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While Chris Christie focuses on New Jersey's underfunded and overly generous public employee pension system there is another boondoggle dragging down our state's beleaguered taxpayers. Public employee health insurance. Not only is it a Cadillac Plan, it's a fully-loaded Escalade with artificially low monthly payments subsidized by those of us with Real Jobs.
New Jersey offers one of the most expensive health benefits plans in the nation to its state workers, with average monthly premium costs running nearly 1-1/2 times more than that of the rest of the country, according to the first-ever analysis of how much state governments pay to insure their employees.
A study released this afternoon by Pew Charitable Trusts and the MacArthur Foundation, both nonpartisan research organizations, found premium costs were highest in Alaska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Vermont and Wisconsin, and lowest in Arkansas, Mississippi, New Mexico, South Carolina and South Dakota.
The national average monthly premium — the cost borne by the state and its employees — was $963, compared to $1,334 in New Jersey, according to the report.
New Jersey covered 95 percent of the tab, employees 5 percent, compared to the 84 -to-16 percent state and employee split nationally.
At $65 per month this isn't in the same league as your Obamacare Bronze plan. Even if you get a whopping subsidy, it's not 95% of your premium.
But while Chris Christie might tell us how "unsustainable" this situation is, he's not doing much to rein in the growth of NJ's public employee ranks. He's all talk and no action.
And the Democrats who run this state like it that way. Because the recipients
of taxpayer largesse always vote their way.
Cory Booker's Newark — worse than Detroit.
Of the 150 largest cities in the country, only three have done a poorer job than Newark in recovering from the 2008 downturn in the economy, according to a new study.
The state's largest city finished 147th overall after WalletHub compiled numbers of the cities most and least-recovered.
The study used 18 key metrics — from the inflow of college-educated workers and number of new businesses to unemployment rates and home price appreciation.
Detroit beat Newark by 2 slots, at #145.
Meanwhile, the idiot voters of NJ promoted Booker to the U.S. Senate, despite his legacy of failure as mayor of Newark. Because posting pithy sayings on Twitter is like way better than solving his city's problems.
Remember David Dinkins? Yeah, Cory Booker makes him look good.
Which is why, maybe, Republican Jeff Bell is within striking distance of Booker according to the latest polling data.
On the other hand, the citizens of Newark just elected as mayor the son of the primary instigator behind the 1967 riots. Because who better to rebuild Newark than the guy whose father burned it to the ground?
Me? I'd burn it again. Check out these photos taken by my FB friend Peter Carroll. Because he captured Newark, to a T. It's where murder is commonplace. And carjacking is what passes for recreation among the "youths" of Brick City.
Remember Booker's Deputy Mayor Ronald Salahuddin? Booker would rather that you forgot, since Salahuddin is serving time for corruption. And they were such good friends, until, you know, they weren't. Because he has other friends, who may or may not have dealt drugs from inside his bachelor pad.
And here you thought T-Bone was a kind of steak.
Cory Booker failed Newark. He did nothing as mayor, except coddle criminals and pretend to be hip. The schools still suck. The crime rate is escalating. Sane people don't dare set foot in his urban paradise.
So why in the world would we re-elect him to the Senate?
Our activist state supreme court is at it again. Legislating from the bench. Penning actual legislation, and ordering that it be enacted, forthwith.
The New Jersey Supreme Court said Tuesday that the traditional privacy rights reserved for married couples — shielding their intimate conversations from public view — should no longer apply to spouses who are hatching or executing a crime together.
In a 7-0 ruling, the justices said it was time to update the state's law on criminal evidence so prosecutors can use at trial any smoking-gun communications they find between married partners. However, their ruling did not overturn the existing law.
Chief Justice Stuart Rabner wrote in his opinion that unless the change is made by lawmakers, current law could prompt criminals to team up with their spouses to avoid scrutiny by the police — a scenario that would "thwart law enforcement, and increase the risk to the public."
The justices felt so strongly about the issue they took the rare step of drafting an amendment to New Jersey's evidence law and sent it to the Legislature and Gov. Chris Christie for approval.
Well sure! Let's compel wives to testify against their husbands, just because these black-robed poobahs want to make it easier to convict drug dealers. Who needs to respect centuries of precedent, anyway? Not when spouses might decide to commit a crime together. It's almost as if they've never heard of Bonnie and Clyde…
Spousal Privilege is a time-honored tradition, going all the way back to English Common Law. It preserves the sanctity of marriage by legally recognizing the unique bond between husband and wife. They truly are inseparable in the eyes of the law, and their intimate conversations are quite rightly protected from any intrusion. The state cannot compel you to convict yourself. And likewise, it must not coerce a wife into giving evidence against her husband.
Ah, but we live now in the Age of Expediency, the Ends Justify The Means, and the state is busily chipping away at the foundation of marriage already, so what's really wrong with treating spouses as disinterested parties?
And if it takes 7 unelected judges to Show Us The Way, that's what puts the
Progress into Progressive, right?
Steve Sweeney huffed and he puffed and in the end Chris Christie blew his house down. Because Christie said raising taxes was a non-starter, which apparently is a newsflash to Sweeney, and our liberal media.
It's The End Of The World according to the class warriors at the Star-Ledger
Gov. Chris Christie signed a $32.5 billion state budget today that all but abandons a first-term plan to repair New Jersey's derelict pension system, slicing $1.57 billion from a payment required by law for public workers' retirement funds.
With his new budget — which makes modest funding increases to schools and hospitals and is 1.2 percent smaller than the one he signed last year — Christie held firm on a promise to block major tax increases in New Jersey. He vetoed a pair of Democratic bills that would have hiked rates on millionaires and businesses and reaped an extra $1.1 billion for the pension funds.
Christie's move to short the pension system — a reversal for a governor who once pledged to rescue it from collapse — could spark downgrades of New Jersey's credit rating and a difficult court battle against public-sector unions. With unfunded liabilities of nearly $50 billion for state and local workers. plans, the growing pension mess could hurt Christie's chances if he decides to run for president.
This is what passes for "objective" reporting in the Garden State. Christie "abandons" the pension system! It's a "reversal" of his "pledge!" Except, the money simply isn't there. Sweeney's millionaire's tax is a chimera; a ploy that's already been tried, and failed. Maybe the Ledger should read their own op-eds.
The big spenders at the Bergen Record are no better.
Governor Christie signed a $32.5 billion budget into law Monday evening, using his line-item veto to slash more than $1 billion in spending from the appropriations bill that lawmakers had approved knowing he would cut that funding and reject their tax increases.
Christie cut funding for women's health care, a tax credit for low-wage workers and legal services for the poor, all from the budget bill approved by Democrats on Thursday. The governor also delayed property tax relief to next year, overriding Democratic attempts to provide it next month.
The spin, it makes me dizzy. All those "cuts" are in actuality additional spending tacked onto the budget by the Democrats and nixed by Christie. Presumably because spending more money on extra stuff is how they "save" the pension system. The amounts Christie left appropriated to "women's health care," "low-wage workers," and "legal services for the poor" remain unchanged from last year. And the property tax relief game is one played by every governor since William Paterson, which makes it hardly newsworthy, unless you're out to paint Chris Christie as evil incarnate.
Chris Christie hasn't stood up for much. I'll be the first guy to say he's
been a tremendous disappointment to us Conservatives. But once a year at
budget time he's our guy. The taxpayers of New Jersey will take whatever
victories we can get, whenever we can get them. Until Christie came along
the public employee unions held all the cards around here. It's about time
they felt some of our pain.
They huffed and they puffed and Chris Christie will line-item-veto them into irrelevance anyway.
The Democratic-controlled New Jersey Legislature followed the script as expected Thursday, sending Gov. Chris Christie a new $34.1 billion state budget that would make a full payment to the public-worker pension fund and increase taxes on businesses and millionaires to plug a major revenue shortfall.
They did so even though Christie, a Republican, is expected to veto the tax hikes and reduce the pension payment to cover the shortfall before signing the spending plan.
But in the midst of a day of prepared speeches and pre-determined votes, state Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) could not contain his anger. He thundered at Republicans that pension reforms he and Christie enacted three years ago "came with an obligation, damn it! ... What about damn fairness?"
Fairness? What is this "fairness" of which He Would Be Governor speaks? We've had a succession of Democrat governors and legislatures, all espousing "fairness," and all failing miserably to honor their obligation to the pension fund. Because buying votes always trumps "fairness." Now Sweeney is peeved because Chris Christie plans to do the same thing every Democrat governor before him has done?
I think the word for that is "chutzpah," not fairness.
Besides, when do the taxpayers get our chance at this "fairness" thing? We're pretty damn tired of paying through the nose for bloated, inefficient, duplicative government. Revenue shortfall my ass! The budget Christie originally proposed is bigger than last year's. Sweeney's plan outspends him by another 3.3%. We have plenty of revenue, what we don't have is anyone willing to rein in spending.
Oh, and looky here, geriatric loon Loretta Weinberg (D-Abortion, Inc.) snuck in her state subsidy for the charnel houses of Planned Parenthood, again. Christie's vetoed that nonsense at least 5 times already, but hey, why not showboat for the merchants of death in one more blast of futility?
Under the guise of "fairness" the Democrats are up to their same old tricks
— tax and spend, wealth redistribution, and pandering for votes. They
haven't had a new idea in more than 50 years. Meanwhile the rest of us have
figured out that yes, you eventually do run out of other people's money.
Steve Sweeney, NJ State Senate President and The Man Who Would Be Governor, wants to tax New Jersey into prosperity. That is, if you define prosperity as gold-plated public employee pensions and benefits.
Senate President Stephen Sweeney said today that Democrats in the upper house will not go along with Gov. Chris Christie's plan to cut funding meant for public-workers' pensions, rolling out a competing budget proposal that raises a series of taxes on wealthy earners and businesses to raise an extra $1.57 billion in the coming fiscal year.
At a Statehouse news conference, Sweeney (D-Gloucester) had tough words for Christie and drew a line in the sand: If the governor vetoes the tax increases, Democrats would consider putting them before voters in a referendum, he said.
Sweeney said shorting the pension fund next year — Christie is proposing to scale back a $2.25 billion pension payment to $681 million — was no way to solve New Jersey's "budget crisis." He and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) said Christie's policies have failed to spur enough job creation and state revenue, requiring at least temporary tax hikes to get the state's finances in order.
The Takers are declaring war on the Makers.
And really, the idea that imposing more costs on businesses will spur "job creation" is laughable on its face. Unless Sweeney means government job creation, because putting more money into the state budget always results in the hiring of more public employees.
Hey, public employees overwhelmningly vote Democrat! I'm sure that's just a coincidence.
Let me ask, would you stay in New Jersey and create jobs when faced with these new taxes?
· The tax rate on income above $1 million would rise from 8.97 percent to 10.75 percent, netting $565 million.
· The tax rate on income between $500,000 and $1 million would rise from 8.97 percent to 10.25 percent, netting $155 milion.
· A new, 15 percent surcharge on the corporate business tax would bring in $375 million.
· Suspending grants from the Business Employment Incentive Program (BEIP) for a year would free up $175 million.
That's a 20% tax increase on "millionaires," and a 14% increase on incomes above $500,000. Plus a 15% corporate penalty. So the owner of a typical S Corp (small business) would see a thirty-five percent increase in his taxes.
All so guys like Lodi Police Chief Vincent Caruso can retire at age 55 with a $342,000 lump sum on top of a $125,000 annual pension. (Notice how Sweeney's tax increases kick in at $500k, just above Chief Caruso's total payout for this year. Hmmm.)
Please, tell me how any of this idiocy makes sense.
Because it doesn't.
You want to know how screwed-up the Democrats are? Take Loretta Weinberg. (Please!) She's "retired" and collecting a state pension, but she's also earning a government salary as a state senator. We call that Double Dipping and it's rampant among the politicians and unionistas who regularly complain the public pension system is under-funded.
Hypocrisy, on steroids. They're all takers, and they have no shame.
Sometimes, if you build it, they don't come.
A small but vocal group of advocates pressured NJ into legalizing "medical" marijuana. But so far, the program has been a total bust. The promised flocks of patients clammoring for this miracle drug haven't materialized, and the state-sanctioned dope dealers are hopelessly in the red.
After predictions that New Jersey's medical marijuana program could serve tens of thousands of patients with severe and painful illnesses, only 2,342 have signed up — a participation rate so small some worry the very future of the program could be at stake.
"We are hearing more and more anecdotal evidence that dispensaries are not sustaining themselves, the quality (of the marijuana) is not always there, and it's difficult for doctors and patients to get into the program," [Assemblyman Reed] Gusciora (D-Mercer) said.
Enrollment in the program has more than doubled in the last year as two of the state's three medical marijuana dispensaries opened their doors. But it's nowhere near the 5,000 to 30,000 medical marijuana patients advocates anticipated when the law was passed. Dispensary owners looked at disease statistics in New Jersey and expected at least 50,000 patients. The state's first dispensary opened in December 2012.
"We thought we would have 10,000 patients by now," said Yale Galanter, attorney and spokesman for Garden State Dispensary in Woodbridge, which has served 1,700 since opening six months ago.
The Compassionate Care Foundation center in Egg Harbor Township, which opened with great fanfare in October after securing a state-backed loan, says it needs 2,000 patients to break even and has served 600. The owners report bagfuls of cannabis are going to waste, and expansion plans are on hold.
Chief operating officer Bill Thomas quit last week, saying he could no longer work without getting paid.
"It's failing," Thomas said in an interview days before he resigned Monday. "From a business standpoint and from a patient standpoint, it's not successful. The governor says why change anything if (patients) haven't shown up. Is there really no demand, or is it so hard to get access that it is easier to buy it from the high school kid down the street? It's not like the people don't get it another way."
As it turns out, doctors are reluctant to prescribe marijuana, perhaps for the same reasons they no longer recommend medicinal alcohol. (A therapy which, by the way, I personally have found to be quite effective!)
Patients must be referred by a doctor in order to participate. Just 296 of New Jersey's 21,000 licensed physicians have signed up.
Many doctors don't want their name on the state's website, according to Gusciora, and dispensary officials from Woodbridge and Egg Harbor Township. They said doctors who are in the program report that they get calls from people diagnosed with illnesses they don't treat, as well as others who don't qualify for the program. As that word spreads, other doctors are wary about joining the program, the officials say.
And given the stigma surrounding marijuana, which is still illegal under federal law, some doctors fear they will lose patients or alienate their practice partners.
Because what New Jersey's doctors need is more liability, right?
Larry Downs, executive director for the Medical Society of New Jersey, said he found the lack of doctor involvement a "convenient excuse" for the program's struggles.
"If dispensary owners have overestimated the market, then that is not the concern of the medical field," Downs said.
"If doctors believe it is a legitimate therapy, being published on a website is not going to stop them," he added. "A lot of doctors do not believe it is a good therapy and that it does not meet standards of efficacy and safety."
Medical marijuana has always been a fig leaf, merely a pretense for aging
stoners with "back trouble" to keep getting high without the hassle of driving
to Irvington or Camden to score weed. The number of folks who might
legitimately benefit from the drug's dubious effects is, and always will be,
As if we needed another opinion poll to discover the obvious!
New Jersey's high cost of living — including its high taxes — could drive seniors out of the state, according to a poll released today.
The Fairleigh Dickinson PublicMind poll found that 52 percent of the state's non-retirees said they plan to spend their golden years in another state, while just 32 percent said they want to stay in New Jersey.
"People are living longer and need their retirement savings to last beyond what previous generations expected," said poll director Krista Jenkins. "Future retirees are obviously looking for places where they can stretch their dollars, and New Jersey isn't looking too affordable these days."
Of those who want to leave, 57 percent said it's the state's high cost of living, including taxes.
In other news, water is wet.
And sooner or later you run out of other people's money.
"Economies thrive with a diversity of taxpayers, all of whose contributions and needs provide some degree of equilibrium," said Jenkins. "If broad swaths of retirees leave the state, things like school districts will suffer as the demand begins to exceed tax revenue."
No one's gonna accuse New Jersey's economy of "thriving." Not lately, anyway. And yet the Democrats who control our state legislature are hell-bent on raising taxes. Why? To transfer even more of our wealth to the public employee unions, of course.
It's the Blue State death spiral. Because liberals never learn from their
So much for Chris Christie pretending he hasn't raised taxes. He's nixing the annual Homestead Rebate program, which of course is the same as a tax increase for about one million NJ residents.
Senior citizens, disabled residents and other homeowners who are among the more than a million people enrolled in New Jersey's Homestead program will not get their property tax relief this year.
That relief — in the form of a credit on annual property tax bills — is again being delayed by Governor Christie and his administration, who blame another bad budget year.
The latest delay means people won't see this benefit until May 2015 — nearly two years since the last time the tax-relief credit was available.
"When you're running out of money, you've got to manage your cash carefully," Christie said on Wednesday, defending the decision to delay the credit as part of a plan to reduce his proposed budget by $1.7 billion. "You've got to prioritize your bills and decide which ones you absolutely must pay."
I love how he uses Democrat-speak — returning our money is a "bill" he "must pay." Wrong! It's revenue he never should have collected in the first place! When government gets to decide how big our allowance should be each week that's not Liberty, it's tyranny.
If Chris Christie doesn't understand that, he's not fit to run for president.
Here's a thought. Last year public employees siphoned an additional $360 million dollars out of our wallets and Chris Christie added 1409 workers to the state's payroll. I don't know about you, but from where I sit New Jersey government was working pretty well before 1409 new parasites latched on to the public teat.
Their $360 million dollar cost is almost equal to the $375 million dollar tax
increase Christie is dumping on us. Take the additional $15 million out of
Global Warming Climate Change slush fund or the UN Agenda
21 bike lane boondoggle. That's how you cut real spending.
New Jersey has the second highest tax burden in the nation. We shouldn't be
striving for #1.
So much for "remaking" our activist state supreme court.
Chris Christie plans to re-nominate the biggest lefty of them all, activist Chief Justice Stuart Rabner, to a lifetime term. He'll continue legislating from the bench until the year 2030.
Gov. Chris Christie today will re-nominate Stuart Rabner as chief justice of the state Supreme Court, The Star-Ledger has learned.
The development is a breakthrough in negotiations between Christie and state Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester), who had been locked in a battle over New Jersey's highest court for years, and a victory for Sweeney.
According to three sources with knowledge of the agreement, Rabner — who has been chief justice since 2007 — will be nominated by Christie for tenure, and serve until he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70 in 2030.
Christie, in turn, will get to nominate with Sweeney's support a close ally to one of two vacant seats on the court: Superior Court Judge Lee Solomon, a Republican who previously served as president of the Board of Public Utilities.
The remaining court vacancy would remain unfilled, the sources said, with Judge Mary Catherine Cuff, a Democrat, continuing to serve on a temporary basis.
Lee Solomon is ostensibly a Republican, but he's no Conservative. Meanwhile Sweeney gets two hard-core liberals, which keeps the court firmly in the activist camp. Rabner led the charge for homosexual "marriage," dictated to the legislature on so-called "affordable" housing and school funding formulas, and set the stage for deadbeats to walk away from their mortgages in the name of "social justice."
I shudder to imagine what kind of progressive idiocy he'll foist upon us over the next 16 years.
For me, and many others, this seals Chris Christie's RINO status. Political strategist Rick Shaftan agrees:
Chris Christie talked the talk.
He hasn't walked the walk.
For the sixth time in four years, New Jersey's credit rating took a hit yesterday.
Only a few days after news broke that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie may punt on a $1.58 billion pension payment, the GOP star and presidential hopeful incurred his state's sixth credit downgrade in four years. Moody's has lowered New Jersey's rating to A1, matching downgrades by two other rating agencies and sticking it with the third-lowest rating among states.
And another downgrade is right around the corner.
"The downgrade to A1 reflects the weakened financial position resulting from recurring revenue shortfalls and ongoing reliance on non-recurring resources that have deferred structural imbalances into future years," Moody's analyst Baye Larsen said in the report. She said the state's outlook was negative, meaning it may face a further downgrade.
It's easy to blame Christie, but he's working with an openly hostile and partisan state legislature which has shown no willingness to make tough choices. Still, his latest budget proposal is larded up with spending and his economic team's ability to forecast revenue has been spotty at best. He ought to be reining in the gravy train because he's running out of time to get New Jersey's finances under control.
Waiting in the wings for 2017 is the Steve and Steve clown show, as South Jersey Democrat Steve Sweeney faces off against North Jersey Democrat Steven Fulop in a race to see who can most effectively pander to their liberal base. Whichever one gets the nod the song will be the same — raise taxes, soak "the rich," and throw money at the public employee unions.
Because under Chris Christie we're only the 3rd-least tax-friendly state in the nation. The Democrats want us to be Number 1!
No wonder our long-term outlook is "negative."
When he first ran for Governor, Chris Christie promised us a tax cut.
When he ran for re-election, he promised us a tax cut.
When he submitted this year's state budget, he promised "no new taxes on the people of New Jersey."
We never got our tax cut.
And his budget contains 23 new and increaed "fees," which of course are merely taxes by another name.
Two months ago, Governor Christie proposed a $34.4 billion budget, promising "no new taxes on the people of New Jersey."
Now his administration is detailing nearly two dozen fees and fines that he wants increased — none of which was made public at the time.
The tax policy changes would increase revenue for five different state departments.
They include boosting the $2 fee added to motor vehicle fines to fund the state's forensic DNA lab by 75 cents. The fingerprint fees for non-criminal background checks would go from $30 to $45.
Home improvement contractors would be forced to pay $110 instead of $90 to register with the state, and $90 instead of $75 to renew their registration.
The state's Division Alcoholic Beverage Control, which regulates the sale of alcohol in New Jersey, would also increase fees across the board, according to Christie's proposal.
Assemblyman Joe Cryan, D-Union, walked the treasurer through each proposed fee and fine hike during the Assembly Budget Committee meeting held Wednesday.
"These increases touch on everything from boarding homes to job-creating urban businesses to motor vehicle services to cemeteries to home improvements," Cryan said. "Not much is left untouched, which is unfortunate for New Jersey residents and businesses."
All this to fund the largest budget in state history, with a whopping 3.5% increase in spending over last year. Oh, and by the way, there's an $807 million dollar hole in the current budget, something Christie intends to paper over in the hope none of us will actually notice it.
All told, Chris Christie has increased the budget by over 18% since he took office in 2010 and declared a "fiscal emergency" due to, wait for it, excessive spending.
Time to look in the mirror Chief. We have met the Excessive Spender, and he's
Face it, Chris Christie's reality isn't matching his hype.
New Jersey's state debt was just downgraded, again, for the fifth time since Christie took office as governor.
A major Wall Street credit-rating agency downgraded New Jersey's debt again Thursday, unnerved by "both the scale and belatedness" of an $807 million budget gap disclosed this week by Gov. Chris Christie's administration.
The action by Fitch Ratings followed a similar ratings cut last month by Standard & Poor's. Earlier this week, Moody's Investors Service called the shortfall a "credit negative development," forewarning that yet another downgrade may be coming.
We're now slightly above junk bond status. Illinois, here we come!
Well, maybe not literally, because nobody wants to live in Illinois, although a new opinion poll shows almost half of NJ residents are ready to move somewhere else. Anywhere else.
In a recent Gallup poll, 41 percent of Garden State residents say, yes, they would like to move, 8 percentage points above the 50-state average. Still, a majority (58 percent) would rather remain in the state.
Those 58% probably work for the government.
Every time we turn around, taxes go up, and services go down. The bozos in Trenton care more about themselves and padding their pensions than they do about you and me. And that goes for all of them, not just the ones with "R" after their name.
Instead of trying to make NJ more affordable, they spend their time kvetching about a bridge closure. The real scandal is how much money the Port Authority rakes in from us to cross that bridge, and the idiotic ways in which the bureaucrats waste it. But since it's a bipartisan patronage mill, everyone turns a blind eye.
Our activist state supreme court continues to legislate from the bench, demanding billion dollar payoffs to the teachers union while the schools continue to fail. They waved a magic wand and decreed everyone was entitled to "affordable housing," without bothering to wonder where the money to pay for that housing would come from. And when Christie tried to reform the court, Democrats blocked his every move.
New Jersey, we put the "fun" in dysfunctional.
Don't forget to pay the
exit tax on your way out!
Gee, you spend a week in North Carolina and you miss the fun stuff that makes Page One in the Star-Ledger. While I was walking Sophie's dog on the beach in Hatteras, NC, the jaunty journalists still employed by Rich Vezza were pouring over corporate donation records, eagerly seeking checks made out to Republicans.
And they found Wawa, a convenience store chain from PA that is expanding into the New Jersey market, who gave a whopping $21,800 to the GOP.
This cataclysmic event necessitated a blaring headline, Page One Above The Fold in their Sunday edition.
Convenience store politics: Wawa increases donations to NJ politicians
Next time you buy coffee, a breakfast sandwich or fill up with gas at Wawa, there's a good chance your money isn't only going to the convenience store chain.
It could also wind up in the campaign accounts of New Jersey politicians.
Since 2012, the company has dispensed at least $21,800 to candidates seeking state office and political committees in New Jersey, according to a review of campaign records. That's nearly twice as much as in the previous 27 years.
The company gave $10,000 to the Republican State Committee — unofficially controlled by Gov. Chris Christie. Over the next year, it would also max out Christie's gubernatorial campaign, giving $7,200 to his primary and general election accounts combined.
By contrast, Wawa — whose annual revenue is estimated at $9 billion — made no donations to the Democratic State Committee or Christie's Democratic opponent last year, former state Sen. Barbara Buono.
Stop the presses! A corporation donated to Republicans, while seeking to expand their business. But since they didn't give one thin dime to Babs Buono's doomed gubernatorial quest, it immediately makes them seem shady. Or so we're being led to beleive.
Maybe they read the polls that showed her losing by double digits?
Curiously though, the Ledger's intrepid investigators never tallied up how much money the teachers' union poured into Buono's losing endeavor.
So I Googled it for them.
$7.2 million. The NJEA wrote checks totalling $7.2 million last year, exclusively to Democrats.
The NJEA PAC lists $1,439,772.32 in expenditures and another $353,424.19 in the bank. Of the total, $1.2 million went to legislative candidates or committees.
The report is a fraction of the NJEA's overall spending thus far, with nearly $6 million paid out by its Super PAC, Garden State Forward, much of it to the benefit Buono, the Democratic challenger to Gov. Chris Christie.
The money in the NJEA PAC comes out of voluntary contributions from the union's 200,000 members. It is not derived from dues. The Super PAC, however, is funded from dues.
Apparently political donations form the NJEA are Not News.
So, the next time you pay your school tax, there's a good chance the money isn't going to books, or pencils, or new basketballs. It's going to Union Dues, automatically deducted from every school employee's taxpayer-funded salary, which are then funneled directly into the pockets of Democratic party politicians.
Who, quite coincidentally, always vote to expand the power of unions in New Jersey.
But like I said, that's not news. Because only corporate money in politics
is evil. Or something.
Is Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer lying? The latest Bridgegate report says "yes."
An internal investigation conducted by lawyers working for Gov. Chris Christie's office found no evidence to support claims his top people tried to strong-arm Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer into approving a development project, according to a report released this morning.
The investigators conclude that Zimmer's allegations that the administration withheld Hurricane Sandy aid in an attempt to aid a private developer were unsubstantiated, "demonstrably false" and "unbelievable."
"They are contradicted by contemporaneous documents, other witnesses' accounts, and her own prior statements," Randy Mastro, a lawyer with Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, writes in the 360-page report. "In sum, the subjective perceptions she may have do not match objective reality, as reflected in the hard evidence uncovered during our investigation."
I love the Star-Ledger's spin — "lawyers working for Gov. Chris Christie's office" — which of course means they're like totally biased and not to be believed, wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Except, they're not "working" for Chris Christie, they're working for the taxpayers of New Jersey. We're paying their fee.
And the reality is, no matter how hard the Democrats and their media sycophants try, they can't pin this ridiculous traffic jam "conspiracy" on our Governor.
The whole thing is a tempest in a toll booth. Every single day there is a government-imposed traffic jam somewhere in New Jersey. Look at the mess on Route 35, or the traffic nightmare that is the neverending Route 3 bridge reconstruction. Nobody bats an eye when people are inconvenienced for months and years at a time. "That's just the way it is."
But Dawn Zimmer gets her panties in a knot because she didn't get 86 gazillion dollars for Hurricane Sandy relief and suddenly she's an MSDNC media star, while Chris Christie has to prove he didn't whisper "Machiavelli" in her ear?
Enough already. Bridgegate is over. We return you now to your regularly
scheduled Obama scandal, already in progress…
When Democrats investigate themselves, it's good government.
But when Chris Christie hired an independent law firm to investigate Bridgegate, the Star-Ledger says it's a travesty.
It cost New Jersey taxpayers at least a million bucks, but here's what we finally know for a fact: Gov. Chris Christie's lawyers think he's innocent.
He knew nothing — nothing! — about those controversial lane closures at the George Washington Bridge in September. That's the official conclusion of their internal investigation, the actual content of which we have yet to see.
What we know already, though, is that it involved 70 interviews, none of which was with any of the three people at the center of the scandal.
Bridget Kelly, who infamously wrote, "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee"; Bill Stepien, the governor's former campaign manager; and David Wildstein, Christie's appointee at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, all refused to be questioned.
But no matter. The governor's lawyers may not have talked to the right people, but they talked to a lot of people, which makes this a "comprehensive and exhaustive review," they say.
Spare me the sanctimony.
Tom Moran's band of bylined Democratic Party operatives would have a lot more credibility here if they'd ever thought to call out their president for doing essentially the same thing.
Remember when Eric Holder investigated himself, and exonerated Eric Holder?
Crickets from Moran's mental midgets.
Barack Obama investigated his own role in Benghazi, and pinned the blame on an obscure YouTube video.
Moran cheered for Nakoula Basseley Nakoula's imprisonment.
And don't forget how Dear Leader appointed a key donor to investigate the IRS targeting scandal, and to almost no one's surprise she found no evidence of wrongdoing.
Yet Tom Moran says nothing.
Chris Christie is merely taking a page from the Barack Obama playbook. Yes, I realize liberals don't like it when we use their own tactics against them. But, if they had any decency, they wouldn't be liberals in the first place.
Hey, like some tough guy once said,
punch back twice as hard.
Because public employee pensions are bleeding our state dry.
A major credit-rating agency on Wall Street lowered its outlook on New Jersey's debt from stable to negative today, citing a perfect storm of rising debt, ballooning costs, questionable budgeting practices by Gov. Chris Christie and an economic recovery that has lagged the rest of the country in recent years.
In December, another agency, Moody's Investors Service, also lowered its New Jersey debt outlook to negative.
Both agencies and a range of economic experts who study the state say the big question is how New Jersey will cope with higher pension payments every year.
The state's long-term debt, including financial obligations for retirement benefits, rose to a record $78.4 billion in 2013, an increase of $6.6 billion from the previous year and driven mostly by pension and health-benefit costs for public workers, according to a Treasury report last month.
Chris Christie's latest budget proposal fully covers the state's pension obligation for fiscal 2014, barely. But it relies on gimmicks and one-shot revenues to do it. With $78 billion in debt floating out there, he's rapidly running out of options, gimmicky or otherwise.
And the intransigence of our unionista-loving Democrats won't help matters. They're dead-set against any additional pension system reforms, and their majorities in both houses of the legislature mean they can thwart Christie at every turn. Then again, he hasn't exactly been Mr. Fiscal Responsibility either, but at least he doesn't instinctively scream "raise taxes" every five minutes.
Not that it would help, because
raising taxes chases wealth away, and nobody has $78 billion sitting
around in his couch cushions anyway. So sooner rather than later the pension
system will collapse. Promises that can't be kept won't be kept. New Jersey
is headed the way of Detroit, no two ways about it.
In New Jersey the Attorney General is appointed by, and serves at the pleasure of, the governor. So when NJ AG John J. Hoffman speaks, it's with Chris Christie's full and enthusiastic support.
The New Jersey Attorney General has filed a brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court not to hear a challenge to New Jersey's handgun-carry restrictions.
The brief, filed Friday, asks the nation's highest court to dismiss the arguments of John Drake, a Sussex County business owner who says he needs to be armed because he carries large amounts of cash for his ATM business.
The state's gun laws are "a careful grid of regulatory provisions" that only allow carry permits when there is "special danger to the applicant's life," wrote John J. Hoffman, the attorney general.
I must have missed that "special danger" clause in the Second Amendment. Perhaps one of the lurking liberals around here can point it out to me.
"New Jerseys Legislature, long ago, made the predictive judgment that widespread carrying of handguns in public would not be consistent with public safety because of the inherent danger it poses," Hoffman wrote, citing laws as early as the 1790s in restricting firearms in the Garden State.
We used to have laws restricting who could vote, not to mention laws which regulated the buying and selling of African Americans. Would AG Hoffman defend those laws by citing their colonial pedigree?
I should hope not.
Second Amendment rights are no less sacrosanct, regardless of prior misguided legislative tomfoolery. DC v. Heller made that fact abundently clear. Even the uber-liberal Ninth Circuit agrees, you have a Constitutional right to carry a gun.
Mr. Hoffman, and his boss, need to get in sync with the Constitution. Otherwise somebody might get the idea that Chris Christie wants to abolish the Second Amendment. And then I assure you, no gun-grabber RINO is ever gonna get the GOP nomination for president.
Chris Christie's patented "Jersey Comeback" may need to be rebranded as a plea — "Come Back, please, and bring your money with you." Because despite his attempts to reduce our state's tax burden, the exodus of our wealthy residents continues to escalate.
New Jersey's high taxes may be costing the state billions of dollars a year in lost revenue as high-earning residents flee, according to a recent study.
The study, Exodus on the Parkway, was completed by Regent Atlantic last year but held for publication until after the November 2013 elections. The study stated it "intentionally" held its results "as 2014 is not an election year for state legislators" and it will "hopefully encourage a serious and objective dialogue aimed at addressing and solving the challenges that New Jersey currently faces."
The study shows the state has been steadily losing high-net-worth residents since 2004, when Democratic Gov. Jim McGreevey signed the millionaire's tax into law. The law raised the state income tax 41 percent on those earning $500,000 or more a year.
That millionaire's tax is still on the books. Oh sure, Chris Christie promised us a tax cut. Several times, actually. He just never bothered to deliver on it.
Meanwhile, the Democrats in our state legislature are scheming to double the gasoline tax. All while property taxes and death taxes remain sky high.
No wonder "tax migration" is on a lot of people's minds.
Alas, one can't just move away peacefully. You gotta pay the Exit Tax first. Because there's no way New Jersey can resist one last trick to separate us from our hard-earned money.
We can sweat it out in the streets of a runaway American dream. But champs
like us, baby we were born to run.
One of the most liberal judges in New Jersey found Tony Mack's protestations unconvincing.
Convicted Mayor Tony Mack is in violation of state law and can no longer hold office, Judge Mary Jacobson ruled today.
Granting the request to remove Mack filed by the state Office of the Attorney General, Jacobson said Mack is no longer able hold office effective immediately.
"Once you are found guilty by a jury of your peers not only does the presumption of innocence disappear but with it comes the stigma and the shadow ... of being found guilty by a jury of your peers of crimes of dishonesty," Jacobson said.
Mack had argued that he should not be removed from office until he is sentenced in federal court — where he faces 20 years in prison — or until motions filed by Mack's attorney for a new trial are considered by the federal court.
But Jacobson said it would make no sense to wait for a period of several months before removing Mack from office. She said the state statute to remove him clearly says the removal would be effective at the time a jury returned a guilty verdict.
And from the Media Bias file, nowhere in the NJ.com article does it mention Tony Mack's political party affiliation. Which of course means he's a Democrat. When writing about trumped-up scandals like "Bridgegate" they always remember to put Republican after everybody's name. But Democrats never receive the same recognition.
Replacing Mack in the office of the Mayor will be City Council President George Muschal, who will hold the post until council meets to vote that either he should stay in office until the June or appoint someone else to serve the remainder of Mack's term. A municipal election is set for May when voters will elect a new mayor.
For the record, George Muschal is a registered Independent. He's also going to be the first white guy in 24 years to occupy the Trenton mayor's office. But his tenure will be short-lived because he has no plans to run for mayor in May. That field is already quite crowded, and he's not about to give up his position on the council.
And in the grand tradition of New Jersey double dippers, prior to joining the council Mr. Muschal retired from the Trenton Police Department. He's currently collecting a state pension of $59,583.72 per year, plus his council salary of $21,500. For the next few months he'll bump that up to the mayor's $126,460 annual salary.
Not bad for government work, eh?