Author Archive: PocketAces

On Troll Rating Comments

It’s going to get tense around here for the next two months as we go through the Lautenberg/Andrews battle, so I’d just like to refer us all to the very end of the FAQ.

Ratings are intended to help elevate those posters that consistently make clear, good arguments and points, regardless of content, and to prevent trolls from invading the message board. Downrating commenters on the basis of agreement or disagreement with their arguments leads to a monolithic forum, free of new ideas and input.

So, please don’t downrate comments just because you disagree with them!

Unfortunately, over the last few days, I’ve noticed a rash of unfounded troll-ratings on comments that otherwise are receiving multiple 4’s.  Thankfully, it’s limited to a single individual, but a small reminder to the entire community will hopefully prevent others from fall down this slippery slope.

So save the 0’s for the real trolls – for those posts that are truly offensive or defy reality.  Troll-rating a comment simply because you don’t agree with it is not only juvenile, but harms the level of discourse at BlueJersey.  When you don’t like a comment, post a rebuttal.  But to simply click on the “0” is just plain lazy.

Online Voting Records Now Active

It’s about time. Promoted from the diaries. — Juan

Just noticed this today on the NJ Legislature website while looking for some info on State House offices – easy to read voting records are now online.

Each bill’s info page contains each roll call vote (both of the full house and each committee it went through) as well as the results of any voice votes.

Each Legislator’s page has links to their entire voting record for the session either sorted by bill number or by subject.

The only downside is that you cannot link directly to a particular vote count or voting record because the OLS website uses a mish-mosh of javascript, hidden forms and POST commands to serve up the pages, rather than just having links containing the info needed.  Hopefully this can change if OLS ever completely revamps the Legislature’s website.

So go over to www.njleg.state.nj.us and take the new voting records out for a test drive.

In Memoriam: Senator Byron M. Baer

PoliticsNJ is reporting that former Senator Byron M. Baer passed away this morning at the age of 77.

Senator Baer was every bit the model legislator – brilliant, deliberative and focused on doing what was just.  I only got to know him briefly and in the twilight of his career, but just from that short amount of time, I could tell that Byron Baer was the type of public servant person that we should all strive to be.

There probably never has been, and probably never will be, an individual in the NJ State Legislature more committed to civil rights than Byron Baer.  The man was a Freedom Ride – the man knew and advised Dr. Martin Luther King.  He helped organize the march from Selma to Montgomery and was imprisoned for 45 days in the Mississippi State Penitentiary for being a Freedom Rider.  He wore his status as an ex-convict as a badge of honor and he might be the only man to serve in the Legislature who was more qualified because he had spent time in jail.

Senator Baer’s legislative accomplishments were too numerous to list here, but I would expect that we have all benefited from his most notable piece of legislation – the Open Public Meetings Act, better known as the “Sunshine Law” and renamed last year to be the Byron M. Baer Open Public Meetings Act.  If you’ve gone to a town council meeting to ask a question or to a school board meeting call a corrupt board member to task (yeah, I’ve done that a couple of times), then it’s Byron Baer you should be thanking and that public official is probably cursing.

Senator Baer is also the only legislator that I know of to have a page at imdb.com.  Before he became involved in public service, he was a special effects wizard.  Even after he retired from show business, he kept a passion for technology and the movies, which was always evident in his legislative carrier as he imagined new ways to use the latest technologies to keep us safe.

It’s a bit quick to have any public statements come out about the loss of this great man, so I’ll conclude by including what Senator Bernie Kenny said about the Senator Baer upon his resignation:

Every so often in life, we get to know a most unusual type of man, one who stands out from the rest of us because he actually lives by his ideals, because he actually stands for a set of principles which actually guide his actions in life.

Such a rare man is Byron Baer. We salute him today for a life of public leadership and legislative accomplishment.

And we thank him for his many contributions to the public good.

Those who know about his life, realize Byron Baer is a true hero of his generation, a foot soldier for change, a tireless warrior for the oppressed.

When I first met Byron Baer, we were both in the Assembly. It was 1988 and I had just gotten there. Byron had been there since 1972 and his reputation had been well established.

He may be small of stature, but there has always been a fire in his belly for whatever cause he fought for.

Byron has always been a man of action.

So it’s no surprise that he didn’t just sit around in the 1960s talking about civil rights. He went to Alabama and Mississippi and marched along side those who were risking their lives and losing their lives for the cause of freedom.

And when he got started in public life in Bergen County, it was in Englewood where he was instrumental in breaking up the de facto segregation in the public schools there.

Byron just didn’t think it was right that all the wealthy white kids from ?the hill’ went to school together and all the poor black kids went to school together down in Englewood’s fourth ward. When Byron got done, the white kids and the black kids of Englewood were going to school together and enriching each others’ lives with cultural and ethnic diversity in what became a national model.

And it’s really not surprising that when Byron Baer heard about the injustices being inflicted on migrant farm workers in South Jersey – where some farm bosses thought slavery was still ok – that he went down to those farms himself to see how he could shake things up a little.

And the farm bosses must have been scratching their heads in wonder when Byron showed up to demand better living conditions for the farm workers. They must’ve wondered just who this little guy thought he was – marching on to private farm property and asking all kinds of questions about the living conditions of the farm workers.

One of the bosses probably thought he could scare Byron off by threatening him with violence. When Byron didn’t flinch, the farm boss roughed him up and even broke his arm – but the guy obviouisly didn’t know who he was dealing with – because you might be able to rough him up, you might be able to break his arms, but nobody is ever going to break Byron’s spirit.

And to the surprise of no one who knew Byron, things got better for the migrant farm workers. And after a while, with a showman’s flare, Byron even took his arm out of its sling.

I’ve always appreciated Byron’s sense of flare. When he was pushing for open government, he sponsored what the bill writers called “The Open Public Meetings Act.” But that name was a little dry for Byron, a little too starchy. So Byron gave it another name. He called it “The Sunshine Law.” Soon, everybody called it The Sunshine Law.

We salute Byron today for a lifetime of involvement in events which shaped our lives for the better. The record of his life reflects the call to get involved made by President John F. Kennedy when he said, ask not what your country can do for you – ask, what you can do for your country.

For everything Byron has done in his life, our country, our State, our communities – all of of us – are better off.

Thank you, Byron.

So today, I offer my condolences to his wife, Linda, and the rest of his family and salute this “legislative giant” and hope that New Jersey will see his likes again.

The New Generation of Republican Leadership?

Those young rapscallians over at Red Generation are getting into crazy hijinks again.

Calling themselves “The New Generation of Republican Leadership,” they sure seem to be making all of the same mistakes of the current Generation of Republican Leadership.

Today’s case involves the big netiquette no-no: hot-linking.  Check out the following post:

New Jersey’s biggest smear outlet, Juan Melli

Who knew the Red Genners loved their gay porn that much?  (Rumor has it that the site was originally going to be called Pink Generation, but that domain was already taken.)

Or perhaps they decided to hotlink to a fantastic photo of Juan showing his love for the environment and humongous leaves.  And perhaps someone decided to teach them a lesson a la John McCain.

Either way, let’s all remember if we’re going to steal photos without the permission of the owner, let’s put them on our own servers so that we’re not also stealing bandwidth.

Seems to me like the next generation of Republicans will continue the proud tradition of indictments celebrated by the current generation.

Update [Juan]: 2 hours, 20 minutes later, it looks like they took down the post. This is what they originally posted, and this is what it looked like afterwards.

Update [PocketAces]: Whoever had 3:50 in the pool, congratulations, you won the prize!

Governor’s Budget Address as Prepared

Governor Corzine’s Budget Address

Assembly Chambers, February 22, 2007

As prepared for delivery

Senate President Codey; Speaker Roberts; Majority Leaders Coleman and Kenny; Minority Leaders Lance and DeCroce; Chief Justice Zazzali; Justices Long, LaVecchia, Wallace, Rivera-Soto, Alben and Hoens; Former Governors Brendan Byrne, Jim Florio and John Bennett; members of the Cabinet; distinguished guests; my fellow New Jerseyans;

Good morning.

Thank you, President Codey and Speaker Roberts for allowing me to deliver my address five days early.

After last year, we can probably use the extra time. 

I’d like to start today with a simple thank you to all the members of the Legislature – and to the retiring members in particular. 

The last 15 months have had their moments. We have dealt with a lot. I think we all know there’s more to do – a lot more. And I’ll talk about that in a moment.

But let’s get to the budget.

Whatever happened to the Religious Right just condemning Halloween as pagan devil worshipping?

Seems like some fundamentalist churches have found a way to turn Halloween into another opportunity to further scare the piss out of their kids while instilling them with a big, heaping dose of homophobia: “Hell Houses”.  According to a report from The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force called “Homophobia at ‘Hell House’: Literally Demonizing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth,”  churches are purchasing a kit, complete with props and scripts, meant to scare little kids on topics such as homosexuality and abortion.

More below the fold.

Quote of the Day

Stender for Congress campaign manager Ed Oatman (Emphasis mine.):

“This guy is definitely not the sharpest tool in the shed. He stole our lawn signs in broad daylight right outside our campaign headquarters all while being videotaped. Like Ferguson, his staffer lacked an exit strategy.

Whether it was hubris or pure incompetence, the Lawnsign Bandit sure screwed this one up.  I wonder if he was offered a Congressional pin for his good work when he got back to the campaign office.

“Democrats for Junior” – Federal Inmate Issue

Turns out that the latest individual to join “Democrats for Junior” is none other than the disgraced and convicted Former Hudson County Executive Robert Janiszewski (prisoner #25038-050).  From the Star Ledger:

A researcher working for Republican Tom Kean Jr.’s campaign became pen pals with a jailed Democratic political boss in an effort to dig up damaging information on Kean’s opponent, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez.

Former Hudson County Executive Robert Janiszewski, now serving time in a federal prison in Kentucky on corruption charges, offered political history and strategic advice to the Kean campaign in a chatty, friendly letter obtained by The Star-Ledger.

“Political intrigue is … well … intriguing,” Janiszewski writes in the opening, summing up the unlikely alliance between himself and an agent for a Republican campaign. The letter, dated June 11, suggests an ongoing, secret correspondence.

Janiszewski, a sometime-ally, sometime-rival of Menendez’s in Hudson County, offered a long list of local politicians who hold grudges against the senator and may be able to provide damaging information about him.

One of those people mentioned by Janiszewski — Oscar Sandoval, a Union City psychiatrist and former FBI informant who helped land Janiszewski in prison — rocked the U.S. Senate campaign this week by disclosing a secret recording he had made of Menendez’s closest adviser.

For those of you keeping score at home, “Democrats for Junior” now consist of astroturfers posing as Democrats, a racist and a federal prisoner.  With friends that dirty, Junior can’t claim that he’s clean as a whistle.

Eagleton has it as a dead heat

Eagleton Poll Press Release

It’s a multiple poll day, as Eagleton throws their latest efforts out there to see if anyone really cares.  Among likely voters, Menendez has a one point edge, 45-44, while Kean leads among registered voters, 42-40.  Both measures are well within the margin of error.

What the poll really comes down to is that folks in New Jersey haven’t really paid all the much attention to the race and that a shift from local issues to national issues would be the exact thing needed to lift Menendez ahead of Junior for good.

Interesting stats to paint the picture:

  • Only 36% of voters know that Menendez is the Senator while 28% believe he is not the Senator.  Meanwhile, 9% believe Kean is the US Senator and 8% believe he was the Governor.
  • 29% of voters think the race is about putting Democrats in control of Congress while 20% think it’s about keeping Republicans in control.  44% think it’s about something else entirely.
  • 21% believe property taxes are the most important issue in deciding their vote.  We need to educate the 21% percent that the Federal government has a minimal impact on property taxes (and even with just a minimal impact, the Republicans are screwing us over).
  • 57% of Kean supporters believe that family background should be an issue in the campaign, compared to 42% of Menendez supporters.
  • The preznit’s approval is at an all-time low of 30% and 51% of voters associate Junior closely with the preznit.

Lessons learned – educate the people, make the race about national issues, tie Kean to Bush and show that Junior is just an empty suit, a mental midget ready to do the GOP’s bidding in Washington.