Not content to clean up New Jersey state government, it seems Gov. Chris Christie also has decided to take on profligate local governments in the Garden State as well, according to an article in the latest Bloomberg Businessweek.
Tony Mack, the mayor of Trenton, N.J., fired a third of the city’s police force in September to help close an $18 million hole in the city’s budget. So when Governor Chris Christie offered him $22 million in state aid the following month, the Democratic mayor was in no position to turn down the Republican—even though the handout came with a long list of conditions that effectively strip Mack of many of his powers.
Under the deal, Christie gets to keep watch over nearly every penny that Trenton spends. If the city wants to negotiate a labor contract, officials at the state’s Community Affairs Dept. have to sign off on the details. The same goes for bond sales in excess of $1 million and the hiring of outside contractors such as lawyers, consultants, and engineers. No city employee, including Mayor Mack, can go out to lunch on the taxpayer’s dime, and out-of-state travel is banned unless Christie’s bean counters approve the trip.
“We’re going to help cities during struggling times like the ones we’re in, but we’re going to do it in a way that’s responsible,” Christie told reporters in July, saying he wants to end the “giveaway” of taxpayer dollars to cities that are often “fraught with fraud, waste, and abuse.”