Author Archive: jfc521

Gallup: NJ 60% religious

Based upon interviews of more than 350,000 adults nationwide, Gallup has estimated that religion is an important part of daily life for about 60% of New Jerseyans.  The NJ percentage is a bit lower than the national average of 65% (MOE 1-4%).

The ten most religious states range from 74% to 85%, and they are all southern red (2008 presidential election) states, with the exception of North Carolina.  The ten least religious states are all blue states, with the exception of Alaska.

Given that there are several low-religion red western states, it is obviously impossible to identify a simple and reliable correlative relationship between religiosity and political conservatism.  Nevertheless, the most religious states are very republican.

Here’s some general speculation from Gallup:

Differing religious traditions and denominations tend to dominate historically in specific states, and religious groups have significantly different patterns of religious intensity among their adherents. The states have differing racial and ethnic compositions, which in turn are associated with differing degrees of religiosity. Certain states may attract in-migrants with specific types of religious intensity. In addition, there may be differing “state cultures” that are themselves associated with life approaches that give varying degrees of credence to religion as a guiding force.

So why is NJ’s religious score higher than, say, VT, NH, ME, MA, RI, and CT ?  If I had to toss out a quick guess, I might try to attribute it to demographics: NJ has lots of citizens of Italian and Irish descent, along with significant numbers of Latinos, African Americans, and Asian Indians.  States such as VT, NH, and ME are considerably less diverse.

Stender sponsors pedestrian safety bill

From a ‘Guest Commentary’ by Linda Stender:

Nationally, New Jersey experiences a disproportionate amount of pedestrian injuries and fatalities, with just under 180 deaths a year on average. The only state more dangerous for pedestrians is the State of New York. Worse yet, pedestrian fatalities rose about 8 percent in New Jersey last year alone.

Within New Jersey, Union County has an exceptionally high rate of pedestrian fatalities, second only to Essex County. Because of its high population density and multiple urban areas, residents are more vulnerable to traffic accidents.  …

Ask any avid walker and they will tell you, drivers presume the right of way as they speed through neighborhood streets. We need to change our driving culture to stop this frightening trend. Much like the installation of seat belts in cars, let alone the wearing of them, an attitude change will be helped by a change in law.

That is why I sponsored legislation to make our streets safer by requiring motorists to stop for pedestrians in or waiting to enter crosswalks. Current law only requires motorists to yield. Yielding clearly is not strong enough. Requiring motorists to stop and educating the public about this new policy, coupled with enforcement, will create a new driving culture that first and foremost ensures safe conditions for pedestrians.  …

I know firsthand that drivers in central Union County can be aggressive, reckless, selfish, angry, and seemingly unaware of state laws governing vehicle use.  Just walking home from the train station can be a death-defying experience, especially during the darkness of winter.  A change in driving “philosophy” is clearly needed, but enforcement will be the key.  Some of the worst-behaved intersections in my town are within 2-3 blocks of the police station, but there is simply no police presence.

NJ bicycle bill

As a veteran roadie, I’m glad to report that a weird bill in the NJ legislature has been changed.  If you ride, you’ll understand why banning the sale of quick-release wheels in NJ would have been ridiculous.  It would have forced me to purchase my next bike in NY or PA.

A New Jersey bill that would prohibit the sale of bikes with quick-release wheels (reported last week) has quickly been amended. According to the NJ legislative website, the proposed restriction now applies only to bikes with 20-inch or smaller wheels. “Adult size” road and mountain bikes will be exempt, sparing NJ bike shops a serious blow. A vote on the bill is expected by early fall.

I e-mailed Kean Jr about this a while ago.  If you don’t like the amended bill, contact your state senator.

[see roadbikerider.com]

ex-mayor blasts Ferguson

Former Cranford Mayor Dan Aschenbach is steamed.  Aschenbach, a Democrat who has been involved in town government for at least 15 years, decided to take a break from politics this year.  But he still knows an incompetent US Rep when he sees one.  Rep. Mike Ferguson (NJ-7)has been dragging his feet for years about trying to get federal funds for Cranford’s multi-million dollar flood control project.

I am concerned about the announcement by Congressman Mike Ferguson that the federal Army Corps of Engineers will be doing a study on the Rahway River and flooding. In particular, as I understand it based on what I have read and my conversations with local officials, Cranford would still have to pay for the improvements.  …

…I am worried that we plan to trust another politician who has appeared because he is concerned about re-election. His new moderate stances seem more designed to get people to forget his continued role in the surge in Iraq…

What I still do not understand is where has he been? Why has it taken him six years to find Cranford? Six years he has had to recognize this problem. This is not a new problem. Instead of being engaged, he has resorted to telling residents last week that this is the first time the key decision-makers have sat down together to discuss this issue…In 2003 and again in 2006, Congressman Ferguson was provided a detailed explanation of the problem, and he was invited to come to Cranford last year several times. …

Ferguson has visited Cranford a couple times recently, to tour flood-damaged areas, chat with a few homeowners, and pose for photos with the new Republican mayor.  But as Dan Aschenbach asked, where has Mike been for six years?

new Union County park ?

Here is a good piece of news of possible interest to folks who reside in NJ-7 and vicinity, from today’s Star Ledger:

The Union County freeholder board voted last night to take control of a decommissioned reservoir in Clark Township as part of a plan to transform it into a nature preserve.

Clark Township officials have long been asking the county to take over the neglected, 150-acre reservoir, which has not been used for drinking water since the 1970s. The county plans to use its Open Space Trust Fund to build observation piers along the water’s edge and a walking path through the surrounding woodlands.

The county will formally take possession of the reservoir in roughly three months, pending an environmental study.

I’ve noticed that the (democrat-controlled) Union County government has some good enviro folks, and this is another example of their efforts to preserve and restore what little open land remains in this small and densely populated county.

Ferguson and Cranford – an update

After years of pestering by town officials regarding flooding near the Rahway River, Mike Ferguson has finally agreed to tour the flood-prone area and will consider seeking federal assistance for the town.  From the Cranford Chronicle:

As local officials continue to fight for county and state funding for the Northeast Quadrant Stormwater Management Project, the township has now gained attention at the federal level. Congressman Mike Ferguson’s office this week confirmed his plans to bring representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to the area…

After meeting with members of the Cranford Township Committee in January, Ferguson pledged to initiate federal consideration of the township’s flooding issues…

“We must continue to champion and advocate for funding beyond the local taxpayer,” [Mayor] Puhak said this week. “We have a responsibility to lobby (Ferguson’s) office as strongly as we can to get Cranford’s fair share of funding and support.” …

“We have a responsibility to pursue the options (for funding) as fervently as we can right now without unfairly burdening the local taxpayers,” he added.

While this is an ecouraging development for residents of Cranford, the true test of Ferguson’s mojo in the House will be results.  Discussion and site tours are easy, but the ultimate measure of Ferguson’s success will be federal funding for the flood control project.

Ferguson still stiffing Cranford

Cranford’s (NJ-7, Union County) northwestern section experiences chronic flooding problems associated with the Rahway River corridor.  Overbank flooding of river water is very rare here; the real problem is poor internal drainage.  Runoff from Kenilworth and Cranford, pooling in a low area, simply cannot get into the river during big rainfall events.  Former Township engineer Gregory Sgroi has compared the situation to a sort of mini-New Orleans.  Cranford’s flood control plan includes express storm sewers and pumping stations.  While Rep. Ferguson talks up his funding for the Green Brook project, he has not been very helpful in Cranford.  From the Cranford Chronicle:

That is why the township is proceeding with its flood control effort, seeking federal, state and county dollars to fund a project that could ultimately cost as much as $20 million. Plick said he will renew Cranford’s plea for federal funds to Congressman Mike Ferguson at a meeting this month of mayors in Ferguson’s district. A bill appropriating $5 million for the project has also been introduced in the state Legislature, though it remains stalled in committee.  …

Cranford is not readily identifiable as a democratic or republican town; the vote tends to split close to 50-50 in most elections.  Could Ferguson be turning his back on a town which does not offer him much net support?  Or is Ferguson just an ineffective weakling in Congress?

Big Pharma woos Dems

In the wake of some interesting recent posts about Mike Ferguson’s (NJ-7) and Rodney Frelinghuysen’s (NJ-11) cozy relationships with pharmaceutical corporations, here’s a tidbit from the Jan. 1 issue of The Washington Spectator.

Lobbyists on Washington’s K Street corridor are working overtime to convert old enemies into new friends…

Senior Democratic aides in Congress were offered $600,000 salaries to move across town, ten times what they earned on the Hill. One Medicare expert for the House Democrats received three job offers from different pharmaceutical companies in one day. Democratic lobbyists have been snatched up by the likes of…Merck and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America…

Big business is betting that their new allies can convince fellow Democrats not to follow through on their economic-populist campaign promises. As an e-mail from executives at the drug company GlaxoSmithKline put it, “These relationships should help us moderate proposals offered by Senate Democrats.” The pharmaceutical industry, which spends $100 million a year on lobbying, fears legislation that would push the government to negotiate lower drug prices under Medicare…

We already know that certain Republican NJ Representatives will continue to side with the prescription drug companies and the Bush Administration.  As Pharma dollars are increasingly thrown at our Democratic Reps, however, let them know that you are watching their votes in Congress.

Ferguson whistles past the graveyard

Mike Ferguson (NJ-7) chatted about his recent brush with political death, and what it means, in yesterday’s Star Ledger.

“There was a very clear message sent to the president and the Congress. I think it was primarily about the war,” the congressman said.

Ferguson said he recognized there was “great dissatisfaction” with the situation in Iraq…

The veteran congressman, who in prior elections garnered upward of 58 percent of the vote from his four-county district, eked out his most recent victory with just under 50 percent of the vote…

What the exit polling found was that 45 percent of those supporting Stender said they wanted “anyone but Ferguson” and that for some 78 percent of those voting for Stender, Iraq was one of the most important factors influencing their choice…

“I would suspect there will be changes … and I would support that,” Ferguson said.

But when questioned whether he would support the withdrawal of American troops, Ferguson said, “the devil is in the details” and that he did not have the necessary information at this point to make a decision.

“I’m going to look at what the study commission finds very closely,” he said. “The most important thing, I think, is that we try and build consensus on these issues. I would hope that is the message the president takes from the elections.”

A couple of observations might be derived from the article.  First, Ferguson seems to think that the Iraq war is the only reason he nearly lost his re-election bid.  Stender hammered him on other topics – stem cell, abortion, prescription drugs, Social Security, the environment – but Ferguson shows absolutely no inclination to rethink these issues.  Second, Ferguson proves, once again, that he is a follower and not a leader.  He will wait to see what revised Iraq plan, if any, comes out of the White House, and he will support it.  Mike Ferguson – a Bush/Cheney poodle to the very end.

NJ’s Senators vote for more India nukes

Yesterday the Senate voted 85-12 to let India buy American nuclear reactors and fuel, which will allow India to build more nuclear weapons (~50 bombs/yr).  According to City Belt :

This act reverses US policy, and allows India to buy American nuclear reactors and fuel, despite the fact that India has not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)…

…The Washington Post notes that many Democratic Senators voted for the bill, especially those “with close ties to the India lobby”…

And so, the bill ultimately will make the world a more dangerous place. India will be able to increase production of its nuclear weapons five-fold…

Lautenberg and Menendez voted YES on this bill, amidst fears that India may someday provide nuclear weapons or technology to Iran.  More Indian weapons will also further inflame India’s relationship with Pakistan.  City Belt believes that our Senators may be pandering to NJ’s Indian-Americans.

Last July, the bill passed the House by a vote of 359-68.  NJ’s Reps Holt, Pascrell, Payne, Rothman, and Smith voted NO.  Are NJ’s Senators seriously concerned about nuclear non-proliferation ?