Dear Trenton: a race to the VERY bottom!

To my friends in the NJ State Legislature, let me start this message by saying that my sister used to believe I was so far to the “right,” I didn’t need left shirt sleeves. Tony Wieners used to say those of us in law enforcement were conservatives with Democratic needs. Whether you are right, center or left, I just have to get S-1711 off my chest this month. In case you voted on it and didn’t get a chance to peruse it, please allow me to give you some CliffNotes from the bill:

- Amending or terminating any existing contracts (excluding financing instruments such as bonds);
- Modifying the terms, including wages and hours, or other terms of collective negotiations agreements or terminating any collective negotiations agreements to which the municipality is a party;
- Negotiating, on behalf of the municipality, future collective bargaining agreements;
- Abolishing any positions in the municipality;
- Unilaterally appointing, transferring, or removing employees.

Humor me and please go back and re-read that just one more time; it’s kind of important to those of us who have dedicated our lives to serving the citizens of New Jersey. Allow me to pull the old “Miriam Webster says” for a second. Unilateral means: “Done or undertaken by one person or party.”

Anybody want to hazard a guess who that might be?

Now, forgive me for insulting anybody but that places New Jersey public workers’ rights somewhere below Mississippi and a slight tick above China. I say New Jersey because that bill doesn’t say Atlantic City anywhere in its 22 pages. I checked.

This is a bill for all of New Jersey (granted, with some parameters). I’m not sure how anybody on either side of the aisle doesn’t read that and have the bejesus scared out of them. It really is a race to the very bottom. I hope that those of you who voted for it get another bite at the apple. I suspect you will.I was born and raised in this great state. I grew up squarely in the middle class. I grew up when a turnpike toll collector made enough with some overtime to own a home, own a couple cars and put
some kids through college. The turnpike still somehow banked plenty of cash. Same thing with a parks supervisor, and ditto for someone in a trade or a warehouse.

Those were great days. Food stamps were unheard of and hidden when they were used. Section 8 was the section on a test that came after Section 7. WIC was how you lit a candle.

Now, we have this race to privatize. Let’s roll through the greedy public sector and abolish those making a livable wage picking up the trash, cleaning a park or a public building and give it to a private company. The last of the middle class will be offered a job with the company awarded the contract. Fairly awarded of course: $8.38 an hour with no pension or benefits. Sounds great to me. Sign me up.

“We got them all jobs,” one of you will proudly spout with a wry smile on your face when that privatization occurs. We will create an entire state of Walmart greeters who all need public assistance. How come nobody ever calculates the cost of welfare and federal housing when these things are done? Is the state suddenly flush with welfare cash? Is Medicare trying to blow all its extra money? Do landlords donate their properties for free to feds? Are hospitals doubling their “Charity Care” budgets? Can somebody PLEASE figure out what the real costs are?

Atlantic City, despite the same old rhetoric, is not far from getting this right. Nobody can stop a century of gross mismanagement and corruption in a year or two. The city needs the help that was
promised. AC Mayor Guardian loves his city and needs to have some help at the table. We’ve taken enough from there over the years, now some money back is needed.

I’m not much of a conspiracy theorist, but now I finally get these lyrics from Bruce Springsteen’s“Shackled and Drawn:”

Gambling man rolls the dice, workingman pays the bill
It’s still fat and easy up on banker’s hill
Up on banker’s hill, the party’s going strong
Down here below we’re shackled and drawn

Democrats against Democrats. Unions against unions. Public sector against public sector. What the hell have we become? Is anybody ashamed of all this? Anybody? Please?