Sunday, July 31, 2005

Carnival of Bloggers 11


Jersey blog postings
are at SmadaNek today.
Visit and enjoy.

The Carnival will be heading here to the Center of NJ next week. (Am already getting nervous, as is my way before any kind of project.)

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Perfect on a summer day

The Bent Spoon in Princeton, Palmer Square.

Ginger-Cardamom ice cream.

Perfect, perfect, perfect.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Still here

But not much to say. It rained here in the Center of NJ and the heat broke, but I don't know if that'll cure the summer lethargy.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Another little piece of my soul gone

I just heard Derek and the Dominoes' Layla, on the Weather Channel, behind the local forecast.

It's not as bad as hearing Led Zeppelin on Cadillac ads, but it's still another little piece of my soul gone.

Carnival of Bloggers 10


The Carnival is up at the Bad Hair Blog. Kudos to Fausta, it looks like there were a ton of submissions this week!

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Random Searches

NJ Transit and Port Authority NY/NJ cops will begin random searches of bags, etc., at train stations and bus depots starting Monday mornign. Acing Gov. Codey ordered the policy, but it appears it was pushed by the fact that NYC police began their own random searches Thursday. "We couldn't look like we were weak and doing nothing," said some unnamed official.

Apparently racial profiling will not be tolerated. We learned our lesson with that one in Our Fair State. But no one will say how people would be selected to be searched.

My first reaction to this is to remind everyone what the Fourth Ammendment says. I guess the question here is, is this unreasonable? As yet another unnamed person in the Times article points out, they search everyone at the airport, and that's not considered unreasonable.

The real issue with this is that it's useless. As pointed out by Random Official, they don't want to look weak. But this won't actually make us any stronger. How many people can they search in a day? There are 800,000 trips on NJ transit on an average weekday, not to mention PATH. Will randomly pulling a few hundred, or even a few thousand, aside daily really increase our safety?

Now, I have the outsider perspective here- neither I nor my husband uses NJTransit on a daily basis. (Only for fun trips, like to see this.) The news is new today so I have yet to see it come up on the NJ blogs yet. It will be interesting to see what the throngs have to say, especially if the commutes are delayed on Monday.

I guess one out of three ain't bad

Moody's joined Fitch Ratings in not raising Our Fair State's credit rating based on the new budget. They had basically the same concerns.

Oh well. It was a nice feeling, for a moment.

Three years

Today is DSM day. There are events all over the country to mark this occasion, unfortunately, none of them include impeachment.

I won't be attending such an event to mark this occasion, although many are. I'm going to do what I usually do when I'm angry about something- write my legislators. I suggest you do the same. It's sad, really- so little has been done by our representatives, I can just pull up most of my old letters and change a few bits and the dates.

Big Brass Alliance

Friday, July 22, 2005

Here comes Cheney!

Vice President Dick Cheney will be here in Central Jersey tonight, stumping for Doug Forrester at a big $1000-a-plate fundraiser. And even while taking the money, Doug tried to distance himself somewhat:

Forrester said yesterday he doesn't agree with all of the president's initiatives, but he said there is nothing wrong with him taking cash from a Cheney event when Corzine makes hefty donations to the state's Democratic bosses.
"I have not expressed support for any aspect of a federal agenda that is not good for New Jersey," Forrester said.

That's probably because support for Bush's administration is at an all-time low in Our Fair State, according to a Fairleigh Dickinson poll this week. Some local politicians, including Assemblyman Bill Baroni(R-Hamilton), are sitting this one out too. As of yesterday, the state Repubs hadn't even sold all the tickets yet.

Doug's support in NJ is not on the rise. That FDU poll showed him 13 points behind Corzine. The money may be nice but associating with the rather unpopular Bushies is a bad move right now. Plus the traffic tie-up on Rt. 1 and 295 on a Friday night resulting from the complete closure by the Secret Service of the highways on which the VP will travel will result in bad press and bad feelings.

I don't think the Forrester folks really thought this one through.

Thursday, July 21, 2005


One fun thing about blogging is seeing how readers find you. Blogpatrol (see that counter down there on the right? Those guys) lets you see your last 20 keywords for searches that have sent folks to your site.

The last four for mine were:

Base closings political retaliation (sorry bud, I said it wasn't.)

nj right to life (boy, I bet that person was disappointed, huh?)

herronton woods, princeton, nj (that was a long time ago I mentioned that, but here it is)

And, my favorite, JCP&L meter reading screwed. The funny thing is, I didn't even blog about my meter reading being screwed. But it was. We went solar not long ago, and I couldn't be happier with it. Especially the part where I get to watch my new meter, which shows how much I've produced and how much I've used from the grid. Was actually looking forward to my electric bill this month! It was going to be SO LOW! Right? Right??

But, JCP&L screwed up my meter reading. They estimated the reading this month based on last year, instead of coming out and doing an actual reading. Boy, I was mad. They wanted a lot of money I didn't owe. So I called them, ready to scream and yell until they fixed it! Was I ever surprised when a very nice service rep quickly helped me, had me read the meter to her over the phone and quickly sent me a corrected bill, which was only $30. Yay! (How's that for one of the hottest months of the year? Love that solar power.)

I also get the occasional search for NJ night life. Sorry, whoever that is, but I have kids- I have no idea about night life in NJ. I bet it's smokin', a great time, lots o'fun. Let me know tomorrow, I have to get up early.

That didn't last long, did it?

Standard and Poor's may have raised ther rating of Our Fair State, but Fitch Ratings (another Wall Street credit agency) refused to do so. We stay at AA-, same as last year. They say we're too dependent on "non-recurring resources."

Wish I could disagree with that.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

One way to help the budget

Standard and Poor's just raised Our Fair State's bond rating. We can get better interest rates when we borrow money, so we spend less. ('Course, we could save money by borrowing less, but that's just my opinion.)

The agency said it raised the ratings because of "the underlying strength of the state's economy, highlighted by a strong and diverse economic base and high wealth levels that, in the past, had been the basis for a higher rating." S&P also said the new, $27.9 billion budget "makes significant strides toward structural balance" and "is a positive and necessary step for the state in turning around its weak, but improving, fiscal posture." After last year's budget was enacted, S&P and other major rating agencies lowered New Jersey's ratings one notch, citing nearly $2 billion that was borrowed to balance the $28 billion plan for the fiscal year that ended in June.

Nice little pat on the back for Acting Gov. Codey.

Don't lose focus

As is often the case, Shakespeare's Sister says it best:

There will no doubt be plenty of debate across the blogosphere over the next few days about whether Rove or Rogers should command our collective attention, but it’s not really an either-or proposition. Whether it’s the Downing Street Memos revealing that the administration was fixing facts and intelligence around the policy, or senior administration officials using their media operatives to discredit a critic (and compromising national security in the process), or an announcement of a GOP hack SCOTUS nominee politically timed to distract from an official investigation of the administration’s misdeeds, it’s all part of the same ugly picture. Our country’s leadership is corrupt.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Property Taxes Dispair and the Assembly Race Money

It's almost 8:30. I've got a half hour until Bush's press conference, after which NO ONE will be paying attention to Our Fair State for a while. So, while there's still time, here goes:

Once again, Tom Hester is right on the money. If you don't read the Times of Trenton reporter's column every Monday, you miss a good assessment of our current state of affairs.

Doug Forrester, the Republican gubernatorial candidate, opposes a convention and
insists his priority will be implementing his plan to require the state to pay 30 percent of the property taxes on each primary residence.
If Republicans gain an Assembly majority in November's election, he'll get that plan through that house, but regardless it's dead on arrival. Neither Assembly nor Senate
Democrats, who will still control the Senate, will support it, no matter how much noise Forrester makes about being given a mandate by the people to push it through.

Most property taxes go toward education costs, and the fairest way to fund education is through a progressive income tax. Corzine has noted the unfairness of using property taxes to pay for education, but he also won't suggest a change. He punts that suggestion to the mythical convention.
If a shift to income taxes is made, a large segment of New Jersey voters will be significant losers and they're not going to sit quietly. They're going to come after politicians just like they did former Gov. Jim Florio and no one wants to repeat that experience, especially a new governor and Democrats who enjoy their majority status.
The only other option is fiddling around with either some laws or the tax structure to provide some change, but that's not a solution. Lawmakers have done that for years and nothing has changed.
It's difficult to see a solution. Property tax reform will continue to be discussed, but it's going nowhere.

Yep, Tom, you're right.

I've heard it said before that the convention idea is cover for politicians. It is, and it's a shame that it's needed, but it is. More sessions of the legislature and further griping will get us nowhere- minor changes, silly miniscule tax structure alterations, that's it. We need real reform, and I'm sorry to say, I think a convention is the only way currently proposed to get there. I think it's a slim chance it will work, but I think we have to try.

Now, on to the money.

The Dems are rolling in it for this year's elections- over three times what the Repubs have raised. This is mainly about Assembly races, since the multi-millionaires who are running for governor are funding themselves, but some of that money may be used "to help their efforts." This looks good for the Assembly Dems, and some help for Corzine if he needs it.

So let's face facts: with Forrester trailing Corzine big time, it looks like Forrester has no chance of trying to get his ill-advised 30%-in-3 plan proposed. So, let's hope that Sen. Corzine can pull a rabbit out of his special session/convention hat and make it all work.

And the headline read...

Council attacked over $4M purchase

Surprisingly, not with picks and shovels and implements of destruction.

State regulators have already told the developer and the township that much of the land Fieldstone had hoped to build on likely was wetlands. Of the 41 units township planners agreed could be built on, at least 14 would sit in areas the DEP has questioned.
Township officials were made aware of the DEP's reservations about the property in July 2004, but it is unclear whether the information was taken into account when the plan was studied and the 41 lots were agreed to.

It sure doesn't look like it was!

The candidates running to replace current Hamilton Township council members are, of course, shouting that the council was negligent in their investigation of Klockner Woods and should not have bought it. Also, there is no provision for Hamilton to back out of the sale if the State or County chooses not to fork over the cash.

I expect, as with any investigation, there will be information of which the public is unaware. There will be some justifications and reasoning for agreeing to this purchase with this rotten deal. The DEP will weigh in and that may change the assessment.

But we don't need a fortune teller to predict that the council members who voted for this deal don't have a shot of being reelected.

I read Harry

Finished last night, um, late. It's good, but not as good as Order of the Phoenix. And I wonder where we're going next.

It's good. Read these books.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Saturday, July 16, 2005

NJ voter law updates

Tuesday, Acting Gov. Codey signed into law a big package of voting reforms.

Among them was a law requiring a verifiable paper trail for electronic voting machines. Critics of that new law say that there are no spot audits, only a paper trail for recounts. Spot auditing may be nice, but this will still at least back up the electronic results. It's a step in the right direction.

Bright lights, small city

The Trenton Makes bridge is glowing again. (I wanted to post a new picture but was unable to find a current one.)

It's a nice bit of pride for our capital city.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Slow Down!

Acting Gov. Codey extended the order to delay the fast-track legislation for developers. This is a law, passed last summer in three days with almost no debate, which grants permits to developers if state agencies don't answer within 45 days. The implementaion of the law is delayed only until portions which conflict with federal law are reconciled.

This law is a sprawl nightmare, and should be repealed. I understand the delay in processing is a deterrent to some development and often over-long, but the impact of any development in Our Fair State should be studied thoroughly before it is rushed through. Forgive me, but it bears repeating: 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 anyone think it will in the future? Shouldn't we spend some time looking before we leap?

There are bills to repeal the fast-tracklaw, S2157 and A3650, which are both sitting in committe for more than six months. Now we're in summer and nothing will happen. But a delay in the implementation of this law is a step in the right direction.

Public Service Announcement!

If you had to file documents with the clerk's office in Mercer County in the last two weeks, there's a chance they were lost.

A janaitor apparently accidentally threw out documents filed on July 1st and July 5th. If you were a filer there for any reason, call the clerk's office.

Fleecing Update- Klockner Woods Deal Postponed

In a 180 degree spin, Mayor Glen Gilmore and the township of Hamilton will wait to purchase Klockner Woods until the state finishes its review of the deal.

Quoted in today's Times of Trenton, Gilmore says "Until we've been reassured that we've been given a fair deal, we're not going to purchase Klockner Woods." I guess the public pressure got to them. Unfortunately, it's not yet clear that a new price can even be negotiated or not; the price was set and there's a deadline of Sept. 1 to pay off or face an 8% per year penalty, payable to the Fieldstone Group.

At this point in the whole deal, this may be the best development we could've wanted. Now, let's see what the state comes back with in the report, and if anything can be changed in the sale.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

I can't fuckin' believe he said that

I wonder if John Gibson has a good psychiatrist for his delusions. I sure as hell hope so. Outing Valerie Plame endangered all the agents "working" for her CIA front company. It's a crime. It was done as political retaliation. There isn't even a moral middle ground here- it's WRONG, plain and simple.

I can't fuckin' believe that guy said that. I'm speechless. I don't know what else to say.

Go here for the full post from The Left Coaster. Go here for the recap from Shakespeare's Sister.

After you pick your jaw up off the floor, that is.

The Carnival and The Press


The Carnival got some nice exposure today, in the New York Times Our Towns column by Peter Applebome. Sluggo's trying to handle the pressure of being next week's host. (The big tent will be here at The Center of NJ Life on Aug. 7th.)

UPDATE: as of 6PM, I have 155 hits today. Oh my.
My proverbial fifteen minutes started earlier today and I didn't even know it!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Fort Monmouth Mega-Base?

Last week, officials from Our Fair State went before the Base Realignment and Closure Commission to try to convince them to not close Ft. Monmouth. The Pentagon has proposed combining Ft. Dix, McGuire AFB and Lakehurst Naval Air Station into one big mega-base; Rush Holt and others from our area want Ft. Monmouth included in that merger. (G.D. over at B. and A. provides us with links to Rush Holt's testimony.)

The mega-base is a great idea. Rep Jim Saxton (R-Mount Holly) stated:"These three bases already make up the only joint Army-Navy-Air Force installation in the country. They are a model of our armed services working jointly, with elements of active duty, reserve and National Guard forces working side-by-side." Consolidation is often useful in reducing costs and redundancies; we welcome efforts to do just that. But, is Fort Monmouth going to made it in?

I've heard it said that several of these base closings are "punishments" for blue states. Now, I love a good conspiracy theory as much as anyone, but folks, it just ain't so. Fort Monmouth has been on the chopping block for years now. It only made it through rounds of base closings in 1988 and 1993 by taking major reductions in work force. Our NJ reps tried to explain to the BRAC that if Monmouth closes, only about 20% of the work force will relocate to the new facility, in Aberdeen, MD. Unfortunately, that may be just the thing the Commission is counting on to happen.

I have friends who work at Fort Monmouth. They are resigned to the closure. Unlike the majority, my friends have decided to move and follow their jobs south. They get a couple years before the actual switch is made, so there is time to plan. But, they have no illusions that the BRAC is going to change their position. So I guess we can keep our fingers crossed and hope for a change of heart, and express thanks to the legislators who are giving it their best shot as they have to do, but don't expect a miracle.

Does a bear...

...not in the woods, apparently:
Michael Kerlin, who lives on an old orchard, also on Windsor-Perrineville Road, has had a unique - and steady - view of the bear's daily routine.
"He's been eating apples and pears off my trees in the back yard," Kerlin said. "He's also been eating a lot of mulberries recently. I can tell because he's (going to the bathroom) on my driveway."

Funniest thing I've read in a long time

Steve, Don't Eat This!

(Thanks to Seething in the Wilderness.)

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Desperate for blood

No, this won't be something about vampires or the Bush administration's Middle East policies.

The American Red Cross Penn-Jersey Blood Services, who serve more than 125 hospitals in Our Fair State and Pennsylvania, is reporting that we have less than a 1 day's supply of blood; optimal level is a 5 day supply. They're out of Type o negative, and all other types are low as well.

Give blood if you can. Search here to find a local blood drive and go.

Carnival of Bloggers #8

This week the Carnival is alphabetical; find it at Cripes, Suzette. Go forth and read.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

The Fleecing of Hamilton and NJ

The state DEP is going to investigate (finally) the purchase of Klockner Woods in Hamilton Twp., here in Central Jersey.

In 2001, Fieldstone Associates, a developer, bought the Klockner Woods property in Hamilton for $375,000. Much of the property is wetlands and many developers had passed on the deal already. In 2004, an appraisal of the land was done, finding 27 suitable home sites and valued the property between $1.25 and $1.34 million. So to preserve it for open space, how much is Hamilton buying it back for?

$4.1 million. Based on 41 (not 27) homesites worth $100,000 each. Really.

Oh, most of that will be funded by Our Fair State, with Mercer County kicking in $300,000, and there is hope that a few nonprofits will kick in as well. Hamilton didn't go the "Eminent domain" route; so, they avoided spending a few grand on court battle that they probably would have won. Huh?

Of course, one of the principals in Fieldstone kicked in over $2000 to Mayor Glen Gilmore's reelection campaign. But you already suspected that, right? The Times of Trenton also reported that Fieldstone's attorney stated that Gilmore promised to build a large apartment development if the developer would wait until after the election to submit the plan. Gilmore denies this.

This is insanity. Pure and simple, we're all being ripped off here, even we who don't live in Hamilton.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

What you wish for

From Skippy, the Bush Kangaroo: How you wish our leaders would act. Today, on this day of horror in London, and every day. A rarity: symbolism that meant something.

Let's see how well Villaraigosa does in the next few years. The Dems really need a rising star...

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Who am I? Why am I here?

Retired Vice Adm. James Stockdale dies at age 81.

I remember that VP debate very well, when he started with those now-famous questions. He got a lot of ribbing for that (and for turning off his hearing aid when it wasn't his turn,) but they were the main questions most people had for him.

"The questions were relevant in terms of the evening's purpose, which was to introduce myself and let the American people know where I was coming from," he wrote in 1995. "But I also chose them for their broader relevance to my life: I am a philosopher." (from the CNN article)

Monday, July 04, 2005

Happy 4th

We went to the fireworks and concert in East Windsor Township last night, and they put on a heckuva show. The kids overslept from being out so late and we missed the parade this morning. Tonight we head to East Brunswick's festivities, after spending the afternoon swimming. My flag is flying high and proud. The weather is beautiful.

It's the kind of 4th you always want to have.

Happy Independence Day.

Back on track- the short form

This week the Carnival of Bloggers is back at Enlighten NJ.

I've seen first-hand what Mercer County Community College does with entertaining expenses, specifically at the Conference Center. It's lavish- over the top, really. School Pres. Robert Rose is well-liked with some at the school but this is his second big scandal since taking office; it looks like it's time to go.

Tom Hester Jr. at the Trenton Times has a nice bit on the budget negotiations. State Sen. Kenny is right that this year's Assembly elections won't be decided on the amount of rebates. It'll be about who saved them, and property taxes in general. The final budget seems to be a good one, even if it has those ridiculous rebates and less given directly to public schools and municipalities than I'd like. (Those steel-cage matches would have made great television, though.)

I emailed the Corzine campaign folks again about non-working links on their web site. I'd like to get back to blogging about the gubernatorial race, so I've been surfing their site and found a bunch that aren't working. Let's see if they can get it all running.

And yes, something DID happen on the Supreme Court while I was away! It's a sad day when we liberals are upset about losing a Reagan appointee, but here we are. A swing vote, a sometimes-moderate voice is lost. Roe v. Wade is over, you heard it hear first. (Ok, so I'm a little behind, so you heard it here seventeenth or eighteenth.) The speculation is already gettin' crazy about who will be nominated. Cross your fingers, close your eyes and wish really hard: "Not Gonzales. Not Gonzales. Not Gonzales..."

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Aren't I still on vacation?

Not really.

But if I close my eyes the lake is once again a few steps away, there are great hikes within a twenty minute drive, and my nephews are playing with my kids. I can see the kayaks, the mountains, the chipmunks scurrying around. Someone always wants to play a game or read a book. There are people to babysit if my sister-in-law and I want to sneak out to get coffee. I can feel the warmth of the sun as it rises over the lake. The air smells clean, but for the bug spray and sunblock.

Here at home I have piles of work. I have a bunch of things to read and do. I have zucchini the size of my shins which need to be picked quickly and an overgrown lawn. Not to mention a few suitcases full of dirty laundry. I have to get back in touch- the assembly made a budget deal while I was gone, Mercer County College is in scandal again, and did something happen with the Supreme Court? I'm so tempted to turn a blind eye to it all, for a couple more days.

Real Life can begin again on Tuesday. Today, I want to pretend I'm on vacation still.

Pass the sunblock and bug spray.