By Seth Grossman, Political Columnist
I DIDN’T GO TO MIDDLE TOWNSHIP HIGH SCHOOL TO GET ARRESTED.
???? I didn’t go to Middle Township High School last Saturday to get arrested – or to get on TV.?? I didn’t even go to protest.?? Our Liberty and Prosperity group went there to participate in Governor Jon Corzine’s “town meeting”.
Corzine publicly invited every citizen to study his “debt restructuring plan” and to suggest other plans if we didn’t like his.?? That is what we tried to do.
We prepared and printed detailed “Fact Sheets” and small cardboard signs that said “No Toll Hikes-Repudiate Unconstitutional Debt”.?? We wanted people at the meeting to know that Governor Corzine was not telling the truth, or giving all the facts.?? We wanted people to be informed when they spoke to the Governor.
For example, Corzine talks of a “$2.5 billion “structural deficit”.?? But he never mentions that the last three governors-McGreevey, Codey, and Corzine hiked the state budget from $21 billion to $33 billion in just the last six years!?? That’s 9.5% per year-three times the rate of inflation.?? Corzine can fix the problem just by rolling back those increases to the inflation rate.
We said Corzine is lying when he says the state has $113 billion in “long term obligations which result in large budget requirements.”?? (That is roughly $30 billion in Wall Street bonds, $25 billion of unfunded pension obligations, and $58 billion for free medical insurance for all retired government employees with 25 years.)
But our “Fact Sheets” pointed out that NJ taxpayers only owe $3 billion.?? That is less than 3% of what Corzine claims.?? NJ’s Supreme Court ruled that NJ taxpayers are not legally obligated to pay any debts or liabilities not approved by voters pursuant to our State Constitution.?? Why pay a penny more than what we legally owe?
Roughly $27 billion of NJ’s bonds are “junk” issued by dummy corporations like the Economic Development Authority (EDA).?? The fine print says they are NOT backed by the full faith and credit of state taxpayers.?? Wall Street was well aware of the risk.
???? Corzine said at the meeting that the New Jersey Supreme Court approved this debt, and that we need a Constitutional Amendment to stop this in the future.?? But when the police released me, and let me enter the meeting (without signs or literature), I repeatedly told the Governor that this is not true.?? The Supreme Court only ruled that the junk bonds did not require voter approval, because state taxpayers could not be forced to pay them.?? (This was the case brought by Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan.)
???? Corzine admits it was wrong to hike government pension benefits by 9% in 2001, with no money to pay for them.?? Corzine agrees it was a mistake to give free medical insurance for retired government employees with more than 25 years of employment-again with no money set aside to pay for them.?? But our Fact Sheet pointed out that because this also violates our State Constitution, we don’t have to pay for these “mistakes”.?? They can be set aside now.?? And we mentioned that last year, Corzine blocked bi-partisan legislation that would have done much more to deal with the situation.
???? Our group attempted to display our signs, and hand out our “Fact Sheets” on the sidewalk by the parking lot, far from the doors of the auditorium.?? But more than a dozen police officers were there to stop us.?? They said we could not display our signs any closer than a quarter mile away.?? We had to leave the area unless we got rid of our signs and literature.?? Everyone else got rid of the signs and literature.?? I did not, and I was arrested.?? Before I was handcuffed, I said these words to the officers:
U.S. CONSTITUTION:? FIRST AMENDMENT:?
“Congress shall make no law. . . abridging the freedom of speech. . . or of the right of the people to peaceably assemble and to petition their government for a redress of grievances.”? (Later applied to states by the 14th Amendment of 1866.)
NJ CONSTITUTION:? ARTICLE I, SECTION 18:
” The people have the right freely to assemble, consult for the common good, to make known their opinions to their representatives, and to petition for redress of grievance.”
Governor Jon Corzine later denied causing my arrest.?? We shall soon see.
Chief of State Police investigating Seth Grossman and Steve Lonegan’s arrest,?developing…