"The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter." Winston Churchill
Churchill is right. We have to know what is going in our own backyards, my friends.
In NJ we are at a point, a tipping point, in the areas of money management and morality. In NJ, they are overlapping issues. Money management and morality, or the lack thereof, are directly impacting Flemington, which is slated to lose all state funding even though NJ collects the highest property taxes in the nation. For us this most likely means that the Boro will either have to cut back on services or raise our taxes. So as conscientious citizens, we have no choice but to educate ourselves as best we are able in order to make judicious long-term judgments as voters to secure our financial solvency and restore some moral standards to state government. The time is now. There is no magic here in keeping our state operating properly, just accepting our civic responsibility to do the right thing and insisting our elected officials do so also.
How do we get informed? Coincident to the toll hike plan announcement, the book “The Soprano State” was released and sold out immediately. (It is back on the stands BTW…See www.thesopranostate.com for updates AND, see also the 5 star rating revues of the book on Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/review/product/0312368941/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?%5Fencoding=UTF8&showViewpoints=1 ). The book was thusly named by authors Bob Ingle and Sandy McClure because in the course of their investigative journalism, they concluded the workings of political party bosses were analogous to the mechanisms seen in organized crime. This is our state government, my friends. Also, check Bob Ingle’s blogsite daily for info on NJ state politics and political scams. See http://www.app.com/apps/pbcs.dll/section?Category=NEWS03
While the book is excellent, words sting less than the pictures that show how this corrupt political mechanism plays out in the real world and the price citizens pay for it. Let’s take Newark. View the film, Street Fight and you will understand why I suspect that Governor Corzine resists cleaning up the political party financial abuses in Newark and Camden and Trenton. Therefore, he targets softies like us here in Flemington etc. to make up the budget shortfall. He attempts to argue that targeting small municipalities will make us more efficient. So we are to believe that Newark, Trenton and Camden are more effective in budgeting than Flemington? Here’s the real issue to ponder...How well would it go over if the Gov suggested Newark share its services in order to clean up its waste?
Street Fight is a documentary that received several awards in addition to being nominated for an Academy Award in 2005. (See http://www.marshallcurry.com / or www.streetfightfilm.com) This film documents the Democratic mayoral primary between 32- year veteran, Mayor Sharpe James, and newcomer, Cory Booker. It is not pretty to see in action in America the corruption and manipulation of struggling people in Newark, trying to get out from under the thumb of Sharpe James.
In the film, I viewed the scenes of the streets. Despite a few pricey building projects in Newark over 30 years, these streets look more dilapidated than when I used to ride through them, over 30 years ago. But still the Mayor has managed to get for himself a Rolls Royce and 2 beachfront houses on the Jersey shore in addition to his home. What has happened here? Why do people keep voting him into office?
The film is an all too real snapshot of the political landscape within the Garden State. It brings colorful pictures to the book Ingle and McClure have written with the intent of blowing the whistle on NJ political corruption, hoping to give NJ citizens a fighting chance to address this corruption with some facts and yes, our righteous indignation.
With the Governor Corzine’s current plan we will continue to bankroll the boondoggles of the numerous “Jameses” of NJ while our local municipal funding is cut. What manner of lunacy is this? Instead of letting the corruption continue to go un-addressed and receive our continued financing while robbing Peter (Flemington) to pay off the “Jameses” of NJ, the Gov needs to roll up his sleeves and do the job right or he is out of here.
We too have a job to do, my friends. We have to educate ourselves and let our elected officials know that we expect this corruption it to be eliminated before we even begin to look at cuts. As taxpayers, we are entitled to return for our investment. We are responsible for getting the job done too by voting out those elected officials who support the good old boy network or will not work diligently to change it. They are in Trenton because we voters put them there.
We must have a healthy skepticism of what we hear coming out of Trenton and do our own homework. Info on the Internet is just a finger’s touch away. We need to share with our neighbors what we are learning about Trenton and the corrupt state of our state. We meet. We protest. We write. We email. We work collectively. We do not let Trenton off the hook. We remember to dream like Cory Booker and know that the dream of a better government is well within our grasp.
Epilogue to Street Fight
Despite Sharpe James’ lengthy reign, Cory Booker did unseat the incumbent in 2006 and is currently mayor of Newark. He is making his mark nationwide as a promising political leader.
Sharpe James is currently on trial.
Please plan to attend the town meeting held by Boro council on the proposed budget cuts on Wednesday, April 2, 7:00 PM at the American Legion, RT 31.
Note: This film is about a Democratic primary in Newark. It is NOT my intention to suggest that the entire Democratic Party operates in the unseemly manner it did in Street Fight.