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 yearâ€™s budget crisis. To ensure the status quo, the committees were given only reporting power. That means theyâ€™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 didnâ€™t get enough.
The ex-mayor of Newark will receive money for all the vacation and sick days he didnâ€™t use. Thatâ€™s not so badâ€”only $36,547. [See how weâ€™ve been trained to think in Jersey? â€œOnlyâ€ $36,547.] By the way, he also has a city pension of over $124K to go along with the $150K salary at Essex County Collegeâ€™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 writeâ€”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 IIIâ€”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 thereâ€™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 McGreeveyâ€™s campaign manager. Heâ€™s also directing Menendezâ€™s campaign. Would anyone in NJ think thatâ€™s thereâ€™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 thereâ€™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 thatâ€™s thereâ€™s at least the perception of cronyism?
The Red Bank tax on businesses to support the Visitorsâ€™ Center didnâ€™t collect enough revenue to hire people to collect the taxâ€”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 namesâ€”Freddy belonged to an exotic dancer until one of her roommates blew the whistle. The Dig boss has sued to keep his jobâ€”I know the Dig isnâ€™t in Jersey but it should have been. Perhaps we can offer our own versionâ€”the Asbury Park Press (July 27) reports that the Oyster Creek plant operators donâ€™t follow their own procedures. Reassuring, isnâ€™t it?
And this isnâ€™t even a weekâ€™s worth of news down in Jersey.