Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Dreams of Green

"That ain't working, that's the way you do it
Money for nothing and your chicks for free"
- Dire Straits

Wonderful news. Aberdeen’s town council has found a way to save a million dollars in electric bills over the next fifteen years and get a free roof to boot. And, if you believe that, there’s more wonderful news. The senior housing center on Church St. will finally be developed. As will the transit village, Anchor Glass, and Aberdeen Forge. And, between the cost savings and new ratables, residents will finally see some tax relief.

Find it all a bit hard to believe? You’re not the only one.

Last June, the township issued an RFP for a company to build and maintain, at its own expense, solar panels for township properties plus install a new roof for town hall and then charge the township for the electricity generated by the solar panels at sub-market rates.

New Jersey has the fastest growing solar power market in the country so you’d think there'd be a lot of competition for such a plum assignment. Yet, only one company responded. Nexus Energy Solutions, a spin-off from Nexus Development, has no experience building or installing solar panels aside from having hired other companies to install solar panels at its office headquarters and parking garage.

By coincidence, I’m sure, Nexus is also a regular contributor to the state’s Democratic Party. Another coincidence, I’m equally sure, is that the town council is all Democrat and has a well-documented history of pay-to-play.

Anyways, despite having roughly the same experience as any homeowner who hired a contractor to install solar panels on his roof, Nexus’ proposals received an average score of 93 out of 100 in the township’s proposal review.
>>> Read more!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Lesson in Bureacratese

Let’s take the following hypothetical from a board member’s perspective.

The state awards your school district nearly $600,000, no strings attached. Your superintendent insists the school district spend the money “for the children”. Yet, you’re reluctant. Your district is being ravaged by high unemployment and a wave of foreclosures. Your district is among the highest taxed in the county and, even discounting the windfall, the district has already increased spending by 4%.

The superintendent sees your reluctance and quickly outlines a plan for spending the money. Over a $100,000 will be spent on books. For the children. Who can be opposed to books? And, to make it more palatable, he insists it’s a can’t fail, “research-based” program to create classroom libraries.

You’re wondering why, if it’s such a sure thing, isn’t everybody doing it? And how does sticking books in a room really improve language arts scores? And why isn’t this concept, that’s “research-based”, listed in the federal Department of Education’s What Works Clearinghouse?
>>> Read more!