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Opinion: Cap on SALT deduction should lead to property tax reform

By Harold V. Kane

Harold V. Kane

Did President Donald Trump inadvertently give the New Jersey Republicans a gift horse? It is no secret that the cap of $10,000 on the deduction for state and local taxes (SALT) will hit many Garden State residents hard. Many residents of the Hudson County Gold Coast are paying $20,000 to $30,000 in property taxes plus New Jersey income and sales taxes, and New York City and state income taxes. These residents are used to taking the full SALT deduction from their federal taxes and often receive a tax refund from the Treasury. Now there is a high probability that these people will be sending a check to the Treasury instead of receiving one. Some will blame the president for the additional tax liability, but the national tax laws have to be applied equally. Where the changes hurt New Jersey they actually help Texas since Texas has much lower property taxes and no state income tax. So why is this a gift horse?

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: December 17th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Harold Kane, Harold V. Kane, New Jersey, Opinion, Property Taxes | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Time to stop whining about Roberts’ decision and think about what’s next

By Harold Kane

On this our Independence Day I think that it is time for the Republican geldings to stop their whining over the Roberts Supreme Court decision and to think about what can be done with the decision. He reigned in the Medicaid expansion. That ruling stopped the Federal government from extorting the states. This portion of the ruling could have implications that we have not yet discovered.

The Obama Administration has granted ObamaCare waivers to 1,200 organizations. These were “thank you” to their supporters. They were granted under the false notion that ObamaCare was constitutional under article 8, the “commerce clause”. Apparently the regulation of commerce was construed to mean giving out goodies to your friends. However since ObamaCare was found to be constitutional under article 7, the taxing power, are the exemptions still valid? Under the tax laws enforced by the IRS we are all treated equally. If I get a deduction for dependent children, so do all citizens who meet the dependent child test. The IRS cannot arbitrarily decide who will get the child exemption based upon political favoritism. The question now becomes are all of the 1,200 exemptions null and void. If they are null and void I’m sure that Obama’s supporters that received them are going to be very unhappy and some of this unhappiness could exhibit itself on Election Day

Just as a note, Fox News played the tape of the Solicitor General making the case for article 7. Apparently this was plan B if the commerce clause was going to fall apart, which it did.

Posted: July 4th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: ObamaCare, U.S. Supreme Court | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Pay to pay investigation probes Birdsall Engineering

The State Attorney General’s office executed search warrants on Birdsall Services Group’s Eatontown office yesterday, according to reports in Politickernj and The Asbury Park Press.

Politickernj cites a source saying that the investigation is into campaign contributions, including the Middlesex County PACS first exposed by Harold Kane writing for MMM in September of 2011.  Politickernj is erroneously claiming credit for first exposing the activities of the Middlesex County PACs and their donors.

Birdsall Services is cooperating with the investigation, according to The Asbury Park Press account.

Posted: May 3rd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Harold V. Kane, Pay-to-play, Public Corruption | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on Pay to pay investigation probes Birdsall Engineering

Turning up the heat on Middlesex County pay to play scandal

Politickernj writers Darryl Isherwood and Max Pizarro posted an in depth piece yesterday afternoon that exposes an incestuous web of influence driving planning, zoning and development approvals before the Middlesex County Freeholder Board and several municipal planning boards in the county.  

State Senator Bob Smith of Piscataway is the leader of the PACs that fund the campaigns of the Freeholders and municipal officials who approve the applications.  The applicants are donors to the PACs.  Smith is the applicants’ attorney.

It’s all legal.  And no one would know about it if not for Harold Kane of Monroe Township painstakingly examining thousands of pages of ELEC reports to find out where all the Middlesex Democratic money was coming from and the good journalists at Politickernj and The Star Ledger following the money.

Smith, the Senator working the system, and Peter Barnes, the Assemblyman and Middlesex County Democratic Chairman who’s candidates benefit from the system, know the solution to this “craziness.”   Barnes said that “any impetus to close the hole lies with the legislature.”  Smith said, “There is a solution to the craziness we have now and that is publicly financed elections – or complete transparency. “In New Jersey, we have nothing but chaos. The state needs one set standard across the state.”

Where is their legislation?   Smith and Barnes are both powerful members of the legislature.  They obviously know how the work the system.  They know how to fix it. 

Sponsor the legislation gentlemen.  Publicly financed elections won’t work.  Complete transparency will.

Here’s a campaign finance system that would be transparent:

1) Remove all limits on campaign contributions.

2) Require that all candidates and campaigns disclose all contributions of any amount on a dedicated website within 24 hours of receipt.

3) Competing campaigns, good citizens like Kane, and good journalist will examine the donations and expose influence.  Voters will decide if the influence is acceptable of not.

Correction: Peter Barnes, Jr, the Middlesex Democratic Chairman is no longer in the legislature.  His son, Peter III is an Assemblyman.

Now there are two Barnes and a Smith who can advocate for legislation that creates complete transparency.

Posted: April 20th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Campaign Contributions, Campaign Finance, ELEC, Middlesex County Democrats, NJ State Legislature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments »

The Democratic Laundromat: Wisniewski’s Washing and Spinning

By Harold Kane and Art Gallagher

The legal money laundering of Assemblyman John Wisniewski in Middlesex County has been in the news this month as Politickernj and The Star Ledger brought to light the how Middlesex Democrats are circumventing state and local pay to pay laws by having government vendors, primarily the Middlesex based CME engineering firm, fund campaigns through PACs when the campaign finance laws prohibited contributions directly to the campaigns in jurisdictions where they were earning large fees.

Wisniewski, of Sayreville, is the Chairman of the State Democratic Party and the Assembly Transportation Committee. 

Despite the fact that the PACs are run by his former staff members and fund campaigns in his district and county, Wisniewski says he has nothing to do with them.  If that is true, the State Democratic Committee needs a new chairman.  If it’s not true, the Democrats still should get a new chairman and the people of the 19th legislative district should elect a new Assemblyman.

Also in the news this month are the guilty pleas of insurance broker Frank Gartland of Federal Hill Risk Management.  Gartland plead guilty to giving $2 million in bribes to Toms River School Superintendent Michael Ritacco, and to theft by deception and money laundering for bilking the Perth Amboy Board of Education, an Abbott district, out of more than $2 million.

Gartland also admitted to making illegal contributions to the campaigns of former Assemblyman and former Perth Amboy Mayor Joe Vas through “straw” contributors.  Vas is now serving a 6 ½  year sentence for funneling illegal money from a real estate scheme into his unsuccessful 2006 congressional campaign.  Vas was Wisniewski’s running mate and they represented the 19th district together in the Assembly from 2004-2009.

While all of this bribery, stealing and money laundering was going on, Gartland and his associates were also donating heavily to the Middlesex County PACS that Wisniewski says he has nothing to do with.

All information from NJ ELEC

 

 

     

 

 

 
Democracy in Motion PAC

 

 

12 Deerfield Road

 

 

Sayreville, NJ  08872

 

 

democrat org

 

 

Christina Montorio – Treasurer

 

 

Federal Hill Risk Mngt – Frank Gartland

1/16/2009

$3,200.00

Federal Hill Risk Mngt – Frank Gartland

10/16/2008

$4,000.00

Federal Hill Risk Mngt – Frank Gartland

10/24/2008

$3,200.00

     
New Expectations PAC

 

 

2 Lincoln Highway, ste 511

 

 

Edison, NJ  08820

 

 

other ongoing cmte

 

 

Denise Anstett – Treasurer

 

 

AST Development – Robert D’Anton

1/7/2009

$5,000.00

Federal Hill Risk Mngt – Diana Gartland

1/7/2009

$4,666.00

 

 

 

Cmte for  Efficiency in Government PAC

 

 

11 Barton Road

 

 

Mountain Lakes, NJ  07046

 

 

other ongoing

 

 

Michael Revolinsky – Treasurer

 

 

Federal Hill Risk Mngt – Victor Bramble

10/20/2008

$1,300.00

Federal Hill Risk Mngt – Diana Gartland

10/20/2008

$2,400.00

Federal Hill Risk Mngt – John Hope

10/20/2008

$2,400.00

Federal Hill Risk Mngt –  Victor Bramble

8/15/2007

$2,000.00

Dynamic Claims Mngt

8/15/2007

$1,000.00

E-Administrative Systems

8/15/2007

$1,000.00

Dynamic Claims Mngt

10/17/2007

$2,000.00

Federal Hill Risk Mngt – Diana Gartland

10/17/2007

$2,000.00

Federal Hill Risk Mngt – Derek Johnson

10/17/2007

$3,000.00

 

 

 

Women for Good Government PAC

 

 

PO Box 11434

 

 

New Brunswick, NJ  08906

 

 

idealogical pac

 

 

Deborah Celey – Treasurer

 

 

Federal Hill Risk Mngt – Frank Gartland

10/22/2008

$2,600.00

Federal Hill Risk Mngt – Diana Gartland

2/9/2009

$4,666.00

Federal Hill Risk Mngt – Robert D’Anton

2/9/2009

$5,000.00

Federal Hill Risk Mngt – Diana Gartland

10/30/2008

$4,666.00

AST Development – Robert D’Anton

10/30/2008

$5,000.00

 

 

 

Raritan Bay Leadership Fund

 

 

251 Livingston Avenue

 

 

New Brunswick, NJ 08901

 

 

idealogical pac

 

 

David Lonski – Treasurer

 

 

Federal Hill Risk Mngt

1/19/2006

$2,000.00

Federal Hill Risk Mngt – Diana Gartland

1/28/2009

$4,666.00

Federal Hill Risk Mngt – Frank Gartland

1/17/2008

$2,600.00

Federal Hill Risk Mngt – Diana Gartland

10/30/2008

$4,666.00

 

 

 

Committee for Civic Responsibility

 

 

PO Box 184

 

 

Kendall Park, NJ  08824

 

 

68 Old Road, Princeton, NJ 08540

 

 

civic association

 

 

Bharat Patel – Treasurer

 

 

Federal Hill Risk Mngt – Derek Johnson

6/9/2009

$2,500.00

 

 

 

19th District Democratic Leadership Fund

 

 

13 Zaleski Drive

 

 

Sayreville, NJ  08872

 

 

Michael D’Addio – Treasurer

 

 

Federal Hill Risk Mngt – Frank Gartland

1/16/2009

$3,200.00

Federal Hill Risk Mngt – Frank Gartland

10/16/2008

$4,000.00

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

$82,730.00

 

Wisniewski and Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni, a former Republican State Senator, got into it this week over the PACS and Wisniewski using his authority as chairman of the Assembly Transportation Committee to issue subpoenas requiring that Port Authority executives appear before his committee.  Baroni accused Wisniewski of a “shakedown” because CME did not receive preferential treatment while pitching their engineering services to Port Authority.

In response, Wisniewski said “the truth is an expendable commodity” for the “Christie character assassination team”

Let’s see some truth from Wisniewski regarding these PACS, including what quid pro quo Gartland received for his “contributions.”

Posted: April 15th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Pay-to-play | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments »

The Folly Of Campaign Finance Laws

Over the holiday weekend Politickernj and The Star Ledger  caught up with the good work that MMM contributor Harold Kane did last September in shedding light on political spending in Middlesex County.

Like Kane, Politikernj and The Star Ledger framed their articles as if the PACs set up to funnel campaign donations from engineers, lawyers and their firms to political campaigns were doing something scandalous.   Each of the articles acknowledges that the contributions are legal, yet they say that the donors “skirt” or “cloud” the law or that the contributors are “buying” the candidates that ultimately benefit from the contributions.

The real scandal is that campaign finance laws at every level of government, federal, state, county and local, that are ostensibly designed to eliminate the influence of money in our political system and to increase transparency actually have the opposite effect, by design.

Money is like air and water.  Set up a structure to restrict it and money, like air and water, will find a crack in the structure to get to where it wants to go.  With enough pressure the structure breaks.  Fix or reform the structure and the cycle repeats itself.

Our campaign finance laws decrease transparency in the process.  Kane and the reporters from Politickernj and The Star Ledger spent many unproductive hours combing through ELEC reports of campaigns and PACS to connect the dots.  Not many people have the time or resources to make that effort.  Kane, Politickernj and The Star Ledger reporters did us all a service by connecting those dots.  It is appropriate for the public to know who is financing the campaigns of their candidates for public office.

Restricting the amount of money that a person or entity can contribute to a campaign is inappropriate.  Such restrictions are impediments to free speech and push otherwise well meaning people out of the political process or into breaking ill conceived and complex laws.  Such restrictions don’t and won’t keep “bad money” out of the process.

The only way to increase transparency in the process is to require immediate disclosure of campaign contributions. Removing the limits that candidates and campaigns can accept would reduce the utility of PAC, Super PACs, etc. 

Creating a simple system of full disclosure would increase participation in the political process.  It would increase competition among government contractors and professionals.  It would make the entire process more democratic, which is probably why we won’t see such a simple system anytime soon, if ever.

Posted: April 9th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Campaign Contributions | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Bill Spadea Can Win In November

By Harold Kane, Monroe Township

There is an old cliché in New Jersey Politics. The cliché states “When it is the Republicans to lose, they will lose.” The district 16 special election this year will be theirs to lose unless they wake up. The electoral composition of the district has radically changed since the 2010 census. In 2007 the Republican Assembly candidates won 58-42. With the elimination of parts of Somerset and Morris counties and the inclusion of South Brunswick and the Princetons the Republicans managed to win the 2011 Assembly race 52-48, a drop of 12 points. The special election will be to replace the deceased Peter Biondi. At first the Republican “leadership” offered William Mennen of Tewksbury, but he didn’t live in the district. Mennen said that he would move, but then changed his mind. They then offered Donna Simon, a councilperson from Readington. Ms. Simon has absolutely no name recognition outside of Readington. The name recognition becomes even more important in the 2012 general election in that the Democrats will have Barack Obama at the top of their ticket. With Obama every Democrat and Democrat leaner in Middlesex and Mercer counties will be coming out of the woodwork to vote. The Republicans have a candidate that can overcome the Democrat advantage in the special Assembly Election. That candidate is Bill Spadea of Princeton. Spadea has run for Congress garnering 40% of the vote which is twice what the “experts” said that he would get. He is a party activist with great name recognition in precisely the portion of district 16 where it is needed most. Spadea has already assembled a campaign team with many years of experience. This is in comparison to Simon. Exactly when was the last time the Somerset/Hunterdon Republican parties had to fight for an Assembly seat? A Democrat victory in the 16th would further impede Governor Christie from achieving his goals.

The Republican chairpersons in Somerset County (Al Gaburo), Hunterdon County (Henry Kuhl), and Mercer County (Dave Fried, Maria Bua) need to put their support behind Spadea at the special convention this month. Spadea can win in November, Simon cannot!

Posted: January 10th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: NJ State Legislature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Bye Mennen

By Harold Kane

Hunterdon County Freeholder William Mennen wants to run for the NJ State Assembly from the 16th district. However Mr. Mennen has a problem in that he does not live in D16. To rectify this situation he plans to move shortly into the 16th district.

There is one other issue he must face that a moving van cannot resolve. That is the NJ State constitution requirement that the candidate live in the district for one year before Election Day. Since the election is less than one year away, Mennen is not-qualified to run in the 16th district. However, Mennen does not plan to let some minor irritant such as the constitution get in the way of his run for office.

Mennen has used his inherited fortune to hire Alan Zakin to be his spokesperson. According to Zakin, the 14th amendment to the US Constitution is violated when voters cannot vote for who they want. The Equal Protection clause of the 14th amendment was written to preclude voter suppression of former slaves. In this case no one in the 16th district is being denied the right to vote. Voting is being encouraged. Zakin’s argument is a perversion of the US Constitution. The state of NJ is well within its rights to set a reasonable time frame for a candidate’s residency. If Mennen had a grasp on reality he would have moved into the 16th district before November 2 since the new districts were determined this past spring. But he didn’t, and now he thinks that he can buy a nomination.

The Republican parties in the 16th district portion of Hunterdon, Somerset, Mercer, and Middlesex counties have the opportunity to nominate a highly qualified candidate for the 16th district Assembly seat and that candidate should be Bill Spadea of Princeton.

Posted: December 18th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: NJ State Legislature | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments »

Government Growth Under McGreevey, Codey and Corzine Caused High Property Taxes

By Harold Kane, Monroe Township (Written as a Letter to the Editor of The Star Ledger)

The Star Ledger never misses a chance to take cheap shots at politicians. 

In the February 27th PERSPECTIVE Mark Magyar insinuated that New Jersey’s property tax issues are the fault of Christie. He fails to mention that Christie has been in office for one year and that New Jersey’s public sector exploded under Governors Jim McGreevy, Dick Codey, and Jon Corzine. During the past ten years, while NJs population grew 4.5%, * property taxes increased by 85%**. This was done to pay the compensation of the army of public employees that were hired by NJs 2,000 municipalities, counties, school boards, fire districts, water and sewer districts and community colleges, with the worst year being 2003 when 17,000 ***new public employees were hired under McGreevy.

The Democrats from 2001 to 2010 bloated up the public workforce for their own purposes-the larger the workforce, the larger the public unions, subsequently the more campaign money given to the Democrats. Christie is trying to do what needs to be done to bring fiscal sanity to NJ, working against a hostile legislature. If the Star Ledger would like to be part of the solution to New Jersey’s fiscal problems then they should endorse Republican candidates in October so that Governor Christie will have the Republican legislature that he needs.

Posted: March 9th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Property Taxes | Tags: , | 2 Comments »

Christie Sinks ARC. Pallone Is Disappointed

Trenton, NJ – Today, Governor Chris Christie accepted the recommendation of NJ Transit Executive Director Jim Weinstein to continue the orderly and expeditious shutdown of the ARC Project. Despite intense negotiations with federal and state participants, no agreement was reached on terms that would assure New Jersey’s taxpayers would not pay more than $2.7 billion for a completed Trans Hudson Express ARC project.

Phoney Palloney (Falsetto Frankie to Soprano State fans) is disappointed:

 

Frank Pallone Jr. Disappointed to hear Governor plans to cancel ARC tunnel at a time when New Jersey needs more mass transit options.

Well, if Pallone had any clout in Washington after 22 years, maybe he could have gotten the Feds to cover the cost over runs on the project.   Or maybe he could have gotten his friends in the New York delegation to lean on Albany to contribute their fair share to a project that would have benefited New York more than it would have helped NJ anyway.  Think of all those tax dollars New Jersey residents would have been paying to New York after we spent $15 billion dollars to give them a way to leave the state to go to work.

As our friend Harold Kane,  the next Middlesex County Clerk, pointed out last week, New Jersey has 40 million square feet of vacant office space.  What do we need to spend billions of dollars to send people to work in New York for?

Christie did the right thing and come Tuesday Pallone is going to be despondent.

Posted: October 27th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: ARC, Chris Christie, Frank Pallone, Harold Kane | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Christie Sinks ARC. Pallone Is Disappointed