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New Jersey Needs To Act on Market Competition and Consumer Choice…”S2664″

Bookmark and Share   Any day now, the New Jersey State Senate will be taking up important legislation called the Market Competition and Consumer Choice Act (S2664).   The measure is not a topic of discussion at Garden State dinner tables, but it is one that is worthy of  fighting for . Passage of this bill would reform outdated laws that have outlived their usefulness, and hamper the development, expansion, and use of new technologies within the state’s telecommunication industry and among cable providers. The Consumer Choice Act is actually one of those rare pieces of legislation which rectifies legislative inadequacies and instead of suffocating economic development and stifling competition, it promotes competition, the drive for greater customer service, lower prices, and business expansion that creates something sorely lacking these days….. Jobs.

In a day an age when the Obama Administration is causing many Americans to understand that more government and more government regulation is not necessarily a good thing, New Jersey is slowly waking up to the same reality. People like former Governor Jon Corzine helped show us that big government comes with a big price tag, a price tag that costs way more than its worth. More government and more government regulation is a rising tide that lifts all costs. From the cost of utilities and the price of merchandise and services to taxes, over-regulation delivers higher costs and less competition. And with decades and decades of intrusive federal, state, and local regulations, New Jerseyans live within a tangled web of government weaved red tape.  That’s why the Consumer Choice Act is so important to New Jersey.

Newly evolved technological advances in the telecommunications industry have transformed the industry, but New Jersey’s outdated laws, create an obstacle that makes it hard for the benefits of these new technological advances to fully thrive in New Jersey. Yet special interests which profit from the enforcement of oppressive regulatory policies,  want to prevent the New Jersey State Senate from passing the Consumer Choice Act.   Blocking it in the state senate is their last hope because the bill has already passed the State Assembly. In fact, in the Assembly it passed with enthusiastic bi-partisan support.  Even among the leadership of both Parties, in both legislative chambers.

These special interests are literally trying to scare voters into demanding that their State Senators vote against the Consumer Choice Act. They are threatening legislators with the promise of pumping tens of thousands of dollars into campaigns to defeat them during next years state legislative elections. And to motivate voters to their side, these special interests are stooping to scare tactics and lies. They are trying to convince vulnerable, fixed income senior citizens into believing that their phone service will be taken away. They are trying to make sports enthusiasts believe that their favorite cable sports channels will evaporate right before their very eyes.

The problem is, the Consumer Choice Act  is anything but a danger to existing services.  It promises to increase choices, enhance service quality and hold down or even reduce costs through competition.

Current regulatory policies do not properly deal with the realities of the competition that exists in today’s telecommunication market. The way regulations are now, companies like Verizon are able to dominate the market and inhibit consumer choice among alternate technologies such as cable companies, and wireless and competitive local exchange companies. This in turn stymies investment, innovation and growth of the telecommunication industry and among cable service providers. That lack of growth is costing New Jersey desperately needed tax revenue …..  increased tax revenue that could come without raising taxes.

This has been proven in other states which have adopted legislation similar to the Consumer Choice Act. When Indiana adopted such reform legislation, they saw an influx of investment from telecommunication companies that approached half a billion dollars and created thousands of new jobs. But here in New Jersey, we are left to contend with outdated legislation that stifles competition, kills growth, inhibits innovation and discourages employment opportunities. 

Well it is a new day in New Jersey. With Governor Christie at the helm, you might say that it’s finally morning in New Jersey. As such, we now have an environment conducive to getting government out of the business of bureaucracy, untangling the red tape that creates a hostile environment for business and industry, and can reform government in a way that will allow it to enter the new decade that has already begun.  The Consumer Choice Act does that.  It is a reform that allows government to catch up to the times. And at the same time, people need not fear the cries of wolf coming from the special interests opposing this bill. Existing legislation such as the Consumer Protection Act , helps insure consumers against all the evils they try to scare us with.

We live in a state that has an innumerable amount of antiquated and truly stupid laws on the books. Take the Married Women’s Property Act from the 1800‘s. It allows only married women to own, control and dispose of property. Then there is another law still on the books from the 1800’s. It claims that if a woman is raped but then gets married within a certain timeframe, the man can’t be considered a criminal. State Senator Jennifer Beck is trying to get these laws repealed. But there are hundreds of senseless and outdated laws still on the books. One of my favorite state laws makes it illegal for men to knit during fishing season. On the local level, in Newark there is an existing law that makes it illegal to buy an ice cream cone after 6pm without a note from your doctor. How’s that for over-regulation?

Let’s face it folks, New Jersey does not have a problem with too little regulation. The problem is we have too much and much of it is too old to be effective in the 21st century. That is why it’s time to pass the Consumer Choice Act. It’s time for New Jersey to step out from the shadow of our past and into the brightness of the future. And it’s time for the naysayers to take a deep breath and get on the bandwagon before they get run over by it in the 2011 elections.

Call your State Senator and tell them you want market competition and consumer choice in New Jersey.  Tell them you want S2664.

To find your state Senator and their contact information visit the legislative directory link provided here and click on your municipality.

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A BUMP IN LONEGANS ROAD TO VICTORY?: An Interview With Steve Lonegan-Part III

antlonegan3Bookmark and Share   On the issues, Steve Lonegan has proven himself to be well versed , prepared and experienced. As a former mayor he understands the ramifications of the legislation and mandates that come out of Trenton. In the previous two parts of our interview, Steve Lonegan didn’t just argue for a conservative approach to state government and governance, he demonstrated the how’s and whys of wrong minded liberal leadership. At the same time he presented concrete, conservative solutions to the problems that liberal leadership have presented us with today.

In this final part of our interview, I asked Mayor Lonegan about his campaign.

His campaign raised a few heads when late last year, Steve Lonegan stated that he would accept public matching funds in his race. Some saw that move as hypocritical, others, like Lonegan simply see at is playing by the rules of the game that we have to deal with.

Of course Jon Corzine won’t have to play by those rules. He has the luxury of reaching into his own wallet and financing his campaign on his own. After all, that is how he won his last two statewide campaigns. He bought both his seat in the United States Senate and his office in Trenton. And oddly enough, the so-called “rich” Republicans running for Governor in New Jersey, do not have the independent wealth of a limousine liberal like Corzine, so, by accepting matching funds, they are assuring themselves of having at least enough money to let people know that they are running against Corzine.

So far, Lonegan has raised over half a million dollars. That amount puts him significantly ahead in the field of current and potential candidates. As for those who may have had any doubt about how serious a run for the nomination Lonegan would make, the half a million he raised and the half a million that he will receive in matching funds makes for a million reasons to take his candidacy seriously. And that is just so far. More money is coming.

When asked if expects to be able to raise enough money to bring his name ID up to the level of Chris Christie, his major rival for the nomination at this point, Lonegan feels that he will raise an amount of money comparable, if not even, to Chris Christie.

As for raising enough money to be competitive with Jon Corzine if Lonegan is our Republican nominee for Governor, Lonegan states “I don’t need to outspend Jon Corzine to win”. “We need to have enough money to get our message out” he added.antlonegan4

Lonegan believes that Corzine has to raise and spend tons of money, maybe even an historic level of campaign spending all to simply defend his record,. Lonegan made it clear that Corzine has to explain why he created “the highest taxes in the country and an economic decline which has our friends and neighbors leaving the state”.

Lonegans punctuates the spending question in this campaign by adding “I think Corzine should spend $75million  or $100 million dollars. I think that could be the best economic stimulus package New Jersey could see”.

That statement could be funny if it were true, but the state of New Jersey has no major media market of its own and so much of the campaign dollars spent in the race for Governor of Jersey will be split between the New York media market in North Jersey and the Philly media market in the south. So even a boondoggled bundle of bucks in our state’s own election won’t benefit New Jersey that much.

  • “If the primary ends up being a hard hitting, bloody battle, well so be it.  Let’s get ready for the general election”     -Steve Lonegan, 1/21?09-POLITICS 24/7 Interview

That aside, with all things being equal, I asked Lonegan how he would describe himself and his political ideology to me, a self-proclaimed, “bleeding heart, Jack Kemp, conservative who is a heavily armed dove“. To which Lonegan replied that he is  a “principled conservative who believes in free-market principles and values of limited government and lower taxes who has been elected three times in a small town that is 2 to 1 Democrats to Republicans”.

But with the Republican field for Governor already comprised of another self avowed Conservative in Assemblyman Rick Merkt and will soon be having another in Mayor Brian Levine of Franklin Township, I asked Lonegan how he would differentiate himself. To that he replied, “I raised half a million dollars”.

Aside from that, the Mayor did admit that he and Rick Merkt “agree on a lot” and that he is “great and has a great record and is a terrific guy”.

  • Levine “has positioned himself as a pro COAH and Abbott funding moderate, so that will be interesting”                            -Steve Lonegan, 1/21?09-POLITICS 24/7 Interview

As for Brian Levine, Steve Lonegan has to muster up the desire to speak nearly half as nicely.

After saying that Brian Levine is a nice fellow, he throws in the fact that Levine is a small town mayor, and that,is something Lonegan likes. But that is about as far as the liking goes. Once those platitudes were over Lonegan stated “that Levine has positioned himself as a pro COAH and Abbott funding moderate, so that will be interesting”

With that out of the way, the Mayor agreed with me on the fact that Republicans need to be unified in November and so I asked him he could promise to keep the campaign civil and avoid any mocking tones and obey Ronald Reagan’s eleventh commandment which dictated that “thou shall not speak ill of fellow Republicans”. 

That so called commandment was first uttered by Reagan during his 1966 primary for the Republican nomination for Governor of California.

As for employing that phrase here in the 2009 Republican primary for Governor of New Jersey, Lonegan stated “Oh, absolutely. There is no need for personal attacks or mocking tones, however we will be hard hitting on the issues and the record”.

He added, “if you can’t make your way through a good, hard hitting, primary, how do you expect to take on Jon Corzine’s millions of dollars?”. So I will put my record up against anyone and I will be looking very carefully at Mr. Christie’s record and his positions on the issues and we will define the differences. If that ends up being a hard hitting, bloody primary, well so be it. Let’s get ready for the general election”.

So it looks like the stage is set for a few battles. One will be for the hearts of the conservative wing of the party. That battle may include Chris Christie if he gets off of the ideological fence but it will certainly include Merkt and Levine against Lonegan.

The other battle will be for the minds of all Republicans. That battle will not only include the emotionally charged ideological arguments but the electability argument as well.

It is on that argument that Steve Lonegan may have his greatest challenge and in that challenge he may not be making things any easier for himself.

Some may think the electability question may be raised by what a few see as Lonegan’s brashness. But what they may see as brash others see as open and honest.

For me the potential drawback to Lonegan’s success here, lies not so much in Lonegan himself as it does in his choice of staff.

Until now, one issue in particular, has not come up in the shaping primary race but I am afraid it might.  That is the selection of Steve Lonegan’s campaign manager, Kevin Collins.

The selection of Kevin Collins as his campaign manager could create a problem.

The source of the problem dates back to an incident in 2007.

antmailer2Collins designed a campaign mail piece in a Republican state senate primary against State Senator Kevin O’Toole.

Senator O’Toole is of Korean descent. And the piece referred to his Korean ancestry by claiming that O’Toole exploited his heritage by claimimng to be a minority and asking for special rights when his senate district lines were being redrawn during the redistricting process. The Collins campaign mailer described Kevin O’Toole as “The Republican Al Sharpton” for taking advantage of minority rights protections.  It also included a photo comparisson of the two.

The mailer was a low point for Republicans. It was typical race baiting and should not have ever been considered by Collins or the candidate on whose behalf the mailer was sent out. Worse than the mailer were some of Kevin Collins’ replies to accusations over the mailer. At one point Collins said:

“We could have altered the photo. We did not. We could have made a more jaundiced look to his skin. We did not.”

The judgment was so bad that Collins was even officially rebuked by all thirty of the Republican assembly members serving at the time.

In a unanimously signed  letter, the 30 assembly Republicans wrote “Mr. Collins has crossed a line and we believe it would no longer be appropriate for him to do work on behalf of any candidate running as a Republican in this state”.

When asked about the incident Steve Lonegan replied “ Since then, even Kevin O’Toole has hired Kevin Collins

A call to Senator O’Toole’s office to confirm that statement was not responded to but Lonegan went on to say “I don’t think the Republicans should have the democrats telling us us how to run our own campaigns”.

Problem is, it is not Democrats who joined together in denouncing the Collins mailer and requesting that Collins have no part in Republican campaigns in New Jersey. It is fellow Republicans who have decided that.

A call to Assembly Republican Minority Leader Alex DeCroce about this matter also went unanswered so we have no idea where assembly Republicans stand on their banning of Collins but others are not so quiet about the Lonegan hiring.

Jonathon Kim, President of the Korean Association of New Jersey called Lonean’s hiring of Kevin Collins “disturbing”and he thinks the Mayor might be “shooting himself in the foot” by hiring Kevin Collins.

To this Lonegan simply replied “well, he’s wrong”

For his part Steve Lonegan says “Kevin Collins is an effective individual, knows politics and has outstanding character and integrity”. and that he “will not have someone on his/my campaign personally attacked by Democrats”.

But it may not even get to the point where Democrats have the chance to do the attacking.

Lonegan first has to get through fellow Republicans and one cannot help but wonder if this issue will be brought up among his rivals or any of  the Republicans who, back in 2007, declared Kevin Collins persona non grata in New Jersey.

Personally I have no hard feelings either way. The O’Toole mailer does seem to be a bit over the line but I am not sure it is a demonstration of politics at its worst. However my real concern is the effects of Lonegans’s decision to hire Collins during the general election.

If this incident is not addressed and gone by then, what if Steve Lonegan does become the Republican standard bearer? Do we want our conservative candidate for Governor being attacked and labeled as insensitive to minorities or of running a campaign prone to racial divisiveness?

Come November, we will need every vote we can get to win. Such a victory will need to tap into almost every demographic we have, including the significant Korean population of the state, a population which is quite Republican oriented.

So I do hope that this issue gets addressed sooner rather than later and I do also hope it does not damage the chances of Lonegan’s promising campaign.

Kevin Collins is a decent man and he has done some good work including the work of challenges that some may have turned away from.

When Hillary Clinton was running for relection in New York, few came forward to challenge her and fewer volounteered time and money to campaign against her but not Kevin Collins. He managed the campaign of Hillary Clinton’s opponenet, John Spencer.

The same holds true of New York’s Chuck Schumer whose most recent opponent, Howard Mills was also managed by Kevin Collins.

Collins also managed past efforts for some candidates which I hold in high esteem. One of them is former GOP Assembly Republican Majority Leader Paul DeGaetano (in fact, he is one person I wish was running for the job of Governor this time around).

So Collins has paid his dues and fought the hard fights and along the way, everyone is entitled to a mistake or two. But this is politics and whether we like it or not, everything is on the table, including Collins mistake.

Hopefully it is not an issue that will blow up. Hopefully the past actions of Assembly Republicans regarding Collins and Lonegan’s present actions of hiring Collins as his campaign manager can somehow be balanced.

It is hard to quantify Lonegan’s decision in bringing Collins onboard the campaign. Some could say it is a courageous call on Lonegan’s part. Others may say it was a stupid decision that opens Lonegan up to attacks that can further advance liberal accusations that Republicans are out of touch with and insensitive to racial concerns.

Either way, on both the issues and his approach to the issues, Steve Lonegan’s campaign promises to be the stuff that political drama’s are made of and he will be the one candidate in this election who is certain to grab headlines.

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CORRECTION:  Rick Shaftan, a strategists and aide in the Lonegan for Governor campaign,  alerted us of an inaccuracy in the above post.  In it we attributed the quotation known as Ronald Reagan’s eleventh commandment to Ronald Reagan himself.  Mr. Shaftan made it known that the quote was first used by Gaylord Parkinson who was the California Republican State Chairman who used it in response to attacks on Reagan during his primary for the california gubernatorial nomination.

Mr. Shaftan pointed out “The Eleventh Commandment is quoted most of the time by liberals who would never quote anything Reagan said. It’s ironic that when they quote it, they are not quoting Reagan”.

We thank Mr. Shaftan for his historical accuracy and hope he was not calling us at POLITICS 24/7 liberal.

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TWIN PEEPS

Maybe there is something to the pseudoscience of face reading! When I first looked at corrupt Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich‘s face (I like to refer to him as Gov. Doucheblag), the dude who was charged with attempting to sell President-elect Obama’s vacant Senate seat to the highest bidder (!!), I immediately thought, OMG, he looks just like Lyle Menendez! All you true-crime aficionados out there know who I’m talking about: Lyle and his brother Erik were charged with murdering their parents and then going on a shopping spree with their credit cards in Beverly Hills in the ’90s. Good times . . .

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Be Sure To Sign The Petition To

REPEAL THE CONGRESSIONAL PAY HIKE

Sign the Online Petition – Repeal The Automatic Pay Raise That Congress Is Receiving

Pass The Link On To Family, Friends and Co-workers

http://www.gopetition.com/online/24301.html  

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Results for the latest POLITICS 24/7 poll are in!

As for who you want to see be the next Chairman of the Republican National Committee

the results are as follows:

40%  –  KEN BLACWELL

20%  –  SAUL ANUZIS

20%  –  MICHAEL STEELE

  7%  –  KATON DAWSON

 7%  –  CHIP SALTSMAN

 7%  –  Other 

 0%  –  MIKE DUNCAN 

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“TOO MUCH CORRUPTION BECAUSE THERE’S TOO MUCH GOVENMENT”

antgovcoruptPOLITICS 24/7 has often stated that not only is state government too big but that there are too many governments in the state.

Based on the relatively small size of New Jersey, why there is a need for more than 650 municipal governments, is beyond me. Drive down any road in New Jersey and you will find yourself entering a new and different town every 3 or 4 minutes.

As stated here in the past, the proliferation of governments in this state is actually a major part of the problems that we face in the state.

The affordability crisis we are enduring is in large part due to the costs of operating all these governments. It costs a lot of money to operate and employ all these fire departments, police departments, borough halls, staffs, permit departments, and so on and so on.

It also creates an atmosphere ripe with the opportunity for corruption. Between the patronage, construction and service contracts, the ability to “spread the wealth around” runs rampant. But the wealth that is spread around is that of the taxpayers. While their wealth is taken away from them, those in charge of spreading it are doing so among their own friends, families, mistresses and fellow power brokers.

The existing arrangement has helped to make government one of the largest employers in the state. It has also helped to define New Jersey as one of the most state corrupt states in the Union, a title often in dispute with Louisiana but recently surpassed only by Illinois.

The arrest of Illinois’ Democrat Governor, Rod Blagojevich, for trying to sell President-Elect Obama’s newly available senate seat, along with other sleazy intentions, has helped take the title away from us. But we are still among the three most corrupt states at the top of that list.

Bridge commissioners, state contractors, council members, freeholders, county executives, judicial officials, cabinet members, party chairmen, state senators, assembly members and more have all been getting arrested, indicted, and sentenced in astonishing numbers.

Just today a former assembly candidate pleaded guilty in the same bribery scandal that took out his opponent for that same assembly seat.

For the past seven years, potential Republican candidate for Governor, former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, has largely been responsible for exposing and successfully prosecuting the government corruption that has caused much of the public to lose their faith in public servants.

Having first hand experience with combating corruption, Christie knows about what he speaks of and today, speaking before an event sponsored by the New Jersey Business and Industry Association and Cherry Hill Regional Chamber of Commerce, the former crime buster stated that the reason for all the corruption in New Jersey was because “we just have too much government.”

Now that what we at POLITICS 24/7 have known all along has been confirmed by an expert in the area, what do we do about?

Well first of all, New Jersey needs to embark on the initiatives of others like Senator Joe Kyrillos of Monmouth County.

Senator Kyrillos has been pushing for consolidation. The type of consolidation which would make some of New Jersey’s less populous towns merge with larger neighboring towns.

This measure was actually proposed in legislation first sponsored by a former assemblyman, Republican Michael Arnone.

In the late ‘90’s, Assemblyman Arnone saw the need to curtail the spreading of governments in New Jersey the same way that we try to prevent the spreading of the flu.

Like a disease, the inordinate number of governments, along with their increasing size scope and staffs, have infected the state with a governing class that survives by doling out plumb, patronage positions and entering into corrupt contracts filled with kickbacks.

Does consolidation solve our problem? Nope, it sure doesn’t. Greed and other less attractive qualities that are sometimes a part of human nature will always exist. However, with less governments available for corruption to breed in, the less corruption will be born.

For me, Chris Christie’s remark is promising.

If he truly believes what he said, it may bode well for his possible candidacy. Small government conservatives will certainly appreciate the direction that his comment would take us in. Now if he can only expand on that remark.

If he does run for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, will he help to do more than offer lip service to state consolidation? Will he provide the initiatives of Senator Kyrillos with the type of support that is needed to influence liberal lawmakers to pass such measures?

Whether Christie runs or not, we need more leaders who are willing to solve our problems by acknowledging what the problems are and in New Jersey the problem is government.

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In international news, 60% of the people in the country of Jordan say they find Americans to be rude. Actually, that’s not so bad, when you consider 60% of people in other Middle Eastern countries think we’re Satan. …We’re moving up!

-Jay Leno

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