Good grief, we need a reality check here.
From a woman who called him God outside of New Jersey, to two others who engaged him in near-shouting matches, Gov. Chris Christie faced a lively crowd today at a town hall meeting to discuss his agenda.Then there's the whiny teacher, who mysteriously came from Kearny over to Rutherford to badger Christie. I guess she had the day off.
The Republican governor was often interrupted for applause as he discussed his plans to curtail the growth of property taxes, and reiterated his opposition to a tax increase on millionaires. But he also got confrontational with some questioners, including a teacher who criticized the governor's focus on teacher pay.
Christie spoke to about 100 people inside a church in Rutherford, in the third of his town-hall meetings to push for a 2.5 percent annual limit on property tax increases, as well as reforms to hold down public employee costs. He said voters deserve the chance to decide, through constitutional amendment, to cap their taxes after politicians of both parties have failed to control them.
"You couldn't do any worse, having it in your hands," Christie said. He also received applause when he criticized a record-breaking Statehouse protest on Saturday, where 30,000 to 35,000 people -- most from public employee unions -- criticized his reforms, as well as his budget cuts to schools, towns, libraries, property tax rebates and other areas.
"That protest on Saturday was the special-interest, me first rally," Christie said, led by those who want their pay and benefits to come before other taxpayers' ability to pay.
"You are God outside of New Jersey," Clara Nibot, a 65-year-old from Bergenfield, told Christie. "Let New Jersey be affordable ... We are the silent majority that's learning to speak out."
She was followed at the microphone by Rita Wilson, an English teacher who lives in Kearny. Wilson told the governor she was one of the educators he criticized as having a "me, first" attitude, but she's making a smaller salary than she would as a baby-sitter.These teachers just are not going to find any sympathy sniveling like this. They're paid very well in this state and have extremely generous benefit, not to mention about 12 weeks vacation. Time for a reality check, people. We're all making do with less in this economy. Tell your sob story to someone who can't find a job, or has no benefits, or is paying $700 a month for health insurance. Griping about a pittance of 1.5% just comes off as being spoiled. The idea she would make more money as a baby-sitter is absurd. How many baby-sitters get the entire summer off and pay nothing towards handsome benefits? Naturally, the reporter doesn't bother to question any of this.
"I'm not a rabble-rouser. I'm a simple English teacher," whose students perform well, Wilson said. "I work really hard."
Wilson said she used the babysitter example to make a point as Christie has pressured teachers to take a one-year wage freeze and contribute at least 1.5 percent of their salary toward health benefits. She and Christie then testily talked over each other for several questions and answers.
"You know what, you don't have to do it," Christie said.
"Teachers do it because they love it," Wilson told him.
The governor said in a time of "economic crisis," teachers and their main union -- the powerful New Jersey Education Association -- should be willing to take the freeze.
After the 90-minute session, Christie said he welcomed the "spirited exchange."