Author Archive: Hank Kalet

The merger moment

Maybe the mayors of the two Chesters can jump-start a needed discussion — the consolidation of many of the state’s smaller towns.

New Jersey — as I write in a column this week for the South Brunswick Post — needs to reduce the number of municipalities in the state.

The state created a panel in 2007 as part of its tax reform efforts that supporters said would help encourage towns to consolidate and share services. In the 15 months since it was created, however, a real discussion has yet to begin.

Thoughts on the final four

I know the Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul campaigns may take issue with me on this, but I thought I’d offer a short overview of my thinking on the four remaining candidates as I get ready, like the rest of New Jersey and 21 other states, to cast my primary ballot. This is not an endorsement, just me thinking aloud and offering the rationale behind the choice I am planning to make tomorrow.

Corzine’s failure of vision

Gov. Jon Corzine has allowed an important window to close. By not holding the state Legislature’s feet to the fire on reform in the aftermath of the history shutdown of state government in 2006 and allowing the Legislature to set the terms of debate since, he has virtually assured that government reform is not going to happen.

Rather than push for the kind of extensive restructuring of state and local government necessary to get spending under control, rather than demanding that the state’s residents have an honest conversation about what they expect from their government and how we should be paying for it, he allowed the Legislature to craft weak modifications that took the steam out of the reform effort.

Plan could take its toll

The governor is preparing to hit the road to sell his plan to use the state’s toll roads to restructure New Jersey’s debt, and from all accounts it looks as though he will not be facing a willing buyer.

The public in a series of polls last year expressed opposition, though admittedly it was being asked to comment well before a plan was on the table. At the time, there was still some fear that the state would sell or lease its roadways to a private company, which would have a direct impact on the roads’ management and maintenance. The plan unveiled this week does not do that. But it still is not going to be an easy sell — nor should it be.

Kucinich or Edwards? Ask Obama

Neither of my papers — the South Brunswick Post and The Cranbury Press — will be making endorsements in the New Jersey presidential primary that is now just 33 days away. That said, I am a voter and I think it useful to share my thinking on what I might do come Feb. 5.

In general, I like Dennis Kucinich. The Ohio congressman is one of the only candidates to oppose the war in Iraq from the beginning, opposes war generally, is pushing for impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney and supports a single-payer, national healthcare program.

First step toward sanity on death penalty

Crossposted from Channel Surfing:

Assembly Speaker Joe Roberts and Assembly Speaker Pro-Tempore Wilfredo Caraballo are ready to do the right thing. The pair announced today — at a press conference featuring Sister Helen Prejean, the anti-death penalty activist — that they plan to push for a vote on a bill that would remove the death penalty from the statute books.

Roberts, in a press release, said the bipartisan bill sponsored by Caraballo (D-Essex) would go before the Assembly Judiciary Committee on Dec. 6 “so that it could be positioned for an Assembly floor vote on Dec. 13.” The governor already is on record as supporting a repeal.

A similar measure, which also would commute the sentences of the eight men on death row to live in prison without parole — has been approved by a Senate committee.