Council President Peter Cunningham is making one big final push to ask our citizenry to push back on the lame duck appointments by Gov. Corzine to the NJ Pension Board. Here’s the email addresses (we think phone is even better):
MSV believes phone calls are best and form letters the least effective. Here is the number to Gov. Corzine’s office. Ask to speak to a governor’s aide: (609) 292-6000.
Here’s a sample letter from Peter Cunningham:
Governor Jon Corzine
1025 Maxwell Lane
Hoboken, NJ 07030
RE: 4 PERC Nominations
I am writing to ask you to withdraw the 4 nominations for the PERC
Board. As you know, these 4 positions have been in hold over status
for quite some time. I believe one post expired at the end of 2007.
As such, you are creating a majority that will serve for the next 3
years rather one that would have been staggered out over one year of
the new administration. I believe NJ needs a new direction.
As I am sure you have read the NJ Commission of Investigations report
dated December 2009, our public employee contracts under the
collective bargaining process are fleecing the state. Most
embarrassing for Hoboken, Hoboken was cited as an example of how the
current collective bargaining process has condoned tremendous excesses
and abuse. The PERC board sets the tone and determines the burden of
proof in any appeal.
We sent former Police Chief LaBruno off into retirement with a
$525,000 payout on top of his 7 figure NPV retirement + health care
for life. We cannot get our public employees to contribute to
healthcare premiums or take a plan limited to a network or has a
deductible above $200 per family. In 2008/2009 we spent $23,000 per
employee because we have not been able to get them away from a very
expensive plan. Our contract has extra days for weddings, bar
mitzvahs, blood donation. As such, they accrue a tremendous amount of
vacation that they take at the retirement in addition to terminal
pay. We are paying out $150 to $250,000 per public safety employee
who retires with 25 years or more on top of their lucrative pension.
I have reviewed the PERC website and have looked at various appeals.
Many municipalities have tried to make the argument that these are
dire economic times. Our population is out of work, underemployed and
leaving the state. Hoboken’s median age is 30 v the state average of
36. We have a disproportionate number of young people who are
experiencing much higher unemployment – as much as 50%. Personnel
costs represent 55% of our budget. We cannot afford to pay into the
pensions system to make good on these contracts. NJ comes in dead
last in terms of property taxes in the country based on the The Tax
Foundation – a non profit that looks at taxation across the nation.
We have the highest income tax rate in our upper income bands and many
of our wealthy are leaving the state and on a microcosm, Hoboken as
well. If we don’t impact these contracts, we cannot bring relief to
the citizens of Hoboken.
The PERC Commissioners burden of proof that economic conditions are
severe enough to curtail increases much less wage and benefits cuts
never seem to be enough. We need a PERC board that thinks differently
and I think Governor-elect Christie will marshall in that group if you
We are in the middle of negotiating our public safety contracts. The
unions are well aware that the terms of 6 out of 7 PERC Commissioners
have expired. By putting forth these nominations at this time is
allowing them to continue to resist necessary and prudent benefits
cuts and wage freezes.
I urge you to rescind these 4 nominations and allow the new
administration to do so.