Tag Archives: Carnival of NJ Bloggers

Carnival of the New Jersey Bloggers #54

Carnival of the NJ Bloggers
Carnival of the NJ Bloggers

We hope you are enjoying a relaxing Memorial Day Weekend!

The weather has cooperated as everyone flocked to the shore. The rides are running, the blankets are spread on the beach, and the beverages are flowing. Sit back, relax, and enjoy what the New Jersey blogosphere has to share with you this week.

Down the Shore kicks off the festivities with Memorial Day haiku. Joining in the fun, we offer:

Here in Cumberland
Greek Festival, Carnival
Gyros, Baklava

Shamrocketship provides some sound advice for bennies (funny, in South Jersey, we call them shoobies) this holiday weekend. Enjoy the fun and we do really appreciate your patronage.

Lassiter Space was busy posting this week. We highlight a trio of posts. Celebrating Memorial Day, Jay visits the memorial outside Constitution Hall in Philly, praises Jim Saxton, and updates us on the toy soldier campaign.

Mano a Vino Montclair has the lowdown on food to enjoy on this weekend. We did our part today by grilling and chilling with some neighbors. Barbecues are fun!

Uncle Tonoose shares with us the Korean War memorial in Jersey City.

One hundred thirty-eight Nutley residents have died in war. Nutley Sons Honor Roll remembers them.

Bob at The Rix Mix ahares childhood memories of Memorial Day and how the holiday replaced Decoration Day.

In Belleville, 153 men and women have made the ultimate sacrifice. Belleville Sons Honor Roll provides the details.

The rollercoaster ride of the stock market kept Thomas Ott busy this week. But keeping with the buy low sell high philosophy, the “D”igital Breakfast should be serving for a while.

Sharon’s solar updates are truly interesting. This week we learn that the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton is planning on going solar thus keeping The Center of NJ Life‘s lights on.

Tata is spot on with understanding and valuing the roles men and women have. Bravo! But really, which of my friends would you go with? Sorry, my Poor Impulse Control got the better of me. 🙂

The Hall Institute shares with us a report that has gone unnoticed about the plight of our state’s great natural resource: the Jersey Shore. The news, like virtually all news in the Garden State, is not good. Over-devlopment along the coastline is contaminating the ecosystem.

Janet recounts another impulse purchase and highlights the junk we all consume all the while coining the term magname. While my wife loves the gift shops, I abhor them as there is nothing in them that a rational person should ever want. But, it is The Art of Getting By in this world of ours.

The Contrarian highlights a huge contradiction: Rolling Rock is going to be brewed in Newark starting in August. It’s kind of like the Miss America Pageant being held outside of Atlantic City. Oh well, jobs for our great state.

Steven Hart crafted a wonderful quiz about Bob Dylan in honor of His Bobness’ 65th birthday. Head on over to The Opinion Mill to take the challenge. So far, many have done well.

Nordette challenges us with some probing questions about Baltimore’s Pimp ‘n ‘Ho Ball. Confessions of a Jersey Goddess wants to know if it is okay to portray these kinds of images.

Roderama shares her enthusiasm for The Da Vinci Code. While enjoying the book and feeling if anything, it brought her closer to her faith, none of that is the reason she won’t forget the movie. Seminal moments like this one are what the stories of our lives are told.

StayFloopy is counting down to his 5000th geocache find.

Cate has a challenge for all of us. She is willing to show us hers if you show her yours. Sweetnicks is the place to be.

Nonsensical legislation has Karl’s Corner goat this week. We agree this may not be the time for this debate, but to point out that only one party is concerned with November’s elections is missing the shennanigans in DC.

Virtual Memories has an interesting piece about what we spend for our leisure. It is timely too. On Friday I paid a mechanic a lot of money to replace my plugs and wires rather than do it myself. Of course, I balked at fixing the door rationalizing it will be a good way to spend an afternoon.

Never let the facts interrupt a good argument. That is what Enlighten-New Jersey points out by highlighting the real issue behind the call for stem cell research facilities in the time of fiscal crisis. Perhaps to help hammer home the point: we pointed out here at eCache the other day, folks are losing their jobs as government begins to live within its means. I am one who is expecting to be told his job no longer exists this week. Reality is: there is no money to be spent on political boondoggles.

Jarvis liveblogged an event at the Museum of Television & Radio Media Center. BuzzMachine (follow-up #1 and follow-up #2) is the cutting edge of media.

Corzine Watch highlight’s Bob Ingle’s article which tells of double-dipper Dr. Charles Epps who squandered Abbott funds as he took a trip to England. Just how does visiting England improve student achievement in Jersey City? Perhaps those dollars could have moved trailers to relieve overcrowding.

Roberto links time on task to money spent. It is difficult to argue with that assessment. DynamoBuzz shows how most states are already done with their legislative work for the year (and some don’t even meet this year). What a concept! And of course, there’s an update on Liar McGreevey.

Arrggghhhh! The Fifth Coulmn highlights more stupidity in our courts system. Apparently, one can avoid prison by being short.

Erin is smitten. 🙂 Gigglechick likes Taylor Hicks. Riss takes exception. Tequila Shots for the Soul is incredulous with the silver-headed soulmate. Speaking of Riss, a recent show featured crappy songs that make others wish they were dead. Pretty much anything my wife listens to fits that description.

Philly2Hoboken chronicles the problems with Apple’s new store. Do people really shop for tech toys in stores anymore?

Your advice is sought over at Disconnect the Dots. Truly an interesting piece about how we communicate on the ‘Net. Go tell Ja your thoughts.

The Coalition of the Swilling shows us the first building to open on the site of the World Trade Center. This seems to be New York’s best response to the attack.

Fausta has another pyschic moment.

It’s politics at New Jersey’s highest court. The Inside Edge has the lowdown on replacing Chief Legislator Justice Poritz.

Chanice pulls no punches in calling Nancy Pelosi and the Congressional Black Caucus on their defense of Senator Jefferson. New Jersey for Change is certainly a breath of fresh air.

NJ Conservative points out the deal that illegal immigrants are being afforded in the amnesty bill. No legal taxpayer has ever been able to select which years he pays the IRS. Unbelievable!

And it keeps getting worse. NJ Fiscal Folly updates us on state treasurer Abelow’s news that the Garden State will be collecting even less revenue than projected. Wooha, Master Chief!

Jim is back at the Parkway Rest Stop after carousing with friends in the Sunshine State.

Finally, it is with great sadness that I read that Sluggo Needs a Nap is going to be napping permanently. We wish you the best with the novel, Michael.

Let us all remember today the great men and women who have sacrificed for our freedom.

Next Week
There will another Carnival of the New Jersey Bloggers next week. Unfortunately, at press time no one has stepped up to the plate to host. Hosting is fun and a great way to meet folks and read a variety of blogs. I highly recommend it. Be part of the fun and offer to host.

Update
My apologies for a few forgotten bloggers.  Gmail is an interesting set up and I somehow missed the tabs on my original post.  Interestingly, I had picked up the very posts that some of these fine bloggers had recommended.  My apologies and I missed anyone else, please let me know.

SCC Is Not Ready for Money

Carnival of the NJ Bloggers
Carnival of the NJ Bloggers

The AP reported today that the embattled Schools Construction Corp. (SCC), the New Jersey agency that blew through $8.6 billion of taxpayer money without completing two-thirds of the work it was supposed to have completed, is not ready for more funds.

A report issued by a task force states the SCC is not managed well enough currently to receive funding. But it was also this same group that called for the dismantlement of the SCC last month.

If the task force recommended that, then why are they now saying that SCC is quite ready for more cash?

The view of Scott Weiner, the current head of SCC shows that Governor Corzine disregarded the task force’s recommendation:

The governor remains consistent in his views that no new funding should be authorized until the SCC has strengthened management. If everything continues along the current path, It will be there in very short order.

Why convene a task force if one is going to disregard the recommendation?

SCC squandered billions of taxpayer dollars. The view of the Corzine-appointed head shows that nothing has changed. Weiner expects more funds.

Taxpayers had no say last time around and were burned badly. Mr. Weiner is mistaken if he thinks that is going to happen again.

One last thing . . . if SCC has no money and there is no money coming immediately, what does the agency do? How is Mr. Weiner and his staff doing the state’s work right now? I assume he and the rest of the SCC are being paid. Dear reader, what are you receiving for the SCC’s services this week?

Federal Campaign Finance Reform

Carnival of the NJ Bloggers
Carnival of the NJ Bloggers

No, no, no, please no!

Former NJ Senator Bill Bradley is back in the news again today. He has paired with the normally lucid former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson, former Senator Bob Kerrey, and former Senator Warren Rudman to call for the federal government to pay for all federal elections.

Bradley said he was “appalled” at how much money New Jersey Governor Corzine spent in his 2000 bid to be senator from New Jersey.

This old argument is predicated upon the issue of senators having to raise so much money while in office to be re-elected, they supposedly are distracted from the work at hand. By having equal footing senators would be free to do the people’s work without having to raise funds.

The group of four is pitching this as merely $6 per taxpayer.

Oh, it is spun to be so reasonable-sounding.

This stifles free speech. Why shouldn’t Corzine be able to spend his own money to pitch his own ideas? While I would have a difficult time competing against him, if my ideas are good and I am a good leader, I should be able to raise enough cash to challenge him.

The argument that senators are distracted so cannot attend to the people’s business is ludicrous. In 1994 Republicans took control of Congress. Many of the freshmen ran on campaigns of serving one or two terms and getting out. Do you remember that, Mr. LoBiondo? You do not need to be distracted if you are not planning on running again.

Really, it is pathetic. The former senators are claiming they can’t do their jobs and need taxpayers to remedy the situation. Hogwash!

Senators could easily do their jobs by not kowtowing to special interest groups. Want to even the playing field? Kick the lobbyists out of the Capitol and pass a law that no lobbyist’s money can pay for any political campaigning. Furthermore, make it so the political parties cannot fund individual campaigns. Eliminating soft money will change the way campaigns are run.

But then again, the senators are too distracted from passing campaign finance reform.

Stalkers, Corzine, and Reasonableness

Carnival of the NJ Bloggers
Carnival of the NJ Bloggers

Let’s pretend for a moment that someone is stalking you. This person ends up breaking into your vehicle, sends threatening letters, and makes threats over the telephone.

The stalker is apprehended.

What do you want to see happen to the stalker? Would you ask a judge to order treatment for the stalker or would you want the stalker to contemplate what she has done while sitting behind iron bars?

Perhaps it is me, but I find it amazing that three people who were all harassed by the same person independently arrived at the conclusion she should have treatment and not jail time.

The prosecutor’s office recommended Golding for the program because “all three victims wanted the judge to order the defendant to receive treatment and counseling in this matter,” Executive Assistant Prosecutor Robert O’Leary said in a statement.

Hmmm . . . let’s see if I have this figured out correctly. Golding is a lobbyist. She has ties to Governor Corzine. So many ties that when she was pinched, she called him at Drumthwacket to bail her out. Corzine did just that as he produced $5000 to spring her.

The man Golding was stalking is state Assemblyman Joe Cryan, D-Union. Cryan is close to Corzine and is needed to pass legislation through the Assembly. We don’t know who the other two folks are, but I suspect they are staff members in the Legislature.

So, how do all three people independently arrive at wanting the judge to order treatment? I think it quite a coincidence to think that those decisions were arrived at independently.

If they were coerced, I sure would like to know who applied the pressure. This is one of those little things that seems to drag politicians down. Corzine admitted making a mistake bailing Golding out. As I said previously, I have no problem that he did. But if pressure was applied to have the victims ask for treatment rather than justice, then I think this a completely different kind of issue.

Do you think three people stalked by a woman would ask a judge to order treatment rather than jail? If you were the victim, would you ask for that?

Daily Journal Is Spot On

Carnival of the NJ Bloggers
Carnival of the NJ Bloggers

The headline of today’s Daily Journal editiorial sums up the issue well:

Unenforceable regulations are simply a waste

The other day I reported how it would soon be a crime for my daughter to feed the ducks in Vineland. That is her feeding the ducks at Giampetro Park. Here is a log from Grifftari for a cache he recently found in that park:

It has been quite awile since our last cache, but what a nice day it was today! We could not help stopping in and grabbing this one. Mostly we watched the parents with their children feed the ducks and remembering all the days the boys and I spent doing the same thing when they were younger! Thanks for the memories!

Hmmm . . . a regular guy visits the park with his family. He enjoys it and notices others enjoying it too. Yet, those others are criminals!

The time-honored tradition of feeding the ducks with your family has been criminalized. If there ever was an instance that government has intruded into our personal lives, this is it.

The Daily Journal concurs:

When regulations start making criminals of children whose only offense is feeding the ducks, it’s time to step back and think of more productive ways to protect our water.

The editorial continues:

If the intent of the regulations is to educate the public on how the state’s stormwater accounts for nearly 60 percent of water pollution and why it’s important to cut down on contaminants, then why not just do that with free educational forums and visits to classrooms to get this message out, instead of using this punitive charade that will only cause anxiety among the public and possible strife between neighbors?

And lest, dear reader, you think this is only Vineland going haywire, it is not. These regulations were passed to comply with New Jersey regulations governing all Garden State municipalities. Pretty soon Bloomfield, Princeton, Woodcliff Lake, and all those other towns will be criminalizing your youngsters too.

Regulations such as these are costly and have no teeth. Remember this at election time, dear reader. This kind of representation is pathetic!

Free Abbott?

Carnival of the NJ Bloggers
Carnival of the NJ Bloggers

They are not talking about emancipation. And there is nothing free about it.

This is the mentality in Abbott districts. Everyone thinks all the money for these programs is free. I attended a board of education meeting a few years ago when a board member stated that all the hirings, programs being added, etc. were free to the town’s taxpayers. Of course, there is no free lunch.

Roberto posted about murmurs of another property tax convention. While a convention brings along its own headaches, I am on board with Sharon with this. Let’s get the ball rolling. Three words are bankrupting our state. Re-word the constitution and the state can resume control from the legislating state supreme court.

Meanwhile, we can continue our “free” education.

Where Is It?

Perhaps I am missing something, but isn’t This Full House supposed to have posted the Carnival of the New Jersey Bloggers today? From the looks of things, The Thompsons have been on vacation for a week.

Oh well . . .

I hope everyone had a pleasant Easter. And if you haven’t finished your taxes, get crackin’.

And fortunately, today was not like 2003 when I proceeded to get stuck at 6:20 AM on Stokes Road and missed mass. That adventure was something trying to get to a new cache. Three years later, the new caches tend to be easier to get to and I had nary a scare this morning.

Budgets, Sales Tax, and a Challenge

Carnival of the NJ Bloggers
Carnival of the NJ Bloggers

There are rumblings from NJ Democrats that Governor Corzine’s proposed budget is about to hit a snag. Increasing the sales tax 16% as Corzine wants to do is likely to have consequences at re-election time. Democrats control the state Senate 22 to 18. With the Republicans lined up against the sales tax increase, all it will take to stop it are two rogue Democrats.

Today Sen. Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester is making noise. According to him this is going to be a hard sell.

Sweeney has asked Corzine’s administration to show him a budget plan that doesn’t include tax increases, even if that means deep budget cuts. Sweeney suggested cutting the budgets of all state departments and agencies by 10 percent.

This is exactly what needs to be going on. Last summer. This is what organizations do when money is tight. I work for an Abbott district. We are already preparing budgets for next year with 10% decreases in spending.

This is what has been troubling with Corzine’s budget. He has spoken about the hard choices and the massive cuts, but spending, if he gets his way, will rise 9.2%. That is not being responsible. That is not tightening the belt.

Now, I have no expectation that Sweeney and other Democrats will actually vote against the sales tax increase. But it is good to have the discussion and perhaps, just perhaps, the public will latch onto this and demand a responsible budget.

Enlighten highlights the same issue today as does Sharon at The Center of NJ Life. Sharon challenges us with a legitimate quest:

Let’s hear some plans for where you plan to get the money or what you want to cut, instead of just gripes.

As I highlighted before, there should be a 10% across the board cut in all departments. Enlighten has found $858.52 million to cut. But more to the point, allow me to highlight two areas that I have not heard discussed thus far: Schools Construction Corporation (SCC) and property tax rebates.

Schools Construction Corporation
Last August it was noted that the SCC had but $60 million left of the $8.6 billion it took from New Jersey taxpayers. This money was encumbered after the referenda held in September. There is no more money for this agency to squander. So, let’s close its doors today. The state can cut the checks to each district that is in the middle of construction. These districts have facilities managers on board. There is no reason for state oversight at this point. The districts can manage the projects from here on out. As Ken Adams has shown, the districts oversee these projects far more efficiently than the state does anyhow. I do not know what the budget is for the SCC and it is unlikely to significantly reduce the budget. Yet, this is exactly the kind of waste the governor promised to cut during the campaign.

The SCC is fraught with corruption and inefficiency. It squandered the taxpayers’ money miserably. Now there is nothing left. So, there is no reason to have the agency. Perhaps more money will eventually be appropriated to complete the job SCC did not get done. Should the state ever get to that point, we can re-visit how best to oversee those projects. Since the money should be provided with taxpayer approval, I suspect it will be a long time before we really need that conversation. In the meantime, the state can shorten its payroll, save adding to the pension system, and keep more off of the state medical benefits tab. There is no down side to this proposal for the state. So Sharon, let’s cut this agency.

Slippage/Property Tax Rebate
One of the central themes here at eCache is that of slippage. Slippage is a measure of the inefficiency of the system. Collecting money from taxpayers, putting it in the bank, hiring a department to then write checks back to the taxpayers to return these excess taxes in the name of property tax relief costs money. It is a sham; a system full of good feelings, but really accomplishes little.

Thus, I propose eliminating the rebate sham program.

Whatever department manages this program and money can be eliminated. Again, that money gets to come directly off the tab of the taxpayers. Just like the SCC, more state workers come off the rolls. Fewer pensions will be funded. Fewer medical benefits will be purchased. This is all good.

Some will ask what will happen to those tax dollars. That is a very good question. And that is something the governor will need to address. Once we get rid of the sham program, is there a defense to collecting these extra tax dollars? Perhaps a compromise can be found that the state can use those dollars this year for an equal cut in government spending elsewhere. I certainly would be willing to entertain that. Or perhaps the governor will need to confess that there isn’t a legitimate reason for the state to sit on our tax dollars only to spend money to return them to us at a later date.

Neither proposal will shrink state government enough. But both cuts exorcise waste from the public payroll.

The issue here is not that this is not enough but rather, why wouldn’t we want to cut these two departments?

Corzine Economy Is Tanking

Carnival of the NJ Bloggers
Carnival of the NJ Bloggers

The AP reported today that New Jersey’s economy is slowing.

New Jersey remains in the slowest expansion since World War II, said James W. Hughes, dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University.
“Our conclusion is that all the national statistics show that high-end corporate America is expanding quite briskly, but it is doing that expansion almost exclusively outside New Jersey,” Hughes said. “New Jersey has secured a reputation over the last four years of being a hostile place to do business.”

This is not surprising. Last month The Tax Foundation reported that the business climate in New Jersey is ranked 49th in the nation.

There does not appear to be relief in sight. Governor Corzine has proposed raising the state sales tax from six to seven percent. This will surely drive purchases across the bridges. Fewer purchases means less business in the state. The “revenue raisers” the governor looked at to prepare his budget were all about raising taxes and fees. Instead he should have been concentrating on re-defining the business climate. When business grows, so does state revenue. That should be done through tax volume increases, not tax percentage increases. Everyone wins when the economy is healthy. This is Economics 101, sir.

Look no further than sin taxes. Corzine has proposed big increases in cigarette taxes (whispers are it is not as large as he wanted). Yet, revenue collected from cigarettes will decrease (thanks, Enlighten). That is the nature of sin taxes. Governments keep raising taxes on these products to balance budgets for the public good and eventually the public stops using the product. Then the cash cow is gone.

There is not much promise in doing business in New Jersey (unless you sell insurance). Wasn’t Corzine touted as a man who would bring a businessman’s approach to Drumthwacket?

Forgotten Again

Carnival of the Forgotten Bloggers
Carnival of the Forgotten Bloggers

Sigh . . . another Carnival of the New Jersey Bloggers and another time eCache was not represented, despite having sent in a link. Apparently, there were issues with posting the Carnival this week. It is just amazing that my entry is the one that is left out every time something like this happens. Just amazing . . .

For those of you interested, I tried to highlight a new carnival (GeoCarnival) that I started the other day for GPS Games (geocaching, geodashing, Minute War, ShutterSpots, etc.).

Enjoy . . .