Author Archive: blue7thpac

Thanks for Nothing, Michael Ferguson

Mike Ferguson, who has spent a career blowing smoke up the asses of his district’s flooding victims, does it again.

Does that sound harsh?  Well, it should sound harsh after the load of bullshit he just dropped on his constituents.

Here’s Michael Ferguson’s comment after the House passed a funding bill back in early May:

Rep. Mike Ferguson (R-7th Dist.) said he hopes the $10 million represents “a floor” for fiscal 2008 funding. But with action in the House of Representatives uncertain, it may be up to the U.S. Senate to add money, he said. ?

Prodded by Congress, President Bush has proposed $10 million for flood control in the Green Brook Basin, which includes Bound Brook. But Corps and local officials said roughly $30 million is needed to complete a mile of flood barriers along the Raritan River, which again inundated the downtown during the April 15 nor’easter.

So $10 million dollars is the “floor” for Mike Ferguson’s hopes.  The “floor.”  That means a low number that we can build on.  And, just as a useless aside, the entire flood control project is estimated to cost $430 million, making the $10 million even smaller.

So what are we getting in flood control money for the Green Brook and Raritan Valley? FIVE POINT TWO MILLION DOLLARS

Well, a good representative of a district would be outraged.  We throw a couple hundred million to useless bridges in Alaska and we’re getting our flood money cut in half from the paltry crap we were offered in the first place?  A proper House member would stand up on the floor and decry the injustice, slam the crap out of the committee that put together this travesty, demand that the people who have been hit by outrageous flooding three times in eleven years are given the satisfaction and funding they deserve.

Of course, Mike Ferguson is not a good representative.  In fact, he is a backbencher who cares more about keeping his job than making waves for his district.  That’s why his response to seeing a too-small appropriation cut in half was this:

“These emergency funds will provide a significant financial boost to help the Army Corps accelerate efforts to complete the Bound Brook portion of the project,” said Congressman Michael Ferguson (R-New Providence). “We saw once again last month what the impact is without complete Bound Brook flood projection, and I will continue to use every option available to make sure the project is completed and the residents are protected as soon as possible.”

A significant boost?  A significant boost?  To where?  Through a hole in the “floor” into the fricking flooded basement of the hundreds of people who were displaced by the storm earlier this month?

Ten million dollars was the floor on May 2, and now five million dollars is a boost. 

Thanks, Mike.  From all the people who still can’t open their businesses or get into their homes.

Thanks for nothing.

Mike Ferguson Fails, Hopes Someone Else Does His Job

After the recent New Jersey floods, we noted that Congressman Ferguson had bragged on his ability to bring $5 million in federal dollars last year to the Green Brook Flood Control project.  We also noted that anyone who knows about the federal project run by the Army Corps of Engineers understands that $5 million is a drop in a$430 million bucket,.  At the rate Mike Ferguson is “securing funds” it will take 83 years to complete the project and protect North Plainfield, Green Brook, Bound Brook, Manville, South Bound Brook and other communities along the Green Brook from disastrous and potentially deadly funding.

Now just a couple weeks after another horrendous flood that displaced hundreds of families and cost millions of dollars in damage, Mike Ferguson is able to use his 7 years of clout in the House of Representatives to get — $10 million.  And Ferguson admits that this is as much as he can get for his district, saying that someone else will have to do the job if it's going to get done.

Rep. Mike Ferguson (R-7th Dist.) said he hopes the $10 million represents “a floor” for fiscal 2008 funding. But with action in the House of Representatives uncertain, it may be up to the U.S. Senate to add money, he said.

It'll be up to someone else.  Perfect attitude for a backbencher Congressman who hasn't the juice or the ability to lobby his colleagues to get what his people need. 

Even worse is the attitude of the White House, which admits that they failed to help Bound Brook and Manville, who got the brunt of the flooding in 1996, 1999 and 2007.

The Army Corps of Engineers could complete flood barriers around Bound Brook in two years if funding is “accelerated,” according to Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Woodley Jr., who oversees the agency. …

 Prodded by Congress, President Bush has proposed $10 million for flood control in the Green Brook Basin, which includes Bound Brook. But Corps and local officials said roughly $30 million is needed to complete a mile of flood barriers along the Raritan River, which again inundated the downtown during the April 15 nor'easter.

“I've submitted the president's budget and that's what I stand by,” said Woodley, whose office directs the Army's civil works projects. But he acknowledged that funding level means work would not be finished for an estimated three years.

So one small portion of the project — $30 million or 6 percent of the $430 million cost — could be completed in two years, and the White House is not willing to provide the funding for it.    And they admit that “stand by” that decision which could once again cost the federal government far more if their is yet another flood. 

And Mike Ferguson can't convince them to put the whole $30 million in the budget to get the work done.  He can't convince his colleagues of seven years to provide this funding. 

If he can't get this kind of support while pictures are still in the paper, families are still living in shelters and businesses are months from re-opening then how can we expect Ferguson to adequately represent us in Congress?

Hey, Mike? You Ready To Give The Money Up Now?

Anyone who reads Dump Mike knows that we’ve been chronicling Rep. Michael Ferguson’s (R-NJ7) connections to disgraced and indicted former Rep. Tom DeLay, and have repeatedly called for Ferguson to return the $54,403 he received direct from DeLay.  [ed note: there’s plenty more from DeLay cronies]

Of course, Ferguson has repeatedly refused to do so.  In February 2006, he said it pretty clearly to Newhouse News:

Asked if he would refund the DeLay funding, Ferguson said, “No, I’m not going to. Those contributions were appropriate.”

Appropriate.  Ha!

Anyway, DeLay is still under indictment in Texas for violating campaign finance laws (not the appropriate ones, I am sure), and now it looks like the feds are closing in on a no-show job his wife got with Alexander Strategies, a lobby firm started by former DeLay staffers Adam Kidan and Tony Rudy.

FBI agents continue to interview aides to former Rep. DeLay, offering immunity in exchange for testimony, individuals close to the investigation say. Justice officials ask whether former aides paid the Texas Republican’s wife $3,200 a month for a no-show job at their lobbying firm. DeLay, who retired last year, is on a book tour.

So, Mike, still think those contributions were “appropriate” or are you going to donate the money to charity like you did with Jack Abramoff, Bob Ney, Duke Cunningham, Tony Rudy, Mark Foley, etc., etc., etc.?

Mike Ferguson’s Failed Flood Control Advocacy

This week’s flooding provides a window into the relative effectiveness of Congressman Mike Ferguson to advocate and deliver for the people of New Jersey’s 7th Congressional District.

The year before Ferguson took office Hurricane Floyd hit our state, and towns like Bound Brook and Manville were devastated, with water rising to third stories of buildings and not falling for days.  Other towns like North Plainfield – where I served as a Councilman at the time – had six feet of water rushing through the town.  I know because I was one of the volunteers pulling people out of their cars to safety that day.

Now, in Mike Ferguson’s seventh year as our DC Representative we have seen another flood provide the same kind of destruction.  Added to the 1996 flooding of downtown Bound Brook that is three devastating floods in just over a decade.

I looked at the pictures of boats floating past second floor windows in downtown Bound Brook and thought it was 1999 all over again.  The personal and business destruction is horrific, and the worst part is that it should be wholly unnecessary had our federal representatives come through with the funding we need to fix these flooding issues.

Since 1975 the Green Brook Flood Control Project has been studying and planning to make major engineering changes to the Raritan River and its tributaries to increase flow and retention, reducing the chance that such flooding can occur again.  But all we have to date is a bridge and two levies, and the Army Corps of engineers estimates it will take $430 million in today’s money to finish the deal.

You would think that after Floyd there would have been a major effort to fund this project, to get it going as fast as possible to protect the residents and business owners along this flood path.  You would think that there would be some urgency to the work to protect our residents from continued natural disasters.

Mike Ferguson was first elected in 2000, along with a Republican President, a Republican Senate and a Republican House.  His colleague, Rodney Frelinghuysen on the neighboring 11th district, was on the House Appropriations committee.  Ferguson himself was being groomed by Tom DeLay in a leadership position as minority whip, the Texas House wheeler and dealer who could get anything done.

Add to this the fact that under Republican leadership earmarked funding for districts increased from about 1,000 a year in 1996 to 14,000 in 2005. Some of these earmarks were incredible, including $454 million for a bridge in Alaska that would have served just a few thousand people.

It’s an ideal environment for a Representative to represent the needs of his district.  His party in control, friendly with leadership, delegation member on the Appropriations committee money handed out hand over fist, and a real desperate need for completion of a project that would affect hundreds of thousands of people.  It would take a pretty high level of incompetence to blow this one.

So what did Mike Ferguson get us for the Green Brook Flood Control Project?  An average of less than $5 million a year, and some press releases and photo opportunities for the Congressman to show he cares.

At that rate, the project would take 86 years to completely fund, not including inflation and cost overruns.

Mike Ferguson in the DCCC’s Top 10

We were all a little disappointed when the DCCC’s support didn’t materialize at the levels we though appropriate in 2006, and were very disappointed when Linda Stender came within 1.5 percent of beating Michael Ferguson (R-NJ7) on election day.  We busted our humps here in the 7th, and know that with just a little money of the money thrown to some races that lost big we could have a Democrat representing us in Congress today.

Today the DCCC announced that Mike Ferguson is among their top 10 targeted Republican House members.  Karl Rove also suggested that Ferguson was vulnerable, so maybe there is a chance for us again in 2008.

Well, I don’t want to get my hopes up because we were left waiting for the D-Trip to show up in 2000, 2002 and 2004 also.  But 2008 may be a little different, especially because we came so damnably close in 2006.  Add that to the Democratic majority and the fundraising benefits that gives, and maybe they’ll come through for us this time.

But we can’t rely on that.  We have to do it on our own this time, just like last time.  The reason Blue 7th exists is because we wanted to show the national Democrats that there was a groundswell here in New Jersey’s 7th.  We proved it in 2006, but not soon enough to get them in.  We will have to prove it again in 2008, along with our friends at DfA, Garden State Equality, Blue Jersey, etc., etc., etc.

Mike Ferguson No Longer Pharma’s Go To Guy?

Star Ledger reporter Ed Silverman has a personal blog called Pharmalot, and today he notes that with the Democrats running the House our good Representative Mike Ferguson may have a little harder time raising all that pharma money he’s relied on in the past.

Generally, the pharmaceutical industry hasn’t been one of Pascrell’s biggest backers, although his home district includes Roche’s US headquarters, a large facility in Nutley, a 30-minute ride from the Lincoln Tunnel. So such a gathering shouldn’t come as a total surprise, given that Democrats now control Congress.

What is interesting, however, is this suggests the influence of Pascrell’s Republican counterpart, Mike Ferguson, may be waning. Thel industry has given him tremendous backing and viewed him as the go-to guy among the Garden State delegation, since he sits on the House and Energy Commerce committee, which has jurisdicdtion [sic] over the FDA.

Mike won’t go hungry, though. His dad founded a well-known healthcare ad agency that did business with drugmakers and was later sold to a larger advertising conglomerate.

First he loses Tom DeLay, then the majority House, and now will get less from the pharmaceutical industry? 

Looks like the playing field may be a little more level in 2008.

Mike Ferguson Enthusiastic About Democratic Majority

UPDATE: Don’t forget that Ferguson admitted in February that he often voted the way his Republican bossed told him, and that he didn’t have the freedom “to vote the way [he] want[ed] to.”

I’m not sure what to make of this one, but if the New York Times accurately captured Michael Ferguson’s feelings then he prefers having a Democratic majority in Congress.

As the new Democrat-led House rushed to complete its business before adjourning for spring break this week, Representative Ferguson was marveling at the many bills that had been passed in Congress’s first 100 days, including one that would make it easier for unions to organize and another that would increase the minimum wage.

“Under the Republican majority, those bills would have never gotten to the floor,” he explained before heading back to his district. “Now they have been brought to the floor, and I’ve voted for them.”

Mr. Ferguson’s enthusiasm captures a peculiar political reality in the Capitol: many Republicans from swing districts in the Northeast are finding that life under Democratic rule has its advantages.

He’s gone from Tom DeLay’s (R-TX) favorite campaign check casher to a lover of the House under Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). 

If Mike Ferguson really prefers a Democratic majority maybe we can help him along in November 2008?

Ferguson Admits Voting As Ordered By Party Bosses

It’s well documented that the former Republican majority in the House demanded absolute loyalty on the part of its members, and Mike Ferguson (NJ7) was no exception.  Regularly his constituents — and Blue 7th members — would contact his office with pleas for a vote and Ferguson would go the other way, voting with his political bosses instead of his constituents.  He had a more than 91 percent rating for voting with the conservative leadership, yet described himself as a moderate.

Now we know why.  In yesterday’s Princeton Packet, Ferguson actually admitted that he voted against his constituents and conscience because he was ordered to by the Republican majority.

This is the first time Mr. Ferguson has been in the minority since he was initially elected to the House of Representatives in 2000, from a district that includes Montgomery and Rocky Hill.

The “silver lining”, he said, is that being in the minority allows a bit more freedom “to vote the way you want to”, since the Democratic majority now bears the responsibility to muster the votes necessary to govern. “When you’re in the majority, sometimes you vote for things you don’t totally support,” Mr. Ferguson said.

Well, now we need to find out.  What things did Ferguson vote for that he — and his constituents — didn’t support.  Even more, what bills passed by just one vote that a Ferguson vote of conscience rather than a vote for Party Leadership would have changed.

For instance, Ferguson voted against an amendment that would have increased funding for care for wounded veteran while at the same time defunding the base closures that will cost NJ 15,000 jobs.  That amendment failed by just one vote.  Ferguson’s vote.

Do we want a Congressman who thinks for himself no matter who is in power or one who can only vote the right way when his party bosses aren’t telling him what to do?

SATURDAY: Ask Ferguson About Iraq Flip Flop

Mike Ferguson was initially opposed to the escalation in the Iraq War, saying he “needed to be convinced” Bush’s plan was the way to go.  That was back in January.

During the debate last week, he changed his tune and stridently supported the escalation: “It may also be, I believe, our last chance for victory. The President knows this, and I believe the Iraqi government and its people know this, too.”

Now he needs to answer these questions: “What convinced you the plan you initially questioned is the right one?  Was it new information from the Pentagon you have not shared with constituents?  Was it political pressure from the Bush White House?”

Congressman Mike Ferguson is holding an open house at his office this Saturday, February 24, from nine a.m. to 11 a.m. at his Warren office [map].  This is our opportunity to make our feelings known about his continued support for the escalation of the War in Iraq.

Please join us in visiting his office at 9 a.m. to tell his staff how you feel about the Iraq War, and that he is not representing his constituents’ view.  We will — politely and respectfully — go into his office a few at a time to express our views as citizens, and then gather by the road as a group to show how many folks oppose the war.

Annotated Mike Ferguson on Iraq: ESCALATE!

Here are some annotated highlights of Mike Ferguson’s take on the Iraq War resolution passed last week by the House.  His comments are in italics, with ours in plain text.

I am disappointed that the strategies employed thus far have not been more successful and that our progress in Iraq has been too slow, and I am saddened that those who have drafted this resolution are offering no alternatives of their own for our mission in Iraq. Indeed, they are prohibiting consideration in this Chamber of any alternative.

Yes, Mike, the debate is limited because this debate is about a specific proposal to add 21,500 more troops to Iraq, continuing the failed policy the Bush administration has attempted at least four times (in Fallujah twice, in Baghdad twice).  I also find it difficult to accept your desire to debate alternatives in Iraq when you were in the majority for the first three years and ten months of the war and prohibited any debate during that entire time!  Why is it only now that you are in the minority you want open debate?

Even better, your claim they are prohibiting debate on alternatives is a load of cow manure.  You were given five minutes to say anything you wanted.  So was every single member of the House of Representatives.  No one said you may not bring up alternatives to what you admit is a failed policy.  You chose to do that on your own, and then blame the Democrats.  If you had an alternative, you could offer one.  But you’ve been steadfast in just lockstepping behind the President and refuse to change your tune even as you see the situation imploding.