NJ Teachers Union Head Tries Out For "Funny or Die"; Is Neither


A New Jersey teachers union is coming under fire after an internal memo included a veiled threat to Gov. Chris Christie. The leaked memo, which was sent to union leaders in the New Jersey Education Association's Bergen County division, contains a closing paragraph written in the form of a prayer.

"Dear Lord," the letter reads. "This year you have taken away my favorite actor, Patrick Swayze, my favorite actress, Farrah Fawcett, my favorite singer, Michael Jackson, and my favorite salesman, Billy Mays. I just wanted to let you know that Chris Christie is my favorite governor."

Bergen County Education Association President Joe Coppola said the memo was confidential and the line was intended as a joke.

"It was inappropriate, it was in bad taste, and it was definitely in poor judgment," Coppola said.

As a Garden State native who has not lived with nose-range of the glorious fish factory in Belford or the sewage-treatment plant in North Middletown (nee East Keansburg) adjacent to Ideal Beach in nigh on 25 years, all I can say is…well, a whiff of partly processed fish and sewage on particular sort of humid overcast day is my madeleine cookie, triggering memories long feared (or is it hoped?) forgotten…

Where was I? Oh yeah: Why is it news when a union boss makes a funny about killing a politician? Have we become that sensitive, that P.C. in America? Mebbe, mebbe not. But this much seems certain. The CNN article clipped above goes on to add:

The incident comes as Christie and the New Jersey Education Association are entrenched in a bitter struggle over funding for New Jersey's school system.

Seeking to address an $11 billion budget deficit, Christie, a Republican who was elected in November, has proposed severe cuts to the state's education system, with teachers being hit especially hard.

More here.

Do you want to know CNN's definition of "severe cuts" that hit teachers "especially hard"? The governor has proposed $820 million in cuts to school aid and he has proposed that school districts that freeze wages for one year:

If school employees forgo pay raises, the state does not have to pay the federal Social Security and Medicare taxes those hikes would have generated. Those taxes were calculated in Gov. Chris Christie's fiscal 2011 budget. Today, the governor said those savings will be given to the districts to help mitigate sharp aid cuts in his budget…. The Christie administration estimates that if New Jersey's 591 operating school districts save $500 million by freezing wages, the state will send $38.25 million back to them in school aid. The state pays the employer's portion of Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes. For Social Security, that amounts to 6.2 percent up to $106,800; for Medicare it's 1.45 percent, with no cap.

As the Wall Street Journal notes, over the 2000s, student enrollment grew by 4 percent in New Jersey while total school hiring is up 14 percent. New Jersey, which boasts the highest tax burden in the country, is looking at a $10 billion deficit.