Author Archive: Jeff Gardner

Making Real Change – Past, Present and Future

promoted by Rosi

When you’ve spent a lifetime fighting to make New Jersey a better place for all its residents, what can you do to secure that legacy and encourage others to follow in your footsteps? Well, if you’re Senate Majority Leader (and progressive godmother) Loretta Weinberg, you can raise a little awareness and a lot of money to make it possible.

And, that’s exactly what she did at an event last night in Bergen County, raising over $100k for the Loretta Weinberg Legacy Fund at the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP). CAWP is a unit of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers, whose self-described mission is “to promote greater knowledge and understanding about women’s participation in politics and government and to enhance women’s influence and leadership in public life.”

And let’s face it, few know more about women’s participation in politics and government or have had greater influence and leadership than Senator Weinberg, whose daughter Francine last night described her (as only a child can, with love) as “a modern day caped crusading change maker – part nag, part superhero.”  

Quote of the Day: League Edition

promoted by Rosi

“NJ voters always want something for nothing. They think when they’re not getting something for nothing, they’re not getting their fair share.”

– Quick-witted Gov. Brendan Byrne, responding to a Transportation Trust Fund tax question at a panel of former governors.

I’m Running for County Clerk!

Good luck, buddy. Promoted by Rosi

Just wanted to share the news here first: this morning, the Passaic County Democratic Organization’s Executive Committee voted to select me as the party’s choice for Passaic County Clerk. Our full County Committee will meet Wednesday, March 26, hopefully to confirm that choice, and then it will be off to the races.

The County Clerk serves Passaic County’s 500,000+ residents in some of the more important matters of their lives – recording real estate Deeds and Mortgages, processing Passports and Veteran’s ID cards, and even … wait for it … performing marriage ceremonies! And, significantly, the Clerk’s office also processes the County’s Vote by Mail Ballots (almost 20,000 of them last year – and growing). It is an enormously important role.

I’m honored. I’m humbled, and I’m really excited to get started. 2014 is a terrific year to be running as a Democrat in Passaic County, with Senator Booker and Congressman Pascrell at the top of the ticket, Freeholders Bruce James and TJ Best running for reelection, and great municipal races with strong candidates throughout the County. (And everyone reading this is invited to come join us!)

Although I’ll be taking a campaign hiatus from the frontpage at Blue Jersey, I’ll still be reading here and writing about politics and my own race in the sidebar. So, stay tuned, and wish me luck! 🙂  

We Should Save More of These Treasures

paramount_theatre_09

When I saw Rosi’s Quick Hit on the surviving photos from Newark’s Paramount Theater (whose marquee I have driven past countless times, wondering what’s inside), I was taken aback by how stunning the photos were, and how glorious that theater must have been in its prime.

It got me thinking back to my childhood in Central Jersey, when our movie theater of choice was The Brook in nearby Bound Brook (now the Brook Arts Center), and about so many old theaters scattered about New Jersey whose fates have varied widely.

On the one hand, we have incredibly restored vaudeville houses like The Levoy Theater in Millville, which acts as an economic and cultural engine – a treasure for that river town and surrounding area. And New Brunswick’s State Theater, right in the middle of the Hub City, and very much at the center of its rebirth. Or The John Harms Center aka Bergen Performing Arts Center, which now attracts some of the world’s finest performing artists into downtown Englewood.

On the other hand, we have spectacular losses, like the Paramount, and Proctor’s Theater also in Newark, and what once was The Fabian Theater in Paterson, which appears to be past saving. There’s no doubt a faded beauty near you.

Seems a shame there aren’t more stories like Boonton’s Darress Theater. Its stage abandoned and the building serving only as a camera shop as recently as 15 years ago, the Darress website now proudly proclaims it: “iis one of the few surviving vaudeville stages in the country. Built in 1919, the theatre retains much of its original charm.” It also hosts live stage productions, film screenings, and private parties/functions.

Invariably, these things take community action, local government buy-in, state and federal dollars, and years of tenacity from volunteer stakeholders. But, when stories of urban revival are juxtaposed with photos of urban decay, it is a reminder of what is possible when we put it all together.

Call the Governor?

Hot phone callWhen was the last time you got asked by the Democratic State Committee to call Governor Christie? Well, there’s a first time for everything. Today, in response to reports that the governor is setting pre-conditions for radio interviews, State Democratic Chairman John Currie put out the call in an email message to supporters:

This Monday (2/3) at 7 p.m., you have a chance to “Ask the Governor” what he knew and when he knew it. And, what went so very wrong with his administration?

The email goes on to list ways NJ residents can set their own conditions for what they want Christie’s radio appearance to look like:

On New Jersey’s 101.5 FM radio program, there are five ways to “Ask the Governor” a question, which can be found here:

 ▪    Call 800-283-1015

 ▪    Join 101.5’s live interactive blog

 ▪    Text your question by texting “GOV” to 89000. You will receive a bounce back message asking for your question.

 ▪    Twitter: #AskGov

 ▪    You can SUBMIT your question for Gov. Christie in advance.

Is there a cancelled radio appearance in someone’s future?

Overdue New Year’s Resolutions

I’ve made a number of New Year’s resolutions this year – and like birthday wishes, I prefer to keep them to myself. But, I can safely reveal one of them: I’ve resolved to write more on Blue Jersey.

And just in time, really, to comment on someone else’s New Year’s resolution – that of the Democratic Governor’s Association, which sent an email this morning proclaiming:

I wanted to let you in on our resolution for the New Year: it’s to win back governors’ mansions across the country for Democrats.

No more union-bashers like Scott Walker. No more gay-bashers like Tom Corbett. No more Tea Party heroes like Rick Scott.

Here’s the good news: thanks to generous supporters like you, we were able to meet and surpass our year-end $90,000 fundraising goal, putting us in great shape to win in 2014.

Now we’re going to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

The message was followed by the obligatory ask to like the DGA’s Facebook page, and to contribute to help with this mission.

And a fine mission it is, of course. But, as one of my wisest friends said on reading this, “What a shocking New Year’s resolution for the DGA to make. Too bad they didn’t make it last New Year’s Eve.”

This 2014 resolution might have said, “no more free passes, like we gave Chris Christie last year.” Never again will the DGA stand on the sidelines of a Democratic challenger’s race against a Republican incumbent with aspirations of higher office! – or some such thing.

It might have said that. But, as The Daily Beast’s David Freedlander pointed out yesterday, that wouldn’t quite be true.

And what good is a resolution, if you don’t really plan to keep it.

Supporting Equality Wins Again

Something really great happened when they finished counting the votes in the nailbiter LD-2 Assembly race. Northfield Mayor Vincent Mazzeo, a Democrat, defeated incumbent Republican John Amodeo. That is significant in a number of ways, not the least of which is that it means for the first time in as long as anyone can remember, there will be Democrats representing LD-2 in both the Senate and the Assembly.

But, there’s also this nice little twist – Amodeo’s Republican running mate, Chris Brown, was reelected. Why does that matter? Because Brown very publicly declared, before the election, that he supported marriage equality, while Amodeo didn’t. (Mazzeo is solidly pro-equality.) Looks like supporting equality works for Republicans just as much as it works for Democrats!

Meanwhile, despite Governor Christie’s winning big at the top of the ticket, Republicans managed zero takeaways in the Senate, and exactly one takeaway of their own in the Assembly. That win was in LD-1 where anti-marriage-equality Democratic incumbent Assemblyman Nelson Albano lost to pro-marriage-equality Republican challenger, now Assemblyman-elect, Sam Fiocchi. Looks like opposing equality can be as bad for Democrats as it is for Republicans!

So, to sum it all up, Democrats will maintain their 24-16 majority in the Senate, and maintain their 48-32 majority in the Assembly. And the only two legislative incumbents in the entire state to lose their seats this year – one Democrat and one Republican – were opponents of marriage equality, defeated by supporters. Good.

LIVE from Jersey City Courthouse

While Mayors and clerks around the state are readying plans to marry same-sex couples as soon as  Sunday/Monday midnight, uncertainty reigns as to whether the law allows it. So, as one half of one of the couples seeking to marry at the earliest moment possible, I’m at the courthouse in Jersey City, where my friend, Mayor Steve Fulop had just filed an Order to Show Cause and Complaint seeking a declaratory judgment that applications can be received, that the wait time can be waived, and that marriages can happen beginning October 21st, as ordered by Judge Jacobson.

Earlier this morning, at City Hall, Mayor Fulop was officiating at a (straight) wedding downstairs, while the paperwork was being prepared upstairs. If all goes well, he’ll be officiating at mine, in less than 72 hours.

Strength in Numbers – Tomorrow!

Progressive Day of ActionElections are all about numbers – more specifically, they’re about people, money and time. How many people you can get involved, how much money you can raise, and how much time is left to convince voters to support you. And one thing’s for sure – you can’t get more time.

But, while Governor Christie may have a huge fundraising advantage over Barbara Buono, there’s one way to overcome it:

People Power.

Slowly but surely, and against the odds, people power absolutely can close the gap between Christie and Buono, in spite of the barrage of negative television advertising paid for by Christie’s rightwing friends, and the millions of our taxpayer dollars spent on Christie’s self-promotion.

We’re definitely not where we want to be yet. But, the polls are tightening, and we need to keep that momentum going in the home stretch! (Selfish plug: it sure would help our down-ballot candidates!)

That’s why I was so excited to hear about plans for a Progressive Day of Action tomorrow, Saturday, September 28th, when democrats from around the state are joining together to help Senator Buono continue closing that gap.

To find a location near you for tomorrow’s Progressive Day of Action, click here, or see the complete list after the jump.

If you’ve been working hard all along, tomorrow will have extra people for extra fun! If you haven’t had a chance to volunteer, now is the perfect time to get involved!