Love those earmarks

Both our N.J. senators – Democrats Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez _ voted today against a plan to ban earmarks.

The ban failed.

It would be easy to condemn the two, but let’s remember that N.J. does very bad in the amount of money returned to the state from Washington. I do not think that’s a big deal _ N.J. sends lots of money to Washington because it is rich. But some people do. So, they should support Lautenberg and Menendez, right. Sure, that means N.J. has a chance to get more money back.

Educational community won't budge on cap

It’s not easy getting to Blairstown. As I was driving there tonight on a dark road with woods on each side and no street lights, I wondered if this still was New Jersey.
It was. North Warren Regional High School was the site of the second of four public hearings on the state’s plan to cap superintendents’ salaries at a maximum of $175,000 annually.

As was the case at the first hearing, every member of the school board community, if you will, board members, superintendents,  retired administrators, etc, took turns condemning the cap. It was interesting that none of these folk acknowledged the financial times we are in. Districts are laying off teachers, other staff and cutting programs, yet, there was the hue and cry to keep superintendents’ salaries as high as possible.

This was not a unanimous view as some members of the public supported the caps. But it was striking for instance, that not one school administrator, for instance, conceded the need for restraint.

What was more common was the board member from Harding who said his super gets to his office at 6 a.m. and is still there at 8 p.m. at night. Really?




We now have "big government" in NJ

Jim O’Neill, the superintendent of schools in the Chathams, made an interesting point in a recent column.

Why, he asked, are local Republicans not complaining about the many mandates coming out of Trenton?

I disagreed with O’Neill on the subject of his column _ opposition to the superintendents’ salary cap _ but he was raising a good issue.

For years, Republicans have condemned Trenton and its mandates. But that Trenton had a Democratic governor. Now. we have a Republican governor and  state government is intruding into the lives of municipal officials more than ever.
The state is telling school districts how much they can pay their superintendents.
The state is cutting aide to towns and districts, forcing them to make cuts and layoff workers.
The state’s ethics reform package aims to stop, say, a town councilman, from holding another paying public job.

In response to O’Neill’s column, Alex DeCroce responded and said the difference is that what Gov. Christie is doing is for the common good.  That could very well be the case. I just think it is interesting that Republcans in New Jersey are now the party of big government as Trenton is impacting local affairs in a big way.

What a mess in Parsippany

It’s hard to believe how badly the school board in Parsippany has screwed up.

First of all,  the board gave its superintendent a lucrative contract to circumvent a pending state salary cap. That prompted the governor to condemn the superintendent as a poster boy for all that is wrong with the public school system. The gov. ordered through the county superintendent of schools that the contract be rescinded.

On Tuesday, the board refused to rescind it; In fact, it said it had filed suit to stop the state from voiding the contract. But wait, it turns out that the board president Anthony Mancuso authorized the suit without approval from the rest of the board.

Next Wednesday, the board will meet and presumably discuss this again. The way it stands now is that the school board is suing the state to preserve the right of its superintendent to get a new five-year contract that was granted to circumvent a pending state cap. But it’s a suit that some members are unhappy about.

Board president Mancuso has not been helpful, preferring not to talk about the matter.

As we said, what a mess!

The gov. wants you to visit the corner store tomorrow

Perhaps trying to show they are on the job on the day after Thanksgiving, the governor’s office just sent out a press release promoting something called Small Business Saturday, a campaign to get shoppers to eschew the malls tomorrow and to patronize shops on Main Street.

Nothing wrong with that, but we wonder if the governor is going to lead the way by doing a bit of Christmas shopping on Main Street in Mendham.

Christie wanted Backman

“It’s hard to get excited about Terry Collins,”  the governor said tonight regarding the Mets’ new manager.
Christie noted that Collins is 61 and that he has not managed for more than 10 years. 
The governor said that he would have liked Wally Backman.
Backman, a second baseman on the 1986 Mets, was always a fan favorite thanks to his fiery personality and hard playing style.
As a Met fan myself, I agree that Collins is not an exciting figure, but I wasn’t sold on Backman. Wally, in my view, needs more experience. Keep in mind that he managed only a short-season Single A team.  
I’m hoping for the best with Collins.

Ratcheting up the pressure

It’s becoming clear that if the Democrats do not pass the governor’s “tool kit” and if towns begin laying off workers next year, it’s going to be the fault of the Democrats.  

That’s the steady message from Gov. Chris Christie, one he reiterated Monday night during his monthly appearance on 101.5 FM. 

So, if Republicans who run most towns in Morris County  lay off workers, it’s the fault of the Democrats? That’s interesting.

The bottom line here is that the Dems should pass Christie’s reform package. but even if they do so, it’s unlikely to make a difference next year..

Media bias, lousy reporting or nothing at all?

A friend sent me an AP story about Charlie Rangel that did not mention he is a Dem.  The sender saw that as media bias — the media trying to protect a Democrat.

I saw it as nothing at all. Just about every story I’ve seen about Rangel labels him as a Democrat. If one story did not for whatever reason, it means nothing really other than maybe lousy reporting.

Some on the right go overboard to look for media bias that simply does not exist.

The bears get support

An anti-hunting group is planning to demonstrate from noon to 2 p.m. tomorrow on Main Street in Mendham in opposition to a planned December bear hunt.

The group wants Gov. Chris Christie, who lives in nearby Mendham Township, to cancel the hunt.

Media closing its own conference? What gives?

Put this one in the “You can’t make it up” file. Today, a conference is being hosted by four foundations, including the Dodge Foundation of Morristown, on  “the future of New Jersey public media.”

The conference is being driven by the phasing out of state support for New Jersey Network. We are told that 30 “media experts” have been invited including lawmakers and officials of the Christie Administration.

Here’s the kicker _ The conference is not open to the press.  
Go figure?