Tag Archive: ARC Tunnel

Imagine

One of the iconic songs of my generation is John Lennon’s “Imagine.” The lyrics describe a world of people living in harmony, income equality, and peace. Of course, since the time that Adam and Eve were exiled from the Garden of Eden, the world has never been that way. But that doesn’t mean we can’t strive for it, even incrementally.

So let’s go on an imaginary ride through recent New Jersey history. Imagine if Chris Christie’s priorities were to be the governor of all residents of the Garden State instead of being singularly focused on the White House and the wealthy donors who would help get him there. Imagine if Chris Christie was a moderate Republican, and how much better we would be if he were.

Along this journey, we’ll meet a few Republicans who championed initiatives that benefited all Americans, and who would probably be shunned by the right-wing zealots who have taken over their party.

Christie: Political Decisions vs. Sound Policy

It is no surprise that Gov. Christie’s public approval rating is crashing. The latest poll has him “at  41 percent positive approval rating and 47 percent saying they disapprove of the governor’s work.” After five years New Jerseyans are increasingly realizing that his political decisions are no match for sound policy.

Christie’s over-arching political decision in the past many months has been to spend his time out of state to benefit his presidential yearnings. It is not clear whether by spending more time at home on pressing New Jersey issues he would have generated sound policies for us. As illustrated below the fold he has a lousy track record.

Christie’s War on the Environment Continues

Ever since he took office, Chris Christie has been an enemy of clean air and clean water. One of his first actions as Governor was to cancel the ARC Tunnel project. Not only was that project a job creator, but when completed, it also would have made train travel into New York City more attractive, taking cars off the road and reducing pollution-spewing traffic jams.

Then, in a paean to his Koch Brothers benefactors, he pulled out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, another program that would have resulted in cleaner air and would have helped to slow down anthropogenic climate change.

Now, his administration has blocked the direct sale of electric automobiles to drivers. Tesla, a premier innovator in practical electric vehicles, has a direct-to-customer business model which bypasses auto dealerships, which I predict will eventually go the way of rotary telephones and 8-track music players.

Will Christie Turn Away More Millions in Federal Funds?

promoted by Rosi

There was a time when the measure of a top-level politician (Representative, Senator, Governor) was being able to bring federal dollars back to the state. New Jersey is a donor state, sending a dollar in federal income taxes to Washington DC and getting back somewhere around 60 cents.

Somehow that went away, at least for Republicans, and turning down federal bucks shows how “conservative” you are.  Governor Christie did it by mistake for Race for the Top, on purpose for the ARC tunnel, almost turned down Medicaid expansion, and now this

The Christie administration faces a deadline today to decide how it will spend $7.6 million in federal funds intended to help launch its own health exchange under the Affordable Care Act.

Christie let the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services create and run the online portal, healthcare.gov, which people use to shop for and select an insurance policy. Since then, the money has sat while Obama and Christie officials have negotiated how it should be spent. If they can’t come to an agreement, federal officials have said the state will have to return it.

Not only is the Christie administration regularly turning down funding from the feds, but also their transparency commitment has gone by the wayside:

Calls and emails to the state Department of Banking and Insurance this week were not returned.

Really?  The staff of five or six public relations hacks paid with public money aren’t returning media phone calls now?  Wow.

Something is Rotten in Drumthwacket

Conventional wisdom has it that the closing of lanes on the George Washington Bridge was done by Christie loyalists, most likely with a wink and a nod from the Governor, in order to punish Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich (or to punish Senator Loretta Weinberg, if you buy into the Rachel Maddow theory.)

The problem is that this hypothesis makes no sense. If Christie wanted to punish Sokolich and the people of Fort Lee for supporting Barbara Buono, there would be subtler and more effective ways of doing so.

Does anyone really believe that a tie-up at the bridge and subsequent jams in the streets of Fort Lee would be immediately pinned on the mayor? Were there any editorials in the local papers on the day of the traffic jam excoriating Sokolich? Are Christie’s minions so incompetent that they think a traffic jam in North Jersey would point back to Sokolich or Weinberg?

If Christie wanted to punish Sokolich, there are other, more direct ways to do so. His biggest club would be the fiscal one. Reducing state aid to a municipality or school district that he doesn’t like is Christie’s modus operandi. The state’s eminent domain power could be invoked to place undesirable things like high-voltage power lines or sewage treatment plants in the town. Another way that Christie could punish Fort Lee residents is to perpetuate traffic jams by cancelling the ARC tunnel. (Oh wait! He already did that.)

There’s got to be more to this story than a short-lived traffic jam. Ideally, an independent special prosecutor should be brought in. Speaker-elect Prieto has indicated that he is amenable to extending the subpoena power of Assemblyman Wisniewski’s Transportation Committee. The Governor and his direct reports (Counsel Charles McKenna and Chief of Staff Kevin O’Dowd) must testify under oath about what they knew and when they knew it. Same for Christie’s mouthpiece, Michael Drewniak. Port Authority Chairman David Samson must testify under oath as to what orders he received from Trenton and what actions he took unilaterally. Until that happens, the stench of lies and obfuscation will permeate Christie’s second term.

For now, the idea that Christie is taking political retribution on a mayor by creating a traffic jam makes as little sense as the “traffic study” explanation that was perpetrated by Mr. Wildstein.

Buono Posts Economic Plan for New Jersey

I’m pulling this up to the top of the front page for anyone who might have missed it early this AM. – Rosi

Today, Barbara Buono released her plan for jobs and economic security for the State of New Jersey. The plan is based on needs of the people and businesses in New Jersey, not the cronyism that we see in the Christie administration like big, expensive contracts to politically-connected companies like AshBritt. The plan acknowledges that in order to attract businesses, we need an educated workforce and investments in education at all levels, and must include vocational education and county colleges. The plan also acknowledges that in order to make the state business-friendly, we need to invest in our infrastructure – an area where Governor Christie has been negligent. And it stresses that clean energy is a job-creator, not a burden to business in the state.

Click here to access the complete report.

Christie’s Latest YouTube Video Relegates Thousands of New Jerseyans to Second Class Citizenship

Governor Christie’s latest publicly-funded campaign video is entitled “The Greatest Social Program in the World is A Job.” This video is mind-boggling on so many levels.

As he is wont to do, Christie starts out the video with a lie. Well, not technically a lie, but an extremely misleading twist of words that conveys false information.

He says that under his administration, state taxes have not gone up. What he fails to mention is that due to his policies, property taxes have exploded. While these are strictly not state taxes, the rise in property taxes is inexorably linked to Christie’s policies, and under his rule, fees and tolls have gone up also. There’s no question that the tax burden on the middle class is directly attributable to Christie’s right-wing agenda.

But that’s not the worst aspect of this campaign commercial. By saying that “the greatest social program in the world is a job”, Christie relegates thousands of New Jerseyans who receive some sort of assistance to second class citizenship.

Take, for example, my friends Mike and Kathy Pollock. Mike wrote about his wife’s illness, his battles with the medical-industrial complex, and how Christie’s policies have made their already difficult lives even more difficult. Mike is the embodiment of the American Dream – the owner of a mom and pop hardware store in rural New Jersey. But that dream took a terrible turn when Kathy developed a debilitating illness and was written off by her doctors. Through Mike’s tenacious efforts, Kathy is alive today. Christie has severely cut the social programs that help Kathy, and those programs are denigrated by Christie by this video.

And if jobs are the greatest social program as Christie espouses, then why has he cut jobs across the state throughout his reign? He’s cut teachers’ jobs. He’s cut tens of thousands of construction jobs with his cancellation of a much-needed tunnel which would facilitate New Jerseyans to get to well-paying jobs. He’s cut thousands of green jobs with his Koch Brothers anti-environmental policy.

If jobs are his priority, why did he veto the minimum wage? Does he endorse the fact that families on the minimum wage are still living in poverty? Again, his “Jobs are the Greatest Social Program” mantra is insulting and mean-spirited.

There are thousands of New Jersey citizens like Mike and Kathy. Working hard to survive, but either fully or partially reliant on a social safety net. The vast majority would like to work, but for one reason or another, either can’t or still need assistance. None of them are second-class citizens.

Christie’s mentor, George W Bush, proved conclusively that “trickle-down” economics do not create jobs – quite the opposite. But Christie never learned that lesson and that’s hurting all of us. Yet he continues to espouse these lies on the public dime. There hasn’t been a more insidious institutional propaganda machine since the KGB.