The former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, James Woolsey, issued a stark warning, based on a US government study, that the death of millions of Americans could be only weeks away due to our national power grid’s shocking vulnerability to man-made and natural disasters. Knowing that, you might assume that our national leaders are doing everything in their power to ensure that the grid is adequately protected and that tragedy will be averted. But you would be wrong.
Consider this, the United States is the most powerful country the world has ever known. We have the ability to cure the incurable, to explore the unexplorable, to give generously to our friends and to wreak devastation upon our enemies. We can do this because we, as a people, are inventive and determined, and we have the energy infrastructure to facilitate these amazing things. Simply put, our modern-day success is interdependent with our energy infrastructure.
Yet, all of this could come to a screeching halt through a single cyber or electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack from a rogue state or terror organization, or a major solar flare, known as a Carrington Event, which could plunge our nation into an extended blackout.
Recently the Asbury Park Press published a story based on a widely criticized and discredited State Comptroller’s 2012 report examining the state of health benefits for public workers of municipalities, county governments and school districts. The report, which was panned by most benefit and insurance professional at the time as being actuarially and statistically invalid, also failed to accurately reflect the process local governments must use when selecting benefits for its employees. The report made for good headlines, but it didn’t make for good policy.
The takeaway of the report was that local entities in New Jersey — counties, townships, boroughs, school districts — could simply join the state health benefit plan and save the state $100 million dollars. But that wasn’t correct then and it isn’t correct now. The report overlooked the fact that benefits are collectively bargained for and can’t simply be changed on whim or all at once. It also made the false assumption that just by merging all the groups across the state, their claims history, which is how insurance policies are priced, would miraculously get better and generate savings. Finally, the report largely blamed local benefit brokers and consultants for the high cost of health care for public plans even though the cost of brokerage services is about 2% to 3% of the total cost of healthcare. The state plan is a solution for many public employers as are other private plan options. The key is to examine all of the options and align the entity with the best solution for their circumstances.
The report was largely discredited and dismissed at the time of its issuance by industry experts for being naïve and non-factual. But because it includes an eye-popping alleged savings number, the nearly 4 years old report is regularly dusted off and re-circulated by political operatives and media types looking to re-create a controversy that never existed.
I have a self imposed rule of not using my Facebook page for political views on candidates. My friends’ beliefs and ideals cover the entire spectrum. However, at the risk of a few individuals never speaking to me again, I have questions about certain BOE candidates on the ballot. Board of Education members are supposed to be the epitome of community volunteers. Howell is not “the big city.” So why, I need to ask, is one candidate being funded by state wide Political Action Committees and the Mayor of Elizabeth? The Elizabeth BOE has been fraught with corruption and nepotism. Board officials, including an attorney, were indicted on fraudulently claiming their kids were eligible for free lunches. Staff members were pressured into contributing to BOE members campaigns. Why does that candidate list her name and “politician” on her election FB cover page? This is not what the Howell BOE needs. It is the largest and best K-8 in the state. I am proud to have been part of the reforms in the 80s as a board member for almost 9 years, reforms that succeeding boards built on to continue the excellence in education in our town. We don’t need the Elizabeth political machine determining the decisions and future of the Howell BOE. Read the rest of this entry »
We want you. That’s right; we in the Monmouth, Ocean & Middlesex County GOP organizations want you to vote for our candidates on Tuesday November 3rd. The reason? Your own self interest.
Half of you want to leave New Jersey at some point, according to a poll conducted by Monmouth University and the Asbury Park Press. New Jersey actually leads the nation in families fleeing their home state to more affordable places like Florida and North Carolina. For every family that moves to the Garden State two families pick up and leave.
Elections have consequences. It’s no longer my team versus your team, families in New Jersey are hurting. For the last 15 to 20 years Democrats have ruled the State Senate and the State Assembly; with the exception of the Republican Governors we’ve had, we’ve had no reprieve from higher taxes and higher spending. It’s taken a toll on all our families.
Three years ago this morning, millions of people in New Jersey woke to a gray-sky dawn and the residual breezes of Hurricane Sandy, which rumbled through the state under the darkness of night with the straight-forward power of a slow-moving freight train. The storm’s wide swath of destruction unveiled itself in the gathering light. The images… Read the rest of this entry »
Friends and colleagues often ask how my five years in New Jersey state government compared to my prior service in New York City and New York State government. What is different or distinct about New Jersey’s political/government culture? In particular, are there any differences in “public culture” that negatively impact New… Read the rest of this entry »
“It is tragic that the best advice one might give an addict begging for treatment is to get arrested.”
By Declan O’Scanlon
Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon
There are many issues and challenges we face as a society that are ripe for spirited political debate. Addiction isn’t one of them. Governor Christie’s position that we must treat addiction as something other than a crime is exactly correct. Addiction – whether you buy the disease designation or not – is for some people a virtually irresistible, destructive force that compels the addict’s cooperation in his own destruction. That concept can be a difficult one to reconcile for those who have had the good fortune not to have battled addiction – their own or a family member’s. Unfortunately, that pool of lucky people is dwindling as the heroin epidemic continues to voraciously march through our streets and schools. Alcohol, while not the substance of the moment, continues its incessant march.
There is room for debate about exactly what addiction is. Cancer is unquestionably a disease – seeming to have a mind of its own and an unrelenting mission no matter the intentions or actions of its victims. Addiction, in many ways, is much more complicated. It is a condition whose progression depends on the direct, intentional participation of the afflicted. The fact that the addicted are complicit in their own destruction is both frustrating and confusing for all involved. It is easy for caregivers and loved ones to be sympathetic to cancer victims. Addiction is as likely to elicit anger, blame and scorn as sympathy.
By Jack Ciattarelli For decades, Trenton politicians from both parties have shied away from providing real long-term solutions. We can’t afford to wait any longer. Why are pension systems for municipal and county employees, as well as the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System, all solvent? Because the employer pension contributions to these systems are funded by… Read the rest of this entry »
As we approach the next phase in the process of privatizing of the long embattled Monmouth County Care Centers, the following items were submitted to the Freeholders, on behalf of the residents and family members of John L. Montgomery, to be included in the Request for Proposal and the Conditions of the Sale of their home:
“Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake,” Napoleon is supposed to have said. That maxim explains why so many Democrats can barely hide their glee every time Donald Trump lets loose a fresh torrent of idiotic bombast or a new poll reinforces his pre-eminence in the Republican field. Trump is too much for… Read the rest of this entry »