By Patrick Colligan
It’s Election Day morning. As exciting as a mid-term election can possibly get, I am more excited that my trip to the mailbox will just be bills again. The robo-calls will finally stop and the most exciting commercial on TV will be about making my whites whiter. I never thought a few short months ago that I’d be happy to see another commercial about triple-action enzymes and stain fighters, but after that onslaught of angry political ads I’m happily paying attention to my laundry again. Next year, we are all going to recycle the political mailings and pay off that pension debt that is all our fault.
Speaking of all our fault, where is the “Pension Commission” report? It was done before it was started, so let’s get it out there already. Our governor had the opportunity to meet with those dong the report before they got to the “hard work” that the Murphy Commission already completed in 2005. All they really had to do was switch out “the State has to pay its obligations” with “It’s the unsustainable, rich pension and Cadillac benefits these bloodsucking public employees get,” slap a swanky new cover on it and give it to the press at 5:30 p.m. on a Friday so nobody else can comment on it. They have already released the Op-Ed pieces so I’m not expecting anything new from the report. Let’s see it already. I want to see how they blame us now. I’m sure the results will truly be groundbreaking.
Our PBA Legislative Day was even more successful than I’d hoped. I know that there is extensive coverage in this issue, so I’ll let the professionals tell you the story. I want to express my extreme gratitude TO those of you that took the time from your busy life and chose to follow us into the halls of Trenton that day. Believe me when I tell you, the message was delivered and I’m STILL getting feedback from Legislators that were there. We all have a lot going on in our lives, I only wish I could have thanked every one of you personally. A special thanks to our friends at PBA Local 105. They really went above and beyond in making the day a lot easier to manage. Their extra efforts are appreciated and I value their friendship (and the great parking spot they keep letting me use!).
And finally this month: The coward. For decades upon decades, the NJ State PBA has endorsed political candidates. It is how the business gets done not only in our union but in organized labor and private interest groups throughout our entire Nation. It’s an endorsement, it’s not an order. We even get to debate it and vote on them at the state meetings. No secrets. Last time I checked, thankfully, we still live in a democracy. You have a horse in a race? Your neighbor or uncle running for Dog Catcher, Council or Congress? Well then, you go right ahead and vote for your horse. Quite frankly, I’m just thankful you are even going to the polls. Our endorsements aren’t picked with darts and a dartboard. They are made with full knowledge of a candidate’s agenda and voting record, always involves knowing or meeting a candidate and it is made (sometimes painfully) for the benefit of the ENTIRE union. We will often stay entirely out of a race if neither of the candidates hold a position we embrace.
So, this is addressed to the coward who didn’t have the common courtesy of picking up the phone and asking an intelligent question or two. You are the coward that hid behind an anonymous letter without a return address. You went through the effort of searching your home for a red magic marker and adding a completely tasteless comment. I’d venture to say you are the same person that complains every single day since you were hired about your PBA, but couldn’t even tell me where the meetings are held. You spend most of your day writing comments on newspaper articles behind an anonymous nickname. I’m going to go way out on a limb and guess you also scribble what I’m sure are great words of wisdom on promotional announcements on your agency’s bulletin board when nobody else is there. I applaud your life of anonymity and lack of conviction; you should be very proud of yourself. Unfortunately for the rest of us, regardless of our union affiliation or agency size, there are many of you. There is at least one of you in every agency. By now, we all should have learned a hard lesson from you. You made Chapter 78, pension reform and police consolidation easy for them. You weakened our voice. Maybe next year you can pick up the phone, call from an unknown number and at least give us some spirited debate. Just don’t forget to disguise your voice, I heard there is an app for that.
For those of you that headed to the voting booth, thank you for your time and effort. PLEASE mark Nov. 3, 2015 in your calendars. We have a HUGE election coming up next year. The NJSPBA is going to be relevant and I guarantee you that we will have a huge impact on that election.