At times reading the news, one has the impresion that New Jersey is the home of “double dipping” – the process by which an individual has two government jobs simultaneously and therefore collects benefits commensurate with two positions, or retires from one public job, starts collecting a pension and immediately begins a second public job. Of course, North Bergen in NJCU’s own county of Hudson has a triple-dippper – Nicholas Sacco. (Please read this Star-Ledger Editorial Board recent piece – Time to end double-dipping by N.J. public employees.) Well, we are not alone; this situation plagues every state and here is a database compiling the various laws dealing with this odious practice. Additional writings on this embedded tradition in New Jersey include: Ethical First Step: Ban Double Dipping (Hall Institute); Meet the Biggest “Triple Dipper’ in the New Jersey Statehouse (along with a list of 15 current legislators also collecting state pensions as well as other ‘double dipping” reports; from New Jersey Watchdog); Gov. Christie’s pension issue: N.J. probe looks at running mate, double-dipping (MSNBC); and N.J.legislators discuss “double-dipping” of pension and salary, reforms to public pension system (nj.com) And while the highly-touted pension reform legislation became law – P.L. 2011, chapter 78 - it did little to stop these egregious abuses. Here is an article from The Wall Street Journal: State Politicians and the Public Pension Cookie Jar in which New Jersey is featured, along with other states.
Archive for May, 2012
The proposed contract is still being voted upon; here are some of the highlights along with a supporting letter from the CWA Executive Branch.
During Summer I (May 29-July 2) and Summer II (July 9-August 9), the Library will be open Sunday, 11am-4:45pm; Monday thru Thursday, 7:30am-8:45pm. We will be open 8am-5pm on July 2,3, 5; and August 13-16, 20-23. The Library then begins a weekday schedule of 8:30-4:30 until the beginning of the Fall semester – Tuesday, September 4. (The Library is closed for Labor Day, Monday, September 3.)
The following CRS documents shed more light on the operations of Congress: Congressional Careers: Service Tenure and Patterns of Member Service, 1789-2011; Members of Congress Who Die in Office: Historic and Current Practices; Congressional Salaries and Allowances 2012; Use of the Capitol Rotunda and Capitol Grounds ; and Legislative Branch Agency Appointments: History, Processes, and Recent Proposals.
The Condition of Education is an annual publication replete with current statistics that examine the various levels of education in this country. “This year’s report presents 49 indicators of important developments and trends in U.S. education. These indicators focus on participation in education, elementary and secondary education and outcomes, and postsecondary education and outcomes. The report also uses a group of the indicators to take a closer look at high school in the United States over the last twenty years.” (iii) Dozens of figures and tables range from “Distance Education in Public Schools”(44) to “Education Expenditure by Country” (60) to “Faculty Salaries, Benefits, and Total Compensation”(106). Culled from a variety of sources, this yearly report is a treasure trove of information.
This important report from the Congressional Research Service – Understanding China’s Political System - goes into detail on what institutional bodies/entities control the politics in China. Central players are profiled and their roles defined; i.e. The People’s Liberation Army, the Communist Party, the State, big business, and universities. In less than forty pages, an understanding of this country’s vast political system becomes a little clearer. Other great sites include: Council on Foreign Relations: China (with an interactive timeline on U.S.-China relations); Chatham House: China; Brookings Institute. John L Thornton China Center (with an ongoing series of biographies of future Politburo members along with side links to other biographical sources); and Strategic Studies Institute: China Studies (a vast array of online books and reports).
Given that the United States seems incapable of securing equal rights for women in its governing documents (read this informative overview , consult this timeline, and read the Declaration of Sentiments), do not be surprised that we did not make this list from the Law Library of Congress. But Angola made the list, as did Turkey, Albania, and Macedonia to name a few. Each of the countries has equality or non-discrimination provisions built into its constitution; many have both types of provisions spelled out. Every year, the Equal Rights Amendment is re-introduced to Congress; the last time in 2011, it was sponsored by New Jersey’s own Senator Robert Menendez.
It was announced yesterday that school districts that meet certain criteria will be eligible to compete for $400 million in grants. The deadline for application is the end of October with a December release of the winning districts. The draft executive summary and related materials are online with public comments open until June 8. EdWeek has a very useful analysis; NJ Spotlight highlights Newark’s intention to apply; and The New York Times has an overview with numerous links.
The 2012 edition of the Little Green Data Book from World Bank provides an overview of the environmental conditions for every country in the world. This year’s edition has as its focus the ocean and what impact environmental degradations have on it and the implications of such actions. This volume presents the information in several ways: individual country profiles, regional analyses, and income groupings. The data include, among others: forests and biodiversity (including deforestation and threatened species); energy and emissions (including the per capita amount of CO2 emissions); and water and sanitation. Older volumes back to 2001 are here. Other sources of similar information include Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index and the CIA’s World Factbook (under the Geography section). And do not forget this 2010 article: Evaluating the Relative Environmental Impact of Countries.
When your Congressperson tells you that he/she is just like you, is that true? This new report from CRS – Representatives and Senators: Trends in Member Characteristics Since 1945 – examines the correlation between Congressional demographic statistics and U.S. figures over time. Selected Congresses are looked at through the lenses of race, education, religious affiliation, military service, etc. and then compared against the U.S. population as a whole. For example, in 1945, 24.1% of the American population had a high school diploma, while 75.7% of the House and 85.4% of the Senate had graduated high school. The figures are even more telling for college degrees: 4.6% of the general population had college degrees in 1945, while the House had 56% and the Senate had 75% of their members with degrees. These differences for both high school and college completion rates still exist today, even if the gaps have narrowed. Similar examinations are conducted with regards to various other characteristics, all accompanied by charts and footnotes.
Europe in Figures is the title of the Eurostat Yearbook, an annual publication that presents in chapter format a vast array of facts and figures on the European Union. From economy and finance through living conditions and social protection, this volume for 2012 (the 16th edition) presents updated statistical information more current than its printed counterpart. Each chapter is replete with figures, tables, and links. Not only are the EU countries represented but so are candidate countries as well as the United States and Japan for comparative purposes.
France has a new president by the name of Francois Hollande; Russia has re-installed Vladimir Putin as president; Ratko Mladic goes on trial for mass murder; and Abdrabbuh Hadi is the newly appointed president of Yemen. Where does one find accurate information on these people? A place to start with is the BBC News site that has a search box in which you can find biographical information by the simple expedient of typing “profile” along with the person’s name; for example, typing “profile Francois Hollande” will retrieve this biography along with other valuable links. Hundreds of valuable portraits are contained here. Another place to mine in the BBC is its Country Profiles section where you will find not only biographical information on the leaders of every country and selected NGOs, but you will also find overviews and media outlets for each entity. Times Topics People provides thousands of biographical profiles along with free access to relevant NY Times articles as well as links to outside sources. For example, here are Hadi’s entry, Mladic’s profile, and Putin’s biography. So whether you are looking for information on the president of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapaksa or Alekandr Lukashenko of Belarus, using either or both of these sources will yield satisfying results.
Almost 100 photos are available courtesy of The Star-Ledger.
Fully 21% of New Jersey’s population was born outside the United States, among the highest of the states, trailing only California and New York; the national number is 13%. This information and much more is found in The Foreign-Born Population of the United States: 2010 from the Census Bureau. “The report also examines differences among foreign-born region-of- birth groups on a wide range of topics that include age, sex, marital status, fertility, period of entry into the United States, naturalization and citizenship status, language, education, labor force participation, occupation, health insurance coverage, income and poverty.” Other recent Census Bureau reports include: The Foreign Born With Science and Engineering Degrees: 2010; Newly Arrived Foreign-Born Population of the United States: 2010; The Foreign Born From Latin America and the Caribbean:2010. Many more statistics are at the Current Population Survey 20110: Foreign Born section that includes almost 70 detailed tables.
From 1920 to 1924, Ernest Hemingway worked as a newspaper columnist for the Toronto Star; he wrote 191 articles for them of which 70 are now available online for free. (More are promised.) The Hemingway Papers are divided into several categories such as “vice.” “war,” and ‘sports.” There are also articles describing his work at the newspaper. Of particular local note is the article on the world heavyweight boxing match between Jack Dempsey and Georges Carpentier that took place at Boyle’s Thirty Acres in Jersey City on July 2, 1921. It was the first fight that generated a million dollars in revenue.
The video is provided courtesy of ABC News as is the transcript of the interview. Local reaction, including from former Governor Jim McGreevey, can be found in this Star-Ledger article. Additional local feedback, including how this affects Governor Christie’s own stance on this subject, is at this Bergen Record article. And PoliFact New Jersey , NJ 101.5 and Politicker NJ offer more. Several CRS reports may prove useful: Federal Employee Benefits and Same-Sex Partnerships (January 2010); Same-Sex Marriages: Legal Issues(May 2012); and The Effect of State-Legalized Same-Sex Marriage on Social Security Benefits and Pensions (January 2008). The National Conference of State Legislatures features Defining Marriage: Defense of Marriage Acts and Same-Sex Marriage Laws that contains a history and overview along with: Same-sex marriage timeline provides a chronological account of significant events related to same-sex marriage since 2003; Civil unions and Domestic Partnerships Summary provides information and links to laws in states that allow civil unions or domestic partnerships; and states offering benefits to same-sex partners of state employees.
The National Healthcare Disparities Report and National Healthcare Quality Report measure the quality of health care and access to health care for various racial, ethnic, and income groups and other priority populations, such as residents of rural areas and people with disabilities. New topics added this year include care coordination and health system infrastructure. Presented in chart and tabular format, these indicators show very clearly the wide gulf of health care access and provision of services along socioeconomic lines as well as among other demarcations.
U.S. News and World Report has just issued its Best High Schools in the US list; more than 21,000 high schools were examined. Of all the schools garnering recognition (4300), New Jersey had 82. Schools are ranked both nationally and by state. The New Jersey section presents a very brief overall of education in the state before proceeding to list the 82 ranked schools in the state; Jersey City’s McNair Academic High School is ranked #3 in the state and #78 nationally while Liberty High School is “recognized nationally.” You also have the ability to filter schools by their type: charter, magnet, or public. Under the “charter” selection will be found NJCU’s University Academy. All schools on the list have a profile including the makeup of the student body and reported test scores. You can also search by individual school. The methodology employed is explained here. EdWeek has an informative summary.
According to this article – Obesity and Severe Obesity Forecasts Through 2030 - that was just published, if obesity projections continue as they are, 51% of Americans will be obese by 2030. The consequences for the healthcare system will be severe if this trend continues unabated; as it is, health expenditures directly related to obesity are now a drain on the system. A couple of revelations in this report (and really counter-intuitive), are the facts that those with a college education and those whose household incomes are over $50,000 have shown the most dranmatic increases in obesity rates since 1990. This newly-published book from the Institute of Medicine – Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention: Solving the Weight of the Nation- should be consulted as well as the Weight on the Nation project page.