Combs Spouts Off

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Posts Tagged ‘new jersey’

New Jersey legislators take on TSA

Posted by Richard on November 17, 2010

Here is the press conference held by a bipartisan group of New Jersey legislators challenging the constitutionality, efficacy, safety, and decency of TSA's back-scatter radiation scanners and "enhanced" pat-downs (a.k.a. gropings). They were joined by the New Jersey ACLU.


[YouTube link]

From their press release

Senator Michael J. Doherty (R- Hunterdon, Warren) and Senator James Beach (D- Camden) announced they will present resolutions to the Senate and Assembly calling on the U.S. Congress to end TSA screening procedures requiring full body scans and pat downs at U.S. airports Their action comes in response to widespread concerns over privacy and radiation, as well as reports of inappropriate conduct by TSA agents during the screening process. 

“The pursuit of security should not force Americans to surrender their civil liberties or basic human dignity at a TSA checkpoint,” said Doherty. “Subjecting law-abiding American citizens to naked body scans and full body pat downs is intolerable, humiliating, vulnerable to abuse, and is fast becoming a disincentive to travel. Particularly concerning to us is the fact that physical searches result in children being touched in private areas of the body. Terrorists hate America because of the freedoms upon which this great nation was built. By implementing these screening measures, the TSA has already handed a victory to those who seek to destroy our freedoms.”

Senator Doherty was joined at a State House press conference announcing the resolution by Senator Diane Allen (R- Burlington), American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey Executive Director Deborah Jacobs, and Assembly members Erik Peterson, Alison McHose, John DiMaio, and Valerie Vanieri Huttle.

Read the whole thing. Bravo, New Jersey legislators!

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Christie: “Let me help you pack”

Posted by Richard on November 16, 2010

The Parsippany-Troy Hills (NJ) Board of Education recently voted to renew Superintendent LeRoy Seitz's contract well ahead of its expiration next summer. The board and Seitz negotiated the deal now so that Seitz, whose base salary is $212,000 ($242,000 total last year), would be exempt for the next five years from the Christie administration's salary cap plan (most local school district funding comes from the state, including chief administrators' pay). 

In addition to a base salary far above the $175,000 cap, an immediate $4,220 raise, and 2% increases each year for five years, Seitz's contract provides for a $5,000 "stipend," a 15% bonus, travel expenses, 24 vacation days, 15 sick days, 3 personal leave days, paid membership in two professional organizations, expenses paid for two conferences per year, a cell phone, and a laptop computer.  

The story of the board meeting and local citizens' angry protestations is a fascinating read. But the money quote, as usual lately in New Jersey stories, came from Gov. Chris Christie (emphasis added): 

The day before the meeting Seitz is quoted in the Daily Record as saying, "Because of the proposed salary caps, I have to look at my future and the financial welfare of my family. I certainly would have options if I didn't feel the compensation in this district, or New Jersey, is appropriate."

The governor reacted to Seitz's veiled threats to leave New Jersey and go to a nearby state where there is no state salary. "I will say in response to Mr. Seitz, 'Let me help you pack.' We have real problems in our state that we have to fix and we don't have the time, nor the money, nor the patience any longer for people who put themselves before our citizens," Christie railed.

(Half a HT to Veronique de Rugy , who quoted the story without linking to it, so I had to track it down myself.)

Here's a must-see video of Gov. Christie addressing a town hall meeting and calling out Seitz by name, demonstrating that he's learned Saul Alinsky's 12th rule for radicals (it must really stick in the craw of leftists to see people like Christie turn their own tactics against them): 


[YouTube link]

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A tale of two governors

Posted by Richard on July 20, 2010

I supported the successful gubernatorial campaigns of both New Jersey's Chris Christie and Virginia's Bob McDonnell. I'll support the former again in the future. But not the latter. Both governors are Republicans who claim to be fiscal conservatives, and both came into office facing budget crises. The difference in how they handled them is highly instructive, and it's a reminder that there's still plenty of rotten fruit in the GOP barrel.

Gov. Christie faced an $11 billion budget deficit, and all the powers that be in both parties declared that closing it would require a combination of "painful" cuts and tax increases (ever notice that tax increases are never described as "painful"?). Christie would have none of it. He insisted that the people of New Jersey were already overtaxed. He took on the teachers, firefighters, and police, among others, challenging their generous pensions, pay, and other benefits. He vetoed every tax increase the Democratic legislature sent him. He faced down the special interests, entrenched bureaucrats, and career pols. The result? He's immensely popular, and his balanced budget passed virtually unchanged. It's the lowest state budget in four years. 

Now, Christie is pushing a Constitutional limit on property tax increases (he's highly likely to win this fight, too). And his next big push will be for major public employee pension reforms. Christie is uncompromising, true to his word, and refreshingly direct and honest. Scores of YouTube videos of him at public appearances, addressing the legislature, etc., make it clear why some people are calling him a political "rock star." Here's a recent interview with Paul Gigot.


[YouTube link]

Meanwhile, in Virginia, Gov. McDonnell faced a $1.8 billion budget deficit. He recently crowed about turning it into a $220 million surplus. Did he, too, stare down the special interests and big-spending pols? Did he, too, cut spending by 10%? Um, apparently not. Apparently McDonnell's approach was more "go along to get along," and the surplus is being called a fraud.

It seems that McDonnell balanced the budget by borrowing from the pension fund. And by forcing retailers to remit sales taxes for July in June, before they'd even begun to collect them. And by raising taxes on manufacturers and increasing a plethora of "fees."

So, about that $220 million surplus — surely, the guv used it to partially repay the pension fund (since unlike Christie, he doesn't seem inclined to take on a pension reform battle). Or maybe he set it aside to cover the lack of sales tax revenue in July of the new fiscal year. Or maybe he just saved it for a rainy day, since Virginia's tax revenues are still declining.

None of the above. He immediately spent it:

McDonnell told a news conference that the money will go to a $82 million, 3 percent one-time bonus for state employees, to local school divisions, to the Water Quality Improvement Fund and to the transportation trust fund. 

I'd like to see Chris Christie become President. And I'd like to see Bob McDonnell recognized as the poster child for what's wrong with the Republican Party. 

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Gov. Christie: This is the fight we have to win for our kids

Posted by Richard on June 8, 2010

Every time I see a video of or read a statement by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, I like him better. In this 4:42 clip from a town hall meeting, he talks about the teachers' union. I love the schoolyard bully metaphor.


[YouTube link]

Nice rhetoric, you say, but what specifically is Christie doing? Glad you asked. In "The Reform Agenda: Changing Course in N.J.," Christie described the state's monumental fiscal crisis, which had been years in the making (state spending growing at double-digit annual rates for decades; 116 tax increases in nine years). Then he outlined his reform proposal. It consists of constitutional caps on property tax increases and discretionary spending, accompanied by a comprehensive set of legislative reforms on collective bargaining, civil service, health care, education, and pensions. 

That bold and broad reform proposal follows putting together a budget that cuts state spending by over a third. And by all accounts, Christie is remarkably popular. I hope he serves as an example for other state leaders around the country on how to restore fiscal responsibility and tackle tough problems instead of kicking them down the road. 

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Best damn governor in America

Posted by Richard on May 15, 2010

Chris Christie has been governor of New Jersey for less than four months, and he's already said and done more good things than any other governor in America. I made some modest contributions to his campaign, and I think they may be the wisest political contributions I've made in years.

Is it too soon to talk about Christie for President? Some people don't think so —  there's already a "Chris Christie for President in 2012" Facebook group. That may be a stretch, but I think Christie has a future in national politics. At least, I hope he does. 

In the following video, Christie responds to a reporter's snarky question about Christie's "confrontational tone." His reply is priceless. Keep your eye on the fellow behind and to the left of Christie — he really enjoyed it. 


[YouTube link]

If you have time, check out some of the other Christie videos, too, like his appearances on Fox & Friends, Morning Joe, and with Don Imus. And by all means, read George Will's profile of the Governor. Christie is a breath of fresh air in the fetid landscape of American politics.

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