Former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan said he is finalizing the lawsuit he intends to file in Bergen County Superior Court against the State of New Jersey next week, attacking Gov. Jon Corzine’s decision to borrow $3.9 billion to build new schools.
"We’re going into court and we’re attacking the facts," said the Republican. "First, the schools are not crumbling. The Oliver School (in the Ironbound, where Corzine signed the borrowing bill) is a beautiful building.
"Second," he said, "we’re going after the assertion that these towns can't afford to pay anything for schools. They can afford taxes."
The lawsuit would be Lonegan’s fourth against the State of New Jersey since 2000.
"We haven't seen the lawsuit, but Governor Corzine has been consistent in his belief that there is a legal and moral obligation to ensure every child in New Jersey has a safe, clean, healthy environment to learn in without any further delay," said governor’s spokesman Sean Darcy. "We also believe it is imperative to begin to get shovels in the ground as quickly as possible to create jobs in New Jersey in the face of this national recession."
But Lonegan claims the plan is an error of first principle.
"The whole schools construction program they put together is a disaster," he said of the New Jersey Supreme Court. "The court is leading the state down a path of fiscal disaster."
A possible challenger for governor in 2009, the hard right Lonegan, moreover, said the new Schools Development Authority represents no significant change from the discredited and now-defunct Schools Construction Corporation.
"There’s definitely union pressure, that’s definitely part of it," he said of the governor’s decision to green light schools construction statewide. "The other part of it is a general philosophical belief in the centralized control of everything."
One of the authors of the bill signed last week ago by Corzine, Assemblywoman Grace Spencer (D-Newark) predicted then that criticism of the $3.9 billion borrowing measure would provoke harsh criticism, but argued that the measure is justified. Specifically, she addressed the Oliver Street School.
"On the outside, yes, it is a beautiful building, but on the inside, it’s not viable for our kids to thrive in this community," said Spencer. "No matter how glamorous it is on the outside, it’s overcrowded on the inside. We’re talking about paint peeling off the wall and classrooms in closets."
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