Author Archive: downinjersey

Freddy, the severed hand, a Jersey kind of guy

To solve the budget deficit the lawmakers have decided to convene four committees, thus giving themselves at least 4X the chance that nothing will change before next year’s budget crisis. To ensure the status quo, the committees were given only reporting power. That means they’ll tell the lawmakers what the citizens of NJ have been telling them for the last months: reduce corruption, cronyism, and cynicism among the elected; make pension plans response to real economic indicators, and—. But why repeat all the things that have been already repeated in dozens of newspaper, chat rooms, blogs, and barbershops. The refrain: Throw the bums out.

The fight over the pork barrel during budget negotiations cost the state millions of dollars in lost revenue. Somewhere I remember Panter, who I always thought was one of the good guys, reported as basically stating so what. The Republicans whined because they didn’t get enough.

The ex-mayor of Newark will receive money for all the vacation and sick days he didn’t use. That’s not so bad—only $36,547. [See how we’ve been trained to think in Jersey? “Only” $36,547.] By the way, he also has a city pension of over $124K to go along with the $150K salary at Essex County College’s Urban Issues Institute. Two of the first issues the Institute should study are paying for vacation days and a community college paying a politico $150K, but then again, I guess learning how to politic is more important than learning how to write—community college lecturers in writing classes most often make under $30K.

In keeping with the tradition that old politicians never die, the Keansburg City Council re-hired John Bennett III—even though he did not submit the lowest bid. In keeping with another time-honored tradition, Bennett is also the attorney for the Keansburg School District.

Then there’s Jeanne Fox [Democrat], the president of the BPU. When asked if she received the job because of political connections, she said no–probably with an attitude. Funny answer. Her husband was Jim McGreevey’s campaign manager. He’s also directing Menendez’s campaign. Would anyone in NJ think that’s there’s at least the perception of cronyism? Another by the way, an audit reports that the BPU under her leadership has mismanaged over $80 million. When asked to explain, she denies there’s been a problem and blamed it on the auditor. When asked whether she knew any of the people who received grants from the BPU, she said no [see above]. Would anyone in NJ think that’s there’s at least the perception of cronyism?

The Red Bank tax on businesses to support the Visitors’ Center didn’t collect enough revenue to hire people to collect the tax—so the Red Bank City Council proposed raising the tax to $150, evidently enough to justify the hires. Fortunately, at least for the time being, reasonable minds prevailed, and the tax revenue was removed from the budget.

Howell, with a population of around 50,000 has a township manager and a deputy township manager. Together they make $173,000, not counting benefits.

And on the light side, severed hands, one at least, in Jersey have names—Freddy belonged to an exotic dancer until one of her roommates blew the whistle. The Dig boss has sued to keep his job—I know the Dig isn’t in Jersey but it should have been. Perhaps we can offer our own version—the Asbury Park Press (July 27) reports that the Oyster Creek plant operators don’t follow their own procedures. Reassuring, isn’t it?

And this isn’t even a week’s worth of news down in Jersey.

state money for casino employees

The APP reported today (July 13) that some Shore legislators are proposing that the state [read NJ taxpayers] compensate casino employees for lost wages.

Reuters also reported today that the casinos took in 5.9% more this June than in June 2005.

Where were these legislators last week. Didn’t they learn anything?

Just say no!

Then throw the bums out.

Road Raging through the news

My blog’s broken but I feel the need:
For the last few days we’ve been getting a media barrage about road rage in New Jersey. The not so surprising news is that it’s worse than the experts thought and  it’s getting even worse. This is no news to anyone who drives the Parkway or the Turnpike or Routes 1-700. Loosely paraphrased, “People are mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore,” but instead of shouting it out their apartment windows, they’re shouting it out their car windows accompanied by an upright middle digit and perhaps a little tailgating.

A lot of people are willing to tell us why this is happening. The authors of will tell you that

Road rage can be caused by a variety of events, circumstances, and environments. The three main categories use to classify what causes road rage are the environment, instructive responses, and territorial defensiveness.

This explanation pretty much says that it really is all about people driving and our responses to them.

I think that Dr. Leon James comes much closer in his testimony to Congress in 1997 (
Many people in America experience an increased feeling of a general loss of control in their lives. Cars offer us the opportunity to get it back.

Cars are an extension of the self, they are ego-laden objects that can be used both positively and negatively to get our own way on the road. The automobile offers us a means to exercise direct control over our environment. When we enter the car we use it as an outlet for regaining a sense of control. Automobiles are powerful, and obedient. They respond instantly and gratifyingly to our command, giving us a sense of well being that comes with achieving control over one’s environment.

And there are plenty of things here in Jersey that we seem unable to control, things that seem to just happen to us without our permission. Just from today’s paper:
•Eminent domain—people losing houses and farms that have been in the family for generations
•School levies increased despite the community’s negative vote—the votes don’t really count.
•Middletown Superintendent of Schools taken to court in an action initiated in private meetings.
•Layoffs pending at Lucent.
•The new state budget includes pork projects for Democrat strongholds; Republicans are that they didn’t get any.
•Corzine reappoints Davy and Hayman even though Davy’s husband was involved in the early release of mobster Angelo Prisco and solicited consulting business while still in state office even though his former office would be the one granting the business. Hayman is still mum about the paperwork snafu that allowed one of his employees to be granted a full pension even though she had been fired.
•The AG was mercifully missing in any traffic-related stories. Monthly Medicare premiums will rise 11.2%. NJ taxes will rise almost 16%. State budget is 10% higher than last year.
•Financial woes blamed in father’s murder of sons

If all this is just too depressing, which it obviously is, we have two choices: we can get into our cars and head for Jersey’s highways and byways taking along with us a card we’ve purchased from, for example GET OUT OF THE FAST LANE, MORON!, or we can turn on whose name shows that someone else has figured out the connection between road rage and our daily lives. The podcast’s tagline, by the way, is

Things that amuse, confuse, or upset us. A 15 minute view of the world through a cracked windshield.

If you’d like to participate by telling your own response to life’s craziness, try where you can share your own experiences.

Red wine works for me.