Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day Lives In Small Town USA


America's heart still beats true in its small towns.
And nowhere is this more evident than in historic Haddonfield, New Jersey just across the Delaware River from the nation's Cradle of Liberty, Philadelphia.
In this picturesque colonial village Memorial Day is still characterized by solemn observance.
We were there this morning in Haddonfield as a brief parade moved down Kings Highway to the veterans' monuments at Haddonfield Memorial High School.
The local American Legion Post 38 sponsored the annual Memorial Day remembrance ceremony and parade, along with the borough and the borough commissioners.
The parade included the Post 38 Color Guard and members of the Post, the High School Marching Band, the mayor and commissioners, the memorial service flag presenters (Daughters of the American Revolution, War of 1812 and Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic), the Girl Scouts, Boy Scout Troops 64 and 65 and Cub Scout Packs 64 and 65, the Jack Schweiker Composite Unit of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), an apparatus of Haddon Fire Co. No. 1 and the Ambulance Association.
The memorial service honored the fallen men and women of nine wars, from the American Revolution to the present-day conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Haddonfield's great Mayor Tish Colombi delivering poignant remarks during the ceremony.
The service also included normal military honors, a chaplain’s prayer by Reverend Mark-Anthony Rassmann Sr., and remarks by the Post 38 Commander.
Christian Johnson (impersonating President Abraham Lincoln) delivered a rendition of the Gettysburg Address.
The event also featured the placement of flags for each war, a reading of “In Flanders Fields” by the HMHS Honor Society and music by the Haddonfield Pick-Up Band.
Refreshments, donated anonymously, were served following the ceremony.
As always, this event was a fitting tribute to our fallen heroes and to all those who have served.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Heartburn Relief: Quick, Easy Tips

Do you suffer from heartburn?
Here are some surprising, quick and easy tips that actually help:
1) Apples. I've found that eating an apple a day actually helps. The green Granny Smith apples seem to work best for me. Apparently, even thought they are acidic, something about the apples lessens (or helps prevent) the heartburn.
2) Almonds. I put crushed almonds on my cereal and find that these also help to prevent the onset of heartburn early on the day.
3) Small meals. Eat small meals and don't go hungry for significant periods of time. Keep a small bag of pretzels or some other non-fatty snack handy. If you're stomach is growling, that's a prescription for heartburn. But remember: small meals.
4) Water. Drinking water also helps. So, keep bottled water handy. But don't gulp it. Sip it.
5) Chewing gum. This works for many people but remember -- chew unsweetened non-mint gum. I like the Trident fruit flavor. Avoid mint of any type as that is not good if you have heartburn.
6) Walking. Brisk daily walks (at least a mile) are helpful and healthy. Take deep, full (not quick) breaths.
7) Carbonated drinks. Stay away from them. Eliminate these from your diet as they are heartburn-inducers.
8) Caffeine. In moderation, caffeine need not be feared. This means one cup of HALcaf coffee per day and/or an iced tea/lemonade mixture. Keep the caffeine to a minimum.
9) Chocolate. A small piece of milk chocolate occasionally. That's it. Avoid rich, dark chocolate and never eat chocolate just before bed time.
10) Dairy. Be careful with dairy products. Stay away from rich creams (and ice-cream) if your heartburn is active. Once it's under control, enjoy these treats sparingly -- that means once or twice a week, tops.
The secret is getting your heartburn under control.
These tips are helpful (0ften with medication) to get the problem under control and (more importantly) to prevent recurrences.

Friday, May 28, 2010

We Welcome The World!

Hello Germany, Sweden, Canada and Poland.
Welcome, Mexico, France and India.
And greetings to all of our friends in Hong Kong.
People from all these nations and more have visited this blog just within the past couple of days.
With more than 151,000 visitors and more than 350,000 page views we welcome the world!

Job Offer: Rahm-To-Clinton-To-Sestak Brother?

It seems now that Rahm Emanuel went to Bill Clinton who went to Joe Sestak's brother to make that job offer. We're also hearing that the position offered was a non-paying position.
Now we know why Clinton and President Obama had a private lunch yesterday.
Obviously, they needed to get their stories straight.
Recall that Clinton seems to specialize in making job offers to get people to disappear. After all, he did try to arrange a job for Monica Lewinsky at Revlon to get her to go away.

More On Sestak/White House Job Offer

It's now being reported that the job that Bill Clinton offered Joe Sestak was a job in the executive branch but this job would have also allowed Sestak to continue his tenure as a Congressman.
Details are still coming.
My reaction?
I think it's sad that Clinton - a former President - allowed himself to become involved in such a nefarious situation. If it's true, it's rather pathetic.
But then again, Clinton is a notorious attention whore.
Will Sestak now come forward and speak more on this?
We're still waiting to find out.

White House: Clinton Offered Sestak Job

The White House has just announced that it was former President Bill Clinton who offered Congressman Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania a job in return for dropping out of the Keystone State's Senate race and leaving a clear road for the Democrat nomination to Senator Arlen Specter.
But of course Sestak opted to stay in the race and defeated Specter in the primary.
Clinton was the intermediary, the White House says.
But, what was the job?
We're still waiting to find out.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sestak-Obama-Job Explanation Coming?

President Obama says the White House will be issuing an "explanation" on the Sestak job offer imbroglio soon -- very soon.
Translation: Some type of nebulous statement will come out over the long Memorial Day Weekend while no one is paying any attention and while Obama and family are on vacation in Chicago.
The statement probably won't name any names (or will names names of second, third or fourth tier underlings, if any). And the statement will provide few details, if any. Also, it will probably be corroborated with Sestak, at least privately, so that there appears to be a harmonious tune on this.
The White House is hoping very little attention is paid to the matter and everything will simply go away. After all, much of official Washington is already on holiday.
So this is a "good time" to deal with this unpleasant matter.
The approach is this: By next week no one will be talking about this anymore. It will be forgotten.
If the subject does comes up the answer will be: "We issued a statement. We told all that we knew. We have nothing more to say. This is old news."
This is classic Obama/Chicago charade strategy.
So, pay attention and let's see what happens.

Christie's Straight Talk Winning Converts

From Herb Jackson at The Record:
[New Jersey] Governor Christie on Tuesday told a borough teacher to find another job if she did not feel she was compensated enough as he defended his state budget cuts and promoted a plan to cap annual growth in property tax collections.
He also told an 89-year-old former mayor she'd have to wait until next spring for a rebate she'd been getting for more than a decade in the late summer. A
nd he told a parent that cuts to services, including the local library, are needed because "we are out of money."

A largely friendly crowd of about 150 people turned out in a church gymnasium to hear Christie deliver a half-hour talk that trashed greedy public employee unions and state laws that handcuff local officials trying to control spending.
He then opened the floor to questions.
A few were softballs, including the declaration by Clara Nebot of Bergenfield that Christie is "a god" to her relatives in Florida.

But borough teacher Rita Wilson, a Kearny resident, argued that if she were paid $3 an hour for the 30 children in her class, she’d be earning $83,000, and she makes nothing near that.
"You’re getting more than that if you include the cost of your benefits," Christie interrupted. When Wilson, who has a master’s degree, said she was not being compensated for her education and experience, Christie said: "Well, you know then that you don’t have to do it." Some in the audience applauded.
Christie said he would not have had to impose cuts to education if the teachers union had agreed to his call for a one-year salary freeze and a 1.5 percent increase in employee benefit contributions.

"Your union said that is the greatest assault on public education in the history of the state," Christie said. "That’s why the union has no credibility, stupid statements like that."
Surrounded by reporters after she spoke, Wilson said she was shaking from the encounter, and worried she might get in trouble for speaking out.
Christie has outlined a "toolkit" to address New Jersey’s property taxes, which on average are among the highest in the country. The centerpiece is a proposed constitutional amendment that would impose a 2.5 percent cap on the annual increase in the local property tax levy, which is the total amount of taxes collected each year from towns, school boards and county government.

"What it’s going to do is impose discipline on every level of government," Christie said, adding that 30 years of previous efforts by Trenton to control property taxes failed. . . .

The meeting at the parish gymnasium of First Presbyterian Church on Ridge Road is the third Christie has held to tout his property tax plan. He urged the audience to contact their state legislators to support the package.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

138 Mayors Now Support Christie Spending Cap

Today, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's Office announced the support of 57 mayors from Burlington, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean counties for Governor Chris Christie’s Cap 2.5 constitutional amendment and Reform Agenda to bring real property tax relief to New Jersey families. Mayors are on the frontline of the property tax crisis, forced to deal with ballooning expenses, unfunded mandates, and cost-drivers which in many cases they have little control over.
“Governor Christie’s Cap 2.5 Reform Agenda provides the necessary steps required to rebuild our state,” said Jackson Mayor Michael Reina. “I admire Christie’s bold move to cap property taxes, showing that New Jersey is working for its people, and not the other way around. I support the Christie Reform Agenda and ask that Mayors around the State make the same decision. It is time to give our tax-payers a well deserved break.”
Legislative committee approval for the Cap 2.5 constitutional amendment is needed before the first week of July in order to meet the deadline for the bill to be moved to the floor and approved for placement on the ballot and consideration by the voters in November. Governor Christie is urging the Assembly and Senate leadership and legislators of both parties to work with him in putting this critical government reform before the voters for approval this November.
Today’s announcement follows the release of 81 mayors from Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren counties for the Governor’s Reform Agenda, bringing the running total of mayors from around the state supporting the Governor’s reform for real property tax relief to 138, and growing.
On May 10th, the Governor outlined a sweeping 33-bill reform package to solve New Jersey’s property tax crisis and control spending at every level of government. The centerpiece of the plan is Cap 2.5, a constitutional amendment creating a 2.5 percent cap on property tax increases.
Property taxes have grown an astonishing 70% over the last ten years, resulting in an average annual property tax bill of $7,281 on New Jersey families – the highest rate in the nation. Cap 2.5 will halt the astonishing growth in property taxes while the Christie Reform Agenda will give towns and school boards the tools needed to control spending to make Cap 2.5 both realistic and achievable.

New Jersey Gets The Super Bowl!


It's official!
Joisey just hit the jackpot, baby.
Yes, New Jersey will host the 2014 Super Bowl at its new Meadowlands Stadium.
But if you've been paying attention to this blog, you sorta knew this was going to happen. So, last night's announcement should not have been a surprise for you.
That's because nearly three months ago we said that it appeared increasingly likely that Jersey would get the Super Bowl. You can read it right here.
When Arizona dropped out of the running, that made it easier for the garden State to snag the Big Game. So, today Governor Chris Christie will be at the Meadowlands to discuss additional details of the 2014 Super Bowl.
But a lot of the credit for all of this goes to New Jersey Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean who has been pushing this idea for quite some time.
Kean has always said that "with the opening of a new stadium, and the backdrop of New Jersey and New York City, Super Bowl XLVIII has the potential to be a very special game." And the Senator I remained optimistic "that the NFL will realize this unique opportunity and select the new Meadowlands Stadium (pictured above) as their venue to host the Super Bowl in 2014."
Well, Tom Kean was right!
This is a great day for New Jersey and a good move for the NFL.
Bravo!

Who's REALLY Paying The Taxes?

A friend has accused the Republican Party of spending its time trying to come up with "schemes for rich people to keep more."
"Schemes for rich people to keep more?"
Let's get a few things straight:
1) Most people of means in this country did not steal (or inherit) their money. They earned it. They worked for it.Forget about the myth of "old money." About 80% of America's millionaires are first-generation affluent.
2) Without wealth (and without the desire to achieve wealth) capitalism cannot flourish, let alone survive.
3) "Rich" people are often the employers who keep the economy working and bring jobs to the private sector. Many of these so-called "rich" people are small businesspersons.
4) People in the top five percent income bracket pay more than half of all income taxes. The top 10 percent pay 68 percent of the tab.
5) The Democrats conveniently forget these facts and figures and encourage senseless class warfare while ignoring the fact that the bottom 50% in terms of income pay just 3% of taxes. Many of these people pay NO income tax at all.
In states like New Jersey the Democrat Party is actually attempting to impose yet a higher tax on the "rich." But this will only drive people of means out of the state. They can afford to leave and they will leave. So, taxes go up while income goes down.
For ALL taxpayers -- for ALL citizens -- the best way to stimulate the private sector and get the economy growing again is to cut taxes.
JFK was right: Lower taxes produce more revenue for the government.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Thank You For 150,000 Visits!

We are so, so happy to have reached this milestone.
And we owe it all to you.
Thank you for visiting, for telling your friends, for spreading the message and for coming back to our blog again and again.
We promise: We will continue to move onward and upward. And we will continue to be guided by the faith, the spirit and the good humor of The Great Communicator himself!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Toomey To Sestak: Come Clean On 'Jobgate'

U.S. Senate candidate Pat Toomey issued the following statement today about allegations that the White House offered Rep. Joe Sestak a job in exchange for exiting the U.S. Senate race:
“From day one, our campaign has been focused on the critical issues facing Pennsylvania, like jobs, the economy, and a federal government that’s on an out-of-control spending spree. That’s where our focus will remain. To that end, Congressman Joe Sestak’s support for the policies that are bankrupting our country and killing jobs is of much greater concern to me than whatever deal-making was done between him and the White House.”
“Having said that, by virtue of the nonstop inquiries coming into our campaign from members of the media, we are compelled to respond to what is now being commonly referred to as ‘job-gate.’ My response is simply this: Congressman Sestak should tell the public everything he knows about the job he was offered, and who offered it. To do otherwise will only continue to raise questions and continue to be a needless distraction in this campaign. Joe and I disagree on many important issues, from health care, to bailouts, to the unprecedented debt being racked up in Washington. That’s what our campaign should be about, rather than these other matters. Joe can clear that all away by simply disclosing all the facts that he knows, and I urge him to do that.”

We're One Of THE Most Influential Blogs!

Have you noticed?
For the second straight week we've been rated among the top three most influential blogs in the region by Blog Net News New Jersey.
Hey, we owe it all to you.
In less than 30 months, you've catapulted us to the top.
And we're keeping faith with you.
We promise more insight, more helpful tips, more meaningful news, more crackling politics, more incisive observations, more music, more travel, more arts and culture, more incredible and offbeat human stories and more fun.
Keep coming back.
YOU made us one of the top three and YOU will help to make us Number ONE!
PS - Lest you think our appeal is strictly local, please note that we've welcomed visitors from every corner of the world and nearly every continent.

Sestak 'Independence' A Sham?

Yesterday morning on Meet the Press, host David Gregory shined a bright light on Joe Sestak’s sham independence, demonstrating that Joe is and has been a reliable rubber stamp for Nancy Pelosi’s extreme agenda.
For months, Sestak has been trying to play the role of the outsider, claiming independence from the Washington Democratic establishment, but when pressed by Gregory to name examples of his independence, Sestak offered nothing but his standard talking points.
Gregory: Congressman, you sound like the ultimate outsider. The only problem is, you are a congressman . . . you voted for TARP, for the bailout, you voted for the President’s stimulus plan, you voted for the President’s health care plan, exactly which establishment are you not part of that you’re running against?
Sestak:
You know, I have 31 years in the navy; when I came to Washington, I was kind of taken aback. That kind of accountability that I learned from my actions in the U.S. Navy, seemed to be absent down here in Washington D.C. . . .
Gregory: But Congressman, the question I asked you, you have supported all the major elements of the Obama agenda, and yet, in that sound bite, you were running as an outsider. Are you not part of the establishment that you are railing against?
Sestak: Oh, I did vote for those because they were needed. But as John F. Kennedy once said: “Sometimes the Party asks too much . . .”
Gregory: Which element of the Obama agenda that was his priority did you stand up to?
Sestak: Oh, I honestly think that this President has done great, good things, but I don’t think we’ve gone far enough in terms of helping small business.
“It is clear that Joe Sestak is not an independent voice for Pennsylvania, but an echo of Nancy Pelosi’s far-left agenda,” said Toomey Communications Director Nachama Soloveichik. “That’s why Sestak has voted with Speaker Pelosi 100% of the time this year. The only time Sestak has disagreed with the Democratic establishment is when he argued that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid did not go far enough in their liberal agenda.”
Over the past year and a half, Sestak has:
  • Voted for the $787 billion stimulus (RC #70, 02/13/09) and argued that it should have been $1 trillion. (NBC WCAU, 02/27/09)
  • Voted for Speaker Pelosi’s job-killing cap-and-trade bill (RC #477, 06/26/09) and even said: “I was disappointed in this bill because I thought it was eviscerated during the process too much.” (Netroots, 08/14/09)
  • Voted for the $2.3 trillion health care bill (RC #887, 11/07/09), and even said he was disappointed in the bill because it didn’t go far enough. (MSNBC, Andrea Mitchell Reports, 12/17/09) Maybe that’s why he voted for a version of the legislation in committee that would have allowed states to outlaw private health insurance altogether! (Education & Labor Committee, 07/17/09)
  • Voted for the Wall Street bailout (Roll Call #681, 10/03/08) (RC #27, 01/22/09), and even opposed a bipartisan effort to end the bailout after one year. (Press release, 09/26/09)
“In contrast, Pat Toomey has a record of standing up to Republican leaders and President Bush when he was in Congress, especially when he thought they were spending too much money,” Soloveichik continued. “Time and again, Pat opposed his own party leaders when they wanted to eliminate spending caps and pass bloated spending bills filled with wasteful earmarks, and even led an unheard of ‘filibuster’ in the House in order to force Republicans to cut government spending. For his independence and fiscal discipline, Pat earned high marks and high praise from editorial boards and nonpartisan watchdog groups like Citizens Against Government Waste and National Taxpayers Union.”

Morris Arboretum Dazzles








Over the weekend we had a chance to journey to the edge of the Philadelphia city limits (just past Chestnut Hill) to visit the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania.
At any time of the year the Morris Arboretum is a natural treasure.
But look at the beautiful, vivid colors of May!
The Morris describes itself as "an interdisciplinary center that integrates art, science and the humanities." We describe it as sheer joy.
Here, thousands of rare and lovely woody plants, including some of Philadelphia's oldest, rarest, and largest trees, are set in a romantic, 92-acre, Victorian landscape garden of winding paths, streams, flowers and special garden areas.
Beginning with founder John Morris’s interest in growing plants from around the world, unusual specimens have flourished here for well over 100 years.
Philadelphia is a city of beautiful gardens and fantastic natural attractions. When you visit the Morris Arboretum you will discover why the City of Brotherly Love is also know as Penn's Greene Country Town. Bella!
All photos copyright 2010 by Daniel A. Cirucci.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Support Two-Party Rule In Camden County!

George Zallie and Scot DeCristofaro

Please join Host Committee Chairs

Michael J. Tierney, Esq. and Robert B. Asher

and the 2010 Republican Freeholder Host Committee

Hon. Richard A. DeMichele, Jr., Esq.

Stuart J. Alterman, Esq. Donna M. Fluehr

Richard Ambrosino Hon. Thomas Gannon

Powell Arms Frank Giordano

Sen. Mike Brubaker Steve Harmelin, Esq.

Tim Cifelli Beth Hegedus

Dr. Damian Dachowski Lois Trench-Hines

Hon. Jon D. Fox Michael D. Parrish

cordially invite you to a reception in honor of

George J. Zallie & Scot DeCristofaro

The Camden County 2010 Freeholder Team

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

6-8 p.m.

$250 per person

Make checks payable to: Campaign Fund of Camden County GOP 2010

Dilworth Paxson, LLP


1500 Market Street, 3500E


Philadelphia, PA

For directions and parking information, please visit www.dilworthlaw.com

Respond to Beth Hegedus

at beth.hegedus@yahoo.com or 215.494.6912

So, why are we running this announcement?

The answer is simple and obvious.

Right now there is NO minority representation on the Camden County Board of Freeholders. Unanimous one-party rule is not healthy government -- it's not good for the county and its taxpayers. Camden County needs and deserves a minority voice on our governing body.

And Scot DeCristofero and George Zalli are outstanding candidates.

Come on out and support them!

City Island Scores With Human Touch

The new film City Island would have us believe that truth is indeed far, far stranger than fiction.
Well, we all know many truths that are far stranger than fiction.
And presumably we also know truths about ourselves that not only defy reason but might also have the makings of a truly incredible story.
And while City Island is a rather incredible story it's also consistently funny, human and endearing.
This is due mostly to the fine ensemble cast that includes Andy Garcia, Julianna Margulies, Steven Strait, Alan Arkin, Emily Mortimer, Ezra Miller, and Dominik Garc√ća-Lorido.
The whole scenario revolves around the members of the Rizzo family and their lives on an off the fishing village of City Island, a wisp of land that is actually part of the Bronx. As the family patriarch Andy Garcia scores beautifully and holds the whole story together. Strait, Marguilies and Miller are also outstanding in their roles.
This is a family that harbors individual secrets.
None of the secrets are so terribly sinister or shameful that they will shock you. The film is in no way sordid or bleak. There aren't any murders or dead bodies or sexual predators lurking in the background.
But the film does speak of our public and private selves -- the faces we show to the world vs. the real people behind the masks and the parts of our past that we may not always be proud of or be willing to admit.
It's great to see Andy Garcia back on the big screen in a role that showcases all of his many talents: his fine timing, his knowing glance, his natural demeanor and the simple truth that he brings to a role -- the honesty that lives within those penetrating eyes. Marguilies is both tough and tender and engaging throughout in a surprising role. And Strait and Miller bring smoldering heat and spontaneous comedy respectively to their roles.
You'll scratch your head at the plot as it unfolds but you'll keep watching and laughing.
This is a sweet, funny, delightful film that ultimately triumphs over its implausibility.
City Island reminds us that no matter our secrets or our geography, none of us really lives on an island.
I recommend it.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Capitalism's Champion? Al Capone, Of Course!

We asked: Who extolled capitalism as "a great system if we only seize it with both hands and make the most of it."?
Most of you (36%) thought is was Andrew Carnegie. You were wrong.
Then there were 18% of you who thought it was Teddy Roosevelt. You were wrong as well.
Some of you thought it was Barnum (9%) or Rockefeller (4%) and you were also wrong.
Fortunately, no one picked Martha Stewart as that would have been wrong as well.
The man who extolled the virtues of capitalism was none other than gangster Al Capone. Thirty one percent of you had the correct answer!
And Capone's quote and his keen capitalistic instincts are details in Lucy Moore's fine book Anything Goes: A Biography Of The Roaring Twenties.
I recently has a great time reading this book. It's a rollicking journey through one of the liveliest and most turbulent periods of modern history. I recommend it.
BTW: If you're wondering why the numbers above don't add up to 100% it's because they have been conveniently rounded off. Thanks for participating in our quiz, everybody!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Christie: He Says It; He Does It; It's Done


Without hesitation, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoes tax hikes.
Don't be fooled by the media-inspired term "millionaire's tax." This is just another tax in the highest-taxed state in the nation -- just another trick; another gimmick to paper over New Jersey's growing debt and runaway taxing and spending.
The Democrats will try again and again and again to raise taxes anyway they can to keep the tax and spend gravy train going with absolutely no fiscal restraint.
It must stop.
It must end.
And with Christie Christie in the Governor's chair it will end and it IS ending now!

42 More NJ Mayors Support Christie Plan

Yesterday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's Office announced the support of 42 mayors from Hunterdon, Morris, Somerset, Sussex, and Warren counties for Governor Chris Christie’s Cap 2.5 constitutional amendment and Reform Agenda to bring real property tax relief to New Jersey families. Mayors are on the frontline of the property tax crisis, forced to deal with ballooning expenses, unfunded mandates, and cost-drivers which in many cases they have little control over.
“I am proud to support Governor Christie and his bold reforms to bring real property tax relief to families across the state. The Governor is finally addressing the real, underlying causes of New Jersey’s highest-in-the-nation property taxes by giving mayors and school boards the tools to control costs and the flexibility to live within a real cap on property taxes,” said Bound Brook Mayor Carey Pilato. “Mayors across New Jersey should continue standing up in support of Governor Christie’s Cap 2.5 Reform Agenda to comprehensively address our State’s property tax crisis.”
Today’s announcement follows the release of 39 mayors from Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Passaic and Union counties for the Governor’s Reform Agenda, bringing the running total of mayors from around the state supporting the Governor’s reform for real property tax relief to 81, and growing.
Last week, the Governor outlined a sweeping 33-bill reform package to solve New Jersey’s property tax crisis and control spending at every level of government. The centerpiece of the plan is Cap 2.5, a constitutional amendment creating a 2.5 percent cap on property tax increases.
Property taxes have grown an astonishing 70% over the last ten years, resulting in an average annual property tax bill of $7,281 on New Jersey families – the highest rate in the nation. Cap 2.5 will halt the astonishing growth in property taxes while the Christie Reform Agenda will give towns and school boards the tools needed to control spending to make Cap 2.5 both realistic and achievable.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Promise Kept: Christie Vetoes Tax Hikes

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie today vetoed A-10 and A-20. A-10 was primarily sponsored by Assemblymembers Shelia Oliver and Joseph Cryan and Senators Steve Sweeney and Teresa Ruiz. A-20 was primarily sponsored by Assemblymembers Paul Moriarty, Linda Greenstein, and Celeste Riley and Senators Jim Whelen and Fred Madden.
In vetoing A-10, the Governor stated that he would not repeat the failed, irresponsible and unsustainable fiscal policies of the past by raising taxes on the highest taxed people in the nation. Further, the Governor pointed to New Jersey’s poor economic condition and cited the negative impact an additional tax increase would have on the State’s economic recovery and job creation efforts. The veto of A-10 rejects the adoption of the 116th tax increase on New Jerseyans in the last 8 years.
In vetoing A-20, the Governor cited concerns about the bill’s constitutionality, action already taken by his administration to restore funding for the PAAD and Senior Gold programs, as well as the imprudence of restoring additional spending commitments in the current fiscal and economic climate.

Christie Launches Cap 2.5% Web Site

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has announced the launch of a new web page, “Cap 2.5: Real Property Tax Relief Now,” on his official website, http://www.state.nj.us/governor.
The web page will serve as a resource for information on Governor Christie’s proposed amendment to the New Jersey State Constitution.
The web page features a video message from Governor Christie, footage from town hall meetings and a detailed fact sheet on Cap 2.5. In addition, visitors can find a list of mayors who have voiced support of the proposed amendment and the option to sign a petition in support of Cap 2.5.
Cap 2.5, the centerpiece of Governor Christie’s reform agenda, is a constitutional amendment creating a 2.5% cap on the increase in the property tax levy by municipal, school and county taxes and a 2.5% cap on spending for State government operations.
Under Governor Christie's proposal, the property tax levy cap allows for adjustments in the event a municipality adds new ratables, and provides a single exclusion from the cap: debt service payments.
Please visit Governor Christie’s Cap 2.5 web page at http://www.state.nj.us/governor/cap/ and check for updates on the Cap 2.5 Facebook page or on Twitter under #cap2andahalf.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Obama Record: Four Tries, Four Losses

As President, Obama has not had a very good campaign record.
He campaigned in Virginia and the candidate he campaigned for (Deeds) lost.
He campaigned in New Jersey and the candidate he campaigned for (Corzine) lost.
He campaigned in Massachsetts and the candidate he campaigned for (Coakley) lost.
And he campaigned in Pennsylvania and the candidate he campaigned for (Specter) lost.
Two of the candidates that he tried to help were Democrat incumbents, once considered to be very powerful.
The other two were elected state Democrat officials.
Deeds. Corzine. Coakley. Specter.
All allowed themselves to be linked to Obama.
And all four lost.
Do you think the voters are trying to tell Obama something?
BTW: Yes, there was a Democrat who actually won last night but he didn't want Obama campaigning for him and he didn't have Obama campaigning for him. In fact, he ran as far away from Obama as he could and actually took great pains to distance himself from Obama.

When It's Time To Say BuhhhhBye!

On February 6 in the Philadelphia Daily News I wrote an opinion piece called Folks Who Don't Know When To Fold 'Em.
Here's what I wrote about Arlen Specter:
Arlen Specter – It’s been a long time since Specter was called “younger, tougher and nobody owns him.” Now Specter is dour, inappropriate and stalked by his own hubris. It’s gotten so bad that when he’s not telling someone to “act like a lady” Specter’s stumbling over the names of state political leaders. It’s time for the voters to show this guy the door.
When you don't know when to leave the stage, sometimes the only solution is the hook.
The voters of Pennsylvania took my advice.
They gave Specter the hook.
But the saddest thing was his desperate effort to hang on. In the end, it was painful to watch. It was pitiful. What a way to be remembered.
To read my entire op-ed, click here.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Specter Bites The Dust

The Arlen Specter era is over in Pennsylvania.
The state's longest-serving US Senator ever has come to the end of the line.
Eighty-year-old Arlen Specter was defeated tonight by uber-liberal Democrat renegade Joe Sestak even though Sestak enjoyed NO establishment Democrat support.
It may be a happy night for Sestak but the Democrat Congressman faces a tough road in November:
1) Sestak's views are out of line with the mainstream and would appear to be far too liberal for Pennsylvania.
2) Former Navy Admiral Sestak has apparently never come clean on some questions that popped up about his performance while in the military and he refused requests from Specter to release his military records.
3) Sestak has left a bitter taste in the mouths of major Democrat operative in Pennslyvania. This lone ranger does not play well with others.
4) Sestak faces a strong, smart, determined opponent in Pat Toomey. Toomey is well-liked and has a fully-united Republican Party behind him.
5) Pennsylvania has a record of alternating between democrat and GOP Governors and this is a Republican year. With the help of a strong GOP gubernatorial candidate like Tom Corbett, Toomey and most Pennsylvania republicans are well positioned.
6) The GOP will remind voters of all the awful things that Democrats (such as Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell) said about Sestak.

Bracing For Specter Defeat

As polls prepare to close in Pennsylvania all indications are that Senator Arlen Specter will go down to defeat tonight.
In fact, the White House is said to be bracing for a Specter defeat.
Yes, vote turnout in Philly has been light and that's not a good sign for Arlen.
But in Washington, establishment Dems have been gloomy over this all week. The open secret is that Specter is going down.
In fact, the Senator wiped a tear from his eye as he left his polling place today.
Many say that the margin for Shestak may be as big as 52/48.
Meanwhile, GOP challenger Pat Toomey is gearing up for a race against Shestak. Toomey's been focusing nearly all his ammunition on Shestak for weeks and will probably launch his first major salvo tonight and during stops throughout Pennsylvania tomorrow.
The Democrats will have beaten each other up after tonight and Big Time Dems like Rendell et. al. will be uncomfortable in the Shestak camp. Ouch!
Meanwhile, Pat Toomey will be ready.
And in Shestak, Toomey will be facing a reckless, radical, uber-liberal.

39 Mayors Endorse Jersey Tax Cap


Day by day, the tide is turning in New Jersey, the former tax 'n spend capital of America.
Today, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's Office announced the support of 39 mayors from Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Passaic and Union counties for Governor Chris Christie’s Cap 2.5 constitutional amendment and Reform Agenda to bring real property tax relief to New Jersey families.
Mayors are on the frontline of the property tax crisis, forced to deal with ballooning expenses, unfunded mandates, and cost-drivers which in many cases they have little control over.
“The Christie Reform Agenda is the change we need to put a firm cap on property taxes and empower the people with the tools to control their own future,” said Linden Mayor Richard Gerbounka. “Our hands have been tied, hindering our ability to control skyrocketing costs and resulting in rising property taxes. Mayors across the state should stand up and support Governor Christie’s Cap 2.5 Reform Agenda in order to provide real property tax relief right now.”
Last week, the Governor outlined a sweeping 33-bill reform package to solve New Jersey’s property tax crisis and control spending at every level of government. The centerpiece of the plan is Cap 2.5, a constitutional amendment creating a 2.5 percent cap on property tax increases.
Property taxes have grown an astonishing 70% over the last ten years, resulting in an average annual property tax bill of $7,281 on New Jersey families – the highest rate in the nation. Cap 2.5 will halt the astonishing growth in property taxes while the Christie Reform Agenda will give towns and school boards the tools needed to control spending to make Cap 2.5 both realistic and achievable.

Christie Vetoes Wasteful Spending Again

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie today exercised his veto power again to guard against potentially wasteful spending by partially rejecting minutes of the April 26, 2010, meeting of the New Jersey Urban Enterprise Zone Authority in connection with a $1.3 million land purchase in Pleasantville.
The veto concerns the Pleasantville project known as “City Center Property Acquisition Phase VI.” Funds for the project were to be used for costs associated with the purchase of three properties in Pleasantville’s Central Business District, to allow for future redevelopment of the sites. However, for two of the properties, Pleasantville reached agreements with the property owners for sales prices far in excess of the appraised value of the properties.
For the two properties, Pleasantville had agreed to purchase prices that were a total of $165,000 more than the actual appraised value of the properties. “This is just the sort of spending that needs scrutiny and explanation,” said Governor Christie. “Before the funds are released, those premiums above appraised value must be justified. This is the kind of accountability we and the taxpayers of New Jersey should reasonably expect.”
At the UEZ Authority meeting, the chair raised several questions regarding justification for the high purchase prices. Pleasantville provided an explanation that is not reflected in the UEZ Authority meeting minutes; nor was there written justification for the purchase prices included in the application materials submitted by Pleasantville. No other veto power was exercised as to any other action of the UEZ Authority at its April 26 meeting.
This UEZ veto is the ninth veto exercised by Governor Christie against actions taken during meetings of various state authorities and commissions.
Meeting minutes are scrutinized by the Governor’s Office Authorities Unit, headed by Director Deborah Gramiccioni, to flag potentially wasteful spending.

Monday, May 17, 2010

PA: Vote Chet Beiler For Lt. Governor



We can grow the government or we can grow the economy. We cannot do both.

Chet Beiler believes we can make Pennsylvania a better place to live, work, play, raise families, create jobs and build businesses. That's why he is running for Lieutenant Governor.

While Chet has experience working in local, statewide, and national campaigns, he is far from a career politician. Chet is a businessman from Lancaster County. He has more than 20 years of experience building successful businesses, and is an expert in operating budgets and demanding accountability.

With extensive experience in both the political and business arenas, Chet has what it takes to fight to reform Harrisburg, and finally bring financial stability and honesty to state government.

World's Cutest Dog On Table

When you're the world's cutest do you can sit anywhere you want.
You don't have to sit on a proper chair or sofa.
And you certainly don't have to sit on a doggy bed.
You can just hop right up onto an end table and plop yourself there.
And you can be quite coy about it too.
It's OK. It's just fine.
Because you're Moose, the world's cutest dog. You're a Lancashire Heeler and you're the toast of the town. You know you're one of a kind.
And you also know we're gonna take your picture and send it all over the world so you'll even pose real nice 'n cute.
You go, Moose!

'Letters To Juliet' Is A Delight

Over the weekend the new movie Letters to Juliet opened and it is a delight.
If you're looking for light-hearted romance this summer this is the movie for you.
In this film, An American girl on vacation in Italy finds an unanswered "letter to Juliet" -- one of thousands of missives left at the fictional lover's Verona courtyard, which are typically answered by a the "secretaries of Juliet" -- and she goes on a quest to find the lovers referenced in the letter.
The journey that she undertakes will change her life and the lives of everyone involved.
The film stars Amanda Seyfried, Gail Garcia Bernal, Christopher Egan Venessa Redgrave and Franco Nero.
Since this is a road trip movie it's important to note that the scenes of Italy are absolutely breathtaking and the movie is worth it if only for the spectacular scenery.
But the acting is largely first rate and the story is certainly uplifting though nonetheless implausible. Still, this isn't real life and no one is pretending that it is. This is a what the film critic Judith Crist used to call a "movie movie." It's a flight of fancy.
This film is actually a companion piece to the 1979 film A Little Romance in which the late Laurence Olivier played a role similar to the role that is played here by Redgrave. Of course, A Little Romance which also starred the great Diane Lane and was directed by George Roy Hill, was a superior film. And of course Lord Olivier was superb.
But this summer you will have a fine time with Letters To Juliet. Put it on your list under "light summer fare."
BTW: It's great to see Franco Nero back on the big screen. His role here is small but his presence is huge throughout the film.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Philly Museum Of Art: Great Doings Ahead!

I recently had a chance to chat with the Philadelphia Museum of Art's new Director and CEO Timothy Rub and I can report that exciting events are underway at the museum. And, the year ahead and beyond promises even more blockbuster exhibitions and intriguing attractions.
Timothy Rub brings many talents to his new role and I'm convinced he is well on his way to becoming a great asset to the city and to the art world. He possesses an impressive knowledge of art and artists, great enthusiasm and the ability to grow the museum and bring it into a dynamic new era.
My interview with Rub is part of a Philadelphia Bar Association podcast that you can listen to by clicking here.
You will enjoy this quick interview which previews many of the upcoming attractions at the museum.
Many of the upcoming Museum attractions focus on Italy and/or Italian artists. Here are some of the highlights that you and I can look forward to:
Water Works - Modern and contemporary art in which water is the main theme; 5/15 - 7/18/ 2010.
Late Renoir - Focusing on the final three decades of the great Pierre-Auguste Renoir. This will be a blockbuster. 6/17 - 9/6 2010.
To Love, Honor and Obey? - Italian Renaissance marriage chests; through 7/3/2010.
Hanging Around - Modern and contemporary lighting; 7/17 - 10/10/2010.
Eakins' "The Gross Clinic" Restored - The nineteenth century masterpiece as you've never seen it; 7/24 - 1/9/2011.
Picturing the West - Yokohama Prints from the 1800s; September - November, 2010.
Eakins on Paper - Celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Philadelphia Sketch Club; September - December 2010.
Desert Jewels - North African Jewelry; 9/4 - 12/2010.
Mark Cohen: Strange Evidence - Contemporary street photography; Fall 2010.
Michaelangelo Pistoletto: From One to Many - One of Europe's most influential living artists showcased with more than 100 works. 11/2/10 - 1/16/11.
Alessi: Ethical and Radical - Focusing on the influential Italian design house and its "house-hold objects." 11/21/10 - 4/10/11.
George Innes in Italy - Ten oil paintings from the pioneer of Tonalism. February - May, 2011.
Marc Chagall: Paris Through the Window - Chagall and his friends in Paris. March - July, 2011.
Roberto Capucci - An wide-ranging survey of the works of the widely-admired Italian fashion designer and artist ; 3/16 - 6/5/2011.
Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus - More than 50 related paintings, prints and drawings from the great Dutch master. August - October 2011.
Van Gogh Up Close - A blockbuster exhibition including 45 paintings from the great impressionist in a show organized by curators Joseph Rishel and Jennifer Thompson. January - May 2010.

'Please Help' Needs Help

Critics throughout the country have been extolling a small independent film called Please Help.
So many good things have been said about it that I felt I must see.
And last night I did.
The film runs about 90 minutes. It's blessedly short.
And there's really not much to it.
Basically, it's a series of inter-related character studies without much of a story.
There isn't so much as a plot to it. Not very much actually happens.
And the characters don't really interact very much.
And then there's this: Most of the characters are sad and/or misguided.
So the film winds up being not merely dark but downright depressing.
For some strange reason, people are comparing this to Woody Allen's best films. They are wrong.
Woody Allen's best films had a European-style human touch to them. The stories embraced the characters and you got the sense that, even with all their faults, Allen was loving and forgiving toward his characters. He could be brutally honest and generous at the same time.
This film is not like that.
Please Help needs help.
Sadly, it's a total downer. And, it's just not worth seeing.

Capitalism's Champion: Who Was it?

Who was it that said capitalism is "a great system if we only seize it with both hands and make the most of it?"
Was it a shameless promoter like Phineas T. Barnum?
Was it the father of the bully pulpit, Theodore Roosevelt?
Was it an unscrupulous gangster such as Al Capone?
Was it a captain of industry such as John D. Rockefeller or Andrew Carnegie?
Or was it a modern-day entrepreneurial success such as Martha Stewart?
Who do you think it was?
Vote at the top right of this page.
In about a week, we'll reveal the answer.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Blog Welcomes Visitors From All Over The World

Hello Great Britain and France.
Welcome Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
Thanks for visiting from Norway and Greece and Finland and Argentina.
And yes, we welcome Iran as well.
People from all of these countries have visited this blog just within the last few days.
With nearly 150,000 visitors and more than 325,000 page views, we proudly proclaim: "We welcome the world!"

Governor Christie Appoints DCF Commissioner

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has announced the appointment of Dr. Allison Blake of Raritan Township as the new the Commissioner of the Department of Children and Families (DCF).
In appointing Dr. Blake, Governor Christie said, “Dr. Blake has a distinguished career as both a professor and public servant and I have no doubt her excellent track record will continue in my Administration. She is a strong, experienced leader that will ensure that this key agency will be run effectively and efficiently. I look forward to a swift confirmation by the State Senate.”
The Department of Children and Families is New Jersey’s state child welfare agency and encompasses Youth and Family Services; Child Behavioral Health Services; Prevention and Community Partnerships; Specialized Education Services; Child Welfare Training Academy; and the Centralized Child Abuse/Neglect Hotline. DCF was created in July 2006 as New Jersey's first Cabinet agency devoted exclusively to serving and safeguarding the most vulnerable children and families in the state.

Dr. Allison Blake, Commissioner of Children and Families
Dr. Allison Blake is currently the Director of the Institute for Families at the Rutgers School of Social Work, where she oversees a portfolio of over $30 million in grants and contracts aimed at strengthening families by building the capacity of the individuals and organizations that serve them. Previously, Dr. Blake served in several leadership capacities at the Council on Accreditation (COA), an international organization that develops best practice standards for public and private organizations that provide services across the continuum of care throughout North America. While at COA, Dr. Allision focused on helping agencies build their capacity to improve service delivery as COA’s Director of Public Agency and Government Relations and then its Vice President of Accreditation Operations.

Dr. Blake spent 18 years at the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services, where she worked in various direct service and administrative positions. She later worked with the team charged with developing a blueprint for improving the capacity of the child welfare system to improve services to the state's at-risk children and families.
Dr. Blake is also a faculty member at the Rutgers School of Social Work where she teaches in the nonprofit and public agency management concentration.
She is the Region IV Rep to the NASW Board of Directors, and a past president of the New Jersey Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. On the national level, Dr. Allison serves as a member of the National Sponsor Group for the Positioning Public Child Welfare Initiative, a joint venture of the American Public Human Services Association and Casey Family Programs.
Dr. Blake holds a Ph.D. in social work from Fordham University, a Masters of Science in social work from Rutgers University, and a Bachelor of Science in social work from University of Dayton. She currently resides in Raritan Township, NJ.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Chris Christie As Jackie Gleason?


Here's the deal: If New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is going to become a national star, then we've got to start thinking of him in terms of the great national stars -- the great icons -- that we've known and loved.
We've already noted Chris Christie's resemblance to actor Oliver Platt.
That's in the present.
But what about the legendary stars of the past?
Well, Christie often reminds us of the original "Great One," Jackie Gleason.
Governor Christie assumes the "everyman" cloak just as well as Gleason did when Gleason played bus driver Ralph Kramden on the legendary "Honeymooners" TV series. And Christie can seem as frustrated as Kramden when he has to deal with some of the clueless Democrat legislators in Trenton. In fact, we can almost hear Christie belting: "One of these days... One of these days... POW! Right in the kisser!"
But Christie could also be another Gleason character, Joe The Bartender. That's because the Governor has proved to be a very good listener. He really seems to listen to and understand the concerns of ordinary people. And this common touch gives him a keen insight into what's on people's minds. That's a vital asset for any successful politician.
We must admit that we've never been able to fit Christie into the role of another famous Gleason creation, The Poor Soul. Up to this point, the Governor has rarely engendered sympathy or pity. He seems much too proud for that. You get the sense that Christie would leave the stage before he ever got to that point.
Finally, there's Reginald Van Gleason III, the wealthy top-hated snob who lives amidst a world of mansions and servants. Could Cristie be tempted by such heights of fame, fortune and unbridled power? Perish the thought! If that ever happened he'd cease to be Chris Christie. And that would rob us all of one of New Jersey's most vivid and memorable personalities.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Governor Eyes NJ Affordable Housing Reforms

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie today outlined a realistic and achievable plan for affordable housing that creates a standards-based, municipally controlled system with minimal involvement from the State. New Jersey is facing dramatically different economic, demographic and social circumstances since the original Fair Housing Act was passed 25 years ago, which is why the current affordable housing system must be retired and replaced.
Under the new system, the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) and State-imposed housing obligations will be abolished and fair, affirmative, locally directed obligations to build low and moderate-income housing will be created.
As a result of the proposed changes, the rehabilitation of existing housing stock with be encouraged, a process largely neglected in the current system, and the affordable housing system will be moved away from state-controlled mandates and towards a locally-based system that focuses on future development.
The Governor’s proposal calls for a 10 percent affordable housing unit requirement in development projects greater than 10 units (i.e. 2 affordable units for a 20 unit development), and requires a payment to a municipal affordable housing trust fund for projects between 2 and 10 units. The Governor recommends provisions to give priority housing trust funding for projects that provide special needs housing.
“These new measures will help to fix a broken system by promoting sensible, predictable and achievable planning to implement change,” said Governor Christie. “Affordable housing is a responsibility that must be naturally considered as part of normal development and local decision making. With strictly limited State involvement in the process, we are finally allowing for flexibility and customization that acknowledges our state’s unique economic, community and housing needs.”
In February, Governor Christie created a five-member Housing Opportunity Task Force chaired by former Senator Marcia Karrow to examine the State’s existing approach to affordable housing and present recommendations to fulfill New Jersey’s constitutional obligations in a manner consistent with sound planning and economic growth. In addition, the Legislature is actively considering reforms to affordable housing through legislation sponsored in the Senate by Senators Raymond Lesniak (D-20), Christopher “Kip” Bateman (R-16) and Jeff Van Drew (D-1) and in the Assembly by Assemblymen Vincent Prieto (D-32) and David Rible (R-11).
“I look forward to working with members of the legislature to adopt a reform plan that empowers municipalities with the flexibility to meet their affordable housing obligations based on the unique situations, circumstances and needs of their respective communities,” added Governor Christie.
Under Governor Christie’s plan, municipalities will have an increased role in determining their affordable housing needs.

Municipalities will be required to conduct an inventory of existing affordable housing to determine what housing must be rehabilitated.
The municipality must then formulate a plan to accomplish the rehabilitation.

New affordable housing construction will be tied to future housing development.

Depending on the size of the residential development, affordable housing must be provided either on-site, off-site, or through a payment to the municipality’s affordable housing trust fund in lieu of actual construction.

Municipalities would be able to use funds in their affordable housing trust funds to support housing rehabilitation within their own municipality or in other municipalities which have significant rehabilitation needs but limited resources.

Special needs housing will be given priority for both development and funding.

Also under the proposed plan, the current 2.5% commercial development fee would be repealed, which will help encourage economic growth.
With regard to zoning, municipalities seeking to comply must demonstrate that undeveloped residentially-zoned land and redevelopment will accommodate the affordable housing requirement. A municipality seeking protection from legal challenges and court-imposed remedies must develop and adopt a housing element as part of their municipal master plan. State involvement in the new process will be substantially reduced.

State affordable housing quotas will be abolished

The Department of Community Affairs’ (DCA) will file municipally approved housing plans and make them publicly available.

If challenged, the Department of Community Affairs will conduct a review of municipal plans, which is limited to a determination that the plan is factually accurate and consistent with the law.

The DCA will continue to administer the State Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

Six months after the enactment of proposed legislation, the Fair Housing Act will be repealed and COAH will be abolished. Affordable housing plan certifications granted by COAH will remain in effect and are afforded the continued legal protections until the certifications expire. Municipalities with pending certification requests are permitted to pursue those certifications or may withdraw and develop new plans consistent with the new proposed law.
“Governor Christie and I recognize the affordable housing needs that many people in the state have,” said DCA Acting Commissioner Lori Grifa. “Unfortunately, the Council on Affordable Housing has often times been more burden than benefit to the point that New Jersey as a whole has fallen far short of its affordable housing goals,” “The Governor’s new affordable housing plan is a fresh approach that gives more control and flexibility to local governments while limiting state involvement. Ultimately, this plan will result in more affordable housing units being built in communities across the state.”

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tories' Way Forward Is Clear!


A special message to Britain's Conservatives this morning:
You can do this. You can succeed. You can triumph.
Look back, then ahead. And you will see that the way forward has been charted for you.
Remember from whence you came.
Be proud of your heritage and your legacy.
Be guided by it.
Be bold.
And move forward with courage and conviction.
Avanti!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Conservatives Now Rule Britain

Here is the first photo of Queen Elizabeth formally greeting Britain's new Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron.
The Queen asked Cameron to form a new government after the Labor Party's Gordon Brown tendered his resignation to Her Majesty.
This ends 13 years of Labor rule in Britain and ushers in a new conservative era. The Conservative Party gained the most votes in Britain;s recent national election.
Britain now joins Israel, Italy, France and Germany in moving the right.
Can American be far behind?

Monday, May 10, 2010

NJ Dems Want Another Tax Increase!

New Jersey State Senator Joe Kyrillos (R-Monmouth and member of the Senate Economic Growth Committee) issued the following statement today in response to Democrats' proposals to increase the income tax.
"Democrats made NJ uncompetitive with their last 115 tax increases, so I guess they figure there's no harm in 'just one more,'" said Kyrillos.
"The only way our State can create good jobs for people is to avoid the disastrous path of tax increases of the past and Democrats just haven't learned that lesson yet," he added.
"I find it ironic that the day our Governor is proposing ways to shrink government, Democrats are again proposing a way to let it grow out of control."

Christie Unveils Ambitious Reform Package

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie today took the necessary next step in bringing bold, fundamental reform to New Jersey by presenting to the Legislature a 33-bill package of reforms aimed at solving New Jersey’s property tax crisis.

The bill package, representing the legislative component of the Christie Reform Agenda, will put a hard cap on property tax increases and state spending at 2.5 percent, while giving municipalities, school districts, higher education institutions and county governments the necessary tools to control their costs and live within the cap.

“For far too long, New Jerseyans have been on the receiving end of higher and higher taxes imposed by state and local governments, which have been unable or unwilling to curb costs. Today, that comes to an end,” said Governor Christie. “With this package of bills, we are now taking action to bring to an end the current property tax crisis and giving people real relief. After talking about the direction we need to move, we now need to get down to business and enact these reforms.

“Today, we take an important step closer to lasting property tax relief. I am committed to working with the legislature so we can act and get this done to finally fulfill a long overdue obligation to the people of New Jersey to bring property taxes under control,” said Christie.

The centerpiece of this legislative package is “Cap 2.5,” a constitutional amendment creating a 2.5% cap on the increase in the property tax levy by municipal, school and county taxes and a 2.5% cap on spending for State government operations. Under Governor Christie’s proposal, the property tax levy cap allows for adjustments in the event a municipality adds new ratables, and provides a single exclusion from the cap: debt service payments. Current law provides for a 4% cap with at least 13 broad exclusions that render the cap virtually meaningless.

The package of bills provides key reform in a number of other critical areas for local government entities to directly address cost drivers and make living within “Cap 2.5” realistic and realizable. The Governor has recommended reform in the areas of civil service, collective bargaining, employee pensions and benefits, red tape and unfunded mandates, election reform and shared services.

Lena Horne Dead At 92


The Legendary Lena is gone.
Lena who exuded class and grace and wit and elegance and good old-fashioned moxie.
Lena, the Lady and Her Music -- the lady who did as much for American popular song as Duke Ellington or Ethel Waters or Nat King Cole or Louis Armstrong.
Lena, the headstrong lady who kept her head high, refused to compromise, fought the good fight for freedom and dignity and emerged towering over it all not just as a survivor but as a universal touchstone for personal pride, personal best, and remarkable perseverance's in the face of injustice and adversity.
Her name itself came to embody the sort of perfection in a performer that is all too rare: Lena Horne.
She was more than one of the most beautiful women in the world.
She was more than a great singer and incredibly versatile entertainer.
She was more than a great American and a universal icon.
She was a self-sustained force of nature who inspired millions.
And rightfully, she lived to see herself become part of Black history and part of American history.
Lena Horne was the first black performer to be signed to a long-term contract by a major Hollywood studio.
Way back in 1939 the great New York Times drama critic Brooks Atkinson first noticed her on stage in a Broadway revue and called her "a radiantly beautiful sepia girl." Radiantly beautiful she was. But she was no girl. Lena was a lady - always a lady, even when she fought like a tigress.
Movie critic Pauline Kael called her "ravishing" and noted that when she sang in a movie "you can forget the rest of the picture."
Lena was coffee with cream and that's the way Hollywood and pre-civil rights America liked it. But the real Lena was more espresso than latte.
And in the second half of her life the deeper, more resonant, richer, more expressive Lena began to emerge. And the world took that Lena to its heart.
It real catalyst for all this was the 1981 Broadway show, Lena Horne:The Lady And Her Music which ran for 14 months on Broadway and garnered rave reviews and a Tony Award. The show, which then toured around the world, was a talking, singing, performing biography that included two versions of Lena's biggest hit, Stormy Weather. The first version was the smooth, sultry, early-Lena version, cool and collected. The second version (at the end of the show) was the all-out, soulful, full-throttle late-Lena version, defiant, daring and unapologetic.
These two sides of Lena embodied not just the two sides of Black America but also the two sides that all of us have and that all of us know we have: our public and our private personas; our prepared and proper side and our more uninhibited, wilder, raw side.
Lena knew about both sides and she wasn't afraid of either side.
I'm so proud to say that I saw Lena, live in concert three times.
Each time was a magical, unforgettable evening.
Late in her life, Lena looked back and said this: “My identity is very clear to me now. I am a black woman. I’m free. I no longer have to be a ‘credit.’ I don’t have to be a symbol to anybody; I don’t have to be a first to anybody. I don’t have to be an imitation of a white woman that Hollywood sort of hoped I’d become. I’m me, and I’m like nobody else.”
The Life. The Legend. The Lena.
Like. Nobody. Else.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Kagen Set For Supreme Court Nomination

Tomorrow (Monday) President Obama will reportedly nominate U. S. Solicitor General Elena Kagen to the United States Supreme Court.
This former Dean of the Harvard Law School is viewed as a "safe" choice for Obama inasmuch as little is known about her specific views on hot-button political issues. Kagen is considered a "clean slate" even though it's quite clear she is a solid liberal choice.
In short, Kagen leans left and it's unlikely she'll be drifting to the right anytime soon.
In fact, while so-called "conservative" appointees to the court often drift to the left over time, liberal appointees almost never drift to the right. If anything, they usually become more liberal while serving on the court.
Why does this happen?
Many theories are offered but they all seem to come back to the haughty, cloistered nature of the court itself and the sustained pressure of the elite class in that hothouse known as "inside the beltway." The combination is suffocating and self-perpetuating.
Conservatism, on the other hand is grounded in common sense individualism. It does not thrive within rigid intellectual confines.
But Washington is a land of enforced group think where common sense quickly withers and dies.
I may be wrong but I have a feeling Kagen will fit right in.

We Shouldn't Need Mother's Day

We shouldn't need Mother's Day to remind us that mothers are important.
And hopefully most people really don't need Mother's Day for such a reminder.
I know I don't
Even though my Mother passed away eleven years ago, she is still with me every day. She is still at my side. She is still here for me. She still comforts me. She still encourages me. She still cheers me up. She still urges me onward.
Why?
Because she gave me love.
And love really is eternal.
It never leaves us. It never goes away. It never dies.
When a mother gives boundlessly and unconditionally of her love, she actually seizes a slice of immortality. That's one of the great miracles of motherhood.
My mother was a very proud woman -- proud but always accessible, always approachable. She carried herself with great dignity and actually appeared taller and more regal than she really was.
But she was irrepressibly human.
She was also funny and quite a cutup. She had a knack for mimicking others in a generous but nonetheless targeted manner. Quickly, and shrewdly, she sized people up and then followed her instincts.
Though not formally educated past grade school, she read the newspapers assiduously every day. So, she had a keen sense of what was going on around her and throughout the world.
She did not dwell on the past but rather always looked to the future.
She didn't burden herself with unpleasant thoughts and didn't have an ounce of spitefulness or vindictiveness in her.
She was not a complainer, even under the most trying circumstances.
Always, she was sustained by her immediate family. Her family always came first.
She was happiest when her family was with her. She never smiled so brightly or so warmly or so genuinely as when she gazed upon her family.
And we were there for her till the very end, doing all that we could to give back to her just a bit of the love that she gave us.
So, we never need Mother's Day then and we don't need it now.
Just as my Mother's love was never in doubt, the love that my sister and I gave back to her was constant and unequivocal.
And it continues to this day and every day.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Toomey: Runaway Gov't. Spending Must End

From former Congressman and Pennsylvania US Senate candidate Pat Toomey:

Every college student graduating today will leave their carefree university days behind with $30,000 of debt on their shoulders. No, I’m not talking about student loans, but their share of the country’s publicly held debt.
According to President Barack Obama’s administration’s Office of Management and Budget, the country’s publicly held debt for the fiscal year 2010 will total an unprecedented $9.3 trillion. That is the amount by which our cumulative budget deficits have exceeded the rare surpluses throughout our history. As the federal government continues its unprecedented borrowing and spending, that number is projected to rise to $14 trillion in 2015, or 73 percent of our national output.
The problem is, money doesn’t grow on trees — as our parents always told us. The federal government will have to pay back its debt somehow, and that leaves us, the American taxpayers, to foot the bill. The 2010 debt comes out to a whopping $30,000 dollars per man, woman and child — an unconscionable $120,000 for a family of four. In 2015, that burden will rise to $44,000 and $176,000 for the typical family. This is an outrage.
So, how did we get to this place?
When I served in Congress, I often criticized my Republican colleagues for abandoning their erstwhile commitment to fiscal responsibility. I thought we needed to stop the runaway spending and get control of our debt. But Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and company make the Republican big spenders look like rank amateurs by comparison.
First, they continued President George W. Bush’s ill-conceived bailouts of Wall Street, the auto companies and housing giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Then, they passed the $787 billion so-called stimulus, pouring taxpayer dollars into politically motivated and often wasteful projects. These included $3.4 million for a road-passage for turtles in Lake Jackson, Florida, $1 million for a non-existent Oklahoma lake and $100,000 to renovate a privately owned restaurant.
The Democrats in Congress had several opportunities to reverse some of the damage they had caused by ending the $700 billion Wall Street bailout after one year and dedicating the remaining funds to reducing the debt. Despite bipartisan support for this prudent proposal, a majority of Senators voted against the measure, thus renewing the taxpayer-funded bonanza for yet another year.
The administration also passed a whopping $3.6 trillion budget for the fiscal year 2010 and additional spending bills stuffed with wasteful pork projects. At a time when families all across the country were forced to tighten their belts to make ends meet, Congress was letting loose.
To understand how bad Washington’s spending addiction has gotten, it is useful to offer a little historical perspective. Since the end of World War II, every administration has kept government spending at about 20 percent of our domestic output. In 2009 alone, the Democratic-controlled Congress increased spending to about 25 percent of our Gross Domestic Product — that amounts to a 25-percent increase in the size of the federal government virtually overnight!
In 2008, Bush’s final budget deficit totaled $459 billion. Now, that is a lot of money, and Republicans should never have allowed it to get that high. But even that large number constituted only 3.2 percent of GDP. One year of complete Democratic control and our deficit skyrocketed to $1.6 trillion, or nearly an astonishing 11 percent of our GDP in 2009. This is all the more frightening when you consider that Greece is facing the specter of default with a deficit that was 12.7 percent of GDP 2009.
An old adage comes to mind: “When you’re in a hole, the first thing you should do is stop digging.” But with the Democrats in control of the entire government in Washington, all Congress has done is dig.
Reigning in out-of-control spending that is creating unsustainable debt should not be subject to political gamesmanship. It is imperative that Washington politicians join together in a bipartisan movement to save our country from financial ruin. For the sake of our children and grandchildren, we simply must stop digging.