Why would Pappas & Marks choose a Liberal group to host a debate?

Harry Pappas is the former chairman of the Union County Democrat Party machine. Martin Marks is the former Mayor of Scotch Plains. They are candidates for two Assembly seats in a six-person race in District 21.

Some have said that Pappas and Marks are acting in concert with far-Left Democrat candidates Lisa Mandelblatt and Stacey Gunderman. They say that Pappas and Marks want to skim enough Republican votes away from incumbents Jon Bramnick and Nancy Munoz so that the Republicans lose.

The latest thing to raise an eyebrow or two is the debate that Pappas and Marks agreed to participate in with the Democrats. Pappas and Marks say they’re “conservative” – but why would anyone calling themselves “conservative” agree to a debate hosted by a Liberal group like the League of Women Voters?

The League of Women Voters (LWV) hasn’t hosted a Presidential debate since 1984, when Democrat Walter Mondale faced-off against incumbent Republican Ronald Reagan. That’s because the LWV isn’t only concerned about getting more people out to vote – it takes ideological positions on controversial issues.

The League of Women Voters is a pro-abortion, anti-Second Amendment, pro-illegal immigration, pro-ObamaCare organization. Here is just a sampling of what you will find on the group’s website:

League Joins Amicus Brief in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission: The case involves a bakery in Colorado which refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple citing religious objections. The brief that the League joined argues that allowing the bakery to refuse service violates public accommodations laws and opens the door to discrimination of other groups.

League Urges U.S. House to Pass Clean Dream Act: Members of the League's Lobby Corps will be visiting with members of the U.S. House urging passage of the Dream Act of 2017. The legislation will ensure that the 800,000 "dreamers"--young immigrants brought illegally to the U.S. by their parents--can establish legal residency within the country.

We believe that the proliferation of handguns and semi-automatic assault weapons in the United States is a major health and safety threat to its citizens… Strong federal measures to limit the accessibility and regulate the ownership of firearms by private citizens is necessary for consumer safety.

The League of Women Voters United States (LWVUS) and the League of Women Voters of Oregon (LWVOR) filed an Amicus Brief in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Juliana et al v. United States. The Leagues continue to support the 21 young people from across the United States who have filed a landmark constitutional climate change lawsuit against the federal government, via the Eugene, Oregon- based organization, Our Children's Trust.

“Besides Planned Parenthood, the bill has drawn opposition from groups such as the Pennsylvania Medical Society, the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and the Pennsylvania League of Women Voters.”

To mark the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade, the League of Women Voters of Texas guest blogged on the new abortion restrictions in their state.

So why are Pappas and Marks participating in a debate hosted by such a biased Left-wing organization? If they truly are conservatives, like they claim, they will demand a neutral host. But if they are shills for the Democrats… well, we will know soon enough.

Is AFP even a conservative organization anymore?

Can we get serious?

In America, there is a consensus, a generally accepted agreement as to what the word “conservative” means.  Take a poll.  Ask the average voter what the word means.  The four pillars of modern American conservatism are pretty easy to remember:

(1) The Right to Life.  Conservatives, real conservatives, Reagan conservatives, we oppose abortion.  Full stop.  

(2) The Second Amendment.  Hey, how many court rulings do you need before you finally get that the government has no duty to protect you?  In a Republic, that is on you.  Conservatives oppose the anarchy of crime.  We support gun rights, local police, and laws that are tough on crime – especially violent crime.

(3) Less Government/ Lower Taxes.  Conservatives know that smaller government and less government regulation leads to less spending and debt, which enables governments to cut taxes.  Conservatives also know that crony capitalism is a form of political corruption and as such is itself a tax on the goods and services used by ordinary citizens.

(4) Illegal Immigration.  Conservatives like America and American culture.  We welcome anyone from anywhere who wants to come here and join us and become an American.  We don’t want to be colonized by foreign cultures with authoritarian or anti-democratic traditions.  We don’t want to be told that we need to change to accommodate those who gate-crash the laws of our country. 

In order to call yourself a conservative in America, you pretty much need to be all four of the above.  Maybe you can get away with being a little mushy on one and still be considered a “soft” conservative.  But if you are bad on more than one, you need to think about why you are a Republican.  (Hey, haven’t these people ever read the PLATFORM of the party they claim membership of?)

That’s not to say that anybody is a “bad” person.  It’s just saying that you’re not a conservative.  See, the word “conservative” actually does mean something.  It’s not just a term of praise used in the proper setting to describe people we happen to like… or want to suck-up to. 

“Conservative” doesn’t mean “libertarian”.  It is per se a traditionalist point-of-view.  Conservatives want to C-O-N-S-E-R-V-E the traditions and values of our American Republic.  Unlike our libertarian brethren, we don’t want to replace Mom and Apple Pie with the Orgasmatron and the Orb.

That’s not to say that conservatives and libertarians (or anyone else for that matter) can’t agree on certain issues and work together.  But having a conservative point of view on this or that issue doesn’t make one a conservative.  Heck, Bill Clinton called himself a “fiscal conservative” – that didn’t make him a conservative.  It made him a liberal who saw the political advantages of conservative policy on issues like welfare reform.  He was still a liberal. 

And so we come to the especially Jersey-style, end of year crap that recently went spewing itself all over the Internet.  For years now, New  Jersey has been working very hard at being the place words go to lose their meaning.  Reading “The Right 40 Women to Watch in 2019” (written by AFP’s head honcho in New Jersey) it’s now clear that this trend has reached new depths of meaninglessness – with many of those mentioned being members of the “Right” only in the way that Hillary Clinton can be considered being to the “Right” of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. 

AFP – Americans for Prosperity – is the group formed by the super-rich Koch brothers as the political and lobbying arm of their business empire.  Anyone who knows anything about the Koch brothers knows that they come out of the Libertarian Party – in fact, one of the brothers actually ran against Republican Ronald Reagan on the Libertarian Party ticket in 1980.  Yes… THAT Ronald Reagan. 

And what a ticket that was… it supported everything from the decriminalization of narcotics and prostitution to America’s standing down as a world power.  If that crew had been elected, we’d still have the Soviet Union (and maybe they would have won).  But happily, Reagan won and the Koch operation was forced to rebrand itself as fake “conservative” – a move that started the process of unwinding the meaning of the word. 

Over the last decade or more, the Koch operation has done much to corrupt the conservative movement in America – in an effort to remake it in their own crony capitalist image.  Now they’ve come full circle and are back to advocating a soft-on-crime approach while pushing to flood the open market with recreational marijuana… this, in the midst of an opioid epidemic that is killing upwards of 50,000 people each year.

In fact, AFP in New Jersey has become so crony capitalist, so establishment, so anti-conservative values, that it has taken to shilling for far-Left politicians like U.S. Senator Cory Booker.  Just before Christmas, AFP paid for a mailing that lauded Senator Gropicus (a great moniker, courtesy of SaveJersey’s Matt Rooney) for a soft-on-crime package of feel good “reforms” that miss the problem entirely, but make for good media ads for his 2020 run against President Donald Trump.  Why the heck would AFP do something like that?  The Democrats don’t need the resources – they already have George Soros – now they have the Koch operation’s millions too? 

Among those women on “the Right” we were asked to “celebrate” were a half dozen who made the list because of their service on the just completed campaign of Bob Hugin for United States Senate.  Now maybe the writer didn’t get the memo, but Bob Hugin didn’t run from “the Right” and his campaign did all it could to distance itself from said “Right” – starting with millions in advertising assuring the electorate that he was a “different kind of Republican” who explicitly rejected at least one of the four pillars of modern American conservatism.  So WTF?

And since when did the legalization and sale of marijuana become a conservative issue?  Hasn’t anyone read about the vaping problem in our schools?  And this is with nicotine… imagine what it will be with marijuana?  And edibles?  How will policing the use of chocolate bars, peanut butter cups, and cookies work?  Candy for children… So how the heck did the “co-founder and executive director of the New Jersey Cannabis Industry Association” make a list of “women on the Right”???

Get out of your offices and talk to average people sometime!  Ask them if they think legalizing and selling an entry level drug in the midst of an opioid epidemic is a conservative political position?  Average voters will think you have lost your mind.  But there she is, on the list for being “at the helm” in her quest to “unleash a new industry within the State.”  What’s next?  Narcotics?  The legalization of human trafficking?  Prostitution?  Body parts?   Wait… it will come.

Rosemary Becchi made the list too.  She’s the president of a “new grassroots advocacy organization” formed in 2018 “to fight Jersey’s high taxes and propose policy solutions to the state’s complex financial problems.”  Except that she hasn’t.  Ms. Becchi is a DC lobbyist who has donated to the Democrats.  Hey, we get that lobbyists do that kind of thing, but let’s not call it conservative

Nobody has seen Ms. Becchi testifying in Trenton, or providing information to legislators, or even returning telephone calls from those interested in finding out more about her “organization”.  Cynics would say that it is nothing more than a front – a cover for her personal ambition to run for Congress.  This is something she openly explored against incumbent Congressman Leonard Lance (R-07) a year ago, with her “grassroots” organization forming a kind of parentheses between that and her expected formal announcement for 2020.

But as far as labeling her a “conservative” – we don’t really know where she stands on big government and taxes, leaving aside her unknown positions on abortion, the Second Amendment, and illegal immigration.  So who is trying to fool who here?

Finally, AFP’s list is memorable because of the genuine conservatives – four pillar conservatives – that it leaves out.  Champions like Marie Tasy and Christine Flaherty and Rev. Mandy Leverett… they are fighting to maintain the value of human life, to recognize the threshold of fetal pain, to end the trafficking of human beings and the sexual exploitation of women and children.  Of course, in today’s cash register world of “new industries” like pot and such, none of that matters – except that it does matter to conservatives, and there are a great many of us.

Also dissed were Freeholder Deborah Smith of Morris County – a great advocate for the Second Amendment – and incoming Sussex County Freeholder Dawn Fantasia who took down an incumbent Freeholder by winning 63% of the vote!  Nobody who made AFP’s list ever beat an incumbent.  Why are conservative winners ignored and pot pushers lauded as “conservatives”?   And how about an operative like Kelly Hart, the executive director of the Sussex County Republican Committee.  A four pillar conservative who actually won for Bob Hugin by more than was expected – outperforming everywhere but receiving scant recognition for it.  Obviously, there is a “cool girls” table, just as in high school, and some are not part of it… no matter how much they actually WIN elections. 

So in future, be a bit more judicious in who you label “conservative.”  Be honest with voters.  Stop telling them that you are something you’re not. 

Yes, we expect to hear arguments from pro-abortion, mushy on illegal immigration, soft-on-the-Second Amendment types who claim that they “feel” they are conservative.  But isn’t that just the times we live in?  We’ve all heard of gender-fluidity… well, these people are ideologically fluid.  And just as our chromosomes determine whether we are male or female, how we stand on the four pillars make us conservative – or something else.

Hey, don’t worry.  Not being conservative doesn’t make you a “bad” person.  And it doesn’t mean that you don’t hold conservative points of view on this issue or that.  You can still work with conservatives.  It just means that you recognize that you don’t come from the same ideological place that conservatives do.  And in your heart, you already know that, so let’s cut the bull and get honest with the voters.  Restoring their faith in the labels politicians apply to themselves will perhaps restore some measure of trust… for when the very words people use to describe themselves have no integrity, what confidence can voters have in anything?

NJ Republicans need to rethink the way they campaign

By “The Happy Warrior”

Not on a single issue, or in one direction or twain,
But conclusively, comprehensively, and several times and again,
Were all our most holy illusions knocked higher than Gilderoy’s kite.
We have had a jolly good lesson, and it serves us jolly well right!

(The Lesson, Rudyard Kipling)

Fellow Republicans:  Before jumping into the 2019 legislative cycle… doing the exact same things we’ve been doing and losing for the past decade – STOP!

We have just been crushed the worst we’ve been crushed in a century.  But it wasn’t unique. We’ve been getting our asses kicked now for a decade.  Not even a popular Governor prevented the usual and customary ass-whooping. We keep losing and the life blood of the party is draining away.

It doesn’t have to be.  It’s not this way in other states.  So STOP and THINK.

Question our old standbys, our comfort zones, that instinctive knee-jerk prescription that hasn’t won in a decade or more.

Because politics isn’t actual warfare, the participants of these slaughters get to live and repeat the performance.  It’s as if General Custer somehow survived the Battle of the Little Bighorn to lead a gallant new troop of cavalry. One would hope that he would think about avoiding the actions that lead to everyone being killed the first time… that he just wouldn’t take command because “he’s done it before” and – having received command – he wouldn’t simply proceed “the way it has always been done before.”

There is certainly no shame in losing.  The founding military and political leader of our nation, George Washington, suffered a string of defeats before and after the Battles of Trenton  and Princeton, before winning the conclusive Battle of Yorktown. The shame comes from not putting a defeat to good use by learning from it. To not ponder a loss and instead stubbornly go back to the exact same way as before.

Then let us develop this marvellous asset which we alone command,
And which, it may subsequently transpire, will be worth as much as the Rand.
Let us approach this pivotal fact in a humble yet hopeful mood—
We have had no end of a lesson, it will do us no end of good!


The Democrats have developed a new way of conducting and winning political campaigns.  It is a loose, fluid, decentralized style of campaigning – and it never ends. The Democrats’ campaign is an endless campaign.

The Democrats have mastered the marshalling of superior resources through the procurement of contracts, the selection of vendors, and the creation of entities – for-profits, non-profits, political action committees, leadership PACS, party organizations, superPACS, and campaign committees – by which fundraised money flows around donor limits and every other rule.  Added to this is their ability to field an army of activists using established issues groups as well as the more generalized “anti” groups born after the election of Donald Trump.

The Democrat command and control structure is instructive – in that it requires only a broad agreement on targets and goals to effectively get the job done.  The Democrats do not micro-manage.  They point everyone in the right direction and then allow the folks on the ground to get the job done.

The Democrats’ method of campaigning is activist-based.  Republicans, on the other hand, insist on campaigns that are highly centralized, tethered, and top-down – echo-chamber campaigns that reinforce the established certainties.  


Both major parties are really each three separate parties all occupying the same space and seeking to speak for the same “brand”.  

(1) There is the broad “party” defined by formal “membership” (voter registration, etc.), self-identification, or electoral support.  These people have some idea of what the party brand means and they like candidates to adhere to it. They like to get what they think they are voting for.

(2) Next is the activist base.  These people are motivated by a particular issue or set of issues (or by a candidate who serves as the vessel for such).  Some organize themselves to great effectiveness. Many are organized permanently and have established themselves as genuine powers.  Others can be motivated in the right season, on a case by case basis. The most successful are able to create enough activity to earn a living from their activism (essentially, they are paid for their leadership).

(3) Finally we have the “professional” party – the regulars.  Broadly speaking, they are paid or make money from politics, whether as attorneys, vendors, lobbyists, elected officials, appointed officials, patronage employees, political consultants, legislative staff, and such.  They are transactional and make money through or directly from politics – that is the big difference between them and the broader party.

Of necessity, the concerns of each of these three groups can be very different.  On the whole, the first two want candidates who will represent their points of view (although, depending on the issue, some in the second might find themselves outside the mainstream of the first).  The concerns of the last can be quite complex depending on relationships (personal, professional, and financial), the political considerations of maintaining power, and monetary contracts or understandings.  Suffice to say that the maintenance of power for its own sake is a primary concern, so they see the world very differently than the almost black or white delineations of the greater party.

All three entities are very important.  Whether Democrat or Republican, a party needs its broad membership, its activist base, and its professional party regulars.  But it needs them working together… not hating each other.

In the election just completed, the Democrats successfully engaged and involved the second group and we saw literally thousands of people from the first group – average voters – flood into the second to become activists.  In contrast, the Republicans maintained rigid, centralized control… and they were nearly wiped out.


In political campaigns, as in warfare, command and control is all about the time it takes to observe a threat or opportunity, orientate your forces to bear on it, decide what to do, and then do it.  In the aftermath of America’s failure in Vietnam, when the President of the United States was personally selecting which bridges to bomb, military theorists grappled with various ways to improve command and control.  After 241 military personnel, mainly United States Marines, were killed by a truck bomb driven into their barracks in Beirut, the need for a “quick action” method of command and control became an imperative. In Beirut, the forces on the ground had to get permission from the brass in Washington in order to react decisively.  Unfortunately, the terrorists didn’t wait.

An Air Force Colonel by the name of John Boyd studied warfare through the critical lens of time.  For Colonel Boyd, it was all about time… reaction time… the ability to get inside your opponent’s decision-making loop.  

Colonel Boyd came up with the concept of OODA loops or time cycles while studying air combat and then applied it more generally to warfare and to other forms of human conflict.  Boyd wrote that the key strategic advantage in any conflict was the ability to Observe a threat or opportunity, Orientate oneself to it, Decide what to do, and then Act… an OODA loop.  If you could complete your OODA loop quicker than your opponent could, you would probably win.

In New Jersey, the Democrats operate on a pretty brisk OODA time cycle.  The Republicans move like glue and are utterly disconnected from the ground.  The Democrats understand who their NCO’s are and largely trust them. This gives the Democrats the ability to communicate what needs to be done, with the view that if they point the field NCO’s in the right direction, they can be trusted to get the job done.

The Democrats would understand Marine Colonel Chesty Puller’s comments to his NCO’s at the start of WWII… it would make no sense to a regular Republican in New Jersey.  We have no NCO’s. (We need them… desperately!)

The reasons for this are historical.  Beginning with the nascent post-war (WWII) ascendancy of the conservative movement and the candidacy of Barry Goldwater, the New Jersey GOP establishment recoiled against the modern conservativism of Bill Buckley and Ronald Reagan.  These sentiments were rooted in the class-based prejudices and religious bigotry of a Republican Party that had been crushed by FDR and the New Deal. Of a party that still expected the gratitude of African-Americans and was shocked when it was withheld.  

With the election of Ronald Reagan as President and the mainstreaming of his platform in 1980, New Jersey’s regular Republicans – the party’s “professionals” pursued a course at an odd variance with that of the national party.  The wider Republican party in New Jersey – and its activist base – kept step with the national Republican Party. The professionals became more and more a strange “hothouse” variety – a hybrid.

The GOP regulars tried to win “our way” but the losing only grew worse and worse, the excuses bolder and brazen.  Governor Chris Christie had the good sense to enlist the activist base, running as an economic and social conservative – a supporter of traditional values, Pro-Life, and Pro-Second Amendment – unfortunately, GOP legislative candidates too often have not.  In the end, with the loss of county and local governments, then the state government, many of the professionals found accommodation with the Democrats – some even becoming Democrats.  

Without jobs for the boys, NCO’s recruited from the professional regulars dried up.  Without an appeal to activist issues or at least the RNC platform… there was no compelling way to replace them.  People fight for money or they fight for cause. Both have been taken away.

Now, with the 2016 election of Donald Trump, the membership of the Republican Party, as well as its activist base, are now totally disjoint from the professional regulars of the NJGOP.  If most average Republicans knew who their “leaders” represented economically, they would find it revolting. Many would never vote again.

But there is hope.  The Democrats under Governor Phil Murphy are demonstrably whacky enough to recruit the support of the activist base as well as the wider party… to enlist and to activate many, many who have not been active before.

Party professionals can earn lucrative livings by wielding the collective power of the votes of many people.  These people willingly turn the power of their vote over to them because they believe the word “Republican” stands for certain things.  All they ask in return for turning their power over to a GOP “leader” is that they not be lied to in such an extreme way that they are made to feel like fools.  And the regular professionals make the wider party feel like fools… at their own peril.

In summary:  Stand for something.  Open the doors to the activist base and the wider party.  Tighten that OODA loop by loosening your grip. Recruit NCO’s, train them, point them in the right direction, and allow them to do their work.

It was our fault, and our very great fault—and now we must turn it to use.
We have forty million reasons for failure, but not a single excuse.
So the more we work and the less we talk the better results we shall get—
We have had an Imperial lesson; it may make us an Empire yet!

NJ.com strains its sphincter with Independence Day editorial

Someone should tell brother Tom Moran that babies don’t come out that end.

The day before yesterday the editorial board of what used to be the Newark Star Ledger gathered in the staff convenience to have a collective dump.  Yesterday they published their incitement to (riot?/ do someone bodily harm?) and titled it:  “On this Independence Day, striving for a new birth of freedom.” 

No, this isn’t the second coming of Thomas Paine.  What they offered up was a collection of selective complaints, some of which they have loudly supported when applied to those they don’t approve of.  For instance, the editorial board cheers on a global corporation like Facebook when it refuses service to those it disapproves of… but let some small-time baker do it and it becomes something to start a civil war over.  There’s no logic or balance to these guys.

For Tom Moran and his bunch, “freedom” is a subjective construct limited to people who they like.  If they don’t think you are a “good” person, as they define it, then they sincerely believe that you shouldn’t have “freedom”.  Heck, they don’t even believe you should have the right to speak or earn a living to sustain yourself.

They cry about ICE sending parents who break the law to one detention center and juveniles to another but ignore the fact that every jurisdiction in America does the same thing every day.  An ACLU study from 2017 shows that of the 219,000 women incarcerated in the United States – 80 percent are mothers.  And here is something even more shocking:  60 percent of the women behind bars in America have not been convicted of any crime but are simply awaiting trial.

Where is the outcry about separating them from their children?  Where are the rallies? 

The reason for their incarceration is the biggest threat to Freedom in America today:  Money.  Those women don’t have any or enough to count for anything in our judicial process… and so they rot in jail… separated from their children.

The NJ.com editorial board – part of a corporation owned by two of the richest billionaires in the world – conveniently left out how the accumulation of wealth and power serves to undermine and destroy democracy.  Sure, they quoted President Ronald Reagan (who they hated, by the way).  It was Reagan who reminded us that “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.”

Well, a recent Princeton University study concluded that America has already passed from being a democracy and is now in the ranks of oligarchy.  What?  You didn’t read about it in the Star-Ledger or any other of the organs owned by the oligarchs who the NJ.com editorial board work for?  There is only one battle worth fighting but Moran and his buddies dare not speak its name...

If you want to resist something… resist this! 

Of course, it has nothing to do with President Trump or any of the issues being pushed on us by NJ.com.  We’ve been on this trajectory for 40 years.  The oligarchs who own NJ.com want us to ignore what they’re up to.  They want to keep us fighting each other.

Their campaign of illusion and distraction – to pit working Americans against each other – is designed to keep their wealth and power secure.  Now they want to abolish ICE!  Isn’t it time we abolish the power they use to shout down democracy?

President Reagan reminded us that we don’t pass freedom down to our children through our bloodstream.  “It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”  The oligarchs who own NJ.com, the power they represent, and their ability to pervert democracy is an existential threat to freedom in America today.  We should reject the attempts to distract and divide us put forward by the amanuenses who do their bidding.

How Steve Oroho finished what Jay Webber started

In the Legislature, you can be a conservative in one of two ways... broadly speaking.  One way is to be a conscience, sit above it all, and vote accordingly.  You could not find a more perfect example of this than Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll, who negotiates the prickly halls of Trenton with a Zen assuredness.  He always knows the right thing to do... and he always does it.  Instead of the wilting figure of John McCann, the YR's and CR's could do no better than to adopt Assemblyman Carroll as their Sensei.

The other way is to wade into the muck in an attempt to climb aboard the ship of state and steer it in a more desirable direction.  Sometimes the engine isn't even working and you might need to get down into the boiler room -- knee deep in waste -- and grapple with the machinery of government, just to get it sputtering in some direction.

Assemblyman Jay Webber takes this course... to a point.  He seems well enough suited to steer, but when it comes to the engine room, he doesn't want to get his hands dirty.  That's where he differs from Senator Steve Oroho.  Oroho accepts that he will have to endure the heat and muck in order to get the machine running -- and he doesn't mind busting a knuckle or two while grabbling with a boiler wrench.

A prime example are their differing approaches to preventing the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) from going bankrupt and ending the Estate Tax.  Two very conservative causes.  The TTF, funded by a gas tax, was right out of the Reagan mantra of using user taxes to fund public infrastructure.  Those who use the roads should pay for them, said Reagan, no free rides!  While the death tax -- which is what an Estate Tax is -- has been identified by conservatives for years as the destroyer of small businesses and the ruination of family farms.

Jay Webber waded into the issue assuredly enough.  On October 14, 2014, the Star-Ledger published a column by the Assemblyman.  It's title was "Fixing transportation and taxes together."  Webber was writing about how to raise the gas tax to re-fund the nearly bankrupt TTF, while offsetting that tax increase with cuts to other taxes.  He zeroed in on the Estate Tax:

"NEW JERSEY leaders are grappling with three major problems: First, New Jersey has the worst tax burden in the nation. Two, New Jersey's economy suffers from sluggish growth. And third, our state's Transportation Trust Fund is out of money. There is a potential principled compromise that can help solve all of them.

Of the three problems, the Transportation Trust Fund has been getting the most attention lately, and for good reason: It's broke. There is just no money in it to maintain and improve our vital infrastructure. Without finding a solution, we risk watching our roads and bridges grow unsafe and unusable and hinder movement of people and goods throughout the state. That, of course, will exacerbate our state's slow economic growth.

...we should insist that if any tax is raised to restore the TTF, it be coupled with the elimination of a tax that is one of our state's biggest obstacles to economic growth: the death tax. By any measure, New Jersey is the most extreme outlier on the death tax, with worst-in-the-nation status...

New Jersey's death tax is not a concern for the wealthy alone, as many misperceive. We are one of only two states with both an estate and inheritance tax. New Jersey's estate-tax threshold of $675,000, combined with a tax rate as high as 16 percent, means that middle-class families with average-sized homes and small retirement savings are hit hard by the tax.

It also means the tax affects small businesses or family farms of virtually any size, discouraging investment and growth among our private-sector job creators. Compounding the inequity is that government already has taxed the assets subject to the death tax when the money was earned. Because of our onerous estate and inheritance taxes, Forbes magazine lists New Jersey as a place "Not to Die" in 2014.

That's a problem, and it's one our sister states are trying hard not to duplicate. A recent study by Connecticut determined that states with no estate tax created twice as many jobs and saw their economies grow 50 percent more than states with estate taxes. That research prompted Connecticut and many states to reform their death taxes. New York just lowered its death tax, and several other states have eliminated theirs.

The good news is that New Jersey's leaders finally are realizing that our confiscatory death tax is a big deal. A bipartisan coalition of legislators has shown its support for reforming New Jersey's death tax..."

Taking Webber's lead, Senator Steve Oroho got to work and began the painstakingly long process of negotiation with the majority Democrats.  Oroho was animated by the basic unfairness that New Jersey taxpayers were under-writing out-of-state drivers to the tune of a half-billion dollars a year.  He understood that if the TTF went bankrupt, the cost would flip to county and local governments... resulting in an average $500 property tax increase.  Oroho went to battle to prevent this disaster and even had to stand up to Governor Chris Christie, who wanted to end negotiations too soon and accept a weaker deal from the Democrats.

Unfortunately, Assemblyman Webber didn't stick with it.  When the time came for Jay Webber to be counted as part of that bipartisan coalition, he couldn't be counted on.  Jay got scared off by the lobbyist arm of the petroleum industry and what's worse is that he started attacking those who did what he advocated doing only a short time before. 

Remember that it was Webber who wrote these words in that column more than three years ago:  "Any gas-tax increase should be accompanied by measures that will help alleviate, or at least not increase, the overall tax burden on New Jerseyans." Jay Webber wrote those words, setting the direction.  Steve Oroho was left on his own to get the job done -- to do the negotiating.  The helmsman had abandoned the engineer. 

Webber said at the time that he believed the bipartisan tax restructuring package worked out by the legislative leaders (minus Senator Tom Kean Jr.) and the Governor would result in a net tax increase.  Oroho and others disagreed with him.  Webber is by all accounts a good lawyer, but Oroho is the numbers man.  He's a certified financial planner and CPA.  Before beginning his career of public service, Steve Oroho was a senior financial officer for S&P 500 companies like W. R. Grace and  Young & Rubicam.  It was this knowledge that enabled him to fashion the compromise that he did -- one that turned out to be the largest tax cut in New Jersey's history.

In the end, the Democrats' 40-cent increase on the gas tax was paired down to 23-cents.  The gas tax, the proceeds from which funds the TTF, had not been adjusted for inflation in 28 years, had not provided enough funding to cover annual operations in 25 years, and wasn't even bringing in enough money to pay the interest on the borrowing that was done to keep operations going (in 2015, the state collected just $750 million from the gas tax while incurring an annual debt cost of $1.1 billion).  Even so, Senator Oroho knew exactly where to draw the line... at the minimalist 23 cents and not the 40 cents the Democrats plausibly argued for.

In the end, the engineer got the job done.  Senator Steve Oroho emerged from the boiler room triumphant.  He ended the Estate Tax and secured tax cuts for retirees, veterans, small businesses, farmers, consumers, and low-income workers.  He secured property tax relief by doubling the TTF's local financial aid to towns and counties -- and prevented a $500 per household property tax hike.  He made out-of-state drivers pay for using New Jersey's roads -- and ensured that New Jerseyans will continue to have safe roads and bridges to drive on.

Oroho's tax cuts were praised by conservative groups like Americans for Tax Reform and conservative publications like Forbes, which called his tax cuts "one of the 5 best state and local tax policy changes in 2016 nationwide." 

That's getting something done.