Cutting spending in N.J.

President Obama could learn a lot about fiscal responsibility from New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie. The governor is making hard choices to close a $2.2 billion state budget deficit by freezing spending and erasing surpluses to meet current needs.

Mr. Christie is cutting money for schools, colleges, hospitals and the New Jersey Transit system - 375 line items total. He is removing noncitizens from the state health care system and canceling a jobs program that mainly created jobs for government bureaucrats. His cuts are intended to impose efficiency and accountability on government spending, concepts people generally do not associate with New Jersey politics.

Officials failed to do their duty

Last week, the state Local Finance Board put Hoboken under "supervision," a polite term that sounds better than a limited takeover. This comes two months after the city failed to approve a balanced municipal budget.

While the mayor and the City Council will be able to propose and vote on municipal business, Susan Jacobucci, director of the state Division of Local Government services, will have final approval on all fiscal matters (expenditures above $4,500), union contracts and the hiring and firing of employees.

A dose of reality on Hoboken woes

Last week, Hoboken Mayor David Roberts came up with his proposals for a spending plan for the new fiscal year that begins July 1, one that faces a $10.5 million deficit.

Of course, any fiscal blueprint for Hoboken will have to be approved by the state Department of Community Affairs, which is actually running the show in the Mile Square City. The state has assumed control of the city's finances after the municipal government failed to approve the last budget. This newspaper believes the failure was a combination of inept administration and City Council political grandstanding, a fatal combination for local taxpayers.

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR! A special message to City Council Members....

A special message to

 City Council Members....



Rumors flying around Hoboken City Hall are that EIGHT of the NINE City Council Members (all of the Council members with the exception of Councilwoman-at-Large TERRY LABRUNO) are talking about holding a "SPECIAL MEETING" at the SHANNON TAVERN. The reported topic of discussion will be a "NO CONFIDENCE VOTE" on MAYOR DAVE ROBERTS.

Of the eight Council members considering the action, six have a solid history of voting in-step with the Roberts Administration

Although the remaining two councilmembers claim to be political foes of the administration, they may have voted correctly against Roberts agenda for the wrong reasons....   They too must share the blame.

During the past 6 years, the entire City Council  unanimously voted for key Robert's Adminstration initatives, including controversial bonding issues, redevelopment plans, budgets, etc.

Do the Councilmembers really believe that their vote of "NO CONFIDENCE" in Mayor Roberts will absolve them from sharing the blame?  

A "NO CONFIDENCE" vote of the Mayor sends a strong message to the public and now brings into question the actions and conduct of the entire City Council.  

On election day, May 8th, will the voters decide to take a "NO CONFIDENCE" vote on the actions of the Hoboken City council??? 

Be careful what you wish for.....

APP: Elect Kean to Senate

The U.S. Senate campaign pitting Thomas Kean Jr. against Sen. Robert Menendez hasn't been pretty. But it has succeeded in getting people's attention and delineating the candidates' differences.

Kean's priorities have been clear from the outset of his bid for a Senate seat: restoring government integrity and reducing taxes. While we haven't been enamored with his campaign, which has hammered away incessantly at Menendez's shortcomings in those two areas, Kean clearly felt a need to contrast their candidacies on the two issues he believes matter most.

Privatizing the Turnpike?

Until Gov. Jon Corzine raised the subject, talk in New Jersey of selling off or leasing the turnpike and some of the state’s other assets was not going anywhere. After all, the state’s privatization of its auto inspection system and its early experience with E-ZPass were hardly smashing successes. But Mr. Corzine, with his background in the business world, gave the idea immediate credibility.

At the Corzine administration’s behest, a financial services company is studying the situation and is expected to make recommendations next month. A State Treasury spokesman, Thomas Vincz, said last week that just about everything is on the table, including the sale, partial sale and management of numerous highways in addition to the turnpike and of other state assets as well.

Menendez: Inquirer endorses Menendez for U.S. Senate

TRENTION, N.J. (AP) — The Philadelphia Inquirer on Sunday endorsed Democrat Robert Menendez for the U.S. Senate, praising him for having "the superior experience, intellect and grasp of the issues."

Noting that both Menendez and Republican challenger Tom Kean Jr. are better than the negative ads they have run during the campaign, the newspaper chose the 52-year-old Hudson County Democrat in what it termed a close call between two good choices.

Menendez "has fought successfully for prescription drug coverage, port security, and transportation and Amtrak funding. He has the leadership to get legislation passed," it wrote.

Editorial: Legislature must embrace strict ethical standards

The screaming headlines of political corruption, using public office for private gain and campaign mudslinging that plays the ethics card for political gain make plain yet again that real ethics reform must remain the cornerstone of any hope for restoring the public trust.

Editorial: Dreadful choice for negotiator

The legislative hearings in Trenton on public employee benefits reforms have provided absolutely no reason for optimism that lawmakers are prepared to do what is necessary to bring health care and pension costs under control.

Unfortunately, neither has the opening of contract talks between the Corzine administration and state employee unions, whose contracts expire in June. Those unions, along with the New Jersey Education Association, have made it clear they will resist any changes that would reduce the health and pension benefits of their members — present and future.

Editorial: Menendez's Iraq stance untenable and unwise

Menendez's Iraq stance untenable and unwise
Editorial: Home News Tribune Online 09/7/06

Ambition makes politicians say the most foolish things. Take, for instance, the call by U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez for the accelerated removal of American troops from Iraq within the next 12 months. The statement and the stance are worrisome examples of how politically motivated agenda-setting can warp a candidate's public policies and views.

Menendez, a Democrat, is locked in a nip-and-tuck battle to defend his U.S. Senate seat against Republican challenger Thomas H. Kean Jr., a state senator and critic of the war himself.

Menendez clearly wants to be seen as the more "anti-war" of the two, so that he can differentiate himself from Kean in a state where most voters now say they are unhappy with the progress of the war.

He'd better be careful, though. Lack of enthusiasm for the way in which the war has been managed doesn't necessarily translate into public support for an abrupt exit before the job is finished.

Toward that point, Menendez' demand for so quick and arbitrary a withdrawal is out of sync with any measured or practical strategy to bring about a successful end to the hostilities, let alone a successful end to U.S. involvement. More than that, so extreme are his words, one has to wonder if Menendez even believes them himself. It's a good bet that he doesn't, but he is willing to lay aside his own sound judgment to pander to the most virulent critics of the war, a big part of his core constituency.

But the tactic may backfire with voters at large.

Most straight-thinking individuals — no matter what they think about the course of the war, or what they believe about its genesis — understand that a rapid pullout by the U.S. military at this juncture would further destabilize Iraq and, by extension, further embolden militant factions.

Menendez claims that the Iraqis will be able to secure their own country within the coming year. How does he know? Not even the best experts can agree on that score. What is clear is that the Iraqi security forces are not battle-ready yet. Until there is some inkling that day is at hand or is fast approaching, all talk of walking away is premature — and, frankly, unwise.

Encourage shared services

Encourage shared services
StarLedger Editorial
Monday, April 10, 2006

With money tight in the Statehouse and in town halls across the state, elected officials at all levels of government are looking for ways to economize. An obvious one is to share services.

But let's be realistic: In a state where mayors and town council members consider home rule as distinctly New Jersey as the Turnpike and the Pine Barrens, convincing them to relinquish control over anything won't be easy.

State Criminal Justice reorganization - Gangs, Organized Crime, Political Corruption

Better late then never?  Two years after the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation (SCI) published "The Changing Face of  ORGANIZED CRIME IN NEW JERSEY" May 2004, the New Jersey State Attorney General's Office recently announced that the number of investigators and prosecutors assigned to combat three pressing threats to public safety — gangs, organized crime and public corruption — will increase significantly under a criminal justice reorganization plan.

While Hoboken certainly has had its share of problems related to gangs, organized crime activity, and public corruption, reallocating State criminal justice resources to address the findings of the State of New Jersey Commission of Investigation is a step in the right direction.