Author Archive: bytheshore73

Christie Election Spin: Where’s the Media?

Chris Christie’s spin machine has been at it again since Election Day, doing everything it can to try and claim some kind of mandate for or validation of the Governor’s politics and governing philosophy. In trying to do so, he’s tied himself in rhetorical knots. Amazingly, the press has given him a free pass on this one.

Here’s what New Jersey’s Chief Executive Spinner had to say after Election Day (video courtesy of NJN):

I really felt like we needed to bring some balance back to the congressional delegation, and I saw [the 3rd Congressional District race] as the best opportunity for us to do it…That’s why the Runyan/Adler race was to me the most important.

So the 3rd Congressional District was the most important race to him, where the candidate he endorsed and campaigned for won. Quite an interesting statement, especially considering he sang a very different tune only the day before Election Day:

“Brought in by the Jersey anthem “Born to Run” but his accent now distinctly twanged from his tumbleweed campaign tour of the country, Christie repeatedly staked his name on hometown Hamiltonian Goodwin.

“I said from the beginning that the most important race was Tom Goodwin in the 14th District,” said the governor. “He’s been the hardest working candidate in New Jersey this year, and that’s why he’s going to win.”

Christie’s “guy,” of course, lost in LD14, so he clearly needed to change his “most important race” to suit his political agenda. The question I have is, where’s the media on this? They’ve been almost eager to find validation of the Governor’s politics, but you’d have to think even this brazen attempt to change facts would be subject to some basic reporting.

 

Christie: How Dare You Not Work on That Thing You Are Working On!

Governor Christie was at it again today, cranking up the manufactured hysteria more than usual. If they ever make temper tantrums an Olympic event, I’m sure he’d do us Jersey proud. His target today? Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, who the Governor claimed has been ignoring the issue of COAH:

With Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo hovering in the wings, Christie singled out Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-East Orange) – an Essex County county employee – as off the reservation on the toolkit.

“I am dumbfounded by Sheila Oliver not doing anything on COAH,” Christie said. “We avoided this obstructionism in the first seven months. I’m here, and Ive been waiting to get work done.”

The only problem? The Assembly has been working on COAH for some time, including ongoing, substantial negotiations with the Governor’s office, described in the Assembly Dems response to the Governor’s temper tantrum:

Assembly Majority staff met just last week with the deputy commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs, Commissioner Grifa’s chief of staff and the governor’s counsel office, and they were all well aware of the plan to introduce affordable housing reform legislation today.

As a matter of fact, the administration has seen two drafts in the last week.

In addition, Majority Leader Cryan and Speaker Pro Tempore Green had meetings with the Senate to reach agreement on a reform plan that passes constitutional muster.

This issue is too serious and important to New Jersey to be reduced to juvenile press releases and misleading public comments from the governor’s office.

Shorter Christie: I am SUUUUUPER PISSED that you aren’t working on that thing you are actively and substantively working on…with my own staff.

I know much of the press is still fawning over Christie, whose Tough Man image easily fits into their Jersey-guy-stands-up-to-Feckless-Tax-Raising-Democrats narrative. But seriously, hissy fits are not a message and histrionics aren’t going to lower anyone’s property taxes. We saw this same kind of ego cost us in the Race to the Top application. The question is when are the press going to start calling out Christie for this kind of crap?

South Jersey’s Largest Newspapers Endorse Marriage Equality

In a one-two punch giving momentum to marriage equality, the Courier Post and the Philadelphia Inquirer both endorsed the marriage equality bill on consecutive days. As the two largest, widest-read, and most influential newspapers in all of Southern New Jersey, both endorsements are notable. The Courier Post endorsement is particularly notable, as the Courier is considered to be editorially conservative and has often feuded with the South Jersey Democrats.

Senator Sweeney: you’ve been a fighter for working families, a progressive champion of paid family leave. Senator Madden: you’ve tirelessly stood up for cops, firefighters, and their families. Senator Redd: you’ve constantly struggled to ensure New Jersey’s most vulnerable have a voice and an advocate. Senator Beach: you’ve made a legacy in your work fighting for New Jersey’s veterans.

Senators, you all have wonderful legacies. Now is the time to expand upon them, the time to stand at a crossroad in history and come down on the side of justice and equality. Please read these words and do the right thing. Tomorrow, please vote yes.

Courier Post:

The public reactions may be different, but the fundamental legal issue is the same: The issuing of marriage licenses is a government function. And the government, whose core principle is equal rights and equal protection for all under the law, simply cannot justify having one of its functions be available to some adult Americans and not to others. At the end of the day, offering government-issued marriage licenses to only some, and specifically saying others cannot have licenses, just does not pass constitutional muster.

So now New Jersey lawmakers are on center stage. In a few days, they may have to vote on legislation that would clearly make legal same-sex marriage in New Jersey. And they should. More accurately, we do not see how they cannot.

Using the strictest interpretation of the U.S. Constitution — which goes to great length to extend rights to all, not to take them away — we don’t see how any group of lawmakers could rightly not sign off on same-sex marriage, whether they agree with it personally, on a moral level, or not.

Inquirer:

The New Jersey Senate should approve a bill to authorize gay marriage, and advance the cause of equality for so many of the state’s citizens.

The pending vote tomorrow in the Senate is in doubt, and the Assembly has not indicated whether it will take up the question. But gay and lesbian citizens deserve that the issue be settled in their favor.

The state’s experiment with civil unions was supposed to provide gay couples the same legal rights as heterosexual married couples. But too often that is not the case. Gay couples instead face questions about the extent of their civil rights. And denying them the right to call their partnership a “marriage” makes it, by definition, something less than one.

New Jersey should end this confusion and become the sixth state to certify same-sex marriages as legal. Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire have already approved same-sex marriage laws.

It is important that the Senate bill spells out that religious organizations could not be forced to sanction or participate in any gay marriage. That should help preserve a church’s First Amendment right to oppose same-sex marriages and not perform them.

Christie “Mandate” Is Economic, Not Anti-Marriage Equality

If you listened to last night’s Senate Judiciary committee hearing, you likely remember several consistent drumbeats coming from Senator Cardinale and anti-marriage equality witnesses. (if you missed the hearing livestream, check out the play by play here and here.) One of these oft-repeated arguments goes something like this: Corzine supported marriage equality and Christie didn’t, and since Christie won that means New Jerseyans oppose marriage equality.

Putting aside the issue of whether or not you believe Chris Christie has a sweeping mandate, this premise is completely fallacious and should be disregarded as such.

A number of components of this argument are, in fact, true. Jon Corzine does support marriage equality. Chris Christie opposes it. Notably, Chris Christie did, in fact, win the election. But let’s not kid ourselves: anyone who argues that Jon Corzine lost the election because of his support for marriage equality would be laughed out of the room.

We heard Senator Lesniak quote the Eagleton poll saying only 2% of New Jerseyans thought marriage equality to be a top issue. This kind of evidence suggests that marriage equality was, at best, a footnote in a gubernatorial race dominated by economic messages about jobs, spending and taxes.

It’s also interesting to note the issues that have Governor-Elect Christie has passionately and consistently focused on in the past few weeks. He’s talked about the dire state of the New Jersey budget. He’s slammed the Spicuzzo nomination. He’s gone mercilessly after John McKeon’s bill to change the way Senate vacancies are filled. He’s heaped scorn upon the League of Municipalities, the Association of Counties, and the School Boards Association for their taxpayer-funded pensions. He’s pointed to the SCI report on extravagant local benefits as a reason for reigning in out of control municipal compensation practices, and how those practices drive up property taxes.

He hasn’t spoken at length, barely a peep and certainly not with the bombast he’s used to approach economic issues, against marriage equality.

The message New Jersey voters delivered in November was purely economic in nature. As progressives, we disagree with Gov-Elect Christie’s economic priorities and disagree strongly. But when marriage equality opponents assert that the Christie “mandate” means Senators who support marriage equality will face electoral danger, they should be laughed out of the room, not taken seriously. Here’s hoping our Senators will recognize that.

Deep Thought: Cardinale Polygamy Edition

Was it just me, or did anyone else notice that Senator Cardinale kept asking pro-marriage equality witnesses why we shouldn’t just let three people get married? It appears as though the Senator has a weird and persistent preoccupation (obsession even) with polygamy?

Then again,  maybe he just wants to make sure he can marry a soup can AND a box turtle. Depravity indeed.

Our Democratic Values: We Don’t Back Down

(Update: Incoming Senate President Steve Sweeney’s county chairman has signed on. Click here to add your signature!)

Earlier today, a group of 200 key Democratic activists and operatives signed on to a letter calling on Democratic legislators to vote for marriage equality now. These individuals represent everyone from major local and county elected officials, to operatives and party officials, to Congressmen. This is huge.

In short, they are the heart of the Democratic party, a group of activists and operatives who have literally hundreds of years of combined experience both working to elect Democrats and governing with Democratic values. It’s not exaggerating to say that most of our major elected officials in New Jersey–be it on the local, county, legislative or statewide level–won their positions because of the hard work of those in this crew. It’s not exaggerating to say that Democrats would be going nowhere fast without the help of these individuals.

These people, through thick and thin, have stuck to Democratic values: fairness and equality. Opportunity and justice for everyone, not just a privileged or well-connected few. Fundamentally, that’s what we as Democrats are all about.

It’s what we as New Jersey Democrats are all about. When someone comes into our state and messes with our friends, or relentlessly gets facts wrong and attacks our values, we don’t back down. We don’t cower. We don’t run away. We don’t abandon our friends when they need us.

We stand up, and we fight.

The LGBT community isn’t an intangible other. They’re our friends and our neighbors; our co-workers; our brothers and our sisters. They’ve been there for Democrats when we’ve needed them. It’s time for us to stand up and fight for them because as the letter states, marriage equality is about “…treating our family members, friends, coworkers, and neighbors with dignity and respect.” It’s time for our Democratic legislators to stand up and vote our Democratic values– an emphatic “yes” to marriage equality.

The signees to this letter and countless Democratic activists across New Jersey appreciate the difficulty of this issue for some legislators. But legislators should make no mistake, we are watching this issue very closely. And we will soon learn the difference between who is a fair-weather Democrat and who is the real thing.

Jeff Tittel’s Words May Come Back To Haunt NJ’s Environment

In a fit of hyperbole, Jeff Tittel, political director of the NJ Sierra Club, recently called Governor Corzine the worst environmental governor in New Jersey history. It’s clear that Tittel has completely ignored the Corzine administration’s work on green energy, and the game Tittel is playing just got more dangerous, with the RGA using his words to run attack ads in support of Chris Christie.

The facts are clear: under Governor Corzine, the state became one of the first in the nation to develop a comprehensive energy master plan to encourage, incentivize and develop green energy in our state.

Not long ago, the AP reported that New Jersey would more than double its capacity for solar, solidifying New Jersey’s place as the second-biggest solar state after only California.

But I guess these accomplishments, nor any of dozens of other Corzine initiatives, has, you know, any environmental impact in Tittel’s view. Perhaps if Tittel had written the headline to that story, it would have read “Corzine Only Doubles Solar Generation; Presides Over Epic Failure On NJ Solar Power.”

Tittel’s penchant for hyperbole isn’t news, but he has certainly changed his tune in recent days. It was only a few months ago that Tittel was beside himself with praise for Corzine administration DEP commissioner Lisa Jackson, widely known as a champion of science and environmental protection. While she was DEP commissioner, Lisa Jackson was dubbed “one of the best DEP commissioners” in state history by Tittel. When she was nominated, then confirmed, as President Obama’s new EPA administrator, Tittel again heaped praise upon Jackson and her record.

That raises a question: how can Governor Corzine have been the worst Governor in New Jersey history on environmental issues while simultaneously appointing one of the best DEP commissioners in state history to develop and execute his policies? There’s a simple answer: Tittel’s laughable hyperbole has descended into flat out lies.

We already know that this year, we’re playing the Governor’s race for keeps. Chris Christie has already repeatedly stated his intention to slash the budget and capabilities of the state Department of Environmental Protection to the bone. On the other side is Governor Corzine’s strong, while certainly not perfect, record on the environment and green energy. The contrast couldn’t be clearer.

Tittel is playing right into the hands of those who would give developers free reign, reduce water quality standards, seek to drill for oil offshore, and otherwise tarnish New Jersey’s environment. It’s time for Sierra Club members and funders to reign in Tittel, before he helps deliver the very outcomes for New Jersey he is supposedly working to prevent.

Chris Christie: Does the Lying Ever Stop?

Chris Christie has made quite a habit of playing fast and loose with the truth. Whether it’s claiming he wants to crack down on the exact brand of cronyism he supports or creating a budget that has as much to do with reality as a fried unicorn sandwich, for some reason, Chris Christie just can’t stop lying.

When discussing senior campaign adviser John Inglesino, Christie’s lies just seem to get more and more baldfaced. Inglesino has been taking some fire after reports revealed he is exactly the kind of chummy, no-show, patronage appointee Christie has vowed to crack down on. Trying to minimize the damage to his campaign, Christie reacted to this news with lies that would make your head spin, claiming Inglesino wasn’t, in fact, a major campaign adviser.

You’ll remember Christie already peddled this particular lie on NJ 101.5, saying Inglesino was nothing more than a volunteer phone banker for his campaign when asked about Inglesino’s shady pension-padding job. But merely lying to the media isn’t enough for Christie. As the following video and transcript show, he’s also lying to voters about Inglesino out on the campaign trail:

Woman: “[…] on 101.5, about Mr. Inglesino, that he was just a volunteer. Didn’t he raise $100,000 at Herb Stern’s office?

Christie: “No he didn’t. No he didn’t.”

Woman: “He didn’t?”

Christie: “No he did not. Never raised any money.”

But if John Inglesino never raised any money for Christie, then why does Inglesino’s name appear on invitations to a fundraiser where donors are asked to give between $500 and $3400 per person? Chris, the invite doesn’t lie!

Christie Inglesino Fundraiser

Unless, maybe volunteer phone bankers often host major fundraisers for candidates?

It doesn’t get much more black and white than this. Chris Christie is lying left, right, and center. It’s time for the media to stop giving him the benefit of the doubt and start calling him out as a liar with no substantive plans to fix New Jersey’s problems.

Caroline Casagrande Should Read the Constitution

These days, Assembly Republicans don’t do much besides put out press releases, praying someone will take notice. Sometimes, this results in them forgetting key provisions of the NJ Constitution, which they’re theoretically sworn to uphold. In this respect, Caroline Casagrande has really outdone herself.

In a release criticizing a Democratic bill setting out some of the requirements for the new office of Lt. Governor, Casagrande had this to say:

“The failure to stipulate that lobbying the lieutenant governor must be reported just as lobbying the governor, along with a provision for recalling the officeholder are conspicuous by their absence,” said Casagrande, R-Monmouth and Mercer.  “It is also troubling that there is no mention about conflicts of interest or a clause discussing the succession of powers.”

She then took a different complaint on NJN:

Casagrande’s complaints are easily summarized: there’s no provision to recall the Lt. Gov, there’s nothing dicussing the succession of powers involving the Lt. Gov, and there’s no residency requirement for the Lt. Gov. The problem? All of these are already included in the Constitution; it’s not necessary to include them in statute. Quick, to the NJ Constitution!

Recall provision?

Article I, 2b. The people reserve the right unto themselves the power to recall, after at least one year of service, any elected official in this State or representing this State in the United States Congress.

Check. Succession of powers?

Article V, Section 1, 6 In the event of a vacancy in the office of Governor resulting from the death, resignation or removal of a Governor in office, or the death of a Governor-elect, or from any other cause, the Lieutenant Governor shall become Governor until a new Governor is elected and qualifies.

Check. Residency Requirement?

Article V, Section 1, 2 …A person shall be eligible for the office of Lieutenant Governor only if eligible under this Constitution for the office of Governor

And that includes the residency requirement. Check.

Caroline, I know your party’s getting desperate these days, come on! This is getting embarassing.

Right Wing: Passing Marriage Equality is Like Encouraging Obesity

It wouldn’t be Spring in New Jersey without three things: a struggling Yankees team, a budget crisis, and the local right wing showing just how crazy and irrational they are about gay people.

At a news conference earlier this week, wingers from far and wide gathered to attack same-sex families and disparage the overwhelming evidence that says civil unions hurt these families. Reporters from NJ 101.5 were on hand and reported on the conference.


NJCPPM says it is defending “traditional values” and is pushing for a ballot question in next year’s election asking voters if they would like the constitution to state in law that marriage is only between a man and a woman. Members say they’ll accept whatever the public decides. NJCPPM chief John Tomicki says he’s not asking for the ballot question this year because his group doesn’t want the issue to interfere with the gubernatorial election.”

Jim White with the Knights of Columbus is a NJCPPM associate. He says, “Never until now has anyone thought that marriage should be between the people of the same sex. Frankly, the government does not have the right to meddle with marriage.” He adds, “It’s also a well-know fact that the homosexual lifestyle or homosexual practice is very unhealthy. Government should discourage it and not elevate it to a level by calling it marriage. In an age where we worry about people being overweight and going after them and the government interfering in that, what is the government doing promoting a lifestyle that is inherently unhealthy?”

In other words, giving gay and lesbian families equal rights is like encouraging obesity, say the New Jersey anti-gay activists. One can only wonder if marriage equality would involve as many bags of Cheetos as obesity presumably does.

As laughable as that statement is, it also shows us something. The right wing’s ever-shifting arguments against marriage equality in New Jersey are becoming more and more desperate. The wingers know marriage equality will soon be the law of the land here in Jersey, and they’re afraid.

In the meantime, help yourself to some Cheetos (and take the poll below).