When we asked #NJPatchChat-ers "OK, Now What?" we had Tuesday's elections in mind. Voters have made their choices. And soon it will be time for newly elected officials to deliver on the promises that earned them victories.
And when we asked what priorities those officials should set, we were joined by someone with a bit of perspective into the matter — a sitting councilman. Bridgewater Council President Matthew Moench joined us, using his Twitter account, BWCouncilman.
Moench told us that in tough fiscal times, elected officials will have to find new ways of saving costs and bringing in ratables. He noted his own municipality's exploration of energy aggregation arrangements. And he said Gov. Chris Christie's proposed "toolkit" of measures intended to help local governments control costs is vital to meeting the 2 percent property tax cap approved earlier this year.
So this time, we talked about the roles of elected officials, and an elected official joined in. Next week, we're talking about bullying—let's just hope if any bullies join in, they restrain themselves.
Here's the transcript of our most recent installment. As always, you'll need to read from the bottom up (since Twitter feeds show the most recent posts up top):
BWCouncilman Good chat with @njpatchchat , @bwaterpatch . Maybe I'll see you next week.
NJPatchChat Until then, you don't have to tweet at home, but you can't tweet here. (OK, you can, but WE'RE signing off). #NJPatchChat
MillburnPatch RT @NJPatchChat OK, we're calling it a night on#NJPatchChat . We'll be back next Thurs @ 8 p.m. Tentative topic: Bullying.
johncpatch#NJPatchChat is over for the evening. Next Thursday's tentative topic is bullying.
NJPatchChat OK, we're calling it a night on #NJPatchChat , but thanks for joining in. We'll be back next Thurs @ 8 p.m. Tentative topic: Bullying.
BWCouncilman@NJPatchChat The same message that the nation sent - cut taxes, reduce government and reject the current agenda. #njpatchchat
NJPatchChat@millburnpatch -- A lot of very sober number crunchers snarl when they encounter home rule hawks.#NJPatchChat
johncpatch@BWCouncilman : What about health depts? Westfield Health Dept. handles 8 towns, Rahway health dept. handles multiple towns. #NJPatchChat
MillburnPatch@johncpatch But local officials here will point out people go to their local elected officials with issues, not the county. #NJPatchChat
BWCouncilman@NJPatchChat : It may not work for practical reasons, but it certainly warrants discussion that I don't think is taking place. #njpatchchat
NJPatchChat Winding down, but last #NJPatchChat ques. - What message should we send our (mostly) returning Congressmen to DC with?
johncpatch@MillburnPatch : There is the other model (VA, MD, etc) abolish towns and let the county handle it. #NJPatchChat
BWCouncilman@NJPatchChat : Healthcare's an interesting one. I haven't heard any discussions about pooling resources to provide health care. #njpatchchatHYPERLINK "http://twitter.com/BWCouncilman/statuses/350348011110400"
MillburnPatch@NJPatchChat But I come from Connecticut where there is no county government. #NJPatchChat
MillburnPatch@NJPatchChat I actually wonder if county government makes things more difficult. Has its time gone by?#NJPatchChat
johncpatch Westfield Health Dept. handles 8 towns in county, Fanwood dispatch is now county done, human services is not county run. #NJPatchChat
MillburnPatch@NJPatchChat I think that matters on the community, but the budget is going to be super important next year.#NJPatchChat
NJPatchChat#NJPatchChat -could more towns benefit by moving services to county? dispatch, healthcare, etc? what shared services aren't explored enough?
TeaneckPatch "@NJPatchChat: OK, open question: What's the 1st thing a newly assembled gov. body should do to make a difference in 2011? #NJPatchChat
BWCouncilman@NJPatchChat : then look at economic development policies to determine whether the town is prompting growth or stifling it. #njpachchat
BWCouncilman@NJPatchChat : I think the first thing they must do is look at staffing levels and salary/benefits for employees. #njpatchchat
johncpatch Energy has been one of the issues here in Union County. County helping with solar purchases in towns. #NJPatchChat
NJPatchChat OK, open question: What's the 1st thing a newly assembled gov. body should do after its reorg. to make a difference in 2011? #NJPatchChat
BWCouncilman@NJPatchChat : I've also seen programs that look at ways of lowering heath ins. costs through preventative measures, at least in some cities
BWCouncilman@NJPatchChat : As an example, this year Bridgewater explored energy aggregation arrangements that allowed us lower energy costs. #njpatchchat
johncpatch@NJPatchChat : Westfield officials keep saying the toolkit is needed to survive with Cap 2.0. #NJPatchChat
NJPatchChat@BWCouncilman Got a good example of an efficiency that should be explored? #NJPatchChat
NJPatchChat RT @BWCouncilman : @NJPatchChat : we have to continue to look for ways of increasing efficiency and attracting new rateables and job growth. #njpatchchat
NJPatchChat@mickydel#NJPatchChat -- Welcome, Mickydel!
NJPatchChat#NJPatchChat . Bigger ?: Will toolkit be enough? Cap's in place, but meeting it could be hard even w/reforms. How can locals take the reins?
BWCouncilman@NJPatchChat : we have to continue to look for ways of increasing efficiency and attracting new rateables and job growth. #njpatchchat
NJPatchChat@BWCouncilman - so arbitration reform and such. meantime, where should local officials focus until the toolkit bills move? #NJPatchChat
johncpatch@BWCouncilman : Are there any that would not help you? #NJPatchChat
TeaneckPatch#NJPatchChat happening now! Join the discussion.
BWCouncilman@johncpatch : those provisions that will help in negotiating with public employees' salaries, both town and school workers #njpatchchat
NJPatchChat@BWCouncilman -- Of all the toolkit measures, which one's priority No. 1 for you as a councilman? #NJPatchChat
johncpatch And the WEA negotiated a bigger health care payback in exchange for a 3.9% average annual pay raise for three years.#NJPatchChat
johncpatch Here in Westfield we've seen the FMBA and Teamsters willing to work with the Town Council on salary freezes this year.#NJPatchChat
johncpatch@BWCouncilman : Which parts of the toolkit would be most helpful to you? #NJPatchChat
NJPatchChat Sideline @BWCouncilman -- good luck to you & the SH kids tomorrow in moot court. Do NJ proud!
johncpatch@NJPatchChat : Real question is how much are the officials willing to cut? #NJPatchChat
NJPatchChat New council/committee/etc folk going to get their hands dirty cutting road repairs, taking on cops unions, etc to save costs? #NJPatchChat
BWCouncilman@NJPatchChat : The most important thing to help keep taxes down is for the State to pass the Gov's toolkit measures.#njpatchchat
NJPatchChat Pretty much everyone was talking tax cap + fisc. prudence in local races. What do you see as plausible to do in the short term? #NJPatchChat
johncpatch@NJPatchChat : Same with Union County freeholder races. This leads to the question, should these be at-large or district races? #NJPatchChat
MillburnPatch#NJPatchChat tonight is about the election and its aftermath. Jump in by following the hashtag and @NJPatchChat .
johncpatch At the same time, there were Dem sweep in Cranford & Springfield which were anti-incumbent, but were rooted in local issues. #NJPatchChat
NJPatchChat@MorristownPatch is right, though. In Morris, it would take a LOT of anti-incumbent sentiment to oust GOP from big positions #NJPatchChat
johncpatch At the same time, there were Dem sweeps in Cranford and Springfield which were anti-incumbent, but many trended on local issues. NJPatchChat
johncpatch There were some surprises down here. There was a GOP sweep in Garwood, which was an anti-incumbent trend. #NJPatchChat
MorristownPatch Independents have apparently swayed one way or the other, and perhaps many of them are not happy with the job he's done. #NJPatchChat
BWCouncilman@NJPatchChat . I coach a team of law students from Seton Hall in a moot court competition. They compete tomorrow.
MorristownPatch#NJPatchChat , here in New Jersey, there was not as much sentiment I think, in part, because of Chris Christie's election in 2009.
johncpatch@MorristownPatch : But was this a year that would draw in people in parts of NJ? Given the way the districts are drawn. #NJPatchChat
NJPatchChat@MorristownPatch , the Freeholder primary saw some tumult. But voters who just look for the R might not have noticed.#NJPatchChat
MorristownPatch It comes again down to what appears to be a lack of interest in politics by most but a very slim minority.#NJPatchChat
johncpatch In the Lance race, many of the top Dems took a pass, after Stender lost 06 and 08, plus the redistricting. #NJPatchChat
NJPatchChat Welcome to #NJPatchChat, Matt. What's in St. Louis that Bridgewater doesn't have to offer?
MorristownPatch There seemed some anti-Dem sentiment in the dumping of Morris Twp. councilman Ron Goldberg, a Democrat #NJPatchChat
johncpatch I think it's more of the way the districts are drawn. Very incumbent friendly Adler was the exception. #NJPatchChat
MorristownPatch In Morris County, a GOP stronghold, there didn't seem to be much change because the GOP was already in#NJPatchChat
BWCouncilman Hi. It's Matt. I'm out in St. Louis and just happened to check my Twitter in time to see your post. #njpatchchat
NJPatchChat#NJPatchChat : ... not so much in NJ. We returned most of our congressmen. Some real long-timers. Why? Ours actually doing that much better?
MorristownPatch Alright, let do it! #NJPatchChat
NJPatchChat#NJPatchChat : Nationally, we saw a lot of anti-incumbency. Incumbents ousted in primaries, then GOP taking over the House. But ...
NJPatchChat OK, a couple of Patchers on the line. No civilians yet. But we'll plow ahead #NJPatchChat .
johncpatch To jump in, how much was the national trend seen in other parts of the state on local level. Not much in Union County.#NJPatchChat
NJPatchChat Can I get a quick show of virtual hands? Who's out there following #NJPatchChat ? Remember, use the hashtag in your answer.
NJPatchChat As always: We lead the discussion, asking you questions. Follow hashtag #NJPatchChat to read the chat live. Use it in your post to jump in.
NJPatchChat Oops! We're 3 minutes late, but it's (just past) time to start this week's #NJPatchChat . The topic: OK, what's next? Elections Aftermath