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

Friday, March 11, 2011

More "What Is Lobbying?"

Soft, squishy centrist Al Doblin loves to create equivalencies:
At the same time the NJEA was spending large, many state Democrats, the traditional allies of the NJEA, were labeling a Christie-focused advocacy organization, Reform New Jersey, as a shadowy arm of the governor. Reform Jersey Now’s leadership, with its close ties to Christie, was raising large amounts of money. The group disbanded at the end of last year, finally revealing its donors. But despite the heavy hitters, the organization’s cash reach amounted to a box of Goobers compared to the NJEA’s cash stash. Reform Jersey Now spent $403,000 on mass communication lobbying 
The NJEA spent $6.6 million while Reform Jersey Now spent $403,000. That’s more than a 10-1 advantage for the NJEA. It is hard to sympathize with the NJEA’s cries of Christie abuse. It’s like an elephant complaining after squashing a circus clown that a red rubber nose is stuck in its toes.
The NJEA is a model of transparency compared to Reform Jersey Now. The comparison between the union and Christie's shadow government is specious, as even Doblin admits:
It is not a level playing field. Christie, as governor, can get lots of prime media time free. Major networks are lining up to have the governor on their talk shows. NJEA President Barbara Keshishian would be lucky to get a 15-second spot in an Earl Scheib commercial airing at 2 a.m.
NJEA has to pay to get a voice in the debate, while Christie gets his huge megaphone for free. But, somehow, that's NJEA's fault.

Sorry, Al but it's really your fault - yours and your fellow travelers in the press. If the NJEA was really getting an equal say in the press during this debate, they wouldn't have to buy air time: they would just make their case on Morning Joe and Fox News and Face The Nation and the lead paragraphs in the Record and in all of the other outlets Christie has access to but are denied to the NJEA.

Again: there's lobbying, and then there's lobbying. NJEA buying media time to counter Christie's message hardly strikes me as an ethical concern; especially when pundits like yourself write things like this:
Public education is not deodorant. It is not a packaged commodity with a set number of ingredients. It is constantly changing. Education actually is rocket science. But instead of scientists, we have lobbyists, fund-raisers and elected officials telling everyone how to fix something they have not a clue how to construct.
Teachers know how to construct it. And we should be listening to them. But when a governor uses his bully pulpit to denigrate teachers, and journalists happily give him the platform with minimal challenges, you can't equate that with the teachers buying air time to fight back. It's the same old soft, squishy middle  that refuses to see the inequity in the entire situation.

Al Doblin (staff photo)

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