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

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Christie Twisty

I've started looking at the Christie Administration's application to Race To the Top (it's big). I'll probably have more to say bout it in coming days, but let's talk for a bit about the politics we saw today.

After Jim Gearhart, Bob Ingle, and others on the right decided to excoriate Christie for daring to make a deal with the NJEA to get their support for the application, Christie once again showed that he is the master of waffles; he broke the deal and submitted the application without the NJEA's approval.

Given that securing the support of all the stakeholders is an important part of the rubric for judging the application, this action very likely scuttled the whole thing. So what does this tell us?

1) When the right-wing base tells Christie to jump, he asks "How high?" A radio DJ throwing a tantrum on the air is apparently all that's needed for Christie to go back on his word and scuttle a deal.

2) Christie seems more than willing to throw a hireling under the bus if it suits him: Bob Ingle says that Ed Commish Schundler signed off on the deal, but Christie nixed it. How long do you think people like Schundler - let alone any competent folks in this administration - will stick around now that they know Christie will undermine them at will?

3) Read Ingle's piece and laugh at how casually he throws away the $400 million the grant could potentially produce. It's been a right-wing talking point that the NJEA forced the $820 million cut in state aid to schools because they wouldn't support round one of the RTTT grant; now, when Christie imperils the application, we suddenly don't need the money.

4) What the Christie acolytes call "sticking to your principles" is really just "holding a grudge." Christie could have cut a deal, but he is out to screw the NJEA, and that overrides any other considerations.

The NJEA and we teachers in the state better figure this out fast - he is NOT going to compromise. This is personal, and it happens that his base loves giving a union the shaft, so he has even more incentive to bluster and preen rather than lead. Learn this now.

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