The members of Chris Christie’s publicity staff are brilliant. After all, they were able to convince citizens of New Jersey–many of whom voted against their own self-interests–to reelect the governor by an overwhelming margin in 2013.
In fact, Chris Christie felt that members of his publicity staff were so brilliant that he awarded 27 of them raises which averaged 23% and totaled over $338,000. (Thank you to The Record for filing a lawsuit to obtain this information after the Christie administration refused your Open Public Records Act request.)
That’s right: Chris Christie, the governor who’s so “fiscally responsible” that his state is “dead last in the nation in terms of its fiscal solvency,” has decided that it’s okay to give raises of up to 50% to his friends–while continuing to vilify public workers and raid their pension funds to promote his own social and political agendas. (Use $82 million in pension funds to subsidize Pearson, the testing corporation that’s contributing to the ruin of public education in America? Oversee “‘alternative investments‘ of pension money with hedge funds and other high-fee money managers who pocketed a combined $1.2 billion in fees that would otherwise have gone into the state’s pension funds over the past year alone”? Why not!)
Last week, Michael Drewniak justified Christie’s staffers’ raises by saying that “Changes in salary in the main reflect changes in position, promotions, or expanded job responsibilities for these staff members.”
That’s strange; public workers all over the state have also seen “changes in position” (how many workers have been shuffled around repeatedly because of budget cuts, for example?) and “expanded job responsibilities” (how much more work has the new, unproven, flawed teacher evaluation system–and the transition to Common Core and PARCC–resulted in, for example?), yet many of those same workers have seen steady decreases in their take home pay as a result of increased pension and benefit contributions and salary caps. Still others have been without contracts for months–or even years. Marie Corfield sent Governor Christie a letter this morning reminding him of as much. (Wonder if he’ll respond!)
Yes, Chris Christie has made it his mission to break the public sector in every way he can–and nobody should be surprised that now he’s moving on to everyone else who’s not part of the 1%. Example: he recently announced plans to delay $395 million in property tax relief for disabled and senior residents of the state–because, you know, New Jersey just can’t afford such a payout right now. And it’s the public workers’ faults, of course! (Who cares that they’ve contributed to their pensions consistently while governors neglected the fund for years? Who cares that 75 cents of every pension dollar paid comes from investment returns and not taxpayers?)
So the immediate question, right now, is this: when do taxpayers say “enough”?
Aren’t the six credit downgrades–and their implications–enough? Isn’t the ongoing attack on public workers enough? Isn’t the harm Christie is doing to public education and public school students enough? Isn’t Bridgegate enough? Isn’t the taxpayer-funded investigation Chris Christie hired his friends to conduct enough? Aren’t the Sandy relief fund scandals enough? Aren’t the illegal pension abuses–and violations of pay-to-play regulations–enough? Isn’t the decision to run an unnecessary special election–which cost taxpayers $12 million–enough? Aren’t the excessive raises Christie’s awarding to members of his inner circle enough? Isn’t the cronyism enough? Isn’t Christie’s blatant favoritism to the 1%–at the expense of New Jersey’s workers–enough?
Yes. It’s all enough. And many people, even the ones who supported Christie at the polls two times, are starting to realize it. Some are even calling for a recall election. One problem: New Jersey’s recall law presents overwhelming challenges that make it highly unlikely Christie will be recalled–and he knows it. So for a man whose word means nothing and whose morals are clearly unsound, this all means one thing: he has free license to keep vilifying and taking advantage of public workers unless someone with more authority than he has forces him to stop doing so. (You remember, just like that time when the New Jersey Supreme Court forced him to fund the urban schools he was intent on starving.)
Here’s how you can encourage that process: sign the petition on NJEA’s website that insists the pension board file suit against Christie for his illegal pension abuses. Call or write to your legislators. Get your friends, family, and neighbors to do so, too.
Send Chris Christie the message that New Jersey’s citizens won’t tolerate a governor who uses taxpayers’ money to enrich the 1%, attacks public workers, breaks promises, and breaks the law.
Christie said his wife is urging him to get new suits [because of his recent weight loss].
“But I’m on a budget,” Christie said. “I gotta be careful, you know?”