By Dominick Marino
A recent news article entitled “From jeers to cheers: Gov. Christie suddenly applauded by N.J. firemen’s group,” that ran September 14 is deeply misleading. The story leads readers to believe that all firefighters support the governor. That is false.
Firefighters represented by the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey strongly disagree with the governor’s agenda and his decisions because they threaten public safety.
The governor failed to take advantage of a federal grant program that would improve public safety and create jobs.
While the governor argues forcefully that he is doing what’s best for New Jersey residents, the reality is that he continues to do what’s best for himself, using his so-called reforms to promote himself on a national stage.
He also is spreading misinformation.
In his speech last week, the governor took credit for the improved funding level of the Police and Firemen Retirement System in New Jersey. But the reason the PFRS pension fund is doing better is because local municipalities are finally meeting their financial obligations and paying what they are required to pay into the system – just as the firefighters in this state have always done.
He also inferred that when the state pension funds reach 80 percent a state-established board of government officials and firefighters can vote to raise annual cost of living adjustments to pensions. While that’s technically possible – and would be a welcome change – it has not happened, and benefits won’t increase until harsh restrictions on the state board are loosened.
The governor shouldn’t take credit for something he didn’t do, but that hasn’t stopped him in the past. Once again, the governor’s statements need careful fact-checking. Once again, his credibility has been damaged because he has climbed atop his bully pulpit to spread falsehoods.
He is not our state’s savior. He is merely a politician angling for his next job in public office – and he has a public employee pension, too.
Rather than constantly oppose public employees or hammer away at our rights and benefits, the governor should sit down with us to discuss public safety and the wages, rights and benefits of those sworn to protect communities throughout our state. But to this day the governor still has not met with the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey.
And that’s no lie.
The author is the president of the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey