Losing Watchdogs

Into a dancer you have grown
From a seed somebody else has thrown
Go on ahead and throw some seeds of your own
And somewhere between the time you arrive and the time you go
May lie a reason you were alive but you’ll never know

Jackson Browne – For a Dancer

The new year finds us with two fewer government watchdogs.

In an email blast to his followers last month Mark Lagerkvist announced:

New Jersey Watchdog got whacked! My five-year tenure as its one and only reporter now sleeps with the fishes in the Hudson River.

Effective Dec. 3, my contract ended with Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, the news site’s non-profit owner.

It was a great run.  NJ Watchdog led the way in exposing double-dipping, disability scams and other abuses that left New Jersey with a pension and benefits deficit nearing $200 billion.

NJ Watchdog also took on the hypocrisy of Chris Christie.  We exposed the cost of his political ambitions to New Jersey taxpayers – and we beat him in court three times to win the release of public records his administration wanted to hide.

Last year, NJ Watchdog was named the state’s best independent news site by the New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists.  Our investigative stories on Christie and pension abuses also won back-to-back New York Press Club Awards for political reporting.  Our work was often featured by television, newspapers and other news outlets throughout the state and nation.

While I say farewell to my NJ Watchdog alter ego, it’s not goodbye to New Jersey journalism.  This investigative hound has a future filled with new tricks.

Meanwhile, you can find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Mark-Lagerkvist-Jerseys-Watchdog-601229296697490/ – and reach me by email at Mark@Lagerkvist.net.

The Franklin Center, according to their latest 990 form, gets about $10 million in donations annually to spread the philosophy of their donors through channels like njwatchdog.org which, via Mark Lagerkvist, carried a number of stories on New Jersey pensions, most involving double-dipping, that planted some seeds in the public mind.

With the mainstream media unable (or unwilling) to focus on relevant topics we are often left to ferret out information on our own or with the help of a very few.  Mark Lagerkvist was, for me, one of the few*. He will be missed.




* Yes there is a second watchdog we are losing but since that mass email has not come out yet I will simply say ‘thank you’ for your seed.

13 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Anonymous on January 5, 2016 at 7:45 pm

    John why are we speaking about anything to do with pensions in NJ. In 2011 Christie said we would thanking him for saving the pensions. Didnt he say that?


    • The notes are in the mail:


    • Posted by Tough Love on January 5, 2016 at 10:54 pm

      Quoting …. “why are we speaking about anything to do with pensions in NJ. In 2011 Christie said we would thanking him for saving the pensions.”

      Why ? Because:

      (a) ALL politicians lie

      (b) Anyone with any financial acumen knew that the 2011 CH78 charges were WOEFULLY inadequate (with NOTHING but the COLA suspension providing any material savings over the next 20 years) and that to TRULY address the pension mess, we need to:
      (i) FREEZE the current DB pension of all current workers … zero FUTURE service accruals
      (ii) Reduce the Taxpayer subsidy towards Active-worker healthcare costs by 50%
      (iii) Reduce the Taxpayer subsidy towards Retiree healthcare costs by 100% …. yup, that’s what Taxpayers typically get from THEIR employers …. NOTHING.
      (iv) Very likely reduce PAST service accruals by 50% ….. STILL leaving Public Sector workers with pensions of greater value upon retirement than almost all comparable Private Sector workers.


      EQUAL …. but NOT better.


  2. Posted by skip3house on January 5, 2016 at 7:48 pm

    Sorry. Need more, not less! What of cruel regressive school property tax being completely replaced by increased NJ Income Tax? This would tax just wealth, as bank robber Willie S.might have said. Why no graphs showing effects to income brackets, remembering mean is 50K, and average is $80K income. Using ~$80K, and just school prop tax ($5K), example shows a net decrease of $3K in taxes. Try your own. Figure double income tax rate, or much less if just homes are involved.


    • Posted by Tough Love on January 5, 2016 at 8:06 pm

      No ……..

      How about NEITHER tax being increased, and instead reneging on the grossly excessive Public Sector pension & benefit promises ………. fraudulently granted by NJ’s elected officials whose favorable votes (on Public Sector pay, pensions, and benefits) were BOUGHT with Public Sector Union campaign contributions and election support ?


  3. Posted by MJ on January 7, 2016 at 5:15 pm

    Perhpas Mark Lagerkvist can start a NJ watchdog blog of his own. Wonder how much that foundation was paid by the corrupt NJ politicians to get rid of him.


  4. Posted by MJ on January 9, 2016 at 5:12 pm

    Interestingly, I just read an article somewhere that CO is trying to ban watchdog.org and not issue press credentials. Hmmmmm they really don’t want us knowing what is going on now do they?


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