Daily Archives: October 19, 2009

Letter: That is why I shall vote for Patrick Short

I want to commend the efforts of Middletown Township Committee member Patrick Short to represent the Committee minority position and the majority of the taxpayers of Middletown. Too often the Republican committee people try to ramrod their proposals through without proper consideration of the budgetary cost. Too often the majority members try to control the information and limit the rights of the public. It is only through Patrick Short’s involvement that we now have minutes, resolutions, etc., online.

I just found a book title, “Listening is an Act of Love,” I believe that Patrick’s willingness to listen to us when we speak at meetings, instead of interrupting, whispering to a neighbor, fiddling with hair, arrogantly demanding his “proper” title, making faces, as the majority members have done, shows his great caring and respect for us citizens.

Patrick has kept his promises. I feel safe and represented when I see him on the podium. That is why I shall vote for Patrick Short in November and I recommend that you do the same to preserve his valuable voice on the Committee.

Carolyn Schwebel, Executive Director

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Filed under Carolyn Schwebel, Election, Middletown Township Committee, Patrick Short

NYT Endorses Corzine for Governor

Yesterday for those who may have missed it, The New york Times came out in suppor of Jon Corzine by endorsing his candidacy for the governorship of New Jersey.

Here’s what they had to say:

Like almost every other state in the union, New Jersey is in bad shape. Revenues are down. Unemployment is up. A state deficit is looming. Taxes are high, and more borrowing is taboo. Unfortunately for Gov. Jon Corzine, it is also election time. Mr. Corzine, a Democrat, has struggled through his first term, partly because of a legislature that will not make the tough decisions. He still has lessons to learn about communication and leadership, but he is a better choice for New Jersey voters than either of his challengers. He has earned another four years to deal with the state’s budget problems and culture of corruption.

Despite his support from President Obama, Governor Corzine faces two formidable opponents who have made the most of his stormy first term. The Republican, Christopher Christie, a former United States attorney, has made headway by talking about slashing taxes and state programs. But his talk is far too vague, and he has no record to back it up. Further, there are concerns about whether he appointed politically connected friends to lucrative positions. There were also reports that his office targeted Democrats, including Senator Robert Menendez, close to election time.

An engaging independent candidate, Christopher Daggett, has also done well, even though New Jersey’s infamous political bosses have made sure that only the most intrepid voters will find him on the ballot. Mr. Daggett’s contribution to this campaign has been his thought-provoking ideas about cutting property taxes and shifting some of the tax burden to high-end services like architect’s or lawyer’s fees or fancy haircut parlors.

It is far easier to come up with campaign themes than slog through the real-world quagmire of New Jersey politics, as Mr. Corzine has done. He inherited corruption that is legendary and a budget that his predecessors, Democratic and Republican, had milked nearly dry. Governor Corzine took some difficult steps, like his smart but unpopular plan to increase highway tolls. He shut down the state government when lawmakers refused to back his extra-lean budget. He has managed to increase the contributions to the underfunded pension plan. And he has begun the hard task of reforming state government by limiting some perks for state workers.

Mr. Corzine is hardly the perfect politician. Most New Jersey voters find him astonishingly inarticulate, and his credentials as a former co-chairman of Goldman Sachs do not seem as impressive as they did before the financial meltdown in 2008. He has poured lots of his personal wealth into this race, far too much of it for biting — and sometimes juvenile — attacks on Mr. Christie. In his second term, we would like to see him back away from the state’s unions.

A New York Times poll completed last week captured the way New Jersey voters have been grumbling about all their choices for governor. But Jon Corzine, who is slightly ahead among likely voters, is a decent man with a laudable set of goals for his state. We endorse him for re-election in New Jersey on Nov. 3.

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Filed under endorsement, Gov. Jon Corzine, New Jersey, The New York Times

AP: NJ biz travel rules would be looser under Christie

ANGELA DELLI SANTI,The Associated Press

TRENTON, N.J. – The Republican candidate for New Jersey governor, who regularly overspent the government rate when traveling as the state’s top prosecutor, said if he’s elected that his top advisers would be allowed to travel with fewer travel restrictions than under the current administration , at taxpayers’ expense.

Chris Christie, the former U.S. attorney who has campaigned on a platform of ethical integrity and cutting government waste, said members of his Cabinet could bill taxpayers for overnight stays in expensive hotels if cheaper accommodations aren’t available.

State employees are currently required to stay within the government rate and are barred from most overnight trips, according to a review of the Corzine administration’s travel policy guidelines.

A review of Christie’s travel history through documents provided in a public records request showed he regularly exceeded the government lodging allowance while traveling as U.S. attorney, frequently staying at luxury hotels in New Jersey, across the United States and abroad. He said the trips were always justified and he always sought out the government rate before booking more expensive accommodations. He does not appear to have curtailed his travel due to the economic recession. “I would want my Cabinet to follow the same rules I followed as U.S. attorney,” Christie said Thursday at a diner stop in the blue-collar community of West Deptford. “If they were traveling and they could find the government rate, they should use the government rate. If they couldn’t, they shouldn’t sleep on a park bench. They should find the best rate they could.”

Christie said he logged more than 160,000 miles while serving as U.S. attorney for seven years during President George W. Bush’s two terms. During that time, he stayed in some of the country’s most luxurious and trendiest hotels, including the Mandarin in Washington, the NineZero in Boston and the Ritz-Carlton in Orlando. Sometimes the tab fell within the government allowance.

However, his hotel bills occasionally exceeded $400 per night and the tab was higher than the government ceiling on 14 of 16 business trips Christie took in 2008. Five nights in London were $401 a night per room for him and his top deputy, Michele Brown.

Gov. Jon Corzine issued a memo early in his first term saying he would continue to enforce business travel restrictions for state employees that his predecessor, Gov. Richard Codey, had instituted. Those guidelines require anybody making travel arrangements for state employees to search a Web site specializing in government-rate rooms. All travel must be preapproved at least two weeks in advance to allow greater possibility for savings.

Reimbursement costs for official travel must not exceed the federal per diem rates, according to the guidelines.

Corzine said his opponent’s travel records are evidence that Christie has a different set of rules for himself than everyone else, a line the Corzine campaign has consistently used.

Christie has come under scrutiny for railing against Democrats’ excessive spending while billing taxpayers for high-end business travel. The candidate disavowed any hypocrisy, saying his travel was necessary and exceeding the rate permissible.

“It wasn’t waste,” he said. “I had to go someplace for part of my job. We tried to get the government rate. We couldn’t. So my only alternative would have been to not go.”

Christie or Brown often signed a required waiver approving additional expenses; his reimbursement vouchers were certified by a third party.

Christie said his secretary was instructed to look first for accommodations within the government rate when she booked his travel. He said he sometimes needed to stay at a specific hotel because he was giving a speech there early the next morning.

His stay at the Ritz-Carlton in Orlando in January 2008 cost taxpayers $287 plus taxes and fees, more than twice the government’s allowance of $121. The Orlando area has about 450 hotels.

Christie also billed taxpayers for in-state overnight stays , in Atlantic City and Cape May, for example. Such trips are barred by Corzine’s administration.

Corzine, who became a multimillionaire on Wall Street and is the former co-chairman of Goldman Sachs, pays all his own travel expenses.

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Filed under Associated Press, Chris Christie, Gov. Jon Corzine, tax payers