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Governor Christie Embraces Theft

Memo Pad Politics

Governor Christie Embraces Theft


Embattled New Jersey governor Chris Christie has come out foursquare for wage theft.

As reported Sunday by Karen Tumulty of The Washington Post, Christie met with 200 citizens at the Jersey shore last week and, regarding state worker retirement benefits, declared: “Promises were made that can’t be kept… Welcome to the real world, folks.”

Tumulty and other first-rate political reporters are covering Christie’s not-fully-specified plans to cut post-retirement health care benefits and/or pensions as a political story: Reformist GOP governor championing taxpayer interests takes on greedy, Democratic-allied public worker unions.

Nothing better illustrates why policy reporters, not politics reporters, should be covering these issues. Politics can be entertaining, but that entertainment often comes at the expense of ignoring the heart of serious matters like Christie’s declared support for stealing from state employees so he can spend their money elsewhere.

And to be clear, it’s not the taxpayers’ money, but the workers’. The state gets their labor as compensation for the work they do. No moral principle supports paying workers less than was agreed.

Christie is winning plaudits from many people who fail to grasp the principle that all compensation is earned and failing to pay in full is theft. These plaudits would be far less likely if he ran a company instead of a government.

If you have trouble grasping this, just imagine opening your next paycheck to find that only some of the money is there — and when asked about this, your employer says, “promises were made that can’t be kept… Welcome to the real world, folks.”

Christie’s position is also astonishing given his frequent statements that he always acts in accordance with the law. He articulated that standard repeatedly in connection with the closing of four lanes on the George Washington Bridge, an apparent political payback scheme that is the subject of federal criminal and legislative investigations.

Because journalists have done such a poor job of explaining the principles of compensation, politicians like Christie, Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, and others have successfully obscured their plots to steal from public employees in a wrapper of anti-tax rhetoric.

This column is not an argument that New Jersey is paying too much or too little in pensions and post-retirement health benefits. It is also not an argument about how much public-sector workers are paid. And it is not an argument against the state negotiating with public employee unions to reduce future compensation, including health care benefits in retirement and pensions.

This column is about paying in full what was already earned. It is about paying bills as they come due. It is about principles and moral duty.

To be clear, I am foursquare against cheating in any form, and since 1967 my work has exposed a vast array of corrupt schemes by politicians, executives and charity leaders.

And this column is not a defense of practices by which workers cheat — the most common form being “pension spiking,” in which workers pile on overtime and other pay during their last year or even day to artificially pump up pension payments. I wrote an exposé of this practice more than 20 years ago. If Christie wants to stop such games, I am with him — and you should be, too.

But because public debate about retiree health benefits and pensions is so ill informed, let me offer a brief primer on compensation principles.

Pensions are not gifts. Pensions are earned. Ditto post-retirement health care benefits that new hires were told they would earn.

Declaring that any compensation that was earned will not be paid is to engage in deliberate and calculated theft.

The gross salary on your paycheck is not the entire cost of your labor. Employers, including the State of New Jersey, budget based on “all-in costs,” which for most large employers are typically a third higher than wages alone. The “all-in” cost is your total compensation.

New Jersey public sector workers — especially those with unions — could have demanded that all of their compensation be paid in cash. Instead these workers negotiated to take part of their pay in cash, and used the rest of their earnings to purchase health care, vacations, sick leave and other benefits including that monthly stream of payments in old age that we call pensions.

Every payday, employers — corporate and government — are supposed to set aside the portion of compensation needed to pay for pension benefits. But unlike health insurance companies, which demand payment on time to keep policies in force, the pension law is riddled with loopholes enabling theft through less-than-full payment.

The state should also be reserving, as the accountants say, for the future costs of medical coverage for workers after they retire since that was part of their compensation package.

New Jersey did a reasonable, though imperfect, job of properly funding its pensions — until the election of another Republican governor, Christine Todd Whitman, who took office in January 1994.

To burnish her image as a tax cutter, Whitman decided to not put the billions of dollars public workers earned, but deferred, into their pension plan. In reality, all Whitman did was increase the future costs New Jersey taxpayers would face because those billions of dollars were not invested in the market, earning returns.

You can feel sorry for Christie, who is faced with the obligations Whitman shirked, but that does not wipe out the legal and moral duty to pay workers in full.

Governor Jon Corzine, a Democrat, did not alleviate the huge and chronic underfunding problem in New Jersey, showing that the creation of the shortfall has become a bipartisan problem.

News reports are rich with assertions by Christie and others that they want public-sector workers to “pay more” or “contribute more” to their pensions, and for taxpayers to “contribute” less. That word “contribute” is deceptive.

There are only two sources of money in pension plans, corporate or government. One is the earnings the workers deferred. The other is investment returns.

Taxpayers, and investors, received in full what they sought — the labor of their employees. But unless all retirement benefits are paid in full, the workers get cheated out of part of their agreed-to compensation.

Failing to pay in full the retirement benefits workers earned is no different in principle from your employer, declaring that money was tight, shorting your paycheck this week.

It is one thing for an employer to say in advance that current compensation levels cannot be maintained and will be cut next week. That way, workers can decide to stay or quit before their pay is cut.  (Economic theory says that the best workers will go where they are better compensated, while those with less talent or options will stay.)

A reduction of benefits yet to be earned is not what Christie proposes. Read his language – “promises were made that can’t be kept.” He is proposing to not fully pay compensation already earned, and his actions show he is not setting aside the necessary funds to make those payments.

Christie’s declaration stands in sharp contrast to what other leaders say when their organizations are caught stealing from workers.

From mom-and-pop operations to Walmart and McDonald’s, in recent years many employers have been caught stealing current wages. They try to explain their way out of it, but none has declared that they will steal.

And when ordered by the courts to pay up, employers do.

Christie’s plan goes beyond just subtly stealing from workers. He wants to make sure they are in the dark about his plans to steal the full compensation they earned.

Wage theft is an endemic problem in the United States, according to Kim Bobo, executive director of Interfaith Justice in Chicago, which has fought to make sure workers are fully paid.

Bobo’s focus is on cash pay, but the principles she espouses apply to all compensation, from pension and post-retirement health care benefits to successful startup companies that dump workers just before their stock options vest.

“Unions are still the best and most effective vehicle for stopping wage theft,” Bobo wrote in the chapter she contributed to my new anthology on inequality, titled DIVIDED: The Perils of Power Growing Inequality.

Bobo says that’s because “unions train workers about their rights in the workplace. Basic laws protecting workers are confusing, and consequently most workers are unsure about their rights and where to turn for help. Unions train local leaders about their rights in the workplace. When workers know the laws and the rights, they are much more vigorous advocates on their own behalf.”

Christie wants to get rid of public-employee unions or, at the very least, weaken them. As Bobo notes, without unions it is easier to cheat workers out of the full compensation they earned.

Governor Christie’s declaration is also at odds with his own repeated promises to New Jersey voters. Upon taking office, he promoted a plan to increase pension plan funding by $600 million annually through fiscal year 2018. His office said that would pretty much close the gap between the pensions state workers have earned and the pool of funds to pay them.

But in his January State of the State address, Christie proposed a sharp reversal from his earlier promises.  And he had already cut pension funding in deceptive ways, according to NJSpotlight.com contributor Mark J. Magyar’s account of the January speech:

What Christie didn’t tell the Legislature or the public that day was that his Treasury Department had already instructed the actuaries responsible for calculating the state’s required pension payment to change the formula not only to cut the state’s pension payment for the upcoming year, but to do so retroactively for the current year.

If Christie succeeds, it means he will not only have engineered the theft of billions of dollars of compensation state workers earned in post-retirement health care and pension benefits. It will mean winning votes by using money that should be set aside now to fully compensate workers and diverting that to finance popular government services.

There is a word for not paying workers in full for what they earned: Theft. And people who steal, whether by threat of violence or slick political maneuver, are properly called thieves.

AFP Photo/Eric Thayer

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David Cay Johnston

David Cay Johnston won a 2001 Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of taxes in The New York Times. The Washington Monthly calls him “one of America’s most important journalists” and the Portland Oregonian says is work is the equal of the great muckrakers Ida Tarbell, Lincoln Steffens and Upton Sinclair.

At 19 he became a staff writer at the San Jose Mercury and then reported for the Detroit Free Press, Los Angeles Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer and from 1995 to 2008 The New York Times.

Johnston is in his eighth year teaching the tax, property and regulatory law at Syracuse University College of Law and Whitman School of Management.

He also writes for USA Today, Newsweek and Tax Analysts.

Johnston is the immediate past president of the 5,700-member Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE) and is board president of the nonprofit Investigative Post in Buffalo.

His latest book Divided: The Perils of Our Growing Inequality an anthology he edited. He also wrote a trilogy on hidden aspects of the American economy -- Perfectly Legal, Free Lunch, and The Fine Print – and a casino industry exposé, Temples of Chance.

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  1. sigrid28 July 28, 2014

    Chris Christie has created his own Romney-esque 47% remark: “Promises were made that can’t be kept… Welcome to the real world, folks.” Let’s hope it haunts him throughout any campaign he dares to wage now and in the future.

    1. Sand_Cat July 28, 2014

      I hope you’re right, but I wouldn’t count on it.

      1. Independent1 July 28, 2014

        Yup!! Sadly, there are too many voters who either aren’t smart enough, or they don’t care enough, to fully understand the slight of hand that’s going on which is doing everything it can think of to rob them blind. Hence they continue voting in political candidates that clearly don’t care about their best interests.

        1. Dominick Vila July 29, 2014

          I wonder often about what motivates people to vote against their best interests. Is it ideology, ignorance, or impotence to fight the status quo?

          1. matt July 29, 2014

            ignorance is all i have come up with

          2. Independent1 July 29, 2014

            Dominick, I think for many, it may be ‘gullibility’ and the 24/7 brainwashing of the GOP. We have some dear friends who are very nice people, but they (especially the husband) socialize in a circle with people who support the GOP and they buy into the vast majority of what these other ignorant/gullible GOP supporters tell them.

          3. MrSilenceDogood August 4, 2014

            Do not get it wrong, Christie is no conservative. He is POS RINO. Plain and simple. So stop with anti-GOP BS. Are all Dems as un-American as Obama?

          4. Independent1 August 4, 2014

            GOP BS??

            Sorry, I don’t post BS, just facts.

            And would you mind identifying what Obama has done that has made him “un-American? Given that he’s accomplished more to move America forward than any president at least since FDR and maybe even more than FDR.

            So let’s hear what he’s done that’s un-American.

            Was it governing such that the stock market is at heights never seen before so retired folks like me can breathe lots easier (we got rid of that stock market destroyer called Bush.)

            Was it following through on the Auto Bailout and Stimulus which kept America out of the GOP’s 2nd created world-wide depression? And which has allowed our auto industry to make profits the passed 2 years they haven’t seen since Clinton was in office?

            Was it following through and pursuing al Qaeda and bin Laden, virtually dessimating the organization, getting bin Laden and forcing them to reorganize in Africa??

            Was it being the smallest spending president since Eisenhower, reducing Bush’s deficit spending faster than any president since Truman (cutting it by almost 2/3s in his 1st 5 budgets)?

            Was it managing America’s oil and gas drilling such that more oil and gas is being brought out of the ground in history, such that America is now the largest producer of energy on the planet (surpassing Russia and Saudi Arabia)?

            Was it taking it upon himself to cut banks out of the student loan process which has made student loans more available to HS students than under any previous president?

            Was it him starting a war on fraud in the defense and healtcare sectors bringing more crooks to justice and recovering more fraud monies than any previous president?

            Was it concentrating on rounding up the illegal aliens that have been creating America problems and deporting more troublesome illegals than any previous president?

            Was it being the 1st president to actually get an overhaul of America’s disastrous healthcare system passed which has not only allowed millions of Americans to get healthcare insurance who previously couldn’t buy it, but which is actually allowing many hospitals to make a profit t that have historically operated at a lost and required state and federal subsidies to keep operating?

            Was it because America’s overseas offices have experienced the safest period in the past 40 years with only 3 serious attacks and 4 lost lives while the average number of attacks and lost lives for the past 4 presidents before him were 10 attacks with more than 50 people dying under each president?

            Just what has he done that’s un-American?? Let’s hear it!!!!

          5. dave August 7, 2014

            You forget,the repubs want obama to LOOK bad no matter what.Any talk of a good job by obama is against all repubs beliefs.Think of all that COULD have been accomplished since obama was elected WITH repub compromise and cooperation !!Instead we have the repub roadblock at every turn and VERY LITTLE got done. YET ITS STILL OBAMAS FAULT ??

          6. Independent1 August 7, 2014

            You’re so right! In the twisted, distorted minds of millions of clueless GOP lovers!!

          7. MrSilenceDogood August 20, 2014

            I’m sorry I didn’t know you lived in DREAMLAND.

          8. Independent1 August 20, 2014

            I’m not in dreamland, you simply either live on another planet or have your head to far in the sand.

            Here’s a few graphs to support some of my points:

          9. elw July 29, 2014

            It the same reasoning that they use when they have poor health behaviors and that the abused women use when they stay with their abuser. It is easier to pretend than change. I spent many decades trying to get people to change their health behaviors; intelligence has nothing to do with it, it just easier in the short term to hold on to the what you are use to than to change. Those people need to have a life and death experience to be motivated to face the discomforts of change. Until they do they will pretend that all is well and as it should be.

          10. Dominick Vila July 29, 2014

            I agree. I have very close relatives who are Tea Party supporters. It doesn’t matter if some of their claims prove to be false and are retracted by whomever started it. It doesn’t matter if GOP proposals are counter productive to them, and it doesn’t matter if what the GOP is demonizing are things they are doing and benefiting from. Logic is irrelevant to them. The day one of them told me that the only commentator he trusts is Rush Limbaugh, I gave up.

          11. elw July 29, 2014

            Most of the people I know have the same rule as my family, “no talking about politics at family gatherings.” I use to tell an aunt that she was out numbered so she could vote any way she wanted because the rest of us would negate her vote.

          12. dtgraham July 29, 2014

            That’s what a generation of telling people never to trust the actual news, but rather only the conservative version of it will do. They are constantly fed false narratives replete with their own special set of facts. They experience reality very differently from you and I.

          13. ralphkr July 29, 2014

            Combine that, dtg, with the fact the so-called “liberal media” is controlled by conservatives and you are left with having to go to BBC or CBC to get anything close to what is really going on in the world.

          14. dtgraham July 30, 2014

            The American PBS is pretty outstanding for news too ralph. A public broadcaster helps for sure.

          15. ralphkr July 30, 2014

            Well, dtg, I fell in love with CBC & BBC because their talking heads actually pay attention to what they are reading too us. For instance: I was watching CBC and the talking head said, “President Bush stated that Iraq was going to have to put forth more effort into their own security.” The talking head, paused, looked thoughtful for a moment, and then said, “International law states that security of a country is the duty of an occupying force.” (obviously, not scripted). Other times I have seen them express amazement at the statements expressed by their own politicians (both the liberal & conservative ones). I certainly don’t see US talking heads departing from their script.

          16. dtgraham July 30, 2014

            That sounds like Peter Mansbridge. What I like about Evan Solomon on CBC Newsworld is that guy is going to get an answer that makes some sense and doesn’t involve talking points, no matter what. When he senses BS and spin he keeps badgering and interrupting until he does, but always in a polite enough way. If that doesn’t work right away, then he’ll revisit that question again over the course of the interview. Rosemary Barton does the same but not quite to the same extent. She digs with a slightly different style. They do this for all the parties.

            I can’t tell you how many CBC political interviews only have opposition member politicians on any more because the Conservative government refuses to provide any MP’s for the interview, the fact of which is announced upfront by the CBC talking head. They hate the CBC and avoid them whenever possible. This has hurt them in the polls because the CBC just utterly dominates the ratings. I’m sure they figure that the hurt is less than it would be if they exposed their ministers to that kind of questioning.

            I haven’t watched the BBC in a while but used to watch it quite often. I always thought that their international coverage was just superb.

          17. dave August 7, 2014

            If the FACTS don’t fit the repub line they either ignore them or make up their own !! Faux news got a ruling in COURT that anything they ‘ reported ‘ didn’t have to BE true or factual !!

          18. dtgraham August 8, 2014

            Fox News won the right to lie on air on appeal in 2003 after losing initially. They actually argued that they had the right to be factually incorrect on the basis of freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Amazingly, they didn’t even deny that they had been creative with the facts. They merely argued that they had the right to be. I don’t think anyone believed that an FCC court case like this would ever happen because no one thought that a news network would ever advocate for the right to lie, essentially.

          19. dave August 8, 2014

            Whats even stupider/crazier ?,is that they aren’t called fox news in canada BY LAW !! Fox ALSO lost a court case in canada that said the network was making up stories and falsely reporting stories.Fox ‘news’,is now fox entertainment in canada ,BY LAW .

    2. FT66 July 29, 2014

      Why should anyone make any promise which they can’t keep? Remember any promise regarding money is never made verbally. It has to be in writing. How possible he can come later and declare he can’t fulfil his promise?

      1. kenndeb July 29, 2014

        Anything like “if you like your insurance, you can keep it. If you like your doctor, you can keep him.”?

        1. FT66 July 29, 2014

          No. Apples and Oranges are not the same. Apples are Apples and Oranges are Oranges. Please don’t mix them up.

        2. davidcayjohnston July 29, 2014

          Columnist here…

          KenDeb your comment misses the point of what was said. Many millions of Americans have changes to their healthcare plans each year so no one can literally keep their insurance — the companies change the policy terms annually.

          What President Obama clearly meant was that you were not being forced into a government system and if you wanted to buy private insurance you would be able to do so. And, indeed, you can.

          1. David Devonick July 30, 2014


        3. ralphkr July 29, 2014

          I certainly hope so, kenndeb, because I like my doctor and have kept him for a long time. I have lost 2 doctors since 2003 (both of them went on to higher paying lower stress positions as hospitalists) and one great dentist who went to Texas because his wife insisted on moving back to her home.

        4. Independent1 July 29, 2014

          And most people with an ounce of common sense realized immediately that it was the insurance companies who lied, not Obama. When the insurance companies met with Obama while negotiations were going on in Congress to create the ACA legislation, the CEOs from the major health insurers made a promise to Obama that they would honor their commitment to grandfather existing policies for people who would be purchasing insurance via the ACA exchanges.

          Well, guess what. The CEOs LIED!! When it came time for ACA to become effective, the major insurers who had promised to honor their grandfathering commitment chose to do what they’ve always done at the end of each year and cancel individual policies that were not profitable, but this time, they decided to do it in a way that made the media think they were cancelling all these policies and in some cases restructuring them because of Obamacare – which was a blatant lie!!!!!!!!!

          They deliberately structured the language in the notices sent to their insureds in a way that made it sound like 1) they didn’t really have any option other than to migrate to a much more expensive plan and 2) they made it sound like the problem was all the fault of Obamacare.

  2. Independent1 July 28, 2014

    No one should be surprised by this article. Christie is as big a pathological liar as any typical Republican. If there are any bloggers on the NM that believe Christie is a nicer kind of Republican, here’s an excerpt from an article in the DailyKos titled – “The Many Lies of Chris Christie” that should dispel that notion:

    8. Teacher, police and firemen pensions

    “Literally, lies after lies from this utter fraud of a man. Start at the header of this blog with Chris Christie’s promise to teachers and other public workers from his 2009 campaign:

    * I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. In fact, in order to ensure your retirement savings are safe, I believe we must prioritize the protection of pension fund dollars and investigate the cause of Jon Corzine’s large investment losses to our pension system. Currently there is a $34 billion deficit in the State’s pension fund, which threatens the retirement and lifeline of so many teachers. We must do better for our teachers, future teachers and retirees. As Governor, I will work to close unfunded liabilities and make sure our state lives up to its promises, unlike Jon Corzine. I will not raid your pension fund to cover budgetary shortfalls like previous governors of both parties have done. One of the changes I will bring to Trenton is responsible management, investment, and oversight of state pension dollars. [emphasis mine]
    That was the first lie; Christie did, in fact, change teachers’ and cops’ and firefighters’ pensions, increasing our payments and getting rid of cost-of-living increases. Then he didn’t follow up on his promise to “close unfunded liabilities” . . .”

    For those interested in the other 8 lies recorded in this article, here’s the


  3. longtail July 29, 2014

    Everyone knows that Republicans are always looking to steal your lunch.

    1. davidcayjohnston July 29, 2014

      Columnist here….

      No, everyone does not know that, which is why I wrote this column about this specific aspect of Christie’s behavior. About a quarter of the country believes Dems steal your lunch.

      1. matt July 29, 2014

        i believe they both have no problem picking our pockets and giving the opposite of what we want in return dave bb well

        1. Independent1 July 29, 2014

          Maybe so, but think about it for a minute – without the Democrats there would be

          No Social Security so that there would be millions more of the elderly who survive on SS who would be homeless.

          No Medicare so that millions more would be dying prematurely each year because they would not be getting the medical care they need to stay alive.

          There would never have been pension plans, so that millions of elderly living on pensions today, such as myself, may easily be joining the ranks of the homeless.

          And that goes for 401Ks – if the GOP had had it’s way those would never have been created either.

          And there would not have been unions, so that millions who earned enough to retire more comfortably because they negotiated pension palns healthcare and better pay – would also now be added to the ranks of the homeless.

          To be quite candid, without the Democrats who fought for benefits for the middle and lower class, America would look today like Somalia – a wasteland of people scrounging to survive with virtually no government to maintain any kind of sanity in the country.

          If you just isolate the red states of today, many of them are little better than Somalia.

          1. matt July 29, 2014


          2. davidcayjohnston July 29, 2014

            Columnist here…
            I think you folks missed the point of my comment — it was not an equivalency, it was about the “everyone knows” part of the assertion. There is nothing everyone agrees on.

          3. matt July 29, 2014

            be a pretty boring place if that was the case but should all agree on what is morally right and wrong/sadly even that is a task

          4. Michael July 31, 2014

            Highest crime states

            District of Columbia (not a state but not a city either)

            3 of these states all but bankrupt and ready to default on their pension plans. New York would be here too but they don’t enter crime the same way other states do.

            Now what do these states have in common with any of the garbage you were spewing. Nothing.

            The democrats fought against Civil rights in the south. Many of the party members were in the KKK because you couldnt get elected otherwise.

            I dont want this to be a rant against the Dems because they are just like the Republicans. They want power and our money. Almost everything these parties do is motivated by greed not ideals. All you have to do is listen to the tapes and you will know that Johnson was willing to take on Southern democrats for votes and Eisenhower was the same. These are actual documented facts. The republicans in the north did it to help stir up the democrats. They felt this would cause an unhealable breach in the dem party.

            Quit supporting these parties and start supporting America.

            Now for your other “facts.” You write as though history happens in a void. If one thing doesnt happen then nothing happens. This is completely incorrect. No Medicare, millions die. Why werent they dying prior to it. (i am a big supporter of medicare but I am trying to make a point.) Social Security the same arguement. I doubt Roosevelt ever pictured this result. SS is a good idea and is a great cause ran by an inept and corrupt government. Wait until Obamacare drains Medicade and medicine becomes socialized. There will not be “death panels” because it will run just like the VA is. Make a list, put it in a drawer, forget about it (i am a 9 year Navy vet and this makes me very mad.)

            Well good luck to you and your Democrats and all your exact oppisites who support the Republicans. You will all get the government you deserve in the end because you will keep hating each other more then you love this country.

          5. Independent1 July 31, 2014

            Your list is a lie, Illinois, Michigan and California aren’t even in the nation’s top 10 most violent/most dangerous states.

            Here’s the true list with # of violent crimes/100,000 per the FBI

            Tennessee – 644

            Nevada – 608
            Alaska – 603
            New Mexico – 559
            South Carolina – 559
            Delaware – 547
            Louisiana – 497
            Florida – 487
            Maryland – 477
            Oklahoma – 469

            And the rest of your post is virtual garbage. Since passing tax cuts that have greatly reduced California’s debts, California has led the nation in jobs growth.

            Notice that all but 2 of the states have GOP governors.

          6. Michael July 31, 2014

            California 553

            DC 1508

            Deleware 682

            Illinois 542

            Michigan 562

            State Rankings — Statistical Abstract of the United States

            VIOLENT CRIMES 1 PER 100,000 POPULATION — 2006

            I never said they were the top 10. They are in the top 20 and they are all blue states. My point was that the color a state votes has nothing to do with the arguement. But, as usual with you 2 party lovers, you miss the forest through the trees. Look at your top 10 list. Both colors are there and it has nothing to do with how pensions are being stolen from people who were promised them. In the case of these pensions the people who will eventually be ripped off paid their portion and this portion was put into the general budget instead of being put aside by whichever party was in charge (by the way Washington DC does this on a much larger scale with our social security money.). BOTH PARTIES ripped these people off and BOTH PARTIES will continue to do so as long as the voters keep putting them in power. BOTH PARTIES need to be thrown out.

          7. Independent1 July 31, 2014

            What have 2006 statistics got to do with 2014??? Remember that in 2006, California had a Republican governor. The list I gave you was for 2013 – the last complete year for which statistics have been CREATED.

            Red states have obviously become much more violent over the past 8 years!!!! Ever since SCOTUS bastardized the 2nd Amendment and has falsely given people the notion that they have a “right” to own a gun; WHICH THE DO NOT!!!!!!!!

          8. Michael July 31, 2014

            Ok you win “independent 1” The democrats are our saviors and the the republicans are the absolute representation of evil. All democrat ideas are awesome and everything they have done throughout history was correct. It was so nice to have a conversation with an “independent” thinker. You have opened my eyes with your very neutral view of the 2 parties. Thank you ever so much.

          9. Independent1 July 31, 2014

            Nobody on this forum has ever said that the Democrats are perfect; no political party is. But the GOP has become so corrupt over the past 15 years – since Newt Gingrich sent it off its rails, that today’s GOP is totally unrecognizable from the Republican Party of 30-60 years ago. I’ve actually voted for 3 previous Republican presidential candidates – but never again since Reagan really destroyed the party.

            And I noticed that when you mentioned about the Democrats fighting against the civil rights law back in the 1960s, that you conveniently forgot to mention that those were fake Democrats, actually Dixiecrats who are now the backbone of the GOP in the south; virtually all the old southern Democrats switched to the GOP.

          10. Mark August 4, 2014

            The high violence areas are actually blue. In the big cities, like Chicago and DC, that have been held in bondage by the leftist democrats.

          11. Independent1 August 4, 2014

            Just like a typical Republican you cherrypick to very urban cities which are a hodgpodge of every type of person and where you would expect there to be high crime/violence just because of the density and very mixed cultures of the people’s living there.

            But the fact is that of the 15 STATES with the highest rates of violence per 100,000 residents, 12 of them are GOP governed states led by Tennessee, Alaska, Nevada, South Carolina and on and on.

      2. elw July 29, 2014

        While I agree that there are problems with both Parties, Democrats are still the lesser of the two evils, so they usually get my vote. Until we get the influence of big money out of politics we not see much change in the behaviors that come out of Washington. I know that is a big task, but if this Country is going to survive and stay the land of equal opportunity, it is a necessary one. BTW, great article.

        1. plc97477 July 29, 2014

          Unfortunately the only way to get big money out of politics is to make it not pay off. We got pretty close in the last election. Big money will get out as soon as it no longer makes a difference in the outcome.

          1. elw July 29, 2014

            I agree the

      3. longtail July 29, 2014

        I suppose Dems might steal your lunch if you’ve already eaten and someone else in the room is starving. Republicans steal your lunch because they delight in seeing you go hungry.

      4. rustacus21 July 29, 2014

        WOW!!! Awesome – a columnist that personally answers the critical public!!! This was a great article & ideally goes very FAR in teaching a public too readily accepting of egoistic, arrogant bullies, who only talk tough, but in a squeeze, are intellectually helpless and cowardly, to think before the vote. So yes, the ‘misapprehensions’ cut both ways, but more devastatingly against conservative voters…

      5. Michael July 31, 2014

        About a quarter? From the polls i have seen about 70 percent think the government steals from everyone. More then 80 percent feel that congress does nothing (both the senate and the house.) I hope that we get an actual press again someday. You guys are either on one team or the other and very few of you actually just write news or have well informed articles. Your “news” article starts by calling the man a thief and trying to make out he is the main cause of this. He is just a governor. The state house will have to authorize any real benefit chops. Calling any politician a thief is like calling a baby young.
        Personally I think the states should honor the pension contracts they signed. Once they do this their budgets will be empty and all other services would stop because there would be no more money. Maybe at this point people will actually start paying attention to what their policy makers are doing instead of just what they are promising.

    2. plc97477 July 29, 2014

      And anything else they can get their clutches on.

  4. Eleanore Whitaker July 29, 2014

    As a lifelong resident of New Jersey, we are not surprised by Christie’s brash thievery. It’s the reason people in NJ keep the state blue. Christie is a North Jersey GOP party boss suck up. He was only appointed by GWB as a US Attorney because of his connections to Roberts and Alito and their connection to North Jersey party bosses.

    Christie asked NJ public employees for “give backs” in the millions all while he also “gave out” tens of billions to North Jersey business men who fed his campaign. Gee..big surprise.

    No where in the USA is “Pay to Play” a finely honed art form as it is in NJ. It’s been going on practically forever. The only fine line that holds back MONEY POWER vs. government power are NJ voters. The GOP in NJ loathe that they can’t just help themselves to as much of our tax dollars as they can get their syrupy mitts on …all as Christie likes to say to “keep businesses in NJ.” Ironically, NJ businesses remain because they are small businesses. Not the Corporate titans to whom Christie just recently handed more than $230 million in tax breaks for the next 35 years. When this company leaves the states as all companies always do in a decade, taxpayers are on the hook for all of that lost revenue. But, this is the “GOP Way:” Take what isn’t yours and spend it like it is.

    When you give stupid, you get stupid in return.

    1. Michael July 31, 2014

      It is amazing to me that you can only see the GOP doing this. Both parties are ripping your state off (they do the same in my state of Illinois.) Take your blinders off and look at the history of this pension situation. Both parties use their state budgets to benefit their cronies. If you somehow think that the Dems are any different you are mistaken.

      1. Eleanore Whitaker July 31, 2014

        You forget one thing…Having lived ALL my life in NJ AND as a former Republican woman for 33 years, I know the back room games of the GOP better than you. I don’t wear blinders. In that 3+ decade of GOPism, I left the party in 2004 when it was clear that the GOP are becoming more and more white male dominated. Clearly you have blinders. Which party most feeds the rich with the Middle Class’s tax dollars? All you have to do to prove this is count the number of tax cuts during the Reagan and both Bush Administrations. How did that help the economy?

        How does endless war as promoted by warmonging fools of the GOP red state military industries namely Virginia as No. 1, not bankrupt NJ?

        Sorry if you can’t handle the truth. In NJ, the North Jersey bums of the GOP are men like that selfish, self-serving Steve Lonegan, of the Americans for Prosperity..(his, not yours) right wing group. People in central and southern NJ rely on our very best workers for Main Street…not Wall Street. Take a look at the number of bills put forth by Senator Menendez or Congressman Rush Holt. Not a single one pours money into Big Businesses. The reality your blinders hide is that it it NOT our responsibility as taxpayers to feed corporations $230 million in tax cuts as your GOP governor has done for a single crony company..”if they remain in NJ 35 years.” BS…How many companies remain in ANY state that long unless they are Big Oil, Big Prison, Big Military or Big Pharma Industries handed your tax dollars to stay in NJ? Who pay a business just to locate in any state? The GOP …that’s who..and who is forced to hand over our tax dollars that pay for that? We, the Middle Class. Get it from your rich bois…they have the money to spend on GOP special interests like the Tea Party, Americans for Prosperity (who by the way was established by 7 Texas billionaires…gee big surprise!) and Rove’s $200 million PAC that seeks to over rule populists who have every right to choose the president WE, not the radicals, want.Take your suck up sob story to someone in NJ who hasn’t been bilked by the GOP underbelly.

        1. Michael July 31, 2014

          i despise the Republicans. They are warmongering (as are many Democrats.) Both parties take huge amounts of money from the Industrial Military Complex and big oil. Its amazing that I ask you to take your blinders off and immediately I’m a republican. I am just asking you to see that both parties have failed this country. You use this as an opportunity to attack the republicans and show how the Dems are better. These parties (both of them) love people like you. As long as they keep you fighting your fellow americans you will never see the real picture.

          Look at the votes for war not just what they say. Look at the spending in their districts for military contracts not just what they say. Look at the “political outings” both parties attend not just what they say. Look at how almost everyone of them have become multimillionaires (not just republicans.) I say again “take your blinders off.” I am 49 and served 9 years in the US Navy. I love this country I hate these 2 parties. I only hope that one day we can find a solution.

  5. Gordon E. July 29, 2014

    I think a lawsuit would change the outcome of this craziness. If not then I think that Mr. Christie should not receive a paycheck.

    1. Blueberry Hill July 29, 2014

      So true.


    2. Dominick Vila July 29, 2014

      That’s the worst part of this issue. Corporations don’t hesitate to refuse to deliver on their promises, but they never cancel the golden parachutes or lavish bonuses they give to their top executives. As usual, it is always the little guy who pays for the excesses or lousy management decisions made by the guys at the top.

      1. matt July 29, 2014

        yes but they prosecute us when we don’t dominick

        1. techBob July 29, 2014

          But the “prosecutions” are too few and the penalties are nothing but a slap on the wrist that don’t even come close to making up for the theft!

          1. matt July 29, 2014

            you misunderstood i meant prosecution of the little guy( us) corporations rarely pay fines in a timely fashion, but the irs will go after the little guy swiftly

          2. techBob July 29, 2014


    3. Pete Perez July 29, 2014

      You can bet that he is going to get his pension.

    4. matt July 29, 2014


  6. Blueberry Hill July 29, 2014

    I hope the people of New Jersey dump this lying thief pos in November. Only the people from New Jersey can make that happen.


    1. matt July 29, 2014

      hes got three more years

      1. Blueberry Hill July 29, 2014

        Egads, is a Recall under consideration? He can do a lot more damage in 3 more years.


        1. matt July 29, 2014

          i know i voted for him and obummer i think they should revoke my voters card/

          1. Blueberry Hill July 29, 2014

            Well, don’t vote for Christie again. lol. If you had not voted for Obama, the entire country would have been much worse when you consider the alternative. Would you really rather have McCain & Palin? Ugh, just the thought brings about gagging.


          2. matt July 29, 2014

            thats why i voted for obummer but a great disapointment he is

          3. Blueberry Hill July 29, 2014

            It just makes me feel sad that he had all the tbaggers in congress and the Rs themselves out to destroy him and stopped him from helping us and the country in any way. Here is a partial list of the
            Obama accomplishments that he did achieve in spite of all the blocks and hurdles he had to go thru:



          4. Independent1 July 29, 2014

            Yeah! I lamented about that in a rant a week or two ago; that it’s really unfortunate that the GOP deliberately set out to destroy a presidency that I think could have without question been one to really remember. Given that Obama has accomplished so much despite every effort of the GOP to make him fail, makes me believe that had they even just stepped aside, not even supported fully his agenda but a least not tried to destroy it, our economy could

            have created truly bright futures for so many millions of Americans and even have lifted millions out of poverty and out of the need to be dependent on government to subsidize their lives. It’s just such a terrible, terrible shame what the GOP has done!!

            And what makes it even harder to fathom, is that what the GOP has done to destroy America these last 5 plus years has been deliberate!!

            UPDATE: Eric Cantor Plotted to Sabotage US Economy in Secret Meeting with Hensarling & Luntz


          5. Blueberry Hill July 30, 2014

            Yes, it is so sad, and so maddening at the same time. We didn’t have to be suffering all this time, it was all deliberately caused by the tbagging Rs. I hope so that the voters have realized how important it is to get out and vote, and to pay attention to whom they are voting for. Never vote for someone who wants to destroy our government and us in the process. Scum clings to them all. We could have all had jobs and so many need not to have lost their homes, and on and on.
            VOTE BLUE!


          6. Independent1 July 29, 2014

            A great disappointment?? Could you be precise on that?? Can you list a lot of things he’s done wrong?? The majority of our problems today are due to GOP obstruction or Obama trying to implement solutions that are less progressive than many of us would like because he mistakenly believed that he could at least accomplish something to move America forward, even if it wasn’t exactly what he or progressives would want.

            How can he be a disappointment when within 5 plus years after a disaster that financially greatly exceeded the financial disaster of the Great Depression (many more Americans lost thousands and millions of their net worth);

            There have been more than 4 years of positive jobs growth with more jobs created than were created during Bush’s disastrous 8 years!

            Deficit spending has been reduced faster than at any time since Truman reduced spending right after WWII.

            1.4 trillion in deficit spending has been reduced by almost 2/3s in 5 years of Obama budgets. (See the graph below at how his spending compares to some other presidents).

            On verge of collapse when he entered office, the auto industry has seen profits the passed 2 years they hadn’t recorded since Clinton was in office.

            And, the collapse of the industry didn’t throw America into the GOP’s 2nd created World Wide depression.

            And the Stimulus he pushed for not only helped keep America out of depression, it also spawned an alternative energy boom that is on the cusp of making fossil fuels obsolete by Solar, Wind, Tidal and Plasma energy alternatives.

            And while that transition is going on, he’s managed the oil and gas industry such that America has extracted more gas and oil out of the ground over the passed 4 years than at any previous time; so much in fact that America IS NOW the largest energy producer on the planet – surplanting Russia and Saudi Arabia for that title.

            I could go on with one accomplishment after another, more actually than even FDR accomplished but let’s hear you spell out for us the many things Obama has done to be a disappointment.

            The only disappointment I see is that there are millions of Americans such as yourself who are totally clueless about even some of the multitude of things Obama has accomplished despite the GOP’s every efforts to prevent him from accomplishing anything.

  7. John Mackerel July 29, 2014

    Yes, let all of NJ be like the town of Lodi and borrow against your future to pay the pensions… That’s what NJ wants because those who colluded with pols to get what they want then milk the system and now screwed the others.
    Greed doesn’t happen just on Wall Street and unfortunately, people of NJ are too blind to see that NJ will quickly turn into a Detroit without reform.

    You decry higher gas prices what do you think you’ll end up paying to cover pensions for the state, county and muni employees? You think their investments return any significant?

    Gov’t pension is like SS# both are unsustainable and going to run out of money soon!

    1. Blueberry Hill July 29, 2014

      Thankfully, Social Security still has nearly 3Trillion dollars in its coffers. They are not allowed to dip into it. That is why the Rs want to destroy it, so they can get their greedy hands on the money in there.
      Pensions should be insured, or did Christie take that money too?
      Once a thief, always a thief! Robbing Peter to pay Paul mantra.


    2. Independent1 July 29, 2014

      SS is not going to run out of money unless the American voters are too clueless to get the Republicans out of office so a very simple solution to extending it for the next 100 years is made – raise the current max income limit which is around 115,000 to say 250,000 so those earning millions pay more into the system.

      1. highpckts July 29, 2014

        Such a simple solution but that must be too easy to understand. Raise the cap and problem solved!!

  8. Dominick Vila July 29, 2014

    I receive a private pension, and I has retirement healthcare coverage paid for by my former employer, until the corporation I worked for decided that benefit was too costly and terminated it. In my case, it was not a major problem, since I was near MEDICARE eligibility age, but this issue highlights the duplicity, greed, and irresponsibility of corporate America.
    When employees complained about wages that were lower than those paid by our competitors, for duties identical to ours, we were quick to point out that our benefit package – including our retirement package – was better than most.
    The situation came to a halt when the number of retirees became too large, and a combination of bad investments, leveraged buyouts that not always produced the desired results, lack of innovation, and unrealistic shareholder expectations, made it difficult for my employer to deliver on what they promised.
    Instead of telling folks to face reality, what our government should do is exert greater oversight over the benefit packages offered by U.S. employers, ensure they remain solvent, and fine those who fail to deliver on their promises.

    1. Pete Perez July 29, 2014

      It used to be that way 40 years ago. There were three things, 1. Had to be administered by a 3rd independent party, 2. could not invest and flitter it away in the stock market, 3. Funds had to be maintained at like a 80% level . GW took away #3, and allowed companies to get out, by executive order, 1st thing he did when taking office.

      1. highpckts July 29, 2014

        Another one of those pesky “executive” orders!! Damn! I bet the GOP didn’t accuse him of over reach!!

      2. davidcayjohnston July 31, 2014

        Columnist here…

        The official list of Bush executive orders does not appear to contain anything like what you wrote (and his first EO was about something entirely unrelated to what you wrote). Please post a link to this executive order or whatever action you believe Bush took on this.

        On your other points, ERISA is still the law for corporations, but it has been successively weakened, in good part through regulation and policy rather than statutory changes, under ever administration since enactment in 1974. My numerous efforts to arouse public attention to these matters have, frankly, all been failures, probably because the issues are too complicated for most people to grasp.

  9. matt July 29, 2014

    yes he is a liar and a cheat but the truth is they have to renegotiate pensions because the money will not be there

    1. Independent1 July 29, 2014

      The only reason it’s not there is because they’ve stolen it for other purposes – like even giving it away as bribes.

      1. matt July 29, 2014

        not the ony reason but a major portion inde

  10. howa4x July 29, 2014

    The real way that Christi stole from the pension system is that he used it to reward political cronies. After criticizing Corzine for cronyism about how he invested pension funds with hedge funds, Christie did the same thing. He invested 200 million of the pension fund with Elliot associates a republican hedge fund, and the state was charged 8.6 million in management fees. Then Paul Singer a managing partner of the fund gave a 1.25 million contribution to the GOP governors association in Christie’s name. While other state funds are preforming at 16% return, NJ’s is returning a paltry 11.6%.
    He tried to do the same thing in Mass. reward a repubican Fund manager running for governor there, But Massachusetts has a play for pay law and stopped the deal, NJ legislature followed suit I calling the governor out on this issue. Christie is telling the public he can’t make agreed upon payments but continues to use the pension as a slush fund to reward political allies.
    This is all cynical since worker contribute 6% of their salary toward this Also workers were paid less than their private sector counterparts with politicians telling them they would get a pension and benefits later on. Now Christie is reneging n the deal. the sad ting is that bright people are now staying away from Government jobs because of these cynical and ego driven politicians, and that will hurt the public the mot in the long run

  11. itsfun July 29, 2014

    Governor Synder in Michigan did the same thing. In Michigan, one guarantee of state employment was retirees would not have to pay state income tax on their state pensions. That was a condition of employment for all state employees for decades. Synder and the Republican house and Senate in Michigan threw that out with no input from citizens or anyone else. Republican Governor Engler had increased the no state income tax on anyone in Michigan living on a persion (government and private). Snyder also threw this out. Michigan government said screw you seniors.

    1. Blueberry Hill July 29, 2014

      Yes, Snyder is a disaster for Michigan. I am a Michigan and fall victim of all the slime this SOB hands out; even takes over cities and disbands their duly elected officials and puts in one of his cronies to rape and pillage the cities. I hope he goes to jail soon. Anyway, he is up for election and we have a chance to rid ourselves of this slimy SOB and I hope we do get rid of him and that Anonymous checks the voting machines here, as there are not that many idiots in this state that would honestly vote again for this pos.


      1. itsfun July 29, 2014

        agree with you 100%

        1. Blueberry Hill July 29, 2014

          Thank you, and hoping so that this freak is gone in November, as well as the way the Legislature was also stacked with tbaggers. Nothing good came from this merry band of thieves.


          1. itsfun July 29, 2014

            Engler helped seniors and Snyder hurt seniors. I think this shows how our elected officials just go along with what the party tells them to do. The same can be said about Democrats. Our so called elected representatives couldn’t care less about us, but only do what their parties tell them to do. It doesn’t help to fire them, because their replacements will just do what their party tells them to do also. We need a party that actually represents the people that elect them. I’m sure that is just a dream anymore.

      2. plc97477 July 29, 2014

        Good luck with getting rid of him.

        1. Blueberry Hill July 29, 2014

          We had more than enough signatures 3 years ago to Recall him, but the Secretary of State, Terri Lynn Land, another tbagger, claimed the font was too small. It wasn’t too small, but she turned them over to a tbagger judge who has been sitting on them ever since. If just the people come out who signed those Recall petitions, he should be history. She is running for Senator, and we also need to stop her. Be sure to vote for Dem Secretary of States, those are very important, as they control the votes and the counting of votes, never allow a tbagger to do that job, we all know they do nothing but lie. Thanks, by the way.


  12. SchoolBoardMember July 29, 2014

    Over the years, starting with Mayor Lindsay in NYC and continuing with Governor Pataki and Governor Whitman, to name a few, “Progressive” Republicans have upped public worker’s pensions has an alternative to pay raises. Now when the bill comes due, the next generation of Republicans wants to take those benefits away. Two reasons, first because you cannot pay those benefits and not tax rich folks and second because that was probably in the plan all along. The Republican mantra “The poor have too much money and the rich do not have enough”

  13. BiteMeLiberals July 29, 2014

    Christie is a world class donut thieve.

    1. Insinnergy December 21, 2015

      If donuts were your personal savings, and “world class” meant “standard Republican operating procedure”.

  14. FT66 July 29, 2014

    Taking anything which doesn’t belong to you and without consulting the owner first to allow you to take it, is called “STEALING”. This is totally a crime and anyone who does it deserves to end up in prison. Pensions are workers money. They earned it with their own sweat. Whoever thinks so long is in power can do whatever he likes with peoples money, must be punished severely. To me this is more than the “bridgegate scandal”.

  15. elw July 29, 2014

    A more simple explanation is that Republicans will steal everything they can to get personal gains and give very little, if anything, in return. They target the middle class, belittle minorities and the poor, make up every scandal they can and start wars over lies. Their motto should be “Less for you means more for me.” Don’t forget to vote.

    1. plc97477 July 29, 2014

      And vote smart!

      1. elw July 29, 2014

        Good addition (smart)

  16. Thomas Martin July 29, 2014

    Christie will be supported by all the government and public employee haters. What is sickening is government employees are the victims of a crime. Ignorance of the electorate is at a real low point in my opinion – why do these people continue to get elected? Meanwhile, the good people of NJ need to take a gut check and decide how this thief will do in the next election. He is definitely not presidential. Don’t ever tell me, Christie, “Welcome to the real world.” Your real world is one of crime and theft and thuggery – you wouldn’t recognize the real world because you DO NOT LIVE IN IT.

  17. ExRadioGuy15 July 29, 2014

    Before New Jerseyians re-elected Fascist Fat-Rat Bastard (Christie), I wrote how I was sadly shaking my head at the prospect of a Blue state electing and re-electing a Fascist GOP Con psychopath as Governor.
    New Jerseyians have only themselves to blame for the problems FFRB has created. If the NJ Legislature were smart, they’d impeach and remove him.

  18. Canistercook July 29, 2014

    Well the government employees in many cases have been stealing from the taxpayers and have their hand in the till.

    1. Independent1 July 30, 2014

      My guess is that this is just another one of your general accusations for which you have absolutely no substantive evidence. But in case you do, how about enlightening us as to how government employees are “in many cases” stealing from the taxpayers and have their hands in the ill.

      And especially with respect to the magnitude of the thievery that Christie is doing to government employee pensions.

  19. Joanne Eagleson July 29, 2014

    Say “bye bye” to a successful run for the Presidency Christie. Pretty sure you just hit the last nail on that coffin.

  20. Che Guevara July 29, 2014

    State pension promises are too big. Period. Christie did not negotiate them, he inherited them. They have to be cut back to make the state budget balance. Period. I don’t know why Christie is perceived as the bad guy here; critics should blame the shirts that gave away the store in years past.

    1. davidcayjohnston July 29, 2014

      Columnist here…

      May I suggest you actually read my column before commenting. I addressed the issues you raise.

    2. Insinnergy December 21, 2015

      Hey moron, I’ll use small words since you didn’t bother to actually read the article, or were incapable of understanding it:
      You must pay what you owe.
      This money was agreed on when the individuals were employed.
      This money is owned by the workers.
      Taking it is theft.

      Say you are hired and your contract says you get 80% of your wage in the hand, and 20% goes to your 401K.
      After 10 years your boss goes: “Sorry moron, I am taking all the money from your 401K. I don’t really consider it to be ‘yours’. I’m taking it and you get nothing.
      What can you do? We have to cut back our “contribution” to you so I can fuel my election jet.”

      You would feel understandably wronged, because ‘your’ money had been ‘stolen’ by your boss. And you only found out about it when it was a decade later and too late for you to go work for someone who isn’t an assh***.

      Get it yet?

      1. Che Guevara June 27, 2016

        I get it. But the promises were too fat when they were made, and need to be adjusted. Just like Social Security and Medicare are going to be adjusted. If something seems too good to be true, it likely is.

  21. rustacus21 July 29, 2014

    As a typical conservative con-man, Christie would have done well to take a lesson from Hurricane Sandie and strengthened his relationship with the President. This would have had the humanizing affect of preventing him from channeling Paul Ryan, George W. Bush & Ronald Reagan in concert. As it stands now, he’s toast politically & is only good as a spectacle at fundraisers. But the time & effort it’s going to take to wipe all the ‘crap’ (I’m thinking that other word for human/animal excretions really) off himself will be monumental – no matter how much he pimps the fat money interests to donate to whatever offices or causes he opts for in future. He’s a cad. A creep. A jerk, no matter how it’s cut & it makes one wonder 1)-why did President Obama not see this in him & 2)-what exactly did the people of N.J. see in him, to elect such a scoundrel, who to date, has only made whole, his richest friends and associates, in the aftermath of Sandie? The big talk and promises, like w/ALL conservatives, leaves the public w/empty promises, empty pockets and a hollowed out, angry soul that rages against Democrats like President Obama, who’s desperately trying to fix yet another Republican/conservative/t-bagger fiasco… one more time. It would be nice if voters would realize, our Constitution, Amendments & law & order foundations are Liberal/Progressive – it stands to reason Liberal/Progressives are by far, better presiders over this, our Liberal/Progressive Democracy…

  22. ORAXX July 29, 2014

    Given a free hand, the Republicans would gut Social Security and Medicare as well. For the GOP it’s all about putting the maximum amount of money in the minimum number of pockets.

  23. Brent July 29, 2014

    What an asinine thing to do ~ stealing from old people ~ many of whom put you in office over your career…..

  24. Irishgrammy July 29, 2014

    I have read many of the posts here trying to understand the “ignorance, or voting against ones interests” when voting for the GOP. I to have had a very difficult time understanding these, what clearly seem to me, contradictory behaviors by so many I personally know and have known for many years. What has become crystal clear to me, especially over the last 6 years, is for almost all these people, have a core strain of complete intolerance and a driven belief systems of incoherent racisms, bigotry, along with unhappiness with their own life outcomes either with their own careers or their children’s choices or life course, or totally unreasonable fear driven by idiots like Rush Limbaugh et al, that “someone” is going to take what they have “worked” for away. There are times when what Limbaugh says, I’d swear he is gunning for a “race war”, the man is outrageous and pushes the concept of “free speech” to it’s limits. And as an obvious result these people can hold incredibly judgmental positions of others lives or choices and almost a consistent undercurrent of anger/rage at the changes occurring in this country’s makeup. Instead of finding improvement of life for so many and the good that means for everyone, or simple acceptance of those changes, they condemn and refuse to move forward, hold on to their unbridled anger and are voting for the party that, for them represents that anger at this moment in time, those policies that they foolishly think will change the inevitability of the march of history and time. The election of Pres. Obama was, for them, the result of 53% of Americans MOVING FORWARD, and they were having none of it, i.e., the 2010 elections…….the pond scum floated to the top of the primordial ooze, the bigots came out and look what we got, unheard of obstruction, constant vilification of our President, lies so outrageous along with disrespect beyond understanding of the man and complete political dysfunction.

  25. Bill July 29, 2014

    Does anyone wonder why the GOP wants to eliminate unions, so they can steal and cheat workers, wake up!!

  26. ralphkr July 29, 2014

    I found your mention of ““pension spiking,” in which workers pile on overtime and other pay
    during their last year or even day to artificially pump up pension
    payments” very interesting and rather entertaining, Mr. Thayer. When I was forced to retire 30+ years ago I had been earning in excess of $35,000 per year for a few years but my retirement was based upon my base $25K because COLA, over time, holiday, premium, or higher level pay was not counted as actual wages for retirement purposes. “pension spiking” was impossible for us.

  27. 3monkeys July 29, 2014

    If you are under 40 you are likely not thinking much about your pension. Perhaps you believe yours is safe even if you belong to a union or are a former private union member like me.
    Don’t take anything for granted! The huge global company I worked for threw us under the bus and the union didn’t or couldn’t do much about former employees. My pension, which I’m happy does exist was reduced by two thirds. I was never notified this happened.
    Don’t take money out of your IRA or any other retirement plan like I did for any reason. Not even for a death in the family or for medical bills, etc.
    There is a huge coming crisis for any person retiring in the next 20 years and beyond unless you have some guaranteed contractual retirement plan. Poverty will only increase as income inequality increases.
    Yes, conservatives embrace not funding pensions as they should or even as they are required to do. This happens all over Amerca and it only gets talked about when some high profile politician like King Christie does something like this….It really is shameful. It’s just one more battle in the war on those who are not part of the wealthy in American society……

  28. Michael July 30, 2014

    Where were all of you when the lies were being signed. Like any victim in a con the state unions believed the lies happily. For years the pensions werent funded and they lied to their own members gladly. Now and in the future, because of other unfunded lies, politicians like Christie will have to tell you they cant be kept. He is not the hero or the villan in this story just one of the players. Anyone that was elected would have had to do this or kick it down the road to be done in 4 years. Look at Detroit, Illinois, California and you will find the exact same story. These are places making deals that cant be kept but the people keep on buying the lie.

    1. davidcayjohnston July 31, 2014

      Columnist here….

      You ask “where were all of you?”

      I have written about failures to properly fund pensions many times over the years going back to 1994 (and probably before that if I dig through my files), including some NJ coverage.
      So I was there sounding the alarm, including helping other journalists on the NJ scandal.
      And I have in my files plenty of material from public employee unions who fought the failure to fund under both Rs and Ds — an issue not of local governments in NJ, just the state government — to no avail.

      1. Michael July 31, 2014

        Good for you. Sadly what I stated is still true. The people who counted were not there for the people they were supposed to be representing and the people being represented were happy to bury their heads and buy the lie. I just find it pathetic for them to blame one man for the crimes of hundreds. It is the same as those who blame the presidents for the economy or for the state of social security. Many generations are responsible not just one man, but americans love scapegoats more then solutions.

  29. Julius Lovell July 30, 2014

    Karen Tumulty< gee, wouldn't be a liberal union loving ass writing this would it ?????, mentioning Scott Walker also, and of course all of whining unon loving liberals join in. please

    1. Insinnergy December 21, 2015

      I notice you did not address any of the facts, Republican stooge.
      Rather indefensible, aren’t they.

  30. jointerjohn July 30, 2014

    They don’t consider it theft when they’re taking it away from public employees who don’t deserve things like retirements in the first place. Amongst that crowd, theft is when a little person steals a loaf of bread, not when a big person raids your pension. In their warped universe, you must not be worth a crap because you didn’t get rich or powerful, proof that you didn’t apply yourself adequately to deserve things like health care or college for your kids.

  31. Brian Kirkland July 31, 2014

    To be clear, there is no pension spiking in NJ. Overtime is not pensionable in NJ. That’s a NY thing.

  32. adam August 1, 2014

    Chris Christie is doing to the State of New Jersey the same thing that the federal government has been doing to its workers for years not the political people workers oh no they get handled with kid gloves and all get pay increases over the years even better retirement no the real workers who were made promises telling them their pensions would never be touched and telling them they will get cost of living increases the only one that gets a cost of living in crease are the Politian the cost for their food gas housing goes up but not the workers or retired cost of living if you believe that I have some swamp land for sale

  33. Elliot J. Stamler August 2, 2014

    Hooray for Johnston who is also a professor at my beloved undergrad alma mater, Syracuse University. SEND YOUR KIDS THERE…they’ll get a great education and have fun.

  34. disqus_QR7ejvoSVU September 11, 2014

    Chris Christe has “Bridge” problems.

  35. Patricia Schenck-Santangelo February 24, 2015

    I have been everywhere I can think of, searching for help. I have been repeatedly to Senator Jeff Van Drew, Corey Booker, Congressman LoBiondo, Senator Menendez, the Office of the Governor, and a wide variety of anticorruption websites.
    No-one has been able to crack my problem.
    In the case of the government elected officials, they are simply unwilling to get their hands dirty.
    My NJEA attorney, now on the last leg of this journey with me is Michael Barrett, Esq. from Princeton, NJ. He knows my entire story inside and out, and has gone to hell and back to help me get my pension. He states that there is an obstacle- a very large one- blocking me from receiving the disability I am due and owed for exactly 55 months and counting.
    According to Senator Van Drew in my last discussion with his aide Edward, The GOVERNOR HIMSELF is in cahoots with TPAF to keep me from getting my pension. NO-ONE can get Gov. to talk to me; they delete messages, disconnect calls, and curse/are incorrigibly rude to me if I do get through. You folks have no idea how really trashy, rude, disrespectful and arrogant the workers are in the Governor’s office! “Courtesy” is NOT a hallmark of the “Sit down and shut up” governor’s administration.
    The story could make an interesting book, especially when I dealt with the OAL and during the trial (June 2012) I was diagnosed with uterine carcinosarcoma, a rare kind of cancer that gives me a 50% chance of living 5 years, and a 63% chance of recurrence. Spring 2013, after my radiation, chemo and brachytherapy was done, I was sent for a mammogram and u/s that revealed I had breast lumps. In my left breast, they have grown to the chance that they were recently biopsied and so far are benign; but continue to grow. This process began with me having PTSD, occupational asthma (from a work injury in 2008 that settled last fall), celiac disease with IBS-D, thyroiditis (thyroid became inflamed, thought cancerous removed 9/2011), diverticulosis, diabetes, GERD, an ulcer, high blood pressure, a compromised immune system (pneumonia twice in 1 month!) and panic attacks. In May 2010 I had an ulcer and was almost hospitalized.. My three doctors decided my life would be shortened if I continued to work under such horrible conditions, so I applied for a regular disability retirement. I even put in apps trying to find a job that would hire me and make disability accomodations, but no-one would do so, though allegedly it IS the law.. Despite having agreed to accept my medical records, the OAL judge Todd Miller of AC screwed up my case, and did NOT consider my cancer and its prognosis in the decision. The decision took 137 days to say I was NOT disabled, despite the fact I have a cancer that can never be in remission, and at that time a dozen doctors at that point telling me there is NO WAY I can work ever again. I have had SSD and Medicare since December 2010. It is NOT enough to pay my expenses. I have used credit cards to make up the difference while I waited for my pension (now almost 4 years) and my WC settlement (going on six years). My case is for the second time since 2014 in the hands of the Appellate Court.
    Mr Barrett had luck getting the TPAF into accepting a revised pension app. He spent countless hours in Trenton, speaking to them, hopefully they would reconsider.. Despite having almost a 3 foot thick stack of NEW medical records, and letters from FOURTEEN doctors (including the original three), these bastards continue to say I am NOT disabled. Instead of revisiting my new medical records, they sat there opting to take the word of a thief and fraud of an IME doctor named Goebel Marin, who was thrown out of practicing at Robert Wood Johnson hospital. He supposedly “examined” me, but he sat on the phone and did nothing, writing a fictional report. When ordered to go to OAL judge Todd Miller (a senile, lying old creep) Marin refused to go because he thought I was going to kill him.
    Please explain to me exactly HOW do Christie’s cronies get disability so fast and easily, then the next day are working new jobs? I am talking about a $35K pension tops, and I will very likely be lucky to live, and just take care of myself–forget EVER holding down a job again!! When NJ reporters like WATCHDOG write about double and triple dippers, not much older than I am, it outrages me so much I want to get a gun and blow the brains out of the bastards who enable those who steal disability pensions and are rewarded with a second BIG JOB while I am on the verge of bankruptcy and struggling with 90K of debt. I also have no life insurance if I die, and now that I have cancer I could never buy a policy. (I had the Prudential life plus additional policy through TPAF, which I would also have if I had my pension). My husband gets so angry at me because of my financial situation that he has started beating on me; he slammed me into a wall June 2 of 2014 and almost broke my chemo port. I am desperately in need of this pension, so I can hire an attorney to protect my life and my home, get things done such as my eyes checked when I need to, buy groceries and medicines without scrimping..
    If Christie says the word, Van Drew insists, my pension will be approved. IN JUST ONE PHONE CALL!! He is, however, saving the disability funds for his cronies. My goal is to ultimately get my pension in hand, and these thieves from TPAF, OAL, DAG , and the Governor’s office get put out there in the public eye, and hopefully exposed, fired/punished.
    TPAF has already been sanctioned by SEC, and it is obvious that the recipients of the disability pensions are NOT typically the seriously ill and truly deserving. I am one of the few who indeed am, and have the papers to prove it.
    If you know of anyone who can help me; by persuading TPAF/Governor Christie to stop blocking my pension, or an attorney to assist me in filing suit, I would appreciate you putting them in touch with me. Something fishy is going on, and if it happens to me–and I am 100% legitimate–it can happen to anyone in any NJ workplace.
    Thank you for listening. I pray to God that you can help me. My last resort is the civil suit, which I don’t know if I can afford or if I have the strength to live through.
    When the Civil suit is filed, in plenty of time to add to Christie’s Presidential race 2016 publicity, it is the NJ taxpayers who will be paying the tab, because our governor did not want to do the right thing.
    Instead of merely giving me the pension I am owed since July 2010, it will be a much bigger payout of pension PLUS INTEREST PLUS DAMAGES PLUS LEGAL FEES. More money from the tax coffers. Of course, he will also require his OWN attorney instead of the inefficient DAG.
    Can someone convince Christie to “sit down, shut up” and do the right thing?


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