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Verizon's unionized workers voluntarily walked off the job, to demand higher pay and more lavish benefits. Now they're earning zero, and crying poverty. So naturally New Jersey Democrats want to bail them out with our tax dollars.
Striking workers could be eligible to collect unemployment benefits in New Jersey under a bill approved by the state Senate Labor Committee on Monday.
The bill is aimed at assisting Verizon workers who've been on strike for a month, but would change the rules for receiving unemployment insurance for all during labor disputes.
The committee approved the bill (S2160) 3-1.
I wanna shake the hand of the person who voted "no."
"This legislation we obviously think is important for the thousands of workers who have really almost (been) forced to be off the job, walked off their job, because of the contract dispute and the way in which Verizon has negotiated this contract and what Verizon has asked their employees to do in order to maintain their employment," state Sen. Joe Vitale (D-Middlesex), who sponsored the bill along with state Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester).
Um, OK. Except Verizon didn't lock them out. They could be working right now, earning a paycheck, which as it happens, is already bigger than current telecom industry norms.
The unionistas voluntarily walked off the job.
Actions have consequences. And one consequence of walking off the job is that you no longer get paid.
Nicholas Sheola, a chief steward for CWA Local 1000, said that while CWA has a strike relief fund that pays out about $300 a week, IBEW members don't have the same benefit. To get by, he said, they're borrowing money from family and friends or "they're robbing Peter to pay Paul."
The IBEW doesn't have a strike fund?
Don't their members pay union dues? Where does that money go?
Oh, right, it goes toward campaign contributions to Democrats.
Which, of course, is why the Democrats are so eager to pander to them with our money.
"We don't know when we're going back to work. It's a big hit," he said. "A lot of us have families. We don't have medical anymore, so we may have to pay for Cobra or something like that. So another source of income would be good to have."
Yo, Chief, I know when you can go back to work.
Show up. Do your job. And amazingly Verizon will pay you!
But that's harder than taking a taxpayer-funded vacation, so it's obviously a non-starter with you wannabe socialists.
Fortunately Governor Chris Christie is almost certain to veto this insanity.
So it's merely grandstanding by bought-and-paid-for Democrats for their
gullible unionista donors. Vote Democrat, it's easier than showing up for
One of the few good things to come out of Chris Christie's quixotic quest for the presidency was his embrace of the Second Amendment. Earlier this month he issued an Executive Order relaxing gun permit and transport regulations. Because, when seconds count, the police are only minutes away. And New Jersey issues fewer than 500 carry permits annually, mostly to retired law enforcement officers. Which didn't help domestic violence victim Carol Bowne, whose application for a firearms permit was held up by red tape, allowing her stalker ex-boyfriend to murder her in cold blood in her own driveway.
Well, as much as it sounds incongruous, State Senator Loretta Weinberg is OK with Bowne's murder. How else to explain her opposition to Christie's attempt to make it easier for women like Carol Bowne to legally carry a gun?
Top Democratic leaders in the state Legislature said Monday they are acting to block Gov. Chris Christie's effort to issue gun permits to anyone in New Jersey who can prove a "serious threat" against their life, saying the move oversteps state gun control laws.
Speaking at the Statehouse, state Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) assailed the newly relaxed regulations as expanding "the scope of the right-to-carry well beyond what is authorized under current law."
"To put it simply, if these regulations were adopted, it would allow every cab driver, pizza delivery driver, Uber driver and anyone else living or working in a high-crime neighborhood to qualify for a firearm permit," Weinberg said.
Woah. Loretta Weinberg only wants the criminals to have guns!
Hmm. The very definition of a "high-crime neighborhood" is where the bad guys have the upper hand. Meaning, they have guns, and we don't.
Seems to me that leveling the playing field ought to cut down on crime. And cutting down on crime is good, right?
Nope. Loretta Weinberg and the NJ Democrats would prefer that law-abiding NJ residents remain victims instead of standing up for our rights.
Because victims vote Democrat. Especially when they're dead.
Remember when the state Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) was investigating Essex County Executive For Life Joe DiVincenzo's blatant misuse of campaign funds?
And remember how that investigation suddenly ground to a screeching halt, which of course the media spun as a "victory" for Joe D?
Wanna know who swept the mess under the rug?
Walter Timpone, the Democrat
Steve Sweeney Chris Christie
just nominated to sit on our state supreme court.
Surprise, surprise, surprise!
The long and the short of it is this. Earlier in his career, Timpone reached out to Joe D for a favor, because his nephew needed a job. Joe D found the kid a spot, as a field representative in the Essex County Citizen Service Office at $45,000 a year.
Fast forward a dozen years, and Timpone is the lone Democrat on ELEC when Joe D's alleged misuse of campaign funds comes to light. Rather than move the investigation forward, Timpone recused himself, citing that favor Joe D did for his nephew.
State law says ELEC must have at least one member from each party, so no Timpone, no investigation. Which works out nicely for Joe D, seeing as how he and Timpone are both good friends with Chris Christie.
Now you may ask yourself, why are there only 2 people sitting on ELEC, one Democrat and one Republican, when there should be 4?
Ah, you can thank Chris Christie and Steve Sweeney for that one. Christie didn't appoint a second Democrat to the commission after the previous guy died in 2011. In retaliation, Sweeney is blocking Christie's second Republican nominee, which Christie then cites as his reason for not appointing a second Democrat.
Yeah, the whole thing stinks to high heaven. Because a cynical guy like me might see Timpone's nomination as a thank-you for him helping Joe D. And a cynical guy might further notice that once Timpone is confirmed, ELEC will be effectively defanged, right before a presidential election this year, and a gubernatorial election next year in which Sweeney hopes to prevail. Not to mention that whole Bridgegate thing…
Welcome to New Jersey. Please hold your nose.
Steve Sweeney is now officially the governor of New Jersey. In deed, if not in name.
And Chris Christie is exposed as the feckless, unprincipled hack his detractors told us he was.
Christie's six-year charade to "remake" New Jersey's activist Supreme Court ended with a whimper yesterday as he surrendered to Sweeney's demand that only a liberal democrat can be nominated to fill the court's last vacancy.
Gov. Chris Christie nominated a New Jersey Democrat to the state's Supreme Court on Monday, effectively ending his years-long battle to reshape the composition of the bench.
The GOP governor, flanked by state Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester), nominated former assistant U.S. Attorney Walter Timpone to fill a vacancy during a Statehouse news conference.
The surprise announcement came about a month after Christie said he would re-nominate a veteran Republican Monmouth County judge, David Bauman, he unsuccessfully pushed for the bench nearly four years ago. At the time, he vowed "ramifications" for Democrats who blocked his appointment.
But Christie, who called Bauman an "extraordinary individual," gave his nod to Timpone after it became clear the Democratic-controlled Senate would only approve a fellow Democrat.
"Ramifications?" Yeah, that's Christie-speak for "capitulation."
"I wanted to get something done. People of this state give us these jobs expecting us to get stuff done," Christie said.
Ye gads, what utter hogwash. We expected you to "get done" the stuff you promised you'd get done. Like reining in judicial activism, not ensconcing it. Like standing up to bullies instead of getting rolled. We expected you'd have principles. We expected you go be made of sterner stuff.
And you sold us out.
No wonder you're backing Democrat-turned-Republican-of-convenience Donald Trump for president. He's the only guy with fewer scruples than you.
Wait, I take that back. You and Trump are two peas in a pod.
Thanks for leaving New Jersey worse off than when you started.
It cost $34 million dollars to build. It was a white elephant before it ever opened. But at long last, Essex County is out of the baseball stadium business. And I suppose we should be grateful that County Executive For Life Joe DiVincenzo managed to only lose $11 million dollars on the deal.
Newark Bears and Eagles Riverfront Stadium has a new owner.
On Monday, city and Essex County officials announced that an agreement has been reached between the City of Newark, Essex County and the Essex County Improvement Authority to sell the Bears and Eagles Riverfront Stadium at 450 Broad Street to Lotus Equity Group for $23.5 million.
The sale includes the stadium and more than 7.5 acres of land, according to a news release.
Lotus plans to build a mixed-use high rise tower in its place, NJ.com reported.
Of course Joe D is patting himself on the back.
"We are very excited about the future development of the Broad Street site where the Bears and Eagles Stadium currently is located," said Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr. "This dynamic project will contribute immensely to the economic revitalization of Essex County and Newark, and serve as a catalyst and anchor in the northern section of the city's downtown."
Gee, that's almost exactly what he said when he built this boondoggle back in 1999.
What makes anyone here think he'll be less wrong today?
I predict that within 10 years a place where you might once have heard the
crack of a bat will be a place where you can score some crack. Because Newark
is where dreams, and tax dollars, go to die.
Joe DiVincenzo will tell us he must raise taxes, to provide critically needed county services like housing.
On Sunday, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr. announced that two giraffes from Florida — Lincoln and Milo — arrived at Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange.
In July, Essex County officials announced plans to construct a $7 million giraffe exhibit, tentatively slated to open this spring.
The 200 by 100 foot exhibit area will feature a climate-controlled barn, three-acres of land designed to mimic the African Savannah and multiple public viewing areas, county officials previously stated.
Closed circuit cameras will also be installed in the barn so the giraffes can be viewed on a video screen in the Zoo Cafe.
Because giraffes come before the homeless. And the hungry. And the unemployed.
Unless all our other problems are already solved and nobody bothered to tell me.
Which could be the case.
But somehow I doubt it.
Members of the freeholder board said they will be reviewing the budget over the next month. Newly elected board president Britnee Timberlake said she hopes to focus on "everything dealing with social services" in the budget. "We need to service all people (in the county). I feel that the county is lacking in areas…to provide social services in the most effective way possible."
"We are not where we want to be yet," DiVincenzo said, pointing out that the county has high foreclosure and unemployment rates, and a high percentage of its population seeking government assistance.
Ah, but now we have giraffes.
Maybe the giraffes will eat cake.
When DC Republicans tell President Obama they won't hold hearings or vote on anyone he nominates to replace Antonin Scalia, that's obstructionism, and Democrats cry foul.
But, when NJ Democrats tell Governor Christie (for the sixth year in a row) they won't hold hearings or vote on his nominee to fill a vacant state Supreme Court seat, that "preserves judicial independence."
Governor Christie's pick to fill a longstanding vacancy on the state Supreme Court will not be considered by the Senate, whose job it is to approve judicial nominees, its leader said Tuesday morning.
The nominee, David F. Bauman, was put forth by Christie on Monday in a State House news conference in which he urged a quick hearing to "stop this six-year roadblock on filling this seat."
But Senate President Stephen Sweeney, who was out of state Monday, rejected the idea.
"This nominee will not have a hearing and the only way I will consider a Christie nominee is if the governor preserves judicial independence by submitting a Democrat for the Court," said Sweeney, who controls the Senate calendar and agenda.
Because only Democrats preserve judicial independence; Republicans are ideologues who hate puppies, babies, and apple pie. Or so Sweeney would have us believe.
The reality is that Democrats have politicized the judiciary in this state, demanding continuation of blatantly activist rulings that align with their progressive political ideals. They don't want an independent state Supreme Court, they want a court that always rules in their favor. They lack the votes to override Christie's vetoes so they need to push their agenda via judicial activism.
And that means blocking nominees who rely on the rule of law rather than the shibboleths of social justice.
So spare me the sanctimony of Washington Democrats. I find it funny that Obama is meeting with Mitch McConnell and Chuck Grassley this morning, just to whine about how they're "disrespecting" him, or something. And as if his team didn't make the rules in the first place.
If he really wants to break the logjam, Obama should haul Cory Booker and Bob Menendez and the lefty members of our state's House delegation into the Oval Office and tell them to get Steve Sweeney off the stick pronto. Then maybe his hypocrisy won't be so obvious.
Yeah, OK, you can stop laughing, because I'm not holding my breath either.
Memo to NJ public employee unions: You can't get blood from a stone.
The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to intervene in the multi-billion dollar pension dispute between Gov. Chris Christie and government worker unions.
The justices denied the unions' petition for review, leaving in place a June New Jersey Supreme Court ruling that said Christie didn't have to make scheduled pension payments into the declining public pension system.
The petition had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to apply federal contract protections to an agreement between the state and public employees that the state Supreme Court declared "unenforceable" in June.
Unions argued the agreement ostensibly created a contract entitling them to pension contributions, while the administration said that arrangement violated certain state constitutional principles dictating how the state appropriates money and accumulates debt.
The U.S. Supreme Court was the unions' last hope in trying to enforce the agreement.
Promises that can't be kept won't be kept.
And not to put too fine a point on it, but NJ is broke. We don't have the $55 billion the unionistas want. We're never gonna have the $55 billion either.
Oh, but we had it, once, they'll tell us! Give it back!
Sorry, it's gone. Spent. Borrowed. Lost on crummy investments. Or a combination of all 3. A parade of governors and legislatures, Democrat and Republican alike, repeatedly raided and / or failed to fund the pension system.
And the unions went along, for the most part, because they were promised even bigger payouts in "the future." Those payouts weren't funded, but hey, they were promises and we all know that politicians always keep their promises, right?
So now Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Ironworkers Union) wants to enshrine the pension payment into our state constitution. Ahead of everything else like schools and hospitals and police and snow plowing. Because what's important is protecting public workers' cushy retirement packages.
Unless you're a taxpayer, of course.
He'll probably get his wish. The legislature is overwhelmingly Democrat. And the Democrats believe in government of the unions, by the unions, and for the unions. The folks who pay the bills don't get a vote. At least until basic services stop being provided while unionista retirees live high on the hog.
Then the pitchforks are gonna come out...
I spent most of today in Trenton, because my daughter won an award for Catholic Schools Week and it was presented to her at the State House by a member of Governor Christie's staff. Yes, it was pretty cool.
But that's not why I'm writing this post.
As part of the festivities we were given a tour of the State House. While seated in the Senate chamber, the tour guide pointed out the beautiful paintings of Liberty and Prosperity adorning the window alcoves. And she took particular note of one which showed Lady Liberty holding a musket, saying it represented our state's role in fighting for freedom during the Revolutionary War.
That's Lady Liberty in red, and she is indeed holding a gun.
She's also perched directly above the Senate President's desk. The desk at which Steve Sweeney sits as he works tirelessly to eradicate the Second Amendment rights of New Jersey's citizens.
And who said irony is dead?
Maybe instead of looking down at the latest polls Senator Sweeney (and his evil henchwoman Loretta Weinberg) should look up. Because then he'll see Lady Liberty reminding him that Prosperity is nothing without the right to protect our basic freedoms.
If Sweeney and the Democrats had had their way in 1776, we'd still be a colony of Great Britain. Because muskets would have been as scarce back then as respect for Liberty seems to be now.
The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
I think I'll suggest they mention that on the tour.
The mere act of running for president makes Chris Christie more conservative. It won't last, but I'll take what I can get.
So, on the last day of the legislative session, he pocket-vetoed a bunch of Democrat-sponsored impositions on our liberty.
First to go down — "Smart" Guns.
Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday quashed a Democrat-backed roll back of a personalized handgun law the sponsor hoped would shake loose investment in smart gun technology.
The pocket veto, in which governors can allow legislation to die if it was passed at the end of the two-year session, was offered without commentary. The Legislature does not have an opportunity to override pocket vetoes.
Loretta Weinberg has The Sads. She desperately wants everyone, except her security detail of course, to use these inaptly named "smart guns." The technology is unproven, unreliable, and unavailable. But that doesn't stop her from demanding that the gun control fairies deliver one to every gun shop in New Jersey.
Not today Loretta.
Next he nixed mandatory recess for elementary school kids.
Most (almost all?) kids get recess already. For the few that don't, the decision should be made at the local level, not mandated by Trenton busybodies. If parents want their kids to have recess, the parents can exert pressure on the principal, or the school board.
And in his 3rd blow to the overarching Nanny State, Christie vetoed a bill that would have raised the smoking age from 19 to 21.
Amazingly, NJ Republicans sponsored this bill. Because you're old enough to vote, and old enough to die for their right to be wrong, but you're not old enough to buy beer or cigarettes. C'mon already; lower the drinking age and the smoking age back to 18. Treat adults like adults.
Finally, it's not a veto per se, but in a move that'll certainly help him impress my teenage daughter and her friends, Christie took a swipe at Michelle Obama's meddlesome school lunch requirements.
Siding with a boy who bemoaned the absence of "square pizza" and other favorite lunch foods since Michelle Obama became first lady, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said at an Iowa pancake house Monday that if he becomes president, students will eat "whatevever you want."
"The first lady has no business being involved in this," Christie said during a town-hall meeting at the Village Inn in Council Bluffs. "This intervention into our school system is just another example of how the Obamas believe they have a better answer for everything than you do."
Parents should decide what their children eat, Christie said. "I want people to eat more healthy - I've been trying to eat more healthy - but in the end it's your choice," he said.
Christie was responding to a boy who asked what he was "going to do about the lunches," declaring that "now that Mrs. Obama's the first lady, they've gone down." Michelle Obama had backed new nutrition standards for the federal school lunch program.
"I don't care what you're eating for lunch every day, I really don't," Christie said. "If I'm president, back to whatever you want to eat, OK?"
Because, really, it isn't the government's job to micromanage your life.
Because nothing says "freedom" quite like a mandatory retirement contribution automatically deducted from your paycheck, and invested by the same bozos who can't keep the public employee pension system solvent.
The state Senate budget committee has approved a bill creating a retirement program for private-sector workers without employer-sponsored plans.
The bill (S2831) would require companies with at least 25 employees that don't already offer retirement accounts to offer the "Secure Choice" retirement plan. Smaller companies with fewer than 25 employees can opt in.
The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee on Monday cleared the bill with a 9-3-1 vote Monday. The legislation has already passed the state Assembly.
Like a 401(k), employers would set up a payroll deduction for employees, who automatically contribute 3 percent of their salaries, though they can adjust their contribution or opt out altogether, to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). Employers do not have to match contributions.
A name that would make Orwell proud — Secure "Choice" — for a plan that is mandatory.
Thanks John Roberts. Now that the government can force us at gunpoint to buy health insurance, mandating a retirement savings plan is the next logical step for the perpetual nanny state. Why let people decide what's best for themselves when there are omnipotent bureaucrats ready to do our thinking for us?
The program, which would take effect within two years of its passage, would be administered by a seven-member board of officials from the governor's administration and appointees by the Senate president and Assembly speaker. Total investment and administrative fees could not exceed 0.6 percent of the fund balance, under the bill.
Anybody wanna lay odds on George Norcross being appointed by our esteemed Senate president?
Hello slush fund!
Although the fund would be state-administered, the money would not be guaranteed by the state. There would be no state contribution or employee match.
"The state shall have no duty to any party for the payment of any retirement savings benefits accrued by any individual under the program," according to the bill.
Translation? We're going to "invest" your money, and if we lose it all, tough.
The cynic in me says it's a backdoor way to funnel cash into the depleted public worker pension system. Steve Sweeney is desperate to make his unionista buddies whole and the allure of a 3% tax on every working resident seems too good to pass up.
All we'll need to seal the deal is Vinny Prieto saying, "If you like your 401(k) you can keep your 401(k)."
Because really, what employer is going to stick with the hassle of administering his own 401(k) plan when the state will do it for him? Fill out a form, check a box, and presto!, it's somebody else's problem. They'll be lining up to dump their employees into this thing.
Then as the cash rolls in, our bureaucratic betters will be sorely tempted to tap it for the "benefit" of all. And what recourse would we have when it gets sunk into Transportation Trust Fund bonds earmarked for light rail and a new Hudson River tunnel?
That's right, none. All your retirement money are belong to Steve
Sweeney. What could go wrong?
The farther they look ahead, the more bleak they think things will be.
The New Jersey Business & Industry Association's annual business outlook survey found about half of respondents anticipate increasing sales and profits in 2016. But more than 60 percent of respondents said they would not open another location in New Jersey if they were planning on expanding their business and two-thirds of those surveyed said they don't plan on living in New Jersey in retirement.
Michele Siekerka, president and CEO of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, said the farther into the future the group's members look "the more caution they have and their caution significantly increases."
Well, sure. Short-term, Chris Christie is still governor. He's a putz, but, as the saying goes, he's our putz. Once one of The Steves takes over in Drumthwacket, it'll be All Tax And Regulate All The Time. And business will be Public Enemy #1 in Trenton.
Respondents named health benefit costs, the overall cost of doing business and property taxes as the main challenges for New Jersey businesses, according to the survey.
Can you imagine Steve Sweeney or Steve Fulop doing anything about any of those 3 things? Yeah, me neither.
Take Health benefits. Steve Fulop is the guy pushing mandatory sick time, which of course increases health benefit costs. What about property taxes? Steve Sweeney is the guy looking to pad the pension funds with ever higher municipal contributions, that will come directly out of our pockets. And as for the cost of doing business, both of 'em are on record proclaiming that business taxes are "too low."
So who are those 40% who aren't seeing the writing on the wall?
Probably lobbyists! (<Insert sarcasm emoticon here>)
Because unless by some miracle the NJ GOP gets its shit together and manages to put up a candidate who can capitalize on Chris Christie's electoral legacy, the "makers" in our fair state are in for a bumpy ride come January 2018. The "takers" are lining up, and they've got us in their sights.
There's only one thing left to do. Get out while the getting is good.
Second only to New York, the Garden State's tax burden almost reigns supreme.
New Jerseyans already know it to be true, but a Forbes analysis of state-by-state tax burdens places the Garden State near the top of its "Worst States for Taxes" list.
New Jersey lands in second place, behind New York, in the comparison of state and local taxes.
Connecticut, California, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Maryland, Rhode Island, Vermont and Pennsylvania round out the top 10, according to the Forbes report.
Notice anything remarkable about that Top Ten list?
Yup, they're "blue" states. Run by progressive Democrats. Imagine that!
The analysis compares local taxes and the effective tax rate for single people with $50,000 in reportable income, a figure Forbes said it based on the $53,046 median U.S. Household income from 2009 to 2013.
In New Jersey, which has one of the most progressive tax structures in the country, that income tax rate is 2.54 percent, which Forbes combined with local taxes to establish a 12.3 percent state and local tax burden.
So, how do we do it?
Crushing property taxes! We are the 0.2 percent!!!
While the report doesn't specify which local taxes are included (some states have local income taxes or local sales taxes), presumably New Jersey's steep property taxes had a hand in the state's ranking. Last year, the average property tax bill here was $8,161, while nationally only 0.2 percent of U.S. homeowners paid more than $8,000.
C'mon NJ Democrats, you know you want us to be Number 1. Raise that gas tax! We can't let New York have all the fun, can we?
Oh, and if anyone wants to know why Chris Christie's presidential campaign is
languishing in the doldrums, well this, this is why. Remember when he promised
to "do something" about NJ's onerous tax burden? Yeah, me neither.
The verdict on New Jersey is in, and it's time to get out while the getting is good.
The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce's biannual Baker Tilly Spring Economic Outlook Survey brings grim news for the state's lagging employment prospects: Fourteen percent of those surveyed said they were currently considering moving their businesses out of New Jersey.
Ten of the 14 business leaders considering relocating their businesses blamed high taxes or high cost of living as their reason. Just four cited opportunities elsewhere.
Yay Chris Christie.
Old and busted: The Jersey Comeback.
New Hotness: Jersey says "come back!"
Of course, given it's a foregone conclusion that one of the two tax-hiking Steves (Sweeney or Fulop) will be governor in 2017, the stampede down the Turnpike is only going to get bigger, fast.
Will the last guy to leave please turn off the lights?
Usually the quid pro quo isn't so blatant.
But Jamie Dimon doesn't do subtle.
Hot on the heels of his generous donation of $1 million dollars to Jersey City schools for "job training" he's in line to reap an $18 million dollar annual windfall in economic development tax breaks.
JPMorgan Chase is looking to move 2,150 jobs to Jersey City from New York, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The state Economic Development Authority is expected Thursday to consider granting the firm $18.8 million in tax credits annually over 10 years. JPMorgan received $225 million in tax credits last year to create 1,000 jobs in Jersey City and retain 2,612 existing jobs.
$18.8 million annually for 10 years makes for a total of $188 million bucks.
How's a nice tidy $187 million dollar profit on the backs of New Jersey's taxpayers sound to you?
Yeah, I'm pretty excited about it too.
The one thing everyone can agree on is, New Jersey's public employee pension system is broke. Dead, flat, broke.
And for the past 4 years the public employee unions have implored Governor Chris Christie to plug the shortfall by raising taxes. He's wisely refused to do that, one of the few things he's done right lately. So with that avenue closed, the unionistas sought relief from NJ's notoriously activist State Supreme Court.
But in a ruling yesterday that quite frankly left me speechless, the court uncharacteristically refused to legislate from the bench in support of the unions.
"That the state must get its financial house in order is plain. The need is compelling in respect of the state's ability to honor its compensation commitment to retired employees," Justice Jaynee LaVecchia, an independent who was appointed by Gov. Christie Whitman, a Republican, wrote for the majority. "But this court cannot resolve that need in place of the political branches. They will have to deal with one another to forge a solution to the tenuous financial status of New Jersey's pension funding in a way that comports with the strictures of our constitution."
My jaw hit the floor when I read that. Because dictating legislative outcomes is what this court does best, and with alarming regularity. From education funding to affordable housing to gun control to redefining marriage, NJ's State Supreme Court has earned its distinction as the most activist court in the nation.
What prompted them to pull back from the brink? Beats me. But I'm damn glad they did.
Alas, the joy is not being felt in the union halls. Nosirree. They're hopping mad. Spitting fire. Ready to go to the mattresses. And who's their designated savior? State Senate Presidend Steve Sweeney.
State Senate President Stephen Sweeney joined a group of union leaders Tuesday to bash the state Supreme Court's ruling that Gov. Chris Christie has the legal right to slash billions in public worker pension payments, calling it an "outrageous" decision that hurts hundreds of thousands of government employees.
"We're not done fighting this," Sweeney (D-Gloucester) said at a news conference at the Statehouse in Trenton hours after the ruling was released. "The court gave us a lousy decision. I respect the courts, but they are so dead wrong on this thing."
No Mr. Sweeney, it is you who is "dead wrong."
Government does not exist for the benefit of its employees. And it's politicians like you who created this monster by promising those employees gold-plated benefits packages in exchange for their votes. You knew all along that the pension system was unsustainable. There isn't enough money in the world to fund the lavish benefits you promised to deliver.
But a Democrat's gotta pander, and Sweeney panders with the best of them.
Sweeney vowed once again Tuesday that the Democratic-controlled state Legislature will introduce its own budget proposal that includes the full pension payment.
He introduced a measure last month to pump more money into the pension system by raising taxes on New Jersey households with income of more than $1 million. If passed, the proposal would generate $675 million in the coming year, Sweeney said.
Do the math. The pension shortfall is $1.57 trillion this year, and $1.8 billion for next year. Sweeney's millionaire's tax, a tired old retread of a failed bad idea if there ever was one, might bring in $675 million. Leaving him $2.7 billion short.
Ah but bad math is what's driven this pension fiasco from the get-go. The Democrats throw around a few big numbers, they raise some taxes, and promptly spend 4 times what they brought in, leaving the bill for our grandchildren.
And come 2017 it's gonna be deja vu all over again with a unionista feeding frenzy following the ascension of either Sweeney or his tax-and-spend liberal buddy Steve Fulop to the governorship. The unions want "what's theirs" and both Steves are gonna be fighting to be annointed their messiah. The promises will get more outrageous by the week, and what's sad is the greedy unionistas will eat it all up, and expect a cherry on top too.
Government of the unions, by the unions, and for the unions won't be pretty.
But with any luck, it will soon vanish from the face of this earth, in a
calamitous burst of bankruptcy that'll damn 'em all to hell.
The partisan Democrats at
Eric Holder's Loretta Lynch's
Justice Department have landed their first punch against presumptive GOP
presidential candidate Chris Christie. They convinced David Wildstein, a
long-time Christie ally and friend,
to admit he conspired to close lanes of traffic leading to the George
Washington Bridge as "punishment" to Fort Lee mayor Mark Sokolich.
Former Port Authority official David Wildstein today pleaded guilty to a two count information, admitting to a federal judge that he conspired with Bridget Kelly and Bill Baroni to close lanes of traffic leading to the George Washington Bridge as punishment to Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich.
Wildstein affirmed that he and Kelly — then the deputy chief of staff to Gov. Chris Christie and Baroni, then the deputy chief of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey — came up with the scheme as a response to Sokolich's decision not to endorse Christie's 2013 reelection.
The former director of capital projects for the Port and chief of staff to Baroni did not implicate the governor in his appearance today.
Governor Christie maintains he knew nothing about the lane closures until he read about them in the newspapers. Since this is the same lame excuse Barack Obama uses to dodge his administration's myriad scandals, you'd think the media would buy it this time too.
Nope. Christie is a Republican. The rules are different for Republicans.
And the media smells blood in the water.
So what was basically a frat-boy prank, and certainly not the worst dirty trick ever played by a New Jersey politician, is now a federal crime.
By pleading guilty to the two counts — one detailing interference with Fort Lee residents and the second focusing on his misuse of Port resources — [Wildstein] waived an indictment.
Wildstein admitted to the judge that he had a September 2013 discussion with Kelly and Baroni in which Kelly acknowledged disappointment with Sokolich's decision not to back Christie. Wildstein said he agreed with Baroni and Kelly to cause traffic problems in Fort Lee by reducing local traffic lanes to the upper toll booth on the bridge from three to one.
Wildstein said he, Baroni and Kelly timed the closure to coincide with the first day of school in Fort Lee — for maximum negative impact. The three agreed to ignore Sokolich's pleas, he said. He also acknowledged that the trio later misled the public with its "traffic study" story, which Baroni presented to the Assembly Transportation Committee headed by Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-19), who was in the courtroom today.
Childish and stupid? Yes. Pointless, too, given all the blowback that immediately started heading Christie's way. If the goal was to hurt Mark Sokolich, these 3 stooges missed their mark, by a mile.
But c'mon already. With all the corruption rampant in our government, this is what's important? This is what deserves a multi-year investigation costing untold millions of dollars?
Chris Christie already punished Baroni, Kelly, and Wildstein. They're done in NJ politics. Prosecuting them has only one aim, to get one of them to "flip" on the Big Guy himself.
Like the "John Doe" investigations into Scott Walker's Wisconsin allies, this prosecution reeks of political undertones. Chris Christie isn't my first (or 100th) choice for president, but he's apparently enough of a threat to Her Royal Highness Hillary to warrant special investigative attention.
Now don't get me wrong. People who break the law should be punished accordingly. But it would help the "optics" if punishments were handed out a little more even-handedly. Lois Lerner is still walking around free even though the dirty tricks she and her IRS cronies perpetrated were far worse than a lane closure.
And speaking of the IRS, Al Sharpton owes them millions of dollars in back taxes. Yet he's free as a bird too. I supposed it's just a coincidence that they only have time to crack down on Tea Party groups.
So go ahead. Applaud Chris Christie's downfall. Just don't act surprised
when the spotlight turns toward Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. Our government
has been weaponized by rabid partisan Democrats. And they will leave no
stone unturned in their quest to maintain a stranglehold on power.
Like a famous man once said, everybody is "guilty" of something,
Anybody here remember a fellow named Chris Christie? He ran for governor, promising to "do something" about New Jersey's perennially high property taxes.
Boy oh boy, I sure do wish we'd elected that guy.
Because according to a recent study, 7 of the 10 counties in America with the highest property taxes are right here in the Garden State. Where, rumor has it, Chris Christie is actually the governor.
It's no secret that New Jersey homeowners are hit with some of the highest property taxes in the nation. But just how high, relative to other parts of the country, might be a bit of a shock.
A typical homeowner in Bibb County, Ala., paid just $228 in property taxes in 2013, according to an analysis by Zillow, the real estate website. Compare that to someone paying the median in Paramus or Ridgewood in Bergen, who shelled out $9,546 — about 45 times as much.
Bergen and Bibb lie on opposite ends of a list of median property tax rates nationally. Bergen was third-highest in the country, and the highest in New Jersey, while Bibb joined several other Alabama counties boasting some of the very lowest property tax bills for single-family homes.
Sigh. I'd be ecstatic if my property taxes were only $9,546. Alas, I'm paying closer to $16,000, and Essex County is supposedly way down the list at Number 4.
1. Westchester, N.Y., $13,842
2. Rockland, N.Y., $10,550
3. Bergen, NJ, $9,546
4. Essex, N.J., $9,288
5. Nassau, N.Y., $9,091
6. Passaic, N.J., $8,978
7. Union, N.J., $8,926
8. Morris, N.J., $8,549
9. Hudson, N.J., $8,407
10. Hunterdon, N.J., $8,392
Yay New Jersey.
The Grand Poobahs of New Jersey's state supreme court fancy themselves as agents of Social Justice — separation of powers be damned! — and today they once again have deigned to promulgate legislation from the bench, overriding both the governor and our state legislature in the process.
Because They Are The Law.
This time it's their old bugaboo "Affordable Housing." Otherwise known as "Every Town Gets A Slum." The fomenters of class envy object to the idea that some towns have nicer houses than other towns. So they sued the "rich" towns, arguing that every person is entitled to live wherever he or she wants, regardless of their income or ability to pay for said residence. Because hey, if a bunch of folks worked hard all their lives and bought fancy houses in Short Hills or Alpine or Rumson, it's not fair that poor people aren't given similar houses merely because they want them too.
A few lawfare iterations ago the court decreed that the state legislature must create an agency, the Council On Affordable Housing, tasked with devising regulations which would force every town to construct its "fair share" of low-income housing. Towns naturally fought this at every turn, and they gained an ally in Governor Chris Christie. He effectively disbanded COAH, which angered the Social Justice Warriors, and they went back to court.
Today the SJWs found favor with our state supreme court, who hath decreed that they are now COAH. Henceforth, the court will issue Affordable Housing regulations, while Chris Christie and the peoples' elected representatives can go to Hell.
The state Supreme Court today put judges in charge of regulating affordable housing in New Jersey after Gov. Chris Christie's administration repeatedly failed to obey an order for the state to establish new guidelines.
New Jersey's highest court voted 6-0 to task trial courts with deciding on a case-by-case basis how many homes should make available to low- and moderate-income residents in towns across the state.
Did you catch the hubris there? "… after Gov. Chris Christie's administration repeatedly failed to obey an order …". An order! They ordered the governor to bend to their will. And he said "no." Because in a constitutional republic, a governor is equal to the judiciary.
Well golly folks, we can't have that! The judiciary must reign supreme! They don't call themselves the supreme court for nothing! They. Will. Be. Obeyed.
And so, instead of expecting people to work hard to get ahead, our betters in the judiciary will tell those of us who busted our butts, "sorry guys, but everybody is entitled to the same thing you have." And of course, they'll get it for "free." I'll let you guess who pays for that.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Welcome to the New and Improved Declaration of Dependence:
We hold these shibboleths to be universal, that all beings are equal, that they are guaranteed by their Government to have equality in all things, that among these are Free Stuff, Respect for their Precious Feelings, and the Attainment of Happiness.
Or, as I learned it:
From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.
"Affordable Housing" is the epitome of communist agitprop. When my grandfather came here from Poland he lived in a cold-water flat Down Neck with a dozen other guys. They all worked. They didn't complain. They saved their pennies. They rode the bus. Then one day my grandfather bought himself a little house in North Arlington. Nothing fancy, but it was his. He married. Sired 8 kids. Raised 'em right. Taught 'em to work hard. And that ethic was bred into me, my siblings, and all my cousins.
No one in my family ever expected the government to hand him a free house.
The very concept, to coin a phrase, doesn't compute. In fact, it's anathema to everything we grew up believing in.
But wait, the argument goes, people need to live near their jobs!
Tell that to the guy who walks 21 miles to work. Each way. Every day.
Oh, right, you can't. Because the entitlement mentality forced him to go into hiding.
Think about that.
There are people, Obama voters all I'm sure, who would take from this man what he worked for. They deserve it. Or something.
Equality of Outcome is their birthright dontcha know.
Except that one day, and this is something the panjandrums of our "supreme"
court have yet to learn, sooner or later they're gonna run out of Other
New Jersey is broke. That fact is not in dispute.
But greedy public employee unionistas sued to force Governor Chris Christie into fully funding their gold-plated pension system. And an activist judge said "yes."
In a significant blow to Gov. Chris Christie, a judge ruled today that the governor broke a law he signed by cutting $1.57 billion from a pension payment this year, and must now work with state lawmakers to restore the money.
Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson sided with a group of public worker unions who sued to stop Christie from slashing the payment to New Jersey's retirement fund for hundreds of thousands of government workers after his administration's revenue projections fell far short and left a gaping hole in the spending plan that began last July 1.
The decision could blow a massive hole in the current state budget, sending the Republican governor and the Democratic-controlled state Legislature scrambling to come up with the funds by June 30, when the fiscal year ends.
State Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald said today he doesn't know where they would find $1.57 billion in this year's $32.5 billion budget and warned it would take "draconian" cuts to accomplish.
"The impact on programs at the end of the year would be devastating," Greenwald (D-Camden) said.
Be careful what you wish for, you might get it.
The only way to fully fund the bloated pension system's overly generous benefits is to cut discretionary spending.
So Governor Christie, cut. And then cut some more.
Decimate every sacred cow near and dear to New Jersey's libtards; cut state aid to education, slash municipal assistance, refuse to spare Medicare, and layoff legions of unnecessary unionistas.
Hit 'em where it hurts.
The retirees get their bloated pensions, but everybody under 40 gets screwed. Let's see how long that equation remains viable.
I give it 15 minutes.
Then the folks who still have jobs will decide to cut their losses and let the "biological solution" take care of the grumpy grifters.
Or not. In the end it doesn't matter who gets screwed, so long as it's not us taxpayers.
Chris Christie wants to be president. Ergo, he won't raise taxes to satiate
the pension behemoth. So whatever constituency does get hosed, I'll be the
guy over there laughing in the corner.