Opinion Newjerseynewsroom.com News for New Jersey http://www.newjerseynewsroom.com/opinion/ Fri, 19 Dec 2014 03:49:09 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb Taking a Swipe at Former Port Authority Chairman David Samson http://www.newjerseynewsroom.com/commentary/taking-a-swipe-at-former-port-authority-chairman-david-samson families_optBY ROB DUFFEY
SPECIAL TO NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
OPINION/COMMENTARY

In response to a motion by Port Authority Chairman David Samson to quash an ethics complaint filed by New Jersey Working Families last March, NJWF Director Analilia Mejia issued the following statement:

"David Samson repeatedly involved himself in Port Authority decisions that benefited the clients of his politically connected law firm and presided over an institution rife with cronyism and corruption. It's no surprise Mr. Samson would want to escape responsibility for his ethical lapses on a technicality.

Samson conveniently omits key provisions of the Port Authority Code of Ethics and New Jersey state law that place his actions clearly within the reach of New Jersey's ethics law. The law is clear - as is the fact that David Samson is fighting as hard as he can to hide from public view the real story behind his actions as a public official.

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Commentary Thu, 11 Dec 2014 02:37:26 +0000
Education in New Jersey: Separate and Unequal? http://www.newjerseynewsroom.com/commentary/education-in-new-jersey-separate-and-unequal troytalk_opt.png_copyBY TROY SINGLETON
SPECIAL TO NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
OPINION/COMMENTARY

For decades, the question as to whether or not there is an equitable education system in New Jersey has been a constant debate amongst policy makers for a myriad of reasons. Now, more emphasis than ever has been added to the dialogue by way of a report published last year which put the issue at the forefront once again with the question of why?

Paul Tractenberg, with the Institute on Education Law and Policy, Rutgers University-Newark, issued a joint report with the Civil Rights Project, UCLA. It’s the title that continues to have tongues wagging:

New Jersey’s Apartheid and Intensely Segregated Urban Schools

While we associate (as does the Merriam-Webster dictionary) apartheid with a despicable social system practiced in South Africa, the authors claim that New Jersey’s most segregated schools – 91 in total – are apartheid schools because they have less than 1 percent of students who are white, and at least 79 percent are low income.

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Commentary Tue, 09 Dec 2014 02:12:35 +0000
Time to Abolish the Income Tax? http://www.newjerseynewsroom.com/commentary/time-to-abolish-the-income-tax Murray-Sabrin_opt_copyBY MURRAY SABRIN
SPECIAL TO NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
COMMENTARY

The 16th amendment to the Constitution was passed in 1913, authorizing the federal government to impose an income tax on the American people and businesses. The amendment was hotly debated for years before it obtained the necessary support from states to be added the U.S. Constitution. The initial tax rates were from a low of 1% to no more than 7%. There was a generous personal exemption so only 2% of American families paid any federal income taxes.

In 1954, Frank Chodorov wrote a blistering critique of the income tax, The Income Tax: Root of All Evil. In the short book, Chodorov makes the philosophical and economic case against income tax.

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Commentary Mon, 08 Dec 2014 01:23:09 +0000
Star-Ledger's Tom Moran Off-Base on George Norcross http://www.newjerseynewsroom.com/commentary/star-ledgers-tom-moran-off-base-on-george-norcross georgenorcross_optBY BILL WINKLER
SPECIAL TO NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
OPINION/COMMENTARY

Tom Moran is the editorial page editor of the Star-Ledger, New Jersey's largest newspaper. Just before Thanksgiving he wrote a panegyric to the boss of the South Jersey Democrat Party machine -- George Norcross.

Moran calls Norcross "the second most powerful man in New Jersey." Norcross is the prototype "new political boss" described by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges as "the one who wears tailored suits, serves on bank boards, and runs insurance companies."

Tom Moran argues that the boss is now older and wants to do good things for the impoverished people of Camden City. According to Moran, the boss is of the age when you put your active career aside and start thinking about your legacy. I guess 59 is the new 79 because at George Norcross' age Ronald Reagan was still in his first term as Governor of California. At the age Norcross is now, Winston Churchill was considered a fringe radical and World War Two was six years away. And people didn't live as long back then.

Moran's column produced a lot of chatter and some less than charitable folks suggested that he'd be leaving the cash-strapped newspaper to travel the well worn path of so many other New Jersey journalists, into a nice political gig or government patronage job or maybe as a spokesman/lobbyist for some big corporate or philanthropic concern. But let's be charitable and take Tom Moran's argument at face value. What he seems to be trying to tell us is that it takes an oligarchy run by a rich, corporate, middle-aged, white, suburban politician to get anything done in a city like Camden. Sorry, but something doesn't sound right to me.

Has grassroots democracy been given the opportunity to work in Camden? No, it doesn't get a chance to work because everything that is anything has to have the machine's prints on it. Who knows what democracy would have produced had the boss not been there to snuff it out?

Moran uses phrases that seem to fall out of the old National Geographic prose book when covering foreign dictatorships -- "on balance, an undeniable blessing" or "using his combat skills for the most noble of missions." I'm surprised he left out the bit about making the trains run on time.

Remember when the newspapers described the Baath regime in Iraq as "pragmatic and hard headed"? Just what was needed, they argued. Every anti-democratic regime in history has had its story of accomplishment and good deeds, but it is important to remember that it's just a cover story for taking and holding power that belongs to the people.

When is such a concentration of political and corporate power ever a good thing? When is the corrupt coercion of a political machine a substitute for the democratic process? Why should the will of one man trump the consent of the governed?

Moran writes that since 1991, George Norcross "has become enormously rich in the insurance business, with a healthy boost from his firm’s many public contracts." During that same period, Camden City -- the city his machine has controlled -- has had the highest percentage of those living in poverty in New Jersey. The Star-Ledger reported that poverty in Camden City was by one measure as high as 65 percent -- with 79 percent of children living in poor households. Moran writes that Norcross controls "perhaps one-quarter of the votes in the Legislature." This at a time when the state's poverty rate, adjusted for cost of living differences, rivals that of Mississippi. According to what I read in the Star-Ledger, poverty is at a 52 year high -- with a million people in desperate need.

As journalist Chris Hedges describes it, "poverty is a business" and taxpayers' money ends up benefitting the machine far more than the poor: "Tens of millions in state funds have been devoted to infrastructure projects to make Norcross and his associates wealthy. Millions have been donated by these hired firms and contractors to the machine's bank accounts. Less than five percent of the $175 million recovery package was spent addressing the most pressing concerns of the city -- crime, schools, job training, and municipal services." Hedges calls it "white supremacy, wielded by those of privilege."

Allow me to offer an alternative interpretation of George Norcross' re-positioning of himself. Those of us who remember the campaigns of the early 1990's -- back when George was the up-front Chairman of the Camden Democrat Party -- well recall how his dealings became campaign issues. It cost his machine elections. So he stepped away into the shadows and ran things through surrogates. Nevertheless he remained controversial -- with investigations and law suits and plenty of bad press -- Philadelphia Magazine called him "The Man Who Destroyed Democracy."

In the campaign his brother just ran for Congress he must have come across some data that made him wince. In the Philadelphia media market, people know the name Norcross and it's not good. Look at all that money Norcross' brother spent to hold a solid Democrat seat against an unfunded opponent. They spent a bundle on television trying to convince voters he was just a regular guy and ended up under-performing anyway. His opponent captured the best percentage of any Republican challenger in the state.

George Norcross is in a hurry to "transform" himself because his machine is going for the brass ring in 2017 (or before). That's when his lifelong friend and loyal subject, Senate President Steve Sweeney, runs for Governor. And that, as a certain journalist used to say, is the rest of the story.

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Bill Winkler has been managing campaigns and providing research in New Jersey for more than twenty years.

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Commentary Tue, 02 Dec 2014 16:41:57 +0000
Black Friday Blues: Losing Out to America's Big Corporations http://www.newjerseynewsroom.com/commentary/black-friday-blues-losing-out-to-americas-big-corporations FrankClemente_optBY FRANK CLEMENTE
SPECIAL TO NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
COMMENTARY/OPINION

Shoppers will be lining up at the crack of dawn on “Black Friday” for spectacular deals. What they don’t know is that the best bargains have already been taken – not by other shoppers, but by some of America’s largest corporations.

Walmart, the biggest corporation in America, with revenues of almost half a trillion dollars, gets a $1 billion tax break each year on average by exploiting federal tax loopholes, according to a new report from Americans for Tax Fairness. Taxpayers, even those lined up in the early morning darkness at giant retailers like Walmart, pay the price.

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Commentary Fri, 28 Nov 2014 17:44:12 +0000
Keeping N.J. Politicians Accountable: Increasing Transparency is Essential to Instilling Trust http://www.newjerseynewsroom.com/commentary/keeping-nj-politicians-accountable-increasing-transparency-is-essential-to-instilling-trust troytalk_opt.pngBY TROY SINGLETON
SPECIAL TO NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
COMMENTARY/OPINION

Voters of all political persuasions who went to the polls on Election Day consistently noted one fundamental flaw in government — they feel they cannot trust their elected officials.

But can we blame them?

It’s utterly impossible to overemphasize the importance of trust — and consequently, transparency — in our political landscape. Increasing transparency in government is essential to instilling the trust and accountability of elected officials to our bosses, the residents of New Jersey. In order to reduce the cynicism residents feel about government, its citizens must be truly included in the mechanics of government. We can do this only through the free flow of information, which cannot be obstructed or diminished in the interest of political expediency.

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Commentary Fri, 21 Nov 2014 08:12:12 +0000
The Drawback to Applying Sales Tax to Gasoline: How Not to Fund N.J's Transportation Trust Fund http://www.newjerseynewsroom.com/commentary/the-drawback-to-applying-sales-tax-to-gasoline-how-not-to-fund-njs-transportation-trust-fund gas_opt_copy_copyBY SAL RISALVATO
SPECIAL TO NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

"In recent months, the dire state of New Jersey's infrastructure network and the depleted Transportation Trust Fund have been the focus of numerous legislative hearings and discussions by New Jersey Legislators and various interested parties. Many possible solutions have been put on the table, each with their own merits and drawbacks. As the nonprofit trade association representing the roughly 2,300 motor fuel retailers in this state, it is my contention that extending the 7% New Jersey sales tax to motor fuel would be disastrous, not only to consumers and businesses, but also to State government."

"This plan has numerous drawbacks, all outlined in the aforementioned report, which is available online here. For one, gas prices are unpredictable, and do not necessarily track with inflation. There are professionals who dedicate their lives to analyzing gas prices, who are incapable of estimating what the average price of gas will be over any given 12-month period. As such, drafters of the State Budget will be unable to calculate how much revenue to anticipate. Massive shortfalls are the primary reason why several other states with percentage-based taxes on fuel have changed their laws in recent years to move away from this policy," Risalvato stated.

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Commentary Tue, 18 Nov 2014 15:44:17 +0000
Understanding Atlantic City’s Future http://www.newjerseynewsroom.com/commentary/understanding-atlantic-citys-future busler_optBY MICHAEL BUSLER
SPECIAL TO NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
COMMENTARY/OPINION

Atlantic City is facing some very uncertain times. After about 30 years of solid growth with good opportunities available to most people, the market dramatically changed. Because of the almost exclusive reliance on gaming revenue, the 50% decline caused severe problems for the casinos industry, Atlantic City itself and most of the people who live and/or work in AC area.

Governor Christie is preparing a strategy to turn things around and redevelop the city. He has listened to a number of local government, business and civic leaders as well as the public. There is, however, a great deal of uncertainty and nervousness being felt by the locals who rely on a prosperous Atlantic City economy for their livelihood. So how will this redevelopment likely occur?

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Commentary Mon, 17 Nov 2014 15:13:16 +0000
N.J. Pensions: All Payers Treated Equally? http://www.newjerseynewsroom.com/commentary/nj-pensions-all-payers-treated-equally pension_opt-1_copyBY JOSEPH MONZO
SPECIAL TO NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
COMMENTARY/OPINION

Your local tax collector is a payment point for a number of other entities and obligations. A very large portion of the property taxes collected are sent to fulfill County and School obligations. In that list of payees is the pension payment due to the local pension systems to meet the obligation of the local employment contracts. The State of NJ has similar obligations for its employees.

You as a taxpayer have paid your tax bill and we as local government entities have subsequently paid the local pension obligations. So where is the problem?

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Commentary Fri, 14 Nov 2014 00:03:28 +0000
A Wise Approach to Ending Child Poverty in N.J. http://www.newjerseynewsroom.com/commentary/a-wise-approach-to-ending-child-poverty-in-nj poverty_opt.pngBY NANCY PARELLO
SPECIAL TO NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
COMMENTARY

With more than half of New Jersey’s children living in families where no parent is fully employed, a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation calls for a comprehensive effort to lift children and families out of poverty.

The report focuses on the importance of delivering high-quality early childhood education, while simultaneously providing parents with access to job training, career paths and other tools that enable them to support their families.

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Commentary Wed, 12 Nov 2014 19:41:26 +0000