Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Some People Think I Am Crazy

When I tell people in any other state across the country that in NJ we have hundreds of K-8 school districts sending to regional high schools, they think I am crazy. 

When I speak with people in NJ about creating K-12 unified school districts for consistent curriculum and fiscal efficiency, they think I am crazy. 

When I speak with Mayors around the state, they say 'Shared Services' save money but consolidation does not. 

I say sharing a court saves thousands; consolidating the administration and police saves millions. 

Pick out the crazy one here. 

Residents say, 'I do not want to lose my town identity so I am opposed to consolidation. 

I ask, how many towns in NJ have a strong identity that is not the name of their government?
Let us ask the residents of Basking Ridge, Allendale, Oakhurst, Martinsville,
Ortley Beach, Short Hills, Ewing, Ocean Grove, Menlo Park, Waretown, Sandy Hook, Colonia etc... (There are about 920 more but I will not bore you.)

All of these distinct, identifiable towns have a different name than their government. They can be found on GPS and highway signs.  They have their own zip codes and mailing addresses, fire departments, train stations, beaches, separate business districts and schools with their names, parades and town flags. 

So now who is crazy?  Not me. 

Friday, May 1, 2015

Are You One Of Those People? I Am.

After 'Home Rule' we need to look at the next two words that stop NJ from moving forward and challenging the status quo. 

'Those People', just like 'Not in my Backyard' or better known as NIMBY, divides all of us in NJ from ever trying to work together to solve our financial, pension, infrastructure, transportation and property tax issues. 

Aren't we all 'Those People' to someone else?  Which of the following descriptions of me will label me one of 'Those People' to you?

I am 56, white, female, homosexual, high school educated, not a member of any organized religion, former democratic Mayor, now an independent, middle to upper class, teacher, activist. 

What descriptions separate you?

A few years ago, I gave a presentation about municipal consolidation in Summit, NJ. During the Q&A a man in a suit stood up and declared this idea to be dead in the water because he did not want to be with 'Those People' in Springfield or New Providence. By the way these are fairly affluent towns and New Providence schools are rated top in NJ. 

It is somewhat disturbing when people actually say 'Those People' in public.  I much prefer when they just imply it. 

So I did a little research and found out two interesting facts about Summit NJ. 

Summit has the most households that make over $200,000 per year in NJ.  Summit, also, has 25% of its residents that make under $35,000 per household per year. 

He is already with 'Those People'. 
I recommend he read ' The Sneetches' by Dr. Seuss. 

If we cannot mature beyond this mentality of highlighting our differences, then I agree municipal consolidation will never happen again in NJ. 

What drives me is I see the similarities of the issues we are facing.  I see the connections we all have that encourage us to start working together.   Let's get moving.