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Kyrillos the new Norcross: Part 2

Seems like only yesterday Kyrillos had the spotlight put on him about wanting to put his hands in the Fort Monmouth Reuse pot.

Yesterday, Kyrillos met with local leaders to discuss the bill he was planning on introducing without discussing it first with local leaders.

Awefully courteous of him, yet he had some choice words about the meeting and its results:

“It’s a good proposal,” Kyrillos said, adding that he was prepared for changes to the bill as it moves through the Senate.

“No bill comes out (of the legislative process) the same way it was drafted,” he said. “This (the bill) has started a healthy dialogue. I’m hopeful that there will be a comfortable consensus on a way to reinvent (Fort Monmouth).”

Healthy, dialogue? I am no expert on the Fort Monmouth Reuse commitee but it seems that the only dialogue out there was the monologue by Arthur Kamin of the Asbury Park Press. Matter of fact, back in December 17th, a headline in the APP read “Fort panel member: Keep us in loop”.

What there has been is behind the scenes jockeying, power grabbing, and sneaky legislation writting, none of which include the local officials currently doing a superb job of handling the Fort’s reuse. However, none of these activities indicate dialogue let alone one that can be described as “healthy.”

True Blue

While we’re thought of as a blue state, witness our presidential, senatorial, and governor votes, it’s time we become a “true blue” state.

I’m hanging on by the slimmest of threads, having lived here only 20 yrs ( ~ 1/3rd) of my life.  Taxes are likely to get me to retire elsewhere.

  I’d like to see the property tax called the “local tax”, since we have federal and state taxes, why don’t we have LOCAL (as opposed to Property) taxes.  _then_ we can talk about ways to collect them.  I’d be for a leveled surtax on income by zipcode, say.  The total collected by zip would equal the property tax collected over a 5-yr  (or similar)
average.  Each person’s contribution would be based on their proportion of federal & state income tax paid.

Let’s start thinking of things which benefit the citizens, us individuals, largely middle class, and NOT at the expense of the otherwise unrepresented. 

Kill the death penalty

Since Dick Codey is so keen to line up a new slogan for New Jersey, how about this: New Jersey, Where Human Life is Valued. Kind of has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

A proposal to suspend use of the death penalty is now being considered by the state Assembly, having already been passed by the state Senate. The measure would mandate a study of the cost, fairness and humanity of applying the death penalty.

As is well known, New Jersey reinstated the death penalty in 1982 but has yet to execute anyone because of the lengthy review and appeal process. As you can tell from some of remarks made by death penalty supporters (“You don’t have a death penalty in New Jersey. Judges are holding everything up in your state.”) it appears that for many people, this means New Jersey should streamline its procedures to allow for the kind of assembly-line death operations found in other states — such as the one formerly governed by our current president.

Give Me Your Money … Or Shave Your Head!

Actually, I don’t want you to give me your money but to give it to childhood cancer research via the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.  You can donate here if that’s enough information, but there’s more.

The St Baldrick’s event started as a drunken St. Patrick’s Day dare between some friends five years ago, and has now raised over $30 million for the research.  There are events all over the country and even in Bermuda and Canada.

Last year I shaved my head (pic in Extended Entry) on St. Patrick’s Day with our firefighter’s union to raise money for childhood cancer research and raised $2000 on my own, and $6,000 through the team I “captain” called The Council.  We call it that because I got four members of the North Plainfield Borough Council (I’m president) to shave their heads.  Pretty cool.

This year I jacked our goals.  I want to raise $3000, and am trying to raise $10,000 through The Council.  The money goes to hospitals all over the country, including quite a few in New Jersey including Robert Wood Johnson, St. Peters, and Hackensack University. 

If you live near North Plainfield, NJ you can also  join in as a fundraiser by agreeing to get your head shaved.  Just go to The Council page and sign up.  You have to select North Plainfield and The Council in dropdowns that are not easy to use, but, hey, it’s for a good cause.

If you don’t want to get shaved, you could blog about this and encourage people to donate at St. Baldricks or even donate yourself.  The more people we have getting shaved or donating money the more children we can help.

Also, if you are a professional barber they need volunteers to do the shaving.

Do House primaries kill challengers in NJ?

First diary here, and I admit this is not a topic I’m an expert on. But having two Democrats running for the primary to challenge Ferguson in the NJ-07 seems like a huge mistake strategically. Now I’m not against the democratic process and anyone who can get the signatures or whatever should be allowed to throw their hat into the ring. But the fact that we won’t have a name to officially run until June gives Ferguson a huge advantage. It kills fundraising and confuses what little media converage you can get for such races.

Beating Ferguson will be hard enough with the insane media prices and gerrymandering that keep the 7th incumbent friendly, but if ever there was a cycle this has to be it. Corruption all around, Ferguson deep in the pockets of Delay. It just kills me that this isn’t more of a top tier race.

Does anyone have stats on this for how much, if at all, going through a primary in a NJ house race hurts the challenger? I’d be interested to see them. Again I’m not for muscleing anyone out of the race, but an appeal to party unity would be nice given all the facts.

Uncle Floyd’s Amtrak Show

Floyd Hall is one of the lucky 17 recess appointments the President Bush made yesterday. (via Kos)

Uncle Floyd’s $300,000 in soft money contributions to the Bush Campaign have landed him a 5 year job on the AMTRAK reform board.  Many will remember Uncle Floyd from his days as CEO of the KMart that went Bankrupt.

In fairness, Uncle Floyd is Montclair State’s favorite uncle, and he generally has done lots of good for the community. The appointment speaks more about the Bush Presidency than it does about Uncle Floyd.

However, when Uncle Floyd is placed together with co-appointees such as Halliburton head Robert Crandell, and railroad privatizer Louis Thompson, Amtrak’s future is bleak at best.

Having such distinguished Republican free marketeers at the helm can mean REAL trouble for the already embattled Amtrak.

Come to think of it, our new Senator Menendez used to be quite the Defender of Amtrak, heck he even sat on the committee in charge of it. I wonder what he thinks of Bush’s sneaky appointment of this fellow New Jerseyan?

Amtrak is a crucial part of the Northeast’s economy. It needs real leadership to see it through the troubled times ahead, not Katrina-esque cronyism running it into the ground.

News Roundup

  • Education Week gave New Jersey’s school system a B-, barely above the national average of C+. Minority and low-income students are closing the “performance gap” between white, more affluent students.
  • Plans for Corzine’s inaugural seems to be more low-key than in previous years.
  • “The state’s independent ratepayer advocate told regulators Wednesday she is against the proposed acquisition of Public Service Energy Group by Chicago’s Exelon Corp. because the would-be benefits to New Jersey’s 3.8 million rate electric and gas customers are too vague.”
  • The Assembly is giving up on legislation that passed the Senate that would provide up to $500 million funding for stem cell research. Some members are complaining that they need “more time to consider it” and don’t want to rush it through. Ironically, the legislators who have been in a coma the past several years are the ones who would stand to benefit the most from this research.
  • The Assembly Judiciary Committee will be considering legislation on Thursday to impose a moratorium on the death penalty.
  • The Homeland Security Department has said it will allocate millions of dollars in funds to states based on risk. Though the funding for this year is less than last year, Codey is “‘cautiously optimistic’ the new policy of allocating grants based on risk will mean more aid for New Jersey.”
  • Corzine’s transition advisors are proposing that DYFS be given Cabinet-level status, a move both McGreevey and Codey resisted.
  • Don’t forget to vote early and often.
  • Outrage!

    New Jersey State Judges asked for a 17% raise today.

    New Jersey’s top judge seeks a 17 percent pay increase for the state’s judges, noting they haven’t had a raise since 2000 and lag behind their counterparts in most states.

    The $141,000 salary of trial judges ranks fifth in pay for judges among the states but 34th when adjusted for cost of living, according to a report prepared for Chief Justice Deborah T. Poritz.

    The request prompted Gov.-elect Jon S. Corzine’s transition team to remind legislators that restraint was needed in budget decisions.

    I wonder if there will be calls of outrage and disgust that these judges want too damned much.

    Much ado about swearing

      You will swear by your true Kingship… to grant me what I wish, then you shall have it.

        Merlin
        Excalibur

    In yesterday’s Times had an article about Paula Sollami-Covello with an accompanying photo of Jon Corzine administering the oath. I thought this was a little odd, but figured that, as a U.S. Senator, he could do it. Turns out he can’t, and didn’t. It was just a photo op, with the real oath administered in private. In today’s Times, Krystal Knapp reports the swearing-in was just for show.

    What’s more, Sallami-Covello wasn’t the only one sworn in like this. Edison mayor Jun Choi was also “sworn in” by Corzine, receiving the real oath later. To make matters worse, Choi’s spokesperson David Donnelley didn’t even know the Corzine-administered oath was unofficial.

    Why couldn’t Corzine have just stood by them when they received the oath? Was it really necessary for him to administer the oath? Now we have a story making them look like ill-informed grandstanders.

    Symptoms of a Dying Health Care System

    The Jersey Journal reports the closing of St. Mary’s Hospital in Hoboken.  This is now becoming a trend where area hospitals are closing because of the expense of operations and the inability to recoup their costs.

    St. Mary’s is the only hospital in Hoboken.  The next closest hospital – admittedly not too far (unless you’re the one in the back of the ambulance at rush hour) – is Jersey City Medical Center.  JCMC is fast on its way to becoming the only full-service hospital in Jersey City, since Bon Secours plans to sell St. Francis and the Greenville Hospital was shut down a few years ago.