Letters: More Local Candidates Should Run for Office, Gov. Christie Right to Remove NJ from RGGI

Woodbridge Willing to Run for Mayor, Hopes More Candidates Run for Local Office

Dear Editor:

The Princeton Packet editorial entitled “Wanted: Candidates for Mayor” (Feb. 3, 2012) lamented the lack of candidates for mayor and expressed the hope that the only declared candidate “…won’t be the last” as if asking – why aren’t there more candidates?  A little hard reflection reveals why there aren’t more candidates.

First, the new mayor of the consolidated Princetons will have a full time job.  When I was mayor of the Township the position averaged 5.5 hour per day. If that is added on top of responsibilities for the Borough and throw in the extra problems inherent in the transition period it is clear that the new mayor will have to average 9 – 10 hours a day on the job. It isn’t humanly possible to hold a job, even a part time job, and perform the new mayor’s duties properly.

Second, the new mayor will have to preside over a difficult form of government.  It is no secret that the old fashioned Mayor / Council form of government is less efficient than the Township Committee form. The Borough always takes 50% more time and effort to do the same tasks as the Township Committee.  As a former Borough Council President I know we went further into the night than the Township Committee dealing with exactly the same issues. It has nothing to do with the individuals elected, who were all smart, hard-working people. It had, instead, everything to do with the fact that the Borough Council is seven people and the Township Committee is five people. A group of five dedicated people can always get more done than a group of seven dedicated people. The fact that the Borough form of government is a “Weak Mayor / Strong Council “ means that the Borough  Mayor isn’t always in sync with the Council – that hurts effectiveness too.

Third, the pool of potential candidates is relatively small. Neither the Borough nor the Township has elected a Republican or Independent (or a Green Party or a Tea Party) candidate for a full generation. As the editorial pointed out “We think that a community the size of Princeton should have a non-partisan election…”  The Consolidation Study Commission missed the boat when it didn’t follow the lead of Trenton and West Windsor in moving to non-partisan elections.  Trenton and West Windsor may have their issues but at least they are politically diverse.

The last line of the editorial stated that “… we hope to hear where other potential mayors would lead too.” I have been asked by several friends on both sides of the political isle to consider running again for mayor. To get the ball rolling, I would be willing to run for the transition term as mayor. If you think it is a good idea (or a bad idea) please share your thoughts at rcwoodbridge@yahoo.com.  Regardless, I hope that more candidates jump into the race for Mayor and Council and give Princeton some meaningful choices – and maybe even a fun and interesting campaign- this fall.

Richard C. Woodbridge

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Does Little to Protect Natural Resources

The New Jersey State Legislature is currently considering a bill that would re-enter our state into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).   If it passes, the result would be more businesses leaving the Garden State in droves causing severe economic harm.   It’s a proposal that must be defeated if New Jersey businesses and families are to succeed in today’s economic climate.

The program, though touted as environmental legislation, does little to protect our natural resources. New Jersey’s participation would establish a CO2 budget trading program, which would serve as an auction for carbon emission credits. Over time, as with all supply-and-demand systems, the available carbon allowances are reduced in such a way as to drive prices astronomically high, forcing energy companies to either increase consumer fees, cut costs in workforce and investment, or both. The money from these auctions will then be given to so-called “green energy” companies, for the purpose of developing alternative sources of energy.   Of course, we’ve already seen the government track record on those investments; Solyndra, Evergreen and SpectraWatt just to name a few of the notable failures.

Beyond the disastrous economic impact, at a time when we are starting to see recovery, there’s an irony surrounding the RGGI program making it effectively obsolete from an environmental standpoint. The stated goal of the initiative is a 10 percent reduction in greenhouse gases within participating states by 2018. However, over the past few years, a combination of market forces and cooler summers have reduced emissions in RGGI states by 30 percent, a number three times greater, and a time-span six years sooner, than their stated goal. Nevertheless, the political forces behind RGGI have not simply declared victory, as you would expect if environmental protection was truly their desired outcome.  This effort is nothing more than a brazen attempt to shut down the American coal industry while continuing the corporatism of green energy companies, who are now dependent on government money in their futile attempt to compete in the private market.

RGGI also comes with a hefty price tag for all of us. A recent study showed that consumer energy prices rose in RGGI states, at a time that people could ill-afford them. The end result is that New Jersey’s economy would be impacted far more than other RGGI states, placing us at a competitive disadvantage over our neighbors in the attraction and retention of strong businesses and high-quality jobs. For example, Ocean Spray announced in 2011 – twenty-one days before Governor Christie removed New Jersey from RGGI – they were moving their operations to Pennsylvania, stating that New Jersey was simply “too expensive”.

We have been down this road once before, and Governor Christie wisely put us on a better path toward economic development and market fairness. It would be good for New Jersey if we could stay there.

Bill Spadea