Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What The Hell Are We Paying YOU For?

For a guy who uses his religious beliefs to deny marriage equality and oppose abortion, Governor Christie certainly cusses a lot (he's no Steve Sweeney, but still). During the run up to Hurricane Irene, he implored a citizen to "Get the hell off the beach." Now he's gone after President Obama with a question New Jerseyans should be asking of him. The direct quote, for the record, comes from this article on Politico: 

“I was angry this weekend, listening to the spin coming out of the administration, about the failure of the supercommittee, and that the president knew it was doomed for failure, so he didn’t get involved. Well then what the hell are we paying you for?” Christie said during a press conference in Camden, N.J. “It’s doomed for failure so I’m not getting involved? Well, what have you been doing, exactly?”

The Governor also used crass language a couple of weeks ago after saying that math and science teachers should be paid more than gym teachers. When called on his remarks by the New Jersey Education Association, his retort was, “Cut the crap,” to which NJEA spokesperson Steve Wollmer replied, “‘Cut the crap’ isn’t very gubernatorial, is it?” Wollmer said. “Each teacher contributes equally to students’ success.”

And given Christie's age and weight, perhaps disparaging physical education and health teachers is not in his best interests.

But I digress. While the governor has been excoriating the President, he hasn't been doing much governing. He went to Massachusetts to stump for Mitt Romney and keep his name afloat for national office in 2012; otherwise, he's been quiet.

That won't last for long. The legislature is gearing up for one of the busiest lame duck sessions in memory, with bills on education reform, aid to cities and a contentious telecommunications deregulation bill on the docket. Yet with New Jersey already known throughout the United States as a famously corrupt state, government ethics reform will probably not be one of the session's major accomplishments. According to this article on

New Jersey needs more honest governance, and not simply because virtue is its own reward. Conflicts of interest by elected officials and pay-to-play contracting at the municipal and county levels cost the battered taxpayers of this state uncounted millions of dollars each year and help elevate those property taxes we all complain about. It’s obvious that taxpayers lose when public contracts are steered to generous contributors instead of to vendors who can do the job more cheaply and effectively.

But the people who make policy at the Statehouse are comfortable with the status quo, and the public — which reacts with outrage anytime there’s a straightforward tax increase — doesn’t seem to see the connection between corruption and high taxes. 

Only about 26 percent of New Jersey’s voters turned out Nov. 8 to take part in an election in which all 120 seats in the Senate and Assembly were up for grabs. The result: a Legislature which, for at least two more years, will be virtually a carbon copy of the one that will expire in January — the same one that has done nothing to advance political ethics.

Governor Christie ran on ethics reform, but he hasn't pushed it, and without some kind of bill, property taxes in New Jersey will keep rising. On top of that, public sector layoffs have increased unemployment, but have done nothing to lower taxes, and increased pension and benefits payments have taken money out of consumer's pockets. And did I mention that property taxes are still too high?

So governor, I'll be polite and simply ask, "What are we paying you for?"

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