You might remember the old Clint Eastwood movie Any Which Way But Loose from the 1980s. Well anyway, in the movie Clint Eastwood plays a trucker who keeps a pet chimp named Clyde in his cab. A famous line from the movie is "Left Turn, Clyde". When Clint Eastwood said this, the monkey would stick his arm out of the truck to signal a left turn.
Well, when you communicate with Trenton politicians, you might as well be dealing with monkeys, because they don't pay too much attention to what you tell them and they sure don't know which way the wind is blowing.
I sent an email to all three members of the 15th District legislative delegation. The 15th district includes Trenton and the delegation is headed by Senator Shirley Turner. The letter was requesting that the senator and assemblymen support reinstituion of the millionaire's tax and asked for their support in fighting Christie's proposed cuts in services such as school nutrition programs, after school programs, libraries and public health. I also asked that they support maintaining wages, benefits, bargaining rights and civil service protections for the state's public employees.
The only representative to reply to my letter was Assemblyman Reed Gusciora. For taking the time to respond, I wish to thank him. I only wished that his response would have indicated support for the interests of ordinary New Jerseyians in our struggle against the Christie administration.
Here is his reply:
Thank you for contacting me in regards to Governor Christie's proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year. I appreciate you taking the time to share your views on this important matter.
As \you know, there is a projected $10.7 billion budget gap for Fiscal Year 2011. In his recent budget address, Governor Christie proposed numerous cuts, reduction in state aid, and program elimination in order to close this deficit. Some of the proposals he has set forth are necessary and overdue. Others need to be evaluated to insure they will not lead to unnecessary property tax increases in the future or place extra burdens on our most vulnerable citizens.
While I do support some restorations in certain areas, any restorations most likely means cuts to other areas of the budget. It is my hope that the Legislature considers the Governor's proposal and develops the budget further, we can reach a proper balance in order to fund programs which are critical to New Jersey residents and their families. Notwithstanding, I will certainly keep your views in mind as we continue the dialogue on the State's fiscal course. We all need to work together to address the pressing financial issues facing our state.
Once again, thank you for sharing your thoughts,
Very Truly Yours,
When reading this, keep in mind the following. The city of Trenton has a large low-income population, and low income people are being disproportionately hurt by Christie's proposed cuts. They are the ones that qualify for free Abbott preschools, subsidized utility bills through the Universal Service Charge program, and free school breakfasts and lunches. Single-parent headed households are the main beneficiaries of after-school programs, which allow the custodial parent to have someone watch her children while she goes to work. Low income people are the ones who will be hurt the most by Christie's proposed change to unemployment benefits, which will make claimants ineligible to collect if they get fired from their jobs. Mr. Gusciora does not say that he supports restoring any of this.
Trenton also hosts the state government's headquarters operations, and is expected to loose $42 million in aid previously given to the city to compensate it for lost tax revenue on these properties.. Mr. Gusciora dose not mention restoring any of this money. He only says we must look at the proposed cuts to insure they will not unduly raise property taxes or hurt vulnerable citizens.
Over a third of workers employed in Mercer County work for state, federal and local government. Public employees will be disproportionately hurt by Christie's proposed "reforms". Many of those employed by the state, county, municipalities and school boards live right here in the city. In fact the State of New Jersey is the largest employer of city residents. Mr. Gusciora does not say what he plans to do to mitigate our plight.
Keep in mind that Mr. Gusciora has every reason to back us up. Low income people and public employees are a large part of his constituency. Yet he seem more concerned about raising taxes than protecting us. And he is also one of the most liberal members of the Assembly. He is openly gay and supports gay marriage. He supports stricter environmental regulation and tough gun control and anti-discrimination laws. If he is not convinced that he should stand with us, than what about representatives from wealthier areas of the state, where people are socially conservative, where fewer people work for the government, and where fewer people depend on government programs.
My advice to Mr. Gusciora is that he should pay attention to the numbers of people we put on the streets at our May rally and wise up. If 35,000 people are willing to give up a Saturday to show up and protest in Trenton, then lots more will stand for us at the polls and vote for those candidates demanding restoration of services and protection of worker's rights. Yes Reed, forget about what happened to Mr. Stockton and all of the other fiscally liberal Democrats who got kicked out of office during the midterm elections during Florio's time in office. We now know what smaller government and support of the anti-tax crowd means. It means tax breaks for the rich ands service cuts, pay cuts and higher taxes for everybody else.
Yes Reed, now is our time! Now is the time that the fiscal liberals will get their revenge. Come November 2011, we will sweep the legislature of all politicians that "Stood with the Governor" and supported the fat boy's Jack the Ripper tool kit of budget cuts, benefit cuts ans well as lost employee protections.
Get with it Reed. Make a hard political left and stand behind us! If you do, than we will stand behind you come next November.