Hoboken Tea-Baggers

Dear Editor:
Recently, Hoboken’s Mayor and Council failed to approve a budget as required by state law. The resulting state takeover of local finances brought about Trenton’s imposition of a budget causing a substantial increase in local property taxes. The resulting public anger created conditions ripe for unfocused protests and demagoguery, just as in the Deep South and elsewhere the election of an African-American president aroused uneducated rednecks, ignorant of political processes, to make so-called “tea-bagger” disruptions of town meetings and even to bring firearms to their unruly rallies. Last fall, our own home-grown tea-baggers got headlines when they urged citizens to mass outside of City Hall, attend council meetings and make disruptive outbursts at such functions as candidate forums.
It’s hard to figure where these people come from. If they were raised in Hoboken, it’s proof that our schools have failed to teach Civics to show students how government works. Though past reformers circulated referendum petitions and passed new ordinances, these folks act more like third-grade cheerleaders, confronting council candidates with demands for pledges to cut spending and lower taxes by specific amounts. Although such pledges would be non-binding and would serve only to demonstrate the spinelessness of acquiescent candidates, several of them, especially our new Mayor and council members Cunningham and Bhalla, readily caved in and are now praising these know-nothings for their “leadership.”
Now, the know-nothings want Trenton to pre-empt local governments in negotiations with employees’ unions, especially the police and firefighters’ representatives. Ignoring pending bills waiting for legislative action that would reduce cities’ required payments into state benefit funds, they want us to write to the governor and state legislators urging that vacancies on the Public Employee Relations Commission, the state’s equivalent to the National Labor Relations Board, not be filled. This shows our home-grown tea-baggers’ total ignorance of the law and practice of labor relations. These ignorant malcontents are convinced that the root of Hoboken’s fiscal plight lies in overly generous wages and benefits paid to or on behalf of the municipal work force. The group makes no attempt to hide its anti-labor aims. Knowing little about the legal and practical process of collective bargaining, they now ask residents to pressure state government to limit municipalities’ ability to afford decent pay and benefits to their employees. Because certain recent public safety personnel have received outsized retirement payments, they are focusing on police and fire services.
Bottom line: these ignorant clowns seem to want to live in a place without adequate police and fire protection. They want their children taught by underpaid instructors, or maybe, like so many of the red-neck tea-baggers, they prefer home schooling.
They are still trying to get publicity. Unfortunately, The Reporter is giving it to them by publishing letters from them and their weak-kneed supporters. It’s time that The Reporter (and the mayor and council, too) concentrated on the real issues.

John Glasel

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