The Elizabeth NJ school budget was defeated yesterday, Yes 1,607,
No 1,808. More voters turned out in adjacent town Union NJ, which has half the population, & nearly as many in Linden, which has one-third. We had four candidates for three Board of Ed positions. The BoE, though nonpartisan, is in effect controlled by the local opposition to the Elizabeth/Union County regular Democratic organization, which holds city Hall & County government. So one might expect a full slate of alternative candidates & more debate. Instead, we got a mailing from the mayor advising us to vote "no." Beginning a few months ago, we began recieiving a series of slick brochures & flyers from the BoE telling us how good the system is. Certainly, many of the schools look swell. There's a brand new grammar school around the corner constructed at state expense. We have a "Ronald Reagan Academy" & a bunch of other academies. But the test scores & rankings, easily available from several online sources, tell us Elizabeth has a typical urban school system, half as good as the small, no frills system in the town of Roselle Park on the western border, better overall than Newark & probably safer. None of the mailings informed us how many staff positions would be cut or in what areas. In a crucial year, with a budget heavily dependent on state aid, the election here generated little public interest. But we're projected to lose 4.5% in state aid. Union County's suburban towns are taking the biggest hits & facing huge property tax hikes. Chalk it up as a small victory for Mayor J. Christian Bollwage. The disputes between the Mayor & The BoE centered mostly on where our new state-mandated & financed schools would be built, & that of course raised questions of who might profit from the land deals & construction contracts, & such matters generally don't interest me, as I fail to see the point of getting involved in urban politics in Jersey if you're not trying to leverage some advantage, even if it's just a a clerical job for a relative in a cubicle in some obscure city agency.
Oh yeah, we like Ike.