Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Christie Administration's $400,000,000 Clerical Error; "It's Obama's Fault!"


As a practicing Roman Catholic, I was taught that the Pope, in matters of faith, is considered to be infallible....that is, the judgment of the Pontiff is always correct regarding matters of theology.

And as a New Jersey resident, I should feel doubly blessed....for we hath One Among Us, also a Catholic, who in his own mind claims infalliblity as well. He can be found in Trenton, the city that "makes and the world takes"....I knew about pork roll, but I didn't know so much baloney came from Trenton as well.

Harry Truman had a sign on his desk that exclaimed The Buck Stops Here! It's something Republican Governor Chris Christie should have remembered before he started finger pointing, shifting blame, or looking for an underling to throw under the boss when a clerical error by his administration cost New Jersey public schools $400,000,000 in grant money. This is happening at a time when state aid to municipalities has been slashed, several thousands of teachers are being laid off, and classroom and sports programs are discontinued. The State of New Jersey and it's schoolchildren needed that money.

And the Christie Administration let them down.

You've probably heard the story already. The Christie Administration applied for funds under the Race To the Top initiative; New Jersey hoped to get $400 million to aid its ailing schools. On Tuesday the announcement was made that nine states and the District of Columbia would be awarded Race To The Top money. New Jersey came in eleventh, and lost out on the cash.

The application for the grant was specific; it required budgetary data from the years 2008 and 2009. The application delivered to Washington had data for 2010 and 2011. The error in the application cost points in the application, dropping New Jersey to the #11 spot. and no money.

And, in the words of the Star-Ledger Editorial Board, the administration of Christopher James Christie, called by some "the future of the Republican Party" did do the following.....

"It (the error) may have been the most expensive clerical error in the history of mankind."

The full editorial of the Star-Ledger can be found here. And I agree with their statement. The mistake belonged to New Jersey; nine states and the District of Columbia got it right.... and we, the state of New Jersey, did not.

(Click for the August 25, 2010 front page of the Star-Ledger ).

Governor Christie then turned political, and needed to finger someone else. Forget about being a statesman and leader...a screwup like this tarnishes his political present and future.

So Christie needed to fix blame, and said the following.........


"When the president comes back to New Jersey, he's going to have to explain to the people of the state of New Jersey why he's depriving them of $400 million that this application earned because one of his bureaucrats in Washington couldn't pick up the phone and ask a question, couldn't go on the Internet and find information, or wouldn't accept the verbal representation" of the state's education commissioner during a follow-up interview,

What?

Christie's team messes up, and it's the President's fault?

Or let's try the rest of federal government. It seems to work for Boehner, Bachmann, Palin, Gingrich, and company. Here's more from Chris Christie.

""Does anybody in Washington, D.C. have a lick of common sense? Pick up the phone and ask us for the number."

Yes, it was a lot of paperwork, a ridiculous amount.... but the winners did it right. New Jersey didn't. And as the Star-Ledger mentioned in their editorial about Jim Furyk's disqualification from the Barclay's Golf Tournament because he arrived five minutes late.....those are the rules. If New Jersey got a mulligan for it's error, then every state that needed to do corrections to get millions of dollars would be doing so, and that would not only result in chaos, but it would be unfair.

So far Christie hasn't thrown anybody under the bus from his administration, but that could change. Here's an item from newjerseynewsroom.com.

"Gov. Chris Christie's Dog Days of August political nightmare continued Thursday as a new report surfaced that the $400 million federal education funding mistake apparently occurred when the governor nixed an agreement on support of aid application between his education commissioner and the NJEA, a statewide teachers' union."

That's right, they initially had the right figures, and had they submitted the original application, New Jersey could have gotten $400 million. Education Commissioner Bret Schundler worked out a deal with the NJEA and the state. But Governor Christie killed the deal. The application was redone, this time with the wrong information.....and it cost New Jersey $400 million.

There's more to come; the Democratic controlled New Jersey Assembly has said that an investigation is in order....and most New Jersey residents seem to agree.

Update!- Friday August 27 9:00am .....Last night news of a video from the US Department of Education broke. The video, in which representative from New Jersey led by NJ Education Commissioner Bret Schundler, presented the state's application for the Race To The Top grant. The video (from newjersey.com) clearly shows that New Jersey's delegation was asked by federal officials about the absence of the requested figures for 2008 and 2009, required on the application. The New Jersey representatives admitted that they did not have those figures available. The speaker from the US Department of Education asked if New Jersey could provide those figures....they were given a second chance.

On that second chance, New Jersey's delegation again was unable to provide the required data.

See the video below.

Excerpt of N.J.'s Race to the Top interview shows officials with no budget answer




More updated information may be found at nj.com.

As I type this at least two New York television stations, FOX 5 and PIX 11, have tried to contact Governor Christie for a comment on the video, which proves his claim that federal bureaucrats prevented New Jersey the chance to make corrections was totally false.

Christie's claim that the reviewers refused to accept corrections after the June 1 deadline was also not correct. New Jersey's delegation was given two chances to fix the problem, and was not able to do so.

Christie did respond to a question from a New Jersey radio station last night about the video and it's implications. He said he hadn't seen the video yet.

Update! Friday August 27 11:41AM NJ..... Education Commissioner Bret Schundler was fired this morning by Governor Chris Christie after Schundler refused to submit his resignation. Full story at nj.com.

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