Saturday, April 30, 2005

You already know, but...

... it bears repeating.

Princeton students, Rep. Rush Holt (D-12th district), Assemblyman Reed Gusciora(D-Princeton) and others are holding a filibuster to protest Sen. Frist's proposal to eliminate filibusters on judicial nominees. Rob has been keeping our blogging circle updated. Check out the sites Here for the official site and Here for the Princeton Progressive Review.

Damn, I'm proud of these folks. I'm proud to live here.

Back these people up with phone calls and letters of your own. Make your voice heard, too.

Friday, April 29, 2005


Next to my computer on the desk, I have a stack of papers. These are items I need to handle- bills, reminders and the like. I recently started adding newspaper clippings I'd like to reference in a blog post. I can't see the desk any more for the stack, and it's mostly clippings. So, here are some of the highlights:

Schundler goes for the GOP hardliners again; he's picked up the NJ Right to Life endorsement. This hasn't helped him in the past (had the same endorsement in 2001) and it's hard to believe it will help him in November. It will probably will do some good in the primary, with the GOP base.

But it all depends where you are on the ballot. Forrester has sued to change his ballot position in Bergen County. I'm not kidding. Um, Doug, if people want to vote for you, they'll spend the extra .5 second to look down the list, really they will. And then you won't look petty for suing over it. (According to the AP article there should have been a ruling on this, so when I find it I'll post.)

Speaking of not acting your age, The Jersey Guys are acting malicously juvenile again. I do hate NJ101.whine. Oh, I really do. The hosts on that station have no idea what they're talking about most of the time, but that doesn't seem to stop them from talking. It's pathetic how they get to make a living trying to make people angry by spreading misinformation. I guess they get the ratings, though- which scares me to no end. If I can find 5 minutes today, I'll write a letter demanding they be fired (and they'll have a lot of fun reading my letter on the air and slamming me for having a different opinion than they do.)

Helis is back. but not here. He's in the Schuylkyll now. Poor little whale. They think he's probably sick. He was fun while he was here, but we hope he gets home again.

Have a good weekend. I hope it doesn't rain too much. Especially because we've got a backyard birthday party this weekend which is likely turning into an indoor birthday party. I better go clean.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Statistics don't lie?

My dad (MS in statistics) used to say, "Statistics don't lie but statisticians do." You can pull any set of numbers to make things sound the way you want. Just ask Doug Forrester about his favorability ratings. Tom Hester explained this one beautifully:

"And in yet another chapter of "Let's Not Let the Facts Get in the Way of a Good Story," Fairleigh Dickinson University recently released a poll on gubernatorial candidate favorability ratings, prompting Forrester's camp to release a statement touting how he had a 51-14 favorability rating compared to 43-27 for Bret Schundler.
Well, except for one thing, one major thing - Forrester's campaign compared Forrester's ratings among Republican voters to Schundler's ratings among all voters. Among all voters, Forrester is at 39-20.

Nice try.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

New Jersey Treasure #1

There are so many good things about living here in the center of NJ, I could go on and on about them. And I've decided to do just that. Periodically I'm going to pick something that has recently made itself a pleasure in my life and tell you why it's a NJ Treasure, in hopes that you'll enjoy it too and have more pleasures in your life.

The first: The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. Earlier today my family and I enjoyed the last of the Family series of concerts for this season at West Windsor-Plainsboro North HS. We've been season subscribers to the Family series for four years now and it never fails to impress. My kids just love it. Andrew and I also have attended several of the NJSO concerts just by ourselves, at the incredible NJPAC in Newark or at the Count Basie in Red Bank. And if like me, you know nothing about classical music, they have a great program called "Classical Converstions" that starts an hour or so before some performances, where the conductor or soloist will discuss the pieces of music and their interest in it. We seek those performances out when booking tickets.

It breaks my heart to see empty seats at any of their performances. The prices are reasonable and the music is amazing. My kids have learned a lot about the orchestra, instruments, and storytelling through music by attending these performances. It's great when they later recognize music they've heard performed, or we seek out books with the stories, or we find CDs to borrow at the library. Oh, let's be honest, I've learned a lot too. They're announcing their 2005/6 season now, so seek out the NJSO and hear one of New Jersey's Treasures.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Assembly fights

The Republicans are hoping to regain the assembly, but the money's not there to put up the fight. Acording to the ELEC, the Dems have about four times as much money to spend, and Corzine has said he'll fund the majority of his campaign himself which frees up the Dem's money for the other tight races. The other day, Bill Baroni (R-Hamilton) tried to get the Democrats to pledge not to spend more than the last two years' average spending in his district. Central NJ is home to some major fights this year, with the Republicans hoping to take back the house, or at least close the gap a bit. And therefore, some major money will be spent, even before the primaries (June 7.)

Gonna be a wild ride...

Shock follows shock

Doug Forrester backed off on the layoffs. I'm shocked, shocked I tell you. He'll stick to political appointees and not people who do actual work. Probably a good idea not to tick off the unions so early in the campaign.

In other shocking campaign news, the Acting Gov. and the gubernatorial candidates didn't reveal their tax returns. Nope, not a one. They don't have to, of course, but it's a tradition. The principals say they will; Millionire Forrester, if he wins the nomination; Millionaire Corzine, who filed for the October extention, said he'd release them before then; and Shundler, in the "near future," which means before Forrester so he looks more open to primary voters. Ok, fans and friends, I admit I'm reaching a bit when I say campaign "news." This is one of those things where almost nothing relavent nor interesting is revealed, but if a candidate won't release his/her returns it looks as if there's something to hide.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Forrester and the Layoffs

Doug Forrester figured out how to pay for his property tax plan; Lay off about 6,000 state workers.

He doesn't know who, of course. But if they're union, like many state workers are, the unions are going to fight him tooth and nail. Nice quote from Carla Katz, Local 1034 of Communications Workers of America president: "The notion that you can simply eliminate 6,000 jobs and not affect the quality of public services is ridiculous." Bear in mind this only funds $400mil of the first year of his plan, the other $300mil to come from other cuts in the state budget.

Forrester wants to roll back to "Pre-McGreevy" numbers. Well, since then we added the motor vehicle agency back to the payroll, homeland security positions, and most notably 1500 jobs to reform the child welfare system in Our Fair State. Which ones does he think should go?

Somehow, I don't think this move will help him politically. Yes, we all know we need to trim state budgets and payrolls, but arbitrarily axing 6000 people isn't the way to do it. If there are 6000 jobs and another $300mil that can be easily cut from the budget, the Republicans should offer 'em up now. (I say "Republicans" and not "Forrester" because, well, he took their idea. See here.)

Per Acting Gov. Codey in this year's budget address:
"If individuals on either side of the aisle want to criticize this budget ...
If people want to oppose the small revenue raisers ... or clamor for more cuts...
Then come forward with your specific ideas, not your generic criticisms.
If you want to do more spending, show me how you will pay for it.
If you want to talk about cuts, show me directly what you mean.
If you want to remove a revenue raiser, show me how you will replace it.
Don't sit in the aisles and say you oppose this idea or that idea.
Don't stand at some distant podium and say the State should just cut more spending."

The Republicans could make a big deal about it being their idea to cut these unneeded 6000 jobs and showing the Dems how to make a smaller government. 'Course, then they'd have to have an actual plan, not just a sound bite.

(As an aside, I saw the second half of the Acting Gov. Codey's budget address this year. I wish I had seen the whole thing. I nearly cried, honestly I did, because I so much wanted to vote for this man. But I'll never get the chance.)

Thursday, April 21, 2005

...but hopefully growing intellegently.

There's a call in the state house to appeal the "fast track" law for developers. Under this law, the state gets 45 days to answer development applications; if they don't respond, they're automatically approved.

Not surprisingly, the environmentalists hate this law. Acting Gov. Codey doesn't want to see it washed away, but the legislators who saw their districts flooded twice within the last year due to overdevelopment sure do. Apparently, those who do want the law repealed are "wisdom-resistant, no-growth zealots," according to State Sen. Stephen Sweeny (D-Deptford.) Sorry Sweeny, I just want my kids to recognize a tree when they grow up. Throwing another Wall-Mart and some McMansions up on every cornfield hasn't helped Our Fair State so far (see the state of property taxes and the $4bil deficit for examples), what makes you think it will in the future?

The best thing to do is always to write a letter to your legislators with your opinions clearly outlined. The repeal bill is S2157/A3650. If you're not sure who your legislators are, look at the links on the right, there's a place to find out. 58 of 'em are co-sponsors, so you may not even have to write if yours is already on board. is a local organization who are against this law also; they have some sample letters if you'd like.

Growing Older...

According to the US Census Bureau, Our Fair State is getting older and more populous, but not so much as some others. The projections show that if current trends hold, by 2030 we will have a higher proportion of senior citizens than Florida. But, we only have so much room to grow, while the sun belt states like Arizona and North Carolina will keep growing. The shift in population density means we may lose a seat in Congress by 2030.

Our growth may slow because we're trying to set aside more land for conservation. I'm ok with losing that seat, if it means we can keep a tree or two to shade our projected 9.8 million people.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005


Many New Jersey towns are having elections today for school boards and budgets. Remember, if you don't vote you can't complain about who wins- so don't forget to vote!

Do they read the papers?

Assembly Republicans came up with a wonderful plan to lower property taxes; have the state pay 30% of them. The Assembly minority leader Alex DeCroce (R-Morris Plains) thinks it will work, "and can be implemented without raising any state taxes or fees. "

Really. He said that.

Someone should show him the $4billion deficit, and ask him again. (Ask him what color is the sky in his world, too.)

In other news, Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Forrester released his plan to lower property taxes. You're not going to believe this- it's the same as the as the Assembly Republican plan. Republican candidate Bob Schroeder's campaign manager pointed out that it's a shame Forrester had to wait for the Assemblymen to come up with a property tax plan for him. My favorite line in the article is the dismissal by Democrat Bonnie Watson Coleman (Ewing), noting its "short shelf life designed only for the campaign." (She's the chair of the appropriations committee, on the budget and joint budget oversight committes. I think she knows a gimmick when she sees one.)

Real help may be on the way, part 2

Acting Gov. Codey signed into law the raise in NJ's minimum wage. We go to $6.15/hr this October and $7.15/hr next October. The unions loved it, the business lobbies hated it, of course. But the most important thing is, it's a step closer to a living wage for an estimated 300,000 people in our fair state. That is real help.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Real help may be on the way

There may be an extra $287 million in the state coffers this year. It's not clear that there WILL be, but there may be. Here's the story.

State Senator Bryant (D-Lawnside) states that we maybe could give back the property tax rebates that Acting Gov Codey proposed cutting to balence the budget. Or, maybe we could just increase aid to schools and municipalities and hospitals.

We should let the state keep the money and use it to offset our whopping $4 billion budget gap. This is an election year though, fans and friends, so that ain't gonna happen. "Lower Property Taxes" is the key phrase in NJ this year. So, here are two options, which makes more sense? Give the money directly to the towns and school districts that are most of our local costs, thereby reducing the need to raise property taxes. Or, we could go with a gimmicky program that costs money to run, but legislators get to send a crisp new check to each homeowner in NJ in an election year. Hmm....

Keep your fingers crossed. Better yet, use them to write your legislator and tell him/her what to do with our money.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Seen the whale yet?

"heaven above, and the sea below, and a little white whale on the go."

Debate debate

The Election Law Enforcement Commision in our fair state has decided to let Doug Forrester take part in the two official Republican debates before the primary election. His presence was tenuous because of a nuance of campaign finance law, where he would have had to raise and spend a certain amount of money. He's financed from his own pocket (so far- it's early,) so some members of the ELEC though he shouldn't show.

What silliness this whole thing is. It almost feels contrived to get the publicity. The law compels people to debate if they've raised a certain amount of money, it wasn't designed to keep candidates out. Doug's practically the frontrunner, fans and friends. It's him and Bret Schundler, and several other folks you never heard of nor need to memorize their names. I'm glad the Republicans will get to see the whole show.

Speaking of people whose names you shouldn't bother to memorize, did you know Corzine has rivals for the Democratic nomination? A former PA state rep who lives in Haddon Heights, Frances Tenaglio, and James D. Kelly of Chester who lost a Dem primary for congress a few years back. No word yet on when that debate will be.

Learning, Living, Doing

Ok, here we go. I've been kicking the idea of this around for a while now but it's time to take the plunge.

The theme of this blog will be life here in central New Jersey. It will focus largely on state and local politics, specifically the upcoming gubernatorial race. Occasionally there will be bits on my kids, dogs, and food, I'm sure of it. Many folks are blogging about national politics so I'll try to keep my comments on that to their blogs, unless I feel like putting them here.

Welcome. Put your feet up, relax, grab a homebrew, and let's get started.