Saturday, January 14, 2017

Dear NJ Journalists, Vincent Prieto DOESN'T Represent Jersey City (He just acts like he does)

I was bemused by a recent story on PolitickerNJ by JT Aregood about the the politics of state aid reform. The article contrasted Steve Sweeney's plan, which is prescriptive and is clearly an attempt to redistribute Adjustment Aid to underaided districts, with Speaker Vincent Prieto's vague plan for yet another legislative committee "without predetermined outcomes or politics."

In attempting to explain Prieto's frosty attitude towards redistributing state aid, the article made a very telling, very blatant error.

Prieto, whose home district encompasses Jersey City, opposes Sweeney’s plan. 
Jersey City and other districts in Hudson County would stand to lose under Sweeney’s plan to phase out state Adjustment Aid and funding caps for districts with significant enrollment changes over five years. 
Those protections for individual districts were put in place in 2008, the last time lawmakers revised the school funding formula. Sweeney holds that removing Adjustment Aid and funding caps would bring every district in the state to 88 percent funding.
John Reitmeyer made the same error in a piece on NJ Spotlight:
But so far, Prieto is not onboard with Sweeney’s proposal, which could significantly cut funding for school districts in some of the communities Prieto represents, including Jersey City.
wrong Wrong WRONG!!!

Vincent Prieto does NOT represent Jersey City!
Vincent Prieto represents District 32, which includes East Newark, Edgewater, Fairview, Guttenberg, Harrison, Kearny, North Bergen, Secaucus, and West New York.

Jersey City is in legislative Districts 31 and 33. Its Assembly members are Nicholas Chiaravalloti, Angela McKnight, Annette Chaparro, and Raj Mukherji, NOT  Vincent Prieto.

Every single district in District 32 is underaided, with East Newark, Fairview, Guttenberg, and Kearny being severely so.

East Newark, in fact, is the third most underaided district in New Jersey, with an aid deficit of $7782 per student.  East Newark's school spending is barely $10,000 per student and its students attend school built in the 1890s.

Fairview is NJ's fifth most underaided district too, with a deficit of $7,118 per student.

(See: "Will Vincent Prieto Put Hudson County First")

I wouldn't be surprised if Jersey City's four Assemblymembers are urging Prieto to preserve Legalized Aid Hoarding "Adjustment Aid."  Raj Mukherji, for one, has made public statements defending Jersey City's state aid.  But, Vincent Prieto does not have a single Jersey Cityan or Hobokener among his actual constituents.

Then again, maybe Vincent Prieto's most important constituent is just Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop?

It was Steve Fulop himself who told PolitickerNJ:

“We’re lucky to have the speaker here,” he said, a reference to Assembly Speaker Vinny Prieto (D-32). “I have significant clout with Speaker Prieto.”
Indeed. Steve Fulop has tipped off his influence over Prieto and the Assembly in his statement it would be a "long road" before any state aid changes happened.

Based on Prieto own constituents' interests as well as the state-interests he is supposed to act in as Speaker of the Assembly, Speaker Prieto should be in the vanguard of state aid reform.  His indifference to this issue and clear attempts at stalling reform is hard to understand unless it is an attempt to benefit Jersey City, Weehawken, Hoboken, and Jersey City's mayor, Steve Fulop, at the expense of poor districts.

Why is this?

The 8th Congressional
district does include the
Gold Coast.

Agusten Torres reports that Vincent Prieto wants to represent the 8th Congressional district, after Rep. Albio Sires retires, and the 8th district does include Jersey City and Hoboken.

Prieto's residence in Secaucus is not in the 8th district, but since Prieto is originally from Union City, his personal relocation to a town in the 8th district would not be a major move.

If Prieto does have designs on Sires' seat, then Steve Fulop's support would be critical in the Democratic Party.



Not Everyone from Jersey City is Against Justice

I do not think that every Jersey City politician is opposed to state aid reform.

Sens Sandra Cunningham and Brian Stack actually abstained from voting on Steve Sweeney's aid bill. Councilman Michael Yun has said Jersey City's state aid "doesn't make sense."  Mayoral challenger Bill Matsikoudis seems resigned to, not opposed to, having Jersey City's state aid cut, a position I believe a few Jersey City BOE members also share.

There are also many ordinary Jersey Cityans who recognize that Jersey City has become wealthier and can pay for more than 17% of its school budget.  Many Jersey Cityans warn City Hall to reduce its promiscuous PILOTing due to the inevitability of state aid losses.

The people in Jersey City who are operating contrary to progressive values are Steve Fulop and a clique around him.

Note: This piece has been updated to include the NJSpotlight error.  

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