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.