Archive for February, 2010

Wealthiest Cities in the Country

Portfolio.com has reviewed the results of the American Community Survey for 2008 and has listed the country’s 420 wealthiest cities. The top city is Newport Beach, CA while Reading, PA brings up the rear. This interactive map will assist you. Representing New Jersey are Edison and Newark.

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New Jersey Underfunds Pensions

A new report from the Pew Foundation – Trillion Dollar Gap – examines the parlous state of pension funds. $3.35 trillion is necessary to fund current obligations, but the funds only contain $2.35 trillion. According to this report, New Jersey has seriously underfunded its pension plans and the report rates New Jersey as one of eight states “…having failed to make any meaningful progress toward adequately funding their pension obligations.(p.12) On p.25, there is a special section on New Jersey outlining the state’s decline in annual contributions: “…the state never exceeded 30 percent of the required contribution.” Additional information can be found at: States Sink in Benefits Hole (Wall Street Journal), US States Face Wide Gap in Benefits Funding (Financial Times), States Short $1 Trillion to Fund Retiree Benefits (CNN), and Eight States Have Shortchanged Pensions (New York Times). A one-page fact sheet on New Jersey is here.

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Text of Pension, Sick Leave, and Health Benefit Bills Introduced in New Jersey

Much press has been made of late of four bills introduced into the State Senate which would modify existing penion, sick leave, and health benefits policies. Herewith are the full texts with some highlights: SCR1 requires the State to pay into the pension funds; S2 changes the pension eligibility by restricting pension benefits at the state level to those who work a 35-hour work week and at the local level to those who work a 32-hour work week; S3 requires all state, school, and local employees to contribute 1.5% of their salary to their healthcare plans; and $4 caps sick leave payout at $15,000. Some relevant information can be accessed at History and Future of New Jersey Pensions, a December 2008 report put out by the Hall Institute of Public Policy; Public Employees Benefit Reform (2006 Special Session Joint Legislative Committee); State of New Jersey: Postemployment Benefits(Aon, 2007);  With Gov. Chris Christie Targeting Benefits, Some N.J. Public Workers Consider Retirement (Star-Ledger); and Lawmakers Unveil State Pension Reform Plan (NJ Today).

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2009 New Jersey School Report Cards

Want to see how well your school is performing against others in the same district? In the state? How many students are considered proficient or advanced after taking the HSPA? How many AP students there are? SAT results? Dropout rates? Average faculty salaries? These and other questions are answered in this year’s New Jersey School Report Card. Past reports can be accessed as well.

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Governor Christie’s “State of Financial Crisis” Speech

With so many of us either digging out or hunkering down because of the snow, Governor Christie’s speech may have escaped us. You can watch a video of the speech as well as read the transcript of his utterances. This, is combination with his Executive Order No.14, does not bode well for higher education. Please read this informative section from The Star-Ledger which also contains an FAQ.  Additional reportage is available: “NJ Schools, Colleges Brace for State Aid Cuts.”

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New Jerseyans in the 2010 Winter Olympics

Representing New Jersey (along with their biographies and career accomplishments), we have: Chris Burgress (bobsled, Glen Gardner); Jazmine Fenlator (bobsled, Wayne); Bobby Ryan (hockey, Cherry Hill);  and Kyle Tress (bobled, Ewing). Profiles of all the USA Olympians are contained here, and you can limit to a specific sport; i.e., curling, etc.

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The Blizzard of 1888

The headlines from the March 13, 1888 issue of The New York  Sun say it all: “Blizzard Was King.”” Fifty Train Loads of Passengers Stuck on the Main Lines – Where They Are, Heaven Knows.” Such was the ferocity of the Blizzard of 1888 or as it is also called, The Great White Hurricane. Descending on the New York area, an area which had been so warm in previous days that people were out on picnics, this storm dropped 40-50 inches of snow between March 11 and the 14th.  As NOAA labels this, it was “The blizzard by which all others are measured.”  It took the New York environs fully two weeks to recover from this disaster and led directly to the building of the underground subway system as well as putting all electric/telegraph cables below street level. A great site to re-visit this calamity is the Virtual New York Blizzard of 1888 site which contains excellent essays as well as “Stories and Memories of the Blizzard.” Infoplease has an informative essay on “The Great White Hurricane.”  NOAA has images of The Great Blizzard of March 12, 1888 , and there is a well-produced image slideshow on YouTube. Other sites worth visiting: a collection of  New York Times articles from 1888;  “Recalling the Blizzard of 1888” from the 1998 NYT; “The Blizzard and the Telegraph” from the April 1888 issue of Manufacturer and Builder; “With a Bang: Not a Whimper: The Winter of 1887-1888“(which details the whole winter season throughout the country, including the Schoolchildren’s Blizzard);  and New York in the Blizzard: Being an Authentic and Comprehensive Recital…, which is an 1888 compilation of articles first appearing in The New York Sun.

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