Tag Archive: Norcross

Still Unsure

Friday I received the “Sample Ballot” for Tuesday’s primary vote.

As I read it over I was reminded that I am always pained at the abysmal lack of political knowledge I possess about what goes on in the world.

Like some others, I refer to Gov. Christie as “Governor 1%.” And while I would like to embrace Barbara Buono’s gubernatorial strike as a hopeful alternative to Christiecrats, I cannot.  This is primarily due to what I believe is a real-world fact: George Norcross is to NJ politicians what the Koch Brothers are to the GOP, and he has a reported interest in Buono’s candidacy.  In my estimation, that ain’t good.

So what’s a citizen to do?  

There is a name on the ballot I have never heard before, and I don’t know if mea culpas are in order because I have been politically negligent.  The name is Troy Webster, an aide to the anti-establishment Mayor of East Orange.

Google reveals that Webster has a campaign website, an online model of puritan plainess sans facebook or twitter icons.  A video of Webster announcing his candidacy to a modest crowd of friends on youtube reveals a relative lack of NJ Political savvy, a local “up-front-ness” which I find refreshing even if impractical.

A popular maxim makes the claim that if voting really made any difference “they’d” outlaw it.  In recent elections I’ve been afraid to vote outside the box because I’d be “throwing my vote away.”

As I check my email account, I notice that I’ve not received one request for money from Troy Webster.  Like many of us, I receive several requests for political contributions from different sources every day.  

And so, I’m wondering if “impractical” might not be preferable to “savvy.”  I’m wondering if it isn’t time to vote “outside the box.”

NJ Would Be A Better Place Without George Norcross

I think Tom Moran and the Star Ledger have officially gone crazy.  I know Moran hates teachers and public employees in general, but the editorial in today’s Star Ledger was over the top.


The fact that NJ’s largest newspaper is giving a political thug kudos is beyond comprehension.  “The only real hope to stop the bloodshed” in Camden is to abolish the existing police force and their collective bargaining agreement?  Really??  

Certainly our gun laws need to be stricter, but the real problem is the culture of violence that exists.  It is a massive social failure.  That social failure combined with years of mismanagement is what ails Camden.

People like Norcross who gerrymander elections for all the wrong reasons is the real reason why Camden suffers today. Selling private insurance to government that should be using insurance on public contract in order to wield influence and grease the rails of politics is what is wrong with Camden.

Party Boss Politics & 2013

As speculation grows as to which democrats will actually toss their hats in the ring for 2013 and as I read the debate on Blue Jersey about a Booker candidacy, a few scenarios and a few questions ran through my mind.

I am pretty sure there can be little debate that the party bosses (Norcross, Adubato, et. al.) sat on their hands in 2009 to springboard Christie to the Governor’s Office.  It certainly seems to me that Christie has danced well with the bosses.  They have helped Christie achieve moderate legislative success and Christie in turn has thrown them a few favors thus enabling them to keep their political power.

A big question for me is why the bosses would want to get rid of Christie?  They seem to have a good relationship and are able to share power and influence.  It seems almost like a bromance.  From the outside looking in, I don’t see a need for a breakup.  I used to have a boss who would tell me all the time, “don’t fuck with a good thing”.  It is not a good thing for me or the vast majority of New Jerseyans, however for Christie and the bosses it seems like a pretty good relationship.

Keeping my theory in mind, how could the party bosses enthusiastically endorse a democratic candidate when they really don’t need one?  They don’t give a shit about democratic or progressive ideology.  Their only concern is maintaining power and privilege.  They have that now.

Why would candidates who have played nice with the bosses (Sweeney,Greenwald,Booker) want to run as a candidate when they know their machines are happy with the current arrangement?

Can candidates who are not boss affiliated (Buono,Codey,Bollwage) win an election without the support of the party bosses?   Are there enough disenfranchised ex Christie voters out there to tilt the scales enough to overcome the suppression by the bosses?  My feeling is yes, however it would have to be the campaign of a lifetime.  

Christie is beatable.  He is a fraud.  My fear is that he can overcome an election if challenged by a lackluster campaign or a campaign run by party bosses.

Camden Residents Gum Up Norcross’s Plans

George Norcross must be getting exasperated: why don’t the Camden locals just eat the cake he throws their way?

A lawsuit aimed at forcing the state to move ahead with stalled plans to build a traditional public school in the Lanning Square neighborhood was filed Tuesday by a lawyer for local resident Mo’Nike Ragsdale.

The suit has the potential to complicate plans for a Hope Act school on the Lanning parcel.

The school was proposed by the Cooper Foundation; the hospital’s chairman, George E. Norcross III, through his family’s foundation; and KIPP, a charter chain school operator.

Ragsdale said Tuesday afternoon that the issues underlying her civil suit predate plans by Cooper for a Hope Act school.

The Camden school district closed a public school on the site about a decade ago due to structural problems and eventually demolished it.

The district, which owns about a third of the site, and the state Schools Development Authority, which owns the rest of the parcel, have spent more than $10 million to ready the plot for construction of a new district-run public school.

But those plans stalled.

Gov. Chris Christie placed a hold on all school building projects when he came into office.

After the governor’s moratorium was lifted, the Lanning Square project was taken off the priority list, where it has languished without movement.

Norcross, the leader of Democrats in South Jersey, has proposed building a campus of five Hope Act schools on the site, which adjoins Cooper’s new medical school.

The law that created Hope Act schools was championed by his brother, state Sen. Donald Norcross.

Apparently, the people of Camden have become so uppity that they believe they should actually have a say in how the schools in their community should be run. But the NJDOE knows better: they’ll change the rules on Hope Act applications whenever they want, and if the district objects, they’ll threaten a state-takeover, which has really worked out just so super in Newark and Paterson and Jersey City…

The NJDOE has been secretly planning a takeover of Camden’s schools for months. As reported by the Courier-Post, the scheme was developed by staff brought in under the aegis of the Broad Foundation, the California-based “reformy” group funded by billionaire Eli Broad. Education Commissioner Chris Cerf is one of the most high-profile graduates of the Broad Superintends Academy.

Camden is simply the latest prize the NJDOE has in its sights: as documents obtained by the Education Law Center reveal, the state has plans to usurp local control in cities throughout New Jersey, using outsiders’ money so as to avoid legislative oversight.

There are two big questions that arise from all of this:

1) Has state control of urban districts helped? Newark and Paterson and Jersey City have been under state control for years; has it made any difference?

2) If not, how can we continue to justify the continuing disenfranchisement of the citizens of these cities, keeping them from participating in the governance of their own schools?

Charters: No Consequences For Failure

Cross-posted from Jersey Jazzman:

The justification for closing down public schools and replacing them with charters is that the public schools have tried and failed to serve poor, urban kids, and we have a moral imperative to try something different. The publics had their chance, and they blew it; let’s try something new.  

But what if what we’re really doing is trying something old?

Three proposals for a Hope Act charter school here were submitted on time Friday.  

The applications came from KIPP Norcross Cooper Academy, which held a press conference to announce its bid, as well as record producer Kenny Gamble’s Universal Companies and the Benjamin Franklin Academy.


But officials of the proposed KIPP Norcross Cooper Academy said they hope eventually to serve 2,840 Camden students in grades pre-K through 12. The academy, to rise at the former site of a city school in Lanning Square, would begin with a kindergarten class in 2014, the organizers said.  

KIPP, which stands for Knowledge Is Power Program, is a nonprofit chain of charter schools based in San Francisco. The Camden proposal calls for a TEAM Schools model, a KIPP program that has operated for a decade in Newark. [emphasis mine]

A little context: TEAM Academy in Newark may be a fine school, but, as Bruce Baker has detailed extensively, it does not serve the same population of students as its neighboring public schools. Like many (most?) "successful" New Jersey charter schools, TEAM is a "successful" charter because it serves fewer poor, non-English speaking, and special needs children. There is also strong evidence it engages in a pattern of student attrition attrition that artificially inflates its test scores.  

This is a nation-wide pattern with KIPP schools. Keep that in mind as we continue:

KIPP ran a charter school in Camden about five years ago, but removed its name from the venture. Ryan Hill, who oversees the TEAM charters in Newark, acknowledged the failure, but said the proposal would be for a different model with different management.

Freedom Academy, the former KIPP school in Camden, has been told by the state Department of Education that it is likely to be shuttered before the beginning of the next school year. [emphasis mine]

Uh, excuse me? KIPP has already run a school into the ground in Camden, but they’re going to get a chance to run another? They are so shameless that they are going to try to run away from their record of failure?

Apparently, KIPP’s CEO, Richard Barth, already backed away in 2009: