House Republicans Balk At Deal; Fiscal Cliff Coming

WASHINGTON — Last-minute efforts to step back from the “fiscal cliff” ran into trouble on Tuesday as Republicans in the House of Representatives balked at a deal that would prevent Washington from pushing the world’s biggest economy into a recession.

House Republicans complained that a bill passed by the Senate in a late-night show of unity to prevent a budget crisis contained tax hikes for the wealthiest Americans but no spending cuts.  Some conservatives sought to change the bill to add cuts.

That would set up a high-stakes showdown between the two chambers and risk a stinging rebuke from financial markets that are due to open in Asia in a few hours.

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PA House Speaker Sam Smith Wants To Reduce House Size 25 Percent!

Map of Pennsylvania, showing major cities and ...

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Now this is something I agree with 11o percent!  Reduce the porkulous PA state government to something we can afford and that is SIZE appropriate for a state with 12.7 million residents!

Speaker of the House, Jefferson County Republican, Sam Smith has introduced legislation to cut the number of members in the PA House of Representatives from 203 to 153.  WOOHOO!  That is a good start and would save millions of dollars!  So far, fifty-nine co-sponsors have boarded the train to fiscal sanity!

Camden, New Jersey: Enter At Your Own Risk

Camden, New Jersey is one of the poorest citie...

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Camden, New Jersey was just ranked the second most dangerous city in the United States.  A 2009 estimate census showed Camden’s population at 78,790.  Camden has a police force of 373 or one officer for every 211 people (This figure does not include civilian employees). The US average is one officer per 333 people.  The land area of the city is 8.8 square miles. 

Six months ago, 50 new officers were hired to beef up security for the beleaguered city.  Now it appears that on January 18th, up to 180 officers could be laid off.  Camden is financially distressed and is asking the officers to take a 20% pay cut.  Police sources say the pay cut approaches 35% with all total concessions.  Some of the new officers are wondering why they were hired in the first place.  On a positive note, there are other cities lining up to recruit any laid off Camden cops.  Nashville, Atlanta and Norfolk are interested in hiring any Camden law enforcement budget casualties. 

Camden has been in a free fall for decades.  Major employers like RCA, Campbell’s Soup and New York Shipbuilding employed well over 50,000 people.  Camden’s population peaked in 1950 at 124,555 residents.  The 2009 estimate shows a net loss of 45,765 residents since 1950 or about 37%.  By comparison, the state of New Jersey’s population has nearly doubled since 1950. 

41.7% of Camden residents lived in poverty in 2008.  Camden was ranked as American’s poorest city in 2006 when 52% of its residents lived in poverty.  By contrast, New Jersey had the nations second highest per capita personal income in 2008, the highest percentage of millionaire households and is second in the US for towns/cities with per capital incomes above the national average (76.4%).

Camden’s median household income was estimated at $24,283 per year in 2008 (NJ $70,378).  The estimated per capita income for Camden in 2008 was $10,771.  In April 2010 the unemployment rate in Camden was 18.1%, compared to 9.6% for the state of New Jersey.  

Camden scored a 967.6 crime index on for 2009.  There were 34 murders.  In 2008 Camden scored 1114.6 and had 54 murders.  As we learned in my earlier post about crime stats, a score of over 700 is considered HIGH and a score about 1000 is considered VERY HIGH.

So what will become of Camden if, worst case scenario, 48% of their officers are laid off!  Or even if only 25% are laid off.  I shudder to think!

Enter at your own risk! 

(Demographic data taken from Wikipedia and

Another Neighbor To The North Slashes Teaching Positions

The Easton Area School District Board of Education has voted 5-3 to slash 72 teaching positions for the 2010-2011 school year.  27 high school teachers, 9.5 middle school teachers, 18 elementary teachers and all the computer technology coordinators will get pink slips. 

According to the board, negotiations with the teachers union failed to provide the necessary cuts to bridge the budget deficit.  Teachers agreed to cuts that would have saved $5 million dollars but the district still would have needed to move money from their reserves, even with the concessions.

The $131.5 million dollar 2010-2011 budget will include a 2.35% property tax increase.

The Easton Area School District has an enrollment of approximately 9,000 students, 9 schools and more than 530 teachers.