Category Archives: PolitickerNJ

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.

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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

LD-12 candidate Brown to Christie: ‘Now that you’re staying in NJ, join me in denouncing Sam Thompson’s double dipping’

NEWS RELEASE
October 5, 2011

Old Bridge – Now that Governor Chris Christie has decided not to pursue the Republican nomination for President, District 12 State Senate candidate Bob Brown is calling on him to join in calling for Assemblyman Sam Thompson to stop double dipping. Thompson is collecting both a pension from a state government job he retired from and a salary as a state legislator, totaling over $100,000.

“Governor Christie has been very clear on double dipping in the past – he’s totally against it and so am I,” said Brown, a retired police officer who was shot in the line of duty and later became an attorney. “Now that the Governor has decided to stay in New Jersey, I hope he’ll join me in telling Sam Thompson to stop abusing taxpayers by taking both a state pension and salary.”

Christie famously said that reporters should “take the bat out” on State Senator Loretta Weinberg earlier this year after it became clear that she was double dipping, and has also criticized Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, an ally of his, for the same practice. Brown currently receives a government disability pension but has pledged to stop receiving it if he’s elected to the state senate.

When asked by a reporter from PolitickerNJ about his double dipping, Thompson tried to turn the question around on police officers who take up a second career after retirement. Brown called on Thompson to apologize for these offensive comments about law enforcement but Thompson has refused.

For any additional information, please contact Philip Swibinski, campaign spokesman, at 201-978-8651 or philip.swibinski@vmmi.net.

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Filed under Bob Brown, double dipping, Gov. Chris Christie, PolitickerNJ, press release, Sam Thompson

LD12 Senate candidate Brown calls on opponent Thompson to apologize for anti-police comments

NEWS RELEASE
September 13, 2011



Old Bridge – State Senate candidate Bob Brown, a retired police officer who was shot in the line of duty, is calling on his opponent in the November election to apologize to law enforcement officials for a disparaging comment he made last week about retired police. Assemblyman Sam Thompson, the Republican nominee for Senate in Legislative District 12, was replying to a call from Brown to forgo his public pension while he accrues a salary as a legislator, a practice known as “double dipping.”

In reference to Brown’s criticism of Thompson’s double dipping, the Assemblyman said to PolitickerNJ.com that Brown should “look at all his fellow law enforcement officers who retire and take a second career. Is he bothered by that?” (Source: PolitickerNJ)

“First Sam Thompson refuses to stop abusing New Jersey taxpayers by double dipping, taking both a public pension and public salary. Now, he has insulted police officers everywhere by comparing his selfish actions to their struggle to put food on their families’ tables,” said Brown, who went to law school after becoming permanently disabled because of a gunshot wound. “Police officers put their lives on the line every day to keep us all safe. Thompson owes all of them an apology.”

Thompson continues to receive both his salary and pension, totaling over $100,000 per year, despite calls from Brown to stop collecting one of the other. Brown currently receives a disability pension and has pledged not to collect it if he is elected to the State Senate.

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Filed under 12th Legislative District, Bob Brown, double dipping, NJ State Senate, Old Bridge NJ, police pensions, PolitickerNJ, press release, Sam Thompson

>Mr. Kyrillos Wants to Go to Washington; Christopher Cullen to remain in district to fight for working families

>FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 13, 2011

HAZLET – Following today’s Politicker New Jersey report that Republican Joe Kyrillos filed papers with the Federal Election Commission forming an exploratory committee for U.S. Senate, his Democratic challenger Christopher Cullen issued the following statement:

With each passing day it’s clearer and clearer to me that Joe Kyrillos cares more about his next political move than he does the people of the Thirteenth Legislative District. If Joe plans on jumping ship, he should make a public statement to that effect. It’s time we had a voice in Trenton who cares more about the concerns of seniors and working families than he does about his next political move. I will stay right here, fighting to create jobs and protect our environment.


Mayor Cullen served on the Hazlet Township Committee from 2001-2004. During that time, he preserved more open space than any mayor in Hazlet history. He currently works as facilities maintenance manager for the Marine Academy of Science and Technology at Sandy Hook.

The new Thirteenth Legislative District comprises Aberdeen, Atlantic Highlands, Fair Haven, Hazlet, Highlands, Holmdel, Keansburg, Keyport, Little Silver, Marlboro, Middletown, Monmouth Beach, Oceanport, Rumson, Sea Bright, and Union Beach.

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Filed under 13th Legisaltive District, Christopher Cullen, Democratic challenger, exploratory committee, Federal Election Committee, Hazlet NJ, Joe Kyrillos, PolitickerNJ, U.S Senate Seat

>Santiago convinced he has a shot in newly configured LD 11

>By Max Pizzaro @ PolitickerNJ

Still reeling from Gov. Chris Christie’s 2009 cannonball that undid their meticulously constructed designs for county control, Monmouth County Democrats are trying to re-inflate enthusiasm around the candidacies of Freeholder Amy Mallet and an 11th District legislative slate that benefits from redistricting.

At the the top of the ticket for the Democrats as they try to unseat state Sen. Jennifer Beck, (R-12), of Red Bank stands Ray Santiago of Freehold Township, a Puerto Rican born success story who grew up in Brooklyn and hung up the law shingle in lush Monmouth County about ten years.

Coming off back to back losses at the local level and deprived of the two years of fundraising he says he, of course, would have preferred, he took the short runway shot at a Senate candidacy based on redistricting and his belief that the district is winnable. Registration in a district composed in part of old 11th District towns, including Asbury Park and Long Branch, favors Democrats: 36,643 to 26,405 Republicans with an additional 68,899 undecided voters, but again, the overall trend lines in Monmouth have been steadily Republican in the Christie era.

Santiago plans to run against Beck in part on a platform of wanting to improve the schools funding formula in order to exert fairness for Monmouth County towns. Part of his argument for election includes the pitch that he will be more independent than Republicans forced into line by the animated Christie.

“I’m not a fan of Governor Christie’s,” Santiago told PolitickerNJ.com. “I don’t like the mannerism in which he makes his case. It’s my way or the highway. Moreover, all of his talk of cuts simply forces the towns to raise taxes at the local level.”

As for Beck, “What positive things has she done?” Santiago wanted to know.

Challenged to explain how he thinks another lawyer in Trenton can make the case to regular voters that he would effectively answer their constituent needs, Santiago said, “As an attorney, I have first-hand knowledge of how these laws impact people. Who better to draft and create legislation? I would say this, too, importantly, my sense of the law – my sense of my profession – is that it is the service of human need. The way I approach the law, it is in service of the disadvantaged.”

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Filed under 11th Legislative District, Amy Handlin, Gov. Chris Christie, Marilyn Schlossbach, Max Pizzaro, Monmouth County, PolitickerNJ, Ray Santiago, Vin Gopal

>Governor Houdini

>The following commentary was sent to me by a fellow reader who found it posted over atPolitickerNJ. The commentary was written by NJ State Senate Majority Leader Barbara Bouno.

In her commentary Senator Buono states that Governor Christie should stop trying to be a magician that uses smoke and mirrors to deflect peoples attention away from the real issues facing tax payers. She says that the governor’s magical “toolkit” is not necessarily the whole answer to the property taxes and he should stop pretending that it is because other issues like getting people back to work and creating jobs will do just as much to alleviate the tax burden
than many of the proposals in the “toolkit”.
It’s an interesting read, take a look at it below:
The key to any good magician’s act is to distract the audience from the ruse being played, usually with a flashy object, so they don’t realize that the whole act is nothing more than smoke and mirrors.

In many ways, Governor Christie’s “toolkit” to help control property tax increases is a similar smoke and mirror act. Sure, there are several worthy bills among the 30 or so ideas the Governor proposed. The civil service and interest arbitration reform measures we recently passed will certainly have an impact in controlling some of the main drivers of local government spending as employee contracts are renegotiated down the road.

But many of the other proposals will have little to no effect on property taxes in the short or long term. In fact, the administration has failed to produce cost-saving estimates for most of the Governor’s proposals.

Yet the Governor continues to flash his shiny toolkit around as the sole means for helping towns stay within the new two-percent property tax cap about to go into effect.

Why?

Because he is hoping his magic act will distract people from the fact that he has failed to address many of the state’s larger woes – stimulating the economy, putting people back to work – while exacerbating the growing divide between the “haves” and “have nots.”

Our jobless rate remains alarmingly high while the Governor has fought to scale back unemployment benefits. He has staunchly defended tax breaks for the state’s wealthiest residents while cutting the Earned Income Tax Credit for our poorest. Increased New Jersey Transit fees, cuts in after school programs and a general lack of job stimulation ideas are all an increasing attack on New Jersey’s middle and lower income families.

Either the Governor is bereft of financial acuity or simply lacks compassion for the working men and women of this state held hostage by the lingering recession.

A clear example of the former is his dumbfounding claim that Moody’s recent municipal bond downgrade is “a great referendum” on his policies because it means we’re “getting our fiscal house in order.” For a governor to boast about municipalities in our state being downgraded which will increase the cost of borrowing is insane especially when his policies have increased the state’s long-term debt obligation.

Everyone will readily admit that property taxes are one of the most pressing issues facing New Jersey. But for our roughly 400,000 residents looking for work so they can afford to stay in their house, or even buy one to begin with, it is crucial that our public policy agenda succeeds in breathing life into our anemic economy.

In order to tackle the broader challenges we face at a state, we need to focus on economic development and job stimulation. This underscores the contrast between the Governor’s agenda and the democratic led “Back to Work NJ” agenda in the legislature.

We have steadily been advancing roughly 30 measures to make New Jersey a more business-friendly state in order to get people back into the workforce. Many of these bills will bring to life real solutions to address the challenges that have been laid out in ongoing conversations we have had with business leaders throughout the state.

Several measures would modernize our business tax codes to benefit in-state based businesses and small businesses, the latter of which I sponsored. Another bill will expand the program that currently offers grants to businesses to help retain and create jobs, a practical, hands-on measure that will actually put people back to work.

Other components of this package seek to provide tax credits to the biotech industry, to encourage upstart companies to locate in New Jersey. And taking a cue from the successful “Georgia Work$” program, we are looking to create a similar model in New Jersey that would provide the critical training residents need to find work in key industries.

Hopefully the Governor will put his magic act on hold long enough to see the merit in these bills and sign them into law. By putting people back to work, we will be able to help people stay in their homes, generate increased revenue, and fund the vital services needed to keep our state moving forward.

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Filed under Gov. Chris Christie, PolitickerNJ, Senator Barbara Buono, tax saving tool, toolkit

N.J. Democrats Demand Marriage Vote

Advocate.com

In the wake of reports indicating that New Jersey lawmakers may be reluctant to bring a marriage equality bill to the floor during the lame duck session, some 200 Democrats sent a letter on Tuesday urging senate and assembly leaders to take a vote on the bill.

The prominent Democrats want action on the measure before the session ends and governor-elect Chris Christie, a Republican who has vowed to veto the marriage equality bill, takes office on January 19.

According to the Associated Press, “the Democrats, including members of congress, fundraisers and lobbyists , released a letter to leaders in the senate and assembly Tuesday demanding the bill be voted up or down before the lame-duck session ends in January.”

On Monday, a report in the Star-Ledger suggested that prospects for the marriage equality bill looked extremely bleak. Lead sponsor Senator Loretta Weinberg was quoted as saying, “I can’t say I’m confident now.”


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Filed under Chris Christie, Gov. Jon Corzine, Marriage Equality, New Jersey, PolitickerNJ, The Advocate