Steve Sweeney has destroyed NJEA members. I mean he has devastated them. So what was NJEA thinking?

I don’t believe we have ever seen a Democrat side with a Republican to hurt a group of people so bad. NJEA went from a powerbroker to chump in a matter of a few years. All because of Sweeney and his buddy Christie.

Did the NJEA Leadership team believe that Steve Sweeney, the architect of Chapter 78, was going to become their savior? You have a better chance of seeing a unicorn in your classroom the first day of school. Now that would be pretty cool!

Unfortunately, wishing on a proven liar to do the right thing has never worked out for any group or person.

NJEA members must get rid of the current leadership or start a new union. I believe this NJEA may not be fixable. They are weak and everyone knows it.

Teachers deserve much more for the incredible amount in dues they pay this crew at 180 W. State Street.

My suggestion is to start over.  NJEA is a different animal than it once was in the 1980’s.  It is now something like a unicorn, nonexistent.

The Deadbeat Government of NJ

GIFlogoColorSmall.                The state government of NJ is a DEADBEAT. No, it is worse than a DEADBEAT. And the workers of NJ should be fuming angry. The government of NJ has a contractual promise with their workers. And they haven’t paid.  They have been a DEADBEAT since the early 1990’s. In fact, now, they are trying to use loopholes in laws that they have written and signed to not pay at all. What would happen if NJ residents didn’t pay taxes? They would be breaking the law. We should expect the government to be held to the same standard. They are breaking the law and they are using excuses and flawed reasoning to not pay. It is so bad that some are currently pushing a constitutional amendment to make the government pay the money into the pension that no one can deny they owe to the workers of NJ. That my friends is a DEADBEAT. A DEADBEAT government. The people of NJ should be outraged. If the government gets away with this you may be next. When the people need a constitutional amendment to hold the government accountable we have a major problem.

Calling All Humiliated NJ Teachers: People are trying to destroy you and your family

GIFlogoColorSmall                         Governor Christie has followed suit like another Republican Governor, Scott Walker of Wisconsin. Both are now Republican Presidential contenders. They have found a group of people to humiliate and inflict pain upon. The group of people they have chosen are not people most would think about hurting. They are majority women, who nurture and develop young minds, work very long hours for little pay, and  sacrifice their home life to make a difference in the lives of other people’s children. Yes, they are our public school teachers. Mr. Christie and Mr. Walker have berated, vilified and destroyed the emotional and financial lives of teachers in their states. They have created anxiety for hundreds of thousands of people who have devoted their lives to service. They have done it shamelessly, pitting neighbors against them like they are some sort of villains. Chris Christie has recently said teachers are part-time workers that want full time pay. He called teachers gluttons. He has compared public education to ISIS! What kind of society have we become? How can a major political party embrace fellas like this? Why hasn’t the media defended the teacher, instead of jumping on the teacher hating bandwagon? Teachers have now become some kind of enemy. I believe I know the answer, Political power. Political power to create a two class system: rich and poor. People like Walker and Christie humiliate and inflict pain to show their power. They do it to put people that oppose them in their place. The only way to stop them is to fight back hard. The only way to fight them is to not be afraid. The only way to fight them is to fight through the pain. In George Orwell’s 1984 it was said that “Power is inflicting pain and humiliation”. People like Christie and Walker will not stop. They will continue to inflict pain until you have NOTHING. So heed my warning colleagues and friends. I suggest that you reassess the next two months of summer and prioritize. Instead of going to the beach, go knock on doors for candidates that support you. If you decide not to get involved the pain and humiliation will continue.

Democrats and NJEA give New Jersey’s Christie a platform

GIFlogoColorSmall

Democrat Senator Steve Sweeney, listen up. You may have just given Chris Christie, a Republican from your state, a winning platform in the GOP primary for President of the United State of America. Sounds crazy, right? Especially in the these times of partisan politics that has swept our nation. However, Chris Christie and Steve Sweeney have created an alliance with others like Senator Teresa Ruiz, Assemblyman Brian Stack, Assemblyman Lou Greenwald and Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo. Guess what? They are all Democrats too!

Today, Chris Christie spouted off two accomplishments in NJ. Yes only two. That is all he can say. TENURE REFORM AND PENSION REFORM. Two things the GOP primary voters will love in New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina.  Senator Sweeney and his Democratic friends pushed these bills through the Democratic controlled legislature and now Chris Christie is running on these accomplishments for President. In a Democratic controlled legislature, you might be asking yourself, how do these bills even get out of committee? Does Senator Sweeney have another agenda? Where are the unions, NJEA for example?

Believe it or not, NJEA, the powerful teachers union, supported tenure reform. Yep, you heard it correctly. Let me say it again anyway, NJEA, the powerful teachers union supported tenure reform. Shocking, right? And pension reform, well, all of the workers are paying more and the State of NJ got a free pass on the law from the Supreme Court of NJ. You might be saying, what do you mean? Here is what I mean: The workers have been royally screwed and the pension system is not reformed one iota. Crazy, right? The pension law of 2011 was supposed to fix the pension system. Yet all it did was put a massive burden on public employees and the pension system is getting worse by the day. Awesome, don’t you think?

Democrats like Sweeney have screwed the people of NJ. It looks as though Sweeney and NJEA have given Christie a platform to show he can work across the aisle. I can hear it from Christie, right now, I worked with the teachers union and democrats to change tenure. As a teacher in NJ and union member it is difficult to find a place to turn these days. Chris Christie is one of the worst Governor’s in the country, yet because democrats and my own union caved and sacrificed principles, Chris Christie has a strong platform for President of the United States.

Chris Christie: Sound the alarm

GIFlogoColorSmall.

Chris Christie by all standards of measuring politicians is a monumental failure. New Jersey’s economy stinks. What happened to “it’s the economy stupid”? Well, it is the economy. The economy for the affluent and well off. That is what Christie is being judged on by those in the Republican party. The economy for Christie’s constituents has never been better. Chris Christie is a hero, a knight in shining armor, if you will. Tomorrow, Chris Christie, will launch a bid for the highest office in the free world. And don’t count him as a long shot. The donor class in this country will choose whoever they think will protect their wealth more. The US Supreme Court with its infamous Citizens United decision gave the donor class an unbelievable advantage. They can now just buy elections. The contributions will be flowing freely, just like the champagne on the yachts of these people.

So what do you do if you aren’t part of this special donor class? You fight like hell, both day and night. You see, in our country, if you are apathetic or not engaged everything can be taken away. The donor class in this country has executed a strategy with outstanding accuracy. The donor class for the past 40 years has pitted the middle class people against each other. For example,  look at  the public pension issue that is troubling NJ and other states around the country. The donor class doesn’t want anyone to have a pension. So what we have seen over the past 40 years is the extinction of pensions in the private sector. However public employees have continued to get this very important benefit. The donor class, brilliantly, has been able to convince those in the private sector that public employees pensions are bad. In fact, they have said to the private sector worker, “you don’t have a pension why should they?” So what was once an instrument for a comfortable retirement has become a negative, bad thing. The donor class has executed this strategy of division with Tom Brady like precision. The donor class is very dangerous. What will be next? My friends, we are watching history play out in front of us. We are watching the American dream being taken away by the wealthy, donor class, who can frame people and buy elections. The average person is too busy trying to make ends meet to be concerned about this tyranny and oppression. Chris Christie is a dangerous man. He lies and will do anything to protect the wealth of his friends. It is exactly what the donor class wants in their leader. Chris Christie comes off at first as a straight shooter, a regular guy, telling it like it is. In fact,  he fooled the people of NJ twice. He will be able to fool the rest of America. Chris Christie is not a long shot by any stretch.

NJ TEACHERS: Come on “GREED IS GOOD”

GIFlogoColorSmallTeachers and public employees are being described as greedy and gluttonous by  Governor Chris Christie for serving the state of NJ and demanding payment for services rendered. Teachers and ESP’s are serving our state’s number one priority, the children. So how are teachers the greedy, gluttonous people Governor Christie claims them to be? I remember Gordon Gekko, in the film “Wall Street” declaring “Greed is Good”. But who is really greedy? Here are the facts about greed. Let’s start here. “The income of households in the top tenth of the income scale more than tripled between 1997 and 2006. At that same time, the incomes of the remaining 90 percent of households barely grew-increasing by only 10 over the next 30 years.” Wow! Let’s look at a history of taxes in America and see who is really greedy. Under Dwight D. Eisenhower the Marginal Tax Rate on income above $400,000 dollars was 91%  and the highest tax rate on capital gains was 25%. In 2015 the Marginal Tax Rate on income above $400,000 is 35% and the highest tax rate on capital gains is 15%.  In New Jersey,  if you are single and make $75,000 dollars you pay the same marginal tax rate as an individual making $499,999 dollars. Doesn’t seem very fair, now does it? The tax rates and tax code have been shifted to benefit the wealthiest Americans and New Jerseyans for over 60 years. Yet the middle class is dwindling, people can’t make ends meet, and the Governor wants to call teachers and public employees the greedy ones. The legislature tried with this budget to take the top marginal rate 8.97% and bump it to 10.75% for just four years. Allowing it to sunset at the time. Guess what? The Governor decided to not fund the pension and cater to the wealthiest of New Jerseyans by vetoing this miniscule tax increase on earners above $499,999. In his estimation, the greedy teachers, with their pensions, which rank as one of the worst pensions in the country are the gluttons. Governor Christie put the wealthiest 14,000 New Jersey residents above the 800,000 NJ public employees. Don’t people making over $400,000 dollars have a lot of money already? So according to the Governor someone with a small pension is greedier than someone making over $400,000 who doesn’t want a minsiscule tax increase to help fund pension obligations.  It doesn’t sound like good economic policy or good moral conscience. The fact that he is framing teachers as the greedy takers shows the depths this man will go to protecting the interests of his rich friends. Mr. Christie has declared war on the givers in NJ. Yes folks, class warfare. The war has begun whether we like it or not. The good news is we have 800,000 troops to their 14,000. The bad news is they have all the money. We better start fighting NOW, before greed leaves you eating dog food in your golden years. I better NOT use the word golden. It might be viewed as too greedy.  Retirement years. 

NJEA’s BIG MISTAKE- Wendell Steinhauer and Thomas J. Healey Not Perfect Together

GIFlogoColorSmall

NJEA President Wendell Steinhauer “on the record” with Michael Aaron had to answer for the signed roadmap with the Christie Pension and Benefits Commission, again. The problem is NJEA should have never been sitting down with this supposed independent commission from the very beginning. If you read the 52 page Christie commission report, it suggests major cuts in health care benefits and drastic cuts in pension promises. There was nothing beneficial at all to the NJEA members in the report. Nothing at all.
When you look at the leader of this independent group and who’s signature is next to NJEA President Wendell Steinhauer and NJEA Executive Director Ed Richardson the proverbial writing should have been on the wall. Thomas J. Healey who worked in the Reagan Administration and is a retired partner of Goldman Sachs is the coordinator of the commission, appointed by Chris Christie. Does anyone believe that Ronald Reagan or Goldman Sachs cares about the public employees pension system? It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to recognize that the commission’s report is not going to bode well for the members of NJEA or any of the public employees. So why the signatures from NJEA leaders? Here is the approach outlined by of the commission:
• Freeze the existing pension plans; benefits earned to date would not be affected, but taxpayers cannot afford additional benefits to be earned under the existing plans
• Align future public employee retirement benefits with private-sector levels; this is the sensible thing to do on its own merits and the savings will make funding more secure for employees and less painful to taxpayers
• Also align public employee health benefits with private-sector levels; get ahead of the curve in controlling these staggering costs before they crowd out retirement benefits from State and local budgets
• Fairly realign State and local responsibility for new and sustainable pension and health benefits; this will produce the best result from the perspective of employees and the State’s taxpayers as a whole
• Lock in fixed and certain pension funding with a constitutional amendment; this will protect employees and retirees from the vagaries of politics and the annual budget process, improve the State’s financial condition, and make clear to all that the people of New Jersey have taken ownership of the problem and the solution
• Transfer the assets, liabilities and risks of the existing pension and new retirement plans to employee entities willing and able to assume this obligation; allow those who receive the benefits to have the power and assume the risk of managing the plans to ensure that the available funds are sufficient to pay for the provided benefits.

Every one of the steps outlined by the commission, led by Healey, would hurt NJEA members except the constitutional amendment. The constitutional amendment could easily be pushed without destroying the pension system. So what gives?

The outline is all about the taxpayers ( I guess public employees aren’t considered taxpayers). So why would NJEA sign on to such a roadmap? The answer because we need to look at all options by Mr. Steinhauer is beyond absurd. If a house is on fire, no one would look to pour gas on the fire, even though that is an option. So the logic used by Steinhauer is seriously flawed. Just because there is an option you don’t sign your name to discussing it if it is going to hurt the membership. The NJEA Leadership surely should not be looking to diminish benefits of their own members. Should they?
Over the past several months NJEA has moved away from what Mr. Steinhauer called Plan B. Michael Aron thought it was because the “rank and file” members pressured the NJEA Leadership against it. NJEA’s Wendell Steinhauer said it was because the numbers didn’t work. Michael Aron was correct. The NJEA members better continue putting the pressure on the NJEA Leadership because Thomas Healey was at it again last week in an op-ed spewing the same millionaire venom. NJEA members better hope that Mr. Steinhauer and Mr. Richardson are on their side and not on the side of getting the members $80 billion dollars and controlling the pension system. What other reason could there be for Steinhauer to sign a roadmap with someone like Healey?
http://www.state.nj.us/treasury/pdf/FinalFebruaryCommissionReport.pdf
http://www.nj.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/06/a_workable_template_for_solving_njs_pension_and_he.html
http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2014/08/christie_pension_commission_chair_says_panel_is_avoiding_politics.html

Chris Christie’s Pension Management Fees 3x greater than Jurassic World

GIFlogoColorSmall

This weekend Jurassic World broke the box office record for highest grossing debut films of all time. In the US Jurassic World took in an astonishing $204.6 million dollars the first weekend.

In New Jersey, Governor Christie, who recently reneged on the pension and benefits law he signed and touted should be explaining the over $600 million dollars in pension management fees to Wall Street managers. Governor Christie has paid Wall Street, in one year alone, three times more than one of the highest grossing US film debuts of all time. Yet Christie claims that he has no money to fund the pensions of workers in NJ. Let’s put this in perspective. In 2009, before Christie, Investment Management fees were $125.1 million dollars. They have since skyrocketed to over $600 million dollars in just five years under Christie. It seems like something out of a movie, right? Mr. Smith Goes to Washington comes to mind. Considering Christie in 2014 was supposed to contribute $1.58 billion to the NJ pension system and only paid $696 million the numbers are grossly alarming. Christie paid Wall Street close to the same amount he actually paid into the workers pension fund. All together, over the past five years, Governor Christie has paid Wall Street over $1.5 billion dollars in financial fees. It gets better. The funds aren’t even performing at the average national median in return rates. In fact, they are significantly lower.

If the state of NJ would have just met the average national median in return rates on these investments, it would have made $3.8 billion dollars in additional money. That would be enough to cover the pension payment for NJ workers. It looks as though NJ has its own Indominus Rex, his name is Chris Christie, and this is not science fiction.

http://www.ibtimes.com/chris-christie-administration-paid-600m-financial-fees-2014-1833872

http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2014/06/christie_can_cut_pension_payment_to_balance_budget_judge_rules.html

http://www.ibtimes.com/gov-christie-shifted-pension-cash-wall-street-costing-new-jersey-taxpayers-38-billion-1667622

NJ Teachers in Mister Christie’s neighborhood

GIFlogoColorSmall                        

It is the morning of June 14, 2015. What has become of our society?  I ponder this thought on a hot, humid morning, taking a break from grading papers and writing curriculum. What  has become of our society when teachers, police officers, firefighters have become the enemy? As a teacher in the state of NJ it has been heartbreaking. For the past five years the Governor of NJ, Mister Christie his name, has vilified, disgraced and dehumanized the profession I love. The teacher in NJ is now compared to a terrorist, union is now a negative term, and the profession has now been given part-time working status.  Additionally, the NJ court has ruled that contracts can be broken by the government and fear and anxiety dominate the thoughts of our retired and active teachers and ESP’s around the state. They are worrying that their retirement promise will be broken after years of sacrifice. What has become of society that allows a Governor to break a profession that gives everything to the students they serve? Whether it be money for supplies or emotional support when a parent of a student is killed in a car accident, all the additional after school help and the basketball games attended even though we are very tired and just want to go home. Instead we are framed as money hungry, greedy, rotten scoundrels who put their own interests ahead of the kids. The fact is that teachers in NJ are not rich or wealthy. They are doing ok, but many teachers are working another job. When has doing ok  resulted in condemnation? I remember watching Mister Rogers as a child. Mister Rogers taught us all to respect everyone. In fact, teachers, police officers and firefighters were given the utmost respect by Mister Rogers. Teachers around the world are still given that respect, rivaling no other. Yet here in NJ and across America teachers are the villains. How can that be? The fact is that it is much easier to blame the teacher instead of poverty, crime, wealth inequality and other more difficult problems society must deal with. Mister Rogers neighborhood was always a fantasy for many. Many neighborhoods in NJ are crime ridden, poverty-stricken and disrespected. People like Mister Christie know the truth. If you go to Mendham or West Windsor, those schools are ranked as some of the best schools in the country. Why is that so Mister Christie? Too difficult to answer, we know. Instead of commending the servants who bring hope to the students of NJ public schools in every neighborhood you condemn and belittle them. What has become of our society? In Mister Christie’s neighborhood it is easier to disrespect teachers and others who serve to make the world a better place.  No one is singing “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” in Mister Christie’s neighborhood. Because in Mister Christie’s neighborhood it is about pitting neighbor vs. neighbor, teacher vs. senior citizen for example. Mister Christie doesn’t care about the neighborhood. Mister Christie cares about himself. In many ways he is the exact opposite of Mister Rogers. Mister Rogers is rolling over in his grave.

Oligarchy in NJ-Public employees the latest victim.

GIFlogoColorSmall                  

The NJ Supreme Court made an astonishing decision last week. The decision, in many words, said the state of NJ doesn’t have to follow the laws written by the Legislative branch and signed by the Executive branch in the state of NJ . However, what was even more amazing was that the court found the law was not unconstitutional. Don’t you get it? The state’s part of the contract is not enforceable, yet the workers are forced to follow the contract and continue to pay. It was clearly a political position, one that protects the state and the wealthy, and punishes the worker who serves the state. However, we should not be surprised. The government has been protecting the wealthy for a long time. The government and courts are flooded with legislators and justices who push forward the corporate agenda of America.                                                                                                                          

In 2008, the federal government of the United States, with no discussion or debate, passed a law called TARP. It basically handed over $800 billion dollars to Wall Street to pay them back for their losses in the financial markets. It was disguised as a must do kind of thing or the average person would  lose all of their retirement savings. In fact, it was sold by saying if the government did not give the money to the richest one percent America would never recover. Unbelievable! The average American received no benefit from TARP. It was a get out of jail free card the wealthiest Americans. Compare that to the decision made by the Supreme Court of NJ. The opinion said the court cannot tell the state government that they have to pay the money into the workers pension. Yet the state can force increases into the pension system by the workers. The average American worker had no say in the decision to hand over $800 billion dollars to Wall Street. The government just did it to protect corporate interests and those of the wealthy. Just like the Supreme Court of NJ voted to protect the interests of the state and corporations. The judges thought it was okay for the Governor to give over $5 billion dollars in corporate tax breaks, but said the state was not required to make the pension payment that was written in a law. It is called an Oligarchy my friends. We will continue to lose when Wall Street and the wealthy control all branches of government. We need a plan to fight back.