Saturday, May 22, 2010

Guest of the Stable: Scott Siegel



Governor Christe Comes to Hoboken

     This past Monday our newly elected Governor Chris Christe kicked off his statewide town hall tour in the mile square city. Perhaps it was because we both face similar problems - high taxes, even higher spending and historically a dysfunctional government (or because he spent a majority of career arresting Hudson County politicians). It took a lot of courage for our newly elected Mayor Dawn Zimmer to reach across party lines to have this event. As she said fiscal responsibility should be a bi-partisan issue. I was deeply disappointed that no Hoboken elected official from Hudson County, Trenton or our nation’s capital decided to come. 

As a Republican if I were in the mayor’s shoes and Jon Corzine was Governor, I would have done the same thing. When it comes to fiscal security in Hoboken it is imperative that we utilize all potential sources of aid and support. It does us no good to spit at the Governor. It was lively discussion with give and take by both sides. If you like the Governor or dislike him it was refreshing to see his candor and deep knowledge on a variety of issues and questions posed by the public.
     
His proposal centered on capping property taxes at 2.5% combined with salary and benefits increases at the same level through a constitutional amendment. This is a sound approach to control spiraling costs. His “tool kit” offered various options in a comprehensive manner to control spending. You can find his tool kit on the Hoboken city website. I urge everybody to support this necessary measure in November. He gave good answers to my two questions. If inflation occurs the voters of Hoboken can choose to raise taxes or cut spending. He also agreed with me that NJ should repeal the Bacon-Davis act which penalizes private companies vs. unionized ones. Other questions were on PILOTS, NJ Transit redevelopment, bond debt and the millionaire tax.
     
Although we had good participation from the City Council and the BOE for some reason Councilwoman Mason decided to sit in the audience and in my opinion grandstanded in an accusatory manner instead of sitting on stage with her colleagues and asking him questions (hospital charity aid and NJ Transit price increases) in a professional manner. For the record the state raised charity care by $65 million and former Governor Corzine passed on recommended small annual price rises in train fare forcing Christe’s hand.