Author Archive: brendanod

Another Attack on Public Employees

Interesting conversation going on here in comments – promoted by Rosi

I saw on NJN tonight that Governor Christie is proposing a law that would make it illegal for a citizen to receive more than two public paychecks.  On the surface (as with everthing else the governor proposes)it does not seem unreasonable.  There are politicians out there who may be  state legislators, a mayor, and maybe hold some type of full time county gig that could crank up an income to over 200k.  There are abuses out there – no doubt about it.

On the other hand, to propose a law that would make it illegal for a teacher, fire fighter, or cop to be employed in one town and be a paid elected official (town council, school board, legislature, ect..) in another seems crazy.  There is no reason why a teacher,cop, or fireman making 50-100k should be ineligible to receive compensation for an 5 or 10k elected position.  The teachers time and experience is just as valuable as anybody in the private sector.  Why don’t we make a law that says anyone who donates to a campaign is not eligible to receive a job in government? What about a lawyer who acts as an municipal attorney in 6 towns and then goes home at night to be the mayor in his own town?

Public employees know how the system works which creates a problem for politicans (like Christie) who sell kool aid.  This is another attack on labor and politicians like Joe Cryan who remain a thorn in the governor’s flaccid thigh.

Most of the abuses could be curtailed through pension reform.  This is probaly more talk by Christie to fire some more thunder at unions to deflect his own failures and hide his true agenda.  This would be a real income loss for a lot of Dems, I suspect it won’t go anywhere.  If it does, it will result in more lawsuits that will overturn the law.  

 

2% Cap Plus Federal Grant Equals Bust

As I read the federal governments eagerness to distibute grant money to states and municipalities, I wonder the impact it will have on NJ budgets as it relates to the 2% cap.  As I understand the cap law, a budget cannot increase more than 2% per year, barring the exemptions (health care, pensions, ect..).  To my knowledge there is no exemption for grant money.

Lets say you have a 2010-2011 budget of 10 million. If a school board was to receive $250,000 in federal assistance, the NJ cap law would be busted. The school board would not be able to accept the money unless they had voter approval (which takes too much time and would be impractical in this instance)

Am I wrong here?  Is the legislature going to make another exemption for federal grant money? Another problem in receiving grant money is that if you were to receive a one or two year grant, the cap law allows no function to build reserves during the grant period so that when the grant ends, there is no practical way to sustain the hires that were aquired during the grant years without a significant tax increase in the end.  I know Senator Sweeney was working on an exemption for reserve money, but I think it went nowhere.

Government Extortion

Although I am not a fan or even casual reader of The Trentonian, I happened to catch an article today  

http://www.trentonian.com/arti…

about how the Ewing Township PBA have filed a lawsuit against Ewing Township for extortion.

I  applaud the Ewing PBA for the action.  Christie has made it fashionable to threaten public employees with layoffs in order to extort concessions from contract obligations.

Here is how it works.  A municipality will have a multi-million dollar shortfall because Christie stole all of our income and sales tax money that should have been legally redistributed to municipalites for tax relief.  A lot of mayors take this opportunity to extort concessions from union contracts by threatening mass layoffs.  Instead of being honest and moral, the mayor will threaten to layoff dozens of cops (reducing labor costs by hundreds of thousands), but will accept a wage freeze or change in benefits only reducing labor costs by tens of thousands. It is another case of being intellectually dishonest, which is Christie’s forte. A lot of mayor’s now enjoy the accepted practice of being intellectually dishonest and immoral.

I enjoyed Senator Weinberg’s diary about the governor being a hypocrite.  This is another example.  Can one imagine if the governor entered into a contract with a carpenter to have his kitchen remodeled, only to have the carpenter come back half way through the job with a bunch of excuses or hardball maneuvers as to why he now wanted more money or otherwise change the contract?

Christie is advocating union busting as a means to an end.  Instead of tackling the main problem which is an overpopulation of municipalities and taxing authorities, he chooses to continue the class warfare and anti-labor theme.  He is just hurting the citizenry.

Corzine E-mails

My inital thoughts reading the SL article and transcripts of the Corzine/Katz e-mails were that they seemed fairly innocuous as far as implicating Corzine in some type of unethical behavior.  Corzine seemed to really try and distance himself from her.

Katz appears to be really immersed in the situation the two of them put themselves in.  Katz seems filled with disquietude over internet blog posts, newspaper articles, and inquiries from reporters.  This strikes me as odd.  She is the president of a large labor union, he is the governor of NJ.  The press and bloggers are going to be active, especially when they smell blood.  It seems really odd to me that she obsesses about criticism from others (especially bloggers).  Quite frankly, I would expect someone involved in politics, labor, and campaigning to have thicker skin and be apt at dealing with these type problems in a more balanced fashion.  Corzine was probably the only person she could talk to about these issues.  He obviously refused to talk to her. Her frustratation is evident.

I was shocked to read the spelling and grammar that Corzine used in the e-mails.  I understand he probably was using his Blackberry, bouncing around in the back of a Suburban, going 80 miles an hour to somewhere.  We all have flaws, and we all have sections of our brains that are stronger than other parts of the brain.  Jon Corzine was a great governor, however I expected better judgement in his choice of girlfriends and the manner in which he ended the relationship.  How Katz ended up with a million dollar parting prize after only dating a man for a year or two is beyond me.  In the end, it is clear to me that Corzine wanted nothing to do with Katz. Maybe the money was for her to go away and it was worth it for him to cure a headache.

Katz looks like the schmuck and Corzine’s spelling is atrocious.

2% Panic

A story in today’s Times of Trenton

http://www.nj.com/mercer/index…

has a bunch of Mercer County mayor’s sweating the new 2% cap.  It is funny to read the quotes as the mayor’s try and artfully dodge offending the governor while simultaneously crapping their pants worrying about next years budget after just slashing and burning this years budget.  My initial thoughts reading this article are, why did mayor’s stand next to the governor and wave the cap flag without thinking it through?  Are they that wrapped up in party politics?  Are they lazy or dumb? Both?

Now the mayor’s and the League of Municipalities are shouting they need the “tool kit”.  The tool kit is just as much a farce as the cap.  Most of the tool kit is unconstitutional.  The legislature seems to be in no hurry to discuss the tool kit, and many legislators have said they have serious problems with a lot of the “kit”.

There are many towns in NJ like Upper Freehold Township, Monmouth County.  UFT has no police department, has about 6 paid fire fighters (whose salaries are well below state average,  have never taken the town to arbitration, and have only had a contract for about 7 years), a handful of DPW employees, and your standard municipal building employees.  UFT is not a civil service jurisdiction. UFT has slashed and burned their budget this year, including layoffs, furloughs, and service reductions.

My point is that UFT has not been subject to arbitration awards, they are not civil service, the council tends to be mostly republican, they provide very few services (no garbage collection, police), but have found themselves in the same boat as every other town and city in the state.  

The “tool kit” is another sham by the governor.  Another policy that will erode the quality of life and  government in this state.  I predict only a handful of the “tools” in the “tool kit” will become law.  The legislature will be forced to add more exemptions to the cap law after disasterous consequences occur.

The governor needs to address the overpopulation of municipalites and taxing authorities in the state, this is where efficiencies will be located.  The current policies do nothing to solve problems.  The cap will force municipalities to go to an a la carte system of taxing, and will actually lead to more government in NJ as mayor’s try and ditch departments within their municipality and turn it into a taxing authority to avoid those numbers showing on their books. Christie is chopping off his nose to spite his face.