Blue Jersey Wrong Again About Chris Christie
Sorry, Jeff. But Christie only claims 125 cases including investigations, indictments and convictions as of yesterday, and not the 105 convictions Edelstein claims. If this weren't a column in the Trentonian a retraction would be in order for such a wild exaggeration of fact.Sorry “huntsu”, but Christie didn’t “claim 125 cases including investigations, indictments and convictions as of yesterday”. A reporter, not Christie, cited a number in the link you provided. There is no mention in the article about the number of public corruption investigations undertaken. Here’s the quote from the linked piece:
Critics have charged that Christie has pursued Democrats to help his party. But his 125 public corruption cases have targeted officials from both parties.“Hunstu” continues conflating investigations, indictments and convictions. The number of indictments can be determined, but the total number of investigations are not a matter of public record and therefore are unknown. Not every investigation ultimately leads to a person being indicted and of course not everyone indicted will plead guilty or be found guilty at trial. But, so far Christie office has won every case that has reached the courts.
“Huntsu” hasn’t provided the number of people indicted for public corruption, but has arrived at a total of those convicted. We’ll assume his conviction total includes all public corruption cases brought to a conclusion while Christie has been in office. But who knows, “huntsu” hasn’t provided a list. Here’s what he’s come up with:
A review of the NJ US Attorney's Office press releases provides just 59 convictions, 21 of Republicans, 37 of Democrats and one we could not determine a party affiliation for. That leaves another 46 for Edelstein to find. Or retract.Edelstein's number did not include “investigations”, just indictments and convictions as is quite clear from his column.
But Edelstein's number was about investigations, so let's see if that proves the point.
“Huntsu” also lays this on his readers:
Of the 150 people we found who have been investigated, indicted or convicted only 33 are Republicans and 112 are Democrats. Five are unknown.First. There is no way to know the number of Democrats and the number of Republicans who have been investigated by the U.S. Attorney’s office. The vast majority of investigations only come to light when someone is indicted or the media reports that subpoenas have been issued.
We'll do a more in-depth analysis in a later post, but the preliminary review shows that Democrats are 300 percent more likely to be investigated than Republicans, a number far out of whack with the true ratio of party identification or elected officials. Dems are only 175 percent as likely to be convicted.
The number of subpoenas issued does not equal the number of criminal investigations underway. Hundreds of subpoenas can be issued in the investigation of just one person’s possible wrongdoing. And one subpoena may be all that’s necessary to prosecute hundreds of people.
Second. Investigations are launched on the basis of information and evidence of possible wrongdoing, not on a party affiliation quota system. The same holds true for indictments.
Third. Public corruption cases include those involving public employees of every stripe, not just elected officials.
Fourth. This is speculation on our part, but we’ll go out on a limb and say the number of public employees who are Democrats far outweighs the number who are Republicans. If we’re correct, it stands to reason a far greater number of people in position to commit corruption offenses are Democrats and therefore, more likely to get caught committing an offense.
Fifth. Certainly there are people who have been indicted, but yet to be found guilty or not guilty. That would be because their case has yet to come before the court. However, every person charged with political corruption, whose case has come before the court, has been convicted. That would be 100% of Republicans and 100% of Democrats.
Blue Smoke On U.S. Attorney Chris Christie
One of the main themes of our recent coverage of Chris Christie is his largely undeserved reputation for bipartisan investigations. For one, his biggest Republican cases -- Treffinger and Monmouth County -- both predate his taking office.“Bipartisan investigations”? Undoubtedly, a sizable number of the employees, 127 attorneys and 118 support staff, working for U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, are Democrats. Ralph J. Marra, Jr, is a career professional in the U.S. Attorney’s Office District of New Jersey. He’s Christie’s First Assistant U.S. Attorney and a Democrat.
Marra has been in charge of political corruption cases since Christie arrived, and he's a lifelong Democrat who says he tells his children to vote a straight Democratic ticket while "skipping the ones who are crooks."How many political corruption cases involving Democrats and how many involving Republicans has Christie’s office investigated? How many are being investigated now? It wouldn’t surprise us if investigations of Democrats far out numbered Republicans, they don’t call our state Blue Jersey for nothing. But we have no idea what the breakdown might be. “Huntsu” wouldn’t know either, unless he’s working in the U.S. Attorney’s office and keeping score. Investigations are not a matter of public record.
Chris Christie has an excellent reputation for prosecuting crimes regardless of the party affiliation of the perpetrator. That includes political corruption cases, for which there is a public record. The Star-Ledger had this to say on March 11, 2007:
Christie's office has brought about 115 official corruption cases over the past five years. His office, rightly so, has not made an official tally of the party affiliations of those indicted, but, given the numerous Monmouth County officials snagged, Republicans have probably far outnumbered Democrats in the dock.Has Christie’s office overlooked political corruption on the part of New Jersey Republicans? Has he investigated, indicted, arrested and prosecuted state Democrats without evidence of possible wrong doing? We can’t find any examples and “huntsu” doesn’t provide any. As a matter of public record, Christie hasn’t lost a single political corruption case.
“Huntsu’s” latest Christie post takes on a second Tom Moran column defending Christie:
The factual error is the assertion that Christie has been under attack for "more than five years." Assuming Moran spiked this column on Wednesday for publication Friday, Christie had been in office exactly four years and two months that day.As with his previous post, “huntsu” continues to have a problem with dates. Christie has been U.S. Attorney for five years, as he was sworn into office on January 17, 2002. Unlike “huntsu”, most people wouldn’t consider crimes committed after that date to “predate his taking office”.
Check out the dates in the Monmouth County “Bid Rig” cases (see below) and not the dates of indictment, but the dates the crimes were allegedly committed. The “predating his taking office” accusation is obviously false.
If Treffinger’s successful indictment on October. 24, 2002, arrest on October 28, 2002 and guilty plea on May 20, 2003 shouldn’t count towards Christie’s political corruption case record, then subtract one from his total.
Anyone who wants to spend the time totaling political corruption indictments during Christie’s tenure, tallying convictions the U.S. Attorney won at trial vs. the pretrial guilty pleas he obtained, it’s all there waiting to be counted. Here’s the link. A bit more work would be required to figure out the party affiliation of the corrupt politicians caught in the act since Christie became been the U.S. Attorney. Perhaps “huntsu” can enlighten us with a list.
Here’s the rundown on the Monmouth County prosecutions by Christie’s office:
Keyport Mayor John J. Merla took $9,000 in cash on Sept. 11, 2003 and between December 2003 and February 2004, accepted another $2,500.
Keyport Councilman Robert L. Hyer took a $5,000 payment on June 18, 2003.
West Long Branch Mayor Paul Zambrano accepted $5,000 in cash on Sept. 30, 2003. On Nov. 18, 2003 he accepted two envelopes of cash - one with $1,500 for him and the other with $1,000 to be given to another unidentified official. On Jan. 29, 2004 he accepted a cash payment of $4,000 and another for $1,500 on Nov. 17, 2004.
West Long Branch Councilman Joseph DeLisa accepted an envelope with $1,500 in cash on Nov. 18, 2003.
Hazlet Mayor Paul Coughlin took $3,000 on May 19, 2004.
Councilman and police commissioner Thomas A. Greenwald collected a $2,500 "fee" for laundering $25,000, on Nov. 5, 2004. On Nov. 11, 2004 he took a money laundering fee of $2,000. He kept a total of $24,500 in "fees" for additional money laundering transactions in 2005 on Jan. 17, Jan. 20 and Feb. 4.
Middletown Committeeman Raymond O'Grady took one payment for $1,000 on Oct. 21, 2004, and another for $5,000 on Feb. 17, 2005.
Assistant supervisor at the Monmouth County Division of Highways, Thomas Broderick, accepted a payment of $5,000 on May 4, 2004.
Deputy Monmouth County fire marshal, and code enforcement and emergency management official in Neptune Township, Patsy Townsend took $1,000 in cash in November 2004.
Deputy Mayor of Neptune, Richard Iadanza, accepted a cash payment of $1,500 on June 25, 2004 and another $1,500 on Nov. 17, 2004.
Asbury Park Councilman John J. Hamilton, Jr. had a paved driveway valued at about $5,000 or $6,000 for installed for free at Hamilton's home in August 2001, in exchange for the promise of steering municipal contracts to the cooperating witness.
Former Monmouth County Freeholder Harry Larrison, Jr., was charged with accepting cash bribes and corrupt payments totaling at least $8,500. Larrison accepted $5,000 in cash in 2001 or 2002 from a Monmouth County official who received the money from a developer on Larrison's behalf. Larrison received another cash payment of $3,500 from a second developer in 2002 or 2003.
Marlboro Township Mayor Matthew Scannapieco, received bribes of approximately $135,000 between 2001 and 2003 in conjunction with three development deals.
Commissioner of the Marlboro Township Municipal Utilities Authority and its chairman from February 2002 through January 2004, admitted that in December 2002, he attempted to bribe a member of the Marlboro Township Council, on behalf of a builder. He admitted that in 2001, he paid bribes totaling $6,200 from another builder to two Marlboro officials. He admitted that in 2001, he offered a $25,000 bribe, on behalf of a builder, to a member of the Manalapan Planning Board. He admitted that in 2004, he extorted $15,000 from a builder.
Superintendent of the Monmouth County Division of Bridges, Anthony Palughi, admitted that during 2004 he accepted payments totaling $12,500 dollars, from a confidential FBI informant and an undercover FBI agent, to reward him for arranging corrupt payments to be made to other Monmouth County officials.
New Jersey's Red Generation
The site’s founders, Eric Pasternack and Daniel Beckelman, explain Red Generation is intended to be a "useful medium for Republicans in New Jersey to share ideas, comment on the events of the day and to provide analysis and solutions for the problems afflicting New Jersey".
If you haven’t already, give Red Generation a read.
New Jersey – A Hell Of A State For Taxpayers
New Jersey's demographic quandary is simple: More residents are moving out of the state than are moving in.James Hughes, dean of the Bloustein School of Public Policy and Planning at Rutgers University explains why:
“The reasons people are leaving are basically economic. When you look at New Jersey compared to the rest of the country, there are more economic opportunities in places like North Carolina, which has a rapidly growing economy and more affordable housing."Without close to one million illegal immigrants, New Jersey’s population would actually have declined.
New Jersey's illegal immigrant population has grown so dramatically in size and impact in the last decade that the League of Municipalities has formed a task force to study the community and its effect on the state in general.New Jersey’s “underground economy” may be flourishing, but the legal one is anemic. According to State of New Jersey statistics, a total of 55,600 private sector jobs have been added in New Jersey since 2002, while state and local government jobs increased by 38,800 during the same time period.
The task force has met once, but its plans are ambitious. It will look at crowding, health and safety issues and the cost to municipalities of providing education, law enforcement, health care and other services to "substantial numbers of individuals who do not pay taxes."
New Jersey’s growth industry is government and its population growth is from illegal immigration. What a hell of a state for taxpayers.
The New Jersey ‘Clean Election’ Scam
New Jersey's plan to give taxpayer cash to candidates in three legislative districts to try to remove special-interest money from campaigns cleared the Legislature on Thursday.The bill does nothing to stop politicians from giving taxpayer money to special interests in exchange for their votes. It doesn’t stop politicians from lining their own pockets and creating pipelines of taxpayer funds to their family and friends. Those are the real problems bankrupting New Jersey.
It’s also not surprising that the “clean election” bill introduced and passed by majority Democrats excludes funding for primary elections. The primary is the only contested election in many districts considered “safe” for Democrats.
For Schluter and other good-government advocates, such as the New Jersey Public Interest Group, the measure's biggest flaw is its failure to provide public funding in primary elections, where the political machines wield the most power.Incumbent politicians will be further advantaged due to name recognition and the additional campaign financing restrictions placed on “clean” candidates. A third of New Jersey lawmakers gained their seats through political appointments to fill vacancies, rather than an election. Special interest groups will keep right on spending and working to get their candidates elected – no restrictions will apply to these activities under the "clean election” law.
New Jersey voters may long for clean elections, but 83 percent aren’t interested in paying for political campaigns from the state’s treasury. The tax check-off participation rate for New Jersey’s Gubernatorial Elections Fund is 17%. Public support for this “clean election” program has steadily declined since first enacted in 1977, even though checking the “Yes” box on the state income tax form doesn’t increase a filer’s tax liability or reduce their refund.
The major political corruption stories recently chronicled in the news have had nothing to do with campaign contributions. From Bid Rig to John Lynch, it’s been about money going directly into the pockets of politicians, not into their campaign coffers.
State Senator John Lynch (D-Middlesex) was found guilty in 2006 of political corruption charges - fraud and tax evasion. Lynch admitted that between 1998 and 2002, he regularly demanded and received payments between approximately $120,000 and $200,000 from a South Brunswick company in return for his official action and influence as a New Jersey state senator.
Lynch was New Brunswick mayor from 1979 to 1991, a state senator from 1981 to 2002 and Senate president from 1990 to 1992.
State Senator Wayne Bryant (D-Camden), previously chairman of the budget committee, is currently under criminal investigation for no-work publicly fianced jobs and funneling tax dollars to projects that have enriched him, his family and friends.
Bryant, until recently, had four taxpayer-supported positions. His wife, his son (until his death last year), two brothers and a sister-in-law all were on the public payroll.
State Senator Sharpe James (D-Essex), the poster boy for enriching himself, family and friends at taxpayer expense, is again under criminal investigation for a variety of actions and deals he made as Mayor of Newark. James’ multiple taxpayer-funded jobs and the padding of public payrolls with friends and family are infamous.
A taxpayer financed slush fund, controlled by incumbent politicians, is not our idea of taking money out of politics. It’s just one more way for politicians to take even more money out of taxpayer wallets.
New Jersey legislators have used their elected positions to land multiple government jobs, obtain lucrative no-bid contracts and fatten their state pensions. Taxpayer dollars are lavished on key constituent groups to buy votes, no campaign contributions are required. The last thing New Jersey taxpayers need is to pay for the political campaigns that make this fleecing possible.
National Journal's 2006 Congressional Vote Ratings
The Journal’s scores are based on the members' votes in three areas: economic issues, social issues, and foreign policy. This year’s scores were based on 82 key roll-call votes in the Senate and 95 in the House during 2006.
Nightfly points out that it’s “interesting Mike Ferguson, who was portrayed by his opponent in last year's election as being a right-wing Neanderthal”, ranks right in the middle, at 221 of the 449 members of the House rated.
As you can see from the National Journal chart below, Ferguson’s liberal composite score was 47.2 and his conservative composite score was 52.8. Most people would consider those scores to reflect a moderate voting record, but not everyone.
BlueJersey blogger, huntsu, takes exception to Nightly’s observation in How The Ridge Nightfly Doth Spin:
Ferguson may vote for the occasional environmental bill or education bill that moves him to the left, but these positions are certainly right-wing and out of mainstream in this district.Hunstu provides a list, sans links, to supposedly prove Ferguson is “out of the mainstream”. Readers are referred to the Dump Mike blog for details. The post concludes with this:
The point is that he may average to the middle because of a few carefully chosen votes, but when you are comparing him to perhaps the most conservative Congress in history (last year's, not this year's) being to the right of the middle is still pretty far to the right.If there’s something wrong with the 95 roll-call votes used, the methodology, the statistical analysis performed by the Brookings Institution or the final scores and rankings the National Journal published, hunstu doesn’t tell us. Hunstu apparently has another method for comparing voting records, but what it is we're not told.
Don't forget also that we never compared Ferguson to Neanderthals -- it's too unfair to the Neanderthals.
It should be obvious the blogger doing the spinning is not Nightfly. The voting record of New Jersey’s Republican delegation would best be described as fairly moderate, with an average liberal composite score of 43 and an average conservative composite of 57. Ferguson voting record was to the left of that average, with composite scores of 47 liberal and 53 conservative.
The voting record for New Jersey's Democrats is decidedly liberal, with a delegation average composite score of 85 liberal and a conservative score of 15. Clearly, if there are New Jersey congressmen out of the mainstream, you’d find one or more of them among the Democrat’s delegation – not the Republican. We’ll be so bold to predict the same will be true next year, despite the new congress being controlled by Democrats.
Here are the ratings for New Jersey’s congressional delegation:
How To Read National Journal’s Ratings
A score of 94 on economic issues, for example, means that the representative was more liberal than 94 percent of his or her House colleagues on key economic votes during 2006. "N/A" means the member missed more than half of the rated votes. The designations "E" and "S" and "F" refer to the "economic" and "social" and "foreign" policy votes used to determine overall ratings.
So Christie Wasn't Fired and Other Conspiracies
With every major city and all three branches of state government controlled by Democrats, not to mention the majority of congressional seats, checking up on Democrats holding New Jersey’s purse strings might be a smart move.
Still, the lefty conspiracy theory holds that without political pressure from the Bush administration Christie’s investigations of Senator Bob Menendez and more recently, a boatload of Democrats seated in Trenton wouldn’t be happening. After all, the New Jersey State Attorney hasn’t noticed any problems, just Christie.
But in that case, we would surely have heard from one or two of the career prosecutors in his [Christie's] office by now, at least anonymously. Why would a guy like Ralph Marra, Christie's first assistant and a Democrat, go along with a partisan scam?Why indeed?
Democrats and lefty bloggers began their attack on Christie long before the Bush administration replaced eight U.S. Attorneys - right about the time Christie’s office started investigating high-profile New Jersey politicians with a “D” next to their name.
One senior Democrat who asked not to be named said a group of "high-end" Democrats met to discuss this recently, and all felt the firings strengthened their case that Christie is using his office to sabotage Democrats.Gee, it’s almost sounds like a coordinated attack on Christie from the left. And funny, the New York Times and Blue Jersey bloggers were a bit more skeptical about Bob Menendez when Jon Corzine appointed him as his replacement in the U.S. Senate.
That view is gaining some ground. The lefty blog BlueJersey.com suggested Christie has kept his job because he is doing the White House's bidding by going after Democrats on corruption charges. And New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote that the firings make the bias charges against Christie "quite plausible.".
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. – NYT:December 9, 2005Wasn’t it the Star-Ledger that uncovered the questionable rental deal involving Menendez that led to Christie’s investigation?
Sorry, but Menendez asked for that one. He chose to rent his home to a group that received his help in Washington. Should a federal prosecutor look the other way when faced with such a clear conflict?Apparently, the answer from the left is yes, if the politician is a “progressive” Democrat.
And didn’t Senator Menendez “reach out” to the U.S. Attorney's Office about the subpoenas Christie served on the non-profit receiving Menendez's “help”? Yes he did. Does that “yes” by Menendez count on Blue Jersey’s list of politicians contacting the U.S. Attorney?
More recently, Democrats have been grumbling about the subpoenas in Trenton aimed at finding criminal abuses in the state's budget process. But, please -- anyone who has watched the way Democrats grab money for pet causes in the final days would agree that it's an excellent place to sniff around for corruption.Christie has prosecuted more than 115 public corruption cases in New Jersey since becoming U.S. attorney in 2002, and he hasn't lost a single one. That’s the real problem Democrats have with Christie, he’s just too darn good at his job. Can’t stop the corrupt gravy train that’s helping to bankrupt the state - that would be an abuse of political power.
The Can’t Lose New Jersey State Worker Contract
Yesterday, we explained how the “major concession” on health insurance benefits was actually another Corzine giveaway to the unions. Some employees, those enrolled in the NJ Plus medical insurance plan, will have to start contributing towards their health insurance. Workers currently enrolled in the state’s indemnity (Traditional) and HMOs plans already make contributions. Now all workers accepting health insurance from the state will pay 1.5 percent of their salary for medical benefits. Where’s the concession?
As we’ve explained before, state workers are “contributing” towards their benefits with the extra money the state’s giving them in four straight years of wage scale increases. As the union explained to state workers, “We made them raise the overall wage package in order to pay for the 1.5 percent cost.” The wage scale increases of 3 percent in each of the first two years and 3.5 percent in both of the final two years of the contract more than covers the new employee contribution requirements.
Still, there are state workers who feel this is a bad deal for them, especially in the long run because of the precedent setting health insurance contribution. They fear future increases to employee contributions for medical benefits in subsequent contracts. They fail to realize the 13.6 percent wage scale increases are locked in forever and there’s no way they lose in the long run with this new contract.
Let’s look at several scenarios to prove our point – it’s better for state employees to take the offered wage scale increases (across-the-board raises) now and contribute toward health insurance. In the short and long run, the state worker comes out ahead even if he never receives another salary increase and the state ratchets up the percent of salary for medical coverage in future contracts.
The following scenarios use the average salary for a New Jersey state worker of $54,742 for 2006. To make things less complicated, we’ll also assume the employee is at the maximum salary for his position and not eligible for any incremental salary increases - ever.
He receives no across-the-board salary increases, but he never contributes towards his health insurance. He retires in 2050.
He will have earned a total of $2,408,648.00 and contributed a total of $0 for health insurance from 2007 through 2050. His net total salary is $2,408,648.00.
He receives the across-the-board salary increases per the 2007-2010 contract of 3%.3%, 3.5% and 3.5% and pays 1.5 percent of his salary for health benefits. He never receives a salary increase of any type for the rest of his working years. He retires in 2050.
He will have earned a total of $2,725,552.23 and contributed a total of $40,883.28 for health insurance from 2007 through 2050. His net total salary is $2,684,668.94.
The employee is ahead by $276,020.94 under Scenario #2.
In the 2011-2014 contract he’s forced to start paying 3 percent of his salary for health insurance and there are no across-the-board salary increases. No incremental raises either.
He will have earned a total of $2,725,552.23 and contributed a total of $78,210.63 for health insurance from 2007 through 2050. His net total salary is. $2,647,341.60.
The employee is ahead by $238,693.60 under Scenario #2a.
Under the 2015-2018 contract he has to start paying 6 percent of his salary for health insurance. Still no raise.
He will have earned a total of $2,725,552.23 and contributed a total of $145,399.85 for health insurance from 2007 through 2050. His net total salary is $2,580,152.38.
The employee is ahead by $171,504.38 under Scenario #2b.
It’s now the 2019-2022 contract and it’s still bad news for our employee – no salary increase and he’s forced to start paying 9 percent of his salary for health insurance.
He will have earned a total of $2,725,552.23 and contributed a total of $205,123.60 for health insurance from 2007 through 2050. His net total salary is $2,520,428.63.
The employee is ahead by $111,780.63 under Scenario #2c.
We’re now in the 2023-2026 contract and still no salary increase. He now has to start paying 12 percent of his salary for health insurance.
He will have earned a total of $2,725,552.23 and contributed a total of $257,381.88 for health insurance from 2007 through 2050. His net total salary is $2,468,170.35.
The employee is ahead by $59,522.35 under Scenario #2d.
It’s now been 20 years and the 2027-2030 contract is not good to our employee. Still no salary increase and he has to start paying 15 percent of his salary for health insurance.
He will have earned a total of $2,725,552.23 and contributed a total of $302,174.69 for health insurance from 2007 through 2050. His net total salary is $2,423,377.54.
The employee is ahead by $14,729.54 under Scenario #2e.
Even under these worst case scenarios, no salary increase for 40 years and health insurance contributions rising to 15 percent of salary, the employee is still be ahead of the game. We all know this won’t happen. Between now and 2050 most state workers will receive incremental salary raises and additional wage scale increases in future contracts. There is no way for a state worker to lose under this new contract. Taxpayers are another story.
New Jersey State Union Worker Contact: Health Care Insurance – Another Giveaway
Would it help make up you mind if you knew your employer’s annual contribution to your health insurance was currently $13,992 and likely would be $22,814 in four years?
That’s the deal Governor Jon Corzine has negotiated with New Jersey’s state worker unions. It’s also the deal the state’s taxpayers are expected to swallow and like it.
Here are the details. Currently, New Jersey offers three types of medical plans to state employees– an indemnity plan (Traditional Plan), Health Maintenance Organization plans (HMOs) and the NJ PLUS plan, a blend of HMO and indemnity coverage. The contact will offer one less choice to active employees.
Under the new union contract, the state’s Traditional and NJ Plus plans will be eliminated and replaced with a hybrid of the two, keeping the best features of each plan. Employees will have the option of remaining in an HMO and those with 25 years of service before July 1, 2007 can still choose the Traditional Plan when they retire.
As the union tells it members, “we have negotiated a better health plan than the one we had”. They are right. Here’s a comparison of all health insurance plans currently offered by the state and the union’s explanation of the new hybrid plan.
So, from the state employee’s perspective, what’s not to like about the contract’s health insurance provisions? Some employees, for the first time, will have to contribute toward their medical coverage - 1.5 percent of their salary. But for some employees, those already contributing, their payroll deductions will be considerably less. Regardless, all employees will be a get a 3 percent raise in each of the first two years and a 3.5 percent raise in the final two years of the contract. That’s on top of regular incremental salary increases, providing the average worker with a 35 percent salary increase over the course of the four-year union deal.
Currently, the annual employee contribution for family coverage is $614 for an HMO, $5,335 for the indemnity plan (Traditional) and $0 for NJ Plus. Next year, the average employee will pay $817 for either an HMO or the new hybrid plan. (Average state worker annual salary of $54,742 x 1.5 percent). In the final year of the contract he’ll be paying $1,109 – 1.5 percent of his $73,902 salary.
That average employee previously enrolled in the Traditional plan will save $4,518 in employee contributions in the first year. If enrolled in an HMO, he’ll see a small annual increase of $203 and if formerly enrolled in NJ Plus, an increase of $817.
The contract’s first-year 3 percent increase more than covers the 1.5 percent employee contribution – forever. And, employee contributions will be before tax. As the union put it - “That means that in net money, the money you get in your check, the cost of healthcare will be about 1%”.
The state currently pays $13,992 for NJ plus family coverage, including prescription drugs, and has yet to put a price tag on the new hybrid plan. We know the new hybrid plan will be better and that unlike NJ Plus, will offer a medical network in all 50 states and eliminate the need for a primary care physician referral to see a specialist.
The state’s cost certainly won’t be going down. The Benefit Review Task Force estimated active employee health insurance benefits would increase 13 percent annually though 2010. That would bring the average annual cost for the new plan to $22,814 at the end of the four-year union contact.
What a deal. If you’re a state worker you’d be a fool not to accept this contract, no matter what Carla Katz might tell you. If you’re a taxpayer, you’d be a fool to think Jon Corzine had you in mind when he offered up his latest gift to his union pals.
New Jersey State Workers To Get Average 35 Percent Salary Increase Over Four Year Union Contract
The average state worker currently makes an annual salary of $54,742. That average worker will be getting $73,902 in pay when the union contract expires in 2010.
It’s been fifteen years, back when Jim Florio was governor, since the union won wage scale increases for every year of a contract. This is the price taxpayers have to bear so that Governor Corzine could reach an agreement in time for his unveiling of the state’s budget in February. The union crows, “We said that we believed the Governor was motivated to get a contract early and that it would work for us”. Boy, did it!
More details about the salary concessions Governor Corzine made to the unions, with examples:
The contract provides an across the board salary increase every year for the next four years. Every worker, regardless of performance, will get a 3 percent raise in each of the first two years and a 3.5 percent raise in the final two years.
The contract also preserves incremental salary increases for all workers receiving a “satisfactory” performance rating and who have not reached the maximum salary level for their position. According to the union, 70 percent of workers will be receiving these incremental salary increases every year for the next four years.
For example, a worker in a pay grade 25 position, currently earning $52,901.32 annually will have receive a $71,380.30 salary in four years. A worker currently earning the maximum of $75,194.05 in a pay grade 25 job will be making $85.445.20 when the contract expires in 2010.
The New Politics NJ.com
"Wally Edge," announced that the site had been bought by the Observer Media Group, owner of the weekly New York Observer.The Kushners, including Jared, have long been mega contributors to the Democratic Party.
Observer owner and publisher Jared Kushner confirmed Thursday that he'd arranged to buy the site for an undisclosed sum a month earlier.
A new owner, new design, new staff and new bloggers were unveiled Thursday for a Web site that has become a mainstay among those who can't get enough of the Garden State's dramatic and sometimes corrupt politics.
You may remember the Kushner family being in the news, especially, Charles Kushner, Jared’s father. Charles Kushner was a major backer and pal of disgraced former senator Bob Torricelli and was known as ex-governor Jim McGreevey’s ‘main man’.
“It was no accident that when Bill Clinton was president, he made several appearances at Kushner functions in Florham Park. And so, especially, had Governor James McGreevey, who, more than any of the others, was a political creature built of his [Kushner’s] will and cash.”“Kushner Cos. has been Senator Menendez's biggest donor in the past five years.” Charles Kushner even teamed up with Jon Corzine in an attempt to buy the New Jersey Nets basketball team in 2004 - the deal apparently fell apart when the partners couldn’t get the state to help fund the purchase.
Charles Kushner is also the guy who pled guilty to 18 federal crimes that included: making illegal campaign contributions, lying to the Federal Election Commission, tax fraud, hiring a prostitute and using videotapes to try to entrap his brother-in-law to stop him from cooperating with the Feds. He’s out of prison now.
We suppose Blue Jersey will be kept around to organize and raise cash for Democrats. PoliticsNJ is now “the center of gravity for New Jersey [Democrat Party] politics”.
Carla’s Brand of Commie Chic
Neruda Hoboken is the namesake of Pablo Neruda, a now deceased Chilean communist, celebrated poet and politician.
The Hudson Tea offers a “lifestyle of comfort and indulgence” according to the building’s website. A lifestyle Carl Katz has apparently acquired through her benefactor Governor Jon Corzine and the exploitation of state workers and New Jersey taxpayers.
Let’s review how the chief executive of Neruda Hoboken, LLC lives:
Katz bought her condo for a cool $1.1 million in cash. She snagged the “premier corner location, directly above Giants quarterback Eli Manning”, with magnificent views of the Manhattan skyline.
Katz bought out her ex-husband’s share of their Alexandria Township home with a $470,000 interest-free loan provided by Corzine. Later he forgave the loan and paid the $160,000 in taxes owed on the gift.
Having secured a state exemption from building restrictions in the Highlands, Katz has begun a 3,200 square feet addition to her Alexandria Township home, situated on 10 acres in Hunterdon County. She will also be adding a new pool, spa and septic system. Records show no loan or mortgage on this property.
While her Alexandria home improvements are under way, Katz is living in a four-bedroom rental house in Pittstown.
Katz has a full scholarship at Seton Hall University Law School, which she was awarded one year after Corzine gave the university' a gift of $1million. Corzine wrote the personal recommendation for her application.
She has two children attending a private school in Pennsylvania where tuition is $22,000 a year, per child. Corzine “hypothesized” he may have “pre-funded” the tuition.
A lifestyle of comfort and indulgence for Katz - call it Carla’s brand of commie chic.
The Jon Corzine, Carla Katz Timeline
Shortly after Corzine’s 24-year career as a bond trader and executive ended abruptly with his 1999 ouster from Goldman Sachs, he launched his Senate campaign.
Corzine met Katz in 1999 during his campaign for a U.S. Senate seat to represent New Jersey.
Jon Corzine wins election to the U.S. Senate, November 2000.
Katz, a mother of two children, divorced her husband Larry McKim in November 2001.
In March 2002, Corzine announced his separation from Joanne, his wife of 33 years.
December 18, 2002, Corzine provided a $470,000 mortgage to Katz through JSC Investments, a company owned solely by Corzine. Katz used the money to buy her ex-husband’s share of their Hunterdon County home.
Corzine’s divorce from his wife, Joanne, became final in November 2003. Joanne Corzine later told the reporters that her ex-husband's affair with Carla Katz led to the breakup of their marriage.
Corzine and Katz have stated their romantic relationship ended in July 2004.
December 9, 2004, one week after Corzine formally began his candidacy for Governor of New Jersey, Corzine forgave the $470,000 loan and paid the gift taxes, totaling more than $160,000.
In April, 2005 Katz won a state exemption from building restrictions in the Highlands preservation zone. That cleared the way for planned major renovations of the 19th-century farmhouse, situated on 10 acres in Hunterdon County.
On June 27, 2005 Katz’s state employee union endorsed Corzine for Governor. Kicking off the ceremony in Atlantic City. Katz introduced Corzine by giving him a peck on the cheek and telling an anecdote about the first time they met.
August 4, 2005 the New York Times reveals Corzine’s $630,000 gift (loan, plus taxes) to Katz. Corzine said the transaction was completely above board and disclosed as required by senate ethics rules.
August 8, 2005, Corzine said he wrote off the loan because Katz couldn't afford to repay it. He was adamant that his financial relationship with Katz had ended: "We have no additional gifts still outstanding."
August 2005, it was discovered that Corzine failed to report the loan to Katz on senate financial disclosure forms.
August 2005, Corzine claimed, on the advice of legal counsel, he did not believe he was obligated to report the loan because his relationship and loan to Carla Katz were personal.
August 2005, it was reported Corzine had properly disclosed at least two other personal loans made to female friends during the same time period as the loan made to Katz. Corzine explained the difference in his loan disclosures with "I knew them as human beings, not as romantic, serious relationships."
In late August 2005, a complaint was filed with the Senate Ethics Committee accusing Senator Corzine with falsifying a federal disclosure document and committing a federal felony by failing to disclose a $470,000 loan he made to a state employee union president, Carla Katz.
November 2005, Corzine wins election for New Jersey Governor.
December 2006, Katz bought the rental condo, which she has used as a part-time residence for at least two years, through a newly formed corporation, Neruda Hoboken LLC, for $1.1 million. State and county records show Katz is the sole corporate officer listed in the company's registration. The company's name is listed on the deed as owner, but Katz signed the settlement papers. The filing in Hudson County shows no mortgage on the property.
January 2007, just weeks after Katz bought the $1.1 million condominium, she began a 3,200-square-foot addition and extensive renovations on her Hunterdon farmhouse.
March 4, 2007, Corzine admits to the Star-Ledger that he gave Katz substantial gifts beyond what he previously disclosed and hinted that he “pre-funded” them to avoid "ongoing financial connections".
March 7, 2007, the Star-Ledger reports Katz’ $1.1 million condo purchase came at the same time negotiators for her union and the Corzine administration were entering intense negotiations over a new contract for state workers. Katz is president of the largest of five Communications Workers of America locals that are about to vote on the four-year deal.
How Does Carla Katz Do It?
"In January, just weeks after she bought the condominium, Katz began extensive renovations on the Hunterdon farmhouse."
"An application for a building permit in Alexandria Township shows Katz plans a 3,200-square-foot addition to the three-bedroom colonial, as well as a new septic system, swimming pool and spa. It is unclear from the documents how Katz is paying for the work. There is no record of a loan or mortgage on the property. "
"While the renovation is under way, Katz is living in a four-bedroom rental house in nearby Pittstown, in addition to her place in Hoboken. "
"Katz, who is paid $102,802 a year as president of CWA Local 1034, declined to answer questions about the condo purchase or her personal finances when contacted by telephone last night. "
Imagine how much Katz pays in just property taxes – million dollar condo in Hoboken, large farmhouse on 10 acres in Alexandria Township, four-bedroom house in Pittstown. It’s amazing what she’s able to swing on her $102,802 salary.
A police bomb squad was called to examine what was deemed a suspicious item found during a body cavity search of the man. Local media reports said a magnet was found in his rectum."Officials said he posed no apparent threat". They usual don’t on test runs.
"He was secreting these items in a body cavity and that was a great concern because there were also some electric wires associated with that body cavity," Larry Fetters, security director for the Transportation Security Administration at the airport, told reporters.
Update and video here: “He [Maliki] remained in custody as federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials went over his immigration paperwork. Federal officials said the man's green card may have expired.”
Corzine Admits He Gave Additional Gifts To State Employee Union President
Gov. Jon Corzine has acknowledged for the first time that, while a candidate for governor in 2005, he gave state workers union leader Carla Katz, his former girlfriend, substantial gifts beyond what he previously disclosed.Blue Jersey blogger, Jay Lassite, dismisses this news with:
Corzine previously said that he forgave a $470,000 mortgage on Katz's home in Hunterdon County, but he had not spoken publicly of other gifts.
In an Aug. 8, 2005, interview, he said he wrote off the loan because Katz couldn't afford to repay it. He was adamant that his financial relationship with Katz had ended: "We have no additional gifts still outstanding."
While I have never had a girlfriend myself, I kinda thought the whole point was to do nice stuff for one another?Typically “the nice stuff for one another" comes during the relationship, not after. During his relationship with Katz, Corzine loaned her $470,000. After they broke up he forgave the loan, “pre-funded” other substantial gifts and paid her taxes on the gifts. Isn’t that a bit odd? And why is Corzine admitting all this to the Star-Ledger now?
Speaking of odd, wouldn’t you think Katz would support union products and services? Well, not apparently when the Katz kids are involved. According to the same Ledger article, Katz and her ex-husband Larry McKim, a NJ public school teacher, send their children to a private school - in Pennsylvania.
U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie Has Democrats Rattled
Christie is handing out subpoenas to find out who benefited [from $378 million in Christmas Tree Grants]. As a result, the rumor mill is abuzz that the FBI wired a legislator, and as many as 15 "public servants" may go down.The folks at Blue Jersey are becoming concerned and developing conspiracy theories:
Chris Christie may be the most honest US Attorney in history, but he is also a powerful Republican partisan who is beholden to a powerfully partisan Bush White House for his job while others in the same position are losing theirs.Eighty-seven others, including Christie, have not been “fired”. But, seven Bush appointees being replaced by seven Bush appointees and its time for congressional Democrats to issue subpoenas. As the Blue Jersey blogger writes:
The subpoenas for the legislature came right while the Democrats were making noises about passing major tax reform and corruption reform legislation, blunting the political gain to be made.
We've got a US Attorney, Chris Christie, and he has not been fired.
Ooooh! Congressional subpoenas of the Bush admin on firing US Attorneys. What fun!U.S. Attorneys serve at the pleasure of the President of the United States. You may recall that when President Bill Clinton took office one of the first things he did was to fire every U.S. Attorney - except one, Michael Chertoff, then U.S Attorney for the District of New Jersey - saved by Senator Bill Bradley. Clinton’s mass firing of 93 U.S. Attorneys was unprecedented, but within the President’s authority.
It’s within Christie’s authority to investigate and prosecute corrupt politicians. Do the folks at Blue Jersey think he should demure so as not to “blunt” Democrat political gains from making election year “tax and corruption reform noises”?
So far Chris Christie’s political indictment to conviction batting average is 1.000. It looks like this hard hitting U.S. Attorney has Democrats rattled and resorting to the old standby - blame the “powerfully partisan” President Bush - this time for corrupt NJ politicians from the Democratic Party.
When Property Tax Relief Means More Spending, Higher Taxes
Local officials say those provisions mean the targeted aid will not help offset local taxes.School aid, municipal aid, property rebates and credits are designed to be “deceiving to the public”. Each new “property tax relief” program in New Jersey has produced only one result – increased spending, higher state taxes and higher property taxes.
"It is not tax relief, and that is what people might see in this," said Robert Gratz, superintendent in Hackettstown, where aid increased 5.5 percent. "People are seeing we got 5.5 percent more, when we actually didn't."
In Montclair, superintendent Frank Alvarez said the strings on about half the new state aid his town will receive could complicate the district's efforts to win community support for the upcoming school budget.
"We are grateful for the money, but it certainly is not the 6 percent raise for Montclair that was advertised to the world," Alvarez said. "It is deceiving to the public. Our challenge will be trying to explain this to our local constituencies in order to gain their support during this budget process."
New Jersey’s Unequal Aid To Municipalities
As with state aid to schools, municipal aid reduces the amount local government must fund through property taxes. However, both forms of aid vary greatly by municipality, whether viewed in terms of per student or per resident.
As required by law, each Legislative Distinct (LD) has approximately the same number of residents, and yet proposed municipal aid ranges from a low of $23,625,299 in LD-24 to a high of $119,422,814 in LD-29. The proposed average municipal aid per Legislative Distinct is $43,178,397.
Proposed state aid for each municipality and Legislative District can be viewed here and New Jersey population statistics as of December, 2006 can be found here.
The municipal aid figures in the state’s report noted above do not include all forms of state municipal aid - extraordinary aid, special aid, “Christmas Tree” and community development grants, etc.
Extraordinary aid is a budgeted amount “set aside to help towns with unexpected problems such as emergency costs or the loss of a major taxpayer”. Corzine’s budget proposes cutting Extraordinary aid by $18 million, from $43 million to $25 million. Municipalities receiving these funds will be determined later in the year.
Corzine has proposed a $37.3 million increase in Special aid, from $94.7 million to $132 million in the 2008 budget. This special aid will be granted to "distressed” municipalities that will be identified at a later date.
“Christmas tree” grants are not contained in the budget and are added by the state’s legislature “under a largely secretive process”. The governor has the authority to eliminate or approve them when signing the budget legislation. Spending on this form of municipal aid had more than doubled in the past five years, to $378 million last year.
The practice is shrouded in secrecy, and often happens in the early hours of the morning as a constitutional deadline for a balanced budget nears. Lawmakers offer no public reasons or justifications for the extra money.Given the ongoing criminal investigation surrounding the awarding of “Christmas Tree” grants, there’s a high probability that this form of municipal aid will be greatly reduced in the next fiscal year.
Legislators seeking these grants must pass through the governor's office to seek support from the person who must ultimately approve the budget.
"Christmas trees this year will go from the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center to the Peanuts' Christmas tree," Senate President Dick Codey said. The proposed $33.3 billion budget should be more than enough to keep those special interest stockings stuffed.
2008 Straw Poll
To vote, just click on the straw poll graphic in the sidebar to register your choice for one candidate from the Republican Party and one from the Democratic Party. You can vote once a week, and if you vote here you will be able to see how people voted at this precinct, as well as the totals across the blogosphere.
Voting opens on Wednesday of each week and closes the following Monday with results announced on Tuesday.
You can view results of previous weeks here.
Labels: 2008 Straw Poll
New Jersey’s Disparate State Aid To Public Schools
This Budget provides $92.6 million for a 3% increase in state aid to non-Abbott districts in order to recognize the financial hardship caused by years of limited or no state aid increases.That amounts to an average increase in state aid of $86.22 per student * to the non-Abbott school districts. A few other facts jumped out at us as we reviewed the state aid numbers. There are 77 non-Abbott districts slated to receive less than $20,000 in additional state funding. That’s less than the Newark school district spends for just one student – $21,503 **.
Reviewed at the county level (chart below) you can see how just how uneven school aid is distributed. Bergen County would receive an average of $1,611 per student, the least amount in aid to any New Jersey county, followed by Morris County with $1,881 and Somerset County at $1,932 per student.
Reviewed at the school district level the state aid picture is even more disparate. For example, the proposed state aid average for Bergen County is $1,611 per student, but ranges from a low of $146 per student in Saddle River Boro to a high of $9,209 in Garfield City.
The proposed Essex County state aid average is $8,985. The Newark school district is slated to receive $16,556 in state aid per student and that’s assuming the legislature goes along with Corzine’s recommended funding cut to the district. Fairfield Township is to get $743 per student, reflecting a 3 percent increase.
The recommended average aid per student is $3,750 for Monmouth County. But again, averages can be a bit deceiving. Asbury Park would receive $21,779 per student, assuming the legislature approves the Governor’s requested reduction in school aid for the district. Deal Boro would receive $570 per student, assuming the school district’s aid is increased by 3 percent as proposed.
For more information, you can view proposed state aid by school district and by county at this link. To figure out state aid per student for a school district or county you can use these enrollment statistics from the New Jersey Department of Education at this link. [Note: The school aid figures don’t include federal funding and also excludes other forms of state school aid - debt service aid, HELP aid, and Abbott bordered district aid.]
* The 31 Abbott school districts, account for 23 percent or 320,800 students of New Jersey’s total public school enrollment of 1,394,779. The $92.6 million increase will be spread around to districts with the remaining 1,073,999 students for an average of $86.22 per student.
** Newark school district budget of $900 million, divided by an enrollment of 41,855 equals an average cost per student of $21,503.