Quite interesting! Very Obama-ish.
Operation Take Back New Jersey
The Gloucester Township Police will help township residents properly dispose of old medications.
Click here for more info.
320 out of 566. Nice job council!
Click here for the report and the list.
|Road-funding crisis looms for N.J.|
The day of reckoning for New Jersey roads and mass transit is drawing closer, with no indication from Gov.-elect Christopher J. Christie about how he hopes to replenish the nearly empty fund for transportation projects.
The state Transportation Trust Fund is projected to run dry by June 2011, leaving the new governor with two unsavory options: borrow more money or raise taxes and tolls. So far, he has said he is against both.
Christie, who argued against additional debt during his gubernatorial campaign, approved a decision by the Transportation Trust Fund Authority this month to borrow $1.2 billion, bringing the fund's debt to about $11.6 billion.
The new borrowing should provide enough money to pay for transportation projects for the six months after Christie takes office on Jan. 19.
That will leave about $1.6 billion before the fund is tapped out. After that, all of the $895 million that annually flows to the fund from tolls and fuel and sales taxes will be needed to pay the interest on previously borrowed money. No money will be available for new transportation projects.
With New Jersey's budget deep in the red, transportation funding is just part of the financial nightmare that awaits Christie.
Late last month, the state said it faced a $1 billion shortfall in this year's budget - a deficit five times larger than previously disclosed - and would have to cut funding for schools, municipalities, higher education, hospitals, and pension plans.
In the area of transportation, Christie will confront several unpleasant realities. New Jersey has the worst roads in the country, according to road-condition data compiled by the Federal Highway Administration. It also has the highest state/local tax burden in the country, according to the Tax Foundation.
With the third-largest debt load of all the states, New Jersey has little room to borrow its way out of trouble.
Christie is "committed to ensuring our roads are safe and viable" because a "strong infrastructure is critical to New Jersey's economic growth," his spokeswoman Maria Comella said.
"However, the way to fund these projects is not by relying on borrowing and undercutting the purpose of having a fund that is meant to provide a stable, long-term financial resource."
Christie will "reevaluate everything" to find ways to cut the deficit, Comella said.
But he "will not support an increase in the gas tax or tolls," she said.
Some state legislators have advocated raising the state gas tax, the fourth-lowest in the nation. The current tax is 14.5 cents per gallon, including a 4-cent-a-gallon petroleum-products gross-receipts tax.
State Sen. Ray Lesniak (D., Union) said he would introduce a bill in the next legislative session to increase the gas tax "gradually and incrementally," perhaps by a penny a year. He said he was looking for support from Christie.
"Sooner rather than later, we will have to increase the gas tax to fund our transportation needs," Lesniak told a New Jersey Business and Industry Association meeting this month.
Some Republican lawmakers have said privately they might be willing to join Democrats in voting to increase the hike if the added income was constitutionally required to go to highway projects. That would require approval from voters.
Other Republicans don't foresee a successful push to raise the tax.
"The gas tax is a nonstarter," said State Sen. Sean Kean (R., Monmouth), a member of the Senate Transportation Committee. "The governor has already said he's not doing a gas tax."
Kean suggested that about $500 million from Motor Vehicle Commission fees could be shifted to transportation spending. That money now goes to the general fund for spending on such things as education and care for the indigent.
"That does create another gap somewhere else," Kean acknowledged. "We could not ask for a worse set of circumstances. . . . We're going to see draconian cuts across the board in the first several months of the year."
Kean said the state might also have to accept less spending on transportation projects. "We may have to lessen the capital program. We may not get everything we want," he said.
But Assemblyman Scott Rumana (R., Passaic), the assistant GOP leader and a member of the Assembly Transportation Committee, said the state needed to keep transportation spending at the current annual $1.6 billion.
"I think you need to carve out that $1.6 billion and put it in a lockbox somewhere," Rumana said. "We know that we're going to have to make very radical cuts, based on the crisis we're in . . . but I think that out of a $30 billion budget, you have to find $1.6 billion for transportation."
Christie will deliver his first budget to the Democratic-controlled legislature in March. By then, the transportation-funding crisis will be a key issue, and he is unlikely to present any rosy options to lawmakers.
"The choices suck," said one GOP aide. "You can cut back heavily on other spending, raise the gas tax or the sales tax, or defer stuff even further" with more borrowing.
The most recent borrowing was approved Dec. 9 by the Transportation Trust Fund Authority. Christie's office was consulted before the $1.2 billion bond issue was authorized, Comella said.
|Part-timers' pensions face probe|
Michael Angelini didn't have a computer in any West Deptford municipal building. He didn't fill out time sheets. He didn't have a township business card or a telephone or even a desk.
But the politically connected lawyer had a profitable arrangement: His retainer as West Deptford's solicitor was reported to the state pension system as salary.
With that deal, and part-time jobs with 11 other government entities over 27 years, Angelini built up a taxpayer-funded pension worth more than $100,000 a year, according to a scathing report by Inspector General Mary Jane Cooper released last week.
Angelini, chairman of the Gloucester County Democratic Party, has never won election to a public office, has never been a full-time government employee, and continued working as a partner in a South Jersey law firm while collecting up to seven government checks at a time. Yet he is part of the same retirement system that includes career clerks and secretaries who clock in from 9 to 5 Monday through Friday.
The details of Angelini's employment in West Deptford, his hometown, illustrate how he compiled his generous retirement package and provide some of the most damning evidence against his eligibility for a public pension.
The circumstances surrounding Angelini's many government jobs raised "substantial questions" about the "propriety" of his enrollment in the Public Employees Retirement System, according to Cooper.
In West Deptford and elsewhere, she wrote, Angelini appeared to have been a private contractor, not a government employee. In general, private contractors are ineligible for a state pension, though there have been exceptions.
State Treasury Department spokesman Tom Bell said Angelini applied for his pension in the last year. He said approval was on hold because of the inspector general's report.
Cooper examined Angelini's job history after a review of the South Jersey Transportation Authority raised questions about his employment there. Her 66-page report has been sent to the state Attorney General's Office.
Angelini has said little since the report was released, but he has defended his work as legitimate. So have several of his former employers.
Thousands of people in New Jersey have worked at more than one government entity simultaneously. When the Treasury Department released figures on the practice in 2005, Angelini's combined salaries were topped by those of 19 others with multiple jobs.
The practice was so common that lawmakers barred some part-time government workers, including lawyers, from the state retirement system starting in 2008.
Private contractors were generally ineligible for the pension system even before that law went into effect, Treasury Department spokesman Tom Vincz said.
Cooper's investigation, unusual in its focus on one individual, repeatedly distinguishes between employees and contractors, never more sharply than in examining Angelini's West Deptford work.
Angelini had 21 "pensionable" years as solicitor there, the most for any of his public jobs. He was rewarded handsomely, topping out in 2007 with a township salary of $84,000, the most he has earned in a government job.
It was also in West Deptford, the report said, that Angelini for the first time had his retainer treated as a pensionable salary.
He was hired there for a year in 1986 and returned in 1989, working as township solicitor until 2008, his last year of government employment.
Angelini's contracts with West Deptford specified that he was to be paid an annual retainer "in lieu of any salary," according to the report. Nonetheless, the township reported the payments as salary, making them eligible in his pension calculation.
Angelini told investigators that his predecessor had had the same arrangement. Angelini continued to collect pension credits for the job, even when his contracts, from at least 1999 on, let him dole out some township legal work to his associates.
The firm, Angelini, Viniar, & Freedman, would bill the township after deducting Angelini's retainer. Payments to the firm came from West Deptford's general reimbursement account. Angelini's part was paid separately: through payroll.
"This evidence tends to indicate that the Township retained a law firm to represent it rather than hiring an employee attorney and the billing method was an accommodation to Angelini so that he could obtain pension credits," the report said.
In fact, the retainer paid Angelini, and factored into his pension, "is not allotted to any particular services," the report noted. "It would be extremely difficult for Angelini to prove that he did the work for which he received pension credits."
In a statement last week, Angelini said he and his firm had always "acted appropriately and with the best interests of our clients first and foremost."
"Enrollment in the pension system was part of the compensation agreed to with the public entities which my law firm and I represented, and pension eligibility was a factor in the business decision which we made in undertaking the representation," the statement said.
In the statement, Angelini said that he had paid into the system as well and "followed the rules and practices in effect at the time of my enrollment in the pension system." Reached by phone on Friday, he would not comment further.
West Deptford Mayor Anna Docimo said in a statement that the township believed it had always complied with the law in regard to professional service providers and pension eligibility.
Docimo did not return a call seeking a response to follow-up questions on Friday.
Angelini drew attention when he testified in the trial of former Camden County Democratic Sen. Wayne Bryant, who last year was convicted of, among other things, fraudulently boosting his pension by collecting credits for jobs in which his law associates did most of the work. Among Bryant's public jobs was a legal position at the Gloucester County Board of Social Services, where Angelini worked for 20 years and earned up to $66,634 a year.
At Bryant's trial, Angelini testified that it was not unusual for associates to help with legal work, even if a specific attorney got pension credit.
Freeholder Director Stephen Sweeney, a Democrat who is also the state Senate majority leader, said Friday that both Bryant and Angelini were working for the board before he was elected. They were reappointed during his county tenure.
Sweeney said the Board of Social Services had since been absorbed into county government and added that he voted for the effort to bar part-time lawyers from the pension system.
Gloucester County released a statement saying "there are no allegations in the report that the taxpayers were defrauded in any way. The report indicates no wrongdoing by Gloucester County or any autonomous agencies."
But taxpayers could be on the hook for Angelini's pension, pending a Treasury Department ruling.
In his three-year earning peak, Angelini made more than $200,000 annually in public jobs, with about two-thirds of his pay coming from West Deptford and the board of social services.
Those years are crucial because the state calculates pension benefits using an employees' three highest-paid years of service.
Gov.-elect Christopher J. Christie, who as U.S. attorney prosecuted Bryant, said this week he had not seen the inspector general's report and declined to comment on Angelini specifically, but he sharply criticized pension abuses.
"There should be one job, one public paycheck, one pension," he said. "And if you're a part-timer, you shouldn't get a pension."
A spokesman for Attorney General Anne Milgram has said that her office would review the inspector general's findings.
Still no updated Gloucester Township web site. Ever wonder why?
Many area towns have web sites where they conduct their business on-line. A well designed web site reduces the costs of providing services to township residents. Did you ever ask yourself why the Gloucester Township web site isn't used more?
April 13, 2009.
"Mrs. Lovett made a motion to adopt, seconded by Mrs. Evans. On The Question: Mr. Mercado asked who placed this on the agenda. Mr. Bianchini stated that Mrs. Lovett placed this on the agenda. Mrs. Lovett stated that she put this on the agenda after speaking to Mr. Cardis and after the budget passed, as it still is in the budget. Mr. Cardis stated that $24,000.00 is still in the budget for this project. There was a question as to if the bid is still ok. Mr. Cardis stated that both bidders agreed to hold the bid. Mr. Cardis stated that he was verbally told this. Mrs. Evans stated that this is a good idea as the website needs refurbishing. Mr. Garbowski questioned whether the website could be upgraded in house. Mr. Cardis stated that it can be as far as putting pictures on it. Mrs. Lovett that a new website could do more and could link to other things. She stated that if Joan Eller could do this, why hasnít it been done. Mr. Mercado stated that once all budget issues were resolved, the council would bring this up again. Mrs. Lovett stated that the proposals were reviewed and to not do this, is holding the township back. Roll call vote: Mrs. Lovett and Mrs. Evans voted yes, all others voted no. Motion denied 42."
A powerful message from local soldier Joe Cook that every American needs to see...
Is this the greatest movie line ever? Click Here....
|October 1, 2008||Shocking video of how we allowed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac cause our economic crisis. A must view... (external link)|
|April 15, 2008||Who's better on taxes and social security? Click on this link to find out!|
|March 17, 2008||The Lawyers' Party|
|January 3, 2009||"you've got to make cuts across the board; every single department in the budget - everything - must be affected." Councilman Dan Hutchison (who doesn't think more money is coming from the state) to the Inquirer during an interview about council's budget.|
|December 16, 2008||No quotes. The sobering budget discussion seemed to take the "edge" off of council.|
|May 28, 2008||"Look before you leap." Councilman Dan Hutchison's advice to the Solar Committee to proceed cautiously as they develop the Solar proposal originally submitted to council in 2001.|
|May 19, 2008||No quotes. We weren't allowed to attend the meeting.|
|May 14, 2008||"It's a goal." Council President Glen Bianchini remark about the council approved a zero increase ordinance (R-08:05-160) after a concerned citizen brought to council's attention the known loss of $1.1 million in state aid and reminded council about the one time $1.2 million revenue from the Nike developer.|
|May 14, 2008||"Can't we rise above the pettiness?" Orlando Mercado closing remarks 5/14 council meeting after the mayor pleaded for a responsible budget ordinance and cooperation with council on the budget. Council approved a zero increase ordinance (R-08:05-160).|
Gloucester Township Report Archive
|Fall Report 2008|
|Spring and Summer Report 2008|