Author Archive: jeffpickens

Marie Corfield – Next Stop, Oprah?

Unless you have been living on Mars the past week, as a Blue Jersey reader by now you know of Flemington, NJ teacher Marie Hughes Corfield, who acquiited herself and did all NJ public servants proud on The Ed Show (friendly territory) Monday, and Fox & Friends (enemy territory) Saturday.

Now, since Oprah Winfrey has involved herself in NJ's public affairs, the obvious next talk show appearance for Marie should be the Oprah Winfrey Show.

How about an email campaign to the Oprah Show's producers, urging them to air the NJ teachers' side of the story? 

CLICK HERE to contact the show.

Here is what I wrote:


Now that Oprah Winfrey has injected herself into NJ politics and NJ public education (the two are inextricably linked) by giving a forum to Governor Chris Christie, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, on her show, she ought to give voice to the teachers themselves. Marie Hughes Corfield, the Flemington, NJ teacher who was famously smacked down by a belligerent Christie at a town hall meeting, has been making appearances on talk shows to defend her profession and debunk Christie's notion that the fiscal woes of NJ are directly attributable to public servants. Please have Ms. Corfield on your show to give her the opportunity to present her side of the story.
Thank you.


Feel free to plagiarize, or write your own pitch as you see fit. 

But please, do it!

Welcome Home, Governor

Dear Governor Christie:

Welcome home. I hope you enjoyed your trip to Florida. I am planning a  vacation in the Caribbean myself next month and am looking forward to  escaping the winter for a week. I break with my cohorts in the left-wing  blogosphere in that I do not begrudge you and your family a vacation.  I'm a dad myself and understand the importance of keeping a promise to  your kids. Having said that, I am troubled by your characteristically  arrogant behavior upon your return, specifically:

Your refusal to take any responsibility for the poor response to the blizzard:

If someone is snowed into their house, that’s not our responsibility

Your pathological inability to tell the truth, here is just one example:

Christie said there were no reports of storm-related deaths

Your callous disregard for human life:

We did not have any significant loss of life

In case you missed it, Governor, a 59-year-old Brick Township man died of a heart attack  while he was attempting to walk home after his car was stuck in the  snow while he was on his way home from work. This man's death may not be  of any significance to you, Governor, but a family lost a father and  husband. Did you attend this man's funeral, or extend any condolences to his family?

As for the snow clean-up: An "A" for effort and a "B" for results?  I don't think so. My part of the state, Washington Twp, Gloucester  County, was not as hard-hit as the rest of the state, but when I went to  visit my recently  widowed, 79 year old father in Lakewood, I was  appalled by the horrendous conditions of I-195, the Garden State  Parkway, and Route 70, as well as the local roads.

I am sorry to see that 2011 is already an Annus horribilis for you, only four days in. As tempting as  it may be, at this time I will refrain from any Schadenfreude, as you are still my Governor, whether I like it or not.

I hope you have learned something from this experience, but somehow, based on your past and current behavior, I doubt it.


Jeffrey R. Pickens
Washington Twp, NJ

Tuesday Night Football – The Politics of Snow Removal

“Vince Lombardi would be spinning in his grave”, said Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell, in an on-air rant about the NFL's decision to postpone the Vikings/Eagles game, scheduled for Sunday night, to Tuesday. Rendell and Fox-29's John Bolaris even went at it about the actual number of inches of snow (paging Dr. Freud) that actually fell on and around Lincoln Financial Field, the home of the Eagles.

Here in the Mid-Atlantic states, a major snowstorm is almost always a no-win situation for local government and their limited resources. Places like Buffalo experience storms like this on a regular basis and are able to justify ample snow-removal capabilities in their budgets. In places like the Philadelphia area, it is impossible to predict, on a winter-by-winter basis, what the snow removal needs will be, so they do their best when budgeting for snow emergencies.

On Sunday morning, after careful review of all the meteorology available to him, Mayor Michael Nutter urged the NFL to postpone the game. NFL diehards immediately cried “wimp!”, but the Mayor's decision, in this writer's opinion, has merit. Imagine the outcry if the full force of Philly's snow removal efforts was focused on getting ready for a football game, while the neighborhoods were neglected, snowed in, and residents were unable to get out of their homes.

It would not only have been necessary to clear all the snow from the parking lots and surrounding roads, but every flake would have had to be removed from the inside of the stadium. Did we really need another spectacle of snowball-throwing Eagles fans on national TV?

Here in New Jersey, such a decision did not need to be made, as the Jets and Giants were both away on Sunday. NJ State Senate President and acting NJ Governor Stephen Sweeney, who is currently holding the position after the Governor and Lt Governor both got out of  Dodge for simultaneous vacations, called a state of emergency in NJ due to the blizzard.

What will the powers-that-be do in the event of a blizzard on Super Bowl Sunday 2014? Will we see every plow, salt truck, and every other snow removal device in the state clearing out the New Meadowlands, or will we see the face of the newly re-elected Governor Christie on TV, telling us “we don't have the money”?

Back to the Eagles – Interesting that they are scheduled to play the Vikings, a team from a city well-prepared to deal with snow emergencies, except when the roof collapses on their domed stadium. The Birds managed to clinch the NFC East title anyway, thanks to the Giants' horrific loss to Green Bay Sunday. 

And so, after more than a bit of griping, Eagles fans will head to the Linc or tune in to NBC-TV Tuesday night to enjoy the game, with visions of an NFC Conference title once again dancing in their heads. And life will go on.


Go Ahead, Senator Sweeney, Make My Day

Talk about "below the fold".

On Christmas Day, 1:00pm, when most people were not reading the Star  Ledger or, came the news that Governor Chris Christie and Lt  Governor Kim Guadagno are both taking vacation out of state, leaving Senate President Stephen Sweeney as acting governor while both are away.  Maybe I missed something, but wasn't the position of Lt. Governor  created to provide for continuity in the NJ Executive branch while the  Governor was unavailable to discharge his duties? How do they get away  with leaving the state at the same time?

While we know that the Governor will be in Disney World in Florida with  his family, it has not been released (not to this writer, at least)  where Lt Gov. Guadagno will be, other than that she will be out of  state. Perhaps she will be in Disney World with the governor, standing  behind him, gazing longingly, Nancy-Reagan-like, while Christie hob-nobs  with Mickey and watches his kids enjoy the rides.

According to the Star Ledger:

"Theoretically, Sweeney could sign legislation Christie hasn’t acted on   or even file nominations Christie would never dream of filing. Sweeney   could even re-nominate former state Supreme Court Justice John Wallace   Jr. to the bench, whose pass-over by Christie in favor of attorney Anne   Patterson angered Sweeney. But he won’t.

Sweeney’s reply below the fold

It’s My Christmas, and I’ll Cry If I Want To

So, the Republicans in the Senate are terrified that they may have to work up to and including Christmas, to settle some unresolved legislation, including ratification of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), and the $1.1 trillion omnibus funding resolution, that the Democrats want to complete before the end of the lame duck session.

According to Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ):

It is impossible to do all of the things that the majority leader laid out without doing — frankly, without disrespecting the institution and without disrespecting one of the two holiest of holidays for Christians and the families of all of the Senate, not just the senators themselves but all of the staff

How many recesses and breaks does Congress get, including practically the entire month of August? Certainly more than people in these professions, many of whom must work, not only Christmas, but other holidays as well:

  • Members of the military, especially those stationed overseas
  • Police, firefighters, EMTs – yes, those same ones who came to the World Trade Center site to help and were told by our own Christie Whitman that the air was safe, and are now being denied health benefits for illnesses contracted from breathing the “safe” air.
  • Health workers: doctors, nurses, orderlies, maintenance crews. Hospitals have no days off.
  • Pilots, flights attendants, air traffic controllers, other airport crew members (how many are flying members of Congress home for Christmas?)
  • Food service workers, cooks, waitstaff, caterers (how many are working on Christmas to feed members of Congress who can afford paid help for their holiday meals?)
  • Workers at 24/7 convenience stores, who help us out when we forgot to pick up a container of egg nog or whipped cream for our desserts.
  • Workers at 24/7 gas stations, who, here in New Jersey, stand out in the cold because we don't pump our own gas.

Are there more? You bet. Let's not forget members of the press, who are charged with keeping these public servants honest.

If these pious Senators are so concerned about their holy holiday, especially one whose motto includes “Peace On Earth, Good Will Towards Men”, why can't they take the time to work out a peace treaty before Christmas?

Stop whining and get to work.


Sunday Night: Are You Ready For Some Softball?

You would not know it from the 60 Minutes website, but thanks to my friends at Blue Jersey I learned that Governor Chris Christie will be featured tonight. When I went to the site to check for information, there was nothing there about an appearance by the Governor of NJ. The featured preview was a story called “The Gift of Endless Memory” (interesting juxtaposition).

The good news is, ever since the “Heidi Bowl” (for those of us old enough to remember), we do not have to worry about the Steelers/Jets game being cut-off in favor of 60 Minutes while the Jets are in the throes of yet another nail-biting comeback. However if you're not quick enough on the channel changer after the game you may catch an unwanted glimpse of the bloviations of the Great Reformer of NJ, repeating the same platitudes in response to whatever softballs are lobbed his way. (Who would be best to interview Christie: Anderson Cooper? Katie Couric? I wonder if he can answer a hard-hitting question like “What do you read”?).

As an apprentice contributor to Blue Jersey, I am on self-appointed Christie-watch, so I will be watching, and taking notes. CBS News is good at timely posting of transcripts so anyone who cannot watch (or bear to watch) can read all about it the next day.

So, what do you think? Will this be the usual hagiographic puff-piece that the Governor has become accustomed to, or will our interviewer hit him with some real questions, other than his fandom of Bruce Springsteen and his “YouTube moments”?

I am not optimistic but I hope 60 Minutes surprises me and proves me wrong. After all, I'm still going through Boardwalk Empire Withdrawal.


The Chicken Or The Egg?

No, I'm not referring to that terrific restaurant in Beach Haven, but a recent study that reveals the startling revelation that Fox “News” viewers are alarmingly uninformed.

Among the findings, Fox viewers:

  • 91 percent believe the stimulus legislation lost jobs
  • 72 percent believe the health reform law will increase the deficit
  • 72 percent believe the economy is getting worse
  • 60 percent believe climate change is not occurring
  • 49 percent believe income taxes have gone up
  • 63 percent believe the stimulus legislation did not include any tax cuts
  • 56 percent believe Obama initiated the GM/Chrysler bailout
  • 38 percent believe that most Republicans opposed TARP
  • 63 percent believe Obama was not born in the U.S. (or that it is unclear)

Of course none of this is news to most of the readers here. But I can't help but wonder, are Fox viewers blank slates, thirsting for knowledge, with no pre-conceived notions, or are they the already uninformed, looking for validation?

Which came first? 

From One Nation Rally 2-Oct 



Slacktivism: My New Favorite Word


Have you seen this:
“Most people have 1000 wishes for Christmas; a cancer patient only has one,to get better. I know 97% of you won't repost this to your status, but my friends will be the 3% that do. In honour of someone who has died, or is still fighting, or survived cancer, copy this to your status.”

Or this:
“Change your facebook profile picture to cartoon from your childhood. The goal? To not see a human face on FB till Monday Dec 6. Join the fight against child abuse. Copy and paste to your status and invite your friends to do the same.”

“Slacktivism”: Defined in the Urban Dictionary as “The act of participating in obviously pointless activities as an expedient alternative to actually expending effort to fix a problem, The search for the ultimate feel-good that derives from having come to society's rescue without having had to actually gets one's hands dirty or open one's wallet.”

Now, I have nothing against fighting cancer or child abuse. In fact, I ride every year in the Philadelphia American Cancer Society Bike-a-thon, and contribute to others who participate in similar events. As for the cartoon character thing, I was taken to task by my otherwise sensible friends for not participating. My take: if you want to fight child abuse, do something about it, beginning with taking care of your own kids.

I am currently the administrator of a Facebook page called NJ against Chris Christie. How I became administrator was by accident. I came across the page in March, when I was angered by some of the items in the 2011 budget proposal, and wanted to engage in some slacktivism of my own. I contacted the creator of the page, exchanged some emails, and he made me the administrator. My duties consist of finding interesting news items and comments to post on the page, to spur some lively debate. Membership has grown to over 43,000, up from 60 in March.

This is all well and good, but not much gets accomplished except complaining and arguing. Very few members have actually attended any Christie Town Hall Meetings (I have). Very few have contacted the Governor or their State Legislators to air their grievances (I have) or attended a budget hearing in Trenton (I have).

I am ready to hand control of the NJACC page to someone else willing to preside over complaints and fat jokes. I am happy that my inaugural post to Blue Jersey was so well received and look forward to being a more regular contributor. I'm also teaming up with some friends on a special project which will be unveiled soon.

There is a great deal to be done in NJ politics in the near future: the next budget battle and State Legislature elections in 2011, keeping the White House and Senate Democratic in 2012, as well as gaining back the House majority, and of course, replacing the Current Occupant of Drumthwacket in 2013.

The next time someone asks you to join a Facebook group, “like” a page, join a cause, or sign an e-petition, ask them: “What are your DOING?”

An Open Letter to Governor Chris Christie

promoted by Rosi

The Honorable Christopher J. Christie

Office of the Governor

PO Box 001

Trenton, NJ 08625

Dear Governor Christie:

I am writing with respect to the “Town Hall” meetings you have been conducting across the state.

It is a common misperception that the attendees at these events are pre-screened and your supporters are given preferential treatment for admission. I know for a fact this is not true. I am a registered Democrat, and was not subjected to any political or ideological litmus test for admission to a recent event.

The reason, I believe, for this misperception, is that these events are always held in the daytime, making it difficult for anyone other than retired persons to attend. That these events are usually held in towns with a predominantly white population makes the demographic look very much like the Glen Beck rally at the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 2010.

I recommend that you consider holding some of your Town Hall meetings in the evenings, and in places like Camden, Elizabeth, Jersey City, and elsewhere, where you can get your message to a far more diverse crowd.

I also recommend that you scrap the “YouTube Moment” meme when inviting citizens to ask questions, and engage them in civil discussion, rather than berating them for the benefit of the camera. Having your State Police bodyguard manhandle a questioner, bring him up to the stage, scold and rail at him, then have the officer remove the citizen from the stage, without giving him the opportunity to respond, may make for entertaining television, but it is no way to govern.

It is also in direct contradiction to your repeated admonitions that “there is nothing left unsaid between us”.

If you wish to get your message out to anyone other than the usual amen chorus that predominate your Town Halls, I suggest that you expand the demographic scope of the audience and engage in real discussion of ideas. Otherwise, you cannot expect to win the hearts and minds of anyone in your opposition, not one.


Jeffrey R. Pickens