Andover Twp picks fight with Governor

Facebook is the destroyer of political careers -- and it just isn't those politicians who use it to advertise their private parts.  For every Congressman Weiner there is a Committeeman John Jack Burke, a guy who takes up some issue and goes off half-cocked on Facebook, and only afterwards collects together a reason -- or an excuse -- for doing so. 


John Jack or, rather, Mr. Burke, is a corporate factotum who was elected to the Andover Township Committee in 2014.  His method of covering up his Facebook faux pas is to implicate his entire Township -- its committee and people -- in an uninformed pissing contest with the Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie.  Oh, and by the way, he also managed to put Andover Township on record as pissing on the Speaker of the Assembly, the Republican Leader of the Assembly, the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, the New Jersey Association of Counties, and the New Jersey League of Municipalities. 


Committeeman Burke or John Jack or... whatever he calls himself, doesn't like the gas tax.  Hey, nobody does.  New Jersey has kept its tab on an open credit card since 1988 just to avoid raising the gas tax.  When states like Pennsylvania raised their gas tax to 50 cents a gallon to pay for their roads and bridges, New Jersey kept it right at 14 1/2 cents and put the rest on the credit card -- and kept right on doing it for three decades. 


Think of it this way:  The same burger that cost you a $1.70 in 1988 now costs over $5.00.  Just try buying food for your family at 1988 prices and see how far you get.  Why should roads be any different? 


Nobody faults Committeeman Burke for opposing higher taxes.  Opposing taxation is a very Republican thing to do.  We just wish that more Republicans would oppose spending as well. That's the problem with so many suburban Republicans.  They always want more -- but never want to pay for it. 


What we fault Committeeman Burke for is not telling the truth.  You see, Committeeman Burke talked the other people in Andover Township's local government into attacking Governor Chris Christie for his proposal "to increase the gas tax by $0.23 per gallon."


But that's not true.  That's not the Governor's proposal.  And people who purport to represent a town as upwardly mobile as Andover Township should have the brain power to know that it's not true. 


You see, state legislation isn't some words that the town committee of Andover Township throws together and then imposes on both chambers of the Legislature.  Legislation can only be proposed by members of the Legislature who have been elected by the people of their districts.  Committeeman Burke should try running and find out.  That's how it works. 


The legislation in question is a bill called A-12.  Yes, it does contain a 23-cents per gallon increase in the gasoline tax, as well as a 1 percent cut in the sales tax, and the elimination of taxes on retirement income for more than 80 percent of retirees.  As members of a T-O-W-N committee, the voters have not given you the authority to split this legislation.  You support A-12 or you oppose it -- the whole thing.  And you live with that.  That is the honest way.


The dishonest way is to act as though legislators can vote for part of it and then against another part.  That is misleading.   


But what is more  disconcerting is the juvenile way in which this handjobbery was conducted.  Andover Township is very fortunate to have a member of the Legislature as both a resident and a former mayor and township committeewoman.  As far as we know, all the members of the Andover Committee are Republicans. 


Now we all know that John Jack jumped the gun and started spraying on Facebook, but a more adult crowd would have contained his juvenile urge and then would have brought their concerns face-to-face to make strong and reasoned arguments against this proposal supported by the Governor, the Assembly Speaker, and the Republican Assembly Leader.  Unlike most towns, you actually have a legislator in your town to facilitate it. 


Instead, by appearing to be afraid of making your arguments face-to-face, and then by misrepresenting the legislation, you strike a dubious, dishonest pose.  It is as if you dare not make your case face-to-face for fear it will be refuted.


Be honest, be forthright, make your case.  Republican-to-Republican.  Face-to-face.