Author Archive: Adam L

#Bridgeghazi: Why “motive” isn’t all that important right about now

promoted by Rosi

Word is that it was payback for the Democratic Mayor of Fort Lee not endorsing Christie’s re-election or it was payback to NJ Legislative Democrats over the State Supreme Court or a development project in Fort Lee.

Or something else – which may or may not be found out through investigations, hearings or maybe even subpoenas and prosecutions.  And ironically, it was this and not one of the myriad of other things he did over his career that finally has people sitting up and taking notice of how scummy Governor Fleece has been consistently over the course of his career.

But at this point, quite honestly, the big thing here is not why this was done (even though it could lead to other crimes being uncovered and could be a very big deal in its own right), but the mere fact of how many people in Christie’s inner circle were so very intimately involved in the planning and cover up of this – leading to the conclusion that the only way that Christie actually didn’t know about the planning and cover up is if it was perfectly clear by design that Christie was to purposely be kept in the dark about the details.  

Which is (1) not plausible or (2) a sinister culture (a point made many times already) in that these people – people this loyal to him – would not keep Christie in the dark about something this big and this damaging without him wanting to not be told of the details.

In short – this could not credibly have been kept from Christie without he himself letting his inner circle know that he doesn’t want to know about these things.  And not wanting to know how this is being covered up or not pressing to find out why his own high level appointees were resigning is patently absurd to anyone who has followed Christie in any way.

Remembering a friend and progressive

promoted by Rosi – I also admired Paul Eisenman

Just a short diary as anyone who has been involved in Bergen County (or probably north Jersey) politics has come across Paul Eisenman at one time or another.  I found out late Sunday night that Paul passed away earlier that day, and although I probably hadn’t seen him in a year or so, I considered him a friend and someone to look up to.

Paul is probably best known for either Bergen Grassroots, which I believe was the chapter up here for Democracy for America – or his tireless work to bring pay-to-play reform to Bergen County.  The stain on the County from the pay-to-play politics had Paul seek out those in either party who would end this practice in Bergen.  His passion – even when I first met him when he was close to 80 years old – was something to admire.  His charisma drew me in as we worked on a few District wide issues over a 3-4 year period and I will always remember him fondly.

There is a lot more that can be said about Paul, but I’ll leave it at that – he was a man that I knew for a few short years, but he taught me a lot during that time and was a pleasure to talk to, learn from and be around.

He will most certainly be missed.

Deep Thought: Republican fraud edition

Well, lookie what we have here:

Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced that a criminal complaint was filed today against New Jersey Assemblyman Robert Schroeder (R-39) charging him with writing nearly $400,000 in bad checks to people who invested large sums in his company, All Points International Distributors, Inc., which sells tents and prefabricated buildings to the U.S. military.

A Republican charged with defrauding and ripping off investors for his company who gets the bulk of its money from Government contracts.  Governor Christie’s old friend Solomon Dwek is probably laughing and thinking that it’s too bad he didn’t have a buddy at the Attorney General’s office like Dwek did at the US Attorney office.

I’m anxiously awaiting Christie’s next YouTube moment denouncing illegal acts by our elected officials who suck at the teat of Uncle Sam with lush government contracts.

Palm, meet forehead. Bergen edition.

Being a Democrat in Bergen County isn’t easy.  The spectacular demise of the “party machine” that had a stranglehold on the political offices still has its remnants and ghosts roaming the halls and thoughts of the Democratic Party.  Sure, there was a successful election last year and there very well could be another successful showing this coming November on the County level, but the way that the Congressional race was mishandled is one of a number of things showing that the “new new” Bergen Democratic leadership isn’t really ready for prime time, and that “the other Party is worse” can only get you so far.

Witness the whole “pay-to-play” hand wringing from a few years ago – a “crackdown” that was finally passed once the Bergen Republicans forced the issue to a vote – even a watered down “crackdown” that was ultimately enacted.  In the shadows of this mess that was the biggest symptom of the BCDO’s hubris and implosion comes some frustration at an issue that, if the BCDODCBC was out in front on, could show that they are serious about governing again.

Sadly, that doesn’t appear to be the case as noted in Charlie Stile’s column the other day.

While I am taking great joy in seeing Bergen County Republican Party Chairman Bob Yudin complaining about how the watered down rules have made it hard to get their message out without greasing the palms of those who would do quid-pro-quo favors and how money essentially equals First Amendment rights, I would have hoped for a strong response and distinction from this by Lou Stellato, Chairman of the BCDODCBC.  Even moreso when the County-favored Candidate for Congress, Adam Gussen, is known by many “who know” to at least have some ties to the old-Ferriero guard – it gives a bigger and better opportunity to move forward in a new direction; a direction that is “for the people of Bergen County”.

Stellato, while not landing in the same camp as his Republican Party counterpart, did say that the rules made it “difficult to raise money”, and also wondered if County Law can supersede State law.  Both may be valid points, but as the leader of a Party that he inherited in much disarray, and among questions as to the new direction, vision and goals, there could have been a better choice of words – especially at a time when words are more powerful in terms of becoming campaign issues that can really really help the Party.

We expect better than this from Democrats

“I may not agree with what you say, but I shall defend to my death your right to say it” – Patrick Henry

You may be familiar with that quote, or the one below:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” – The First Amendment to The United States Constitution

These are very basic guiding values in this Country. Free speech – regardless of how popular or unpopular it may be viewed as, not suppressing voices that you don’t agree with. But up in the Fifth Congressional District, at least one Candidate, Adam Gussen, seems to think that “free speech” should be based on an artificial and undefined “filter”.

A bit of backstory for those who aren’t familiar with the Fifth District – as of now, there are three candidates, Gussen (the Deputy Mayor of Teaneck, which is new to the District), Jason Castle, a veteran who did not obtain enough signatures to be put on the Bergen County Democratic ballot, and Diane Sare, a LaRouche Democrat who is running in the primary because the LaRouche Party couldn’t get a separate line on the ballot. But all three are running.

Now, Sare’s views aren’t all that popular with the Democratic establishment, and they may not be all that popular in general – she is calling for the impeachment of Obama but also is looking to restore the Glass-Steagall Act, which has a lot of merit. But I don’t want to discuss her candidacy here, since I don’t know enough about it. I want to discuss the defense of free but objectionable (I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt as objectionable for now regardless of whether it actually is) speech by the Democratic Party – especially those who are running for Federal office.

In the article linked above, it was reported that Gussen said the following about Sare:

“I find the LaRouche platforms and their candidates to be offensive and destructive.

“I think that the Democratic Party, while honoring and giving life to the ideals and concepts of free speech, that there is a reasonable level of filtering that could take place. This is noise that should be filtered out,”

Now, I’m not sure where there is a way to find out exactly where the tipping point is for “reasonable filtering” of free speech. For example, let’s say that Sare is calling for impeachment of Obama, and cites his signing of NDAA, which allowed for the indefinite detainment of US citizens on American soil without trial. Did Gussen think it was ok to call for Bush’s impeachment for that very same thing, but it isn’t ok if it is Obama? What is so destructive and offensive that it can trump the suppression of First Amendment rights – especially by a Congressional Candidate?

Now, this isn’t to say that I am supporting Jason Castle or Diane Sare. But it does set off an alarm that a DEMOCRATIC Congressional Candidate supports the suppression of free speech based on arbitrary adjectives such as “destructive” or “offensive”. Perhaps it is the mere calling for suppression of free speech that is destructive and offensive.

The importance and impact of Congressional races

I’ve been meaning to write something of this nature for a while now, and while my thoughts are somewhat general and somewhat specific to my hometown Bergen County, I’ll try to mix in both specific thoughts as well as general views.

 

The Congressional race is every other year – the only National level race that is so frequent.  The Congressional candidate (or sitting Congressman/Woman) is probably one of the highest profile politicians in the County Democratic Party.  This person has a somewhat direct line and potential influence with the State Democratic Party, the County Democratic Party and in many instances, the US Senators and Executive Branch (not to mention the DCCC or DNC).

 

When a County Party is in disarray, there is a ripple effect both up and down ballot.  There is an enthusiasm gap that impacts the County races (Freeholder, Clerk, Sheriff, County Executive) and also races from Town Council to School Board – who can become the next Town Councilperson who can become the next Freeholder Candidate who can become the next State Assembly or Senate Candidate or….the next Congressman/woman.  On the other hand, depressed enthusiasm and lower volunteering lead to lower voter turnout and can tip elections on a local, County, State or even the US Senate or Presidential race – if you look at a County that is as large as Bergen for example.

 

This leads to a stronger (or weaker) bench, directly impact the viability of the next County, Statewide or Congressional race and also indirectly impact these races for the next few cycles at a minimum.  Banking on “the other side being worse” is a short term fix at best and shows no long term vision (case in point:  tell me where there is any platform or agenda on the BCDODCBC website).

 

Taking this to the example I know so well – let’s take a look at a few things.  The Ferriero-led Party blew up and crashed under the weight of pay-to-play, corruption and a focus on keeping certain Democrats elected at the expense of the good of the County (and State) Party.  There was little focus or support on the Congressional race – even though Bergen is home to the overwhelming majority of Congressional District voters.  The lack of an articulated vision is still lacking from any visible correspondence or as noted above – the County Party web site. 

 

After the 2008 election, there was no desire to recruit or groom a Congressional Candidate – due to many factors but even in good times (see 2012’s “good times” as an example), this is hardly a focus.  Redistricting played a role, but the “bench” got swept out of office in 2009 and 2010 (which was an unmitigated disaster on the Congressional level).  I’m not sure how this impacted the Town Council races but I don’t believe there were any gains made on the State level to go along with the highly touted “comeback sweep” in the 2011 County elections. 

 

But I can say this:  even with 2010 being a “wave election”, another 10,000 votes overall or so (or a swing of 5,000) could have turned the Republican clean sweep into either a mixed bag or a near full hold by the Bergen County Democrats.  And while that seems like a lot, this article notes that less than 50% of close to 500,000 eligible voters in the County actually voted in the County races – and the Congressional Candidate received a bit more than half of the votes that were cast for either the County Executive or the Sheriff race.

 

Tell me that you don’t think that the potential wasn’t there to at least have a much better showing – even with all of the inherent flaws and forces working against Bergen County Democrats?  Certainly, the Congressional race was a lost cause and yes, those totals didn’t include the entire County but really?  The other Congressional race – with an incumbent who had the “highest profile Democrat in the County” status – is now a heated primary with yet again, nobody that stepped up or was groomed from 2010 (redistricting aside as you HAVE to plan for something like this) we now have a similar situation on the Congressional level, where the only candidate to appear on the County ballot is the Deputy Mayor of a town that was just added to the Congressional District. 

 

What’s more, word is already circulating about Democrats in Sussex and Warren Counties hesitant to back this candidate now.  There is a real chance to regain a couple of the Countywide Freeholder seats in November.  In fact, a strong Congressional candidate and a strong platform for the County Party would have gone a long way towards helping Senator Menendez and President Obama in their re-election efforts.  It would have had a ripple effect on the County and local races, and could build momentum for the next wave of leaders.

 

But it takes commitment and dedication to ideas and values – not just winning some of the next races in the upcoming election.  That will motivate people to get involved.  And the Congressional race is the lynchpin of all of this – it is the only thing that has such an impact up ticket and down ballot with such consistency.  It is the only race that can bring activists together to help and get involved on a local and national level.

 

Look at a strong County Party and you’ll likely find good solid Congressional races, incumbents or candidates.  Look at County Parties in disarray and you are likely to see a lack of consideration for fielding consistently strong Congressional candidates. 

 

All politics is local, but this year’s local officeholders are next year’s potential leaders.

 

Revenues below projection. Time to scrap Christie’s “millionaire welfare”.

Remember last year when Governor Christie threw yet another tantrum about “unrealistic revenue numbers” in the Democrats’ budget in rejecting much needed services that Democrats wanted New Jerseyans to have?  And remember when the top Republican on the Assembly Budget Committee said that revenues are sluggish right before Christie unveiled his massive government giveaway to millionaires – to go along with outrageous revenue projections?


 

Well, guess what?:

State revenue collections bounced back in February, but overall receipts are still 1.7 percent – or $243.2 million – less than the Christie administration estimated, according to figures that will be released later today.

 

So, about those “pie in the sky” revenue projections that Christie accused Democrats of using for essential services that Christie heartlessly cut from the budget?  What sayeth the Governor when it comes to unrealistic revenue projections when he isn’t even meeting his own pre-pie in the sky estimates used to sell his Millionaire Welfare program?

 

It’s time to put the job killing needless economy stalling handout-to-the-super-rich to a final resting place once and for all.  Christie’s own actual revenue numbers don’t lie – unlike the Governor himself.

How to demotivate activists and lose elections

Hi, my name is Adam L. I live in Bergen County and I have a problem.

I am exactly the type of person who should be writing this kind of post, and sadly, am precisely the kind of person that the Bergen County Democratic Organization, er, the “new name, same garbage” Democratic Committee of Bergen County should be alarmed is writing this kind of post.

I moved to the fifth legislative district in August 2006, just in time to do a bit of volunteering for Paul Aronsohn’s campaign against Scott Garrett – one of the very worst members of Congress.  I knew nothing about the brewing disaster that Joe Ferriero’s tenure was about to unleash on the County Democratic Party apparatus.  I was able to get a bit more involved in 2008 for Dennis Shulman’s campaign, and started to realize the rot that was forming in the County Party during the following year when I was able to help with the Governor race, the local Assembly race and get more involved in Retire Garrett, the mess of the 2010 Congressional race, the Freeholder race and ultimately getting on the County Committee.

With the recent redistricting and the “new new” leadership of the BCDODCBC, there was hope that with time to prepare, a somewhat better district, a better environment to run and the County Party talking about “the right kind of candidate can defeat Scott Garrett” – I wouldn’t be writing this kind of post in March of the election year.

Alas, I was wrong.

First, there was talk of a potentially tasty showdown between Congressman Steve Rothman and Garrett.  A race that could very well have been won and a race that even the DCCC was willing to plunk down money to fight.  And that was over before we could even start thinking about how great a race that would be.

Then, there was the anticipation of Assemblywoman Wagner running – and the exposure that would bring along with a very solid candidate, who could also attract the attention that comes along with potentially being the only female in the NJ Congressional Delegation.  And unfortunately, Assemblywoman Wagner’s month long decision to “let us know next week” turned out to also be a “no-go”.

With the Giants winning the Super Bowl, the County Committee happened to turn the heat up on the speculation that former Giant great Harry Carson would run.  Certainly an unconventional choice but clearly one that would draw attention to the race like no one else could.  And after another few weeks of speculation, that fizzled out quickly.

Once more turning to the “anyone but the popular Freeholder from another County in the District” card, another relative outsider, Jim McQueeny, was quickly the “next great hope” before pulling out the day before the big announcement that he was in.

So here we are – an elected Freeholder who was clearly being pushed aside for a “better choice that never came” was possibly just waiting for that better choice to come along and then drop out, didn’t get the necessary signatures to be on the Bergen County ballot.  And the BCDODCBC never found that better choice in their minds – leading to months of motivated activists like myself wanting, hoping, waiting and imploring to help out in a race that we desperately want to win – clearly way more than Bergen County Democratic leadership wants to win.

This will also ultimately hurt the County races – not to mention the Senate race and Presidential race – and forget about the once again lost cause of a Congressional race.

With all of the time that could have been used for the least bit of planning (or contingency planning) and the development of a bench that clearly is severely lacking, it is baffling that we have seen these events yhis year.

I have two young kids and a full time job and precious little free time.  So, why would I want to help a County Party that doesn’t want to help itself?

Christie uses magic fairy dust to pay for Millionaire Welfare

My soon to be 4 year old son is a big fan of Peter Pan.  Partially it is because Peter Pan gets to fight against the pirates, and partially it is because his name is Peter as well.  It seems like Governor Christie is also a fan of Peter Pan – but because of their shared love of using fairy dust to make magical things happen that have no basis in reality.


 

As a tax expert who is looking at Christie’s budget priorities and projections from the basis of reality here in New Jersey and on planet Earth, there is only one thing for certain here:  it is all rainbows and puppies in the area of wild eyed revenue increases in order to pay for Christie’s highly touted Millionaire Welfare program, which costs $500 million this coming year and $1.3 billion overall.  Let’s take a look at some basic information and assumptions:

Revenue from taxes and fees is expected to be up 7.3 percent over the current spending plan. The largest increases would be generated from corporate taxes, and smaller increases from sales taxes and the income tax, which Christie proposes to begin cutting in January 2013.


 

—snip—


 

In the first half of fiscal 2012, revenues only rose 3 percent. But in a briefing with reporters before Christie’s budget address, Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff said, “We believe that the economy of the state is, in fact, experiencing a comeback.”

 

The little problem here is that there is really no basis to believe that a “comeback”, despite the “Mission Accomplished-like” use of slogans – is happening, is imminent or would come anywhere near reaching the highest revenue growth in years (the highest since 2005).  “Why?” do you ask?  Well, let’s take a look:


 

As noted above, the lion’s share of the revenue increases come from a few assumptions:  more corporate taxes paid as well as more income and sales taxes paid, coupled with the thoroughly debunked zombie lie about “cutting taxes stimulating of the economy”, as they have repeatedly been shown not to add jobs(see the huge drop in jobs after the Bush tax cuts) and revenues (even debunked by Bush’s own economic advisors).


 

The far-from-liberal Businessweek had the following to say:

Nationwide, combined state tax revenue rose 6.1 percent from July to September, the seventh-straight quarter of growth, and the streak may have extended into the three months ended in December, according to a Jan. 26 report from the Albany, New York-based Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government. Yet the gains appear to be weakening, the group said. New Jersey’s revenue has missed forecasts in the six months through December.

—snip—


 

New Jersey’s revenue dropped about 11 percent in fiscal 2009 as the economy slumped. It fell 3.5 percent the next year, before rising 2.9 percent in 2011, and is projected to rise 3.5 percent this fiscal year.

Putting a face to the impact of Christie’s Millionaire Welfare program

The other day, I talked about how Governor Chrisite’s Millionaire Welfare program is disastrous for the health of New Jersey, and a few weeks before that, I talked about how income tax cuts in general are the problem, not the solution.

Today, I want to hammer this home by putting a human face on the impact and suffering of New Jerseyans due to the heartless, downright cruel and absolutely unnecessary government giveaways to the super duper rich.  I’ll start in Passaic, where over 200 disabled residents, many elderly and on a very limited fixed income must now pay an annual fee for a handicapped parking space that they were not charged for in years.  


“I didn’t want to make this tough decision, but we are being forced to at this time,” [Mayor Alex D.] Blanco said.

—snip—

“We hate to make these kinds of decisions,” Schaer said. “They strike at the quality of life. But with cuts we have gotten coming from Trenton and coming from Washington, we are the last stop.”

I’ll note that the tax savings from just one person earning $1,000,000 under Christie’s proposal would pay for virtually every single handicapped parking fee.

But the downgrade in the quality of life for New Jerseyans doesn’t stop there.  Those of us who take NJ Transit know all too well the significantly more erratic and lower level of service that we now get along with our higher fares so that millionaires can enjoy their lavish lifestyle.  

And while private security services in gated communities won’t be suffering, all across the state there are cuts to public safety due in large part to more cuts in aid from Christie’s budgets.  

Let’s also not forget Christie’s massive cuts to public education (as you’ve read here in great and painful detail), despite NJ consistently having one of the top ranked public school systems year in and year out – or that his cuts were slapped down in court and totaled nearly $1 billion his first year in office – a time when he cut taxes on corporations and on millionaires – two things that have not led to any measurable or direct job growth or economic activity.

And in possibly one of the unkindest cuts of all, drastic cuts in state aid to NJ nursing homes that care for the sickest of patients left them far short of the necessary funds, and could very well mean layoffs to staff at these nursing homes.

Clearly, the disabled, the elderly, the sick, the state’s children (and future), public safety and those working class families who use public transportation can stand some more service cuts and increased fees so that Christie’s base can get their government handouts and enjoy more luxury cars and vacations.