Thursday, December 31, 2009

How about some leadership?

Mayor Ken Short and Committeeman Bill Roehrich recently ran for office on a platform that basically said they had more fiscal experience than their opponents. If this is the case, why do they seem so desperate in "reaching" out to the public for ideas and opinions to alleviate a severe cash crunch they created?

Instead of searching for people to hide behind (no one from the public other than Harlin Parker is going to show up anyway), how about these two do what they were elected to do by showing some thought leadership beyond setting aside $10,000 to audit the K-8 school budget, as this move has lost its political appeal now that their are two former K-8 school board members on the Township Committee.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Mr. Pragmatic...

Here is an excellent NYT analysis of the President's pragmatic approach to dealing with the way things get done in DC.

Setting the record straight...

An article in this week's Observer Tribune contains misleading informatiom pertaining to next year's municipal budget.  While the article states "the township could legally increase taxes by 3.5 percent , 1 percent above the state maximum, because funds have been posted into a cap bank for the past two years", this is incorrect as the cap bank is associated with spending, not taxation.  This 2.5 percent spending limit and cap bank were in place back in 2005 when the Committee soaked taxpayers with their infamous 11.1% tax hike.

For our sake, there is now a state mandated 4 percent limit on the growth of the tax levy.  However, as noted in my posting below, Mayor Ken Short has set 2.5 percent as the target for next year's municipal tax increase.

"Realistically to keep it at 2.5 percent"

It seems my prior efforts to bring transparancy to the municipal buget process continues to have a lasting impact on the Township Committee. Prior to 2006, the Committe was reluctant to set a tax increase target prior to developing the municipal budget. It seems times have changed as Washington Township Mayor Ken Short has publically stated an intention to not to have a (2010) tax increase of zero, but realistically to keep it at 2.5 percent.  Now that Short has named a 2.5% municipal tax increase as a benchmark, let's all wish him well in meeting it.

I'll be watching and providing weekly updates on the Committee's progress beginning in January.

Stocks Hit New '09 Highs

Earlier in the year, the right was complaining about the stock mark and how it expressed no confidence in the Obama Administration.  This story is for you.

How ya like me now?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

An Historic Vote!

According to the WSJ, the U.S. Senate voted 60-39 to approve sweeping health-overhaul legislation, a landmark moment for White House-led efforts to expand insurance coverage to more than 30 million Americans. The bill would represent the biggest expansion of the federal safety net since the 1965 creation of Medicare.

I fully support this bill and the changes that are forthcoming, including the provision that will allow my daughter to remain on my health insurance policy until she reaches the age of 26.  Under current law, our insurer could have kicked her off as soon as she graduates from college in the spring.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A good start...but more needs to be done.

According to the DR, Corzine is making more cuts in the current state budget. In addition Christie has asked his team to prepare for spending cuts in next year's budget of up to 25%.  This is good news, but it doesn't go far enough. Christie needs to cut state aid to municipalities entirely as a way of forcing towns to make deep cuts in their budgets.  For a township like ours it would mean a cut of $1.8 million.  This would force the township committee to make deep cuts in spending to balance the budget. I would love to watch the Republicans holla and scream if this were to happen.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Well Done Harry!

With Senate Democrats having cleared the first step a series of procedural hurdles towards passage of their health care reform bill, this picture of the Majority Leader pretty much says it all.

I have to admit, it is somewhat entertaining seeing the party of "NO" reduced to "potted plant" status.

Just remember you heard it here first...

In an op-ed appearing in today's NYT, noted columnist Paul Krugman suggests a possible end to Senate filibusters by route of the "nuclear option". This is something I advocated over a month ago. Nice to see the rest of the world catching up.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A money saving idea...

This morning I ran into Mayor Ken Short at the Post Office. After exchanging pleasantries, we talked about the challenges posed in next year's municipal budget. He offered how municipal department heads were being asked to trim their budgets by 20%. This sounds like a good idea and it is. Unfortunately, it won't yield much in a budget exceeding $17 million dollars in spending. Why? Because the amount of spending under direct control of departments is only about $2 million. A 20% cut (if achieved) amounts to $400K in savings. Most of this amount would be absorbed in increases in mandated fixed costs (salaries, social security, benefits, and pensions) associated with a total workforce the committee is reluctant to reduce.

A better idea would be to focus on where the big bucks are currently spent, which is the Police department. Since all municipalities are trying to figure this one out, why not have the county take over the responsibility of providing police service to all 37 municipalities via a single county wide police force with precincts located where some existing municipal police stations already exists? Each precinct would be lead by an officer in charge as opposed to a highly paid Chief of Police as is the case today. You probably would not need as many officers as there are today across all the separate departments to cover the same amount of territory. Imagine the reduction in management overhead and full cost sharing of such a plan. The cost efficiencies could be enormous. By the way...this approach isn't anything new. Most states already follow it.

If Washington Township saw a 20% reduction between what it currently pays for police services and what it would contribute to the county for the same, the savings would amount to over $1 million. Now we are talking!

The township committee can't make a change like this on their own. Such a change would require leadership from our new Governor. If Christie is smart (and I think he is), he will take a hard look at something like this.

If I were Christie, I would mandate a consolidation of all municipal police services across the state by 2011 and stipulate no resident would pay no more than 80% of what they now pay to the municipality to the county for police services. No ands, ifs, or buts. Just do it.

Progress on Heath Care Reform

This morning's news on health care reform is good on two fronts.

  1. The CBO has scored the latest bill and it will reduce the federal deficit by $132 billion over the next ten years. An earlier GOP alternative would have save only have as much.
  2. Democrats have secured a 60th vote that will end debate and bring the current bill to a vote before Christmas.
Clearly, there is a lot of emotion on both sides of the issue, but the extreme positions of far left liberals like Howard Dean and Keith Obermann, along with the do nothing antics of the entire GOP congressional caucus (less one) make the pragmatic approach taken by the President and the Democrats of the Senate even more satisfying.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Mitt who?

Earlier this morning while watching "Meet the Press", I had to ask myself, after claiming the Obama Administration has done nothing to help the economy, what part of the chart on the right does Mitt Romney not understand? He would have more credibility if he were talking about the last 6 months (Aug 2008 - Jan 2009) of the Bush Administration.

Bottom Line: It's killing the GOP how President Obama saved the economy from the falling off a cliff and now has it on a path towards a full recovery.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Is Christie completely frustrated with himself?

While I remain somewhat optimistic, I hope this tidbit, captured by the Daily Record, isn't a sign of what we can expect from a Christie administration. We have enough to worry about with our own incompetent Ken Short led local government.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What about our budget?

While it's great for Mendham taxpayers to see theirTownship Committee hard at work providing details of next year's municipal budget, it's not suprising we have heard NOTHING from our own Washington Township Committee when it come to specific details on next year's budget.  Why is it Mendham can be so far along and our committee be so clueless? This is what happens when you eliminate a Finance position on the committee to protect a fiscally novice committeeman, then make purposely misleading hypocritical claims in your campaign mailers about your performance in that same role, right Mr. Short?

So far all we've heard are excuses from Mayor Ken Short as to how "extremely difficult" next year will be.  Yet, only last month Short told us he thought the 2010 budget wouldn't be as bad as the 2009 budget. This contradiction may not seem so bad, but consider it comes from the same guy who soaked us with an 11.1% tax increase in 2005, it definitely something to keep a close eye on.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Mr. Bill speaks...

In the latest example of intellectual dishonesty by a Township Committeeman, Bill Roehrich recently made the following statement in the OT with respect to the issue of leasing township property to hunting clubs:
“It doesn’t mean as a municipality that we do or don’t condone hunting. We’re just making it available as a recreational resource.”
Sorry Bill, but that's kinda like saying you can't tell if a madam does or does not condone prostitution just because she rents rooms to whores.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Nice job Mr. Brooks!

This NYT op-ed by David Brooks (a conservative) is the best analysis of President Obama's approach to governance to date.

The dumbing down of America

I'm sorry but this woman is just plain stupid!

I wonder how many degrees of separation there are between her and Ken Short?

Road to recovery...

There is good news on the econony.

From a macro perspective losing 11,000 jobs in November of 2009 is GREAT news when you consider our economy was losing over 700,000 jobs back in January 2009. Give credit where it is due. The President's stimulus package is obviously working. I am sure the GOP will find every way to say it isn't. My answer to them would be where were you in the final quarter of the Bush administration?

From a micro perspective if you are one of the 11,000 who lost their job, good luck!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The sky is falling!

It's not suprising the news of a $17K cut in state aid has Mayor Ken Short acting like the sky is falling. To put this cut in perspective, it's against a budget that exceeds $17 million.  In other words, it represents one tenth of one percent. the National Guard!

Let me throw poor Ken a bone...look at your payroll numbers for dispatchers and you should see savings that are more than enough to cover the $17K, especially since the Committee has reduced the number of dispatchers on a shift from two to one. If the savings are not there, then the question becomes what did you spend the money on and why?

Also, what happen to the $10,000 Short had the Committee put aside to audit the WTBOE school budget if they had failed...which it didn't as it contained a tax increase one seventh the size of the skyrocket municipal tax increase Ken Short soaked taxpayers with this year!

Maybe if the Committee had a Finance Chair, Ken Short wouldn't have to openly audition for the role of "Chicken Little."

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Please just go away, Dick!

Cheney's criticism of the President's strategy in Afghanistan is so far off base it's embarrassing. For someone who skated on 5 draft deferments, when it was his turn to serve, to now criticize the President’s noble attempt to mop up a mess created by the Bush administration’s poor war planning and execution is beyond belief.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Commander in Chief Speaks

President Obama has made a pragmatic decision to send 30K additional troops to Afghanistan over six months with a planned withdraw of all our forces to commence in July 2011 with an estimated completion in 2012.

As a former military enlistee, cadet, commissioned officer, and now veteran, I fully support the President's decision.

While just about every corner of the political spectrum will find something it doesn't like, what we witnessed was LEADERSHIP, something the county hasn't seen throughout this decade.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Another Bush/Cheney mess to mop up...

The US Senate's Committee on Foreign Relations has released a report outlining the Bush/Cheney failure to capture or kill Bin Laden. It's a pretty good read providing further evidence of the incompetence of the prior administration.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Keep on underestimating him...

Here is a preview of what we most likely will be hearing in late January 2010 in the days leading up to President Obama's first official State of the Union address.  I challenge anyone to name a president who has dealt with as many challenges during his first year as Obama; while at the same time signing universal health care reform into law.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

You heard it here first...

Last week, I wrote a posting and a published Daily Record letter advocating the use of the "nuclear option" to end the use of fillibusters in the U.S. Senate as a means of moving health care reform forward over GOP stall tactics.  I sent a note to Chuck Todd of NBC News who replied he didn't think the "nuclear option" was on the table for Democrats. Based on this article, it seems the idea may be catching steam with progressives who have shown a great deal of clout by getting the public option on the table.

School Ethics Commission

Kudos to the NJ School Ethics Commission for imposing a $500 fine against a Roxbury BOE member for filing a "frivolous" complaint against a fellow board member. 

Speaking of rejected complaints and money, I wonder if recent Republican Township Committee candidate Jim LiaBraaten ever ponied up the $7,104 the West Morris Regional High School District spent defending one of its former members against his bogus, politically inspired ethics complaint? No doubt, Darksiders will attempt to muddy the waters by bringing up the McCurdy/Harmon school ethics complaint, which ended in a similar "no probable cause" finding.  Only in this case, the Commission also issued a "heavy caution", removing any doubt McCurdy's complaint was anything but "frivolous".

Head...not gut.

A number of "chicken hawks", most notably Dick Cheney, have been critical of President Obama's deliberative process of determining the right strategy on Afghanistan. Here is a very good analysis of how his approach compares to the previous administration. As someone who wore an armed services uniform, I appreciate the president's approach to "getting it right" before placing more of our brave men and women in harm’s way.

On another front, to those who have recently criticized the Justice Department's decision to prosecute the 911 suspects in federal court, I have three words to address their predictably hypocritical musings: Ramzi Ahmed Yousef.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Here is another example of the incompetence and unprofessionalism of the all-Republican Washington Township Committee. It's one thing to disagree with a major initiative design to protect our water resources, but to whine and cry, while leaving your "options open to accept the money", seems like the mindset of a prostitute.

It's not surprising a majority of the current committee couldn't bring themselves to back up their "conservative" principles with a "NO" vote (even if their partisan  ideology on the issue is wrong).

It's also telling how the Committee chose to weigh in AFTER the election.

Friday, November 20, 2009

It's too late baby...

In a speech before the League of Municipalities, Governor Corzine provided the clearest defense of his tenure as governor in saying his term included "good progress in many areas," such as eliminating 26 school districts, a commission studying shared services and consolidations in local government, a 4 percent cap on property tax levy increases, a new school aid formula, the lowest rate of property tax increases in a decade and state spending cuts."

While his long sought after clarity is about three weeks too late, it sets a benchmark by which to judge his successor, Governor Elect Christie. Specifically, if the rate of property tax increases does not decline during Christie's first term, then by all accounts he will have failed, regardless of any and all GOP spin. Committeeman James Harmon has already produced a similar failure as the rate of local property tax increase has INCREASED since he took office, despite local GOP claims of “fiscal responsibility”.

A good choice!

Kudos to the WTBOE for selecting Cathleen Compoli to fill the open seat vacated by Committeeman Bill Roehrich. I have had the pleasure of speaking with Cathleen on a couple of occasions. Like her husband Craig, she is smart, passionate about education, and a logical thinker. She represents a major upgrade vs. the prior occupant of the seat.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

More of the same...

Here is another example of Republican hypocrisy. It is hard to imagine Giuliani almost held a presidential primary fundraiser in my neighborhood. It's only fitting it was canceled due to lack of interest.

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More Republican Hypocrisy

According to Dana Milbank of the Washington Post, "In their quest to thwart President Obama, Republicans do not fear the hobgoblin of consistency."

Tell us something we don't already know.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A troubling Popper development

Less than a day after a posting taking Howard Popper to task for failing to live up to his "LOWER TAXES NOW!!" pledge, the link to his old campaign website is no longer working.

For someone who made a point of campaigning on themes of transparancy and open access, what is Popper now trying to hide from the public? It must be the statement he is "committed to lowering, not containing taxes".

Here is a Google cache of Popper's campaign website he doesn't want us to see.  The text "committed to lowering, not containing taxes"  has been preserved. 

Nice try to get rid of the evidence Howard!

Local Ethics Board?

During his 2007 campaign for office, Committeeman Howard Popper promised to establish a Local Ethics Board. While I personally saw no need for yet another level of government morass, a certain Republican operative went to great lengths to validate and push Popper's idea, including the publishing of opinions from other municipalities that have gone down this road.

Well it's been close to two years and like most Popper's campaign promises, NOTHING has been done. Unlike "Lower Taxes Now", this one could have been achieved. But it required commitment and work, which explains why Popper hasn't done anything.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Time for Popper to Deliver!

During his 4 year run for office, Township Committeeman Howard Popper flooded the town with signs that read "LOWER TAXES NOW!!" As he enters the third year of his term, how has Popper fared in delivering on his infamous promise? In a word he hasn't. To the contrary, the municipal tax levy has INCREASED BY 15% since the day Howard Popper was sworn into office. As a point of fact, Popper's website still says he is "committed to lowering, not containing taxes".

Bottom line: Howard Popper is long on committment and short on results.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Another "editing error"...

Why is it so hard for conservatives like Ken Short and Sean Hannity to tell the truth?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ken Short attempts to come clean.

Today's Observer Tribune includes a letter from Mayor Ken Short thanking residents for their support in last week's election. The letter also referenced what Ken called a "final note on the campaign": Beyond bad grammar, the supposedly correct quote goes well beyond the original "held average tax increases to less than 2% per year" statement. "For the record, there was an editing error in a campaign piece put out by the county Republican organization. The campaign piece omitted my title of finance chairman in quoting a statistic. The mailer should have read "as Township Committee Finance Chairman, Ken held the average annual tax increases below 2 percent and promoted efficiency and realized cost savings through shared services with neighboring communities."
Seems there is more at play here than just an "editing error"...

In addition, the mailer failed to mention the most important statistic of Ken Short’s tenure: as Mayor, Ken soaked Washington Township residents with a record 11.1% tax increase. I guess it was the Democrat’s responsibility to point this out.

For those who question the impact of this blog in terms of holding our local officials accountable for what they say and do, there is no question Short's lame attempt to come clean is a direct response to my raising this as an issue of integrity and trust.

Monday, November 9, 2009

"By Any Means Necessary"

With the U.S. House having passed its version of health care reform, attention now moves to the U.S. Senate where Senator Joe Lieberman (I) and the Republicans are threatening to not allow a vote on a Senate version of health care reform where current Senate rules require 60 votes to end a filibuster. 

Now is the time for Senate Democrats to stand tall against the threat of a GOP filibuster using any and all means at its disposal; including the possibility of invoking the "nuclear option" to move a bill forward with a simple majority vote and essentially end the use of filibusters in the Senate.  Filibusters are a product of Senate procedural rules and not by any language in the Constitution.

Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist threatened to use the "nuclear option" procedure in 2005 to push through President George W. Bush's judicial nominees. One could easily argue health care reform is at least as worthy of the same consideration.  This would also strip Senator Lieberman (I) of his current misplaced leverage and allow him to become the Republican he longs to be.

Update:  The Daily Record published my letter stating the above in their November 12, 2009 edition.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A vote of "conscience"

Having voted "Yea" on the resolution to condem Rep. Joe Wilson, Freshman Rep. Joseph "Ahn" Cao (R-La.) again placed principal over party by voting in favor of the House health care reform bill.  Here is what Cao said after casting his vote:

"I felt last night's decision was the right decision for my district even though it was not the popular decision for my party,"

Cao's vote dashed the prediction of House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) that no Republican would support it the health care reform bill.

Trusted fiscal conservatives?

Yesterday's Daily Record article on the 2009 Washington Township Committee race contained the following quote from Committeeman Bill Roehrich:

"I think our win had something to do with the fact that our experience was appreciated and says that we're trusted as fiscal conservatives."

Earth to Bill: your "win" had everything to do with your party enjoying a 5 to 2 voter registration advantage in the township where people tend to vote heavily along party lines.  Dumbo could run in this town on the GOP ticket (what else?) and he would win. How else can you explain two candidates, whose "experience" included 15 combined votes for over $12 million in tax increases, including a record $1.1 million municipal tax increase in 2005 and a record $2.2 million school tax increase in 2004?

With the election a thing of the past, it is now time for Bill and the rest of the all GOP committee to live up to their "fiscal conservative" rhetoric. When are we going to see "lower taxes now" or "2% tax increases"? An early look at the 2010 numbers suggests none of this will be happening anytime soon.  In fact, I predict next year's municipal tax increase will be largest since Ken Short's 11.1% tax hike debacle.

Remember, you heard it here first.

This is what "Change" looks like...

Per the WSJ," the House narrowly passed its sweeping health bill late Saturday, marking the biggest victory yet for Democrats in their drive to create near-universal health insurance. The bill passed by a 220-215 margin after fractious debate and garnered the unexpected backing of only one Republican, Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao of Louisiana. Thirty-nine Democrats voted against the measure. The narrow passage in the House, where the Democrats have a large majority, underscores how controversial the measure has become. It faces a tougher fight in the Senate where Republicans and some Democrats argue that the bill is too costly and won't achieve its goals."

"The vote was a victory for President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), and moved them toward a goal that has eluded presidents for decades. Mr. Obama came to the Capitol on Saturday morning and assured Democrats they would remember the vote as their finest moment in politics should he sign it into law. "Opportunities like this come around maybe once in a generation," he said"

Friday, November 6, 2009

Today's labor report

According to the WSJ, "U.S. unemployment rose by more than expected in October to hit its highest level in more than 26 years and employers cut more jobs than forecast, a sign the labor market continues to struggle as the economy emerges from its deep recession. The unemployment rate, calculated using a survey of households as opposed to companies, rose by 0.4 percentage point to 10.2%, the Labor Department said Friday.

While this will no doubt create a sense of morbid euphoria for certain Republican types who will be quick to place all the blame on the Obama Administration, might I suggest they compare the bars to the left of February 2009 on the graph against those appearing to the right. Once the high wears off...grab a mop!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Special Commentary on Mayor Ken Short

On the night of his election, Committeeman Bill Roehrich spoke about a recent campaign mailer in which he and Ken Short appear side-by-side. Bill explained the process in which he was sent a proof of the mailer prior to its distribution by Alan Zakin Associates, a political consulting firm used by nearly all local GOP candidates. After reviewing the content appearing under his name, Bill replied with a go-ahead. He left it up to Ken Short to approve the content under his name that included a "held average tax increases to less than 2% per year" claim that has been totally debunked by the Township CFO. The actual average tax increase during Mayor Short's tenure is 3.5%. While the 1.5% difference may seem small, the impact over Ken Short's tenure represents a $4.5 million difference in municipal tax collections. While Bill couldn't comment on what happened, just the fact Ken Short was involved leads one to easily imagine the debacle that eventually transpired.

In an interesting twist, Bill stated Short's intention was to use the above quote in the limited context of his two year performance as Finance Liaison, thus purposely avoiding the full context of his fiscal performance during his nine year tenure as a committeeman. Such "selective memory" would exclude Short's higher tax increases including the record 11.1% tax increase he imposed as Mayor in 2005. This now begs a question. With the Committee having eliminated the Finance Liaison position earlier this year because as Ken Short stated at the October 2009 Township Committee Work Session, "essentially the Township CFO does all that stuff", why would Short now go to great lengths to only inform voters of his fiscal performance in the context of a position he felt was so unnecessary, he pushed to eliminate it? The answer is simple. A 2% average tax increase sounds a lot better than the actual 3.5% average tax increase, and a heck of a lot better that a one time RECORD 11.1% tax increase.

In essence, what started out as a clear attempt to DECEIVE the public on the full extent of Short's fiscal record, ended up being a blatant LIE when it arrived in the mailboxes of some 1500 or so Washington Township residents. And while Short's underhanded attempt may not have been carried out as planned, the resulting mailer actually worked to a greater advantage as it clearly provided a false impression of his FULL record on tax increases.

Beyond all this, what is most despicable about Ken Short's actions is he made no attempt to set the record straight prior to voters going to the polls this past Tuesday. Yes the mailer hit mailboxes as planned on the Saturday before the election; but after realizing his error, Short could have easily sent a statement to the Daily Record correcting the record and for that matter to the Observer Tribune as well with a request it be placed online ASAP. This is what an honorable person would have done. This is what honest community leaders like Harlin Parker, Jody Price, Kevin Walsh, Tracy Tobin, or Kim Kaiser would have done. In fact, this is what Kim Kaiser demonstrated when she woke up on the morning of her 2005 Primary victory and learned someone had placed racially insensitive signs throughout the township about her opponent. Instead of doing nothing, this great woman and her family got in their cars and drove around town until every sign was removed. This is what any decent human being would have done. Leave it to Ken Short to choose the easy option of staying quiet, all the while reaping the benefit of his own incompetence.

CBO Thrashes GOP Health Care Plan.

Erza Klein of the Washington Post reports on the initial Congressional Budget Office assessment of the GOP Health Care Plan:

Republicans are learning an unpleasant lesson this morning: The only thing worse than having no health-care reform plan is releasing a bad one, getting thrashed by CBO and making the House Democrats look good in comparison.

Late last night, the Congressional Budget Office released its initial analysis of the health-care reform plan that Republican Minority Leader John Boehner offered as a substitute to the Democratic legislation. CBO begins with the baseline estimate that 17 percent of legal, non-elderly residents won't have health-care insurance in 2010. In 2019, after 10 years of the Republican plan, CBO estimates that ...17 percent of legal, non-elderly residents won't have health-care insurance. The Republican alternative will have helped 3 million people secure coverage, which is barely keeping up with population growth. Compare that to the Democratic bill, which covers 36 million more people and cuts the uninsured population to 4 percent.

But maybe, you say, the Republican bill does a really good job cutting costs. According to CBO, the GOP's alternative will shave $68 billion off the deficit in the next 10 years. The Democrats, CBO says, will slice $104 billion off the deficit.

The Democratic bill, in other words, covers 12 times as many people and saves $36 billion more than the Republican plan. And amazingly, the Democratic bill has already been through three committees and a merger process. It's already been shown to interest groups and advocacy organizations and industry stakeholders. It's already made its compromises with reality. It's already been through the legislative sausage grinder. And yet it saves more money and covers more people than the blank-slate alternative proposed by John Boehner and the House Republicans. The Democrats, constrained by reality, produced a far better plan than Boehner, who was constrained solely by his political imagination and legislative skill.

This is a major embarrassment for the Republicans. It's one thing to keep your cards close to your chest. Republicans are in the minority, after all, and their plan stands no chance of passage. It's another to lay them out on the table and show everyone that you have no hand, and aren't even totally sure how to play the game. The Democratic plan isn't perfect, but in comparison, it's looking astonishingly good.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Chrisite Plan

Having won the trust of NJ voters, Governor Elect Chris Christie must now prepare to govern the state and in the course of doing so, honor the campaign promises below that appear on his official website.  If he is able to deliver on what he has promised, he will be a welcomed breath of fresh air. I wish him well.

The Christie Plan
  • I believe we can and we must lower taxes. Lower taxes will invite back businesses, jobs, employees, residents and students. More people paying taxes means more revenue.
    • Reduce the personal income tax.
    • Reduce corporate business taxes.
    • Restore property tax relief for everyone.
    • Eliminate the “double-taxation’ on New Jersey S-Corporations.
  • Eliminate special interest labor union giveaways that increase taxes. End the use of project labor agreements on public construction projects which ultimately raise costs and taxes. ◦2/3 majority vote to impose new tax or to increase existing tax.
  • I believe we can and we must control spending and enforce accountability.
    • Use the line-item veto.
    • Elect independent state auditor.
    • Eliminate 2/3 political patronage jobs.
    • Eliminate pensions and benefits for part-time workers.
    • Immediate freeze on proposed new agency rules and regulations.
    • Sunset provisions for all new programs after 4 years.
    • Transparency – put everything online with searchable databases.
  • I believe we can and we must fight for priority programs like education and our urban communities, without fail.
    • CityTrak. Enforce accountability to demand results. Measurable goals will save money, ensure efficiency and encourage innovation.
    • First Houses Program.
    • Exempt new residents from income tax. ◦Retaining New Jersey’s urban minority students by expanding New Jersey Education Opportunity Fund.
  • I believe bringing sustainable, quality jobs to New Jersey’s the key to our future.
    • Create the New Jersey Partnership for Action to promote economic growth and job creation. Just look at PA….what we need is an executive who makes this their number one priority.
    • Garden State Growth Zones. Combing existing economic zones to create a super zone to attract new private investment and jobs.
    • Putting New Jersey Back to Work. Focus on worker retraining for unemployed New Jerseyans and connecting with them with businesses looking for a specific skill set.
    • Provide grants for public four year institutions and community colleges for renewable energy related curriculum and training.
    • Renew NJ and the Choose New Jersey Energy Campaign. Consolidate all renewable energy manufacturing efforts and have New Jersey undergo a brand makeover to market and sell New Jersey’s resources to energy producers, innovators and developers.
    • Incentivize energy manufacturing with tax credits. 100% of the corporate business taxes or the insurance premium tax for any wind turbine and manufacturing facility that locates in New Jersey. ◦New Jersey will create higher-paying clean energy production jobs in the next four years. Commit to a 5/1 ratio of higher-paying, clean energy production jobs to lower paying, efficiency jobs. While New Jersey has one of the strongest renewable portfolio standards in the country, according to the US Energy Information Administration, the state actually ranks 43rd when it comes to generating renewable energy.

The People Have Spoken!

Congratulations to NJ Governor Elect Chris Christie and Committeeman Bill Roehrich. Both men ran honorable campaigns and are deserving of the trust voters have placed in them. I wish the same could be said for Mayor Ken Short, but his blatant "2% average tax increase" lie, contained in a last minute campaign communication, set a new low for deceptive, dishonest politics within our town.

While the vast majority of voters were willing to give Ken Short a pass, those of us who live by the creed, "I will not lie, cheat, steal, or attempt to deceive" can't.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Ken Short's $4,458,331 LIE!

With Washington Township Finance Officer Kevin Lifer having confirmed a 3.5% average tax increase during Mayor Ken Short's 9 year tenure on the Township Committee, as opposed to the 2% figure Short claimed in his campaign mailer, the next obvious question is how much of a difference is there between a 3.5% average tax increase vs. a 2% average tax increase? For the hard working taxpayers of Washington Township it's been a BIG difference. Had municipal taxes increased by the 2% average Short states in his mailer, the total amount of municipal taxes collected during Short's tenure would have been $72,552,539. In reality, the actual amount of municipal taxes collected was $77,010,870 per the confirmed 3.5% average tax increase over the past nine years.

The question Ken Short needs to answer is simple:

Where is the $4,458,331 difference your mailer claims to have saved via a non-existent 2% average tax increase?

The taxpayers of Washington Township look forward to hearing Ken Short's answer on November 11th.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Prediction: Corzine in a photo finish!

One the eve of the only poll that matters, the latest RCP average has the NJ Governor's race in a statistical tie. However, I predict the following keys to a Corzine win:

1. The Dems will leverage a 700K advantage in voter registrations with a superior ground game that will get enough of the party faithful to the polls to keep Corzine in Trenton.

2. Daggett will draw enough votes away from Christie to prevent him from what most likely would have been a victory had this been a two man race.

3. Corzine's popularity rating, while a net negative is trending up, while Christie's is trending down.

4. The difference in the gender gap for women +10 is big for Corzine. Christie's edge amongst men +7 is good, but not enough to overcome Corzine's advantage with women votes.

Of course I could be all wrong! Update: Actually I was all wrong! Update

A reader of the blog suggested I Google the email address as a means of determining who may have wrote the offensive comments contained in this post.  Upon doing so, the following connection was discovered. I cannot be certain Maryann Seals of 240 Parker Road is the culprit, but it can be said someone who has access to the email address she uses wrote the comments.

Washington Township Finance Officer Confirms 2001 - 2009 Average Municipal Tax Increase of 3.5%

As a follow up to yesterday's post on Mayor Short's campaign mailer, Washington Township Financial Officer Kevin Lifer has confirmed 3.5% as the average annual Washington Township municipal tax increase for the years 2001 through 2009. This confirmed 3.5% average tax increase is 75% higher than the 2% average tax increase mentioned in Mayor Short's campaign mailer, which was paid for by the Morris County Republican Committee.

To date, I have not received a response to inquires placed to Mayor Ken Short and MCRC Chairman John Sette on the validity of the mailer's 2% average tax increase claim.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Downtown Revitalization...

Efforts to revitalize Long Valley's downtown area are the focus of a story in today's Daily Record. The current economic environment and Long Valley's changing demographics make revitalization a challenge; a challenge this group thankfully is determined to overcome.

Kudos to Kim, Kevin, and everyone involved.

Hand Salute, Ready Two!

Here is a great NYT op-ed on the tradition of presidential salutes.  Reading it brought back memories of the harsh consequences of rendering an improper salute during my USCG basic training in Cape May during the long hot summer of 1978.  As such, I too find myself cringing at the sign of a sloppy presidential salute (Reagan's were the worse). 

As the writer notes, the salute rendered by Obama in this picture is flawless.

Anyone know

Yesterday I received the following message from someone using a email address:

"Nedd will be going back to the city he came from and ruined !!!! Of Course you think that's Racist Word's I Bet !!!! and not the 1st amend. Right ........"

As someone who swore to uphold the Constitution, I strongly believe in the First Amendment, which even allows for expressons of hate.

To answer his/her question more directly, the only cities I have ever lived in are NYC and Washington DC. The last time I checked, both are far from ruin.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


In what has to be his biggest and most egregious LIE to date, Mayor Ken Short allowed the Morris County Republican Committee to send out this mailer claiming he held "average tax increases to less than 2% per year."

Nothing could be further from the truth as listed below are the exact municipal tax increases Ken Short voted in favor of during his 9 years in office, based on tax rates provided by the Morris County Board of Taxation.  In addition, the accuracy of these percentages and the overall 2001-2009 average tax increase has been confirmed by Township CFO Kevin Lifer.

2009 - 3.85%
2008 - 2.34%
2007 - 3.51%
2006 - 4.43%
2005 - 11.1%
2004 - 0.86%
2003 - 2.66%
2002 - -0.22%
2001 - 2.96%

It doesn't take rocket science to sum these percentages, divide by nine and realize the average is 3.50% or 75% higher than the 2% average stated in the mailer.

These figures do not include the municipal open space tax which has its own unique tax rate.  If municipal open space taxes are taken into account, the average annual combined municipal tax increase is 3.4%.

I have sent Mayor Ken Short copies of the CERTIFICATION SCHEDULE OF THE GENERAL TAX RATE via his township email address for the years 2001 to 2008. I have also sent him a copy of a MS Excel spreadsheet containing the tax rates. This way Short can’t make his usual “I don’t have the figures in front of me" excuse.  Mayor Short has all the information he needs before him to come clean on this false "average tax increases to less than 2% per year" claim.

WSJ takes Christie to task on property taxes.

Even the conservative leaning Wall Street Journal doesn't think Christe has the "right stuff" when it comes to dealing with property taxes. Not a good sign.

Been there...done that!

Here is a gem of a story on part time elected public officials using taxpayer money for their health benefits. Up until 2007, we had the same problem in Washington Township where some local elected Republican officials, including current Mayor Ken Short took full health benefits paid for by taxpayers. In Short's case his benefits cost taxpayers over $50,000 before I put a stop to it by moving us out of the State Health Plan to a commercial plan, which at the time was cheaper. Unlike the State Plan, the commercial plan required an opt-in vote by ordinance for Short to continue receiving benefits. He didn't have the political guts to formally call for a vote to use taxpayer money for his personal healthcare.

Last year, the township returned to the State Plan for cost savings. Thank goodness the threat of a voter backlash has kept Short from again digging into the our pockets for his healthcare even though by law he could do what the Freeloaders, I mean Freeholders are doing without a formal vote.

Liz Cheney, have you no shame?

The video below is the clearest and most insulting example of Republican hypocrisy I have come across in quite some time.

As a veteran, and in memory of my late father, a 20 year USAF retiree, my advice to Liz Cheney is to simply shut up and be thankful to those of us who served even though our names weren’t called.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Washington Township GOP sinks to a new low...

You would think a 5 to 2 voter registration edge would be enough for Washington Township GOP operatives to feel good about their chances next week.  Obviously this isn't the case as they recently sent the following message to Democratic Township Committee Candidate Harlin Parker.

"Long Valley is going to get a wakeup call next week in the mail. Seems like Nedd puppet H. Parker had a brutal divorce in his past that he doesn't like to talk about..."
Unfortunately, this is just another example of how low Ken Short's supporters will go to ensure he is re-elected. Shame on Ken Short for allowing them to reach this new low in our town.

Why we need health care reform.

According the OT, in a year where the change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is negative, our local township officials are patting themselves on the back for holding the growth of health care costs for 2010 to only 8%. This is a perfect example of why we so desperately need health care reform…with a public option. By the way, for 2009, health care costs for the township increased only 0.8% over 2008.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Corzine vs. Christie

Here is a great side-by-side comparison of Corzine and Christie from the NYT. Notice how Christie is already backing away from his campaign promises. 

Having honored every one of my campaign pledges, I can tell you Christie doesn't have the right stuff.

A logical case for Parker/Price.

Since 2001, Ken Short and Bill Roehrich have served our township as elected officials. Short on the Township Committee, and until recently, Roehrich on the K-8 WTBOE. While I may not agree with many of their fiscal decisions, as a former elected official, I appreciate their willingness to stand up and publicly serve our township. One thing I learned during my tenure is how your record follows you. Good, bad, or ugly it’s your record and for Short and Roehrich the record is quite clear. They voted 15 times to increase the total property tax levy by a combined $12.7 million. This is not a criticism, just a verifiable statement of fact.

Looking ahead, the question before voters is what will Short and Roehrich do in the future? Based on what we learned in the fable about the scorpion and frog, let’s assume Short and Roehrich are what their record says they are, which most likely means a vote for them will result in a municipal tax increase in 2010.

Harlin Parker and Jody Price offer a simple alternative to a Short/Roehrich municipal tax increase in 2010. In response to the recently announced 0% Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment, Parker and Price have stated unequivocally they will vote “NO” on the 2010 municipal budget if it contains a tax increase of any kind. This means no municipal tax increase, no municipal open space tax increase, no new usage fees (field or otherwise); period. In other words, a vote for Parker/Price won’t cost you an additional dime in municipal taxes in 2010, over what you paid in 2009.

Think about this for a moment. How often do you have the chance to vote against a municipal tax increase? Mind you, this is not a repeat of the unattainable promise of “lower taxes now”, but instead a common sense approach that will force meaningful spending cuts in a year when many of our seniors will see no increase in their fixed incomes.

So when you go to the polls next Tuesday, don’t think of a vote for Parker/Price in terms of partisan politics; but instead think of it as a vote against another municipal tax increase our seniors can’t afford.

US Economy Expands for the First Time in a Year.

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. economy grew in the third quarter for the first time in more than a year, propelled by stimulus-driven gains in consumer spending and home building.

Bottom line: While there is still plenty of work to do on the economy, we are a lot better off than we were on the day GWB left office.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Get your tickets!

Tickets for this Sunday's Corzine/Obama rally at the Rock (Prudential Center) in Newark are now available.

Tickets are for general admission and do not guarantee you entrance. The event is first-come first serve. Once the venue reaches capacity, you will not be permitted to enter, so the campaign urges you to arrive early. Doors will open at 11:30AM.

Corzine up by 5!

A new Quinnipiac University poll has Corzine pulling away from Christie in the final week of the campaign by 5 points with a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percent.  Here is what Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, had to say about the race.

"You could see it coming. Gov. Jon Corzine's numbers crept steadily up and Christopher Christie's steadily shrank and now, for the first time, we have Corzine ahead," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

The timing could not be better for Corzine as he has extended his lead at RCP as well.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

In there anything Ken Short won't say?

Last week's OT article "Committee race affected by Nedd, Short feuding" contains a new Ken Short low, when he claims I "spent down the entire surplus".

To set the record straight, on January 1, 2006, my first day as a committeeman, the township surplus stood at $4.0 million. On December 31, 2008, my last day as a committeeman, the surplus stood at $2.6 million. It's all here in black & white (page 2). How Ken Short can make such a bogus claim, which his own budget data debunks, defies common sense.

Bottom line: After presiding over 2005's 11.1% municipal tax increase, the largest in township history, Mayor Ken Short will say anything to get re-elected.

Caught in a Big Fat Lie!

Here's what New Jersey Gubernatorial Candidate Chris Christie had to say on "Fox & Friend's" this morning:

Here is what Rafael Vasquez, the Elizabeth Police Officer who responded to the scene of the accident, wrote in his offical report:
Veh #1 [Christie] states he was traveling west on Murray St. and was lost. He reached Chilton St. The light was red so he inched forward attempting to make a right on red but never saw the one-way traffic sign. He then stopped upon observing oncoming traffic, Veh #2 [Mendonca] also braked. The motorcycle fell on its side and slid into his vehicle. Veh #2 states he was traveling on Chilton St. when Veh #1 turned in front of him.
Looks to me like Republican Chris Christie has been caught in a big fat lie (no pun intended).

Monday, October 26, 2009

A remarkable story comes to the big screen...

In a break from politics, here's a trailer for a new movie, "The Blind Side". Based on the book by Michael Lewis, the movie depicts the remarkable true story of Michael Oher, a homeless African-American youngster from a broken home, taken in by the Touhys, a well-to-do white family who help him fulfill his potential and become an All-American offensive left tackle and a first round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, selected by the Baltimore Ravens.

I remember reading about Michael in a NYT Magazine article back in 2006.

The movie opens on November 20th.

Rush get's punked!

Here's the buzz on how Rush Limbaugh got punked on the air.

It doesn't get any better than this!

Corzine up by nine?

A new Suffolk University (Boston) poll has Governor Corzine leading Chris Christie by 9 points?  This could be an early indication of a rout. The margin of error on the study of 400 is +/- 5 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The case for Corzine.

With the election about a week away, perhaps it time to put all the campaign spin aside and look at the facts. For many voters, the number one issue in this election is property taxes, as it probably should be. So let’s look at Corzine's record on property taxes which have increased statewide from $13.0 billion in 1998 to $23.2 billion in 2008. 2009 numbers are not yet available.

These sound like big numbers, and they are. But in terms of Corzine's performance it is only fair to judge him on the change occurring on his watch. In 2005 the year prior to Corzine assuming office, municipalities across the state collected $19.5 billion in property taxes.  Last year they collected $23.2 billion.  How has this increase compared to what's occured in the past? Are property tax increases growing faster than before or are they declining? To answer this question we need to examine the following chart showing the growth of property taxes on an annual basis.

Source: New Jersey Division of Local Services

With Corzine assuming the governorship in 2006 and though his enactment of tax levy caps, which took effect in 2007, it is clear he has done more to reign in property tax growth than any governor in the last eight years. Chances are 2009 figures will prove this point even further.

Bottom line: For all the talk about what Corzine hasn't done...he's actually done more to assist school districts, counties, and municipalities reign in the growth of property taxes than any NJ governor to date.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Big "O" is coming back!

More proof  a certain local GOP operative has no clue what he's talking about - the Corzine campaign today announced two November 1, 2009 New Jersey campaign visits by President Barack Obama on behalf of Governor Jon Corzine.

Susquehanna Bank Center - Camden, New Jersey

Prudential Center - Newark, New Jersey

This of course raises a question? Where are all the top dog national Republican visits to New Jersey?  Has Christie's slide in the polls made him a liabilty?

RCP Poll Average has Corzine ahead!

After what seems like an endless campaign, for the first time, Real Clear Politics has Governor Corzine ahead of Chris Christie in its RCP Poll Average.

The trend does not bode well for Christie who seems to be fading.

One Voice...

Corzine makes his move...

With a little over a week to go, a new poll published by the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling (Rutgers) has Corzine opening up a 39% to 36% lead over Christie.  Daggett's numbers are now up to 20%, which is clearly a problem for Christie since his numbers are dropping and Corzine's are holding steady.

Earlier this week, I had a friendly conversation with one of our committeemen who thought Daggett's rise was to Corzine's detriment.  That does not appear to be the case. The followng political ad is another telling indicator of who is Daggett is hurting most.

The question for Christie is how is he going to cut taxes? The most efficient method would be to eliminate "home rule" throughtout the state and consolidate the delivery of education and public services at the county level.  With some folks in Mendham (Christie's home town) already complaining about the financial arrangement of the WMRHSD, you know this won't be happening anytime soon.

The First Family's New Portrait

"The most famous celebrity photographer in America did a photo shoot with the most celebrated family in America. Here's the new family portrait of the Obamas, released Friday by the White House. Annie Leibovitz, renowned for her work with Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair, took it in early September. (Yes, she's the one in dire financial straits that could lead to bankruptcy; no, this doesn't change her bottom line necessarily -- she didn't take a fee from the White House for her work.)"

Written by Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts of the Washington Post