Governor Chris Christie and HUD Sec Shaun Donovan in Highlands, April 29, 2013
Now that Governor Chris Christie has completed his victory lap with appearances on all four network Sunday morning talk shows, the whole world thinks he’s running for president.
His presidential message of getting things done in a bi-partisan manner is compelling given the current national political environment. If the presidential election was next November, I think he would beat Hillary Clinton or any Democrat.
But the presidential election is in 2016. Before running for president Christie has a year or two governing New Jersey and a year, 2014, as Chairman of the Republican Governors Association.
2014 will be a busy year for Christie. In addition to the undefined “big things” he said he will accomplish in his second term, there are 36 gubernatorial seats (38 if you consider the U.S. territories of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands) up in ’14. 19 (20 if you count Guam) of those seats are currently held by Republicans.
In New Jersey, much of Christie’s first term agenda remains undone. Tax cuts, “the property tax toll kit,” civil service reform, education reform, reshaping the State Supreme Court, and gutting COAH are all incomplete. Rebuilding from Superstorm Sandy is his mission. Much of New Jersey is still hurting one year out from the storm.
If Christie can cross off most of his New Jersey agenda from his to do list, get the remaining Sandy survivors back into their homes, and pick up some gubernatorial seats next year, the 2016 Republican presidential primaries will not be much of a challenge. No other GOP contender would be able to match Christie’s “I can get the job done and I know how to win” message.
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Posted: November 12th, 2013 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: 2013 Gubernatorial Politics, 2016 Presidential Politics, Chris Christie, Reform Agenda | Tags: 2016 Presidential politics, Barack Obama, Chris Christie, Reform Agenda, Steve Sweeney | 5 Comments »
Sweeney wants to pay for beach safety and maintenance by getting rid of cops and dpw workers
Photo credit: www.SignsByTheSea.com
MMM has called Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester) three times since he jumped on board with the Senator Mike Doherty (R-Warren) in sponsoring legislation that would ban shoreline municipalites from selling beach badges or imposing other user fees to pay for lifeguards, beach cleanup and policing, if those towns accept federal and state money to rebuild from the destruction of Hurricane Sandy. He hasn’t called back. Steve Sweeney is a kitten. Kitten, kitten, kitten!
Given that he won’t talk to us, we’ll have to judge Sweeney’s crusade for free sand in his ass by what others report he says. The Senate President invited himself to a meeting with the Asbury Park Press Editorial Board earlier this week to make his case for free beaches.
“You don’t charge me to breathe air, why are you charging me to sit on a beach?”
We should be grateful that the top elected Democrat in New Jersey hasn’t figured out how to tax breathing (yet). But really now, our Senate President thinks breathing air (as opposed to grapefruit juice?) is analogous to sitting on a beach? That is something we should be concerned about, especially since this guy is considering a run for governor.
Sweeney told the APP that Belmar and the other shore communities that impose beach user fees should cover those costs by consolidating police forces and departments of public works. He said he would “beat up mayors down the shore” to make it happen “because its not acceptable, you know, to charge beach fees.”
Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty took Sweeney’s first beating:
“I asked (Doherty), how many people live year-round in his town,” Sweeney said. “He’s got a one-square mile town, he’s got 5,800 people. Now, could we run a shared police department? I met his public works director today, could we run a shared public works office?”
“You guys know how I feel about shared services,” Sweeney told the APP. We don’t know if the APP knows how he feels, but MMM thinks Sweeney is thwarting shared services and other methods that municipalities could use to reduce the size and cost of local government. If Sweeney was serious about property tax reduction and more efficient local government he would have passed Governor Christie’s property tax tool kit.
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Posted: December 21st, 2012 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Beach Access, Belmar, Government Waste, Hurricane Sandy, Jersey Shore, Matt Doherty, Mike Doherty, NJ State Legislature, Property Tax Tool Kit, Property Taxes, Reform Agenda, Stephen Sweeney, Superstorm Sandy, Taxes | Tags: Asbury Park Press, Beach Access, Beach fees, Belmar, Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty, Jersey Shore, John Pedersen, Matt Doherty, Myrtle Beach, Senate President Steve Sweeney, Senator Mike Doherty, Steve "The Kitten Sweeney", Steve Sweeney | 6 Comments »
The fiscal crisis in New Jersey’s governments and schools will continue through 2017 as a result of a $13 billion revenue shortfall, ($8 billion on the state level, $5 billion on the local, county and school levels combined) according to a report, Facing Our Future, released by the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers. (CNJG)
NJSpotlight and Bloomberg have write ups on the report.
The report says New Jersey will face a gradual cut in government services of 20%. Increased classroom sizes, from 22 to 28, less police officers and the elimination of services all together.
CNJG recommends solutions we have all heard before. Shared services, consolidations, more county government and less municipal government, county administration of schools.
One thing that is not clear from the write-ups. $7 billion of the $8 billion state revenue shortfall will be pension contributions negotiated by Governor Christie and the Democratic legislature in last years “landmark” pension and benefit reform bill.
One solution not recommended in the report….break the government employees unions’ control of our government.
In 2010 the unions said no to give backs. Thus, New Jersey suffered increased class sizes and police layoffs in our cities. Crime continues to rise in Newark and Camden, but our elected officials can’t do anything about that because the unions control how many police officers can be hired given the money available to pay them.
New Jersey pays unemployment benefits to laid off police officers not to patrol the streets of our cities, while the high paid officers who kept their jobs do the best they can. There are less extreme examples of needless service cutbacks throughout the state.
Practically speaking, there is no question that New Jersey’s public employees control the government. Not the people. Not the elected officials.
New Jersey’s fiscal crisis could be solved easily if the law of supply and demand were applied to the labor market for government workers. Until that happens, if it ever happens, we will continue to pay more for less.
It doesn’t matter how we restructure government so long as the employees are in charge.
Posted: March 15th, 2012 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Civil Service Reform, Economy, New Jersey State Budget, Public Employee Unions, Reform Agenda | Tags: CNJG, Council of New Jersey Grantmakers, Facing our Future, Fiscal Crisis, Public Employees Unions | 3 Comments »
“If you want to survive in this business, keep your mouth shut.”
That was the first piece of advice I got as a newly elected member of my county’s governing board in the 1990s. I was an idealistic political neophyte. My self-appointed mentor was a jaded party boss, one of the longest-serving political strongmen in the state. To me, accountability was key to integrity. But among his sycophants and hangers-on, this was a silly notion for suckers, fools or wimps.
Assemlywoman Amy Handlin in no sycophant or hanger-on. Nor is she a sucker, fool or wimp.
In her hard hitting ebook published by HarperCollins, Handlin tells of her encounters with Monmouth County and New Jersey “Crony Capitalists”, and gives Tea Party members and other citizen activists and blueprint on how to fight corruption at the lowest levels of government.
The essay includes tales of Hanlin’s career as a Middletown committeewoman, Monmouth County Freeholder, Assemblywoman, as well as references to corrupt practices throughout the nation.
Crony Capitalist in Out Backyards: Who they are, What they do, and How to fight back is a must read for every citizen who wants to actually do something, and not just complain, about the wasteful and corrupt practices in government.
It’s only 30 pages and it only costs $1.99. You can buy it here or here.
If you’re a regular reader of this site, you’ll recognise some of the characters in Handlin’s essay.
Posted: January 2nd, 2012 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Public Corruption, Reform Agenda | Tags: Amy Handlin, Citizen activists, Crony Capitalists, Crony Capitialist in our backyard, ebook, HaperCollins, Tea Party | 5 Comments »
Governor’s Recidivism Initiative Builds on State’s Strong Record with Expansion of Successful Drug Court Program, Improved Program Management and Coordination and Accountability for Results
Trenton, NJ – Taking action to build on the nationally recognized success of New Jersey’s prisoner re-entry, rehabilitation and prevention programs, Governor Chris Christie today outlined an initiative to help even more offenders get the support they need to successfully re-enter society, break the cycle of criminality and lead productive lives.
Governor Christie outlined this cross-departmental Administration initiative at Cathedral Kitchen, a community service organization that serves meals to those in need in Camden. Cathedral Kitchen operates a culinary arts program which gives job training to unemployed, unskilled, homeless citizens, re-entering prisoners and parolees, helping them transition to a successful, productive life once they are out of prison.
The Governor’s re-entry initiative includes the expansion of the state’s successful Drug Court Program, the appointment of a Governor’s Office Re-entry Coordinator, the creation of a Governor’s Task Force on Recidivism Reduction, an ongoing program assessment, and the development of a real time recidivism database. These changes will allow New Jersey’s re-entry and rehabilitation efforts and programs to work together, to be guided and properly resourced based on results, and to ensure effective programs are expanded to serve as many individuals as possible.
“New Jersey has a strong record of helping rehabilitate offenders and providing the services they need to be successful in society, significantly decreasing their likelihood of reoffending and improving public safety,” said Governor Christie. “But we can do better to make our re-entry programs more efficient, successful and effective – helping even more individuals get the support they need to change their lives for the better and break the cycle of offending and reoffending.”
Today, New Jersey is widely recognized as a national leader in reducing incidents of recidivism and reducing its prison population. The Pew Center on the States’ State of Recidivism report, “The Revolving Door of America’s Prisons,” identified New Jersey’s 11 percent recidivism decline as among the steepest declines for any state during the report’s study period, from 1999-2002 and 2004-2007. Since 1999, New Jersey’s prison population has declined more than 20 percent.
New Jersey spends over $225 million, not including over $40 million for the Drug Court Program, on its system of various re-entry and prevention programs across state government, but it is done in a decentralized manner with no mechanism to implement these resources strategically or measure program performance. The Governor’s initiative builds on the relative success of New Jersey’s existing system of re-entry programs in breaking the cycle of criminality and helping offenders lead successful lives after prison by addressing existing shortcomings and expanding those programs that are getting results.
Existing programs like the Drug Court Program, which serves as an alternative to incarceration for drug-addicted, nonviolent offenders, have already been effective in reducing recidivism rates among those they serve.
According to their October 2010 Drug Court Report, the rate at which drug court graduates are re-arrested for a new indictable offense is 16% and the reconviction rate is 8%. This is compared to re-arrest rates for drug offenders released from prison that stands at 54% with a re-conviction rate of 43%. According to that report, an average institutional cost per inmate is approximately $38,900, whereas the cost for an active drug court participant is roughly $11,379.
The Governor’s initiative will focus additional resources on this successful, demonstrably effective program and allow others to be similarly identified and prioritized to further reduce recidivism with programs that work.
Connecting offenders with the services they need to be successful back in society, whether it is recovery from substance abuse or the need for official identification, is critical to ending the cycle of crime. At present, a joint program between the state Department of Corrections and Motor Vehicles Commission (MVC) identifies qualified offenders on a quarterly basis, who are taken to MVC offices to obtain a driver’s license or non-driver identification card prior to the completion of their sentence. This program takes down impediments to successful re-entry resulting from the lack of official identification, which is often necessary to apply for a job, obtain housing, or connect with critical services like Medicare or food assistance.
“This initiative will build on our strengths by expanding highly successful programs like the Drug Court Program to get addicted offenders the underlying help they need, while also measuring and reforming or eliminating ineffective programs, and directing our resources in a smart, strategic and coordinated way to those programs that are making a positive difference in changing lives,” said Governor Christie.
First Lady Mary Pat Christie has made re-entry and prevention programs that help ex-offenders and recovering addicts return to normal life a priority. New Jersey’s innovative prevention and re-entry programs aimed towards at-risk populations have been highlighted by Mrs. Christie for their work in providing the building blocks to self-sufficiency and a pathway to achieve life success. Several of the initiatives have brought recognition to the Garden State as a national model for the progress made in this area. An overview of Mrs. Christie’s efforts in this area can be found here.
The Governor’s initiative includes the following components:
Expansion of the Drug Court Program
The drug courts presently accept approximately 1,400 new participants per year. Those new participants must volunteer for a sentence of drug court as opposed to incarceration. The Christie Administration initiative seeks to expand the drug court program by identifying eligible drug addicted non-violent offenders, providing them with clinical assessments to determine their suitability for drug court and sentencing those offenders to the drug court program regardless of their desire to enter the program.
This approach recognizes that one of the main impediments to treatment for addiction is the denial of addiction. Treatment systems that address the denial issue can ultimately be successful in treating a larger population of appropriate offenders. The Governor’s Re-entry Task Force will be tasked with working with the judiciary to facilitate a suitable expansion of this program beginning with two vicinages to be determined through this effort.
Governor’s Office Coordinator for Prisoner Reentry
A collaborative vision is necessary to improve what is a comparatively successful system of re-entry services. That vision includes, as a first phase, centralizing and providing a formal management structure on the current, decentralized system.
Governor Christie today announced that Lisa Puglisi, an attorney with more than a decade of experience with the Attorney General’s Office representing the Department of Corrections and later the State Parole Board, as his Coordinator for Prisoner Re-entry to convey and implement the Governor’s vision for an improved prisoner re-entry scheme. The Governor’s Coordinator for Prisoner Re-entry will co-chair the Task Force for Recidivism Reduction and serve as the principle policy adviser to the Governor on re-entry and recidivism reduction policy.
The Governor’s Task Force for Recidivism Reduction
There are more than just Corrections and Parole pieces to maintain and improve on the state’s public safety and prisoner re-entry mission. To address the current lack of coordination among the many treatment and reentry programs across state government, Governor Christie today signed Executive Order 83, creating the Governor’s Task Force for Recidivism Reduction.
The Task Force will be led by both the Chairman of the State Parole Board, James Plousis, and the Governor’s Coordinator for Prisoner Re-entry. Its members will include representatives from:
· Department of Corrections
· State Parole Board
· Motor Vehicle Commission
· Department of Human Services
· Department of Health and Senior Services
· Department of Military and Veterans Affairs
· Department of Law & Public Safety
· Juvenile Justice Commission
· Department of Community Affairs
The Task Force will develop recommendations for the Governor regarding how best to ensure the effectiveness and success of New Jersey’s efforts towards recidivism reduction, including an initial benchmarking study of existing program effectiveness and performance, and the development and implementation of a system to measure program effectiveness in an ongoing, real-time way.
Day-to-day implementation of the Governor’s initiative will be led by the State Parole Board Chairman Plousis, including the ongoing elements of the proposal such as collecting and analyzing performance data from various state departments for budgeting, programming and procurement purposes.
Ongoing Program Assessment and Measurement
The Governor’s Re-entry Coordinator and Task Force will work to facilitate a professional benchmarking assessment that will evaluate the effectiveness of all re-entry programs offered. The path forward to improve prisoner re-entry requires the Administration to gauge the successes, failures and the depth of gaps in program delivery – inside and outside of prison.
Programming gaps will be rectified by expanding existing, successful programs and hitting capacity thresholds, particularly relating to program delivery within prison. With the parallel development of the real-time recidivism database, this assessment will remain an ongoing accountability tool, allowing the Administration to identify and remediate or eliminate poor performing programs, ensuring that resources are directed to the most effective and successful programs.
Real-Time Recidivism Database
After the program assessment is completed, that data will be used to populate a database, which will allow the Administration to track outcomes for individuals and trends and level of effectiveness in programs in a real-time manner.
This project is currently in development through the efforts of the State Parole Board, Department of Corrections, the Juvenile Justice Commission, Department of Law & Public Safety, the Office of Information Technology and Rutgers University.
Posted: November 28th, 2011 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Chris Christie, Reform Agenda | Tags: Chris Christie, Corrections Reform, Press Release | 1 Comment »
Republican Governor Chris Christie proposed pension and benefit reforms that would have resulted in a $300 million budget savings in the coming fiscal year and that actuaries said would have corrected the system.
Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, Democrats, gave Christie a “compromise” that results in a $9 million budget savings in the coming year and that actuaries say doesn’t go far enough.
Christie and the Republicans in the legislature are celebrating. The media is calling the bill a landmark reform.
The Democrats and their union benefactors are having a civil war.
There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call The Twilight Zone.
Posted: June 21st, 2011 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Chris Christie, Legislature, NJ State Legislature, Public Employee Unions, Reform Agenda, Sheila Oliver, Stephen Sweeney | Tags: Governor Chris Chrisite, Sheilia Oliver, Stephen Sweeny, Twilight Zone | 11 Comments »
Trenton, NJ – This evening, Governor Chris Christie, Senate President Stephen Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean, Jr. and Assembly Minority Leader Alex DeCroce released the following joint statement:
“After months of serious discussions, we are pleased to announce that we have reached agreement on legislation to reform our public pension and health benefits systems in New Jersey.
“The legislation to be considered tomorrow by the Senate Budget Committee and Monday by the Assembly Budget Committee protects taxpayers, saves the public pension system for current and future retirees, and enhances fairness and choice in our health benefits system.
“We all fully support this legislation and will work together to assure its passage by both houses of the Legislature and enactment into law no later than June 30, 2011.”
Posted: June 15th, 2011 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Pensions, Reform Agenda | Tags: Chris Christie, Pension and Benefits, Press Release | No Comments »
By Art Gallagher
Governor Chris Christie and Senate President Steve Sweeney announced that they had reached a compromise over the nomination of Anne Patterson to the NJ Supreme Court.
Christie nominated Patterson to the court one year ago today to fill the seek of John Wallace. Wallace’s term was expiring but he had not reached the age of mandatory retirement. Christie acted within his constitutional authority but broke with tradition by not reappointing Wallace.
Christie’s Democratic critics, in the legislature and the media, charged that the governor was interfering with the independence of the judiciary. Christie countered that he was fulfilling his campaign promise to reshape the court which has a long history of overstepping its bounds and legislating from the bench, especially with the Abbott decision which mandates education spending and the Mt. Laurel decision which mandates the development of affordable housing. These two judicial decisions are responsible for New Jersey’s highest in the nation property taxes.
Sweeney pledged that Patterson would not get a hearing in the Senate and that her nomination would not be voted on until Wallace, who hails from Sweeney’s home county of Gloucester, reached the age of retirement; March of 2012. For a year the Wallace seat has filled by appellate Judge Edwin Stern who was appointed by Chief Justice Stuart Rabner as a temporary fill-in.
As a result of the “compromise” announced yesterday between Christie and Sweeney, the governor will withdraw Patterson’s nomination to Wallace seat and nominate her for the seat of retiring Justice Roberto Rivera-Sota. Sweeney pledged a fair hearing for Patterson, and that timely hearings will be held for the Wallace seat and the seat of
Justice Virginia Long who reaches the mandatory retirement age in 2012.
I fail to see the “deal” here. Where’s the compromise? What did Christie get? Christie could have withdrawn Patterson’s nomination for Wallace’s seat and nominated her for Rivera-Soto’s seat without consulting Sweeney. Sweeney keeps the Wallace seat filled by Stern until March. Was Sweeney threatening to hold up the nominations to replace Wallace and Long beyond their retirement dates? Would Sweeney allow three seats on the seven member court to be held by temporary Justices appointed by Rabner?
The other thing I don’t like about this deal capitulation, is that it is an indication that Christie assumes that Sweeney will be Senate President next year. While that may be a realistic expectation given the new gerrymandered legislative map, it is disappointing to think that Christie, as the leader of the Republican party, has already given up on trying to win control of the Senate in the legislative election this November.
If Christie has given up on winning control of the Senate, who am I to argue that it is possible?
So much for turning Trenton upside down.
Christie has a Town Hall meeting in Manalapan this afternoon.
Posted: May 3rd, 2011 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Chris Christie, COAH, Education, Legislature, Property Taxes, Reapportionment, Redistricting, Reform Agenda, Stephen Sweeney | Tags: Chris Christie, NJ Supreme Court, Reform Agenda, Steve Sweeney | 1 Comment »