Friday
May112018

Did Jay Webber abandon Passaic County conservatives?

In Bergen County, conservative Steve Lonegan has a full slate of county candidates running against the dregs of the BCRO and its hapless leadership, led by Paulie "the hand" DiGaetano.  There is a weirdness within the Bergen County political establishment -- Democrats and Republicans -- in that they derive great pleasure by mimicking the folkways of a traditional Mediterranean criminal elite.  We don't get it, but it seems to turn them on.

 

Over in Essex County, Assemblyman Jay Webber has his own slate of county candidates.  Webber, who has taken the phrase "Reagan Republican" and made it his own, was expected to link up with Lonegan in Passaic County -- where they both faced the county machine.   Whether this "machine" is the remnants of the once powerful organization that totally dominated Passaic County or the reconstituted second coming of the same remains to be seen, but it is still formidable nonetheless.  And so it made all the sense in the world for the two conservatives to link up in common cause.

But in the rush towards the April 2nd filing deadline, they failed to agree on ballot slogan and Webber raised objections to some of those candidates recruited by Lonegan.  "It became the Jay show," said one conservative activist. 

Webber bracketed his campaign with that of Brian Goldberg, a candidate for U.S. Senate.  Goldberg is running as a fiscal and social conservative this year -- a curious conversion from the social liberalism he displayed when he ran for the same office in 2014.  Lonegan was left with the conservative insurgents running for county clerk and freeholder.  Essentially, Webber split the movement and cut the conservative insurgents off his ticket.

The only way the county-level conservative insurgency was going to have a chance at winning was to be led by well-financed conservative congressional candidates in districts 5 and 11.  They have Lonegan in District 5 -- but that is just two towns (Ringwood and West Milford).  Webber booted them from his ticket in District 11 -- that's eight towns (Bloomingdale, Little Falls, North Haledon, Pompton Lakes, Totowa, Wanaque, Wayne, and Woodland Park).

To give our readers an idea of what this did, here are two sample ballots, one from a Ringwood, in District 5, and the other from Wayne, in District 11...

Now imagine how strong the conservative ticket would have been if it had stretched from U.S. Senate down through Freeholder in ten of the county's sixteen towns?  Instead, those conservatives running on the county level found themselves cut-off Jay Webber's ticket, all but assuring their defeat in the June primary.

Was this an act of treachery on the part of Webber?  Does he have a deal with the party bosses in Passaic County?  Why assure the defeat of the conservative insurgents and the ensure the hegemony of the machine?

There are many questions here but sadly only one certainty:  A great opportunity was missed to build a conservative infrastructure in the Passaic GOP.

Thursday
May102018

Sabrin for Senate to start ad campaign next week

We've noticed a lot of movement in  the camp of Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Murray Sabrin.  The candidate, a professor of finance in the Anisfield School of Business at Ramapo College, indicated yesterday that the campaign's first radio ads should be airing next week. 

The Sabrin campaign is running on a platform that features the following: "100% tax credit for donations to houses of worship and nonprofits; end trickle down welfarism; abolish corporate welfare; end undeclared wars; stop the Fed's manipulation of interest rates; stop domestic spying."

Professor Sabrin recently wrote:  "I have been meeting voters throughout the state collecting signature with volunteers.  The issue that is resonating with voters across the political spectrum, 100% tax credit for donations to nonprofits and houses of worship."  

Dr. Sabrin offered this brief history lesson on the subject, by Dr. Walter E. Williams, the John M. Olin distinguished professor of economics at George Mason University, and a nationally syndicated columnist:

"Before the massive growth of our welfare state, private charity was the sole option for an individual or family facing insurmountable financial difficulties or other challenges. How do we know that?  There is no history of Americans dying on the streets because they could not find food or basic medical assistance. Respecting the biblical commandment to honor thy father and mother, children took care of their elderly or infirm parents. Family members and the local church also helped those who had fallen on hard times." 

Continue reading: 

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2018/05/walter-e-williams/before-and-after-welfare-handouts/ 

The Sabrin campaign recently released this video...

https://www.facebook.com/Sabrin4Senate/videos/vb.244280012410056/1009846632520053/?type=2&theater 

Murray Sabrin, Ph.D.

Libertarian Party US Senate nominee

www.SabrinforSenate.com 

Wednesday
May092018

Candidates say the darndest things.

Here is candidate for Congress John McCann, explaining how it works to an enraptured audience of YR's and others...

Wednesday
May092018

Ohio just voted to end gerrymandering. NJ can too.

How does a party that can win a statewide election by 20 points hold so few seats in the New Jersey Legislature?  The answer is gerrymandering, drawing district boundaries that favor one political party over another or, as is often the case, so that only one party can win.  

New Jersey Republicans could be competitive in at last ten more legislative districts if the district lines were drawn fairly.  Oh, and the guy who did the last bit of gerrymandering for the Democrats -- Bill Castner -- has just been rewarded with a job by Governor Phil Murphy as the state's new "gun czar."  Well, if he adjudicates on firearms the way he did on boundaries, there goes the Second Amendment to the Bill of Rights. 

But the good news is that Ohio just voted down gerrymandering.  The people did it.  They got tired of the Bill Castner-types and did something about it. 

This is a huge victory in the fight to end gerrymandering, stop political polarization, and give power back to the voters. Ohio is a center point of American politics, and one of the most gerrymandered states in the country. If the people can organize and pass a statewide law in Ohio, it can be done in New Jersey. 

Thousands of volunteers from the Fair Districts = Fair Elections coalition collected more than 200,000 signatures, which pressured the legislature to put gerrymandering on the ballot. Groups like Represent.Us got involved and its members joined the fight, hosting 23 phone banks to contact voters, joining forums, and reaching more than 100,000 people with a video about the problem of gerrymandering. 

This is just the first of five statewide gerrymandering campaigns that could pass this year. Here's a snapshot of the other four: 

  • In Michigan, thousands of volunteers in the Voters Not Politicians campaign gathered more than 425,000 signatures in less than four months to put a gerrymandering reform measure on the ballot this November.  
  • In MissouriRepresent.Us members joined volunteers and organizers in the Clean Missouri coalition to put gerrymandering reform on the ballot. Last Thursday, they submitted more than 345,000 signatures for a measure that will fix gerrymandering, ban lobbyist gifts to politicians, and increase transparency in state government. 
  • In Colorado, voters will have the opportunity to vote on a measure that would have a transparent and independent commission draw congressional and legislative lines, thanks to the hard bipartisan work of Fair Districts Colorado and People Not Politicians. The plan won unanimous support in the state Senate and House, and it will appear on the November ballot. 
  • In Utah, Better Boundaries submitted nearly 190,000 signatures in support of a ballot initiative to create a non-partisan redistricting commission to draw legislative, congressional and school board district lines. 

If you want to do something about gerrymandering, contact this website and we will put you in touch with the people who are working to make it happen:

Sussex County Watchdog

info@sussexcountywatchdog.com

Represent.Us is a good place to start.  You can check them out here:

                                                            https://represent.us/

Tuesday
May082018

Why are NJ property taxes the nation’s highest?

www.GardenStateFamilies.org

 

By William Eames

 

 

For many years, the Tax Foundation has listed New Jersey as having the nation’s highest property taxes. 

 [1]  Why are they so high?  And why do most folks believe they are powerless to do anything about it? 

      First, is it true?  NJ property taxes are higher, per capita, than others.  The Tax Foundation’s ratings[2] rank New Jersey #1 in the nation (highest property taxes per capita) for each of the past five years.

  • 2018:  NJ ranks #1 (highest) in property taxes; #50 (worst) in overall tax climate. (data from 2016)  For reference, in property taxes, California ranks 34th!

  • 2017:  NJ ranked #1 (data from 2015)[3]; In overall taxes, NJ Ranked 50th (worst).

  • 2016:  NJ ranked #1 (highest property taxes per capita)(data from 2014)[4]

  • 2015: NJ ranked #1 (highest property taxes per capita)(data from 2013)[5]

  • 2014:  NJ ranked #1 (highest property taxes per capita)(data from 2012)[6]

Seven Key Reasons 

      Most folks tend to blame our high property taxes on schools or the “Mount Laurel” school funding decisions by the courts.  But there are other causes.  Susan Livio of NJ Advance Media, writing last year for NJ.com[7], listed these:

  1. Our population density – of the states, NJ has the highest population density.[8]

  2. High labor costs – in the Industrial Era, it was demand that produced high labor costs, but during the Progressive Era and beyond, labor rules and guaranteed benefits have put us near the top.

  3. Generally high cost of living – The population density, proximity to both New York and Philadelphia, and demand for housing, utilities, high quality medical services … all boost costs.

  4. Property taxes pay most of the costs – While New Jersey taxes just about everything imaginable, it has historically grouped municipal operations, county operations, the lower courts, jails, and schools under the “property tax” umbrella.  In other states, some of those costs are paid by sales taxes or local income taxes.

  5. Home rule – This is a point of debate.  Some argue having 565 municipalities, 21 counties and 605 school districts increases costs; others argue that having decision makers close to the taxpayers (“we know where you live”) helps hold spending down. 

  6. Public worker pensions & health care costs – This is not in dispute.  The public policy decisions in the 1930s and 1940s to allow governments to offer defined benefit pensions and lifetime health benefits to public employees … and often keep those costs off budget … are now wreaking financial havoc.  Those policies allowed governments to skip putting money into pensions and health funds paycheck by paycheck, and allowed them to pass costs forward, only paying once folks retired.  Kick the can down the road.  This is changing slowly, but the damage of under-funding these programs may result in fiscal insolvency in the next decade.

  7. Education costs – New Jersey has good schools, based on the reports.  But it costs a lot to get those results, and decisions in the 1970s to significantly boost starting salaries boosted costs significantly.

A Deeper Look

      But if we take a deeper look, our position as one of the original colonies, as a center for the Industrial Revolution, and our dubious reputation for hosting several of the world’s most progressive liberals (think Woodrow Wilson) all play a role.  Consider:

  • In 1875, the 1844 NJ Constitution was amended by adding the infamous “thorough and efficient” clause:  “The [NJ] Legislature shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of free public schools for the instruction of all the children in this State between the ages of five and eighteen years.”  This obligation was carried forward, verbatim, into the 1947 rewrite of the NJ Constitution.  The intent was an outgrowth of this colony’s Quaker origins, and a recognition of the importance (as observed by Alexis de Tocqueville) of enabling each citizen to read.  At the time, the verbalized intent was for the State to pay education costs.  But almost immediately, the State began pushing those costs to towns.

  • New Jersey’s own Woodrow Wilson, - as president of Princeton University, then as governor of NJ, 1911-1913, then as President – brought us Progressive policies and liberal labor benefits.  (Including but not limited to labor agreements as policy, like project labor agreements and arbitration, creation of the NJEA and other ‘mandated fee’ associations.)

  • In 1947, New Jersey’s Constitution was radically revised.[9]  The process was steered by self-admitted progressives within the legal and court system, who openly bragged of their desire for independence for the Courts and of their Progressive leadership and insight.  Chief among the revisions was a complete reorganization of the judicial branch, abolishing the state’s former judicial system and its replacement with an entirely new and independent judicial structure.  Heavily influenced by a well-known and politically powerful attorney named Arthur Vanderbilt, by 1950 the NJ Supreme Court had proclaimed itself as having the exclusive authority to control its own affairs, to interpret the NJ Constitution and to exercise unprecedented new rule-making powers “not subject to overriding legislation.”

 

  As Chief Justice, Vanderbilt wrote more than 200 opinions, always advocating for a living/breathing judicial system not bound by past precedent or “old” legal doctrines, but one that was responsive to society’s contemporary needs.  That legacy includes court rule-making such as the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) and the Abbott school district funding issues.

  • In 1972, a group of enterprising attorneys, urban school districts and cities sued the State and Gov. Cahill[10], alleging that the State’s system of funding free public schools was unconstitutional, namely, whether the equal protection and education clauses of the State Constitution were being violated by New Jersey's statutory financing scheme.[11]  According to the court, the argument was that the then-current system of financing public education in New Jersey relied heavily on local property taxes, producing wide disparities in educational expenditures.  The plaintiffs contended that public school education is a state function which must be afforded to all pupils on equal terms. But the state was funding districts on a formula basis that was not “full” funding – forcing each town to tax property to make up the difference (sometimes nearly 80% of the school budget). Thus, actual spending per pupil varied significantly, which they argued violated the “thorough and efficient” clause, as well as the “equal protection” clause of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment. The Court used statistics to document “a distinct pattern in every county in the State. In most cases, rich districts spend more money per pupil than poor districts,” and argued that “most of the poorer communities must serve people of greater need because they have large numbers of dependent minorities.” The Court ruled that “The Education Clause was intended to do what it says, that is, to make it a state legislative obligation to provide a thorough education for all pupils wherever located.” 

    In the 1975 Robinson v. Cahill decision, New Jersey’s Supreme Court began to exercise “the unprecedented new rule-making powers not subject to overriding legislation” that it had given itself through interpretation of the 1947 Constitution. The Court said, “each child in the State has the right to an educational program geared to the highest level he is capable of achieving, permitting him to realize his highest potential as a productive member of society.” It also said, “that pupils of low socio-economic status need compensatory education [greater funding than others] to offset the natural disadvantages of their environment.” … “Providing free education for all is a state function. It must be accorded to all on equal terms,” the Court said.

   The conclusion was, “The State must finance a "thorough and efficient" system of education out of state revenues raised by levies imposed uniformly on taxpayers of the same class.”  The Legislature and Governor were directed to come up with a new tax plan to equally fund the education of every student.  They didn’t.

  • By 1985, the inequities had not been resolved, and a new lawsuit was filed, “Abbott v. Burke”.  This time, the Court named 28 specific school districts (commonly called “Abbott districts”[12]) “that were provided remedies [by the court] to ensure that their students receive public education in accordance with the state constitution.”

  • In 1990, another lawsuit was filed which became known as “Abbott II”.  The Court ordered the state to fund the (then) 28 Abbott districts at the average level of the state's wealthiest districts.

A Wikipedia article[13] summarizes in this way:  

Abbott districts are school districts in New Jersey covered by a series of New Jersey Supreme Court rulings, begun in 1985, that found that the education provided to school children in poor communities was inadequate and unconstitutional and mandated that state funding for these districts be equal to that spent in the wealthiest districts in the state.

The Court, in Abbott II and in subsequent rulings, ordered the State to assure that these children receive an adequate education through implementation of certain reforms, including standards-based education supported by parity funding. It added various supplemental programs and school facilities improvements, including to Head Start and early education programs.

      In the time since these decisions, many structural changes have been made, and vast amounts of public money have been spent.  But property taxes remain the highest in the nation, most funding from schools is still from the property tax, and school funding is anything but “equal.”

      Finally, Federal tax policy that favored a few “high cost” states, allowing them to write off property taxes against federal income tax obligations, allowed a few states including New Jersey to skirt responsibility for their spending.  There are arguments on both sides of the recent tax changes that took this write-off away, but while it lasted, it gave New Jersey towns the ability to spend more while lessening the threat of taxpayer revolt.

Why do most folks believe they are powerless to do anything about high property taxes?

      Many citizens say they’re not actively engaging in policy issues because they’re too busy and stressed from all the obligations of living in such an intense part of the country.  While we’re all stressed, in my experience, it would be more accurate to say the obstacle is that they’ve never gotten involved.  That’s not a criticism, but an observation.  When we run orientations, or take “newbies” to a public meeting or to a legislative hearing, they often report that it wasn’t intimidating at all. 

      Many volunteer to go to another, or to several, because the “live action” beats television any day of the week … and there are no commercials.

      This, however, is very serious business, with very serious consequences for Christians, Jews, and ordinary citizens.  That’s because those who can gain from the favors of legislators work every day to assure their future economic benefit.  More often, these days, their efforts also restrict our freedoms.

      Want some fun?  Research the origin of this quote:  “If not us, who?; If not now, when?”  But it deserves some really serious consideration.  “Politics” is the civil side of policy.  You can be absolutely certain of another quote by Edmund Burke:  “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”  You can rest assured that evil men are active.

      The Center for Garden State Families is a starting point.  But a few active citizens isn’t enough.  Emails to legislators are good, but they’re not enough.  A check for $25 is good, but it isn’t enough.

      Get involved.  No experience necessary.

      God Bless.

# # # 

[1] The Tax Foundation, Tax Foundation

[2] The Tax Foundation, 2018 Facts & Figures

[3] The Tax Foundation, 2017 Facts & Figures 

[4] The Tax Foundation, 2016 Facts & Figures 

[5] The Tax Foundation, 2015 Facts & Figures 

[6] The Tax Foundation, 2014 Facts & Figures

[7]see http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2017/02/7_reasons_why_njs_property_taxes_are_highest_in_us.html

[8] see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_and_territories_by_population_density 

[9] see https://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/courts/supreme/vm/vanderbilt.html 

[10] Robinson v. Cahill litigation 

[11] see https://law.justia.com/cases/new-jersey/appellate-division-published/1972/118-n-j-super-223-0.html

[12] see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abbott_district

[13] see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abbott_district

 

*Mr. Eames has worked as an instructor for the Center for Self Governance and has been a candidate for NJ Senate, LD 27.  He has served as CEO of the New Jersey Tooling & Manufacturing Association and the Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce.

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