Author Archive: Steve Stern

Lost Opportunity

promoted by Rosi

There are 565 different municipalities in New Jersey, with an even larger number of school districts. Each one of these has its own administrative overhead, so smart consolidation and sharing of services is a reasonable path to cutting costs. Princeton Township and Princeton Boro are now reaping a $3 million annual savings after they combined their formerly separate municipal governments.

But with the “home rule” mentality in the Garden State that makes no logical sense from a fiscal viewpoint, the Princetons are the exception. A more likely path to success would be the consolidation of government services to reduce overlaps in cost and to take advantage of economies of scale. Done right, this can save money while providing better service. With poor planning, however, problems will only escalate.

There’s an old aphorism, “Nothing is ever a total loss. It can always be used as a bad example.” And the Republican-controlled Burlington County Board of Freeholders proves that point once again.

I Finally Heard from My Congressman

Boom. Promoted by Rosi.

After he was installed in the Congressional seat he purchased, I’ve written to my congressman, Tom MacArthur, on several issues. Never received a single response. Today, the wealthiest Congressman from New Jersey sent me an email asking for money. Here’s his letter with my response (in blue).

The Real Victim of the Menendez Indictment

To no one’s surprise, Senator Robert Menendez was indicted for his dealings with a friend, Salomon Melgen. Even under the presumption of innocence, he has not denied that these events happened. Even with the remote possibility of acquittal, his story is one that we hear much too often in New Jersey and around the country. Even if Governor Christie is never indicted for his cronyism and kickbacks, the two men are cut from the same cloth.

The real victim here, however, is the electoral process. I’ve done quite a bit of canvassing for my candidates over the past several years, and one piece of feedback that I consistently hear is the assertion that “Why should I vote for anyone? They’re all crooks.” Even people who agree with my candidate, or those who are diametrically opposed, opt to stay home, mainly due to frustration with the behavior of our elected officials. No wonder voter turnout in this country is so pathetic.

Elected officials, even those who comply with the letter of the law, often display ethical lapses. After all, they serve two masters – their constituents and their donors. Until we resolve the issue of money in politics, there will be more Menendezes and Christies pushing the boundary of what’s right, to the detriment of the voters.

How Not to Run a Railroad

promoted by Rosi

This article concerns some events that affect a relatively small number of people in a small corner of Burlington County, but there are lessons to be learned here for any community.

There’s a railroad bridge over Creek Road in Hainesport Township, NJ that is owned by Conrail and is over 100 years old. Near the bridge, there are numerous residences and businesses, and the roads carry 17,000 vehicles per day. Due to its age, the bridge had to be replaced, and that construction is happening now.

At Wednesday night’s meeting of the Burlington County Freeholders, several businesspeople came to point out that the management of this bridge reconstruction project has been a fiasco. Although the detours around the construction site are clearly marked, some truck drivers are ignoring the signs and driving through and damaging private property. In other areas near the construction site, barricades are in place that would block or delay first responders access to residences in case of emergency. Residents’ access to public transportation is cut off, making it difficult for people to get to work. Two automobile accidents have already happened in the first week of what has been nominally portrayed as a three-week construction duration. Local businesses are suffering with one businessman stating that his establishment has seen an 80% reduction in the number of customers.