Author Archive: Rosi Efthim

We’re just drug mules for the truth.

School project Christie calls students "drug mules" about
Click to enlarge

Just days after a insanely dopey bad-joke email surfaced which NJEA apologized for, the Governor himself went public with an even more offensive, about NJ school kids.

Christie’s remark calling students “drug mules” unwittingly used by their teachers to smoke out their parents’ voting intentions, is more offensive than the Bergen idiocy, because it comes from the Governor of New Jersey. Whose job includes public communication. Whose words convey the state’s attitudes, and whose words matter. And, because he’s talking about children. Third-grade kids.

So, this is where Christie wants us to see him. Right out in public, out loud and proud, calling children drug runners and their teachers dealers. Wow.

In his rush to blurt his latest bit of hostility to the public school system, Christie also got his facts garbled. Here’s the actual homework sent home with Monroe Twp. 3rd-graders. It doesn’t ask kids to find out if their parents are voting Yes or No. Or whether they like their kids’ teachers too much to want their wages frozen. Or if they think the Governor’s a big meanie. There’s no basis for Christie’s implication that the homework is some nefarious attempt to use New Jersey’s little muffins to spy on their parents for the teachers’ union.

NJEA’s demanding an apology to both students and teachers. Union president Barbara Keshishian: “You’d think that a former federal prosecutor would get his facts straight before accusing someone of wrongdoing.”

This is arrogant even for Christie. Whether he lets his remark stand or not, he’s offered an unfortunate lesson for NJ students about how ugly the civic engagement Monroe was trying to instill in kids can sometimes be. Way to go, Governor.

News Roundup & Open Thread for School Elections Day, April 20, 2010

School elections are today

  • Polls open in the morning some districts and in early afternoon in others. Problems? Call your county Board of Elections.

    Nonpartisan agency: Christie budget equals middle class tax hike

  • Higher taxes for middle class families in New Jersey, but a massive tax cut for those making over $1 million.

    Chris Christie’s employment math

  • Associated Press finds that while Christie proposes laying off 1,300 state workers, he spends nearly $2 million more on annual salaries than Corzine, and of his staff working closely with him, nearly twice as many are making $100,000 or more. Nick has the list of who.
  • Wisniewski: “It’s absolutely outrageous for the governor to be bullying and calling for shared sacrifice when he does not include himself as part of that sacrifice.”
  • Sweeney and Buono: assail Christie’s now obvious budget priorities, and provide some context for the math.

    Sen. Bob Menendez may have federal $$ for NJ schools

  • $628 million may become available through a bill called “Keep Our Educators Working Act” he co-sponsors – but that won’t be available for 6 months.

    Education Commish Q & A:

  • Bret Schundler complains that “wealthy individuals feel like they’re getting mugged”, talks about moves in the direction of statewide teacher contracts, and repeats Christie’s original advice (which Schundler originally backed away from) that voters should vote down school budgets today in districts where they don’t think costs are controlled (read: teacher wage freeze), vote them down.
  • And, is this an APP typo, or did Schundler really say this? “At the department, we get all the letters. You have parents that are tremendously unhappy. You have parents that are unhappy.” (it’s the last A to the last Q)

    Ugly words

  • The Governor of the State of New Jersey calls NJ students “drug mules” to carry info on whether their parents plan to vote today, in service of their teachers. Maybe the Governor should re-think ever saying anything that offensive about children, ever again. Maybe parents should remember that he did.
  • There’s some name-calling on Facebook, too – from teachers. It’s ugly too, but it’s directed at a person who should have a thicker skin.

    Looming challenge to BCDO Chair Michael Kasparian

  • Shakeup to follow.

    Peter Cammarano to plead guilty today

  • Former Hoboken mayor, charged with accepting a bribe, is rumored to be ready to give it up today.
  • Know somebody who wants to switch parties?

    Today’s the deadline.

    Registered voters currently affiliated with a political party can switch parties, but the deadline is today to vote in the June 8th Primary election. Voters affiliated with a party must file a Political Party Affiliation Declaration Form (print one out here).

    A registered voter who is unaffiliated can still declare party affiliation up to and including June 8.

    News Roundup & Open Thread for Monday, April 19, 2010

    Christie and Democrats = collision course

  • Tom Moran on the ideological frictions, when a Bush-following, Reagan-admiring governor meets a legislative majority who intend to protect seniors, low-wage families, mass transit riders …

    Wall Street Journal [hearts] Chris Christie

  • Governor gets his close-up, with Vaseline on the lens and champagne and cookies waiting in the green room.

    Here’s your governor, whose kids attend Catholic schools, on your vote tomorrow on public education

  • Quoting: Vote against budgets that don’t include shared sacrifice. (i.e. teachers union wage freeze and responsible budget)
  • Debate intensifies over Christie’s kids’ private education.

    Universities who train teachers are distressed as Christie changes NJ’s attitude toward educators

  • And they don’t seem to be buying Christie’s distinction that he’s targeting NJEA, not teachers.

    School board elections, once the dullest in the ballot schedule

  • Suddenly hotter and more political in some places. Take Washington Twp.

    Plenty of people don’t want it

  • But gas drilling looks good to some people.

    Health care reform

  • Poll shows the dust hasn’t settled yet.

    As public transit fares go up

  • Ridership is expected to decline as more people climb back into their cars.

    Jersey City hasn’t settled police and fire contracts

  • Contract negotiations created an agreement the state says is too expensive, and Council voted them down. But the atmosphere the governor is creating is a player. Firefighters union president: “I wish I could talk to him but I can’t because he has a bully pulpit that just wants to knock teachers, police and firefighters. If you’re a public employee you’re a thief. You steal.”

    Did your invitation get lost in the mail?

  • Charlie Stile on Top 10 Reasons not to get invited to Corzine’s wedding.
  • Weekendy News Roundup ‘n Open Thread for April 17-18

    Come on, it’s the weekend. Dip into Hopeful’s lovely blog roundup and kick back and have a beer!

    Christie’s nominee for Dept. of Children and Families withdraws

  • Janet Rosenzweig was always an unusual choice for Christie.

    NJ’s working poor

  • Impact to Emergency Rooms of cuts and policy changes to NJ Family Care.

    Tea Party efforts to recall Bob Menendez

  • A million stumbling blocks. Sorry, Tea Partyers.

    Is your hometown lobbying? Mmmm?

  • NJ towns are spending $2.1 million smackeroos lobbying the State of New Jersey.

    Tuesday may be the most important school election you ever vote in

  • And you are voting, right?

    The famous center of a small town going to seed

  • The Union Hotel is named Hunterdon’s most endangered building, where jurors, journalists & well-heeled society friends of Charles Lindbergh dined and slept during the Trial of the Century. What’s being lost.

    Take the freeze

  • Poll finds 65% of NJ voters want teachers to accept wage freezes. But other polling shows New Jerseyans backing the teachers’ fight against Christie’s education approach.

    Memo to Chris Christie: Compromise

  • Star Ledger calls on the governor to stop acting as though voters consigned the future to him alone.

    Trouble in the Tea Party & other stuff

  • The Auditor peeks in.

    Bergen County

  • Hey, did you get the wrong sample ballot?

    Scott Garrett:

  • Kill the healthcare mandate. (Capital Games)


  • Republicans and Democrats together remembered Bob Franks at a Newark church. To close the service, a story was told of a day his situation worsened as he fought cancer at Sloan-Kettering. Corzine, out of state, flew in to join a pastor to encourage him to continue treatment.  “Jon says to him ‘pal, you’re a fighter. No one knows it better than me.'” Then the three men held hands to say the Lord’s Prayer together.
  • Remembering how former Asm Joseph Azzolina brought Battleship New Jersey home. Bob Ingle also has his own memories of him.  
  • In New Jersey, experienced teachers are expendable

    All over New Jersey – you can overhear them in coffeehouses, on line at the grocery store, everywhere – there are teachers talking about retiring early, because there is so little support for what they do professionally from a new administration that the conditions they signed up to work under are changing right out from under them.

    NJEA says the union is expecting up to 30,000 veteran teachers may retire before the next school year.

    What’s extraordinary to me is that Gov. Christie’s new Education Commissioner Bret Schundler thinks that’s just dandy. He welcomes those retirements, because, as he told The Record: new hires cost 83% less than veteran teachers.

    Well, that’s true. But wrapped inside that concern for the bottom line is a

    In 1980, Ronald Reagan ran for President promising to abolish the Department of Education.

    Christie’s choice for President in 2008, John McCain, made his bones on such promises, echoing GOP talking points during the 1990s Republican Revolution to “do away” with it.

    The New Jersey Education Association said Gov. Chris Christie’s plan to alter the benefit and pension system could mean an exodus of teachers, with as many as 30,000 veteran teachers retiring before the next school year, a report on said.

    The union said the exodus could severely damage schools throughout the state, according to the report. But Education Commissioner Bret Schundler welcomed the retirements, telling the newspaper new hires cost 83 percent less than veteran teachers.

    Rush Holt on the destruction of detainee videorecordings by CIA

    Rush Holt continues to be a sane voice for best practices in intelligence-gathering. Today, he spoke out about declassified documents showing that former CIA Director Porter Goss ordered the destruction of interrogation tapes made of of terrorism suspects Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri.

    For years, I’ve been trying to establish in law that detainee interrogations should be recorded and the records preserved. The benefits of recording interrogations are evident, as they help maximize intelligence collection, help prevent detainee abuses such as those that happened in Abu Ghraib, and protect interrogators as well. Had my proposed detainee interrogation videorecording provision in the pending FY 2010 intelligence bill been law at the time, there would have been no question that the destruction of the tapes would have been illegal. I urge President Obama and my Senate colleagues to recognize the necessity of passing this provision so these kinds of episodes never happen again.

    What Holt’s referring to there are his efforts, in the Intelligence Authorization Bill, to require videotaping of interactions between CIA officers and detainees arrested in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Holt believes better intelligence would result – and we’d do better at avoiding abuses like those at Abu Ghraib.  Holt’s provision in the bill would require the CIA Director to develop the guidelines to prevent human rights abuses under both U.S. and international law. It’s a near match to a provision Holt included in the National Defense Authorization Act, now the legal basis for Defense Dept. videos of interrogations.

    Holt chairs the House Select Intelligence Oversight Panel, created out of recommendations of the 9/11 Commission in its finding that “Congressional oversight for intelligence-and counterterrorism-is now dysfunctional”, and urging Congress to fix that. (Member Rep. David Obey has more). Members are drawn from both the House intelligence and appropriations committees (Holt comes from the intelligence side).  In its first 3 years, they’ve scrutinized more than $75 billion in intelligence funding yearly, conducted hearings, on-site reviews and briefings. Holt often speaks out, urging modification and best practices in our intelligence gathering. Somebody in power needs to.

    News Roundup & Open Thread for Friday, April 16, 2010

    Cheer up. Okay, so you didn’t win the $211.7 million dollar Powerball (a Morristown school board member did). At least you don’t have a humongous volcanic ash cloud hovering over you (unless you’re trying to fly to Europe from Newark Airport). This is an Open Thread.

    This is how it’s done. Mmm hmm. Oh, yeah

  • Hawthorne

    Chris Christie is all over your taxes

  • But fails to disclose his own on Tax Day, breaking a long-standing political tradition and his own promise of transparency.

    Schundler says Christie budget raises taxes

  • In a Comment that perfectly illustrates the real costs of chipping at the schools, read the post on Schundler’s statement, then scroll to the comment by Got Kids.
  • Star Ledger has harsh words for both NJEA, and the Governor.

    Doubting Christie’s “shared sacrifice”

  • Democratic lawmakers and advocates for the poor and disabled have some sharp questions for Christie’s Human Services Commissioner Jennifer Velez.

    Your local library and the new state budget

  • In jeopardy: free internet access, interlibrary loan, database access to thousands of newspapers, magazines & periodicals, reduced hours, a program allowing libraries to purchase together for greater economies of scale and savings. And $4.5 million in federal matching funds …

    Programs helping limited income seniors purchase prescriptions

  • Star Ledger says Christie cuts to Senior Gold and PAAD are too deep.

    Public workers unions – May 22

  • The civil servants who work for New Jersey, teach your kids, plus community organizations and a lot of parents of those kids are planning what organizers say will be the largest rally at the statehouse in its history.

    Kid draws well, but daddy no understand punctuation

    The Tea Party did their thing yesterday

  • In Trenton and a handful of other places around the state. There was shouting. I believe Barack Obama’s name was mentioned.

    Right: Cute little girl at Morristown rally with horned Obama stands in front of her dad’s mispunctuated sign. Photo credit: Matt Rainey/Star Ledger

    Yeah, I’ll bet he does

  • Bergen teachers’ union leader wants to move past bad joke about Gov. Chris Christie.

    Asm Scott Rumana got picketed

  • More than 200 teachers’ union supporters picketed the GOP assemblyman’s $250-per-person fundraiser in Oakland. His special guest? LG Kim Guadagno.

    Charlie Stile:

  • Democrats can give in to Christie and still win.

    NJ will sell up to $2B in bonds

  • School construction.

    Camden’s tent city

  • Still home for the homeless, for now.


  • Newark: Nearly $2 million cash-on-hand for Cory Booker and his council candidates.
  • Trenton: Manny Segura leads the pack in money raised.

    Not so much with the stupid plastic water bottles, please

  • Especially at New Jersey’s beaches.
  • Tax Day News Roundup & Open Thread for April 15, 2010

    Happy Tax Day. The Tea Party folks will be rallying today in Washington D.C., Trenton, Flemington, Morristown & Hackensack. But a woman from Burlington County just won a cool million in the Pillsbury Bake-Off with an easy ice cream/sugar cookie kinda thing (recipe), it’s going to be sunny and warm all day and a NJ college undergraduate chipped a little of the GOP’s Mike Huckabee simply by doing his job. So, there’s that. This is an Open Thread.

    Mike Huckabee, GOP heavyweight, bested by a college student

  • The Southern Baptist preacher, former Arkansas governor and 2008 presidential candidate gave an interview last week to the TCNJ campus newsmagazine The Perspective. Let’s see, he compared same-sex marriage to incest. And drug use. There was a eyebrow-raising remark about puppies, and he made disapproving noises about RNC Chair Michael Steele. That’s bad enough. Then he made some national news… but not the good kind.

    NJ-12: Scott Sipprelle raises $588K

  • $420K of his own money has gone into the GOP candidate’s efforts to unseat Rep. Rush Holt.

    NJ-7: Leonard Lance has about $474K cash-on-hand

  • Lance raised about $189K this past quarter.

    Strip-searches in NJ jails

  • Constitutionality of strip searches in jails will be considered today by a federal appeals panel in a lawsuit by a NJ resident that has drawn support from 5 former AGs.

    Assembly Budget Committee

  • Acting DCA Commish Lori Grifa came before the Assembly Budget Committee to talk taxes. She says towns can keep within new tight spending caps without significantly raising property taxes. Chair Lou Greenwald says he doesn’t see how.

    Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee

  • Democrats lash out at Christie’s spending plan for NJ’s schools, and how the governor rolled out those plans to the schools.

    Up next

  • Senate Budget Committee today is set to review Gov. Christie’s spending plans for the Human Services & Labor departments.

    NJ’s legislators look at their part-timers

  • With an eye toward getting them off the pension rolls.

    Gov. Christie talks to Montclair HS students

  • Afterwards, Steve Adubato – a local – argues Christie’s case for him.

    101.5 (via Bob Ingle)

  • Chris Christie on the radio, Ingle taking notes. In a list of items the governor said, the following: – No talking to NJEA till they call for the Bergen prayer writer’s resignation. And contrary to reports, Schundler doesn’t disagree on Christie’s call for voters to defeat school budgets where teachers won’t freeze their salaries. Wha?

    9 college presidents

  • Before the cuts, NJ ranked 47th among states in higher education appropriations. Words like “decrepitude” and “disinvesting” were used as the 9 spoke before the Assembly Budget Committee.

    NJ Transit approves the 25% fare hike

  • But saves the 14 bus routes slated to be scrapped, and keeps the fare increase to 10% for local bus & light rail. Off-peak discounts are history.

    Procession Route for fallen soldier

  • Ramsey residents will honor their own today, when the body of U.S. Army Ranger Michael D. Jankiewicz, killed in Afghanistan Friday, is returned home.