January 28, 2016

Apocalyptic Booms and Pension Fat Cats, in today’s Roundup

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Verily there was much booming and shaking abroad in the land this afternoon, as has been noted, and many theories on what caused it have been advanced and expounded upon. Earthquake? Supersonic jet? Volcano? Fracking? The opening of the Sixth Seal? WWIII? Who knows.

This seems to happen every six months or so and we go through the same routine every time. On the internet, the very funniest persons made Chris Christie jokes (mops standard) while others invoked HAARP testing. The excellent S.P. Sullivan postulated it was all viral marketing for the X-Files reboot. He is concerned with branding.

The always-responsible Dan Skeldon suggested—assuming the booms were in fact military-related—“How about a warning before such drills to avoid such confusion and fear every time?” But you’re right, Dan, it’s unreasonable to expect we shouldn’t have the crap scared out of us, by your own government, every few months. Because why not. No wonder everyone seems so on edge these days.

Pension Fat Cats
The state pension system paid $701 million (that’s twice as many millions as Montgomery Brewster had, plus another $101 million) to hedge funds, in the form fees and bonuses in the last fiscal year, according to the president of the AFL-CIO. The system’s in-house managers charged $11 million in expenses, for managing the 72% of the portfolio not allocated to alternatives. Careful observers will note 11 is considerably less than 701.

“New Jersey’s retired public workers receive a $26,000 per year pension on average, so the only people getting rich off our pension system are the fund managers reaping obscene fees and bonuses,” Charles Wowkanech said. An official report’s still pending.

Opium Wars
as a heroin death rate nearly 25 times the national average. NJ.com’s Andy Polhamus goes inside.

This was two days ago, but Robert Scardino, a volunteer firefighter in Woodstown, writes an impassioned op-ed in NJ.com about the governor’s behavior this past weekend related to certain allegedly non-existent flooding damage in the southern half of the state, noting Himself provided, “snarky soundbites rather than genuine leadership.” Scardino says, when disaster strikes, Christie, “forgets that there is any state south of Trenton.”

Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson pushed the bankruptcy option for Atlantic City, saying renegotiating and restructuring debt would put the city “on a firmer footing,” The Wall Street Journal reports. Elsewhere (the Press of A.C.) the county is planning mandatory unpaid furloughs for county workers.

New Jersey’s poverty rate’s the highest it’s been in fifty years. What can be done about it. NJSpotlight wonders.

Elsewhere, the ‘light, in partnership with the Marshall Project, has a long story about a program under which juvenile sex offenders are “civilly committed” and held involuntarily and indefinitely, if they’ve been classified as sexual predators and unfit to return to society. “We’re effectively handing out life sentences to juveniles under the auspices of civil commitment.”

Two environmental groups are suing the Board of Public Utilities and the Pinelands Commission over plans to build a natural-gas pipeline through the Pine Barrens, Philly.com reports.

Visit South Jersey is a thing and it has an interim-director, named Devon, and the inimitable Kevin Riordan has all the details. This one detail jumped out at me: there’s a “co-working campus” in Haddonfield? How cool does that look.

NJ.com also has a slideshow on New Jersey’s twelve worst tax scofflaws. For those of you not reading this from the back of a Speakeasy, as scofflaw is defined a contemptuous law-violator.

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