Common Sense For Belmar Liberty Begins At Home

March 25, 2010

Boon or Boondoggle?

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 5:01 am

First of all I’d like to wish Matt Doherty the best of luck in his upcoming mayoral campaign. I like Matt. With the exception of Merry Brennan, who regrettably stepped down a few weeks ago, Matt seems to be the only member of our governing body who actually will entertain views opposing his own when they are raised. The others seem content to simply wait out objections coming from the citizenry like a rain delay at a baseball game. When the rain ends the game resumes.

That being said, I hope Mr. Doherty can open his mind even further as it seems that his instincts contradict some basic economic principles, and, like his colleagues on Belmar’s governing body, the freedom of his constituents to be left alone, and to spend their money the way they want, is so low down the totem pole as a priority that it’s the part that’s underground.

In yesterday’s Asbury Park Press he states that he will rewrite the redevelopment plan even though the old plan was a “great” plan (but only great on paper, you see). I still remember the original plan. That one had alot of paper too. Though I’m sure it, too, was a great plan, the only development we’ve seen from that was to have an active Chevy dealership develop into two vacant lots. (Oh, but we love what they’ve done with those vacant lots. They really are beautiful vacant lots) I guess this was part of the mayor’s plan to “get us out of our cars”.

Please, all these super fantastical plans are killing us. CENTRAL PLANNING DOES NOT WORK. The evidence and history is overwhelming, but politicians from Belmar to Trenton to Washington refuse to see it. They refuse to see it because planning is so much fun. The right thing to do would be to let the people who created their wealth control their wealth. But they think that we are all too stupid to know the best way to use our wealth. They think they have been granted superior intellect by the heavens and only they know the best way to spend our money. That is why when the government dictates development it is called “smart growth”. I guess when we control our own property, well, that’s dumb growth. Well I say that whatever we may want to spend our money on, be it tires, our children’s education, a business expansion, or cigarettes and beer, it should be our decision.

Not only is planning immoral because it denies people the enjoyment of the fruits of their own labor, it is bad economic policy. When our politicians point to our beautiful new dock and restaurant or our fancy new streetlights they say look at all the wonderful things we have made. But what is unseen is what that money would have bought if it had not been appropriated by them. They don’t see the hairdresser doing fewer hairdos, or the tire dealer selling fewer tires, or investments that aren’t made. They only see what they have created. They do not see what they have destroyed. They think that their intellect and life experience can replace the combined intellect and life experience of millions of people. It doesn’t work. Nobody is smart enough to do that.

On a recent episode of his show, John Stossel contrasts the economic health of the freewheeling city of Houston with that of Cleveland, where the government planners run things. Houston is a healthy, vibrant city. Cleveland is a mess. The planners in Cleveland told the people that new stadiums and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame would bring tourists and revitalize downtown (sound familiar?). The same things were said about Camden with it’s aquarium and battleship. In either of these planned cities you can walk a few blocks away from the politicians’ monuments to themselves and find the rest of the city in ruins. The seen and the unseen.

All of the candidates are for low taxes but you wouldn’t know it by looking at their actions. How is it possible that taxes will be reduced and Belmar made more affordable (for our children, you see) by borrowing hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay for all these super fantastic projects? Remember we have to pay this money back someday, with interest.

I have news for the planners. Our children will not stay around and pay the debts we are incurring. They will leave. Maybe for Houston.

March 22, 2010

Black Sunday

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 1:08 am

It is not considered enough that the law should be just, it must be philanthropic. It is not sufficient that it should guarantee to every citizen the free and inoffensive exercise of his faculties, applied to his physical, intellectual, and moral development; it is required to extend well-being, instruction, and morality, directly over the nation. This is the fascinating side of socialism.

But, I repeat it, these two missions of the law contradict each other. We have to choose between them. A citizen can not at the same time be free and not free. M. de Lamartine wrote to me one day thus: – “Your doctrine is only the half of my programme; you have stopped at liberty, I go on to fraternity.” I answered him: – “The second part of your programme will destroy the first.”

.                                                 Frederick Bastiat “The Law”

The idea that health care is a right is a total abomination of what a right is. You can’t have the right to a good produced by someone else. That would mean you have a claim on some part of his or her life. In other words, slavery.

When health care is a right, true rights cease to exist.

March 19, 2010

My Letter To Matt Doherty About Red Light Cameras In Belmar

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 3:30 am

You might or might not be aware that Belmar is planning to install red light cameras on Route 35. I found a number of studies that show that accidents and injuries actually increase when these cameras are installed. I brought this up at last night’s council meeting and Matt asked me to send him the information. Thank you, Matt.

Here is the letter I sent to Matt Doherty and cced to Mayor Ken Pringle (who was not present for that part of the meeting), Council members Claire Deicke and Richard Wright, Boro Administrator Robin Kirk and Police Chief Tom Palmisano. Councilman Brian Magovern’s email was not available to me so I asked Matt to forward this letter to him.

Hi Matt.

Thanks for your interest in the possibility that these cameras might actually be detrimental to public safety. Here is the link to those studies I referred to last night: http://blog.motorists.org/red-light-cameras-increase-accidents-5-studies-that-prove-it/

I strongly urge you and all involved in this to pause and take the time to consider if this proposal is really a good thing to do. These studies can not simply be shrugged off. You must look at them. If the possibility exists at all that more accidents and more injuries will occur as a result of these cameras, no amount of additional revenue will make it worth it.  

Having commuted long distances for most of my adult life, I have seen the way drivers behave when they know law enforcement is watching them. Once people know that there is a camera watching them, many will slam on the brakes when the light turns yellow, even if they are already upon the intersection. You know this is going to happen. I know it’s going to happen and if these cameras are installed I will be requesting copies of accident reports whenever there is an accident at any of these intersections.

If we are currently having too many accidents at any of these sites, that might be an indication that the yellow should be lengthened to allow more time to clear the intersection. Another positive step would be to install “smart lights” to reduce the incentive to run red lights. I called the county recently to ask about changing the lights on the county portion of Main Street to flashing yellow on Main and red on the Avenues from midnight to 6:00 AM during the off season. You may recall that I brought this idea up at the council meeting about these cameras. Turns out that I’m very old-fashioned. I was told that many towns in the county are installing smart lights that sense where cars are and change based on who needs to use the intersection. These are being installed on state roads too.

Instead of having cameras watching us in order to ticket us and get our money, lets have sensors watching us to help us get where we’re going safely and without needless delays.

March 18, 2010

Mandated Into Oblivion

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 1:58 am

I obtained a copy of a 2008 letter written from the township manager of a North Jersey town to a State Assembly committee chairman and cced to a number of NJ public officials. It has an attachment listing state mandates that this particular town of 6100 is forced to implement. It is pointed out in the letter that this list is by no means exclusive. More detail on any particular mandate is available from me for the asking.

Police Domestic Violence Training – 84 man hours

Police CPR/AED First Responder – 84 man hours

Police Gas Mask Fit Testing – 21 man hours

Police Hazmat/Blood borne Pathogens course – 84 man hours

Police ICS 100, 200, 800 Certification – 378 man hours

Police Counter Terrorism Certification – 378 man hours

Police Annual Firearms Qualification – 252 man hours

Police Automatic Weapons/Carbines Training – 336 man hours

Police Active Shooter Class – 88 man hours

Police Firearms Instructor – 12 man hours

Police Active Shooter Instructors – 48 man hours

Dispatcher CPR/AED Training – 25 man hours

Dispatcher EMD Training – 32 man hours

Dispatcher Hazmat/Blood borne Pathogens Course – 25 man hours

Dispatcher EMD/911 Instructor – 48 man hours

Dispatcher Gas Mask Fit Testing – 5 man hours

Dispatcher ICS 100, 200, 800 Certification – 60 man hours

Alcotest equipment and training

Recording System for interviews and arrests

Mandatory Police Related Equipment

Police and Firemen’s Retirement System Mandates

Police Contract Arbitration

Megan’s Law

Playground Safety Enhancements

Automated External Defibrillators & Training

Planning Board Members Training

Zoning Board Members Training

Master Plan and Master Plan Reexamination Reports

Municipal Engineer Requirements

Municipal Land Use Attorney Requirements

Stan Planning Commission – Plan Endorsement

Highlands Council Plan Conformance

COAH

NJDEP Regulations

NJDEP Storm water Management Programs

NJDEP Water/Sewer testing

Wastewater & Water Quality Management Plans

Stormwater Management Plans

Certified Public Works Coordinator

Certified Recycling Coordinator and Program

Truck & Equipment Washing Facilities

Water Operations Course and Certification

Misc Public Works Training Requirements

Deer Carcass Removal from highways

Court Personnel Training

Court Administrator Training

Mandatory use of State Forms and Tickets

Bullet Proof Glass for Court Rooms

Court Security Plan

Public Employee Retirement Systems Appropriations Mandates

Mandatory Heath Care Insurance Contributions

Mandatory Negotiations Regarding Public Union Groups

Open Public Records Act

Elections Training and Machines

Certified Purchasing Agent

Green Products Purchasing Course

Prevailing Wage Laws for all Publicly Funded Projects

Prevailing Wage Laws for Public Utility Construction

Mandatory Property Revaluation

Public Employee Occupational Safety & Health Act

Office of the State Controller Statutory Reporting Requirements

Public Employee Retirement System/Teachers Pension and Annuity Fund Contributions

Full Day Preschool

Full Day Kindergarten

Special Education Requirements

School Psychiatric Evaluations

School Board Election Recall Officials Training

NJDOE Student Testing Requirements

(School) Public Employee Occupational Safety and Health Act (PEOSH) Right to Know

PEOSH Asbestos Inspection

PEOSH Smoke Stack Permits

PEOSH Water Testing

PEOSH Boiler License

PEOSH Florescent Bulb Recycling

PEOSH Long Range Facilities Plan

PEOSH Fire Retardant Protection

After imposing all this (and more) on us, the state tells us that the reason our taxes are so high is that we haven’t merged with Neptune.

.

March 12, 2010

My Response To “High taxes driven by multiplicity of towns” In Today’s Asbury Park Press

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 6:34 am

Gina Genovese is flat wrong in her assertion that lack of consolidation is the cause of New Jersey’s high taxes. The states that New Jersey residents are fleeing to do have something in common, but it’s not the level of consolidation. In actuality, all these states have less consolidation and more local autonomy than New Jersey permits. The one thing all the low tax refuges have in common is that they have less government.

While consolidation may sound like it increases efficiency, a look at the facts shows no advantage.

Many people from New Jersey move to Pennsylvania, which has much lower property taxes than we do. In Pennsylvania, 78% of the towns have a population of 5000 or under. In New Jersey the figure is 34%. If Ms. Genovese was correct, then New Jersey would enjoy lower taxes than Pennsylvania The numbers are similar for many other states.

Even within Monmouth County there is nothing to show that bigger towns have lower taxes. Below is a chart with all towns in the county listed from largest to smallest and their effective tax rate in 2008.*

Middletown 1.498 Belmar 1.026
Howell 1.864 Fair Haven 1.565
Marlboro 1.701 Oceanport 1.452
Manalapan 1.667 Neptune City 1.695
Freehold Twp. 1.651 Spring Lake Hgts 1.124
Long Branch 1.443 Highlands 1.812
Neptune Twp 1.521 Brielle 1.257
Ocean Twp 1.418 Bradley Beach 1.159
Wall Twp 1.360 Atlantic Highlands 1.589
Hazlet 1.859 Upper Freehold 1.697
Aberdeen 1.987 Monmouth Beach 1.001
Asbury Park 1.438 Shrewsbury Boro 1.727
Holmdel 1.550 Spring Lake 0.615
Tinton Falls 1.497 Avon 0.857
Eatontown 1.717 Sea Girt 0.705
Colts Neck 1.331 Allentown 2.082
Red Bank 1.554 Sea Bright 0.999
Freehold Boro 1.836 Lake Como 1.258
Keansburg 1.868 Englishtown 1.694
Millstone 1.648 Farmingdale 1.628
Matawan 2.194 Shrewsbury Twp 1.982
West Long Branch 1.596 Deal 0.490
Keyport 1.991 Roosevelt 2.294
Rumson 1.132 Interlaken 1.005
Union Beach 1.896 Allenhurst 0.606
Manasquan 1.064 Loch Arbor 0.676
Little Silver 1.616    

*http://www.state.nj.us/treasury/taxation/pdf/lpt/gtr08mon.pdf

The average tax rate for all towns larger than Belmar is 1.626. The average for Belmar and all towns smaller than Belmar is 1.307. Every town larger than Belmar had higher taxes than Belmar. Nine towns smaller than Belmar had lower taxes than Belmar. The numbers are similar state-wide. I would be happy to provide those numbers to anyone who requests them.

 The truth is that small towns have many advantages aside from the great quality of life to be found in them. It is easier to privatize services without union opposition. They can have volunteer fire departments and that small town spirit inspires volunteers to do many jobs that larger towns have to pay people for. They can use part timers and generally pay even their full time staff less. Their budgets are much easier to manage and they have less corruption.

The proponents of consolidation and regionalization are looking to pin the blame for our astronomical taxes everywhere but where it belongs. You can’t have huge government and low taxes. If the state really wants to reduce property taxes it should scrap all the mandates and regulations that it burdens our towns with. I’ve spoken with several mayors about this issue and they all said that state interference in the affairs of our towns was raising, not lowering our local taxes.

If we really want to stem the flow of our most productive people and enterprises to low tax states, let’s emulate what those states are doing and start shrinking government by eliminating state departments and agencies, reducing regulation, and increasing freedom in general. That is the only solution that has been proven to work.

Finally, and most importantly, Americans and particularly New Jerseyans are losing freedom at an alarming rate. The higher up the government ladder that power goes, the less free we are. Our freedom is safer when government power is localized and closer to the people. Consolidation of small towns would be a giant step in the wrong direction and forced consolidation (as the state has contemplated already) would be a violation of our natural right to self-determination.

March 11, 2010

Dilute The Power Of Belmar’s Politicians

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 6:34 am

I would like to extend my best wishes to Mayor Pringle with whatever he decides to do in the future. Whatever one thinks of his policies, everyone agrees he has worked tirelessly in pursuing them and deserves to take some time off and have some fun. Of course those of us who are critical of some of those policies wish he had taken more time off over the past twenty years. This leads me to consider whether maybe we have given the mayoral position too much power.

Does Belmar want the next mayor to wield as much power as Pringle has?  I think most residents, even Pringle’s supporters, would be wary of giving another single person the ability to so much influence life in Belmar. While those who agree with a particular mayor’s policies may enjoy it while he is in office, they must remember that the next mayor, who they might oppose, can use that same power to impose his ideas on them. This only increases divisiveness and ill will in deciding policy on any particular issue. People will be more willing to accept a new policy if it comes from consensus and not dictated to them, no matter how charismatic the person doing the dictating is.

With the goal of bringing more power and better representation to the populace might I make the following suggestions?

Increase the number of councilmen from four to six and give the mayor the right to vote only as a tie breaker. By having six council members, still elected at-large (town wide, not divided into districts), we provide more opportunity for people with minority viewpoints to be represented. By having a smaller ratio of residents per councilman we would bring our government closer to the people. Limiting the mayor’s voting power will help ensure that no one personality can dominate the debate, as some would say we have seen under Pringle.

I would also like to see more people run when there is a seat open. To be on the ballot in this fall’s council race only requires forty two petition signatures. I encourage anyone with strongly held views on public policy to join the debate. I might even be on the ballot myself as a pro-liberty candidate.

I’ve thought about pushing for term limits but they are undemocratic and may not be necessary here. Nationally they would probably be a good idea so we can get rid of the professional political class we now have in Washington. Locally, however, maybe just diluting the power of each of our leaders will improve the politics of this town and lead to policies that enjoy a greater consensus.

March 10, 2010

Was It Something I Said?

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 5:24 am

I’m sorry Kenny, I take it all back.

March 5, 2010

Notes From Wednesday’s Council Meeting

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 3:30 am

Our public officials continue the hard work of crafting the particular legalistic fog needed to veil the true aim of their bill to prevent the filming in Belmar of TV shows that they don’t like, specifically “Jersey Shore”. Look for a very intricate law to come out of this since it has to be so specifically targeted. Again we heard that it’s not about content, but if that’s the case, wouldn’t they also have to ban “This Old House”? Not to worry. They all agreed they can change the law, or give special dispensation if their new law interferes with anything that they like.

The council next appropriated $350,000 ($332,500 of it borrowed) to buy fancy new streetlights and $70,000 ($66,500 of it borrowed) to buy fancy new sidewalks. They hope to avoid any political fallout from their spending spree by coercing commercial property owners into paying the lion’s share of these costs. Commercial property owners are greatly underrepresented on the voter rolls, so it’s a legal form of taxation without representation. This is one of Belmar’s favorite tactics employed to spend more than the voters are willing to pay for. Our ticket blitzes against summer visitors is another favorite.

Claire Diecke reminded us to be sure to fill out the census since it’s critical to get our fair share of Federal aid. Sad. When I was growing up it was taught that hard work and creativity was the way to get ahead, not making sure you’re counted in the census so you can get more government assistance. If our founders, who required the census solely in order to allot proportional representation in congress, saw what it had become they would be apoplectic.

There was some discussion of New Jersey Transit when Mike Marino complemented Mayor Pringle on the courteous treatment Mr. Marino enjoyed on a recent train trip. Mayor Pringle is on the board of directors of NJT. (Didn’t they lose $300 million dollars this year?) Anyway, the mayor told us of plans to run some kind of government funded trolley contraption from town to town to “get us out of our cars”. So be warned. The mayor doesn’t like cars. And things the mayor doesn’t like often end up being illegal.

Speaking of Mr. Marino, kudos, Mike, for getting the mayor to state that Belmar’s new block party law will not be used to interfere with Tea Parties. Mr. Marino, a long time resident and former mayoral candidate, has a keen understanding of how politics works in this town.

March 1, 2010

Government Restaurants and Private Industry Streetlights?

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 3:00 am

While the town busily spends taxpayer money on building restaurants, they are demanding commercial property owners, many of whom are not even residents, pay for such basic improvements as new streetlights and sidewalks. Call me old-fashioned, but where I come from private parties built restaurants and the city government took responsibility for streetlights. Now I, for one, never had a problem with the streetlights and sidewalks we have now. I think the uncertain economy calls for more austerity both in our own spending and that of the government. If certain business interests feel that a spruced up downtown will help increase their revenues, then they should bear the cost and not demand that all businesses, many of whom are struggling, chip in. And if the town government thinks it’s so important to make these improvements, it should have the fortitude to ask the voters for the money. Count me, however, as among the people who can think of better uses for our hard earned money than to buy fancy new streetlights and sidewalks. Or restaurants for that matter.

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