Author Archive: deciminyan

How Blue Jersey Uses the Internet

No – not our Blue Jersey, but rather New Jersey’s men and women in blue who work in our police agencies across the state.

Agencies from the State Police to local Police Departments are using the Internet as a tool to facilitate communications with the citizens they serve.  But, as with most advances in the exploitation of new technologies, there are both upsides and downsides in how these new tools are used.

According to Captain Frank Locantore of the Evesham Police Department, the Internet is a valuable tool for reaching out to the community whose only other contact with the police has traditionally been motor vehicle stops or investigations of burglaries.  Other than that, he pointed out, most people are unaware of the workload or types of incidents handled by their police agency.

Continue reading below.

I’m Helping Ed – Are You?

On Monday, October 25, starting at 3 PM, I’ll be manning the phones to help Ed Potosnak in his bid to represent New Jersey’s 7th Congressional District in the House of Representatives.  Ed is just the type of person we need in Congress.  He’s a science teacher, so he can be an effective counterpoint to the GOP’s anti-science and anti-education initiatives.  I’m confident that his approach toward creating and saving jobs will benefit all New Jerseyans.  And he’s a fellow Rutgers graduate to boot!  If you follow my blog, and are in the Woodbridge area, stop by and say hello – I’d love to meet some of my readers.  The campaign office is at 115 Main Street, and if you can stay a while to help with the phones, that would be super!

Cory Booker’s Other BFF

Who knew?  In addition to Oprah, Newark Mayor Cory Booker is also good friends with Congressman John Adler.  That’s the way it was presented at an Adler rally today in Willingboro.  

(More photos are here)

The event was well-attended by the party faithful with a slew of local Democratic celebrities on the dais.  Local candidates were well-represented including Aimee Belgard, candidate for Burlington County Freeholder, and Jay Coltre, candidate for Burlington County Sheriff.

After the introductions, John Adler addressed the crowd of about 150 supporters.  I’ve heard Adler speak many times, and this was by far his best performance.  In the past, he has seemed a bit stiff to me, but today he was on top of his game.  His ten-minute extemporaneous presentation was lively and he delivered a very positive message.  The congressman reminded the crowd that he was there to serve them, not necessarily the party, and that he hoped to have another two years to help the President with his agenda.  (I’m not sure how this is in accord with Adler’s health care position, but this was a “feel good” rally and the audience seemed to buy it.)

The popular Newark mayor was the highlight of the afternoon.  He spoke from the heart, telling the audience about his childhood in North Carolina, the influence that his father had on him, and the need to be partisan during elections, but non-partisan in governing.  My favorite line was about Democrats’ “sedentary agitation” – getting all worked up about Fox “News” and other demagoguery, but not proactively working toward fixing the system.  Booker reminded me of another young politician – John F. Kennedy.  His remarks were passionate and sincere.  But unlike JFK, Booker was not born into wealth and his story was inspiring.  When talking about the election of Governor Christie, he lamented about the low voter turnout in his own Newark election district, and implored the audience not only to vote this year, but to get the message out to their friends and co-workers.

The mayor concluded with excerpts from Langston Hughes’ poem Let America Be America Again:

O, let America be America again-

The land that never has been yet-

And yet must be-

The land where everyone is free.

The land that’s mine-

The poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s,


Fitting In

Reporter Cynthia Burton has a nice profile of Jon Runyan in today’s Inquirer.  In the article, Runyan in quoted as saying, “I make the mess and walk away.”  

Sounds like if he’s elected, he will fit in well with his Republican colleagues.

Pumping Dollars

What’s up with gasoline prices these days?  It’s traditional for prices to rise this time of year as refineries divert some of their capacity toward products for the winter heating season.  But let’s compare prices in neighboring areas across state lines.  According to MSN, the average price per gallon in Trenton is $2.69 while in neighboring Morrisville, PA, the average is $2.75.  OK – that makes sense – after all, everyone knows that New Jersey’s gasoline taxes are among the lowest in the nation.  But take another look.  Rounded to the nearest penny, the Keystone State’s tax is 51¢ while ours is 33¢.  So the before-tax price in Morrisville is $2.24, while ours is $2.36.  If I were cynical, I would suspect the oil companies are reaping another 12¢ per gallon windfall by taking advantage of New Jersey’s low tax.

Of course, New Jersey drivers get the privilege of sitting in their car while someone else pumps their gas.  That costs something – but 12¢ per gallon or $2.40 for a 20 gallon fill-up seems a bit high.  Having lived in Upstate New York for three decades, I am used to pumping my own gas in sub-zero weather, and I prefer the do-it-yourself method.  I’ve ranted about New Jersey’s full serve regulations in the past, but in this day and age, I’m laying back a bit because I don’t want to see thousands of gas attendants added to the unemployment lines.  I’ll defer further complaining until the jobs situation improves.

Nevertheless, in this time of fiscal distress, the state needs to find revenue wherever it can.  Since Governor Christie feels that millionaires can’t afford to participate in his “shared sacrifice”, it’s up to the rest of us.  Raising the gasoline tax will result in an added burden on the poor (that’s bad) and on out-of-state drivers who use our roads (that’s good).  To alleviate this burden, low income drivers who own cars should get a rebate or tax credit to offset the added cost.  As I outlined this approach in a previous blog post, this has several beneficial effects:

  • Since a gasoline tax is already being collected, the additional overhead burden on tax collection is minimal.

  • Increases in gasoline prices would encourage conservation and purchase of more fuel-efficient vehicles.

  • More people would consider using mass transit (assuming the Governor doesn’t decimate NJ Transit)

  • Less driving would reduce wear and tear on our highway infrastructure.

  • Given that we are in the Boston to Washington corridor, a good portion of the added tax revenue would come from out of state drivers when they fill up at our newly renamed Corporate rest areas.

So, if higher gasoline prices are inevitable, it’s better that the added revenue goes to New Jersey’s coffers than those of the oil companies.

What do you think, Blue Jersey?  Should New Jersey allow optional self-serve?  Will enough people pay a premium for full serve to keep many of the attendants employed?  Should our gasoline tax be in line with neighboring states?

Shooting for the Moon – And Hitting Your Foot

Fantasize, if you will, that it is January, 1967 and Chris Christie is President of the United States.  He inherited the charge, eloquently stated six years earlier by his predecessor John F. Kennedy, that “this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”  But the space program just had a shocking and tragic setback – the Apollo One fire on the launch pad which killed three astronauts.

JFK’s goal looked out of reach.  There were only three years left in the decade and fundamental design flaws in the Apollo capsule had to be corrected. Costs were rising dramatically.  Risks were high, and the Soviet Union was pursuing its own manned lunar program in a race to the top for scientific accomplishment and national prestige.

President Christie addressed the nation on national television:  (more after the fold…)

Christie Running in 2012

promoted by Rosi

Cross-posted from deciminyan

All signs are pointing to a Chris Christie campaign to be on the 2012 presidential ticket.  He has started this campaign already by crisscrossing the country to promote Republican candidates in state-wide races.  But up until recently, he has not proactively promoted the conservative social agenda.  Yes, he is anti-choice and against marriage equality, but he has not yet pursued these measures with the same “in-your-face” approach as he has with his vendetta against public education and teachers.  He is aware of the large number of his New Jersey constituents who still want social justice, and is more circumspect with regard to promoting the conservative line on women’s issues and gay rights.  His relatively low-key approach is most likely designed to avoid firing up the opposition and maintaining as low a profile as he can here.  But to become a national figure, Christie needs to demonstrate his embrace of the right-wing social agenda.

Christie’s approach to implementing the conservative platform is not subtle, but more incremental.  He pleased his base by vetoing a $7.5 million bill for women’s health services even as he approved a gigantic tax cut for millionaires.  Now, he is embracing another Palinesque initiative – abstinence education.  Despite the fact that our schools are in dire financial straits and that it has been shown that such initiatives do nothing to stem the rates of teenage pregnancy, the Governor is promoting a $1 million program to tell teenagers to “just say no”.  

Ratcheting up the right wing agenda is not the only sign that Christie has national ambitions.  If you think his gallivanting around the country is limited to the upcoming elections, you are mistaken.  He is already on the post-election tea party lecture circuit.

It has often been said that every state governor has presidential ambitions, and it’s difficult to find a politician more ambitious than Chris Christie.  And there are lots of reasons for him to make his move in 2012.

Given the secret funding of Republican candidates by shadow groups, the fact that the GOP has a propaganda arm in Fox News that is second to none, including Pravda, and the fact that the 2012 election will be the first under the census redistricting controlled mostly by Republican governors, there’s a good chance that Barack Obama will be a one-term president.  If Christie is not on the 2012 ticket, his next chance to run for national office could potentially be 2020 – a lifetime in presidential politics.  Sure, he’ll be only 58 years old then, but he will have had a much longer track record of mistakes and miscues than he has today.  And the demographics of the electorate will be different, with a larger percentage of the non-white population included in the mix.

So is Christie aiming for the top slot, or looking to become Joe Biden’s successor?  The way the stars are aligned today, it seems unlikely that he would be successful in challenging Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, or Mike Huckabee.  But why would someone as ambitious as Christie settle for the number two spot?  This question can be answered in two words:  Dick Cheney.  Cheney was the second in command to a weak, clueless, and gaffe-prone George W Bush.  Christie may view himself in the same powerful role under a President Palin.  And without any debilitating health problems like those that plagued Mr. Cheney, Christie would then be viable as a 2020 candidate at the top of the ticket.  Of course, there’s plenty of time for the top contenders to stumble, leaving room for the Meshuggineh from Mendham to step in.

The only significant impediment to a Christie run is his lack of foreign policy experience.  To the xenophobic Tea Party, this is not a significant issue because diplomacy requires nuance, and the GOP does not do nuance.  But it might be an important issue to the rest of the electorate, especially given that we will still be in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq, and possibly Pakistan, when the election comes around.  So watch for Christie to ramp up his foreign policy creds – perhaps by participating in missions abroad to promote New Jersey business, or perhaps by participating on foreign junkets with some of his congressional friends.  Such actions would confirm his desire to be on the 2012 ticket.

Christie is smart to lay back and let the big guns fight it out right now.  But don’t be surprised to see our absentee governor vacationing in Iowa or New Hampshire next year.

Republicans Cry Out for More Taxes

promoted by Rosi

No, this is not an Onion headline.   It’s true.

Medford is a town in Burlington County, and it’s as Republican as you can get.  Assemblyman Scott Rudder hails from there, and Chris Myers (John Adler’s opponent in 2008) is its Deputy Mayor.  Last year, Chris Christie carried the township with 60% of the vote in a three-way race.

So why at a public meeting this week were township residents clamoring for a tax increase?

find out below the fold

Adler’s (Other) Tea Party Problem

promoted by Rosi

Monday night’s debate between John Adler and Jon Runyan had its share of Tea Party folks posing their wedge issues during the question and answer session.  One person asked each candidate if he would vote for their current House leader (Nancy Pelosi for Adler, John Boehner for Runyan) as Speaker if their party were in the majority.  Luckily for Runyan, the answer was a no-brainer.  But I was surprised at John Adler’s response.

Adler is a skilled attorney and politician, and did not give a direct “yes” or “no” answer.  Playing into the propaganda propagated by the Tea Party and Fox News, he stated that he felt that Speaker Pelosi was “divisive”, and that troubled him.  Where has he been?

The capstone legislation of the 111th Congress is, of course, the Affordable Care Act.  The House Republicans were just a dead weight in its passage through the labyrinth of legislation.  All GOP members abided by their loyalty oath and publicly stated that they would vote “no” on every one of the president’s initiatives and obstruct this important bill, even though it is essentially the same bill that the Republicans promoted as an alternative to Hillary Clinton’s health care initiative in the ’90s.  So, as leader, Speaker Pelosi needed to corral all of the Democrats – Liberals, Centrists, and Blue Dogs – to cobble together a bill that they could collectively support.  Pelosi is a masterful politician and got the compromises necessary to pass the bill, despite 34 Democrats (including Adler) voting against it.  Her ability to bring this diverse group of Democrats under the “big tent” is by no means divisive – on the contrary it is close to miraculous.

Adler’s pandering to the right wing’s anti-Pelosi (possibly anti-powerful woman) mantra indicates his willingness to swing toward what is required to be re-elected rather than toward what is right and decent.  His remarks will encourage other conservative Democrats to mount a challenge to the leadership of one of the most effective Speakers in my lifetime.

The Adler/Runyan Debate

Posted late last night, after the tense matchup. – promoted by Rosi

Tonight was the big showdown.  The first (and probably only) public debate between the diminutive incumbent, Congressman John Adler, and the leviathan ex-footballer Jon Runyan.

more below the fold