Author Archive: kwilkinson

O’Leary’s Out – Diversity for the LD 19 ticket, after all?

[Update: The Home News is now reporting that there are 6 potential candidates to replace O’Leary, and Spicuzzo is ‘not sure of all their names.’

[Update 2:  There is a woman, Jean Pierce from HPAE, in the mix of candidates vying to replace O’Leary as the Dem candidate in LD 19, according to the Home News.  It would be nice to see her replace Vas, after he took the seat from Arlene Friscia.  Home News article

Pierce, 51, who has served on several community boards, including the Woodbridge Housing Authority, said Tuesday she informed Spicuzzo she will file her letter of intent this week.

Pierce is a member of the public policy staff of the Health Professional Allied Employees, the state’s largest union of nurses. Among the public issues she campaigned for was the paid family leave.

“I have a well-rounded background in community organizations and would like to take that to another level,” said Pierce, who has never held elected office.]

It looks like we might get some diversity on the LD 19 ticket, since O’Leary has bowed out to clear his name after a State AG probe and anonymous letters containing various allegations circulated to the Home News and around the county.

The party is considering Superior Court Judge Mathias E. Rodriguez. The fact that he retired on Friday makes it look like he thinks it’s a done deal.  I haven’t heard the names of any women being mentioned, though there are two women on council in Woodbridge, former Council President Pat Osborne and Councilwoman Brenda Yori Velasco.  Before Vas, this was Arlene Friscia’s seat.

I had blogged here about the lack of diversity on the ticket.  And Wisniewski replied here, saying:

…I also noticed there was some concern about not having a particularly diverse ticket in the 19th.  This is something I would like to address.  In Middlesex County, we have a convention where members of the Democratic county committee decide which candidates will be our nominees in the June Primary.  It’s an open process, and the only requirement is that you apply for the position.  I’ve been fortunate to have the committee’s trust and endorsement every year since 1993, and along the way I’ve been honored to screen with several qualified individuals.  However, we need to remember that it’s the job of the Democratic committee members from Perth Amboy, Woodbridge, Sayreville, Carteret, and South Amboy to select their nominees – not me, my running mates, or even the county chairman. That being said, there will be an opportunity to participate in the next screening two years from now. [italics mine -kw]

It didn’t take 2 years.

Now O’Leary is voicing his unhappiness with Wisniewski to the Home News:

O’Leary said Wisniewski was aware of the nine-page letter before it was distributed.  “Clearly, for reasons known only to himself, John was playing politics to benefit himself by becoming part of this anonymous effort to undermine my candidacy,” O’Leary said. O’Leary said he felt betrayed by Wisniewski when Wisniewski made it known to the media that he asked O’Leary to “reconsider the viability” of his bid in a July 28 telephone conversation.

The committee has until Sept 16 to make the ballot replacement, but County Chair Spicuzzo has said the convention will be well before that.  I hope that more people will screen, since in March, it was just O’Leary.

Women in politics reality check, it’s not 1950, right?

At the meeting where DiAnne Gove was selected to replace Van Pelt, she said

I thank you for your vote of confidence because this is a very important position. Yes, I’m a woman, which does bring a different . . . “That’s right!” Gove continued. “. . . A different perspective

The APP reported a member in the audience interrupted with applause and a drawn-out “Yeah,”

When it was Sen. Connors turn to speak, APP reports

And one more thing, he began. He knows there are some Republicans out there who are perhaps uncomfortable with her statement that as a woman she would bring “a different perspective” to the table.

“Brian [Rumpf] and I are used to a different perspective at least once every evening when we go home,” Connors quipped to laughs and applause.

I know there are Dem men who would acknowledge that some in the party are uncomfortable with women bringing a different perspective or with women just being women and allowed to hold higher office.  And some would try to diffuse it with old boys’ club type humor.  

Hardly seems worth the newsprint, except to remind some of us that we haven’t left the 1950’s that far behind.  

Rumpf, at least, acknowledged it had been a tough couple of weeks, referring to Van Pelt’s indictment and resignation.

Guadagno’s losing money for Monmouth? & Mouse traps

There are two recent articles on Guadagno’s application for Monmouth County Sheriffs to be trained as ICE agents (so called 287g).  No surprise that the weekly Examiner had a more reasonable headline than the APP:

Examiner’s:  Opinions differ on need for immigration checks

APP:  Monmouth jail got good deal on housing illegals

Even Chris Christie has pointed out that “illegals” as a term is incorrect, as many people who are undocumented have over-stayed a visa, which is not a crime.  Drivers who let their parking meter run out are not ‘illegal drivers’.

The content of the APP article, on the other hand, is surprising, they quote Guadagno’s Sheriff’s Dept Spokeswoman as saying:

The rate paid by the federal government to house detainees at the 1,328-inmate-capacity Monmouth County Jail was increased from $80 per day to $105 in May 2007…

Scott said the cost of housing, feeding and guarding an inmate comes to $134 per day…

There are currently 250 federal inmates housed at the $105 daily rate. Of those, 150 are being held on behalf of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Scott said.

We have a similar number of ICE detainees in the Middlesex County jail and there is no way that the cost of housing the detainees exceeds the $95 that Mdlsx County receives.  

Guadagno’s budget needs to be reviewed in detail, since as a commenter on the APP website, ‘simplicitytruth’ points out, since her spokeswoman is saying this could be costing the county up to $2,646,250 per year!

The bottom line on the program that Guadagno is going after, is that it will not generate that many more candidates for rented beds in the Monmouth jail, since the Attorney General’s directive already requires that people who commit felonies or DUIs be turned over to ICE.  That means that anyone who is questioned by the newly trained corrections officers (meals and per diem for the training at the county’s expense, along with overtime for the replacement officers) will have committed a minor offense.

It will lead to more civil rights violations, since revisions to the mandatory detention policy have not been implemented.  Detainees have no guaranteed right to a lawyer, and most can’t afford one.  Mukasay, in a midnight ruling, didn’t even want them to be allowed the right to competent counsel, but luckily that was rescinded.

Last month, ICE announced new Memos of Agreement with agencies and counties that have or will get 287g, which the ACLU points out is worse than the Bush administration one in certain ways – letting these guys issue warrants instead of a judge has me worried for one.  You can see their comparison of the old and the new memos here.

The priorities under the new MOA are supposed to be for exactly the kind of violations that are already covered by the Attorney General’s directive.

If you want to see the clearest case of 287g gone wrong, check out The New Yorker’s article on Sheriff Joe, Arpaio of Maricopa Co. Arizona.  It gives some insight into Sec’y Napolitano too.

Guadagno has at least said that visitors to the jail won’t be checked, but most people who are out of status are too afraid to anyway, even if it’s a close family member being detained.

So why does Guadagno want to cost the county money and antagonize the community?  According to the Latino Leadership Alliance of Monmouth county, it’s all for political gain.  It seems we will be seeing alot about the immigration issue during the upcoming campaign.  I’m prepared for a very ugly election season.

Finally, the APP quote from John Morton, the new director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, is downright scary and says alot about where the new administration is going.

Morton said ICE has long-term plans to find arrangements that are more suitable than prison-like facilities. “We’re going to focus on building a better mouse trap,” he said.

Comparing inmates to mice puts me in mind of Art Spiegelman’s Maus.

 

Christie on ‘bad people’

Ira Glass – This American Life has just done the most damning story yet on Chris Christie.  The whole idea that there are bad people, whether they have done anything wrong or not yet, and the poor juror who just wanted to go home and knuckled under.

Most jurisdictions didn’t want this FBI informant, so he ends up where?  Why was I not surprised when they said NJ?

Pre-emptive strikes, pre-emptive prosecutions, it’s too much.

I hope people hear this story, listen here.  

Christie on ‘bad people’

Ira Glass – This American Life has just done the most damning story yet on Chris Christie.  The whole idea that there are bad people, whether they have done anything wrong or not yet, and the poor juror who just wanted to go home and knuckled under.

Most jurisdictions didn’t want this FBI informant, so he ends up where?  Why was I not surprised when they said NJ?

Pre-emptive strikes, pre-emptive prosecutions, it’s too much.

I hope people hear this story, listen here.  

Grassroots win: Challengers NOT Disqualified in New Brunswick!

The court sided this morning with the 20 New Brunswick challengers for committee seats against the municipal clerk and attorney/campaign manager that wanted to disqualify them.  There is no 1 year residency requirement for party committee seats, so the slate of 50 challengers will stand.  The Star Ledger slips up and calls them “county community” seats.  That’s what they may turn out to be.  Now hopefully with the courtroom fight over, the Democrats4Change just have to go out and win their seats. Unfortunately, the city attorney isn’t saying it’s over:

T.K. Shamy, campaign manager for the incumbents who sought to have 20 of the 50 candidates from Democrats for Change disqualified, said he didn’t know if he would file an appeal of Hurley’s decision.

Disqualified or Not? 11 to 20 New Brunswick Democrats4Change committee challengers out of 50+

If you thought they wouldn’t be challenged, Home News:

The race for 56 Middlesex County Democratic Committee seats landed in court Wednesday after 20 candidates running on an opposition slate were disqualified based on residency questions.

It’s a question of whether there is a 1 yr. residency requirement for committee seats:

The plaintiffs, Democrats for Change, were represented pro bono by attorney Patricia Bombelyn. Bombelyn argued that the state statute which the city used to disqualify the 20 candidates does not apply to county committee candidates.

The AG’s office agrees:

But Deputy Attorney General Thu Lam, who participated in the hearing via telephone and was representing the state attorney general and secretary of state, said she disagreed with Hamilton and Aronowitz and agreed with Bombelyn that the one-year requirement only applied to public office candidates.

All kinds of other stuff about timelines and notification in the Home News article, and presumably there will be more info at:  Democrats4change.com.  

But with a freeholder challenge:  Jusleine Daniel for Freeholder and Jun Choi running off line in Edison, there are going to be some interesting primaries and challenges here in Middlesex

Disqualified or Not? New Brunswick Democrats4Change committee challenge

If you thought they wouldn’t be challenged, Home News:

The race for 56 Middlesex County Democratic Committee seats landed in court Wednesday after 20 candidates running on an opposition slate were disqualified based on residency questions.

It’s a question of whether there is a 1 yr. residency requirement for committee seats:

The plaintiffs, Democrats for Change, were represented pro bono by attorney Patricia Bombelyn. Bombelyn argued that the state statute which the city used to disqualify the 20 candidates does not apply to county committee candidates.

The AG’s office agrees:

But Deputy Attorney General Thu Lam, who participated in the hearing via telephone and was representing the state attorney general and secretary of state, said she disagreed with Hamilton and Aronowitz and agreed with Bombelyn that the one-year requirement only applied to public office candidates.

All kinds of other stuff about timelines and notification in the Home News article, and presumably there will be more info at:  Democrats4change.com.  

But with a freeholder challenge:  Jusleine Daniel for Freeholder and Jun Choi running off line in Edison, there are going to be some interesting primaries and challenges here in Middlesex.

Mdlsx Freeholder Director again shuts down public commentary. This time on the budget.

Repeating a tactic I wrote about in Jan, the new Middlesex freeholder director Dalina shut down public commentary on the budget.  I got there just after the meeting ended, since it was another short one.  Dalina opened for public comment, moved to close, it was seconded and that was it.   Some folks who don’t want billboards on every green space in the county, including electronic billboards, were none too pleased, since they wanted to be heard.

The one item I know well, the amount the county is getting from ICE, has gone down from $6.17 million last year (actually 2007) to $5.2 million (in 2008 and projected for this year).  The number of immigrant detainees averaged closer to 150, rather than 200.  I hope that means the ICE raids are slowing down.

Corzine’s Immigration Panel Report Released

Promoted by Jason Springer: Thanks Karina, what does everyone think of the recommendations?

After some delay, Corzine made public his Blue Ribbon Panel on Immigrant Policy Report with a press conference at NJ City Univ in Jersey City.

I very much like the recommendation:

Counties and municipalities who operate jails or contract with private correctional firms should establish community-based jail advisory boards as another way of ensuring basic human rights for those who are arrested or detained.

Corzine’s press release mentions the following key recommendations:


– Development of an objective data collection standard for law enforcement;

– Creation of a Commission on New Americans to oversee immigrant issues;

– Establishment of cultural competency guidelines to help define how the state will communicate with those with limited English proficiency;

– Allowing in-state tuition rates for foreign-born New Jersey students;

– Allowing the issuance of drivers’ license for undocumented immigrants.

He is agreeing to the recommendations except on drivers licenses.   He emphasized the in-state tuition, and a moratorium on raids, mentioning how they separate families, particularly when some members of a family are documented and others aren?t.  He defended waiting for federal policy to do anything about the driver’s license situation, as well as discussing fine-tuning the AG’s directive, which has led to double the number of ICE notifications by law enforcement since it was implemented two years ago.

The most troubling thing in the report for me is the mention based on written testimony to the panel, of a death in Middlesex with no date given.  This is separate from the other death of a Cuban man from March 2008 that I?ve written diaries on.  

Kandiah-Satkunes Waran died of AIDS-related renal failure in Robert Wood Johnson Hospital, while being detained at the Middlesex jail.

And fact checking the report, the discussion of the county jails that take ICE detainees is out of date, even for December 2008, which it was intended to reflect. The executive summary says there are 6 counties, while the main report says 5.  Both leave out Essex, which signed a contract in December 2007.  The exec. report includes Passaic, which stopped taking detainees, and the main report mentions the Office of Inspector General review that ended detainees being housed in Passaic.  The rest on the list:  Bergen, Hudson, Middlesex, and Monmouth definitely have detainees.  I don?t know anything about Sussex.  

Secretary Napolitano’s call this morning for a moratorium on ICE raids is a huge relief, which pre-empts Corzine?s call for the same in NJ.