If you want to see the utter greed and selfishness of public sector unions look no further than Camden, New Jersey. Drug related violence and a high level of gang activity has made Camden the second most dangerous city in America.
Gov. Chris Christie has been working hard to put New Jersey back on firm financial footing. He has promised to balance the state’s budget by any and all means necessary.
Camden has a $26.5 million deficit that it must close. Lay offs are simply unavoidable in a situation like that. The logical and responsible thing to do is lay off those employees whose work isn’t absolutely critical to the city, right? Lay off the paper pushers first and then see where you stand. Only as a last resort would you cut critical positions like police, firefighters, paramedics, etc.
Not in Camden. The city council voted unanimously to lay off 400 workers, half of them cops and firefighters. That’s close to half the city’s entire police force and a third of all firefighters.
Meanwhile, the public sector union workers are free to sit on their fat, bloated asses and let the gravy train keep right on rolling. What a disgrace.
One union official had this to say about the cuts:
“If we agreed to everything that the city proposed in concessions, it would only have a minor impact on the number of layoffs,” Walco told the council members.
How much you wanna bet that’s a load of crap? This was purely a political stunt to try and damage Gov. Christie.
When it was over, Council president Frank Moran suggested they’re not to blame.
“We didn’t put a price tag on public safety. Unfortunately, the governor of the State of New Jersey put that price tag on it,” he said at the packed Council meeting.
That price tag is $69 million, in transitional aid. Moran suggested that Camden residents should vent to Governor Chris Christie.
We’re used to hearing liberals warn of having to lay off cops and firefighters, but we all recognize it as meaningless rhetoric. There’s plenty of people to get rid of before cops and firefighters. But Camden actually did it.
They’re playing politics with peoples lives. The public sector unions in Camden are going to have blood on their hands. How many citizens are going to be murdered, mugged, raped, or assaulted as a result of losing half the police force?
Moreover, how many people are going to be helped because a bunch of paper pushing bureaucrats get to keep gossiping around the water cooler?
Chris Christie should run an ad campaign touting the selfishness and greed of public sector unions. He should show the people of New Jersey that city workers don’t care about their safety.
St. Louis overtook Camden, N.J., as the nation’s most dangerous city in 2009, according to a national study released Sunday.
The study by CQ Press found St. Louis had 2,070.1 violent crimes per 100,000 residents, compared with a national average of 429.4. That helped St. Louis beat out Camden, which topped last year’s list and was the most dangerous city for 2003 and 2004.
Detroit, Flint, Mich., and Oakland, Calif., rounded out the top five. For the second straight year, the safest city with more than 75,000 residents was Colonie, N.Y.
The annual rankings are based on population figures and crime data compiled by the FBI.
A city watchdog is outraged that Mayor Dana Redd wants to double the top maximum salaries for three jobs.
The top salary for mayoral aides would jump to $150,000 from $71,000. Redd also wants to raise the maximum salaries for city attorney and mayor’s counsel, though not as drastically.
Her spokesman said the bigger salaries are needed to attract a qualified and experienced staff.
Watchdog Kelly Francis called raises for anyone during a recession in the impoverished city “insane.”
At ground zero of the police corruption scandal in Camden, prayers for a community’s rebirth are painted on boarded-up storefronts, fading old-timers drain bottles of cheap liquor on dirty porches, and young men waste away on trash-littered corners.
And nearly everyone in this Waterfront South neighborhood has a story about the officers at the center of the ongoing federal investigation.
“They were the dirtiest cops I ever seen,” said Keith Sartin, standing in front of a park at Broadway and Ferry Avenue.
Interviews with more than two dozen residents last week added emotion to the spare comments from authorities Friday, when former Camden Police Officer Kevin Parry pleaded guilty in the case.
Parry acknowledged his role in a corrupt police operation that has led to charges being overturned or dismissed in 185 drug cases. Parry implicated four other officers.
Since December, dozens of low-level drug dealers and drug users have been released from prison, and their stories – coupled with a review of the convictions vacated by the court since December – indicate the accused officers claimed the Waterfront South neighborhood as their territory.
The officers are being investigated on allegations that they skimmed cash and planted drugs during illegal searches and illegal arrests. Parry, 29, entered his plea in U.S. District Court, saying he and four other officers stole drugs, stashed them around the city, and bribed people in exchange for information in at least 70 incidents.
In some cases, he said, additional drugs were planted on people to increase the charges. He said he and other officers had falsified police reports and lied in court.
Base pay for Camden’s state-appointed chief operating officer is more than the mayor of Philadelphia.
Theodore Davis earns $220,000 compared to $167,436 for Michael Nutter.
Davis was the highest-paid person in New Jersey’s executive branch in 2008. He’s 26th when comparing total pay, which includes overtime and bonuses or incentives.
The 75-year-old retired judge also collects a pension of nearly $10,000 a month.
The COO position was created when the state gained control over Camden in 2002. The job carries the same duties as mayor.
Davis says he negotiated his salary with the state Treasury Department based on what he thought was fair. Davis says claims that he’s overpaid are “ridiculous.”
The Cartel is a hard-hitting exposé that shows how the union stranglehold on public education is destroying the lives of millions of children. Bad teachers can’t be fired because they have tenure. Politicians are bankrolled and controlled by the unions.
Behind all of the dismal tales of greed, graft and goons are real children stuck in failing and often violent schools. The film introduces us to 17-year-old Juan, a soft-spoken kid who played shortstop in high school and wants to open his own car repair business. After ten years in Camden, NJ public schools, Juan could not recite the alphabet, much less read. His math skills were slightly better; by the 8th-grade, he knew the multiplication tables up to four times four.
Students enrolled in a program called Community Education Resource Network (CERN) tell why they prefer it to the public schools they left. Some cite teachers who actually care about student learning, and others stress finally feeling safe at school. The contrast in funding is as stark as the attitudes of teachers and students. Instead of a $17,500 per student budget, CERN is run on a shoestring and a prayer. Teachers are volunteers, classes are held at a church, and the school uses textbooks thrown away by public schools. After working with kids who graduated from Camden public schools, CERN co-founder Angel Cordero has some pointed questions for district teachers and administrators: “For 12 years, what did you do with that child? What did you do with the money?”
There’s no easy way to say it, but Camden, New Jersey — a city right across the river from Philadelphia — has a reputation for being one of the poorest, most decrepit towns in the United States. Since the 1970s, the city has been the epitome of poverty with no solution in sight.
And when the financial crisis hit in 2006, Camden got hit hard. Really hard. Off highway I-676 at Exit 5A lies a place called Transition Park, better known as Tent City. The community even has an official website and they post strict rules for anyone looking to stay there.
If you think you’ve seen poverty, get ready to be shocked at what you’re about to see.
The library board in Camden, one of the nation’s poorest cities, is preparing to close all three of its libraries by the end of the year, saying its funding has been slashed so drastically that it cannot afford to keep operating.
Library officials are hoping enough money surfaces to save the system, but they’re preparing for a shutdown and say they’re not just threatening it as a ploy.
“Of all places, they’re one of the places that needs free public libraries the most,” said Audra Caplan, president of the Public Library Association.
The city of about 80,000 residents across the Delaware River from Philadelphia consistently ranks as one of the nation’s most impoverished. It’s a place where most families don’t own computers, where just one big bookstore serves the local colleges and where some of the public schools don’t even have librarians.
Camden Free Public Library is a major hub for many residents and draws 150,000 visits a year.
Raw sewage seeped into Jackeline and Eduardo Gonzalez’s basement, through its bathroom, hallway, and bedroom.
The fumes forced the family to eat outside and sent 1-year-old Eduardo Jr. to the emergency room three times with respiratory problems. The toxic flow burned holes in walls and ruined clothes and a sofa. The mold ended Grandma’s visits from Puerto Rico.
The sewage comes from a collapsed pipe at the end of their block, on Cherry Street in Camden. How does the city respond? For three hours, three days a week, a bored employee uses a noisy machine to transfer waste from the busted sewer into one that works.
This jury-rigged solution has been in place for more than a year.
Camden is so broke, so unable to perform the basic functions of government, that the obvious solution – repairing the century-old brick sewer system – is almost impossible to achieve, fiscally and politically.
Life in Camden wasn’t supposed to be like this. Seven years ago, New Jersey rolled out a revitalization plan that brought with it the biggest municipal takeover in American history.
After years of being subsidized by state taxpayers, corrupt and crumbling Camden would be taken over, repaired, and put on a path to self-reliance.
Then-Gov. Jim McGreevey gave Camden $175 million in bonds and loans, plus a one-time $7.5 million appropriation from the state budget, in exchange for an appointed chief operating officer to run the government and for gubernatorial control over the school board. His plan would create jobs, improve the quality of life, decrease crime, demolish all unsafe vacant buildings, lure new businesses, and, yes, mend sewers.
Five years later, when the recovery effort was first scheduled to be completed, the Gonzalezes bought a small rowhouse with money earned cleaning offices in Cherry Hill. But their odorous problem has now forced them to put that house on the market for the price they paid, $69,900.
So far, no buyer is interested.