YOU READ IT HERE FIRST : Police and firefighters from throughout New Jersey plan to descend on Trenton on March 3 in a “Stand Up for Safety” rally aimed at countering Gov. Christie’s plan to roll back public employee benefits. “We have had enough and want to send a message,” State PBA member Jim Ryan told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .
“Our hope is that politicians will think twice after they see our numbers,” said Ryan, of South Brunswick.
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Christie continued his assault this morning on public servants’ unions — first on NBC’s “Today Show” and then on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” — blaming them for everything from layoffs to rising property taxes to the state’s under-funded pension system.
“We’re not trying to break the unions,” he said. “The unions are trying to break the middle class in New Jersey.”
It is a message that other governors have been selling — with national attention focused on the battle in Wisconsin — as part of what clearly is a coordinated campaign ( SEE: Christie a wanna-be union buster among many in U.S. )
Christie has been conducting his campaign “in the court of public opinion,” one officer told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . “He held it without ‘the defense‘ (the Unions) screaming ‘objection.’ He [is] able to state his case, rest his case, and now, has worked with allies in government to sentence our pension system and financial stability to death.”
The only way to pay the state’s health care bill, Christie insists, is to significantly boost insurance premiums for hundreds of thousands of police, firefighters and teachers.
“What has been done to the police and fire pension in my opinion is no different than what Bernie Madoff did to all of those who entrusted him with ther reirement/401K plans,” Monroe Twp. Police Sgt. Lisa Robinson told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .
“I am concerned that after all of my years of dedication and service, there will be no money available when I retire that was promised to me.
Christie’s plan requires public workers to pay for a third of their individual plan. They now pay 1.5 percent. Using teachers as an example, he said, one who makes $60,000 would go from paying $900 a year to $7,333 for the same plan.
Christie said that would stem the $4.3 billion a year paid from state coffers for current and retired public servants.
What it will also do is force many to choose plans with higher deductibles and co-pays. Those plans also limit the pool of providers.
Citing “fairness and shared sacrifice,“ Christie also wants to roll back a 9-percent pension increase granted a decade ago and require all public servants to pay in 8.5 percent toward retirement. This, he said, would chop $34 billion worth of unfunded liability in half over three decades.
For the state’s public workers, it amounts to a breached agreement.
“This tough-guy attitude might play well for awhile with some [who] can’t think for themselves,” said Richard Scalzo, a retired Secaucus police captain. “The taxes in the state are high, no doubt about it. Yet he seems to think destroying the public services are the way to save money.”
Forty years ago, a police officer or firefighter made roughly $7,500 a year — double the minimum wage at the time. But as the economy exploded, and the cost of living swelled, towns found themselves begging for public servants.
Legislators in Trenton actually had to pass a law in 1984 setting the minimum salary of public employees at $18,500, about 2.5 times minimum wage.
They also began requiring police officers and firefighters to contribute 8.5 percent of their salaries into a ‘secure’ pension fund, saying the money would be there when the public servants retired.
Municipalities originally were mandated to match. But then-Governor Christie Whitman began drawing down from what had been a pension fund that topped out at $100 billion to pay for tax cuts and to balance the state budget.
She then signed a law that allowed municipalities to duck the match. Before long, they owed $2 billion — a figure that has since ballooned to $54 billion.
Sunday, 20 February 2011 Jerry DeMarco
First they got rid of unionists. I said nothing, because I was not a unionist. When they came for me, there was no one to protest.
” Every one of us who has focused on Gov. Christie’s attempts to demonize public servants has missed a much bigger picture: This isn’t unique to New Jersey, as the Woodstock in Wisconsin has shown. A carefully constructed strategy to split the middle and working classes is going on throughout the entire country right now. And many of us are the pawns.
Tuesday, 08 February 2011 Jerry DeMarco
: I’ve tried not to connect the horrors visited on sworn law enforcement officers and their loved ones nationwide this year with Gov. Chris Christie’s assault on New Jersey’s public servants, out of respect for those injured and killed, but his calling on police unions Monday — of ALL days — to make concessions for the sake of public safety is plain insensitive.
Monday, 31 January 2011 Andover P.O. Joseph Indano
AN OFFICER’S VIEW : In light of a recent newspaper article about police salaries in New Jersey being among the highest in the nation: First off, let’s remind ourselves that New Jersey’s cost of living is one of, if not the highest, in the country, and that most jobs in New Jersey, including private sector jobs, pay more than other states. CLICK HERE FOR THE OFFICER’S FULL STORY
Veteran cop takes on Christie, draws raves Wednesday, 17 November 2010 Jerry DeMarco
Police statewide are hailing a veteran cop in a North Jersey town who is fed up with “the current climate of public employee bashing” and challenges Gov. Christie to “do the right thing” with taxpayer-funded pensions. CLICK HERE FOR THE OFFICER’S FULL STORY
Tuesday, 21 September 2010 Jerry DeMarco
EDITORIAL : Many are making much of a newspaper report that New Jersey police salaries are the highest in the land. To paraphrase a man who puts his life on the line every day to protect his community: Does a bullet feel any different if it’s fired in, say, Lyndhurst, than it does in Paterson? Know how many cops have been killed in the line of duty in Lyndhurst? Four. In Paters on? The same. READ MORE….
The state PBA held a meeting last week with a group of lawmakers in Trenton, breaking down the facts into a timeline that showed how a once-robust pension plan has nearly gone bust.
“When the economy was good, they took our money,” Jim Racanelli, founder and president of the Loyal Order Of Police, Inc. (L.O.O.P.). “Now they say the layoffs are necessary because we refuse to make concessions and we are living high on the hog.”
By far the best explanation of how the pension fund went from black to red comes from Mount Olive Police Sgt. Michael Pocquat:Veteran cop takes on Christie, draws raves
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