30 April 2010

Somerville vs. Manville 1958

What is the Somerville High School football program for their game against Manville on September 27, 1958 doing on the Hillsborough Blog?  Most readers will know that in the decades prior to our own high school's 1969 opening, Hillsborough students went to Somerville.  What you might not know is that, despite splitting from Hillsborough in 1929 to form their own municipality - largely over school-related issues - by the mid-50s Manville had still not built a high school of their own, and were sending their students all over Central Jersey - to Bound Brook, New Brunswick, and Dunellen!.

So what we have here is the nearly new Manville High School footballers not only taking on their new Somerville rivals, but also, in a sense, taking on their long-lost Hillsborough brethren, wearing the orange and black of Somerville.

How many familiar Hillsborough names can you spot in the 1958 Somerville squad?

29 April 2010

License to Run

Today I made my quadrennial visit to the MVC office on Union Avenue in Somerville to renew my New Jersey Driver's License.  I was well prepared.  I took my current license, my birth certificate, and my ATM card with my embossed name and signature on the back.  Those are just a few of the many items you can choose from to verify your identity under the 6 Point ID Verification Program.

But that is not what this post is about.  Indeed, I was in and out of that office in about 15 minutes.  And that includes the minute I spent standing at the reception desk while the greeter finished her magazine.

The purpose of this post is to let you know how easy it is to run for elected office in New Jersey.  Much easier than renewing your driver's license.

There are requirements, of course, to stand for an elected post such as the Board of Education seat I was reelected to this month.  You must be a High School graduate. you must be registered to vote, and you must live in the district where you are running.  But you don't have to prove any of that.

All you must do is declare it.  A simple signature attesting to your qualifications, and that's it.  Be the first one to sign your own petition, get nine other registered voters to put their names down, and you're on your way.

I've never had to show any ID or prove residency, or anything else - and now I am one of nine individuals with oversight of a $108 million budget, 1000 employees, and most importantly, the education of 7500 children.

And I never needed to show so much as a library card, or a ticket from the dry cleaner!

Only in New Jersey.

28 April 2010

Auto Inspections Should Be Junked

Governor Christie is finally turning his attention to New Jersey's wasteful and odious auto inspection system.  In a move that could save taxpayers $12 million, transportation officials are proposing an elimination of bi-annual mechanical inspections.  Federally mandated emissions inspections would still be required, but with failure rates for the mechanical portion of the inspection at just 6%, it makes sense to send that part of the test to the scrap heap.

I first wrote about junking inspections after I heard Flemington resident Phil Greiner make the suggestion at the Somerset County Business Partnership Affordability Forum six moths ago.  I also suggested a major change to New Jersey driver's license renewals.  A $24 four year license is probably the best bargain in New Jersey - perhaps too good.  How about a ten year license somewhere in the $75 range?  This would work out to be $1.50 more per year, but would be well worth it to the New Jersey driver who will only need to renew five or six times during his entire driving life.  Think of how much less crowded the MVC will be when drivers only have to come in once a decade!  Think of how much the state will save on staffing those offices.

27 April 2010

Paying the Bills - Old School

Hillsborough Township is off to a pretty good start this budget season, exacting wage freezes and give-backs from union and non-union employees.  Undoubtedly, further creative solutions will still be needed before the municipal budget can be balanced.  The question is, how can you continue to pay the bills when the cash has run out?

I recently acquired a unique piece of Hillsborough history that I thought might provide some answers - a one hundred thirty-year-old transaction ledger from the JC Lane General Store in Neshanic.  The 635 page book covers the period from December 1879 to March 1881 and offers a fascinating glimpse at everyday life in 19th century rural America.

I wasn't surprised to find that one of Lane's most frequent customers was Hillsborough Township.  As I carefully turned the pages I found numerous entries for Hillsborough - items ranging from coffee and cranberries to tobacco and kerosene.  The town made payments on the account periodically, usually in cash.

It wasn't very far into the ledger - page 59 - that I found the first example of Hillsborough's creative financing.  On February 7, 1880, the municipality made a $9 payment toward their account, not with cash, but with 18 bushels of potatoes.  Likewise on June 25 of that same year, the town received a credit of $6.61 for bringing in a quantity of butter, and 19 1/2 dozen eggs.

In so doing, Hillsborough was no different from dozens of other Lane customers who often paid their accounts with goods from their farms. 

In 2010, Hillsborough is once again following the example of the private sector.  Some ideas never go stale.

26 April 2010

Just Call Him "Mr. Freeze"

Move over Otto and Arnold, there's a new guy in town ready to wield the freeze gun.

It's Hillsborough Township Mayor Frank DelCore!

He already got the public works employees, department heads, and non-union employees to freeze their salaries for 2010.

Now he has performed his cryogenic magic on the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Local 3697, Council 73 (AFSCME), freezing off 2.5 hours of each work week, saving Hillsborough Taxpayers an additional $77,000.

No word yet on whether he plans to turn anyone into a Frosty Freezie.