I Have a Gripe

June 17, 2011

Christie and Sweeney: Shame on You Both

As Governor Christie and NJ State Senator Sweeney made a deal with the Devil, I submitted yet another letter to both of them. I wanted to share it with my readers…

June 16, 2011

In regards to: Subject: Teacher’s Pension & Health Benefit Legislation

Governor Chris Christie

State Senate President Sweeney

Gentlemen:

I have contacted your office via email and phone several times in the past to express my frustration regarding this constant assault on teachers and their pension and health benefits. I am writing again to voice my outrage.

I am the proud wife of a 24-year band director. He became a teacher for all the right reasons – to give back, to influence the lives of youngsters, and to share his love of music with others. He has successfully taught thousands of students not just how to play an instrument and appreciate music, but what it takes to be a good citizen and adult. It is also worth noting he is not one of those “80K a year teachers” you hear about on the news.

This constant barrage “on union leadership” as I often hear you say Governor, has certainly trickled down and has turned into an “us vs. them” argument. Many people already have a negative opinion of teachers. You have certainly added to that negativity. And for the record, I voted for you. I believed you when I thought you were going to make positive changes on the state’s school system. In my opinion, your changes are far from positive. You should really try reading the bully legislation you signed into law, because that is exactly what you have become.

Today, teachers are much more than teachers. They are counselors, pastors, and sadly, all too often, parents. Add to that list since Columbine, police, hostage negotiators, and body guards. When I was a child, I was told the three safest places I could be were home, school and church. Now, that is far from reality.

You want the best and brightest to be teachers in order to continue the high performance of New Jersey’s students. With your constant barrage, why would anyone want to become a teacher? Being a teacher is not the easy job many believe it is. The teachers I know spend a sizable amount of their own money on school supplies, endless hours preparing lessons, tutoring students and being active participants in their communities. This battle of yours has put neighbor against neighbor.

What I would like to see is the state government acknowledge that the reason the pension system is having financial trouble is because politicians have been using that system as their own personal piggy bank. That would be a good place to start. Next, I would like to see those politicians fix this without hurting those who had nothing to do with the problem being affected.

I would also like to know why there is such outrage about limiting healthcare options on the federal level through “Obamacare” by the GOP (my party, by the way), when you, Governor Christie, are trying to do the exact same thing to teachers? According to what I have read, there is even a limitation in the proposed legislation that you will limit the ability to seek medical treatment outside New Jersey. We live across the river from some of the finest medical institutions in the world and we wouldn’t be able to do whatever would be necessary if my husband or I was ill? I wonder how Senator Lautenberg would feel about that, given his insistence on going to New York for his cancer treatment.

I would like to know if either of you have ever gone to a school and watched first-hand what teachers do everyday. No cameras, no entourage, nothing. Just you, teachers and students. I would like to see you really understand what a teacher does on a day-to-day basis. My hope is that you would have more respect for what they do and change this from an assault to a conversation.

Shame on you both.

June 3, 2011

Christie and the Chopper…Ahhh, the Hypocrisy!

This week, a story surfaced that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie used a State Trooper Chopper, not once, but twice, to see his son play in a baseball game. There are multiple levels of hypocrisy here.

First, and most obvious, is the so-called champion of eliminating waste in government spending using a state chopper as his own personal joy ride. What is even more ridiculous is that a car took the Governor and his wife 100 yards to the bleachers after they got out of the chopper. In my opinion, this is the ultimate “I’m the Gov. and I don’t care what you think” moment.

Second, I find it fascinating that he has his son enrolled in a private school (Delbarton). Now, as a parent, you absolutely have the right to place your child wherever you think is appropriate. More often than not, however, politicians have their children enrolled in public school to show they have a belief in the public school system. Well, it is no secret Governor Christie has absolutely zero respect for the work teachers do. Yes, I know; “it’s not the teachers he hates, it’s the union.” What I say to that is it all rolls downhill. His negativity towards unions is easily picked up by many of the masses and spreads to the overall opinion of teachers at large and for quite a while, he really didn’t distinguish between the union and the teachers.  But, hey, if you have $26,500 a year to spend on tuition for Delbarton…

Finally, what bugs me the most is his lack of understanding that this was completely offensive to the public at large. I mean, can I borrow the chopper to drop in on my niece’s spring concert? Must be nice to have that at your beck and call. He has agreed to pay for the use of the chopper, not because he understands it was wrong, but to get the press and his constituents off his back.

Maybe the Governor should try going back to school himself and try to learn about responsibility and economics again, among other subjects.

May 3, 2011

Two Words: Thank You

Less than 24 hours ago we heard of the death of Usama bin Laden by special ops, including Seal Team Six. This is something Americans, as well as many around the world, have wait to hear for a long time.

First, I want to thank…

The Intel community for their relentless pursuit of this piece of trash.

Presidents Obama and Bush for continuing to support this pursuit and for President Obama having the guts to give the OK to proceed.

Our military, and our special forces for taking on this mission and carrying out it flawlessly. We will never know who you are because of the type of work you do, but I hope you know you have the profound thanks of a grateful nation.

To those who have suffered at the hand of this monster, you have my profound sympathies. I know this will never bring your loved one back, but I hope this helps you move forward a little.

What I would really like to know is how this piece of dung could be hiding in plain sight in Pakistan less than 50 miles from this nation’s capital? Anyone want to riddle me that Batman? And why are we giving them aid? I say it is time to cut them loose. The Pakistani government has been talking out of both sides of their collective mouth for years. Oh yeah, that’s how an ally works.

Time for us to stop being everyone’s sucker and be the great nation we are!

April 8, 2011

If I Controlled the Federal Budget…

So yet again, we sit and watch the children down in D.C. fight over spending, saving and the federal budget, real people understand what is involved in living within a budget. We all talk about “if I controlled the budget, I would do THIS.” So, here is the way I would control spending and the federal budget.

First, cut financial support for the following: Planned Parenthood, NPR, National Endowment for the Arts and ALL earmarks. If a project or plan needs funding, it should be able to stand on its own merit instead of being snuck in without notice.

Next, if an individual is in need of a program like Welfare, Food Stamps, WIC, etc., you need to show positive proof you are here legally. This will cut down on those who shouldn’t be here fraudulently taking advantage of a system in place for those at risk.

Third, change how Social Security is managed. You only get back what you pay in. You get one lump sum, tax free, at age 65. Period. If you didn’t work and didn’t pay into the system, you get nothing. Again, you need to show proof positive who you are in order to prevent fraud and identity theft. If you decide to work after age 65, Social Security will not be taken out of your paycheck.

Eliminate Obama’s so-called “health care reform.” Allow people to purchase across state lines and let the market set the rates. Let’s face it; if the feds can’t manage Medicare, how will they manage health care?

Secure the borders and deport all illegal immigrants. Now you may be asking what this has to do with the budget. Well, we spend billions on policing, arresting and housing illegals in jail. They enroll their children in our public schools and fraudulently collect entitlements. They cost us money. We would save money by securing our borders and shipping them back.

If you collect Welfare, you should “pay back” eight hours of work time for each week of entitlement you collect. This time could go to help out in their local community, such as working in the public library or planting flowers in a park.

Most importantly, move to a flax tax. This way everyone pays their fair share. Besides, if Timothy Geithner and Charles Rangel can’t pay their taxes properly, what chance do we mere mortals have? Yes, that was meant to be sarcastic.

One important change I believe should take place is that if a government shutdown takes place, military should be paid. Period. Right now, if the government shuts down, they aren’t paid. These individuals are putting their lives on the line and their families struggle without them. The very least we can do is make sure they are properly paid.

Well, there’s my “off the top of my head” list on how I would handle spending and the federal budget. What would you do?

March 11, 2011

Wayne, Flooding and Taxes

Filed under: Finances,government,Manipulation,New Jersey — alvb1227 @ 1:39 am

So as I sit here with my laptop listening to the pounding rain, I decided to check out the weather coverage on NJ.com. I came across the following caption:

“Paula Bush who has lived on Hobson Ave. in Wayne since the 1950’s crossing the avenue to check her brother’s house. They are hoping to have their houses bought out so they can relocate. Flooding along Hobson Ave. in Wayne, NJ, along the Passaic River. (Aristide Economopoulos/The Star-Ledger)”

I almost choked.

I remember reading awhile back about potential buyouts for Wayne and was able to find that article on NorthJersey.com and I am just as sick now as I was the first time I read it. I even did a blog post about it awhile back.

Now, I do feel bad for those who suffer through these floods year after year, however, everyone in Jersey knows that Wayne is the state’s flood capital. If you were stupid enough to buy a house in a flood zone, especially in Wayne, then I’m sorry, but you get what you deserve. Why should we as tax payers buy you out? Everyone is screaming about wasteful spending. Well, this is wasteful spending.

These are not people who suffered through a freak flood. We are talking about homes that flood year after year after year. I remember as a kid going to the Willowbrook Mall and watching my mother navigate the car through multiple small ponds in the parking lot. Mrs. Bush and her husband should know this, since according to the caption they have been in Wayne since the 50’s.

It is no secret that Wayne floods. The real secret is how the government is trying to push these buyouts through without people knowing.

February 24, 2011

Christie’s Proposed Budget Pits Neighbor Against Neighbor

Filed under: Economy,government,Healthcare,New Jersey,Politics — alvb1227 @ 7:02 pm

So earlier this week Governor Christie released his proposed budget. Now that my headache has dulled and my eye has stopped twitching, I can now give my opinion. In two words: it stinks.

The Governor has successfully pitted neighbor against neighbor by tying tax cuts to more give-backs by state employees. Now, regardless of which side of the fence you are on, I think I can make some solid arguments, so I ask you hear me out.

First, I believe most reasonable teachers, police officers, EMTs, fire fighters and the like understand that they need to make contributions for their long-term healthcare. However, what Gov. Christie is asking for is completely unreasonable. Thirty percent? In one year? I’m sorry, but that is not realistic. Just like other “non-union” families, the economy has hit union families hard and many are barely hanging on. This would certainly put them over the edge of financial stability.

Many who do not do these jobs complain how “easy” they have it by either not working the summer, writing tickets unnecessarily, or my personal favorite comment I have ever read, “he never pulled his weapon,” have no idea what is involved in serving and protecting New Jersey communities.

What politicians have done successfully is create a civil-war-like atmosphere across the state, and now, across the nation.

In a previous post, I discussed what unions have done for the working public at large. Now, unions have added to the trouble, but right now, I believe it is Gov. Christie who is creating the large majority of animosity.

Now, in the interest of fairness, I supported and voted for Christie after Steve Lonegan lost in the primary. I agreed with a number of the plans Christie had for the state at the time of his candidacy. Since then, he has turned into a one-trick-pony in my opinion – beating up on state workers, and more specifically, teachers.

Some may say, “he has never specifically gone after teachers; just their union,” and that is true. However, his constant barrage has trickled down into general hostility towards teachers. If this keeps up, people will not want to do these jobs. Where will that leave our state then?

Ultimately, I think everyone needs to take a deep breath, go back to their corners and regroup. Come back with some realistic and sensible solutions that can work for everyone. Because in my opinion, this budget surely isn’t it.

February 22, 2011

The American Labor Movement – A Brief History

All that seems to be on television lately is the “war against the unions” and how they are bankrupting our country. I thought I would take a moment to remind everyone about what unions have done in the past and continue to do now.

Now in the interest of full disclosure, I have several family members who are in a union. I am not and was actually turned down for the typographer’s union after graduating college because I wasn’t a “traditional typographer.” I believe the unions have done and continue to do a lot of good, however, at the same time, they have not kept up with the times. My rejection is a perfect example.

The first labor law to protect working children was first put into law in Massachusetts in 1836. Massachusetts’ chief justice, Lemuel Shaw ruled in 1842 that a strike for a closed shop was legal. By 1886, the Knights of Labor was a champion for the unskilled laborer and encouraged and fought for its African-American membership.

Since then, unions have fought for safe working conditions, the eight-hour working day, supported equal rights and equal pay in the workplace for minorities and women, a minimum wage, healthcare and more. The concept of the “weekend” is because of unions. The entire country celebrates “Labor Day.” Whether or not you participate in, or agree with, the union and labor movement, you have benefited from it.

That is what they have done right. Unfortunately, there are plenty of things they have done wrong. I don’t believe that a majority of dues should pay for supporting political candidates. They have not kept up with the times in areas of education and training, technology, accepting membership from technology-based changes in the industry (like me) and of course, contributions to healthcare and pensions.

What is going on in Wisconsin, Ohio and my beloved New Jersey is shameful. I would think most reasonable people understand they have to contribute more to their pensions and healthcare benefits. It is disingenuous, however, to expect unions to give up collective bargaining or make a union member make a huge jump in contributions in one year when so many families are already hitting tough times and barely hanging on.

These Governors don’t understand that their hateful comments about “union management” ultimately hurt those who actually do the work every day. I guarantee, this is the new class warfare.

So both sides are right…and wrong. All this back and forth isn’t helping anyone. To quote my Grandmother: “fight nice children.”

February 16, 2011

My Perspective on the Budget

So the President released his budget plan this week and of course the GOP has their own plans. Of course, this lead me to want to jot down my thoughts on how to handle the budget.

Now first and foremost, I am far from a financial genius. I do, however, have a brain and on occasion, have been known to use common sense. To me, this is a common sense approach to spending.

First, can someone explain why the budget is still printed…on paper and ink? Anyone ever hear of a secure sharepoint? They definitely need to look at Congressional/Presidential printing. I would think that could save a nice chunk of change.

Next, look at all the places around the world where we have military bases. Do we really need all these different bases? Close some of those bases and reassign those troops stateside. That would both save money and bring home our wonderful military so we aren’t spread so thin.

Third, address illegal immigration. Now, before you go off the deep end on me, hear me out. Illegal immigration goes beyond an immigration policy or national security. It sucks up valuable resources, such as public education, ER care and other social resources. This all costs money. If we get our act together by resolving our illegal immigration policy, it will solve multiple problems at once.

Now, let’s address Congress. First, they should stop automatic pay increases. Whether or not they vote on the increase, they get it. Additionally, in order for Congress and the President to get what we “common folk” have been dealing with, they should each take a five percent paycut. Additionally, everyone is complaining about public employees, their benefits and other so-called perks. In order for a member of Congress to be vested FOR LIFE, they must serve for five years. New Jersey teachers must teach for 25 consecutive years to be vested. How about some outrage on that? Five years? Seriously? Also, upon retirement, they receive 80 percent of their salary as a pension. For starters, drop it to 70 percent. Finally, they should contribute three percent annually to their healthcare coverage both while in Congress and when they “retire.”

Moving on to the Department of Education. Cut it out completely. It isn’t needed and all it does it use its funding to stick its nose into local affairs. It just makes things more complicated.

Next up, Social Security. Let’s face it, more people my age believe that Area 51 exists than they believe that they will get what they have paid into Social Security. And to be clear, Social Security, like unemployment, is not an entitlement. An entitlement is a gift from the government. Welfare and Medicaid are entitlements. Our taxes go to social security, therefore, it is not an entitlement. The President should follow the recommendation from his debt own commission and raise the retirement age. Additionally, you should be allowed to “opt out” of Social Security. I would rather have that money in my check and decide how to invest it than leave it to the government.

Finally, move to a flat tax system. This way there are no loopholes, everyone pays in, regardless of their income level and has a vested interest in what happens to our nation. Currently, two percent of the wealthiest individuals pay over 40 percent of the taxes and will never use any of the services they support. Everyone, regardless of income level, should pay taxes. Otherwise, it is just a handout, which prevents people from feeling the pride of providing for their well-being. Additionally, just think of how many jobs could be cut. And let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to see a smaller IRS?

Well, that’s where I would start. I think these cuts would provide a solid start in getting federal spending on a real cost-cutting plan.

What would you do?

January 31, 2011

NJ Considers Dumping Snow in Rivers – Bad Idea!

Filed under: government,New Jersey,Outdoors — alvb1227 @ 12:27 pm
Tags: , ,

Over the weekend I saw a report that several towns in NJ have asked the DEP for permission to dump plowed snow into NJ different rivers, like the Hackensack, because there is just no where left to put it. I have two words: ABSOLUTELY NOT!

Some of New Jersey’s rivers have pollution issues already. If the DEP grants these requests, it will just make things worse. Let’s remember, it isn’t just snow, it is salt and other chemicals mixed in that are used to reducing icing on the roadways. This would further degrade an already bruised ecosystem. Plus all the gravel, oil and other garbage that is collected during snow removal.

What makes this even worse is that several of the riverkeepers in NJ appear to have no issue with this request, saying things like “All of that salt is going to reach the rivers anyway when it melts.” Wow, way to protect the waters you are charged with caring for on a daily basis.

I urge the DEP to deny these requests. Why not throw the snow on the local town football fields? They won’t be in use for months.

They used to dump plowed snow in the Passaic River on a regular basis and look at it now. Shameful. Simply shameful.

Why not consider each county purchasing a snow melter that could be a shared resource? That would both help eliminate the large piles of snow, but help remove impurities as well.

People complain that Jersey is the butt-end of a lot of jokes. Well, how about now allowing this to happen so the rest of our state looks a little less like the industrial areas people see in and out of Newark Airport? That would be a good start.

January 26, 2011

2011 State of the Union Address

So last night was the 2011 State of the Union Address. I will admit that my eye wasn’t twitching quite as much as last year, but I still have issues with a number of the items that were discussed.

I think the President started out well by acknowledging the empty chair for Gabby Giffords. The ribbons everyone wore I thought was a nice touch. He also discussed a new level of civility in light of the shooting in Arizona. Call it the Jersey cynic in me, but the “date night” and new bipartisan effort just felt fake to me. I still get the feeling of a “hand slap” by the left and blaming the Tea Party movement, even though the nut job in Arizona didn’t appear to have a political affiliation. I find it funny that now the President wants to not think about winning an election, but doing what is necessary to pull the nation together.

I liked what the President said about simplifying the tax code, but fell short of calling for a flat tax, which would ultimately save billions by either cutting or completely eliminating the IRS. I really believe that moving away from the current complicated tax code will both save money on the federal level while making sure everyone pays their fair share.

He cited a quote from President Kennedy that “The future is not a gift. It is an achievement.” Well, I disagree with that sentiment. The future is a responsibility; first and foremost. I think we as a nation have really lost the concept of personal responsibility. Should we take care of those who need assistance? Yes. Should there be a level of personal responsibility associated along with that? Absolutely!

I found his more business-friendly tone encouraging. Again, I hope it isn’t just rhetoric and real action will follow. This means getting the government out of the way of private industry and let them do what they do best; innovate and create jobs. Remember, it is not the job of the federal government to create jobs. It is the job of the federal government to create conditions that are favorable for private industry to create jobs.

The President is still pushing green technologies, which is certainly laudable, however, I again wonder if this should be the business of the federal government. I point to California’s recent light bulb issue as the exact type of government intervention that while positive in concept can be negative in the long run.

From an education standpoint, I was very encouraged to finally hear someone (and I mean anyone) acknowledge that parents need to take a more positive role in the education of our nation’s children. For far too long, schools have been trying to be both educator and parent. Ultimately, they will fail as both. I also ask that while math and science are incredibly important, that the arts and music are not left on the side of the road. There has been study after study citing the importance of music and the arts in fostering a child’s creativity and improving math, science and language skills. I am the adult I am because of my involvement in the music program in my public school system.

It was also nice to hear there should be more respect for teachers. As someone who is married to a public school teacher, I say it is not as easy as many may think. We should be encouraging our teachers, not putting them down. Otherwise, no young individual will want to become a teacher. And that will be truly sad and detrimental to our future.

I almost fell off the couch when the President actually used the term “illegal immigrant” and not “undocumented” or other term. Whether the individual is a child or an adult, they are here illegally and thus breaking the law. They shouldn’t be here sucking up resources like locusts they have no right to access. And these aren’t all the wonderful young individuals looking to better themselves the President mentioned. They are often gang members trying to sneak people and drugs into our country. This is the single issue that will kill us as a nation if it is not dealt with, and I mean NOW.

Infrastructure “investments.” OK, moving on…

Social Security? Well, let’s just say I believe that Area 51 exists. I don’t believe the money I have been paying, and will continue to pay, into Social Security will ever come back to me. My eye is starting to twitch, so moving on…

I also agree the federal government should reorganize and streamline, however, again, call me a cynic, I really don’t see this happening. I hope I am wrong.

I found it interesting that the President is open to make some of the very healthcare bill changes the GOP suggested originally and he wouldn’t he even consider. Amazing what a shellacking can do for bipartisanship. And by the way, I hadn’t heard that word since I was a kid and my Uncle Sonny would threaten us with a shellacking that would never appear. If anything, he was the one to protect us all from the shellacking.

Of course, no State of the Union would be complete without a discussion of our military. Again, I refer back to my previous thoughts about illegal immigration. These two issues go hand-in-hand in my opinion. Illegal immigration is a serious national security issue.

So, as usual, I am hopeful, but not betting the house on it. The only reason the President has moved to the middle, I believe, is because he got beat and I mean seriously beat. I would like to see him not spend on infrastructure and instead let private industry develop tomorrow’s high speed railways. Again, just allow for private industry to do what they do best and get out of their way.

Only time will tell…

« Previous PageNext Page »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: