Tag Archive: State Workers

Fixing NJ’s pension crisis: Do. Or do not. There is no try.

Cross-posted from Marie Corfield. Promoted by Rosi.

Last week dozens of NJEA members rallied outside the state house to protest the State Supreme Court’s ruling and Gov. Christie’s refusal to fully fund the pension system. The rally/lobby day (there are two more next week) was part of NJEA’s efforts to push the legislature to do something – anything – to stave off impending disaster when the fund runs dry in 12 years.

When the NJEA members drowned out the voice of Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, who was addressing a small group of Americans for Prosperity counter protesters, he responded with this:

“Do you want to yell at me or do you want to have a discussion? Because quite frankly, if we’re just going to yell, we’re not going to get anywhere.”



“This is the type of ignorance and screaming that gets us nowhere. … You have to make a real plan that’s sustainable so, long term, we can take care of our dedicated workers, make sure that the pensions are there, make sure that in two or three or five years from now, it doesn’t fall apart. Screaming, ‘just make the payment,’ doesn’t get me $2 billion.”
(emphasis mine)

Look, I get it, no one wants an angry mob screaming and yelling at them, and when people are pushed, they kinda tend to push back. I’m not attacking Asm O’Scanlon. I have never met him, nor do I have extensive knowledge of his voting record and/or history with public employee unions. From his Twitter posts (more below), he seems like a reasonable guy who is willing to communicate with constituents in an open forum. His altercation with NJEA members is but a snapshot in the larger pension crisis picture.  

Chris Christie & the Middle Class: Lies up in New Hampshire, truth on the street in Jersey

Right now, Gov. Christie, the street in front of the NJ Statehouse is filled with the middle class you’re up in New Hampshire lying to. But of course, like a lot of important stuff, you’re missing it.

Today, Christie gives a “major” economic speech in his do-or-die state, where he’s in 11th place. Christie, the total flop on economic issues.

Organized labor’s role in creating the middle class that politicians of both parties like to talk about is very well known. But beyond the rest of us thanking Labor for our weekends (thank you, Labor), the obligations here in this state go beyond that. Our state workers have paid into their pensions as agreed; New Jersey has not reliably done so. And now we have an ambitious governor – trying to get a bigger job without cleaning up the mess he’s made here – whose lawyers argue in court that the agreement he made is now – presto! change-o! – unconstitutional. But just now that he’s actually required to fulfill it. Pretzel logic.

We’re following hashtag #FundNJPension. Sea of red right now at the Statehouse. Count these folks as a lot of the middle class Christie has already lied to, protesting his failure to do the right thing by them, even after being so ordered by the court. As they say, they never missed their payments.

#FundNJPension rally Trenton Statehouse May 12, 2015

Christie’s actual economic record? marshwren (who also comments here) sums it up succinctly (in a comment to NJ.com)  – To the jump page!

Sirota: Chris Christie’s Political Team Was In Direct Contact With Pension Overseer During Campaign

Chris Christie Official PortraitGov. Chris Christie, who made even public safety on a bridge subject to political payback, who is now running NJ policy for the benefit of his coming White House run, appears to have been less than truthful when he promised a firewall between his management of $80 billion in pension funds and his own political operation. Christie’s already under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission for possible securities law violations in diverting Port Authority funds to Pulaski Skyway. But the SEC also is responsible for enforcing pay-to-play law. And there, Christie may have more problems. David Sirota says he has documents to back that up.

From Sirota’s piece, at International Business Times:

The head of a New Jersey board that determines how the state invests its pension money was in direct contact with top political and campaign fundraising aides for Gov. Chris Christie as the governor last fall mounted a successful bid for a second term.

The meetings between Christie’s political team and the state’s pension overseer challenge assurances from the governor that the investment of state pension funds has been fully insulated from the political process. The meetings occurred as Christie’s campaign benefited from contributions from executives at financial firms that have secured lucrative contracts to manage growing slices of New Jersey pension money.

“Gov. Christie has officially driven New Jersey into a ditch.” Reaction Roundup to Christie

Response from around the state to Gov. Christie’s announcement today that he intends to remedy a budget shortfall in large part of his own making, by drastically reducing two pension payments that NJ owes – see Bill Orr’s post

Christie’s Terrible Budget Solution to Meet the Shortfall
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“Someone needs to call 911. Gov. Christie has officially driven New Jersey into a ditch.

“Gov. Christie’s reckless policies have left him with no viable solution to his budget crisis. Gov. Christie’s plan will make our fiscal situation even bleaker, with more credit downgrades likely and future deficits worsened. Gov. Christie built a house of cards that is now collapsing upon New Jersey’s taxpayers.

“It’s notable that Gov. Christie is once again targeting the middle-class by delaying pension payments, while continuing to protect millionaires. It’s time for Gov. Christie to put his catchphrases aside and get a grasp on reality. He has no plan for funding needs such as transportation, education, open space and college affordability, and now he is pushing costs onto future generations while proposing more than 30 tax and fee hikes. Gov. Christie, quite simply, has concocted an economic disaster for New Jersey.”

                  – Lou Greenwald, NJ Assembly Majority Leader

“Governor Christie said he fixed the state pension. He said our economy was the New Jersey Comeback, and he’d stop relying on one-shot gimmicks.  He said record-breaking tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy would create jobs. After five years of Christie at the helm, it turns out every single thing he’s promised has failed miserably – with a record sixth credit-downgrade by Wall Street to show for all his failures. It’s time Christie realizes what everyone else knows: cutting taxes for the super-wealthy, while stealing money from pensions hasn’t worked yet. And it wont work this time. At every turn, Governor Christie has chosen the path of economic instability, due to his wrong priorities and callous actions towards New Jersey’s working families. Since Christie is clearly unwilling to be a responsible actor, we call on the state legislature to step up and be the adults in the room.”

                  – Hetty Rosenstein, CWA NJ State Director

State CWA Contract to be ” Sold”This Tuesday

CWA leadership has pulled off from the job sites the ” chosen” to attend the unveiling of the new state worker contract at the Trenton War Memorial this coming Tuesday morning.

The leadership will be looking for ” cover” on what is rumored to be an historically horrible contract. The ” chosen few” will be asked to promote the contract.

For a union that only 8 years ago had the political clout to formulate a fair contract they now have been relegated to going ” hat in hand” to the Governor who handed them their head!  

Christie outs Oliver as his puppet in secret Koch Bros. meeting we weren’t supposed to know about

News broke today of Gov. Chris Christie’s remarks – with audio – claiming he protected Sheila Oliver’s position as Speaker with the promise of GOP votes if she couldn’t get Democrats, in exchange for her support to post the Christie-Sweeney-Oliver pen-ben bill and shepherd votes. His remarks came at a meeting in Colorado Christie took pains to cover up – failing to disclose it, its hosts (far-right oil billionaire Koch brothers) or even his out-of-state travel that day. No matter which account you believe – if either – what we learned today confirms something is very wrong in the way decisions are made in New Jersey.  

The 4 hour-plus time lag before an Oliver denial of Christie’s story concerns me. If Christie’s story was bullshit, you’d expect her to say so immediately. First, Oliver’s late-day statement – a humdinger:

“The assertions that Gov. Christie has made, they are outright lies. Outright lies. I am beginning to wonder if Gov. Christie is mentally deranged,” Oliver said. “At no time did I ever, ever pick up the telephone, call Gov. Christie and ask him to quote ‘save my leadership.’ ” The governor was engaged in a chest-thumping vaudeville entertainment session in front of the Republican donors, she said. “I don’t expect to call him at all,” she said. “I think it’s disgraceful.”

Mentally deranged, she calls Christie. This story may unleash a war of words between the GOP governor and the Democratic Speaker, a breaking of the confederacy between them that has infuriated so many Democrats. And it may mean that the compliance Christie counts on from Oliver may be cracking as Oliver attempts to save herself from political embarrassment. Though, it’s impossible to miss that Oliver expended her energy distancing herself from political allegations from the Governor; she still hasn’t said anything worth reporting about her role pushing pen-ben, in defiance of core principles. The possibility that Oliver may now wiggle out from under Christie’s thumb and begin to lead as she was elected to do, keeps us from calling for her ouster from leadership.  

Christie wants government to provide poor service because it fits his “philosophy”

I went to DMV last year to renew my license, and only had to wait a few minutes. I was doing some research earlier this year and called up the state library, and because I live far from Trenton they were able to fax me the documents for a modest fee. I got 13 years of great public education growing up that prepared me for going to a college where maybe half the people had paid big bucks to go to private school.

These are all success stories of government and of public workers in New Jersey, some small, some big. And it finally hit me yesterday and today – these are the stories that Gov. Christie is trying to make sure we don’t hear in the future. Because good services from government simply undermine his narrative too much.

More below the fold…