Category Archives: Op-Ed

OP-ED: Governor Rex Christie

In light of the big game tonight, Josh Henne sent me a link to this op-ed he wrote on the striking similarities between Rex Ryan & Chris Christie. It appears over at PolitickerNJ:

In a sea of vanilla coaches and milquetoast politicians, Jets Coach Rex Ryan and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie have burnished reputations for bluster, bullying and bombast. They’re tailor-made for the attention-deficit, me-first, sizzle-over-substance society we live in. A splashy quote, a bold claim with a curse-word thrown in for good measure…and bickety-bam you’ve got a nice hit on the nightly news or a clip to go viral online. Sure, these two men can be considered refreshing. But so is a colonic. And you certainly don’t want to deal with either on a daily basis.

It stands to reason these two larger-than-life characters stand out – because Christie and Ryan both furnish the media with quality copy and soundbites. However, there’s a fine line between being charming and becoming a caricature of yourself. And leaders are afforded a short rope before folks start realizing the rhetoric doesn’t match the results. In recent months, Christie and Ryan have planted their feet firmly on the wrong side of both accounts.

The beauty of both politics and the playing field is that these arenas are results-oriented. The metrics of wins and accomplishments are the only ones that matter. It’s not just about who can talk the biggest game. And the shtick employed by both Christie and Ryan runs thin once you scratch the surface of their swagger.

No one remembers football teams who never make it to the big game – no matter how many times their coach promises a trip to the Super Bowl. Rex believes if he yells loud enough folks will forget choking in the conference championship or failing to even make the playoffs. If Ryan makes himself the story, perhaps fans won’t notice his team regressing or his quarterback failing to grow.

In politics, its hard to take someone seriously who hogs the spotlight, bashes his own state to pander to Iowa crowds and tosses the word “hell” into public statements like a twelve-year old who just discovered cursing. It’s difficult to believe someone is authentic when they pack taxpayer-funded townhall meetings with partisan backers and care more about generating youtube moments than results. It’s hard to take Governor Christie at his word as he pledges poverty when cutting essential programs, yet miraculously finds funds to give handouts and bailouts to casino execs, mall developers and those at the tippy top of the economic strata.

The words “doing the big thing” are often shouted to the rafters by Chris Christie. Yet if you look at actual results, he comes up small every time. New Jersey lags the nation when it comes to employment. And no matter how many times Christie claims he hasn’t raised taxes, all anyone has to do is hold up a train ticket, scan a tuition bill from a state university or look at their property taxes to see swelling costs.

Both Christie and Ryan have an amazing ability to change the topic following failures. Rex shoots off his mouth after a loss, giving excuses while still calling his team the one to beat – no matter how badly he was outcoached by those who might not be as flashy, but have more substance. When Christie skipped town with an historic blizzard bearing down on his state, the governor refused to take responsibility and even blamed local mayors when he finally came home from his Disney vacation. When New Jersey’s children lost $400 million in Race to the Top funding because his administration bungled a simple application, Christie first blamed Barack Obama and then threw his own Education Commissioner under the bus.

Chris Christie might not share Rex Ryan’s predilection for sucking on toes. But the governor does spend an inordinate amount of time and energy sucking up to the Koch Brothers, Karl Rove and corporate lobbyists. And that’s a far more nefarious fetish. Because these one-percenters are seeking to scale back regulations in order to better their bottom line – even if it means poisoning New Jersey’s land, air and water. In Christie’s New Jersey, middle-class families find themselves in harms way time and again.

Like Rex Ryan, Christie’s image as a take-charge guy rings hollow when you see the rudderless execution of plans. Womens’ health, infrastructure improvements and education efforts have all been defunded. Cops and firefighters receive pink slips, while crime escalates. And Christie has no vision for the future – as evidenced by cancelling the ARC Tunnel linking to Manhattan which would have taken cars off the road, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, raised home values and created 6,000 immediate jobs and 45,000 future jobs.

On the playground, the cardinal rule is that when you’ve got a big mouth you’ve got to be able to back it up. The quickest way to shut up a bully is to call them out. And for all their blunt statements and bold claims, folks are finally catching onto the Christie-Ryan playbook. The coach and the governor have both elevated the bar with inflated achievement to the point that even slight improvements would seem mundane when the tale of the tape is truly told. More and more, their exhortations are being met with eyerolls and yawns.

With his annual guarantees of a Super Bowl victory, yet failing to even make the playoffs this year, Rex Ryan is clearly no second coming of Joe Namath. And Chris Christie…well, let’s just hope he goes the way of Sarah Palin. A one-term governor with a big personality who burst onto the national scene and became addicted to the adulation to the point of diminishing returns and eventual ridicule.

What society needs – in all facets of life – are leaders of substance focused on results, not their own ego or personal gratification. Clearly, Coach Ryan and Governor Christie care more about creating headlines than making a real difference. We should treat them like a parent dropping off a crying kid at nursery school. All they want is attention, so if we just walk away hopefully they’ll get the hint and cut the act.

Josh Henne is a Democratic strategist and a Giants fan.

Leave a comment

Filed under Arc Tunnel, bullying, cops and firefighters, Gov. Chris Christie, Josh Henne, middle-class families, New Jersey, NY Giants, NY Jets, Op-Ed, PolitickerNJ, Rex Ryan, Super Bowl, women's health issues

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

Rick Bolger Candidate for NJ State Assembly District 11, Op-Ed:Our State Government Is An Overwhelming Bureaucracy

Our state government is an overwhelming bureaucracy. New Jersey has a “Department” for every imaginable aspect of our lives. We have a DEP, DOT, DOE, etc., etc. What you won’t find in Trenton is a DOCS—Department of Common Sense!

Each of these Departments has grown extensively since their creation and has morphed into powerful entities operated by appointed “officials” with the apparent ability to make life difficult, if not intolerable, for the residents of New Jersey.

The State laws which are interpreted and enforced by these Departments are often antiquated, irrelevant, arbitrary, contradictory or otherwise unfair in their application.

In the absence of a magic wand, these entities are here to stay. However, why can’t the legislature create a common sense procedure which affords immediate relief to those individuals or municipalities which find themselves boxed into a Catch 22 situation by one (or more) of our State Departments. Every municipal engineer and borough administrator could cite numerous examples of such crippling bureaucratic red tape. Currently, the only relief available is the white flag of surrender or litigation. Law suits are time consuming, expensive and more often than not, result in decisions which perpetuate other bad decisions and confuse rather than clarify the law.

Why not a simple procedure where, under the proper circumstances, the three State legislators of any particular district can craft immediate relief for their aggrieved constituents?

Rick Bolger

Candidate for NJ State Assembly in District 11

Leave a comment

Filed under 11th Assembly District, Commen Sense, New Jersey, Op-Ed, Rick Bolger, Trenton

Rick Bolger Candidate for NJ State Assembly District 11, Op-Ed: An Alternative to School Regionalization

More than two years ago the State legislature enacted a law designed to encourage local school districts to merge, regionalize, consolidate and/or share services. While I agree with the concept, this piece of legislation represents everything that is wrong with our State government.

First, the law created a new level of bureaucracy in an already enormous Department of Education.

Second, it authorized the expenditure of millions of tax dollars in salaries, surveys, studies and other expenses, all in furtherance of an unattainable goal.

Third, the law is vague as to its specific goal, a time table and the consequences of non-compliance.

Finally, this Act and its veiled threat of forced consolidation are divisive and, most of all, smacks of Big Brother.

While denouncing this legislation, I applaud the effort to shine some light on the most fertile ground for tax savings in all single K-8 school districts across New Jersey. Although I could never entertain the notion of forced consolidation, I appreciate the work done thus far by the Monmouth County Superintendent of Schools Carol Morris in identifying natural clusters of potential partners in her effort to promote efficiency in the administration of our Monmouth County schools. However, I am calling for the immediate suspension of any further expenditure of funds in pursuit of the State’s apparent effort to force regionalization and I am hereby proposing an alternative to the current process. Although my plan will be specifically directed toward the southern Monmouth coastal region which includes my hometown of Brielle, I believe the principles of my plan are equally applicable to all school districts involved in the current regionalization effort.

I understand the concerns of the residents of our communities. Some of the concerns are well founded; others are the result of confusion, misunderstanding, hysteria and even direct misrepresentation. Regardless, for purposes of this discussion, my plan is directed to the residents of Avon, Belmar, Spring Lake Heights, Spring Lake, Sea Girt, Manasquan and Brielle, a natural grouping of homogenous towns, six of which operate one K-8 elementary school and send their children to Manasquan High School on a tuition paying basis. (Manasquan has one K-8 school and a high school.)

My plan does NOT include the formal regionalization, merger or consolidation of these individual school districts. The plan does NOT include the pooling of grades or the assignment and transportation of students out of the districts in which they reside. My plan preserves the autonomy of the individual Boards of Education, their individual budgets, the identity of each individual school and its place in the heart of each community.

Most importantly, my plan would NOT negatively impact the education of our children.

The purpose of my plan is to effectuate significant savings through a sharing of services throughout this cluster of schools. These seven towns currently employ seven superintendents, seven business administrators, seven attorneys, seven auditors, seven curriculum departments, etc. and all currently bear the burden of special education costs on an individual basis.

My plan also contemplates the establishment of shared services with each school’s respective municipal government involving such things as library services, facilities, engineering and property maintenance.

I am specifically proposing that Mrs. Morris invite a three person committee from each community within the cluster of districts to a meeting at a central site. The three person envoy would include a member of the governing body, a member of the Board of Education and a resident not affiliated with either entity. I am absolutely convinced that a committee of this nature could successfully develop an array of shared services between all or any combination of these seven towns and I am further convinced that once a general philosophy, or “mind set” can be achieved, there are undoubtedly many other areas of duplication within this cluster of schools which can be addressed and result in further savings to everyone involved. There would be no “losers.” If a particular plan does not include tax savings for everyone involved, it would never become a reality. I believe the Department of Education could provide further incentive for this proposal by utilizing whatever funds would have been spent on surveys, studies, etc. as additional State Aid for those school districts which can demonstrate a good faith effort at sharing services.

The work of this committee will be demanding and will require dedication to the concept of sharing services. I am certainly sensitive to the reality of this proposal as it may affect certain individuals. There does not need to be any time table on the total implementation of any program such that all reasonable economic expectations of everyone involved can be met. I am further convinced that a cooperative venture of this sort also carries the potential for the collective improvement of the educational programs and services available to the children of all districts.

It is my belief that we, as individual municipalities, have the ability to better control our escalating property taxes and we do not need Trenton to tell us how to do it, or worse yet, to threaten us with forced consolidation.

Rick Bolger, Candidate
NJ State Assembly District 11

2 Comments

Filed under New Jersey, NJ State Assembly District 11, Op-Ed, Rick Bolger, School Regionalization