to curry favor with him. They have accused Governor Kean of engaging in a quote "quid pro quo."
This isn't just simply wrong or even just out of bounds. It is outrageous, it is offensive and it is despicable. Governor Kean was fighting for reform long before it was fashionable. Mr. Miller's comments are at the least, ignorant, and perhaps worse. His attack should be viewed as little more than a calculated attempt to sully and impugn the Kean family's long and distinguished legacy of public service.
Senator Menendez owes Governor Kean a public apology. What's more, he should make clear his disavowal of his campaign's tactics by immediately repudiating the statement coming from his campaign.
Governor Kean service to the nation is indisputable. His leadership on the 9/11 Commission was praised as fair, honest and open by leaders from every corner of the country and from both sides of the political aisle. If Senator Menendez truly questions Governor Kean's character and integrity, then I suggest that he reach out to former Governor Byrne or his former Democratic colleague Congressman Lee Hamilton of Indiana who Co-Chaired the 9/11 Commission. I am certain that neither of them shares Senator Menendez's opinion
With this attack, Bob Menendez has resorted to the politics of personal destruction and has chosen to resort to the kind of gutter politics and filthy mudslinging that is the very antithesis of everything Governor Tom Kean stands for. Again, I call on Senator Menendez to apologize to Governor Kean and to the people of New Jersey for this baseless and defamatory attack on our former Governor. Senator Menendez is wrong, he knows he is wrong and he should stand up and say so.
Will Senator Menendez do what is right and denounce his campaign's irresponsible and malicious attack or will he embrace the kind of politics that is poisoning our nation's capital and demeaning the very underpinnings of our democracy?"
Carnival of the New Jersey Bloggers # 64
Do you love your car?
Bob the Corgi: I don't know why no one ever adopts my good ideas?
Municipal consolidation is not reform.
Who are the biggest NJ suckers?
There'll be nobody home.
Can't we all just get along?
Diplomacy and the Hounds of Hell, Part XXVI
The movement in Connecticut did not support Lamont, it opposed Lieberman.
Media bias issue is heating up.
Buy the rumor, sell the news
Wackos – overseas and right here at home.
They won't give peace a chance.
No plan, no vision and no ideas.
More evidence our "terrorist alert" is hooey.
Blowing up the planes was just part of the plan
Democrats Against Success?
The poll was conducted by telephone August 8-9, 2006, in the evenings. The total sample is 900 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ±3 percentage points.
Poll Question:Regardless of how you voted in the presidential election, would you say you want President Bush to succeed or not?
Scale: 1. Yes, want him to succeed 2. No, do not want him to succeed.
New Jersey Woman Named One of 50 Most beautiful People On Capital Hill
She was 9 when she visited Venezuela, her first foreign country. In high school, LuSane was part of a class trip to Namibia. She studied anthropology and Spanish at Rutgers University and spent a year studying abroad.
“I was always very much interested in other ways of life,” she says. LuSane, 28, has visited more than two dozen countries as a committee aide to Rep. Donald Payne (D-N.J.), a ranking member on a House International Relations subcommittee. These aren’t golf trips to St. Andrews, however. Destinations are often war-torn, poverty-stricken regions of the world like Sudan, Ethiopia and Liberia.
“Anytime we travel, there is an element of roughing it. … We don’t do shopping,” LuSane says.
Back home, LuSane, who has a “serious boyfriend,” likes going to see live music or eating in neighborhood restaurants. She samba dances on Saturday mornings. She is also studying for a master’s degree in international education. - The Hill , Jim Snyder
Corzine’s Matt Stoller Calls NJ Dem Politicians Liars and Thugs, Supporters Suckers
But there's no way to say this nicely, New Jersey professional field operatives are basically thugs who have learned that it's easier to make money using Excel and Powerpoint. When I worked in New Jersey, I never saw it directly, but there were a lot of rumors of walking around money and payoffs to black church leaders on both the Republican [sic] and Democratic side.The Blue Jersey crew takes offense. We warned you guys last year about Stoller, you just knew he’d be the kiss and tell type.
There was a sense that reverence for the machine was more important than anything else, and this leads to treating voters with a sense of nasty condescension and open dishonesty. In New Jersey, voters know politicians are lying to them as they lie, and politicians know that voters know they are lying. It's corrosive to the staff, and corrosive throughout the machine and the state.
Field campaigns in New Jersey are built on cash and cynicism. Volunteers do not exist, and if they do, they are mostly considered suckers. Lots of field people, idealist young folks usually, told me that the central managers had no idea what was going on and were demanding number counts that were just sort of dumb. The field managers were brutish and charismatic bullies, and new consultants tend to appear constantly for every micro-constituency group. Does this work in New Jersey? It's hard to tell. It's always hard to tell, actually, and that's kind of how these people stay in business.
Now, my sense is that turnout in New Jersey didn't actually rely on these expert field operatives, even though these operatives got paid lots of money. Turnout actually relied on local machines getting their people out. It was locally done, and the New Jersey field experts were basically superfluous, or to the extent they were not, knew who and how to pay the right people off. How does this apply to Connecticut? Well, asshole field bullies may find that New Jerseyans are willing to put up with their nonsense, but that doesn't fly in Connecticut, where local towns and civility is more the norm.
Is School Consolidation The Answer To New Jersey’s Property Tax Crisis?
[H]e intends to push his idea of establishing 21 county school districts. In each, one staff of administrators would oversee the operation of existing school districts, purchasing, transportation and health and insurance costs while allowing the schools to retain their hometown identity.New Jersey’s public schools are currently financed though local property taxes, the state’s income tax and to a lesser extent with federal income taxes. Let’s test the Democrats’ school consolidation theory to see if it is the most promising way to reduce New Jersey’s property taxes. As Smith said, “Sixty-five percent of local property tax dollars go into the schools.”
Newark has one school district and about the same number of schools as all of Somerset County, making the two excellent examples to test the school district consolidation theory.
Somerset County, covering 305 square miles, is comprised of 40 communities which have consolidated into 21 municipalities. There are a total of 19 school districts, including 2 county districts for vocational and special education. The following are key statistics for Somerset County schools:
Somerset County Public Schools
Number of Public Schools - 78
County Public School Enrollment - 53,804
Average Cost Per Student – $11.915
Average Administrative Cost Per Student - $1,076
Total Cost County Schools (Enrollment x Avg. Cost per Student) - $641,086,249
State School Aid (Property Tax Relief) - $98,683,997
School Costs Paid By Somerset County Property Taxpayers - $542,402,252
Somerset County property taxpayers pay as much as 95 percent of their local public school costs, with the county average at 85 percent.
Now let’s compare Somerset County statistics with those for the city of Newark. Newark encompasses 23.8 square miles and has one school district. You can’t get any more consolidated than that and of course the city covers a much smaller area than Somerset County.
Newark City Public Schools
Number of Public Schools - 76
City Public School Enrollment – 41,855
Average Cost Per Student – $16,506
Average Administrative Cost Per Student - $1,775
Total Cost City Schools (Enrollment x Avg. Cost per Student) - $690,858,630
State School Aid (Property Tax Relief) - $698,818,253
School Costs Paid By Newark Property Taxpayers - $0.00
Newark has about twelve thousand fewer students than Somerset County, but spends about $50 million more per year and receives $600 million more in school aid (property tax relief) than all of Somerset County. Newark’s average cost per student is 39 percent higher and the city’s administrative costs per student are 65 percent greater than Somerset County. By any measure Somerset County school spending is far more cost effective than Newark's. Under the school consolidation theory, Somerset County should have higher administrative and total per student costs, but that clearly is not the case.
Newark’s property taxpayers pay nothing toward their public schools and received about $8 million more in school aid last year than the city’s actual school costs. You may remember reading that Corzine’s budget was cutting state aid to some of New Jersey's neediest school districts this year. Newark was one of those districts and had its aid cut this year by $8 million.
Obviously, Newark has no incentive to hold down school costs and every incentive to spend as much of the state’s income tax revenue as the city can get away with. The way it stands now, Somerset County taxpayers foot the bill for their local schools though property taxes and then pick up the tab for all of Newark’s schools through their income taxes. To top it all off, Somerset County residents are supposed to quietly accept the notion that is fair for so-called needy schools to spend 39 percent more than their own.
If Newark property taxpayers continued to pay nothing for their schools, but spent the same per student as Somerset County, that would free up $200 million in property relief. That’s enough to cut every Somerset County resident’s school tax bill by 37 percent.
This same property tax solution can be applied throughout the state. We will post similar comparisons between entire counties and city school districts to show what could be accomplished if the goal was to reduce property taxes though spending efficiencies. There are reasons Democrats have not chosen the most obvious way to reduce property taxes and we will explain them in future posts.
When It Costs More For Pre-School Than College
When the Garden State's county college system was founded in the 1960s, the schools were designed so students, the state and the individual counties would each pay a third of the cost of running the schools.This means the average total cost per county college student is less than $5,000 per year. Now compare that with an average cost of more than $12,000 to educate 3 to 4-year olds in Newark preschools, the more than $18,893 per student in an Asbury Park K-12 public school or even the state’s average per student cost of $11,056.
This year, the state and the counties will each pay 25 percent of running the county colleges, while student tuition will cover the remaining 50 percent.
Why is it necessary to spend two to four times more per public school pupil as it does for freshmen and sophomore college students? Even taking into consideration county college students must purchase their own textbooks and supply their own transportation to school, it still seems absurd.
New Jersey spends 57 percent more per public student than the national average and that’s a big factor in New Jersey property tax crisis. If our state’s lawmakers are serious about property tax relief they’d better start looking at ways to reduce public school costs. Our county colleges are proof we are spending far more than necessary to educate our children.
"Solving" New Jersey’s Problems Though Spending And Tax Increases
Governor Jon Corzine, fresh from his victory of increasing the state’s budget by 9.2 percent and taxes by $2 billion dollars, has decided to keep a campaign promise. He wants New Jersey to adopt a program that "approaches universal health care." This means, according to Corzine, providing medical insurance to an additional 766,000 New Jerseyans at a cost to state taxpayers of $15 million. No one questions how this is possible when the state covered about the same number of people under Medicaid for $8 billion dollars in 2004.
New Jersey is a state where its wealthiest community pays $12,464 to educate a public school child and one of the neediest spends $18,893 per student. This is called leveling the school funding playing field in the Garden State. To solve the state’s property tax crisis, Democrats are studying ways to reduce municipal and school costs in the more cost efficient communities and to raise taxes on those already paying the lion’s share of government and school costs in the state.
New Jersey is also a state where public employees now earn an average of 40 percent more than private sector workers. Spiraling costs for state and local public employees are major causes of the relentless increases in state and property tax over the past twenty years. Democrats have decided to look into this problem and have formed a legislative committee to find a solution.
Four of the six legislators chosen for the committee are Democrats who were apparently selected for the number of government jobs each holds simultaneously, while being completely baffled about the basics of state benefit programs. "I don't even know how it works,” and “I guess I'll soon find out," said two of the panelists representing Democrats.
Now comes the news that good paying jobs and taxpayers are fleeing New Jersey. "Demographers have noted that the state recently experienced an uptick in "outmigration," which is when the number of people leaving the state exceeds the number moving in.” Democrats just can’t seem to put their finger on how or why this happening, but their solution is to spend more money and raise taxes.
Carnival of the New Jersey Bloggers # 63
Sharon GR is not the only one who hates grocery shopping.
Someone was mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. Read the post and comments - it’s amazing how opinions differ based upon the facts presented in one news article.
The amusement rides at Funtown Pier in Seaside Park may be history. Find out why.
A company providing outsourcing services saw its profits for the second quarter jump 53 percent over last year.
Fiasco: A serial review, part I
Iran's Grand Game.
The Best of the Web recognized Fausta’s excellent reporting on Cuba.
Here’s how to report your Bigfoot sightings. We’re not sure if the Jersey Devil falls under this category.
Ask at you own risk.
If you have to ask “how much will this cost” you obviously can’t afford it. That’s why the question is avoided.
Is New Jersey Attorney General Zulima Farber running out of friends?
Is Reuters doctoring photos? Riehl World View is helping to expose the big picture.
Was this guy acting as someone’s beard in a private backroom deal?
Bob the Corgi has gotten into using a video way-back machine.
Note: The Carnival hosting schedule is wide open until the end of the year. If you’d like to host a Carnival of the New Jersey Bloggers or find out more, click on the graphic or just send us an email – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have You Forgotten?
We thought it might be helpful to those painting facts as revisionist spin and calling people habitual liars to be reminded of the history concerning the Global War On Terror and our military operations in Iraq.
A good place to begin is with President Bill Clinton’s address to the nation on December 16, 1998:
The hard fact is that so long as Saddam remains in power, he threatens the well-being of his people, the peace of his region, the security of the world.The “world” reacted to Clinton’s limited military strikes against Iraq with the same tired rhetoric we hear today. But let us not forget, regime change in Iraq, with the intention of replacing it with a democratic government, was the stated policy of the United States under the Clinton administration. As we know, all of the various good faith diplomatic and military strategies employed by the Clinton administration failed to remove the Saddam Hussein regime from power.
The best way to end that threat once and for all is with a new Iraqi government -- a government ready to live in peace with its neighbors, a government that respects the rights of its people. Bringing change in Baghdad will take time and effort. We will strengthen our engagement with the full range of Iraqi opposition forces and work with them effectively and prudently.
The decision to use force is never cost-free. Whenever American forces are placed in harm's way, we risk the loss of life. And while our strikes are focused on Iraq's military capabilities, there will be unintended Iraqi casualties.
Indeed, in the past, Saddam has intentionally placed Iraqi civilians in harm's way in a cynical bid to sway international opinion.
Heavy as they are, the costs of action must be weighed against the price of inaction. If Saddam defies the world and we fail to respond, we will face a far greater threat in the future. Saddam will strike again at his neighbors. He will make war on his own people.
And mark my words, he will develop weapons of mass destruction. He will deploy them, and he will use them.
The stalemate between the United States and Iraq continued, prompting President Bush and the Congress to act. It might be helpful to read the text of the Joint Resolution of the Congress (H. J. RES. 114) of October 2002, authorizing the use of United States Armed Forces against Iraq and the long list of stated reasons for the military action. The resolution was passed by the Senate 77 to 23 and passed by the House 296 to 133.
Next, it might be helpful to revisit what the American people thought, specifically the people of New Jersey, on the question of going to war with Iraq in 2003. The U.S. began Operation Iraqi Freedom on March 20, 2003. From March 25 - 30 Quinnipiac University conducted a poll of New Jersey voters about their position on the war and here’s what they found.
New Jersey voters supported the U.S. war with Iraq 71 - 25 percent with Republican support for the war at 87 - 10 percent, independents 68 - 26 percent and Democrats 58 - 38 percent.People understood the goal was to remove Hussein from power in order to bring about a democratic Iraq. A March 2003 CBS poll, conducted prior to the start of the war, found that 54% of the American people felt Bush was more interested in ousting Saddam Hussein, and just 20% thought his goal was to disarm Hussein. So that old saw about Bush’s only annunciated reason for going to war with Iraq was because of weapons of mass destruction is baloney. The American people understood our mission in Iraq was one aspect of Bush’s strategy for fighting the GWOT.
By a 59 - 32 percent margin, New Jersey voters said there would be "a significant number of U.S. military casualties.”
A majority, 53 - 35 percent, expressed concern that in the short-term the war would increase terrorism in the United States. But a majority, 51 – 41 percent, also said in the long-term terrorism will be decreased by going to war with Iraq.
A majority of the American people understand that Al-Qaeda is just one faction of the islamo-terrorists enemies we face. This war is against the various terrorist groups and the states that harbor them, support their efforts and share their goal of destroying the west. The attacks of 9-11 were a wake-up call to confront the problem on all fronts and by all means.
President Bush has developed and implemented a global and long range strategy to defeat enemies that declared war on the United States prior to 9-11. It was Hussein who declared a "jihad" or holy war against the U.S in 1990 and it was Al-Qaeda that followed suit in 1998. An article by Peter Schweizer, Strategies or diversions?, explains the parallels between the strategy President Bush has adopted to win the GWOT and the one pursued by FDR in World War II.
President Bush has been criticized by the left for his strategy on the GWOT from the beginning. The same people who opposed the President’s strategy in October 2001, oppose it now. Four days into Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, the President was being asked if he had led the U.S. into a quagmire. Eight days into Operation Iraqi Freedom, the usual suspects said the military was bogged down and the Vietnam analogies began. Eighteen days later, the U.S. overthrew Saddam Hussein's regime. In December of 2003 we captured Hussein.
It has been non-stop criticism of the President from the left no matter what happens. Every obstacle or set-back in diplomacy or in a military operation is treated as proof the President’s strategy is flawed and should be scrapped. These critics demand perfection and immediate gratification, something that rarely occurs in war.
The President’s political opponents have treated us to all their reasons why the United States should not have taken the fight to Iraq – from Saddam Hussein didn’t attack us on 9-11, Iraq is a diversion from the main task of defeating al-Qaeda, it’s blood for oil, no WMD found, the war is unjust, more lives are being lost than saved and on and on. Now there is a growing chorus from Democrats to abandon military operations in Iraq. Yet, recent votes in the Congress have failed to back up those cut and run calls.
What the critics never supply is an alternate strategy for the GWOT and a plan for removing Saddam Hussein from power without the use of military force. Presumably, Bush should have stayed the failed course that brought us from one enemy front, 9-11 and a Saddam Hussein on another - growing richer by the year from the oil for food scam, harboring and supporting terrorists, while he plotted his next move against the U.S.
We believe the islamo-terrorists and their state sponsors are the ones waging an unjust war and that they are the ones killing people for no good reason. We also believe the actions by the United States and other countries to oppose the terrorist movement is logical and in the best interests of this country and countries around the world.
Disagree with the President’s strategy and execution of the GWOT, but stop trying to rewrite history and calling people liars just because the big picture confuses you.
That’s Five For You and Ninety-Five For Me
Just 11 years ago, the Republican majority in Trenton approved a revised budget that included $20 million in add-ons, prompting one Democratic lawmaker to dub it "Jurassic Pork II."As we all remember, Democrats shutdown state government while they argued over which taxes to raise, by how much and who would benefit from the additional tax revenue. We now know between 30 to 40 percent of the sales tax increase was spent on local pet projects. But here comes Governor Jon Corzine with his solution to the spending problem:
Corzine said he could favor a system where "maybe the majority party gets 60 or 70 percent and the minority gets 30 percent or something".That sounds fair doesn’t it? With the tax eaters getting about 88 percent of the entire state budget, taxpayers can look forward to the day when they get that “30 per percent or something”.
Don’t hold your breath. Lawmakers in Trenton are hard at work figuring which taxes to raise and by how much to bring you property tax relief. Four legislative committees have been formed to solve the “property tax crisis” with four Democrats and two Republicans on each committee. Given the Democrats' concept of “fair”, New Jersey taxpayers ain’t seen nothing yet.