Author Archive: JackHarris

Wellstone’s Revenge: How Minnesota Democrats Took Their State Back

This is diary rescue from several days ago, but I deliberately saved this for Sunday, because the article is long and detailed – 100% worth the time. I’m still dazzled by the two strategists and their Colorado donor network that backed a constellation of think tanks, candidate-training outfits and blogs, discussed in the piece. Nothing like that here in NJ. And as a 2-time Camp Wellstone grad, I have great respect for Jeff Blodgett and others in Paul Wellstone’s legacy discussed here. – Rosi

Great article. Let’s Discuss.

Wellstone’s Revenge: How Minnesota Democrats Took Their State Back

Fantastic article though it misses the Dean surge of 2004 and the hard slog of party building in red suburbs during the dark days by people like current MN DFL Vice Chair Marge Hoffa, but a great read if you are interested in understanding how to build a progressive policy network aligned with your states values.

Why I am Supporting Frank Pallone for U.S. Senate

promoted by Rosi

A long long time ago I was an Eagleton intern in what was then the NJ Assembly Democratic MINORITY Office. One of my key tasks was to monitor the ocean dumping  ban and beach closure legislation championed by then State Senator Frank Pallone at a time medical waste was constantly washing up on New Jersey’s beaches.

I  did all the things that good interns do; read the text of the bills, talked to experts at the state and federal levels, to scientists, advocates, industry and lobbyists,  monitored the press and attended hearings that Pallone held. And I came away singularly impressed with the way Pallone was able to talk with and build consensus with both Republican allies of the bill and Democratic opponents of the bill, because let’s face reality, state-level Democrats in New Jersey haven’t always been friendly to environmental legislation.  

Regardless, Pallone was able to build consensus and faced very little Democratic opposition later that year when Congressman  Jim Howard died and his seat became open.

After being elected to congress, Pallone easily moved what was then state legislation to the federal level. Bans on ocean dumping, water  quality testing and  the development of federal guidelines for beach closures became a matter of law and EPA regulations due to Frank Pallone’s advocacy and legislation.

That ability to move legislation and federal agencies on behalf of concerns about environmental and human health and quality of life has been a hallmark of Frank Pallone’s legislative career at both the state and federal levels.  

Minnesota on the Verge of Passing Marriage Equality Today

It’s happening now.

Live feed from The Uptake on Minnesota’s Marriage Equality Vote

And this old but goody from MN  State Rep Steve Simon when last year’s Republican majority voted to put an anti marriage equality measure on the ballot.

A video our governor should watch repeatedly.  

How Many Gays Must God Create Before We Accept That He Wants them Around?

Update The Minnesota House passed it 75-59, up next is the MN State Senate on Monday where it’s expected to pass.

Gov. Dayton is expected to sign-it as soon as it comes to his desk.  

Presidential Inaugural Day of Service: Opening Sandy Hook, Opening the Shore — Help this Weekend

Update from the Organizers:

Unfortunately, the site for Sandy Hook is full, so please arrive only with the numbers that you registered for.  Anyone you know that is interested in volunteering at Sandy Hook, but was unable to secure a spot for this Saturday should stay in touch with Waves of Action at For the Shore, and also with Gateway National Park on their facebook page here – there will be many opportunities to get out and clean up Sandy Hook in the near future!

There is also a beach sweep with Clean Ocean action in nearby Keansburg, on Saturday from 10am – 2pm…

and a number of beach and community cleanups throughout coastal Monmouth County on Saturday as well.


This Saturday, January 19th, you can help with the restoration of Sandy Hook which helps directly with the recovery of NJ Shore jobs and businesses.

Volunteer to clean up the woods & marshes of Sandy Hook & help your neighbors.

For centuries, Sandy Hook has stood as the gateway to the NJ Shore. While it’s position at the entrance to NY Harbor assured it’s use as a military garrison, as the oldest working Light House in the United States and as a place of science and exploration, in recent decades it has become a major destination for summer surf and sand as well as year-round hiking, biking, kayaking, bird and seal watching.  Thousands of businesses and thousands of workers in Northern Monmouth County depend on Sandy Hook being open every summer for their livelihoods.

The nearby Bayshore communities of Highlands, Leonardo, Belford, Port Monmouth, Keansburg, Union Beach and Keyport were among the hardest hit communities during and after Superstorm Sandy and are filled with primary homes, not secondary residences. These are working class communities filled with locally owned businesses and local people who work hard year round making  the NJ Shore one of the most desirable places to live and vacation in the country.

As part of the 2013 Presidential Inaugural Day of Service up to 400 volunteers will help clean up the woods and marshes along Sandy Hook Bay. Clean Ocean Action and the Presidential Inaugural Service Committee have organized this event to help get Sandy Hook restored for the summer. The Northern Monmouth Chamber of Commerce and the NJ Shore Convention and Visitors Bureau have also been busy recruiting volunteers and turning people out.  

Asbury Park Musical Heritage Foundation Opens Exhibit Space Today

Looking for something to do on a warm rainy winters day?

The fairly new Asbury Park Musical Heritage Foundation (APMHF) has opened up an exhibit space at 708 Cookman Avenue (former location of The Showroom Cinema).

APMHF was founded to celebrate ALL the genres and varieties of music that have found a home in Asbury Park over the last century.

The exhibit hall will host rotating exhibits and is kicking off with a community open house from 12 noon to 7 pm.

Music has always been a presence in Asbury Park in the best of times and the worst of times and this new exhibit hall/office space/community focal point is APMHF’s post-Sandy response.

I know many folks in the Blue Jersey community helped make the New Leaders Council fundraiser at the Stone Pony a tremendous success.

So if you’re looking for a fun Saturday, come to Asbury Park once again. See the exhibits, have some lunch or dinner and maybe even pick up a few birthday gifts at Asbruy’s shops along Cookman Ave!

See you later today!  

Part II: Moving Beyond Sandy: Embracing a Progressive Economic Growth Strategy for NJ

promoted by Rosi

Job one of the governor after Sandy, or of any governor really, is to lead long-term Post-Sandy recovery and to rebuild wherever it makes sense environmentally and economically.  Regardless of what the other secular trends are in the state and what the key policy requirements are, a failure to recover from Sandy puts the entire state economy at risk.

I learned today that the LBI Region, or Southern Ocean County, alone contributes $1.2 billion dollars to the state economy from tourism and that 20,340 jobs are directly supported by visitor commerce there. Ocean County as a whole contributes $3.9 billion dollars to the state from tourism related activities.  The LBI Region alone contributes $300 million in tax receipts from tourism related activities and about $66 million of those taxes flow directly to the state.  About 13% to 14% of Ocean County jobs in total are attributable to tourism. Tourism and hospitality is the third largest economic sector in Ocean County behind government and healthcare.  

Beware the Sandy Metaphors in Attacking the Governor

The new refrain about Sandy’s “mask” by NJ Democrats and progressives is both worrisome and troubling.  While there is much merit to the idea that the Governor is using Sandy to mask the economic failings of his administration, this line of attack as part of a 2013 strategic communications campaign is doomed to failure because it ignores the realities of the storm and its aftermath.  

Hoboken is still wrestling with FEMA definitions of basements that make sense for the Gulf Coast, suburbs, or areas where the water table is high, but not for northeastern urban architectures. Perth Amboy took a big hit to its waterfront and South Amboy and Sayreville were essentially abandoned during the storm and its immediate aftermath. And that’s before we get to Monmouth and Ocean Counties. At last count there were approximately 10,000 displaced residents and only approximately 6,750 available rental units between the two counties according to FEMA. And that number may actually be increasing as people run out of couch surfing possibilities or temporary arrangements with family or friends become no longer tenable.  These numbers also don’t include the annual population of people who live in the woods or their cars and seek indoor shelter during the coldest months of the winter.  

Senator Sweeney’s comments yesterday  and Bill Orr’s metaphor today of  “Christie Hiding behind the Fleece Coat” do more harm than good.  I spent the day today in the heart of Sandy-impacted communities in Monmouth and Ocean counties as part of a project I’m working on and in a professional role, not in the volunteer or community member role I’ve become accustomed to over the last couple of months.

The damage is real and the impact on people’s lives and livelihoods is very real and very palpable. The people who live in communities with substantial damage to homes and businesses are visibly exhausted. People want to talk, they want to share their experiences, but they also need to continue putting on brave fronts and professional appearances.  While getting a late lunch/early dinner at a local place near Long Branch today I saw a couple and their 2 year old doing a massive juggling act ordering dinner, grabbing some yogurts for tomorrow’s  breakfast, running the business. They own a local services business that is critical to homeowner, business and municipal recovery yet is still only a Mom and Pop business.  Not the first time I’ve seen this tableau since Sandy either.

Monmouth County is an affluent county with extremes of poverty and clusters of people barely getting by. Communities like Asbury Park were just turning the corner economically and are at serious risk post-Sandy. The hard-hit Bayshore communities may have a large number of tea partiers but many of the people who live there struggle paycheck to paycheck and some of those communities require (and receive) high degrees of social services in the best of times.

To use Sandy as a political ploy puts the NJ Democratic Party at severe risk, not just in this election but for the next generation. The Latino community from Hoboken to Long Branch and points in between has taken some serious hits because of Sandy. Suburban independents and blue collar democrats in Monmouth and Middlesex counties may be less favorable to the NJ Democratic agenda if they perceive the Democratic leadership as less interested in long-term recovery and more interested in scoring cheap political points. The strong African-American community tucked away in enclaves throughout Monmouth County may not show up at election time anymore except for leaders who speak directly to their concerns and their community.  

If we haven’t learned over the last 5 years that the Governor is extremely adept at exploiting divisions and fracturing fault lines, then we’ve learned nothing.  Keep using Sandy to attack the governor on his failures and he will indeed see the biggest vote total for a Republican Governor in a generation.

Stay Tuned for Part II: Moving Beyond Sandy: Embracing a Progressive Economic Growth Strategy for NJ

What’s next for EPA Chief Lisa Jackson?

Promoted by Interested Observer: Will she throw her hat in the ring to challenge Christie? Would you support her if she did?

NYT reports she is in fact stepping down as head of the EPA.

E.P.A. Chief to Step Down, With Climate Still Low Priority

Will she come back to NJ? Run for Governor? U.S. Senate?  Congressman Pascrell’s seat if he runs for Governor?

I know a lot of the Big E environmental groups are not particularly enamored of Lisa Jackson’s tenure as either EPA Chief or NJDEP Commissioner.

But I saw her speak in Louisiana when I was running state communications there for Repower America.

I walked away extremely impressed, she spoke from the heart about her experiences with environmental waste, toxics, cancer and the impact of these threats on communities and families.

And as someone who grew up in the heart of Superfund country near the Arthur Kill, I can tell who really bleeds green and who doesn’t very very quickly.

Christie Whitman bleeds green for instance — but that’s a story for another day.

Lisa Jackson gets it, she knows what the environmental realities are and she knows what the political realities are. I’ve never bought the naysaying about her commitment to environmental protection.

Jackson grew up in Louisiana not far from cancer alley and spent her career with the EPA in Region 2 overseeing Superfund and toxic cleanup programs. Degrees in Chemical Engineering from Princeton and Tulane.

You can’t have those experiences and not be committed to environmental protection and reform.

If politics is not in the cards for Jackson, I hope one of the Big E environmental groups pick her as their next President, Chair or ED.  

>NJ Housing Needs Highlighted by Sandy

10,000 people displaced by Sandy, only 6,000 rentals available according to FEMA (And others).

Rep. Pallone is keeping after this issue. It’s a big one and will only get worse.

NJ Housing Needs Highlighted by Sandy

Good piece by NBC News. Glad to see NJ natives like Brian Williams and Jon Stewart are making sure that the voices of year-round residents of the NJ Shore are being heard.

Both of them keep highlighting the residents of the real NJ shore, who as Jon Stewart said last night, keep this place going all year.

Pallone Criticizes FEMA Response to Temporary Housing Needs for Sandy Victims

This is what a great congressman does. And in case anyone is keeping score, Frank Pallone is the last of the NJ Shore Congressmen and is the only member of our congressional  delegation to live in a coastal town.


Pallone Appeal to FEMA Administrator Answered: Agency to Deploy Temporary Housing Beginning Monday

Dec 6, 2012 Issues: New Jersey

LONG BRANCH, NJ-Following an afternoon conference call with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) released a statement today voicing his concern over the agency’s response to the housing and humanitarian crisis still impacting thousands of New Jersey residents.

The following are his comments:

“I was disturbed to learn of FEMA’s altered plans to provide temporary housing to hurricane Sandy victims.  In the immediate aftermath of the storm I like most New Jerseyans, took solace in FEMA’s promises of housing assistance to those whose homes were badly damaged or destroyed by the hurricane.  I believed that FEMA would honor its commitments to ensure that people who lost their homes would be furnished with temporary alternative housing like trailers or mobile homes as we have seen after similar disasters throughout the nation.

“Unfortunately, I am far less confident in FEMA’s willingness to assist our community in light of a conference call I participated in today with agency representatives.  I was told that, rather than maintaining their earlier commitment to provide adequate temporary housing to towns for those seeking to stay on their own property, FEMA is no longer planning on providing mobile homes and trailers.  Instead, the agency suggests that New Jerseyans make accommodations on their own if they choose to stay on their property and in their communities.  The agency suggested that residents use their FEMA vouchers and to contribute to the cost of acquiring and renting RVs, mobile homes and trailers from as far away as Pennsylvania.