Category Archives: NJ.com

Monmouth Freeholders adopt weak State pay-to-play rules, abandon stronger County rules in place since 2008

Fortunately, former Monmouth County Freeholder Amy Mallet is still on the job as a outspoken member of the public. The Middletown Patch reported on 1/31/12 that this year’s all-GOP Freeholder Board voted unanimously last week to loosen the County’s pay-to-play rules, and Amy was there to call them on it!

In a vote on Jan. 26th, the Board chose to abandon the tougher County pay-to-play rules for the lax State ones. The reason given by the Board is that contractors were confused by the County rules. However, many other municipalities and counties have the stronger pay-to-play rules in place, so contractors doing business in other towns would already be familiar with them.

The Board’s decision opens the door to rewarding politically connected persons and businesses with County contracts. The move weakens competition and may have the direct effect of increasing property taxes in line with higher contract costs. It’s hard to imagine why any ethical publicly-minded governmental body would do such a thing, unless for personal benefit. It appears the Board members have chosen to grant themselves the latitude to direct contracts at will to ensure their pockets will be lined at election time.

State Comptroller Matthew Boxer said himself that the State pay-to-play law does nothing to prevent the practice by local governments. In September 2011, he released a 20-page report “blasting the law for being toothless” as NJ.com put it.

The effectiveness of Christie’s Tool Kit at holding down property taxes would be vastly improved if it closed the loopholes in the State’s pay-to-play law. But until that happens, it is incumbent upon local governments to do what’s right by having strong pay-to-play rules of their own.

Public advocacy group The Citizens Campaign is calling for the public to attend the Monmouth County Freeholder meeting on Feb. 9th, when the Board will be asked to reinstate the stronger pay-to-play policy. For details, check out their facebook page and if you can, make plans to attend.

Leave a comment

Filed under Amy Mallet, Facebook, Middletown Patch, Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders, NJ.com, pay-to-play, property taxes, the Citizens Campaign

N.J. Gov. Chris Christie must put politics aside, help needy

If you didn’t catch it this morning former NJ Senate Majority Leader Barbara Buono (D-Middlesex) had an excellent Op-ed piece published over at NJ.Com that emplores Governor Christie to put politics aside and help those that are the most needy by putting the needs of other before personal ambitions by creating a more progressive tax system that will help families that are currently living paycheck to paycheck:

When leaders of political parties in New York state recently agreed to raise the tax rate on the wealthiest to help the middle class, a truly revolutionary concept was born — politicians putting the needs of the people ahead of their own personal ambitions.

In New Jersey, unfortunately, Gov. Chris Christie has set his sights on the national stage and repeatedly refused to consider the democratically led effort to create a more progressive tax rate because it would defy the rules of the conservative playbook.

This same steely denial of the realities of the working class is evident on the conservative side of every major debate taking place in Washington — whether it’s on debt reduction, extending the Social Security payroll tax or the merits of the Occupy movement.

Overlooked is the growing number of Americans now living in, or just above, poverty. In New Jersey, the number of residents receiving food stamps has doubled in the past four years. Recently released Census figures based on a new poverty formula show that nearly 50 million Americans are poor and the number of those living just above the poverty line is far greater than once believed.

What makes this new formula unique is that it takes into account government assistance such as food stamps, housing aid, subsidized lunches and the Earned Income Tax Credit. Once these factors are considered, roughly 3 million people rise above the poverty line, proving government assistance can and does make a difference in the lives of working families.

Sadly, those on the right have no qualms about slashing these assistance programs, proving their empathy extends only to the super rich while the plight of poor and middle-class families is viewed with rote disregard….

Finish reading Senator Buono Op-ed that was posted online at NJ.Com …. Here

Leave a comment

Filed under Earned Income Tax Credit, food stamps, Gov. Chris Christie, NJ.com, occupy wall st., Op-Ed, progressive tax rate, Senate Majority Leader, Senator Barbara Buono

NJ Senator Barbara Buono: Be Prepared For Hurricane Irene

Here is some good advice that I received in my inbox this morning from NJ Senate Majority Leader, Senator Barbara Buono on being prepared for this weekends hurricane.

This weekend, Hurricane Irene is projected to hit New Jersey. The brunt of the storm will hit our state Sunday. Yesterday, Governor Christie declared a state of emergency, and we should all start preparing now.

The New Jersey Office of Emergency Management has set up a website – www.ready.nj.gov – where you can find comprehensive instructions on what to do in a hurricane. Please print out their checklist. You can also find links to updated weather maps to track Irene’s path.

Here are a few tips to prepare for the hurricane:

• Make sure you have necessities in your home – including plenty of food, water, blankets, batteries, flashlights and a first aid kit.

• Have a hand-cranked or battery-operated portable radio so you can listen to the latest news.

• Have your pantry stocked with canned food and a can opener in case your power goes out.

• If you take medicine, make sure you have an adequate supply and fill all prescriptions beforehand.

• Fill the gas tank in your car and make sure you have cash on-hand in case local gas pumps and ATMs are also affected by power outages.

• In a worst-case scenario, know your local evacuation route – especially if you live in an area prone to flooding.

To track Irene’s pattern, you can also check ongoing weather coverage at NJ.com, as well as the National Weather Service’s Hurricane Center for all the latest updates.

Please do not wait until the last minute to prepare.

Stay safe,

Senator Barbara Buono

Leave a comment

Filed under Hurricane Irene, National Weather Service, NJ.com, Ready.NJ.gov, Senator Barbara Buono, storm preparation.

>As A Matter Of Fact…Taking the family out of NJ FamilyCare

>
May 17th, 2011 | Published in NJPP Blog: As a Matter of Fact …


In defense of his plan to cut the state’s federally subsidized health insurance program for working poor families, Governor Christie recently asserted that New Jersey provides more access to Medicaid than any state except New York.

That’s simply not true.

In fact, if the governor has his way, New Jersey would have one of the nation’s most restrictive policies when it comes to the Medicaid program that provides affordable health insurance to working poor families who have no other options.

It is accurate to say that when it comes to children New Jersey is second only to New York in providing health coverage through Medicaid/ NJ FamilyCare. However, when it comes to providing affordable coverage to the rest of the family, Medicaid/NJ FamilyCare lags behind nine other states and is racing toward the bottom of that list.

Last year, the state cut the NJ FamilyCare eligibility level for parents in New Jersey from 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) to 133 percent of FPL. For a family of three, that meant a maximum yearly income of $25,000 instead of $36,000.

The state plans even further reductions this year by reducing that eligibility threshold to just 29 percent of FPL. That’s a yearly income of about $5,300 for a family of three. That’s also the same eligibility level for the welfare program, WorkFirst NJ. The irony there is that taking away the option of NJ FamilyCare creates an incentive for parents to stop working full time and rely on welfare in order to have health insurance.

If those proposed cuts are enacted, New Jersey would have one of the lowest eligibility levels for parents in the nation. Only Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri and Texas would have lower eligibility levels.

More important, however, is that research in New Jersey and nationally has shown that reducing the eligibility level for parents will reduce the number of children enrolled in NJ FamilyCare. That will only increase the financial pressures on emergency rooms and hospitals as it drives up the number of uninsured New Jerseyans.

Read more about family health insurance here.

View the press event with Senators Joseph Vitale and Loretta Weinberg and advocates on this issue along with the governor’s response.

1 Comment

Filed under As a Matter of Fact, Gov. Chris Christie, health reform, Medicaid, New Jersey Policy Perspective, NJ.com, NJFamilyCare

>Sweeney: Gov. Christie’s tools aren’t the sharpest in the shed

>NJ Senate President Stephen Sweeney has written the following article that appears online this morning on NJ.com. It’s a must read for anyone who thinks that Governor Christie’s “Tool Kit” is the be all, end all solution that will control the rise of property taxes in the state.

Of the 33 bills in the Governor’s “tool kit”, Sweeney rightfully points out that some of them overlapped and were combined to form 24 and later reduced again to by the Governor when he finally realized that proposals about higher education would do nothing to lower property taxes, leaving 20.
Sweeney points out that the Legislature has passed 8 of the 20 bills thus far, the 2% cap on property tax increases and arbitration reform for police and fire contracts being the key pieces passed. While 2 other bills dealing with civil service reform and a cap on sick-leave payouts were passed by the Legislature but vetoed by the Governor. Sweeney then goes on to tell how many of the remaining “tool kit” reforms will do little to bring down property taxes.
So the next time anyone has to hear Republicans in Middletown chastise Democrats in Trenton for not acting on the “tool kit” and saying that these reforms are necessary so that they can control themselves from overspending, I think Sweeney’s article should be read into the record and see what comments, if any Tony Fiore, Gerry Scharfenberger or the others have to say:

The governor has blamed everything and everyone for the highest property tax increase in four years. He continues to state that if only his “tool kit” were passed, New Jersey’s property tax problems would magically disappear.


Closer scrutiny of the governor’s kit proves his claims are false and are merely meant to distract from his own culpability in property tax hikes. The governor cut more than $2.4 billion in funding to schools and municipalities last year. That is why your taxes are going up. The tool kit will not make up that shortfall.

There are reforms that must be implemented, such as pension and health benefits reforms, which I have supported since 2006. I am committed to getting those done. But those reforms are not — and never were — part of the governor’s proposed tool kit.

First, let’s have truth in numbers. The governor started by saying there were 33 bills in the tool kit. Actually, there were 24 after items were combined. Now the governor says there are 20, because he finally realized that four proposals dealing with issues at colleges and universities have absolutely nothing to do with property taxes.

The Legislature did pass eight tool-kit items. First was the creation of the 2 percent cap on annual property tax increases, which the Legislature lowered from the 2.5 percent cap the governor initially proposed. Second was arbitration reform for police and fire contracts, which was heralded across the state by local officials as key to reining in property taxes.

Two others — comprehensive civil service reform and a cap on sick-leave payouts for public employees upon retirement — were passed and sent to the governor, who vetoed them. We have no reform in these two areas because the governor chose to kill reform.

Civil service needs to be reformed and modernized, but abolishing it will not lower property taxes. Only one-third of New Jersey towns are bound by civil service rules, and those towns actually have lower property taxes per capita than towns without civil service. Civil service was established to protect against political corruption and nepotism. It is puzzling that the governor wants to completely eliminate this protection.

Sick-leave payouts should be capped, but the governor vetoed a bill to do that because he wants to take away benefits workers have already earned. That may be a nice talking point, but it won’t stand up in court. And it would create a flood of new retirements as workers cash out before the law would take effect. If the governor got his way, this tool would actually cost taxpayers even more.

Two other parts of the tool kit are already in comprehensive shared services legislation I am sponsoring with Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt and Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, which goes far beyond what the governor envisioned, and which will move through the Legislature later this spring.

These are the only parts of the tool kit that will save you money on your property tax bill. We did them. The handful of remaining bills that the governor clings to won’t save you anything.
One would cap spending on state government operations — which already exists under law, and even if it did not, would have no impact on local property taxes. Another would allow local governments to use furloughs to save money — which they already can do as long as furloughs are negotiated.

Another bill to centralize all power over civil service decisions in the Civil Service Commissioner (read: czar) would only consolidate the governor’s power and do nothing to lower property taxes.

One bill would move school and fire commission elections to November — a move whose total property tax savings, according to the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Service, would be “minimal.”

Others would change the way some employee discipline measures are handled (OLS estimated savings: $140,000), require the mailing of only one sample ballot per household (OLS estimated savings: $1.4 million), and allow municipalities to offset property tax delinquencies against state income tax refunds (OLS estimated net savings: zero).

The governor’s rhetoric does not stand up to simple math. The tool-kit bills that haven’t yet been passed offer no real help from New Jersey’s crushing $25 billion property tax burden.

4 Comments

Filed under 2% cap, arbitration reform, civil service, Gov. Chris Christie, NJ State Senate, NJ.com, property taxes, Stephen Sweeney, tax saving tool, toolkit

>Mulshine Talks Up His Favorite Democrat, Bob Brown, In Today’s Column

>Paul Mulshine’s talks about favorite Democrat,Bob Brown,in his column today over at NJ.com.

Brown, as anyone who reads this blog knows, has become a friend of mine over the past few years. Brown after losing State Assmebly races in 2007& 2009 in the old 13th district to Sam Thompson, vowed that he wouldn’t seek office again, that was until Democratic State Chairman Steve Wisniewski contacted him.

Wisniewski wanted to know if Brown would be interested in taking on his old nemesis Sam Thompson for the vacant State Senate seat in the new 12th district. After hearing how Thompson is has been “double-dipping” (collecting both a state pension and salary), Brown couldn’t refuse.
Here’s what Mulshine has to say about Brown today:

You might recall that upon the release of the new legislative map last week, I put in a call to a guy from Middlesex County named Bob Brown and asked about whether he’d run in the gerrymandered district into which his town had been inserted.

There was no way he’d run again after his town got stuck in a district that runs from the Raritan Bay almost to the Delaware River. That was laughable, he said.

Brown’s not laughing anymore. He’s running.

Brown is a Democrat, but he’s more conservative than most Republicans. He’s a colorful ex-cop from Old Bridge who was shot in the line of duty and decided he’d be better off pursuing law. At Seton Hall School of Law, he often ran into an affable guy from Livingston who even then “seemed like he was running for office,” Brown recalls.

Chris Christie is now running New Jersey. As for Brown, he lost a run for the state Assembly in 2009. That’s when I first wrote about him. It was unusual to hear a Democrat saying things about school funding like, “We gotta send that money back to the suburbs,” at a time when Christie was tiptoeing around the issue.

At the time he and I spoke, any Democratic run in the largely suburban 12th District seemed doomed. Right after my column ran, however, the Republicans announced the name of their nominee for the Senate seat in the new district, Sam Thompson, who is currently an assemblyman and who also hails from Old Bridge.

On the same day, Thompson’s name appeared in an article in this newspaper because he and another Republican assemblyman are “double-dipping,” collecting state pensions while also collecting legislative salaries.

The day after that article ran, Brown got a call from state Democratic Chairman John Wisniewski. “The Wiz,” as the assemblyman from Middlesex County is known, asked Brown if he might want to take that Senate run seriously after all. Brown did, and yesterday he filed the signatures. Brown said he’ll base his campaign on the pension issue. Brown himself gets $14,000 a year as a result of his retirement following that shootout, which he won, by the way. But “I will not double-dip,” Brown promised. “If I get elected, I will not take my pension.”….

Read more >>> Here

This race between Brown and Thompson will be closely watched by many, Brown has more than an excellent chance at winning it even though the newly drawn district leans republican.

1 Comment

Filed under 12th district, Bob Brown, Democratic Candidate, NJ.com, Paul Mulshine, Sam Thompson

>Contrasting Styles Between Cuomo & Christie; Different Approach, Same Outcome No Animosity

>NJ.com yesterday had an interesting editorial that I think a lot of people should be reading.

In the face of an $11 billion dollar budget defect, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo balanced NY’s budget by cutting spending and entitlement without raising taxes just as our governor did last year (although that is somewhat debatable). Cuomo achieved this by reaching out to legislator and including them in the process. Gov. Christie on the other hand, has created divisiveness between the governor’s office and those in the legislature with his take it or leave it approach and sledgehammer style.

Interestingly Cuomo was able to balance his State’s budget without demonizing any one group (public employees) or had to hold nonstop “Town Hall” meetings to convince people that there is a problem and his way of solving it, is the only way that it can be done.

Resident of NJ should take notice and see how a different, less caustic and abrasive style can achieve similar yet far different results.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo just won agreement on a budget for New York state that cuts overall spending and contains no new taxes. He even blocked an attempt by fellow Democrats to extend a surtax on millionaires.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because New Jersey did all that last year. Perhaps Cuomo looked across the Hudson and liked what he saw.

Now maybe Gov. Chris Christie can return the compliment. Because Cuomo has something to teach him as well.

Note the lack of personal attacks in Albany. Cuomo was tough, but he wasn’t abusive. He didn’t call his Assembly speaker a liar, for example, or clear his schedule for a nonstop tour on the unlimited greed of teachers and cops.

And he negotiated. Especially relevant to New Jersey was Cuomo’s approach to Medicaid.

Like most states, New York and New Jersey are facing daunting increases in health care costs. Cuomo’s approach was collaborative.

He invited key stakeholders, including hospitals and unions, to sit together and hammer out an agreement on cuts. If they couldn’t come up with an answer, he said, then he would do it for them.

After two months, Cuomo’s committee pulled it off, agreeing to 79 cost-cutting measures, from lowering reimbursements to shifting patients to managed care plans.

Christie wants to cut $540 million in Medicaid spending next year, a huge sum that both sides expect to be a main point of contention. But he’s drawn up his plan in secret, and even now is keeping the Legislature out of the loop. People such as Sen. Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex), a key architect of the current system, are still looking for basic answers.

“They are crafting their own proposal in a vacuum,” Vitale says. “They would be wise to include legislators.”

Cuomo’s collaboration ensured that his plan had broad political support, and would pass. Christie’s approach risks just the opposite.

Leave a comment

Filed under budget deficit, entitlement spending, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Gov. Chris Christie, health care costs, Medicaid, Millionaire'sTax, New Jersey, New York, NJ.com, tax cuts, tax increase, Town Hall

>If you have kids in the Middletown school system is Vinnie Brand the most dangerous person in Middletown?

>

After posting last week about the possible resignation of Middletown Schools Superintendent Karen Bilbao, I was somewhat surprised by the chatter that it created. The post was easily the most popular posting since the Nov.2nd general election and caused enough buzz that Jennifer Bradshaw of the Asbury Park Press followed up on it by asking Bilbao if the rumor of her leaving was true. Bilbao denied the rumor and stated that she was staying, which I believe is good news for the school district.
When I stated above that I was surprised by some of the chatter that surrounded t Bilbao’s possible resignation, I was referring to not only private emails and comments that I received but also postings in other forums. The blog posting caused a string of comments on the NJ.com Middletown readers forum, which I encourage readers to stop by sometimes and take a look at. The forum, when concentrating on issues that directly effect Middletown, is a great place to gage what people are really thinking and feeling about all things Middletown.

One poster who seems to have his finger on the pulse of what goes on at Middletown Board of Education meetings goes by the screen ID of 7vens. This person wasn’t surprised to hear about Bilbao’s possible resignation considering what Bilbao has had to deal with since May, when new members of the BOE arrived on the scene.

7vens’s posts on the forum are extremely critical of new BOE member Vinnie Brand and his colleagues Aveta and Mascone, calling Brand “the most dangerous man in Middletown” for his displays of ignorance and power plays on board issues.
7vens accuses Brand of violating the codes of ethics that all BOE members must adhere to when he bases his votes on Governor Christie’s recommendations as opposed to what is in the best interests of students amongst other things.
I wonder how many………

by 7vens, 11/19/10 4:51 PM
Re: Karen Bilbao Resigns!? by 7vens, 11/19/10 4:51 PM
of the mothers that were spreading the RUMOR were at the BOE meeting?

Oh, I know, none. She did not resign at the BOE meeting. She has a contract. The BOE would have to let her out of it with a vote. She would not be able to leave at the end of the month as Middletown Mike said. My guess would be a minimum of 60 days.

If she is a smart as she appears to be, she will leave. When the power shifts to the new guys the administrators are going to leave in droves. They, Vinnie and friends, just don’t understand that people are not going to work in Middletown when they can go elsewhere and work for a BOE that is not anti administration for more money.

We already lost a great BA. Vinnie made a motion to reduce his pay and he took a job a few days later for $9000 more in Toms River. He saw the handwriting on the wall and he is just the first of many.

There were only 3 qualified applicants for his replacement after posting the job twice. They found someone, negotiated a salary and Vinnie wanted to offer her $8,000 less. She already said that she would not take the job for less than she negotiated for. If Vinnie had his way, they would have had to post the job again. Take a less qualified person and pay for the interim until the next BOE meeting when they could approve the new hire.

When the board was looking for the replacement for the assistant BA, who is leaving, Vinnie suggested that we don’t need an assistant BA, in a district with a $140 million budget. Then he asked what the BA did. I am not making this up. If you have kids in this school system Vinnie Brand is the most dangerous man in Middletown. Ignorance and power is a tough combination to beat.


This is the beginning of the end for education in Middletown. If you can afford it, send your kids to RBC ASAP.

25669.4.3.1.
/\ The real problem /\
by 7vens, 11/20/10 10:24 AM
Re: Karen Bilbao Resigns!? by 7vens, 11/20/10 10:24 AM
Are the idiots like the triumvirate of ignorant posters above…

… who slander the administrators by calling them corrupt without an iota of evidence. They are using the same logic that they use to group all Mexicans, Muslims and Blacks together.

The problem Is that these ignorant morons vote and their votes carry as much weight as an informed person’s vote. The BOE is about to be taken over by people that represent ignorant voters.

Vinnie Brand met three times with members of the township committee before running for the BOE. He never met with BOE members or administrators before running. In fact, by his own admission, he NEVER ATTENDED A BOE MEETING BEFORE HE WAS ELECTED. Vinnie is a politician, not an educator.

He suggested that the school district should leave all of the handling of the $140 million budget in the hands of one person. He suggested that the BA does not need an assistant. Then he asked what the BA did. He has no idea what administrators do, but he wants to eliminate them.

Middletown has been warned by the County superintendent of schools that if they eliminate any more administrators that they could be placing the safety of our students at risk. Vinnie Brand chooses to ignore this information in the interest of saving literally a few dollars per household. The county superintendent also warned that any further reduction of administrators could make it impossible to provide an adequate education for the students. Vinnie Brand thinks he knows more than educators about educating.

Viinie Brand stated that his reason for voting down proposals was that the BOE should be doing what Governor Christie suggested. This is a clear violation of the code of ethics that all board members are sworn to uphold. Board members are obligated to leave their political affiliations behind make decisions based on what is best for the students, not what is best for their political futures. He constantly hinders the board’s ability to run an effective meeting with his political grandstanding. There are over 600 school districts in New Jersey. Middletown is in competition with these districts for administrators. All things being equal, qualified superintendents and Business Administrators with experience in a large K-12 district are difficult to find. These people do not need Middletown, Middletown needs them. Vinnie has already started fostering an adversarial relationship with Middletown’s administrators. Once the balance of power is turned over to Vinnie and his pals the good administrators will leave for greener pastures. It’s already started to happen and it will only get worse.

Vinnie and his cohorts know absolutely nothing about educating children. They are shameless politicians who make decisions about our children’s futures based on politics. If you have children in Middletown’s schools, Vinnie Brand is the most dangerous person in Middletown.


Wrong.
by 7vens, 11/20/10 1:06 PM
Re: Karen Bilbao Resigns!? by 7vens, 11/20/10 1:06 PM
Members of the BOE are elected. Once elected the code of ethics dictates that they are to vote based on what is best for the education of the children specifically without regard to political affiliation. You are factually dead wrong on this and you need to read the code of ethics:

“I will refuse to surrender my independent judgment to special interest or partisan political groups……”

“I will make decisions in terms of the educational welfare of children”

For Vinnie Brand to publicly state at a BOE meeting that he is casting his vote based on the recommendations of the Governor to cut costs is not voting based on what is best for the children. What will he do if the next Governor is a Democrat? We he cast his vote on that Governor’s recommendations? No. He is a politician in a position that is by definition apolitical.

If you think that it is going to be easy to replace our superintendent you are sadly mistaken. Who in their right mind is going to want to work for a school board that is openly hostile towards administrators? She may not be leaving at this moment but how can she stay? Why would she stay? Once the balance of power shifts to the inexperienced politicians they will vote to reduce her salary. These guys, BAM, ran on a platform of reducing administrative costs, even though they have no clue what administrators do. They are ignoring the warnings of the county superintendent regarding the SAFETY of our children. Middletown has one of, if not the highest, administrator to student ratios in the state.

They are putting politics before the SAFETY of our children. It’s an abomination I just hope that we are never here talking about a tragedy that occurred because of a lack of administrative oversight. It is a very real possibility and they are ignoring the advice of experts in education.


Other posters on the forum have had similar concerns, so I encourage readers to check them out to form their own conclusions.
I myself haven’t been to a BOE meeting this year so I cannot personally substantiate whether or not 7vens comments are gross exaggerations or are closer to the truth. What I can say about the Brand allegations is that I have heard similar rumblings from others over the past few months and up until this point haven’t mentioned these rumbling because I don’t generally comment on the BOE.
I’ve stated before that those that run and oversee the school system have a hard job and I feel that they act in the best interests of the students, even though I may not always agree with some of their policies, the points that were brought up by 7vens over at NJ.com however are different. If board members are showing themselves to be more concerned over politics than the well being of the students in the district (which my kids happen to be) than it is important to speak out it, especially if those politically motivated board members like Vinnie Brand would cause the resignation of a very qualified and highly thought of school superintendent as Karen Bilbao.
If Vinnie Brand or any other member of the Middletown Board of Education wishes to address this situation, I would be glad to hear from them and post their response, board members and administrator need to be partners in the education process not adversaries.
And to answer the headlines question, I don’t think so.

5 Comments

Filed under Asbury Park Press, Middletown Board of Education, NJ.com, resignation, Superintendent Karen Bilbao, Vinnie Brand

>Holt or Sipprelle? Look (and learn) before you leap

>The following Op-Ed appeared in the Times of Trenton yetserday and was posted on NJ.com:

When we get frustrated, we get cranky. And when we get cranky, we sometimes do stupid things that wind up hurting us. We’re on the verge of that right now.

Washington frustrates everyone at the moment. And so, the mood in the electorate is: “Throw out all those bums in Washington — get rid of the whole bunch!” This makes it a bad time to be an incumbent, and a fine time to be a challenger offering simplistic nostrums that appeal to cranky people who are not thinking clearly.

But each campaign is still a choice between two individuals, not between “the incumbents” and “the challengers.” Depending on which of the two individual candidates the voters in each district and state send to Congress, voters’ frustration will either swell or diminish in the years that follow.

In New Jersey’s 12th Congressional District, the choice between those two individuals could not possibly be more stark, so voters here could not possibly have a greater duty to understand the profound differences between them.

One is a legislator respected on both sides of the aisle, the other a man who made millions on Wall Street. Looking at their respective positions on critical issues, it is apparent that their personal life experiences shape their perspectives and policies. Challenger Scott Sipprelle is a super-smart financier who amassed an enormous fortune and aims to sustain both his own wealth and that of others who have figured out how to get rich. Incumbent Rep. Rush Holt, D-Hopewell, is a super-smart scientist who studies the interconnections between cause and effect in our society and aims to ensure that sound-bite solutions don’t bite us back. A few examples illustrate these differences:

Rep. Holt has been a driving force in Congress to establish an agency dedicated to protecting consumers from the kinds of flimsy “investments” that proved so deceptive even professional financiers got snookered, wreaking havoc with the U.S. economy and American families from coast to coast. Scott Sipprelle opposes this protection and thinks consumers who invest should fend for themselves.

Rush Holt insists on fiscal responsibility through congressional adherence to the pay-as-you-go (“PayGo”) legislation passed during the Clinton administration, which balances any new expenditure with commensurate cuts and/or new revenues. Scott Sipprelle favors the Bush tax policy of breaks for the very rich and for corporations. PayGo brought about a balanced budget, while the Bush policies created calamitous debts and deficits. Extending breaks for the very rich will add $700 billion more debt for our children to pay off.

Rush Holt has worked to strengthen Medicare, which provides the most cost-effective health care in the U.S. He realizes that there are certain times — maybe not a lot, but some — when the federal government is actually more efficient and wiser than private industry. Meanwhile, Scott Sipprelle thinks that our trillions of dollars in Social Security should now be handed over to Wall Street financiers — the same folks whose feckless derivative vehicles and reckless manipulations have brought the U.S. to the brink of a second Great Depression.

Rush Holt sees that American schools are in serious trouble and understands the implications for sapping our global competitiveness, not to mention stunting the lives of ill-educated individuals. So he is supporting strong initiatives to improve schools’ science and math programs. Scott Sipprelle reportedly would abolish the Department of Education….

Read More >>> Here

1 Comment

Filed under 12th congressional district, NJ.com, Rush Holt, Scott Sipprelle, Times of Trenton

>NJPP Monday Minute 9/6/10: Having your cake and financing it too State awards cake baker for Christie inauguration a BEIP grant

>
Earlier this year, Gov. Christie suspended New Jersey’s film tax credit for the fiscal year 2011 – a reasonable move given the staggering budget situation that the state faced. The movie and TV industries protested. Actors, producers, lobbyists and small business owners testified against eliminating the credit.1 When lawmakers passed a budget without the credit, NBC’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit moved its production back to New York.2

But the governor’s elimination of the film tax credit did not stop the state from favoring another television production with a $45,000 grant from New Jersey’s flagship business subsidy, the Business Employment Incentive Program (BEIP). The recipient of the state’s largesse: Carlo’s City Hall Bake Shop in Hoboken, the subject of TLC’s reality show “Cake Boss, ” and the bakery that supplied the cake for Governor Christie’s January inauguration. The Star-Ledger reported that the inauguration cake was donated and would retail for about $15,000. The cake was a twin-bed sized diorama of New Jersey sights including an edible version of the Goldman Sachs tower in Jersey City – ironic since the real version of this tower has benefitted from multiple BEIP grants.

In April, in a decision that received no press coverage, the state Economic Development Authority (EDA) approved the BEIP grant to Carlo’s Bakery Inc., the owners of which operate Carlo’s City Hall Bakery. The Cake Boss wanted the state’s help in opening an additional cake and dessert manufacturing facility to accommodate increasing customer and restaurant demand. It plans to hire 30 new workers who would be paid an average annual salary of $35,000.

When the application was approved, no location had been selected. The bakery owners said the new facility does not need to be near its original Hoboken bakery. If the Cake Boss were to locate his additional facility in one of the state’s municipalities where economic development is most encouraged, such as Jersey City, Newark, Paterson or New Brunswick, the grant could increase from the estimated $45,000 to $144,000.

The funding for the BEIP subsidy comes from the state income taxes paid by the new employees. Instead of the state using these tax collections entirely for property tax relief as the income tax was intended to be used, the state returns a portion to the employer. That amount is based on a number of factors, including location, and can be as much as 80 percent of income tax withheld. Since its inception in 1996, the BEIP subsidy has paid out $856.4 million in grants to businesses, according to the EDA.

__________________________________________________

  1. Siriwardane, Venuri. “TV industry joins fight to keep N.J. tax credit.” Star-Ledger. June 15, 2010. www.nj.com.
  2. Arrue, Karina. “Jersey loses when Law&Order: SVU leaves North Bergen, Hudson pols blame Gov. Christie’s suspension of $10 million film tax credit.” July 30, 2010. www.nj.com

Leave a comment

Filed under BEIP Grant, Cake Boss, Carlo's City Bake Shop, Gov. Chris Christie, Monday Minute, New Jersey Policy Perspective, NJ.com, tax credits