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824 DAYS AND COUNTING! CAMDEN CITY'S BOONDOGGLE, SCHOOL BOARD SETTLES LAWSUIT

 

CNBNEWS TIPS AND SNIPPETS: 

By William E. Cleary Sr. 

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WILL IT EVER BE FINISHED?—The Gloucester City/Brooklawn bridge was flooded on both sides of Broadway today, Wednesday. Construction to repair the bridge and correct the flooding problem began 824 days ago on August 1, 2012. Because of the flooding today, pedestrians walking on the sidewalk, like the man on the right side of the photo, were forced out into the middle of Broadway, and oncoming traffic. The $4.15 million project includes new abutments, bridge span, decking and parapets.  The Camden County Public Works project also features new bridge approaches, new pedestrian sidewalks, new guide rails, traffic striping and roadway markings. 

 In the distant a large crane was being used to install new transmission poles near the railroad tracks and New Broadway, Brooklawn. The construction work is part of the PSE&G regional reliability project also known as the South Jersey Reinforcement Project.

 The project will add two new 230kV overhead transmission circuits and three new 230kV underground circuits. The upgrade will deliver increased electric capacity required by New Jersey business and residents, increase transfer capability, provide better power quality, and reduce transmission system congestion.

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Two construction crews can be seen in the crane buckets (top left of photo) working on the poles.
( photos by CNBNews.net)

 MORE OF YOUR MONEY FOR CAMDEN—On Tuesday, Governor Chris Christie announced a major multimillion dollar rehabilitation and renovation project at Camden High School that will cost $50 million.“Camden is a city full of promise and potential and so are its students,” said Christie.  “The more than $50 million investment we are making to rehabilitate and renovate Camden High School is also an investment in the children of this city. The renovated facility will have a lasting imprint, educating a new generation of Camden students while ensuring they have a quality learning environment in which to thrive.” 

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 To date, the New Jersey Schools Development Authority (SDA) has invested nearly $261 million in completed projects in Camden, including five new schools and 57 Health and Safety/Grants/Emergent Projects. 

 Since the early 90’s taxpayers have invested close to a billion dollars into the City of Camden. But despite all that money the city remains in deep trouble. According to a report from the Pew Charitable Trusts, the situation is so bad that Camden may never be able to stand on its own -- it's either state support or bankruptcy for the city.

 The website *GOVERNING had this to say about Camden:

 As manufacturers headed to the suburbs and elsewhere, the middle class departed as well, leaving Camden with a highly concentrated enclave of poverty. It didn't help that public officials built a county waste plant, a prison and a trash-to-steam plant right in the middle of the city either, or that three of its mayors have been sent to prison for corruption over the past three decades.

As it turns out, state subsidies have actually exacerbated, not helped, the city's problems, leading to government growth at a time when it should have been contracting along with its declining population and economic base. City spending shot up 20 percent between 2000 and 2008, propelled largely by big jumps in city employee salaries and benefits. Camden's annual city budget is currently $150 million, but its tax revenue is less than $25 million. The most valuable property in the city, the waterfront, is owned by the government and nonprofits, which means half of Camden's land is tax exempt.

While many cities survive and thrive thanks to state intervention, others struggle and some, like Camden, N.J., grow worse. The city of 77,000, which is adjacent to Philadelphia and was once home to several major manufacturing firms, has received hundreds of millions of dollars in loans, grants and direct aid from the state over the years. Despite all the help, however, Camden, one of the poorest cities in America, remains in deep trouble, according to a report from the Pew Charitable Trusts. 

 

Related: Camden School System is Dying

Related: Camden, A Giant Blackhole for Taxpayers Bucks

Related: BRIAN WILLIAMS VIDEO: CAMDEN CITY NJ, THE POOREST AND MOST DANGEROUS

 

DEPTFORD SCHOOL BOARD SETTLES LAWSUITThe Deptford School Board has agreed to pay Franco Colamarco, a former high school vice-principal $20,000. Colamarco sued the board for Law Against Discrimination and Family Medical Leave Act violations. The settlement was reached on February 22, 2014. 

Coleman, who has been employed at the school district since 2005, said that in 2012 he "was unlawfully demoted and returned to his prior position as a teacher."  He said that the demotion was due to him going out on disability on January 27, 2012 for a back injury.  He also that he was removed from the vice principal position in part because principal Melvin Allen preferred a female vice principal. 

 According to John Paff, the Chairman of the NJ Libertarian Party’s Open Government Advocacy Project, “None of Colamarco's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $20,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Deptford or any of its officials.”

Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project seeks to increase governmental transparency and accountability, particularly at a local level. 

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*GOVERNING is the nation's leading media platform covering politics, policy and management for state and local government leaders. Recognized as the most credible and authoritative voice in its field, GOVERNING provides nonpartisan news, insight and analysis on such issues as public finance, transportation, economic development, health, energy, the environment and technology.

 

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