Gas-Tax Repeal Rally a No Show

If the gas-tax repeal is Senator Tom Kean Jr.'s plan to save the endangered liberals in his caucus, it totally crapped the bed on Saturday when the kick-off rally to a series of rallies across the state was cancelled and a pro-Senator Steve Oroho rally popped up in its place.  The repeal is being pushed by "Red Shirt" movement leader Bill Spadea, cultural leftist Senator Kip Bateman, and the petroleum lobby. 

Slated for Newton Green on Saturday, October 22nd (11am-2pm), the rally was organized with support from the petroleum lobby by people claiming to represent the Tea Party and other groups.  The run-up to the rally benefitted from paid advertising and media coverage, including a front page story on the New Jersey Herald the day before.  Organizers claimed that the response had been huge and claimed to had lined up a dozen speakers -- including 5th District congressional candidate Michael J. Cino. 

Cino, has attacked conservative Congressman Scott Garrett and the Republican majority in Congress for its "traitorous" votes.  Cino runs a group known as the "Red Dogs" who are described as a sort of vanguard in the "rebellion against the establishment."  We don't know if there is a relationship between the "Red Shirts" and the "Red Dogs."

The morning of the rally was rainy and the forecast called for a light drizzle.  The rally was set expressly "rain or shine" but was canceled a couple hours before it was scheduled to begin "due to weather."

Having explicitly described the rally as "public" in its advertisements, gas-tax-repeal organizers became concerned when they heard that people who didn't agree with them were thinking of attending their public meeting.  The gas-tax repealers asked the police to intervene to "segregate" the rally.  The gas-tax-repeal camp was asked about the criteria they intended to use to "segregate" members of the public at a public rally.  They wouldn't provide a criteria.

A building trades union representing thousands of families in Northwest New Jersey stepped in and obtained  its own permit, which lay outside Newton Green.  But in the end, it wasn't necessary, because with Newton Green vacated by the gas-tax-repeal organizers of the advertised public rally, the people who they had attempted to keep out had the Green to themselves.    

So at 11am on Saturday morning -- instead of the gas-tax-repeal rally that was advertised -- 250 people showed up in support of the Tax Restructuring plan passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Chris Christie.  They came to support conservative Republican Steve Oroho, who has been under attack by the Legislature's two most liberal Republicans -- Kip Bateman and Jennifer Beck -- and they came to combat the lies put out by the petroleum lobby that the 23-cent increase applies to home heating oil and baby ointment and polyester clothing.  All lies designed to frighten people and to inflame hatred and even violence.

The facts, as provided by the Office of Legislative Services, are that nothing new is taxed and that all the exemptions that were in place remain in place. This means the increase does not apply to home heating oil or baby ointment or polyester clothing.  In fact, the law now INCREASES the number of exempt products.  We will discuss these additional exemptions in detail in an upcoming column.

Saturday's crowd -- numbering more than 250 -- was made up largely of trade union members and their families, but many local Republicans turned out, including two Sussex County Freeholders and several local elected officials and GOP municipal leaders.  About a dozen Pro-Life activists were present as well as that many grassroots Second-Amendment campaigners.  About a half dozen people attended who were drawn by the newspaper coverage. 

Three speakers addressed the crowd.  Rev. Greg Quinlan of the Center for Garden State Families reminded those present that Senator Oroho is a leader in the fight to preserve traditional values in New Jersey and America.  He added that those who want to drive Senator Oroho out of office are followers of the two most culturally left-wing members of the GOP in the Legislature and that earlier this week the two had celebrated the deaths of millions of unborn children by honoring the racist memory of eugenicist Margaret Sanger and her Planned Parenthood organization. 

Economics professor Murray Sabrin explained how the gas tax is a user tax and that this is a moral form of taxation.  The gathering was reminded that President Ronald Reagan, the founder of the modern conservative movement, favored user taxes and used the gas tax to fund road and bridge construction in America.  Sabrin went on to remind the audience that those "Red Shirts" who are trying to make the gas tax the big issue of 2017 are doing so to deflect attention away from the real problem tax in New Jersey -- the property tax -- which is a driver of the state's highest in America foreclosure rate.  Those who say the gas tax is the problem do so to support the Abbott-system of spending the state revenue from income taxes.

Finally, a union leader from Sussex County reminded the rally that "this was supposed to be their (the petroleum lobby's) rally" and that they had been there to spread lies about the Tax Restructuring plan and hatred for Senator Oroho.  He went on to thank the working men and women present from Sussex, Warren, and Morris counties and the thousands of union families they represent who live, work, and vote in the 24th Legislative District.  He promised that they would be back again and again and again and again, door-to-door, to carry the message to EVERY household in the 24th District.

The event was topped off with two announcements:  First, that Franklin Mayor Nick Giordano, who had been moved to oppose Senator Oroho after listening to the propaganda of "Red Shirt" lies, had written a letter endorsing the Senator and the Tax Restructuring plan.  And second, that the Senator's youngest daughter had safely delivered a child.  Steve Oroho's new grandson.


Did Phoebus work with Herald to damage opponent?

A text message from a New Jersey Herald reporter who is associated with the Tea Party movement, to Republican Assemblyperson Gail Phoebus, suggests that a Phoebus enemy was being targeted after being defeated in the June 2015 Republican primary.  The text suggests deep collusion between the Herald or its reporter and the Assemblyperson and her campaign.  It is dated weeks after the primary, which suggests that the damage it was meant to do was of a personal nature.

In correspondence before the 2015 primary, this reporter expressed his concern that his pronounced bias had caused some to question his credibility.  He wrote that he feared that "people will come to see me as a shill for the campaign."

------ SMS ------


Received: Aug 1, 2015 1:21 PM

Do you know anything about a sexual harassment lawsuit or some such thing being filed against XXXXXX XXXXXXX several years ago back when he was principal of XXXXXX XXXXXXXX High School?... XXXX had mentioned something about it to me a while back, said she believes it was settled. I'd sure love to get my hands on it, though.

Recent Herald coverage, suggests that the Herald has an agenda that is informed by malice and determined to harm.  As the above suggests, this is only the latest in a history of inappropriate proximity. 

Subject to a vote of the contributors, we will be releasing a series of unredacted correspondence between politicians and Herald staff to Quincy's corporate offices and to the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) in the near future.

Five lies the Tea Party should refrain from

It's the Tea Party, so you can be sure there will be histrionics aplenty at their rally on Saturday.  Former Freeholder and town council candidate Harvey Roseff, late of the NJTA, will be on hand in his usual role as Carnac the all-knowing.  So the slogans, born from lack of study, will be flying as well.

Nevertheless, the Skylands Tea Party and Roseff with his NJTA should try to avoid re-telling a few of the bigger lies they've been pedaling.

First.  The Skylands Tea Party is not the same as "We the People of the Garden State."  You are a very small handful of the 9 million people who live in New Jersey.  You have every right to speak for yourselves, but nobody elected you to speak for "the people of New Jersey" -- and you are generally very disrespectful towards those who have actually gone before the people and who were elected.  This is probably because you see them as occupying your rightful place but... this is America, and in America we vote for our leaders.  Nobody voted for you.

Second.  Please do not refer to members of construction unions as "thugs."  The only thuggish behavior exhibited has been by members and associates of the Tea Party on social media with their pornographic insults and threats of violence.  Many thousands of building trades workers reside in Sussex County with their families.  They vote, pay taxes, read newspapers, and patronize businesses.  And while we are on this subject, if Tea Party candidate Mark Quick attends, Skylands (or Roseff) should remember that at a similar protest in July he was ordered out of the Lafayette House because of his loud and violent behavior.  He needs a minder.

Third.  "This tax increase never even got a public hearing."  Harvey Roseff and the NJTA have been pushing this lie for weeks.  And again yesterday, Roseff posted this lie on the Sussex Watchdog website.  The facts are that there were extensive public hearings on this legislation by both the Senate and Assembly.  The Reason Foundation actually gave extensive testimony at one hearing.  On top of this, Senator Oroho has publically spoken before a number of groups in Sussex County on this topic.  Just because Roseff couldn't find the time to attend, doesn't mean it never happened.

Fourth.  Carnac the all-knowing (AKA Harvey Roseff) has been shopping around the lie that he can fund the TTF through savings.  He told the NJ Herald: "The audit and the repeal go together.  You do the audit to find out how the money is being spent and to find savings. With the savings there is no reason for the gas tax." 

Two questions come to mind:  (1) How does Roseff know what savings he will find if the audit hasn't been conducted yet?  And how can he speak so assuredly that those savings will be sufficient if he has no clue as to their amount?

(2) The fact is that not since 1990 has the state's user tax on gasoline and diesel produced enough revenue to cover the cost to maintain the state's transportation system.  Today the debt service alone exceeds $1.1 billion.  In contrast, the gas tax collected just a bit more than $750 in 2015.  That means if Harvey found 100% savings -- if he found a way to build the roads for free -- he would still need to increase the gas tax just to pay for the yearly debt payment the TTF has accrued over the last decades.

As you can plainly see, Harvey Roseff is full of bullshit.

Five.  The gas tax applies to "all petroleum products."  This lie was put out there by the Skylands Tea Party in an email blast dated October 18th that invited people to the rally.  This is part of a nasty whisper campaign to frighten people into believing that the tax applies to home heating oil.  In response, the Office of Legislative Services released this definitive statement:

"Assembly Bill No. 12 (2R) of 2016, recently enacted as P.L.2016, c.57.  Home heating oil, which includes number 2 heating oil, number 4 heating oil, and number 6 heating oil,  used for residential heating is exempt from the Petroleum Products Gross Receipts Tax.  The exemption is included as part of the definition of 'petroleum products' under the 'Petroleum Products Gross Receipts Tax Act,' 54:15B-1 et seq.  The definition of petroleum products was not amended as part of Assembly Bill No. 12 (2R), and therefore the exemption still applies." 

Memo to the Skylands Tea Party and Harvey "Carnac" Roseff:  Stop telling lies.  Deal in the real world. 

Townsquare Media launches campaign against GOP

On Monday -- October 17, 2016 -- Bill Spadea, an agent of Townsquare Media, launched a campaign aimed at defeating conservative Republican legislators who voted for the tax restructuring plan that ended the Estate Tax, eliminated the tax on retirement income for most New Jersey seniors, cut the sales tax for consumers, provided a tax credit for low-paid workers, provided an income tax cut for veterans, and funded the bankrupt TTF through a rise in the tax on gasoline instead of by increasing property taxes.  On Monday, Spadea wrote: 

"Even if the current crusade by courageous community leader, Senator Kip Bateman is successful in forcing a vote it’s not gonna pass.  Even if by some miracle the legislature voted to repeal the (tax restructuring package) they overwhelmingly supported, it would be met with a veto by the Governor who led the charge for the largest tax (cut in New Jersey's history)." 

That said, this repeal push is not about actually repealing the tax.  It’s about giving notice to the politicians that we’re watching and we’re gonna #remember in november. 

...Kudos to Senator Kip Bateman for stepping up.  Think twice before attacking what may seem like a quixotic battle.  It’s actually necessary to identify who we need to thank and vote out in November 2017."

Spadea makes it pretty clear that this a political action campaign.  Instead of reporting the news or even commenting on it, this is the news.  Spadea has long craved this kind of political power.  Remember when he was using the money of some pharmaceutical millionaire to build a party structure?  Remember Spadea's "red shirts."  No, we're not kidding, like those old boys back in the 1930's, Spadea did the whole shirt thing too.  It goes nicely with the cult of personality.

Note the intensity and the anger in the singing.  That kind of rage -- unreasoning, stage-managed, and directed at some scapegoat -- may be found almost any day on radio station NJ 101.5 FM.  But then, radio is a very old vehicle for this kind of thing.

Townsquare Media is the corporate entity that owns the license (Townsquare Media Trenton License, LLC) to operate radio station NJ 101.5 (FCC Facility 53458).  The license is a for-profit monopoly granted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). 

Townsquare Media is owned by Oaktree Capital Management.  This corporation dates from the mid-1990's.  Media sources note:  "Oaktree quickly established a reputation in the high-yield and distressed-debt markets."  The Securities & Exchange Commission fined Oaktree and ordered them to disgorge profits after the SEC ruled they had "sold securities short".

According to Oaktree Capital Management's filings with the Securities & Exchange Commission, it has important holdings in the petroleum sector, with one of its most important funds dependent on oil and gas profits from Alaska's North Slope.  So yes, boys and girls, raising the price of gasoline is not in their economic self-interest.

The federal government grants for-profit corporations a monopoly on the use of a certain frequency provided that they abide by a very few rules and regulations.  One is that they should at least try to be honest.  The FCC website states:

"As public trustees, broadcasters may not intentionally distort the news. The FCC has stated publicly that 'rigging or slanting the news is a most heinous act against the public interest'."

What this means is that a radio station shouldn't out and out lie just to inflame public opinion in an effort to jazz up the ratings in order to sell more advertising and reap a windfall in corporate profits.  But this is exactly what the corporation that owns NJ 101.5 has allowed Bill Spadea to do for months.  Now it has stepped that up and launched a political action campaign against Republican legislators.

Townsquare Media/ Oaktree Capital Management's choice of Senator Kip Bateman to play the hero is hilarious.  We will have more on that later.   

Is the Tea Party anti-First Amendment?

Earlier this week the Skylands Tea Party ran a paid advertisement in the New Jersey Herald inviting members of the public to attend a rally on Saturday, October 22nd.  It was accompanied by a press release, which formed the basis of the following NJ Herald story:

Rally planned for Newton Green Saturday in wake of gas tax hike

New Jersey Herald: Oct. 17, 2016 12:01 am

NEWTON -- The Skylands Tea Party and New Jersey Taxpayers' Association will hold a rally on Saturday, Oct. 22, at the Newton Green to demand a forensic audit of NJ Transit, the Transportation Trust Fund and Port Authority in response to the approved 23-cent gas tax hike signed by Gov. Chris Christie on Friday and set to take effect Nov. 1.

"We, the people of New Jersey, have been overtaxed and poorly governed for far too long," states a joint news release submitted by Harvey Roseff, vice president of the NJTA.

"The increased gas tax, one of the largest tax increases to ever hit the family, was a bridge too far and is unconscionable. Tax policy can't fix management problems -- the problem festers and grows."

The public event is scheduled to run 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

"We are inviting friends and families to stand tall and ask for low-cost, efficient government to become the governing priority," states the event announcement.

This was followed by an email from the Skylands Tea Party on October 18, 2016:

"We the People of this Garden State are staging a protest on Saturday, October 22nd.  It will be held at the Newton Green on the corner of Route 94 and Spring Street, beginning at 11:00 AM and ending at 1:00 PM."

That's an open invitation to a public meeting on public property.

But when some of the organizers of the rally found out that folks who don't necessarily share their point of view were thinking of taking them up on the offer, they flipped.  Sources claim they went to the Newton mayor's office with their concerns. 

We don't know what action the Mayor, a political ally of Assemblyperson Gail Phoebus, took.  What we do know is that a Newton police officer called people and suggested that they do not belong at the rally.  We don't know why these people were targeted or who gave their names to the police.  What is clear is that these people do not share the Tea Party's point of view.

How is that for silencing the opposition?  How is that for bullying the First Amendment? 

Anyone who uses armed government officers to eliminate the presence of opposing viewpoints, inconvenient as they may be, is nothing more than an old-fashioned Fascist.  Speech should be met with speech, ideas with ideas, not by men with guns.

Of course, we can understand the concerns some in the Tea Party might have for what some of their members might do to anyone at the rally who holds a different opinion.  Tea Party members have been going overboard using violent and pornographic images and language on social media to describe anyone who disagrees with them -- like this charming Tea Party member from Sussex County:

"All 545 sitting in DC right now are guilty of treason. And all those living who have sat over the past 2 decades, since the signing of NAFTA are, too. That is our reality, they should all be indicted, dragged out in chains, the evidence a matter of congressional record and unimpeachable. And all should be subject to all the consequences the law provides up to the firing squad."

If the Tea Party allows its members to behave this way then they should take responsibility for them.  They should not seek to protect them from any alternative opinion that might result in them going off their meds.  And they certainly should not be involving armed government officers in what should be a civilized, human-to-human exchange of ideas.