TRENTON – Gov. Christie rebuked Camden City Council on Friday for blaming his administration for the planned layoff of up to 383 city police officers, firefighters and other unionized municipal workers.
The cuts, approved by City Council on Thursday, would eliminate nearly half of the police and a third of the fire department in one of the nation's most dangerous and impoverished cities. Union leaders are discussing labor concessions with city leaders to avert some of the job losses, which would take effect Jan. 18.
It's easy for council members to blame someone else, Christie said a news conference. "But they're the ones who have been managing the city for all these years and put [workers] in the position they're in," he said.
Christie, a former U.S. Attorney, said Camden had seen a generation of corrupt and irresponsible managers that his former office had put in jail.
"Camden has to get its house in order," he said, noting that the state last week sent $69 million in transitional aid to Camden, more than any other city.
Though he said the state would not provide additional assistance, Christie praised Camden Mayor Dana Redd for taking hard steps to fix the city.
"For the first time in my memory we have a mayor of Camden who is looking at this in a responsible way and I look forward to being a partner with her, and helping in the ways we can," Christie said.
"But we are not going to have the taxpayers of New Jersey be an open checkbook for profligate municipalities," he said.
The state isn't "the mother or father of these municipalities, who every time they run out of money in college they call for another wire transfer," the governor said.
"This is not the way this is going to work anymore," he said. "It cannot work that way anymore. They have to start spending less. They have to start managing better."