Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Not as corrupt as we thought!

New Jersey is only the 16th most corrupt state, according to a Corporate Crime Reporter release! Mississippi is number one, followed by- really- North Dakota. Sorry to disappoint all the Sopranos fans, but we're really not as bad as all that. Certainly not as bad as North Dakota! (I note that this study is a little old and was done before our governor resigned amidst a big ole scandal. I wonder if we're still only 16th.)

If you want to feel even better about Our Fair State, our tax burden only ranks 14th! The Tax Foundation report of State and Local Taxes from last month shows us far behind Maine(1) and Hawaii (3) in 2005.

Tom Hester brings this up in his weekly wrap-up of Capital Talk. He discusses this as an argument against adding an elected public auditor. I have to agree, adding one more person to the payroll isn't going to make a big difference. He also discusses the new goofball tactic from the Schundler camp, offering $100 to anyone who can find a worse justification for a tax increase than Doug Forrester has used. To quote the article:
Well, the worst reason I can think of for a tax increase was when Mayor "Diamond" Joe Quimby created the $5 bear tax after a bear walked into Homer Simpson's yard. Quimby used the bear tax to create a new Bear Patrol that included a stealth fighter jet. Yet somehow I don't think that entry is eligible for the $100.
Anyhow, after the townfolk complained about "the biggest tax increase in U.S. history," Quimby blamed illegal immigrants for high taxes, which made me wonder if conservative Republican gubernatorial candidate Steve Lonegan is stealing Quimby's platform.

Well, I guess our gubernatorial race was long overdue for a Simpsons reference.

The last big GOP debate is coming, on Sunday June 5. We watched only a little of the last one, enough to shout at the TV a lot (and to discover that Todd Caliguire looks like a wraith when badly lit onstage.)

Friday, May 27, 2005

Election Reform

We may have some positive changes in how we vote in Our Fair State. The Senate moved forward on a few bills this week to reform our voting system: creating a statewide voter registration system allowing people to declare party affiliation on the reg. form, letting small districts vote by mail, moving up the presidential primary so it matters. But my personal favorite is to require all voting machines to produce a verifiable paper trail! The bill is S29 or A33 if you want to search for it on our legislature's web site.

Anything can be hacked. Why does anyone think a voting machine can't be rigged? Please, legislators, support this!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Pete Vincelli gets my vote!

Did I mention what a snooze the GOP primary is? Well, here's the proof!

42% of Republican voters couldn't name a single candidate.
Only 54% had even seen a candidate ad.
17% of voters had paid "a lot" of attention.
Lastly, my favorite- Pete Vincelli had better name recognition than Todd Caliguire. There is no candidate "Pete Vincelli"; he's the father of one of the pollsters. They made him up. Ouch.

But, it still looks like it's Forrester beating Schundler, with an approval of 58% v. 48%. Unfortunately for the GOP, the poll shows Corzine 42% v. Forrester %29. If it's Schundler, it's 42% v. 24%.

(Thanks to Dynamobuzz for bringing this to my attention.)

Update @ 10:21PM: This didn't take long.

New Budget

Acting Gov. Codey has revised his budget proposals, and there may be more money in it for property tax relief. Hopefully it will go directly to schools and municipalites instead of into rebates, but they haven't decided yet. He's also rescaled his estimates from sale of state property. This budget has the biggest spending cuts in state history and is reducing dependence on one-time revenue tricks, according to State Treasurer John McCormac.

Those cuts the Assembly Dems found earlier this month? Not yet implemented.

I'm writin' my letters asking to forego the rebate programs and give the money directly to schools. Write yours if you agree. Trenton needs to hear from us.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Who needs $250?

Silly question, we all could use it. But, Bret Schundler and Steve Lonegan are giving it away!

Bret offered $250 to anyone who "can prove that someone, anyone, in New Jersey history ever raised property taxes faster than Doug Forrester when he was mayor of West Windsor." (I offer Christie Whitman, for cutting state taxes and consequentially benefits to towns and schools so much that property taxes have skyrocketed across the state ever since, but I don't think he'd buy it.)

Lonegan countered with his offer, $250 to anyone who can show him a mayor "with a better record of controlling spending, reducing debt and keeping taxes below inflation" than himself. (Not being familiar with all of Our Fair State's recent mayors, no one comes to mind quickly, but I'm sure with a little research it could be found.)

Corzine is the lucky one in this scenerio. No, he doesn't get the $250, but he doesn't need it either. Not having a real primary contender, he's outlining his health care plan and looking like a leader, not a campaign trickster. I love that his health care plan includes the ban on smoking inpublic places. His plan looks good at the outset, except one thing- forcing insurance companies to allow parents to cover children up to 30 years of age? Nope, sorry. That's just silly. Through college, or maybe age 25, or required if the child is disabled, ok. But 30? I sure hope not to be responsible for my kids health insurance, or anything else of theirs for that matter, at age 30. Where did he come up with that?

Thursday, May 19, 2005

The mud starts flying

Well, it's been flying for a while, but the primary's been such a snoozer that it barely if all made the papers. I didn't even watch the debate Tuesday, I wonder how many people did. But, we're getting closer now so the heavy hitters have started with the slams.

Forrester is lying about 'his' property tax plan, says Schundler. It will do nothing to stop property taxes, and if he goes into the general election because of it, his credibility will be suspect! He's also lying about his time as West Windsor mayor, when property taxes, spending and debt went up!

Schundler is such a liar, says Forrester, that we can pick his top ten. He lied about increasing payroll taxes while mayor of Jersey City! He increased taxes, too! He lied about supporting the hockey arena!

The Quinnipiac poll says Forrester is still ahead. But it's not a landslide. I'm sure he's disappointed- he spent a lot of money so far, and he's barely beat the margin of error. That's not a good sign.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Gobblin' up the sun

I give my children multi-vitamins with their breakfasts. The brand we buy has little smiling suns printed on them. Every morning, my younger daughter sings, "The sun is coming up! The sun is coming up! The sun is coming arrughghghgh!!," that last sound there being where she gobbles up the vitamin. She smiles and laughs because this is high comedy when you're four.

I'm smiling and laughing right now, because we're gobblin' up the sun too.

As of 4PM today, we've gone solar. The panels are up on the roof, the inverters are on and the electric meter's running backwards! I have to say that again, just because of how good it felt to say it the first time. The meter is running backwards!!!

Now the inspections begin, starting tomorrow morning, and I'm told the state inspection and my new digital meter take a while. I'll have to shut the power down between the inspections for a while too, so we're not 100% done with the process. But boy, am I glad to be gobblin' up the sun.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Where do you fit?

Pew Research Center Typology Test

None too surprisingly, I came up a liberal. I'm proud of it. Somewhere along the line, the word "liberal" started to be used as an insult, and I think we need to take it back!

Friday, May 13, 2005

Good for Caliguire

The two worst radio personalities I've ever had to hear, Carton and Rossi, hosted a GOP gubernatorial debate yesterday on their horrid radio show on NJ101.whine. Bergen County Freeholder/gubernatorial candidate Todd Caliguire declined to participate. So did Robert Schroeder, but he came up with some scheduling excuse, so he gets less of my respect than Caliguire.

"The Republican candidates' willingness to appear on this program creates the impression that they accept the station's defense of the hosts' racist comments as 'entertainment.' That they continue to use this show as a vehicle to get out their message reflects poorly on the integrity of their campaigns. I applaud the fact that one candidate in the GOP Primary contest has refused to compromise his core values by declining to appear on a show hosted by those who would engage in an on-air racist diatribe. I only wish all the Republican candidates would demonstrate the same kind of dedication to the principles of racial understanding and tolerance that help make America great." -- Rep. Steve Rothman (05/12/05) (politicsnj.com)

I'm sure everyone remembers the trouble these hosts caused when they visciously attacked Mary Jane Codey and the other sufferers of post-partum depression. If not, you must remember when they insulted Asian-Americans. Those are two of the most recent, public attrocities these guys have committed.

Surprisingly, Carton behaved, and an intelligent discourse on the issues ensued, just like the other debates and forums being held. I'm sure most of the usual Carton and Rossi listeners didn't expect that. Steve Kornacki in the above-linked article states that "The Jersey Guys audience— indeed, that of every talk show on 101.5— is dominated by people who are likely to vote in the GOP primary." If he's right, I hope they listened to the debate of issues, instead of turning it off when they didn't hear racial epithets and insults.

Oh, Codey...

Bowing to pressure, Acting Gov. Codey reinstated the property tax rebates in his proposed budget.

Did anyone not see this coming? I was holding out hope, but this IS an election year. I shouldn't have been so optimistic.

My favorite line in Tom Hester's article linked above is, "... the acting governor said he wouldn't let the extra revenue be used for what he called "politically appealing spending." "

You mean, like gimmicky tax rebate programs?

My trees are gone

We've taken down a total of 5 trees for the solar power array. Two I was glad to see go, two I would've rather kept a while but they shaded my neighbor's array, and the fifth- I cried when Andrew cut it down. So healthy, so nice, right in the middle of the yard. The solar guy is trying to make me feel better by showing me how the environmental good done by installing the solar outpaces the impact of one (or even five) trees, but it still means there's no shade on my deck anymore and it feels really, really open.

The last three trees went today. There's more sunlight coming into the office (where I am typing) right now than probably has been in twenty years or more. Our privacy on the deck is pretty much gone.

But it had to be done.

I'm already researching what dwarf-size trees I can put in, to give us a little shade!

Thursday, May 12, 2005

You may learn one anyway.

Remember those other Republican candidates whose names I said we may never have to learn? Well, one of them, Todd Caliguire, may get some name recognition after all. No, he's not up in the polls or anything, but he has the most money of the GOP gubernatorial candidates going into the last month. At least, of the candidates who reveal their finances; who knows how much Forrester has to spend, since he's got the "wallet."

Interestingly, Caliguire has also raised the least of the GOP field. I expect he'll try to make this money count.

Hey! Look what we found.

They've found the money!!

The Assembly Dems. found close to $445 mil in cuts they want to make. Add that to the $500mil unexpected revenue this year, they are close to the $1.1 bil needed to reinstate the ridiculous property tax rebate programs.

We knew this would happen, that going into an election the majority party would do anything to take credit for sending out checks this summer. Don't get me wrong, make the cuts! Anything that can be slashed should be. But please, don't keep borrowing my money to send it back. Get rid of the silly programs.

$445mil won't even come close to closing the $4bil hole in the budget. And, the State Treasurer John McCormack has warned repeatedly not to count on unexpected revenue. Certainly, any unexpected revenue should go toward the deficit. But, I'm repeating myself. Maybe if we say it over and over, someone will hear.

Time to write more letters...

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Battle of the Multi-Millionaires

Doug Forrester says if he wins the nomination, he'll fund his campaign out of his own pocket. Rick England (from the campaign) says, "Doug will self-fund against Corzine's Democrat machine because he believes this election should be about the ideas that are best for New Jersey, not the size of anyone's wallet."

Huh. I wonder, can you get elected in NJ without a sizeable wallet nowadays? Bret Schundler certainly wants to know. It seems lately that it's all about the size of the wallet.

Corzine said he'd spend his only own money too, doesn't plan on spending public money. Of course, Forrester will accept public money IF Corzine does. But that would mean agreeing to spending limits, which the candidates certainly don't want to do. (Especially if the other candidate won't be limiting his spending.)

Forrester has outspent Schundler vastly for the primary so far, but leading only a little in the polls (here and here.) I've seen billboard ads for Forrester but not a thing for Schundler. (Then again, I'm not represenative of likely Republican voters, because I'm not a registered party member nor have we been watching TV.)

Here's the rub: Corzine's leading them both. It's narrowing but he still is ahead.

PS- I hope you voted if you had to yesterday. I was supposed to go to a school board meeting but I had an allergy attack instead. The fun of living in Central NJ in spring is: Tree Pollen!

Sunday, May 08, 2005


Usually when the kids are in bed for the night, Andrew and I crash in front of the TV for an hour or two. We sometimes watch movies or shows we've borrowed or owned (recently watched all three LotR DVDs!), but mostly we surf channels and watch whatever's interesting. This last week, however, we've spent reading or playing on the computers. I think we're sick of finding the least objectionable garbage to entertain us.

Anyway, for my web surfing, I've been hitting that "next blog" button a lot. It's up there on the top of the page, on the right. There seems to be a lot of sites in Spanish, and a good number of sites which are advertisements for something. There are lots of high school kids or college students who are blogging about their lives, not much interesting there either. I hit the button and keep going.

Once in a while, though, you find someone on your wavelength. The other day I found a chick posting about the Dead, retired racing greyhounds and has 88.5 linked from her page. There's the Pop Culture Wake-Up Call, which reminds me so much of Chris and Allen (well, not the sports wake-up call, but the others.) I've posted a few other things I've found already.

I'll get back to the gubernatorial campaign when something interesting happens, probably at the debates. I haven't had much to say about the whole Thomas thing or the Brown thing, and other than those and the Frist Filibuster (in hour 311 as I write this,) there ain't been much for New Jersey news. That's probably a good thing.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Another fun one from the "next blog" button

"I see your face when I am dreaming
That's why I always wake up screaming.

My love, you take my breath away.
What have you stepped in to smell this way?"

This kid from Florida took some of the funnier email jokes and posted them on his blog. I recommend the "10 husbands," "nice and sweet valetine poem," and "Yo mama is so fat."

Friday, May 06, 2005

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Fun for your Friday

Pop Culture Food Quiz

What Kind of American English Do You Speak?

Web Fire Escape

Just some of the fun things I found while hitting that "next blog" button repeatedly, instead of going to sleep like I should be.

Next Lawsuit Update

They can't print ballots for the primary in Bergen and Gloucester county, because everyone's waiting to see if the state Supreme Court will step in or not. Steve Kornacki (politicsnj.com) said it well:

The meaning and significance of virtually everything that has happened in the last week is in dispute, deemed either earth-shatteringly critical or as ho-hum as a round of golf, depending on which campaign is talking.
Read one way, the increasingly complex legal battle is simply a matter of two candidates— Doug Forrester and John Murphy— seeking to have a 24-year-old state law, which has been both applied and ignored over the years, enforced in two counties.
Read differently, it's an ironic and potentially campaign-altering battle between Doug Forrester and the county bosses whose support he's depending on.

Even with the negative spin on the lawsuit, Forrester is beating Schundler in the latest poll of likely voters, 42%-34%. Seems like the Republicans are falling into the same trap in NJ that the Dems ran into nationwide in the presidential election- driving to the middle because the candidate there is "electable." Hmm.

Corzine won his ballot challenge too. That was really for the local party candidates, though.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005


Once again, no surprize, but Forrester appealed his ballot position lawsuit- and got the ruling in his favor. But, Schundler and Murphy appealed too to have their places moved for various reasons (so much for using this against Forrester in the primary), and the appelate judge sided with them. The ballots will be redrawn in Bergen and Gloucester counties. Check here for updates, in the NewsBriefs box.

Other than that, the primary race is a snoozer. Indeed, the Times had an article about how slow it is this past weekend. I expect it will pick up after the Republican debates, in a couple of weeks. 'Course, I'm not registered with a party, so I'm not sure if those who are are being inundated with junk mail and canvasers- but it doesn't seem likely.

Real Reform: they hate it.

Assembly Speaker Sires (D-West New York) says he won't even recommend sending the constitutional amendment proposal for a committee let alone a vote. The Republicans don't like it, of course, but it's not a good sign when your own party won't support your proposal. The NJEA liked it though, and that's a start. No one likes to be associated with higher taxes, but I really think they could sell this one if they tried. More fair, takes the burdens off senior citizens with limited incomes, drasticly reduces property taxes, that sort of thing.

The bill is ACR237, and once they post the text so we can check it out thoroughly, I plan to start writing my letters. Incidentally, my assemblymen write me back. (Do yours?) I wonder if the lackey in their office who reads the mail is used to me by now.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Lawsuit update

Doug Forrester's lawsuit about his primary ballot position was dismissed by a Superior Court Judge. No big surprise there. We'll see if he appeals.

FYI: if you want to register for the primary, you have to do so before 5/9.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Income Taxes v. Property Taxes

The shift for funding schools through income taxes instead of property taxes is gaining support. A bill goes in today to do just that, sponsored by Assemblyman Manzo (D-Hudson.) The Republicans aren't happy about it, because it raises taxes and doesn't have any provisions about local governments cutting spending.

We've got to pay for schools with money from somewhere. This works for me.

If you make more than $30K a year, your income tax will go up, but according to Manzo, if you make less than $300K a year you make out on the deal. My favorite provision of the bill is eliminating the silly rebate programs. I know, I know, it's nice to get a check every year. But whose money is it that you're getting back? Your own!! (Occasionally someone else's, depending on your income level.) Plus it costs money to administer the program of giving us back our own money. Of course no politician wants to be the one to take your check away, but it's a stupid idea whose demise is due.

At the same time, the Assembly Democrats are going over the budget very closely to see what we can trim. Unused computers, Atlantic City hotels, airport limos- they're all small potatoes compared to the $4bil budget hole, but it's a start. Yes, they're doing it to avoid the political fallout over dropping the aforementioned (stupid) rebate programs. But anywhere we can lower spending and weed out budget abuse, the better.

Trenton Film Fest

I wasn't able to go, so I don't feel it would be fair to give it New Jersey Treasure status. But a lot of folks did go to the Trenton Film Fest. The movie getting the most press is Anytown, USA, a documentary about the Bogota, NJ mayoral race. All politics is local, and here it is at the basic level- it doesn't seem too pretty. I can't wait to see this film. I hope the DVD makes it to Netflix someday, because there aren't any showings and it currently doesn't have a distributor (nor could I easily get a babysitter if there was an opportunity.)

And just in case you need to go book shopping this week, here's a voucher to Barnes & Noble to have 5% of your purchase total be donated to the Trenton Film Society. They'll have the fest again next year (hopefully) so if you missed it like me, better luck next year!