BY MARTIN MARKS
I suppose one of the worst labels one can be burdened with in life and especially in politics is that of “hypocrite”. The latest politician to assume this ignominious mantle is none other than Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D-Fanwood), who in her recent rant against Governor Chris Christie’s conditional veto of a Democrat-sponsored civil service reform bill, left herself exposed to some well deserved criticism.
Ms. Stender used the children’s fairy tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes” as a metaphor to attack our governor’s vigorous campaign to reform New Jersey government. How dare he veto this bill when he has been touting civil service reform as an integral part of his government reform package? She claimed, “The changes we made to our civil service system were designed to create a more flexible and open system while protecting the public from corruption and patronage.”
Perhaps she should have better used the magic mirror employed by the wicked queen in the story of “Snow White” to understand that she is neither the fairest nor the most honest in the land.
Governor Christie exercised his conditional veto on the Democrat legislation because as he put it, the legislation failed to include “the critically needed opt-out and furlough options” for local governments. He went on to say, “This bill (A-3590) represents tepid, ineffective and meaningless change. I proposed real reform which would give local officials another tool to constrain property taxes. The Legislature has sent me special interest approved ‘reform’ that will do nothing to constrain property taxes. The time for real reform of civil service is overdue. I cannot and will not sign this bill in this form.”
So, Assemblywoman Stender in her diatribe presented only part of the picture in an attempt to put one over on the public. But, it’s worse. Consider the following:
· Linda Stender is a long-time politician. She served on the Fanwood Borough Council from 1988-90 and then as Fanwood’s Mayor from 1992-95. Fanwood was not a civil service municipality then nor is it now. If civil service participation is such an important tool to prevent corruption and patronage why didn’t Councilwoman Stender or Mayor Stender advocate for it in her community?
· Patronage? Honestly, Mrs. Stender! After being elected as Assemblywoman in 2001, Linda Stender was hired to a $60,000+ pension padding job as a “volunteer coordinator” by the same Union County government she had just left as an elected freeholder. She later became Runnells Hospital Foundation Director at a taxpayer-funded salary of over $72,000, for a non-profit organization that apparently never raised over $10,000 during her stewardship.
· Patronage? Puh-lease, Mrs. Stender! In 2009 Mrs. Stender wrangled behind the scenes with the Corzine Administration for a $ix figure position with the NJ Board of Public Utilities. Fortunately, Union County Senator Tom Kean, Jr. blocked this patronage appointment because the candidate simply wasn’t qualified.
In her ten years in the General Assembly, Linda Stender has been a reliable vote for both the McGreevey and Corzine Administrations. Her votes have led directly to more than $6 Billion in tax and fee increases that have crushed the state economy, caused businesses to flee the state, and led to untold thousands of job losses. Now that we finally have a governor in office willing to take on the special interests that have led to New Jersey’s economic fiasco, hypocritical Assemblywoman Linda Stender wants us to believe that the “emperor has no clothes”?
Mirror, mirror, Mrs. Stender. Mirror, mirror.
Martin Marks is a former Mayor of Scotch Plains. Mr. Marks was a candidate for the State Assembly in 2009, running the closest race of any Republican challenger to incumbent Democratic members of the State Assembly in Legislative District 22.