Author Archive: Brian McGinnis

Netroots Nation 2009: Save the Dates!

Netroots Nation was an absolute blast, and Jeff and I had a rip-roaring good time full of many progressive shenanigans. The speakers were incredible; the panel discussions were insightful and cutting-edge; and the sense of community and greater progressive networking were absolutely off the hook.

In a grand twist of irony, I had forgotten to bring my laptop’s AC adapter with me to Austin, so I apologize for not liveblogging as much as Jeff did. I’ll be posting later today on an interesting topic raised by Darcy Burner in a panel discussion, and one that’s certainly very relevant to the shore communities of New Jersey– messaging around offshore drilling.

In any case, I’m writing this to encourage you to sign up today for Netroots Nation 2009, which will take place in Pittsburgh from August 13-16, 2009, at the low early registration rate of just $175. For progressive activists, this is an absolute steal, as the regular registration rate is likely to climb above $400 before too long. And this is an event you absolutely can’t afford to miss.

I just registered. Will I see you there?

Desperate NRCC Attacks Adler for Legal Contributions

It seems the NRCC has reached a new low point of desperation. Here’s how the AC Press describes it:

The National Republican Congressional Committee attacked Democratic 3rd Congressional District candidate John Adler as unethical Tuesday for accepting past federal campaign contributions from casino executives and PACs.

However, what the Republican committee failed to say was that the contributions were completely legal.

New Jersey being a state with casinos, this is an issue that occasionally comes up in New Jersey politics. Casinos aren’t permitted to donate to state campaigns but are free to donate to federal campaigns. The law is pretty clear and simple in this case. John Adler’s campaign for Congress (in case the NRCC has forgotten its basic civics) is a federal campaign and can, consequently, accept such donations.

Apparently, the NRCC is so desperate to hold Jim Saxton’s seat in a huge wave year that they’re attacking John Adler for accepting legal contributions. What’s next– attacking John Adler for legally running TV ads? For legally putting up lawn signs? For legally knocking on voters’ doors?

What makes this move even more hilarious is that the NRCC’s silly attack on Adler also applies to plenty of Republicans, including Dick Zimmer, this year’s  GOP nominee for US Senate from New Jersey.

Other state lawmakers – including other Republicans – have accepted casino donations when they ran for federal office. Former state Sen. Bill Gormley, who had also chaired the Judiciary Committee, received casino money in an unsuccessful 1994 bid for Congress.

Former Republican Assembly Speaker Garabed “Chuck” Haytaian accepted $4,000 in Indian gaming contributions when he ran for U.S. Senate the same year.

New Jersey’s current Republican U.S. Senate candidate, Dick Zimmer, received $500 in casino executive donations in 1990 when he first ran for Congress while he was a state senator.

The NRCC, afraid of this seat turning blue, is clearly desperate. Let’s give them some more reasons to be afraid.

Is New Jersey McCain Country? (No, It’s Not)

Just a few days ago, New Jersey Republicans were riding high, full of all kinds of bluster over John McCain opening a New Jersey campaign headquarters in Woodbridge.


McCain opened his New York/New Jersey regional headquarters in Woodbridge today, and a group of prominent New Jersey Republicans did some trash talking to commemorate the occasion. First, there’s this from Bill Baroni, who is usually a pretty lucid guy:

New Jersey is McCain country.

Then Leonard Lance took the bravado a step further:

It’s clear Sen. McCain is going to carry both New Jersey and New York.

It’s a nice sentiment, I suppose, especially if you’re a New Jersey Republican, accustomed to getting thrashed in statewide races as of late. But a new Fairleigh Dickinson Public Mind poll cuts through that spin.

According to today’s poll, Obama leads McCain in the Garden State 49%-33%, a sixteen point lead, with a margin of error of 4%. Although Obama hasn’t yet reached 50%, the poll’s internal numbers reveal there’s plenty of room for Obama to grow. Take the jump to find out why.

I’m Chris Myers, and I Approve This Bad Driving

So, yesterday, I had the privilege– a privilege so many New Jersey drivers enjoy daily– of being cut off in traffic as I was driving to run some errands. But unlike many New Jersey drivers, I had the additional privilege of being cut off in traffic by a would-be Congressman (or rather, by his campaign driver).

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Of course, I slammed on my brakes and shook an angry fist at the offending car. But as it passed, I got a good look at the passenger. It was none other than Chris Myers, the defense contractor/lobbyist vying to replace Jim Saxton as the Bush administration’s rubber stamp in Congress.

New Jersey’s 3rd district doesn’t need another status-quo representative. New Jersey’s 3rd district doesn’t need a Congressman who will keep us on the wrong track– either in Washington or the 3rd district’s highways. Chris Myers is already heading down, nay, speeding down the reckless Bush path– whether it’s on the Iraq war, on the Bush tax cuts or on not checking his blind spots.

We don’t need more of the same. It’s time for a change.

Adler for Congress: He Won’t Cut You Off In Traffic. (And He’ll Probably Fix Some Stuff Like Health Care, Iraq, and the Economy, Too)

More of this, please

Collingswood is looking to develop a transit village around the PATCO commuter rail station currently located in the town:

“This location is a great location,” Mayor Jim Maley told the developers, who packed a room in the Community Center on Thursday. “Our station already gets more foot traffic than any other station.”

The borough and the Delaware River Port Authority announced last month they are seeking a developer to build a “transit village” on the nine-acre site.

Transit villages are high-density, mixed-use developments built near mass-transit stations in hopes of attracting residents who want urban conveniences in a small-town setting.

Thursday’s meeting was intended to give potential developers a chance to learn more about the project.

In New Jersey, as in many other states, we face the classic chicken-or-the-egg conundrum as it relates to commuter rail and other mass transit. For the most part, people don’t find the routes convenient– either because there aren’t enough, or the stations aren’t in good, convenient locations– so they choose to drive to work instead, thus reducing utilization rates and future investment in rail based on those rates.

However, Collingswood’s move here is a good one, provided the development is properly managed. Let’s hope it’s successful.

Elections Consolidation: A No-Brainer

Today, the Star-Ledger has an editorial urging the state to consolidate elections in order to try and find critically needed budget savings:

The idea of moving the May municipal elections has been around for a few years but has never received serious consideration. Changing a system that’s been in place for decades is never easy, so the bill would not require a change but would give municipalities the option. And the bill does not mention school elections.

Furthermore, combining elections would be a painless way of cutting costs. Small towns could save as much as $25,000 and larger communities even more.

This year, many voters face five elections — the February presidential primaries, the April school board races, the May municipal votes, the June party primaries and the November general election. In a few towns, there’s even one more, a vote on school construction bonds.

Consolidating elections makes sense. The bill represents only a tiny first step, but sometimes that’s how the journey to reform must begin.

Consolidating elections and regionalizing servies are the kind of common-sense politics that will bring real savings to municipalities– and to property-tax payers– across the state. To me, that’s a no-brainer.

Corzine: Facing Discrimination? “That’s Unfortunate”

(What really is unfortunate is the lengths people will go to deny equal rights and then the language they will use to justify that denial. – promoted by njdem)

The Corzine administration’s reaction to a report that civil unions fail to guarantee equal rights for all families:

Gov. Corzine’s spokeswoman, Lilo Stainton, said the governor was “disappointed to hear about the frustration that people are having. . . . That is unfortunate.”

Is this Corzine’s attempt at empathy, to “feel your pain”? If so, it’s way off the mark and too glib by half.

Unfortunate? No. When you go to a diner they mess up your order– that’s unfortunate. When you’re driving to an important meeting and all of the sudden, you get a flat tire– that’s unfortunate.

When you are a hard-working New Jerseyan just trying to start a family, and you face discrimination that threatens your family’s financial, medical, and emotional security– that’s not just unfortunate. It’s a failure of a flawed system that relegates hundreds of New Jersey’s families to second-class status.

Stainton continues:

“His bottom line is not so much about the M word – marriage. It’s about equal rights. He wants to make sure people have access to benefits, to jobs, to education, and all the things that they should, regardless of color, creed, sexual orientation, and all the other things.”

I have to ask with all honesty, did Ms. Stainton or anyone else in the administration even read the civil unions report? People aren’t just “frustrated” with the law; they’re actively being denied equal rights. As the report shows, the label of “civil unions” creates a loophole employers can drive a truck through– practically inviting them to discriminate and deny families critically needed benefits. The report is clear about the experience of other states: in Vermont, which has had civil unions for 8 years, civil unioned families face the same discrimination and benefit denials. In contrast, families in Massachusetts, which has marriage, are guaranteed real equality.

The policy contrast couldn’t be clearer. Civil unions create a discriminatory second-class status that hurts New Jersey’s families. Only marriage equality will guarantee all families have equal rights.

Then there’s this gem from the administration:

Corzine has said that he would sign a gay-marriage bill, should one pass the Legislature, but that he did not want to do so this year.

“He doesn’t want the issue of gay marriage to be hijacked by the right wing during a presidential election,” Stainton said.

What a truly cynical reaction to a the fact that one in five civil-unioned families face discrimination that threatens their livelihoods. It’s comforting to know that Governor Corzine has the best interests of New Jersey’s families at heart– that he’d rather run scared of the right-wing than stand up for New Jersey’s families. It’s time to stop playing politics and stand up for for what’s right.

Governor Corzine, civil unions are substantively hurting families in this state every single day. Those hard-working, tax-paying, law-abiding families can’t afford to wait until after the presidential election. The time to stand up for equality is now.

Quote of the Day- Rob Andrews primary challenge edition

Ok, this is just laughable, in my opinion:

Congressman Rob Andrews is facing a challenge in the Democratic primary from A.S. Mahdi Ibn-Ziyad, a self-described progressive and Air Force veteran with a Ph.D. in moral education. He is a Democratic County Committeeman in Camden.

“In his 19 years in Congress, Robert Andrews has sponsored 526 bills since Jan 7, 1997, of which 522 haven’t made it out of committee,” says Ibn-Ziyad. “Of the four which made it to the House floor, none were made into law. New Jersey needs a dynamic, effective representative, who votes in the peoples’ interests, not in search of corporate PAC money.”

I can see the bumper stickers now- Vote Ibn-Ziyad: He’ll Get His Bills Out of Committee!