Before getting to a review of the first ever set of GASB 68 reports for New Jersey, a little break as I use this blog as a file cabinet for interesting excerpts from books read (in this case But Enough About Me by Burt Reynolds) and look back at the year of my other life – watchdogging Union County government – as eloquently summarized by Bruce Paterson:
Archive for the ‘Union County Government’ Category
Local governments are piling up debt at such an alarming pace that this blogger called it the next crisis “nobody saw coming”.
New Jersey put a cap on the amount local governments can raise by taxation so to keep their gravy trains fueled at least one local government has taken to bonding to make up the difference and nobody with any oversight capacity seems to care. State governments, accountants, rating agencies, and the media all do not want to see the crisis because that would not be to their advantage.
Free lunches exist for people who deserve them (and one or two who don’t) but would those people, especially the children, appreciate it more if they had to pay a nominal fee so they don’t come to understand that there will always be a free lunch available?
That was the point made by a speaker at last night’s Union County freeholder meeting and it was met with:
Half the sorrows of the world, I suppose, are caused by making false assumptions.
H. L. Mencken; Selected Prejudices, page 78
The Christie-Freeze roadmap to pension reform in New Jersey breaks down to three steps with the first two both necessary and possible:
- Get rid of the defined benefit concept with the state picking up the $200 billion shortfall which they will get from….
- Moving the cost of teacher pensions and health benefits back to the localities who will pick up the $200 billion needed from…..
- Saving on the cost of health benefits for their employees.
Yes defined benefit plans need to go away for public sector employees since politicians and their enablers will always underfund them. Likewise localities should be picking up all costs for their school districts rather than negotiating benefits that oblige income-tax payers.
But believing that local governments will generate their $200 billion to kick off this process by a combination of higher employee contributions and instituting wellness programs is nuts. There is a better way.
There apparently is now a state investigation and $11,000 to be repaid and MY9 is still chasing and coming up with Linda Stender intimidating the Habitat for Humanity folks and ratting out her husband to Jerry Green:
Neil Cohen, Joe Cryan, and now Linda Stender. Are there any depths of depravity to which our elected representatives in this county will not sink to embarrass their constituents?
Politicians occasionally take on the responsibility of developing the economy of the region they are supposed to govern as if that were in the job description. It’s not. The job of government is delineated (policing, cleaning streets, etc.) and if those jobs get done well then the economy will develop naturally.
However ‘economic development’, with the broad interpretations possible for that term, allow far more flexibility in the political-payback game. For example, you could give a no-bid contract to a non-profit which provides employment to political operatives and does nothing beyond mailing out a campaign flyer twice a year. That is exactly what has been going on with the Union County Alliance for years and today the Office of the State Comptroller called them out.
It’s that time of year again when elected officials who are also government employees and in the New Jersey retirement system look over the smorgasbord of benefits available to them and chow down.
Linden will get a new mayor tomorrow who today is also a county employee but is now having second thoughts about a campaign promise he made to leave that job according to an nj.com story: