Author Archive: proud2Bliberal

State of NJ Safety Problems

In 2003 a worker in the construction of a new building at Camden County College fell off a scaffold and died.  This week the state suffered an auto accident in which the governor was hospitalized in critical condition.  In the first case the construction was blown off the scaffold by wind.  In the second case the governor was in the front seat of a type of vehicle that is possibly unstable, riding above the speed limit without a fastened seatbelt.  Do these incidents point to a dangerous lack of safety procedures on the part of the state?  Large private companies that participate in ISO9000 have established safety rules and procedures that are promoted and observed throughout the organization.  All members of the organization have to pass written or online tests to show that they have learned the rules.  There seemed to be a lack of rules governing when a construction worker must not go out on a scaffold and there appears to be a lack of rules concerning vehicle fleets and driving.  Does the state have a certified ISO9000 specialist with experience running the safety efforts of a large company?  Or is safety a political appointment? Have you ever heard of a similar car accident involving a Honeywell vehicle or a Lucent vehicle?  I don’t know what procedures Verizon has, but you don’t hear about Verizon vehicles getting into such accidents.  I don’t know whether a government agency can participate in ISO9000 or other quality standards, but it has to do something.  Have there been accidents other than these?

It’s the J.O.B.S. ….

NJ-based Vonage has lost a lawsuit filed against it by Verizon.  In addition, it has had operating losses.  A large number of layoffs can be expected.  In addition, Lucent/Alcatel is laying off 12,000, there are layoffs from SBC/AT&T, and a branch of Honeywell in NJ is closing and letting go more than 500 workers.  Will NJ have 15,000 layoffs just from the telecom / electronics sector by the end of 3Q07? 

US Attorney firing linked to Rove

Recent posts on Blue Jersey have addressed the quetion of whether subpoenas issued by NJ U.S. Attorney Christie and Christie’s continued tenure in office are part of a national pattern  of Republican U.S. Attorneys being pressured to indict Democrats.  The Albuquerque Journal, which tends to support Republicans, reported information from the McClatchy Newspapers that in 2005, New Mexico Republican party chairman Allen Weh complained about then-U.S.-Attorney David Iglesias to a White House liason who worked for Karl Rove.  Weh followed up with Rove personally in late 2006.  “He’s gone,” Rove told Weh.  Weh claims that this occurred at a White House briefing for state party chairmen and that the date was after December 7, when Iglesias was fired.  However, it is clear that Rove knew about the firing.  Then there is the question of why the tenure in office of a U.S. Attorney would be a matter for discussion at a political briefing for Republican state chairmen.  The Journal also reported that Paul Kennedy, the lawyer whose client brought the corruption charges to Iglesias, was one of nine persons to attend a $5000 a plate fund raiser with Rove at Weh’s home.

Riverkeeper to Army: Keep nerve gas out of NJ waters

Forwarded message from Delaware Riverkeeper
Press Alert December 21. 2006
Contacts: Maya van Rossum, Tracy Carluccio
Delaware Riverkeeper Network Sues Army to Stop VX
  Complaint Filed in U.S. District Court

Delaware Riverkeeper Network and co-plaintiffs from organizations in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Kentucky have filed a Complaint in federal District Court against the U.S. Army.  The suit challenges the Army’s plan to import VX nerve agent waste to New Jersey and dump it into the Delaware River.  The Army is proposing to transport the partially treated nerve agent waste, known as VX hydrolysate, from their Newport, Indiana Chemical Depot to the Dupont Chambers Works facility in Deepwater, NJ.  The hydrolysate would be put through the treatment plant at Dupont with the effluent discharged to the Delaware River near the Delaware Memorial Bridge. 

  The complaint challenges the transport of VX hydrolysate from Indiana to New Jersey based on a federal statute which bans the transportation of chemical weapons across state lines.  The complaint also calls on the Army to complete an environmental impact statement for the project.  According to the court filed documents the Army has not undertaken the necessary studies and documentation regarding the impacts of the proposed project on the Delaware River and environs. 

  Co-plaintiffs in the law suit are the American Littoral Society and Chemical Weapons Working Group, both national organizations; Pennsylvania Clean Water Action; Delaware Audubon Society; New Jersey Environmental Federation; and New Jersey Audubon Society.

  Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper, said her organization has taken this action because “the Army has consistently refused to fulfill the requirements of the law and it has become clear that without citizens taking a stand this project will be railroaded through the process and foisted upon our River and communities regardless of what the law says and requires.”  “It is imperative that the Army thoroughly and comprehensively analyze all of the environmental issues involved in this proposal.  They have only taken a cursory look at transportation and have proposed to move ahead without any environmental study.  That is an outrageous proposal – the law requires more and our citizens deserve more”, said van Rossum.

  The filing was made in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. John Fritschie, attorney for Delaware Riverkeeper Network’s River Resources Law Clinic, said “While Congress already banned the interstate transport of VX in 1994 unfortunately it appears that legal action and additional legislation is necessary to persuade the Army to treat this material on-site as originally intended.”

  The Governors of New Jersey and Delaware, elected representatives, municipal and county governments, fishermen and boaters, conservationists, environmental groups and thousands of residents in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware have gone on record in opposition to the Army’s Dupont plan. 

The controversial proposal was made in 2004 when the Army was denied approval to ship the waste to Ohio.  Originally the VX stockpile was going to be destroyed on site in Indiana through a less risky process with no discharge of toxics to a waterway.  After the attacks of September 11, 2001 the federal administration made a decision to try to dispose of the weapons at an existing facility, arguing it would be faster than building a plant at the Army Depot at Newport. 

The option of off-site disposal, however, has been time-consuming and fraught with unforeseen problems.  Live VX, the deadliest nerve agent ever produced, is difficult to break down, highly flammable, more caustic than expected, and not uniform in its constituents due, in part, to various stabilizers used in the batches that make up the approximately 1,269 tons stored at Newport. 

Critics of the Dupont plan are insisting that VX nerve agent waste should not be brought to New Jersey, but should be treated on site in Newport, Indiana.  This would avoid the risks inherent in trucking VX waste across 4 states, 2 to 3 tank trucks per day for 2 to 3 years.

“The public has worked long and hard to bring the Delaware Bay back from being an open sewer. Today, we are seeing a restored oyster industry and new industries based around ecotourism. The Army’s plan to dump VX could bring all that to an end. People will not eat seafood that they are not sure is safe, nor will they visit places they fear are contaminated. This is an ill-considered plan that should be stopped in its tracks,” said Tim Dillingham, Executive Director of the American Littoral Society.  Delaware Riverkeeper Network is an affiliate of ALS; ALS is a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

Elizabeth Crowe, Program Director, Chemical Weapons Working Group, a national organization based in Kentucky that is a co-plaintiff in the suit, stated “Chemical Weapons Working Group stands for safe disposal of chemical weapons and secondary waste in a manner that is acceptable to all affected communities.  In fact, the shipment of hydrolysate is completely unacceptable to those communities and we will continue to urge the Army to revert back to the original plan for safe treatment in Indiana.”

Bob Wendelgass of Clean Water Action, Pennsylvania, also a co-plaintiff said “Clean Water Action is very concerned about the danger of trucking this highly toxic material from one end of Pennsylvania to the other.  The risk of possible accidents on I-80 or other highly traveled routes is a serious concern for us.  Equally important is the ultimate impact on the Delaware River of dumping the treated hydrolysate.  Unless EPA and other reputable scientists can guarantee that the project will not harm aquatic life in the river, it should not be allowed to proceed.”

“Delaware Audubon has a long history of efforts to protect the Delaware River and Bay.  The Delaware River and Bay and Coastal Zone are considered a globally Important Bird Area and deserving of the highest level of protection.  We believe the Army’s VX proposal threatens the health of the river ecosystem, presents a risk to public health and safety and sets a precedent for Dupont in New Jersey becoming the Department of Defense’s preferred disposal option for additional chemical weapons stockpiles from throughout the country.  We are proud to join the Delaware Riverkeeper in this action,” said Nicholas DiPasquale, Conservation Chair for Delaware Audubon, a co-plaintiff in the law suit.

Jane Nogaki, New Jersey Environmental Federation, also a co-plaintiff, said “The transport and disposal of VX hydrolysate is a risky plan that puts millions of people, our environment and water systems in harms way.  Dupont Chambers Works discharges almost a million gallons of pollutants a year to the Delaware River.  We do not want any portion of VX nerve agent at the plant, in the river, nor in the river’s fish and other aquatic life. What will happen to the region’s drinking water when VX byproducts combine with the already present chemicals that pollute our drinking water? VX nerve agent should be destroyed on site at Newport, Indiana, as was originally proposed by the Army.” 

Susan Kraham, Director of Policy and Counsel to the President, New Jersey Audubon Society, a co-plaintiff, stated, “New Jersey Audubon Society is extremely concerned about the potential for serious adverse impacts to the aquatic ecosystem should the Army’s plan proceed.  We ask the Court to ensure that the National Environmental Policy Act is followed rigorously to protect New Jersey’s residents and ecosystem.”

For more information go to www.delawareriverkeeper.org
For a copy of the filing, email shannon@delawareriverkeeper.org

  Katy Diana
Development Associate

Delaware Riverkeeper Network
300 Pond Street
Second Floor
Bristol, PA 19007

office:  215-369-1188
fax:  215-369-1181

www.delawareriverkeeper.org

The Delaware Riverkeeper Network (DRN) is the only advocacy organization working throughout the entire Delaware River Watershed. The Delaware Riverkeeper is an individual who is the voice of the River, championing the rights of the River and its streams as members of our community.  The Delaware Riverkeeper is assisted by seasoned professionals and a network of members, volunteers and supporters. Together they form DRN, and together they stand as vigilant protectors and defenders of the River, its tributaries and watershed. DRN is committed to restoring the watershed’s natural balance where it has been lost and ensuring its preservation where it still exists.

DCCC spends $1 million in Texas

It’s nice to hear that $1 million spent by the DCCC elected a Congressional candidate in Texas, and the newly gerrymandered district there was important.  But if $1 million had been spent on the Linda Stender campaign she could have won.  Does anyone have information on how much the DCCC actually contributed to the Stender campaign as compared to the Texas campaign?  Some heavy hitters like Bill Clinton, Nancy Pelosi and Madeleine Albright visited Albuquerque trying to pull out a victory, but I wonder what succession of heavy hitters traveled to campaign and raise funds in the NJ 7th. 

Rice, Gill and women in the workplace

When Rice said, “You’re very cute,” Gill replied, “I am a 58-year-old senator and I will not be referred to as cute.  I will not permit that.”  This is fine in the legislature, where she, as an elected official, cannot be thrown out by him.  But what happens to women in the workplace in New Jersey?  New Jersey has “at will” employment.  An employee can be let go at any time without a reason.  A woman talks back like that, is declared to be committing insubordination or not a team player, and let go.  Then she can wait for a few months unemployed for the civil rights commission to investigate her case, and the company will find some technicality with which to get off the hook.  Of course, some men in the workplace are more subtle than that.  They will find something to say that’s similarly demeaning but not blatant sexual harassment.  We still need better labor law to reach the time where women in the workplace can defend themselves against disrespectful comments.

AFL-CIO Ask a Working Woman Survey

97% of working women in an AFL-CIO survey said they are concerned about the rising cost of health care.  95% are concerned about their pay keeping up with the cost of living.  Only 71% of the women had paid sick leave as an employee benefit.  Only 44% reported getting equal pay for equal work.  Only 41% had control over their working hours.  67% received a prescription drug benefit.  Only 4 percent received a child care employee benefit and 37% had paid family medical leave.  Only 76% had paid vacation.  The union surveyed a population that was 2/3 salaried and 1/3 union. — From an article by Marguarita Bauza in the Detroit Free Press

If Menendez wants to increase his poll numbers

If Menendez wants to pull out ahead of Kean he is going to have to *aggressively* address the number one issue facing New Jersey voters:
J-O-B-S.

Consider these statistics from the State of New Jersey Website.
According to the US Dept of Labor statistics, in July 2006 227,304 persons in NJ were unemployed.
This doesn’t take into account the labor force participation rate of 66.3%, i.e., those who gave up.
The unemployment numbers have been going UP since January.  And between Nov. 2004 – Oct. 2005, all of the unemployment numbers were under 200,000. 
Now look at what kinds of jobs people have, in terms of benefits:
In 2004, 1,306,000 people, or 17.1%, did not have health insurance.  This has been increasing steadily since 1998.
Add to this the huge participation in NJ in groups such as AT&T retirees (ACER) and Lucent Retirees, people fighting to keep the companies and the government from taking away the benefits they worked for 25-30 years for.

Another issue is what is going on inside the companies that are laying people off.  One company established a rule that employees may not be removed from layoff lists by getting internal job transfers.  People are being told that they can have a job is they take a job that is one step down from their current level.  So people who have worked for 12-15 years have to go through the pay cut and indignity of a demotion. 

Democrats need to effectively deal with these questions:
-Jobs being relocated to other countries (there needs to be a tax on R&D and manufacturing jobs created abroad by NJ-based companies)
-Immigration (the number of visas, such as H1B, should not dislocate workers who are already here and unemployed)
-Quality of jobs – we need jobs that offer benefits and a livable wage, as well as real responsibility.
-Discrimination – especially age discrimination and gender discrimination.  The AT&T retirees organization, which is huge, is gaining significant and sophisticated expertise in age discrimination law.  Candidates will have to realize that platitudes will not satisfy affected populations.
-Respect for workers – stop treating our workers in a demeaning manner.
-Bringing back jobs in the laid off workers fields.  Creating biotechnology jobs isn’t going to solve the problem for all of the laid off workers who did not major in biology and biochemistry.  Match the job creation to the skills of the workforce or realize that it could take 6-9 years for a professional person to retrain from one field of science to another. GET REAL.

Democratic candidates shold be aware of the enormous amount of time NJ voters are spending in career networking groups and the enormous amount of time and energy people are spending to keep themselves in the workforce.

Effect of Lamont victory: Corzine in 2008?

The media’s reporting of the Lamont victory and Michael Moore’s public letter demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of the Lamont victory and what it means.  The media is failing to report the Democratic voters’ dissatisfaction with Lieberman’s abandonment of the Democrats to vote with the Republicans on a number of issues, including his vote in favor of the Iraq war.  In reply to the opinions of columnists such as Kathleen Parker, we are thinking for ourselves.  We do not have our opinion dictated to us by Michael Moore.  Michael Moore’s statement to would-be candidates was not a threat or an attempt to intimidate them.  The voters want candidates to represent the people who voted for them, not to go their own way.

So this brings us to 2008.  We want to have a candidate who had the insight to vote against the war.  Feingold is an outstanding Senator whose positions on the issues is admirable.  But lurking in the background is the discussion on WNYC last January about Corzine for President in 2008.