Author Archive: the_promised_land

Winning charter school strategy: protect wealthy towns?

Here is a curious turn of events in the ongoing debate over whether local school districts can be forced to spend taxpayer money on charter schools at the expense of public schools and without any local vote.

It concerns the Hua Mei charter school proposal, a Mandarin-immersion school. Earlier this year, the proposal would have included – and thus drawn funds from – Christie hometown Livingston, tony Millburn, and middle-class South Orange, Maplewood, West Orange, and Union. That proposal got rejected by the Christie Administration. And they gave feedback as to why.

Chris Christie is getting boring

I never thought I would say this but – Chris Christie is getting boring.

I’ve had many reactions to Christie’s two year reign of error, but this is a new one. He just… isn’t that interesting anymore.

Let’s look at a few examples:

Another freakin’ town hall meeting. Alright, we get it – you love showing up random places in New Jersey, only telling your friends that you are coming, doing it during the day when most people are working. And yelling about how you want the Democrats to pass some irrelevant bill about giving your cronies more jobs and calling it tax reform. And chewing out people who disagree with you. Whatever.

Trips out of state. I like to go out of state too. But not that often, and at the end of the day this is where I want to live. You kind of get the feeling that Christie would rather be somewhere else. What makes it even more boring? Most of his trips now have to do with uber-boring candidate Mitt Romney. What would make it more interesting? If he would start illegally using the state helicopter again and try to gun it and see if it would make it to Iowa.

Boring catch phrases. Earlier in the year it was “the new normal.” That seemed kind of clever. But now it’s like every week some Karl Rove junior employee is coming up with a new one. Or two. This week it’s “upping our game.” OOOOH… that’s a zinger! And he even repeated a boring catch phrase of President Obama’s, “meet the moment,” and tried to make it his own. Has someone been hanging around Mitt Romney too much?

I guess I’d rather have boring and ineffective than dramatic and getting the Legislature to pass crappy bills. And perhaps that’s part of what’s going on – he’s realized, after spectacularly failing to gain legislative ground in the November elections despite his claim that he would “make history”, that he’s hit a wall here and would rather be somewhere else, like Iowa. Still, you would at least think he wouldn’t be so… well… boring.

Jobs and Taxes #3: Assembly Rs Say State Can’t Afford to Create Jobs

Here’s a quick flashpoint in the jobs and taxes series – a rather incredible statement in an Assembly Republicans press release entitled “Partisan Battle Over Competing Agendas”:

While Democrats are working on job creation bills the state can’t afford nothing is being done to lower your taxes according to Assembly Republicans.

There you have it: the state can’t afford to create jobs.

One might plausibly argue, in contrast, that with our job growth lagging the rest of the country, New Jersey can’t afford NOT to create jobs. After all, more unemployment means lower tax revenues. And more than that – unemployment is hurting so many families in our state.

What are Republicans talking about? Mostly the Back to Work New Jersey proposal which was approved along strict partisan lines yesterday. The program is modeled after a program that found 10,000 people jobs in Georgia (a modest number, but not insignificant). How much would it cost? $2.2 million.

That’s about one half of the amount of money that Governor Christie “found” to keep Republican legislative staffers employed. Hey, I guess that’s job retention.

And it’s about one-half of one percent of the revenue that would be raised by the millionaires tax.

If the millionaires tax were in place, New Jersey could afford to create a lot more jobs with programs such as this. At least the Assembly Republicans are being honest about what’s at stake: they can’t create jobs because they are focused on lowering millionaires’ taxes.

Jobs and Taxes #2: Christie vetoes suburban school aid, then complains about it

This is the second post in our new “jobs and taxes” series, investigating two issues of concern to pretty much everyone in New Jersey and how things have changed in the Christie Administration. The first one was on jobs. This one is on taxes.

For those of us who live in working-class and middle-class suburbs, why are our property taxes going up?

Well, a lot of it is because Chris Christie decided it was more important to cut taxes for millionaires than to fund aid to suburban school districts. He cut $492 million in aid to suburban school districts that had been included in the Democrats’ budget.

Kean calls out Christie on RGGI

At an event in New Brunswick yesterday, former Governors Kean and Florio agreed on three things:

1. Climate change is real.

2. New Jersey should be doing something about it.

3. Gov. Christie is failing the state on the issue.

Kean, in fact, called Christie’s decision to pull out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) a “shame” and said that people should “confront those who don’t believe in the science of [climate change] for the ignorant people that they are.”

Those are strong words from a former Governor that our current Governor sees as a mentor.

Christie, of course, has tried to have it both ways, calling climate change a problem but also ending New Jersey’s main strategy for addressing it.

It is a sad measure of the lack of influence of Gov. Kean, a hugely popular figure in New Jersey politics, on today’s Republican Party that not one of the over 40 Republicans in the Legislature – who are led, in part, by his son – will stand up to Christie the way that Kean did yesterday.

As the event pointed out, it is ultimately our farmers, shore communities, and tourism industry that will pay the price of state and national inaction on climate change.

Kean calls out Christie on RGGI

At an event in New Brunswick yesterday, former Governors Kean and Florio agreed on three things:

1. Climate change is real.

2. New Jersey should be doing something about it.

3. Gov. Christie is failing the state on the issue.

Kean, in fact, called Christie’s decision to pull out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) a “shame” and said that people should “confront those who don’t believe in the science of [climate change] for the ignorant people that they are.”

Those are strong words from a former Governor that our current Governor sees as a mentor.

Christie, of course, has tried to have it both ways, calling climate change a problem but also ending New Jersey’s main strategy for addressing it.

It is a sad measure of the lack of influence of Gov. Kean, a hugely popular figure in New Jersey politics, on today’s Republican Party that not one of the over 40 Republicans in the Legislature – who are led, in part, by his son – will stand up to Christie the way that Kean did yesterday.

As the event pointed out, it is ultimately our farmers, shore communities, and tourism industry that will pay the price of state and national inaction on climate change.

Jobs and Taxes #1: Since Christie Took Office, NJ Sixth Worst State in Job Growth

This is the first installment in a new in-depth series at Blue Jersey: Jobs and Taxes.

We are starting this series to examine two issues critical to everyone in New Jersey, jobs and taxes. We are particularly interested in understanding why, since Chris Christie took office, New Jersey’s job performance has been among the worst in the country and New Jersey’s property taxes have gone up. Obviously there are many broader forces at stake that Governor Christie does not control. But he has repeatedly asked us to judge him by the state’s record on jobs and taxes during his term – and surely many of his decisions HAVE had an impact.

So in the coming weeks and months, we’ll be looking beyond the headlines and to the real world impact on us and our communities. We welcome suggestions for topics – just write your ideas in the comments or e-mail contact@bluejersey.com!

Last week, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics released its latest monthly jobs data by state. As the Asbury Park Press reported, we’re not doing too well:

New Jersey’s growth rate since Christie took office in January 2010 of 0.42% ties for 45th out of 51, ahead of only Georgia (the only state to have lost jobs in that span), Nevada, Missouri, Kansas and Rhode Island.

Why is New Jersey doing so poorly?

It’s not a regional thing. During the same period, New York did a lot better – a 1.54% growth rate. If we had just done as well as New York, 41,500 more New Jersey residents would have jobs today.

More below the fold…

Thanksgiving weekend haiku

It’s haiku time on Thanksgiving weekend. I’m thankful for this little fun tradition – how did this start, anyway?

You know the rules: 5, 7, 5 again. Take the topic suggestion left you, then set the topic for the next one. I’ll start:

Fracking meeting cancelled

Grassroots rattling

Stops NJ fracking for now

Watch out for next step

Next topic: NJ job growth lags rest of country

Vampire Charter Schools, Wealth, and Democracy

Check out this post from Daily Kos. It’s about the very wealthy in California being dissatisfied that their own neighborhood didn’t have its own school district and was mixed in with the great unwashed of the surrounding area, forming a charter school without the approval of the district, and then taking taxpayer money to run their own elite little school district. Like one quarter of US charter schools (!) this charter school doesn’t participate in programs providing free or reduced price school lunches for kids. While those programs have been, um, found to have certain problems in Elizabeth as of late, to not participate at all is like saying “no poor kids allowed.”

Could a vampire gated school happen here?

I’m no expert on education policy. But I know a few things. I pay a lot of property taxes, which isn’t great. But the one saving grace is that we have good schools – though we’ve been hurt by Chris Christie’s aid cuts. I feel better knowing that much of my taxes are going to our township’s schools.

But – wait a second – under NJ charter law, which Christie is promoting – the Christie Administration could choose to come in and divert some of my taxes to a school that only focuses on a particular population, without our school board or governing body having any say on it.

More below the fold…

NJ Assemblyman (R-1%) Has Some Advice for OWS

Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Trenton: a guy who represents some of the wealthiest towns in the United States has some advice for you.

Jon Bramnick of Westfield, who represents towns like Chatham, Millburn, and Warren, has this to say:

“Blocking traffic and clogging sidewalks creates confusion and disruption, but won’t produce a single job or help the economy.

“If protesters want to get their point across, they should knock off the stupid stuff and demonstrate without violence and mayhem.”

He apparently subscribes to the Stephen Colbert theory that linking arms and protesting in public constitutes “violence and mayhem.”

And, to point out the obvious – the fact that a random state assembly member is putting out press responding to OWS – means that they are getting their point across.

Thanks for the validation, Assemblyman!