Wildwood Crest Office:
Phone: (609) 729-8505
Email: Email Us
Add your email to receive our seasonal newsletter.
The winter of 2014 got off to a chilly start, with a couple five day stretches of sub-freezing temperatures day and night in January sandwiched around a snow storm that left 4" of snow on the barrier islands of Cape May County and 8" inland.
We're already casting a wishful eye toward March 1st, when temperatures moderate and the daylight gets longer. And yes, we find ourselves daydreaming about tropical islands, palm trees, and pina coladas on a Caribbean beach.
We don't usually delve into state politics at length in this newsletter, but the ongoing "Bridgegate" controversy is too much to resist. This incident is reminiscent of a few experiences of our youth when some kid finally stood up to the schoolyard bully and in the ensuing fisticuffs the bully got bloodied and was defeated. No one lived in fear of the bully anymore.
In case you haven't been following Bridgegate, the episode concerns four days of lane closures on the George Washington Bridge back in early September, 2013. An August email memo from Governor Chris Christie's trusted inner circle to the NJ-NY Port Authority called for "traffic problems in Ft. Lee". Ft. Lee is the town at the NJ end of the GWB, and the reduction of traffic at that entrance from three lanes to one headed toward Manhattan caused massive backups beginning on the first day of school.
The fallout built to a head in January, following two staff firings by Christie. In response to mounting criticism, Christie declared "I'm no bully". Bridgegate, which was apparently retribution for the Ft. Lee mayor's lack of endorsing Christie's gubernatorial campaign and the traffic snarl was meant to hinder the new $1 billion redevelopment project in Ft. Lee that benefited from the three lanes.
Christie claimed no knowledge of what his aides had done, but those familiar with his style of micro-managing every facet of his staff's operations and actions find that implausible.
What makes the incident of national importance is that Christie is the front-runner for the Republican nomination for president in 2016. Many see his bullying and revenge characteristics as disqualifying him as a serious candidate. Let's look at some Christie history, then you decide.
When Christie first ran for governor in 2009, New Jersey public television (NJN) exposed that Christie, then NJ's Federal Prosecuting Attorney, had lent $46,000 to the person who became No.2 in the AG office once he resigned to run for governor. He did not declare the loan on his federal or state taxes, a violation, plus loaning money to the person that would be in charge of overseeing his administration was a questionable conflict of interest.
Christie privately swore revenge on NJN, the only unbiased TV station in the NJ market. In 2011, Christie got even. With a $7 million deal to have Montclair State University take over NJN on the horizon, Christie gave their license to WNET in New York. NJ no longer had its own public television station. The watchdog of Trenton politics had been silenced.
As Bridgegate gained momentum in early 2014, the mayor of Hoboken came forward with allegations that Christie's lieutenant governor had taken her aside and said that the city receiving Sandy rehab funding was contingent on the mayor approving a certain development by the NY Rockefeller group. The mayor declined. The city didn't get the funds.
As winter progresses, we expect more accusations of Christie strong arm tactics to surface. Those once silent are finally standing up to the bully.
Whether Christie is directly implicated in these incidents or he can continue to claim no knowledge is irrelevant. Outspoken state governors are a novelty - ask Minnesota's Jesse Ventura - but they are like cartoon caricatures. They can never represent America on the world stage. Their style is way too abrasive.
LOWER TWP ASSESSMENT
With property assessments projected at nearly 115% of value at the end of 2013, Lower Township did an in-house property reassessment. Nearly 300 tax appeals per year were making an unlevel playing field.
The new reassessment, begun in June, has brought the township's overall ratable base down a half billion dollars, from $4.1 billion down to 3.6. That, of course, will require the tax rate to go up to make up the deficiency. In Diamond Beach, where assessments dropped about 5%, the ratable drop of 12% means that those property owners will most likely be saddled with a slightly larger tax bill.
The good news is that the reassessment work was performed by the assessor's office, holding the cost to $250,000 instead of the $1 million it costs to contract the work to a private firm.
WILDWOOD BEACH BAR
The City of Wildwood has opened the door to accept bids on a bar at the beach between Montgomery and Burk Avenues. Reportedly there are several interested parties and a liquor license is available as four are currently not in use. City officials hope to have the seasonal bar in operation by Memorial Weekend.
BL ENGLAND PIPELINE
In a surprise move, the Pinelands Commission did not approve the 15 mile gas pipeline from Cumberland County to the Upper Twp power plant, which wanted to convert from coal to natural gas. It's time to dismantle that dinosaur and convert to wind, solar and tidal power.
JEWELL REAL ESTATE AGENCY
We love to talk about real estate and our island. We're always glad to share our insights, observations, and visions with you.
Stop by our office at 5602 New Jersey Avenue and chat. Or give Joyce or Douglas a call at 609-729-8505. We answer phones 6am to 9pm EVERYDAY and you always get a real, live person. That's service!