I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Monday, April 12, 2010

How Low Can He Go?

Christie just sinks lower and lower...
Gov. Chris Christie today urged voters to reject school budget proposals in districts where teachers have not agreed to a wage freeze -- the majority of districts statewide...  
"I just don't see how citizens should want to support a budget where their teachers have not wanted to be part of the shared sacrifice," Christie said...
Let's start by looking at Christie's "Open Letter to Teachers" from his own campaign website:
I will not end collective bargaining and will safeguard protections for ALL public employees, including teachers. Collective bargaining is an important safeguard for public employees and is a part of a long American tradition of self government. We must make sure that the voice of every worker is represented in contract negotiations. I will demand open, honest, and fair deliberations. 
Yet he uses to bully pulpit of the governorship to call for rejection of school budgets in districts where teachers expect contracts to be honored. He is clearly breaking a promise of his campaign when he oversteps his bounds and meddles in the affairs of school district negotiations with local teacher unions.

Next, let's look at the timing. The election is on April 20. Final budgets needed to be approved by the school boards by March 31. Yet only now - AFTER the budgets have been set by the boards does Christie come out and say voters should reject the budgets of districts who did not force their teachers to rescind negotiated salaries.

Sound familiar? It should: remember that Christie told many suburban districts to expect cuts in aid of around 15%, then sprung cuts up to 100% less than a week before their budgets were due to the state.

Why all the last minute posturing? If Christie really wanted teachers to renegotiate contracts, he should have said so in February at the latest, so school boards and teachers unions could have come to an understanding. Why wait until the last minute?

I think there are two reasons: the first is incompetence. Remember:
Gov. Chris Christie’s administration still hasn’t released a full copy of its budget proposal, more than three weeks after the budget speech. Portions of the detailed budget were finally put online in the last 24 hours. Most years, it’s been public for about a week by now — and given that the budget presentation was three weeks later than usual, as a nod to the schedule of the incoming administration, budget analysts are nearly a month behind in their work...
These guys are a bunch of Mike Browns (of New Orleans "Heckuva job, Brownie" fame) running around with no clue of what the hell they are doing. Their schemes are incoherent and amateurish. They can't even give reasonable answers to their own softball questions. Their policies are based on premises that are demonstrably false. Each day, it becomes glaringly obvious that they are simply out of their depth.

Reason number two has been apparent from the start: this was never about school funding, or property taxes, or the kids. This has been about breaking the NJEA.

Christie knows that the budgets have been submitted and can't be changed. He knows that his call to reject budgets can't be used as a bargaining tool - the time for bargains has passed. He has waited until now to call for the rejection of school budgets because that's what he has wanted all along.

If the voters reject budgets, he will sell it to the media as the fault of the NJEA. Never mind that his own poor timing and lack of civility toward teachers has destroyed any chance he had of getting real concessions - that was never the point.

Over and over, Christie has leveled attacks at the union which are not only mean-spirited and inaccurate - they are obsessive. Even when teachers unions have met his demands, he has insulted them. It's bizarre and it's personal and it's petty.

He's angry that the NJEA went after him in the election, and he's going to make them pay a price. He's going to make teachers pay even as millionaires get a nice, fat tax cut, and he'll use weasel words to claim it's not his fault.

He doesn't care that having a governor engage in a daily trashing of teachers will demoralize the profession and keep bright young people from choosing it as an career option. He doesn't care that property taxes will skyrocket even as school services are cut. He doesn't care that teachers already have to take a cut in pay as they contribute to their benefits, and are underpaid compared to other careers anyway.

All he cares about is getting his way. He is a bully, he is a liar, and he is incompetent. Remember the last time we elected a guy like that to high office?

How'd that work out for you?

UPDATE: More proof it's personal.


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