Over the Transom: Cory Booker ducks debates but is good on TV (Mulshin…

“Cory Booker has backed out of two debates that were to be shown to the voters of New Jersey on statewide television.” – Jeff Bell
Raise your hand if you’re surprised that Cory Booker is ducking debates with Jeff Bell.
I don’t see too many hands. Booker seems determined to run out the clock on this campaign the same way he did last year in that special election against Steve Lonegan.
That’s probably a sound strategy given the registration advantage the Democrats have. Booker apparently figured that he wasn’t going to take any chances and would stick to just one debate, which will be on Oct. 25.
Cory Booker kicks off his campaign in Perth Amboy Sept. 3. Once again, he seems determined to keep a low profile and run out the clock.Alex Remnick/The Star-Ledger 
But the voters deserve more than a measly one debate between the Democratic incumbent and his Republican challenger. Ironically, Booker himself pointed out the reason for that in a recent press release about his endorsement of a bill that would improve local access to the television market.
“New Jersey is one of only two states in the country without its own media market, depriving our residents of access to quality local news programming. I look forward to the FCC’s report and recommendations to Congress and will continue to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make improvements that effectively address this critical disadvantage,” the release quoted Booker as stating.
It’s nice to see one of our senators making this point. For some reason I’ve never been able to comprehend, our Congressional delegation has always accepted that both the radio and television spectrum in our state belongs to stations in Philadelphia and New York. And I thought it was positively bizarre when the Legislature let Chris Christie hand over the few TV and radio stations we have to New York and Philadelphia.
The lack of N.J.-based TV and radio really drove us Shore residents crazy in the pre-cable days. In Toms River, where I grew up, we were on the outer edge of both the Philadelphia and New York signals. Television reception was awful. As for FM radio reception, it can be even worse.
Imagine if our Congressional delegation had demanded that the signals be located in the center of our state instead of the fringes. But for some reason they didn’t.
But that highlights why Booker should engage in more debates. Even if he and Bell held one a week, the public would remain largely unaware of the race. Booker is supposed to be a brilliant orator. So why doesn’t he talk to the voters?
I can barely recall hearing a peep out of him since he took office.
Meanwhile Bell is a guy who never shuts up. I’ve been talking with him off and on since he first ran for Senate back in 1978. That was the year he defeated Republican incumbent Clifford Case in the primary only to lose to eventual winner Bill Bradley.
What Bell loves to talk about is the Federal Reserve and the gold standard. That’s important stuff, but not the sort of thing that fires up the voters, as former Lonegan adviser Rick Shaftan noted in the above link:

“Bell’s running where Steve was running,” Shaftan told PolitickerNJ, referring to recent polling that show Bell running between 11 and 13 points behind Booker with an underfunded campaign. “I think they think they can’t win. I think they can win more than the campaign thinks it can win. Their first ad Bell wants to talk about the gold standard? That tells me he’s more interested in an issue than winning.”

What kept Lonegan from closing the gap was that remarkably stupid decision by Ted Cruz and the tea-party types to have a temper tantrum and shut the government down the very day the failed rollout of Obamacare began.
That was Oct. 1 of last year. Thanks to Cruz and Co., the software debacle was pushed to the back pages as the shutdown hogged headlines till it ground to a predictable halt Oct. 16 – the day of that special election.
That stopped Lonegan’s campaign cold, even though he’d been making real inroads by criticizing Booker’s role as an absentee mayor of Newark. Bell’s not the type to engage in that sort of brawling, but it would work well against Booker. In the past year it’s come out that he left Newark in even worse shape than anyone knew. Meanwhile the election of Ras Baraka as his successor was seen by Newarkers as a repudiation of Booker.
Maybe that’s why he’s ducking those debates.
But it’s an embarrassment, especially when Bell puts out press releases like this:

“Cory Booker has backed out of two debates that were to be shown to the voters of New Jersey on statewide television — he says he does not have time to do them,” Bell said in a statement. “I anticipate that he will therefore find a reason to withdraw from the third debate organized by the League of Women Voters. Therefore, I challenge Brendan Gill to debate me at all three forums. He is an Essex County Freeholder and perfectly capable of representing the views of Cory Booker in a debate. If Freeholder Gill does not have the time to do it either, I am willing to debate any other representative from the campaign provided they have the permission of Cory Booker.”

IN OTHER NEWS, Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon just sent me a photo of a sign in Hoboken that seems to imply Dawn Zimmer’s Hudson County Democratic machine is up to its old tricks of illegally booting cars for everyday parking violations. As I noted here, Hoboken officials had announced they were abandoning the practice of booting cars that have no outstanding tickets in town.
A sign in Hoboken warning that cars will be booted. Towing is permitted under such circumstances but state law permits booting only for vehicles with outstanding warrants.Photo courtesy of Declan O’Scanlon 
That’s the only condition that state law permits for the use of immobilizing devices.
Let’s hope it’s an old sign. But even if it is, note the nutty logic behind it. If this is an area that needs to be kept clear for traffic, then it might make sense to tow cars but why on Earth would you boot them?
Because the greedy Hoboken pols made a deal with an out-of-state company to shake down motorists for credit card payments to have their cars released. That’s why.
Let’s hope more politicians jump on O’Scanlon’s bandwagon. The Monmouth County Republican has revealed a number of ways in which multinational corporations are joining with politicians in what amounts to a criminal conspiracy to fleece motorists.
Here’s a recent release from O’Scanlon on Gov. Chris Christie’s comments on ending the state’s failed experiment with red-light cameras:

Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon today said that Governor Chris Christie’s comments on the NJ101.5 segment “Ask the Governor” last night concerning the future of red-light cameras in this state were “on the money”. The Governor said he was “disturbed” that there were indications that the program appeared to have become “an opportunity for municipalities to grab money” and he had concerns about the appearance that the program was not “fairly and uniformly administered.” Christie indicated that he is leaning against extending or expanding the program.“The governor’s statements last night are a relief for all motorists on New Jersey roads,” said O’Scanlon (R- Monmouth). “He’s 100% right, these cameras are nothing but a money grab, a revenue creating scheme by the camera companies that lure unsuspecting municipalities in with the promise of easy money and improving safety. But that’s only half true – they have NOTHING to do with safety.”The five year red-light camera program is set to expire this December 16th.“That date can’t come soon enough,” O’Scanlon explained. “All you have to do is look at the past 20 years of data from camera equipped intersections around the country and you will see that they are not doing what the promise. Every objective, competent study done proves that these devices do not improve safety. In fact, New Jersey’s own data shows that safety has improved more slowly at camera equipped intersections than at those without cameras. If normal fluctuation in accident rates and trends are greater than the effect this equipment is having, it is absolute proof that the equipment is having no, or a potentially negative, effect. I couldn’t be happier than I am with the Governor’s statements…OK, I could be happier but that won’t be until December 16th!”

MEANWHILE the New Jersey Watchdog is taking a bite out of yet another greedy politician trying to double-dip by collecting a big public pension while also collecting a salary:
The election for sheriff in Mercer County has turned into a referendum on New Jersey’s costly tradition of double-dipping by public officials.
With a campaign slogan of “One Sheriff, One Paycheck,” Republican challenger David C. Jones is targeting the dual incomes of Democratic incumbent Jack Kemper.Kemler collects $227,327 a year from public coffers – $142,499 in salary as sheriff plus $84,828 from pension as a retired county undersheriff.
“I believe double-dipping is wrong,” Jones told New Jersey Watchdog. “I think this is an important issue for everybody in the state.”
Jones said he’s ready to put his money where his mouth is. If elected, the retired State Police major pledged to stop his $90,648 a year public pension while in office.
“I believe elected officials should be held to a higher standard,” Jones said.Jones cited a New Jersey Watchdog investigation revealing 80 percent of sheriffs are double-dipping. In 17 of the state’s 21 counties, the sheriffs collect state pensions as law enforcement retirees in addition to their six-figure salaries.
Sheriff Kemler did not respond to a request for comment.

AND FINALLY on an entirely different topic.
I was visiting the in-laws in Pennsylvania recently when I came across a beer called “Pennsylvania Style” at a beer distributor. I wondered just what the heck it could be, given that it wasn’t made in Pennsylvania at all but rather in Wisconsin.
Anyway it was so cheap I bought a 30-pack. That cost all of $12.99.
I prefer microbrews and imports for serious beer-drinking but these cheap beers can be okay for a cold one after a long run in the woods or on the beach. You don’t want to waste an Anchor Steam quenching your thirst.
Reading this you sure would think this bottle of Rolling Rock was brewed in Latrobe, Pa.Nope. It comes from the Budweiser plant in St. Louis, like a lot of other beers you’d think might be brewed elsewhere..Photo by Paul Mulshine 
Anyway, this turned out to be fairly bland and devoid of flavor, as I’d expected. But I was still wondering just what “Pennsylvania Style” the name referred to, given that Pennsylvania is the home of so many excellent beers.
A friend enlightened me. It turns out this was supposed to be a copy of Rolling Rock.
Sure enough, I cracked one and took Betty for a walk as I drank it. Coincidentally, under a tree I saw a discarded bottle of the Rock. I picked it up to throw it in the nearby recycling bin. Just for the heck of it, I decided to read the label.
You can see the passage on the back that is shown in the accompanying photo: “From the glass-lined tanks of Old Latrobe,” it reads.
So does the beer come from the Old Latrobe? No, the front of the label makes it clear it was brewed in St. Louis. Budweiser acquired Rolling Rock and was in turn acquired by AnBev, the multinational brewing giant that owns pretty much everything.
By the way, the law requires that every beer bottle include the actual brewing location. Always read the fine print. You will then learn that the Beck’s you thought was from Germany was actually brewed in St. Louis. If it tastes suspiciously like Bud, that’s the reason.
Not that contract brewers don’t do a good job. Most of the Sam Adams line of beers is contracted out. When I once interviewed the head of Sam Adams, he pointed out that the technology of American breweries is far more advanced than that of breweries in other countries, including Germany. It’s a question of which ingredients you use and how you use them.
But when it comes to beers like Rolling Rock, they’re mass-produced in a generic style so bland that you won’t be missing much by buying the copy. Pennsylvania Style may be a pale imitation of Rolling Rock. But Rolling Rock is pretty pale to begin with.

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