Another Jersey (Northeast) Extinction


The Northeast (Soprano) Way Takes out Another Public Benefit


The cultural pearl of Red Bank, New Jersey announced that their Independence Day fireworks display, around for more than 50 years, is canceled for 2012 because the event has become too large and expensive.

Organizers said the annual show has been costing more and more for security and other expenses. This year, security and insurance costs were set to increase, and some major backers told organizers that they couldn’t maintain their level of funding. Additionally, the borough has other related expenses, such as an average of 10 lawsuits filed annually after the event in which Red Bank is named as a defendant. “There are incidents with private citizens [charging] the municipality with not controlling the [event] and [Red Bank has] to defend against it,” the Red Bank mayor said.

Whether people want to admit it or not, this is the modus operandi in the Northeast; everyone look out out for their immediate parochial interests regardless of how it affects others or themselves in the long term.

It’s not hard to imagine that security (read: police) for this event get compensation that is well above and beyond their standard rate, which is rich in this state to begin with (median police pay is $94,000/annum). The lion’s share of the expense, fireworks, is probably charged at top dollar by the supplier, the famed Grucci Brothers of Long Island. After all, Red Bank, in the middle of rich Monmouth County, has the money, right? And there has got to be other smaller hands in the till that claim entitlement to exacting their tithes for the fireworks bonanza. Consequently, there were not enough “tits for the pigs,” to borrow a Lincoln phrase, so the entire show is cancelled.

This is commensurate with other New York metropolitan, and Northeast, fiascoes.

It has been recently reported that rising New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority pension and health-care costs will absorb most of the $900 million generated by planned fare and toll increases in 2013 and 2015. The MTA’s director of government affairs, Hilary Ring, testifying before the City Council’s Transportation Committee, said the planned hikes on subway and bus fares and bridge and tunnel tolls wouldn’t likely be sufficient to allow for new improvements in the system or to restore some of the bus and subway routes eliminated during the budget crunch of 2010.

So commuters will be paying higher fares so that MTA workers will have comfortable retirements in Florida and Arizona, amongst other non-Northeastern locales.

I’ve predicted for a while that we are approaching the day where a commuter will pay the fare and walk through the turn-style only to be told to exit as the core service (subway, bus, etc.) cannot be provided because the fare is being put towards worker benefits.

But as stated with the Grucci Brothers above, the gouge mentality is not limited to government worker union leaders; private industry also bellies up to the trough.

Remember the proposed Hudson tunnel project that would’ve increased sorely-needed train capacity between New York and New Jersey? Governor Christie wisely scuttled the project as he foresaw that the inevitable cost “over-runs” would have created a burden on New Jersey that it could not afford. Cost over-runs are generally costs that are not included in the original bid so that the bidder can win, or project promoter can see initiated the realization of, the project. Again, a situation in which interested parties grab as much as they think they can without any regard for anything else.

The lesson from all of this is that as everyone grabs and paws at everything they can, there becomes less and less of such. Put another way, the adage that a half a loaf is better than none is true.

-I.M. Windee

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