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Seaside Heights Stands Up To The Bullies In Trenton

Since the recent tragic suicide at Rutgers the politicians have been climbing all over each other to toughen the laws against and widen the definition of bullying.  Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini, the Chuck Schumer of New Jersey, is one of those leading the charge.  Every time a bad thing happens, she, like Chuck, can’t wait to get her name out in the media with a new law against bad things and the bad thing du jour is bullying.  Well if Chuck and Mary Pat and all the rest of them really want to do something about bullying they ought to take a look in the mirror.

Government is, of course, the biggest bully in the school yard.  Not only do the various branches of it bully us, occasionally to the point of suicide too, they also bully each other.  The federal government bullies the states and it bullies the governments of other countries (who, of course, are bullies in their own right).  The state governments, especially New Jersey’s, bully the towns.  And, like I said, all of them bully us at various times and for various reasons.

One local leader who has in some small measure stood up to Trenton’s bullying is Seaside Heights Borough Administrator John Camera.  He, with the support of other borough officials, has declined to comply with the “best practices” list of commandants produced by the state Department of Community Affairs.  The list, which you can read here if you have nothing better to do, is mostly make-work designed to allow Trenton bureaucrats to feel good about themselves, or as Mr. Camera put it in the Asbury Park Press, “For us, all that form was was a lot of paperwork and a lot of time spent by us for not much reward”. 

The “reward” he is referring to amounts to 10% of Seaside Heights’ state aid.  When the state originally took that money from the people of Seaside Heights in the form of income tax, they promised it would come back to Seaside in the form of state aid.  They didn’t say anything about any “best practices” list back then.  I think that if Trenton is going to withhold 10% of Seaside’s state aid, the people of Seaside should withhold 10% of their state income tax payments.  Belmar’s residents would certainly be better off giving up 100% of state aid in exchange for paying no state income tax.  If Trenton is going to force us to perform tricks for them in order to get our own money back, we should stop sending them the money in the first place and repeal the state income tax.

Sadly, Seaside Heights is the only New Jersey community to stand up to Trenton’s most recent act of bullying our towns.  At a recent Belmar Council meeting I asked if Belmar intended to comply with Christie’s list.  Mayor Pringle and Borough Administrator Robin Kirk both complained at some length about the pointless work involved in complying with the list but were non-committal about whether they would bother doing so or not.  Ms. Kirk pointed out that not very much money was at risk anyway.  (This is because the “aid” program is mostly designed to aid the urban Democratic political machine, not suburban taxpayers).  Anyway, I told them that I would not criticize them if they took the list and tossed it in the circular file.  I did not tell them I would not criticize them if they obeyed the state’s ridiculous demands, so here we go.  I am disappointed to learn that our borough officials did not stand up for local sovereignty like those officials in Seaside Heights did.  They like to complain about Trenton’s ever-increasing interference in our affairs but will turn away no opportunity to grab more loot from them no matter what strings are attached.  We will never be free of their control if we continue to allow them to bribe us with our own money.

I’m starting to like this John Camera.  I’m sure he will take some criticism from his constituents for his act of defiance, just as he must have when he stood up for the First Amendment (unlike Belmar’s officials) and defended the right of a certain lowbrow TV reality show to film in Seaside Heights. Seaside is smart (or perhaps just lucky) to have an official who puts principles above politics.

One Comment

  1. Anonymous wrote:

    John Camera might in turn like you also. Why don’t you start looking to live there in Seaside Heights where he manages.

    Sunday, November 21, 2010 at 9:19 am | Permalink

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