Author Archive: Jason Springer

News Round-Up, Weekend Round Up

  • Cory Booker takes over in Newark and finds the landscape is more bleak than he thought…
  • According to published reports, Governor Corzine will name Associate Justice Zazzali to succeed Chief Justice Deborah Poritz who is facing mandatory retirement in the fall.
  • More bad news for NJ taxpayers in the investigation of Freeholder Warren Wallace at UMDNJ who had a 7 to 1 ratio or personal to work realated documents on his work computer.
  • Lots of talk about the Codey/Roberts Special Session Proposals here, here, here and here.
  • Continued Coverage of a plan presented to reform state contracts including a sit down interview on NJN’s “On The Record” with leaders of AFSCME & CWA joining Senator Sweeney and Assemblyman Moriarty.
  • The NAACP is not happy w/ the Governor over his decision to audit Abbott Districts.
  • Will the legislature try to forgo raising the sales tax by taxing fees charged by lawyers, accountants, consultants and other professionals.

    It looks like a great day outside. Enjoy the rest of your weekend and if you have some time today, consider attending the Linda Stender and Rich Sexton Fundraisers to help elect Democrats.  Details are in the Upcoming Events calendar.

  • Showdown at the State House as Legislators launch website

    Continuing the push they began last week to cut state employee compensation by 15%, State Senator Stephen M. Sweeney (D-3rd LD), State Assemblyman Jerry Green (D-22nd LD) and State Assemblyman Paul Moriarty (D-4th LD) launched a web campaign, and according to their press release, “the website is aimed at educating Garden State taxpayers about the need to overhaul excessive state government employee compensation deals and to fight a proposed increase in the state sales tax.”

    “It’s time for the taxpaying public to get the sad but true facts about runaway state government at their expense,” said Sweeney, a Business Agent and Treasurer of Ironworkers Local 399 in Westville.  “Our goal is to create our own citizen army to push our agenda forward beyond traditional means.  We are also taking our case directly to millions of New Jersey taxpayers through our own e-campaign.”

    According to Newsday the legislators were confronted by an “incensed” CWA President Carla Katz and demonstrators,

    The 150 demonstrators attracted state troopers who repeatedly asked them to keep hallways and stairs clear and empty a meeting room jammed with people. The union members complied, but remained incensed.

    “This is an unfair attack on middle-class working families,” said Carla Katz, the president of Communications Workers of America Local 1034.  When the legislators arrived, the protesters booed and shouted “Shame” and “Shame on Sweeney,” a South Jersey ironworker union official.

    The Legislators pointed out that according to the Office of Legislative Services, state employee salaries and benefits account for 73.6%, or $4.6 billion, of the state’s real operating budget. The benefits alone account for a mind-boggling 40% of total compensation.

    Unions are involved on both sides of this battle with the the AFL-CIO issuing a scathing release opposing the plan, prompting responses from the 125,000 member strongBuilding Trades Council President Mullen and the Carpenters Chief Frank Spencer supporting the initiatives and blasting back at the personal attacks on Sweeney in the release. 

    “The AFL-CIO’s recent public criticisms of him (Sweeney) are both misguided and quite frankly, uncalled for.  I support Senator Sweeney and his efforts to bring progressive solutions to the budget crisis to the table,” said Spencer.

    Big Doings at the State House Tomorrow

    Late this afternoon(3:26pm), Sen. President Codey and Asm Speaker Roberts sent out a press release(linked from PoliticsNJ) announcing a special press conference tomorrow…

    Senate President Richard J. Codey and Assembly Speaker Joseph J. Roberts, Jr. will hold a joint news conference tomorrow, June 6, to make an announcement regarding the growing burden of property taxes. The news conference will be held in room 103 of the State House at 11 a.m.

    What do you think they will say?  The floor is yours…

    UPDATE by jmelli:
    We have our answer. According to the AP:

    Neither Codey nor Roberts would comment specifically about the proposal on Monday, but several legislative officials knowledgeable about it, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the legislative leaders will ask Corzine to call the Legislature into special session in July so he can discuss property tax reform.

    Young Democrats Getting Involved and Getting Coverage

    Whenever you talk targeting voters, campaigns say that young people don’t vote so why should we pay attention and waste resources on them.  I understand the seniors voting and the soccer moms voting, but I always said they were young once too and unless you give young people something to vote for, they’ll continue to not vote.

    The George Washington University’s Young Voter Strategies (YVS) in collaboration with the GW-Battleground pollsters conducted the 1st poll to catalogue young adults’ attitudes in the 2006 election cycle which found that nearly three-quarters of 18-30 year olds intend to vote in November 2006.

    In fact

    Young adults are an increasingly active and in-demand voting bloc. While historically less likely to vote than older Americans, in 2004 turnout among 18-24 year olds voters increased an 11 percentage points over 2000 levels (US. Census), compared to a 4 point increase among all voters. Further, in 2005 youth turnout grew in student-dense precincts in Virginia (15%) and New Jersey (19%), even while turnout among all ages dropped.

    Since the numbers are starting to show young people will vote if given a choice, its nice to see the Courier Post give some love to the Democrats 2000 event held at Top Dog in Cherry Hill Last week where over 75 people had the opportunity to mix and mingle.

    Saxton Triggers lockdown in DC

    So all hell broke loose in DC today when someone reported shots fired in the Rayburn Parking Garage area.

    Tactical teams wearing flak jackets and police sniffer dogs swarmed through several US Congress buildings after an erroneous report of gunfire forced a lockdown of the sprawling Capitol office complex.

    This later turned out to be false alarm caused by construction, which apparently was triggered by none other than NJ’s Congressman from the 3rd District, Jim Saxton

    “I heard what I thought to be between six and ten shots,” the Republican lawmaker said.

    “It sounded exactly like gunfire to me. It was not of a backfire nature. It was the sharp crack as comes out of a weapon.”

    So what does a sitting Congressman do when he sets off total panic in the nations capitol?  Does he apologize.  Not exactly…

    Saxton, without apologizing for the mayhem his report unleashed, told Fox television that the silver lining in the whole episode was that it gave Capitol Police a chance to shine.

    “It showed how prepared the Capitol Hill police are to respond to these kinds of events, and not only the Capitol Police, but the
    FBI and the other investigators and scientists who were here trying to discover what happened throughout the day,” he said.

    “It was a great testament to a lot of people who were highly trained and very capable of taking care of the situation,” said Saxton.

    Oops. I wonder how much they’ll have to borrow from China to pay for this “good practice” because we know they wont how much they love those “targeted” tax cuts.  Yet another reason to support Rich Sexton for Congress

    Torch/Oil-for-Food Connections?

    This could be big news because if its true, it would be the first time that a US lawmaker of this prominence has been linked to the controversial UN program. 

    The Financial Times is reporting that the U.S. Senate is “looking into allegations” former Sen. Robert Toricellii (D-NJ) “urged Baghdad to give a US company lucrative contracts under the much-criticised United Nations oil-for-food program.”

    According to the documents, Mr Torricelli, nicknamed “the Torch” for his incendiary political style, had a series of meetings in the late 1990s, when he was a congressman, with Nizar Hamdoun, then the Iraqi ambassador to the United Nations. During these meetings, Mr Torricelli allegedly urged the Iraqi authorities to help Mr Chang and Bright and Bright get oil-for-food contracts on good terms.

    Mr. Chang refers to David Chang, a Korean-American businessman and campaign Contributor to Toricelli who was found guilty in 2002 of conspiring to violate federal campaign laws and was jailed for 15 months.

    Christie Whitman launches website, starts PAC and tours the Country

    So what is New Jersey’s former Governor up to?  The LA Times says that Christie Whitman has started a website, that she says is aimed at promoting a grassroots effort for the 2006 elections and beyond.

    She also has been touring the country in the last year speaking on this issue, the topic of her 2005 book “It’s My Party Too: The Battle for the Heart of the GOP and the Future of America,” and has created a political action committee.

    “We’re trying to build a grassroots movement and our real focus is at the local level, where we’ve lost the battle and we need to re-engage,” Whitman said Thursday in a telephone interview.

    The article states the former Governor “says she’s proud of being a moderate Republican — and she wants moderates to take back control of the party.” Should be interesting to watch her travels and the response she receives.  I wonder if she will be contacting the Reverand Falwell to speak at commencement next year?

    Roberts Unveils CORE Reform Plan

    The Courier Post runs a story this afternoon about Speaker Roberts plan to fix NJ’s broken system for funding schools…

    Studying whether the state needs to change how it funds schools and enticing school districts to merge and governments to share services were among plans unveiled today by a key state official in a bid to shave the nation’s highest property taxes.

    Roberts Press Release spells out the plan, literally…

    The legislative initiative is entitled the CORE Reform Plan – “C” for clearing hurdles to shared services, “O” for overriding waste in schools, “R” for reining in pension abuses, and “E” for empowering citizens.

    The Roberts plan proposes

    Court Allows State to Freeze Abbott Aid

    The NJ Supreme Court has ruled that the State is allowed to move forward w/ Governor Corzine’s proposal to freeze state aid to Abbott Schools in order to help balance the state budget.  From the Star Ledger…

    The high court issued its unanimous ruling one week after it heard lawyers for the “special needs” school districts argue that with costs rising, flat state aid would translate into cuts in educational services. Attorney General Zulima Farber countered that given the state’s “dire” budgetary circumstances, “we simply don’t have the money” to increase educational funding.

    While the Justices did give the school districts the right to appeal what they feel is “inadequate funding” for “demonstrably needed” school programs, they also issued a ruling on the auditing of many of these school districts…

    New Jersey Scraps State Slogan

    So maybe our state should stop trying to come up with a slogan because according to the Courier Post, our latest slogan attempt is no more…

    The state has jettisoned “Come See For Yourself,” its second attempt at a tagline in less than a year. It was the product of a statewide contest set up by Gov. Richard J. Codey last fall, after he rejected a consultant’s offering: “We’ll Win You Over.”

    State tourism officials said legal issues led them to scrap the latest slogan, explaining that West Virginia and other states previously used “Come See For Yourself.”

    I guess the consultants didn’t bother to check whether their new idea for a slogan wasn’t exactly new.  Can’t say that i was really won over by the slogan myself, but since we’re back to square one, what’s your suggestion?