Author Archive: Rosi Efthim

News Roundup & Open Thread for Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2009

Lame duck hobbles to the finish line

  • Dick Codey ends his time in the big office of the Senate President, after a rough internal party battle, but has no intention of shrinking away.
  • Medical marijuana passes both housesand heads to the Governor for signing.
  • Deputy attorneys general can unionize. Never mind that, I just like to say “attorneys general.”

  • In-state tuition for illegal immigrants fails and isn’t on the schedule for today.

    http://www.bluejersey.com/edit…

  • Say, how many calories in that King-sized McCarbo-burger?
  • Developers 2, enviros 0.

    Unshackle Camden

  • Courier Post editorial says free up new mayor Dana Redd to captain her city. But keep the state’s financial overseer role for a while.
  • Updating regulations for NJ chiropractors.

    Woo hoo …. U.S. Census roadtrip!

  • The United States official person-counting operation is taking its act on the road to answer questions, and encourage participation.

    Corzine tucks away some cash for NJ’s cities

  • Before Chris Christie and his acid-tipped axe ride into town, the outgoing Governor puts away a little on the side for struggling cities.  
  • News Roundup & Open Thread for Monday, Jan. 11, 2009

    Best. Headline. Of. The. Year.

  • Doblin: Democrats made their bed, Sweeney hid under it Doblin looks at the Three Abstainers and calls it on George Norcross.

    Medical marijuana and in-state tuition for illegal immigrants

  • Up today in the legislature’s lame duck session, which expires noon tomorrow.

    Late-night gamesmanship, parking-lot confusion, and an icky moment at a football game

  • The Auditor reports on what happened after all the marriage equality advocates drifted out of the statehouse, why C. Vivian Stringer didn’t get an honor, and a sad, weird moment for Corzine at Giants Stadium.

    Pascrell, Rothman, Garrett

  • Herb Jackson: New Jersey holds onto its incumbents, in districts drawn to limit competition. Democrats expect to take a hit in the mid-terms, if history is to judge. That leaves county organizations on both sides angling how to play downballot elections, and whether strong challenges to the federal incumbents are in their best interest.

    Bill clamping down on reform movements passes Senate

  • A major grassroots effort nearly succeeded at the polls last year to change New Brunswick’s government structure to a ward system.

    The group behind it plans to try again, and again if necessary but a new bill now headed to the Assembly will require them to wait 10 years to try again. And in upsetting coda, Sen. Loretta Weinberg voted for it, by mistake.  

    Codey victory lap as Acting Gov

  • Signs 2 bills into law with Gov. Corzine out of state, including one dear to him, and signed in his home.

    Essex County Superintendent of Elections charged with official misconduct

  • Proudly contributing to the stellar reputation of New Jersey politics. Allegedly.

    Shifting non-partisan elections to November

  • Star Ledger editorial praises a bill heading to Gov. Corzine for signature, giving municipalities the option of moving elections to November, but wishes school board elections were included.

    The case for counseling and jobs training programs for inmates

  • Made by an ex-inmate.

    What, is Edison’s new mayor trying to erase Jun Choi entirely?

  • Mayor Antonia Ricigliano demotes 10 cops promoted by the man she defeated in November’s election, former mayor Jun Choi. Says the economy is the reason.

    New era begins Tuesday

  • Everybody into the pool.

    This is an Open Thread. Have at it.  

  • [Infuriating] Quote of the Day: Sweeney the Abstainer

    Steve Sweeney, Senate President Abstainer, almost immediately after showing avoiding leadership by abstaining on Thursday’s Senate vote on marriage equality:

    I regret it. This is a civil rights issue, and they made a good case. Sometimes, you just make mistakes.

    What, Senator? Trying to curry a little favor now? Keep the activists off your back? Well, as a friend of mine said yesterday: Real leaders don’t screw up easy ones like this.  

    Weekend News Roundup & Open Thread for Jan. 9-10, 2009

    You know you’re gonna miss him

  • What’s in Jon Corzine’s farewell speech.

    NJ towns face crash diet of budget cuts

  • Furlough days listed as events on the official town website and other adventures of a new age.

    Pass in-state tuition for illegal immigrants

  • Star Ledger editorial makes the case.

    Post-defeat and un-defeated

  • Garden State Equality is polling members – wanna see?
  • Deconstructing the vote and the strategy.
  • Sweeney, Sarlo, Beach – Star Ledger calls them the wimps of the year.
  • Democrats who voted No for marriage equality will have to do it without campaign donations from one of the most loyally Democratic, and activist parts of their base: The gay ATM is done says Steven Goldstein.

    The Newark Airport kisser ‘n security-breacher

  • Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s entry into the fray.

    3 Corzine-era Cabinet members – including Chen – dismissed by Christie

  • Out as of inauguration day: Children and Families Commish Kimberly Ricketts, Health and Senior Services Commish Heather Howard and Public Advocate Ron Chen.

    More Christie appointments from the USA office

  • Two will serve in the Attorney General’s Office, while the third will work with the governor’s counsel.
  • Open Letter to the New Jersey Senate

    There’s something cold in a Senate that votes down a bill recognizing civil rights when people by the hundreds whose lives are affected by that vote line your hallways anticipating that vote. Something a little heartless about doing that in the full force of so many people hanging on your every word at the microphone. Your every pronouncement about what is “enough” for them.

    Yesterday, I was watching the many young people there to lobby you. Young people, new voters, come hard-charging when they work on an issue like this. They stay up late and pour out work. Their sense of the importance of things carries to older, tireder people with mortgages and messy houses. On this, when their own romantic lives are fresh and emotional, the wounds are deep but the hope is soaring.

    There’s something harsh about saying No when so many hopeful young people roam your statehouse hallways with stickers on freshly-pressed jackets with the names of their Senator, and District number. Hoping to talk to you for just a moment as you rush by, to say how important this is.

    Shame on you Senators who hurried past them with your Senate pins quietly removed from your chests so you could avoid taking that moment for the earnest, freshman persuasions of those young people.

    Late last night, I spent an hour talking to a 20-year-old man who sat crumpled up on a stairway away from everybody; your decision saddened him that I think he felt hemmed-in by it. Shame on you for making him question whether he did enough to convince you. And I saw another a rangy kid maybe 18 approach a knot of women in their 50’s. “I hope I can do for my generation what I’ve seen you do,” he said quietly, before withdrawing. “I just wanted to say Thanks.” It left everyone speechless. I marveled at what this kid must be learning – about politics, about people, about civic responsibility, about you. How his legislators could let him down, I’ll never comprehend.

    Talking to straight people yesterday was eye-opening. They were crammed into the gallery, into every overflow room; they lined your hallways. Young parents like Alexis and Dan, with their 6-month old. Middle-aged moms whose own traditional marriages are well-gelled. Marriages that equal mortgages and soccer, car pool and savings accounts but also equal permanence, family Christmases, futures they can relax about and complete acceptance from their neighbors on all sides.

    They want that – that ability to exhale – for everyone. Like Heidi, who says that opening marriage to all couples in love strengthens marriage itself. Including hers. Straight parents were there for their kids. Parents of gay kids, whose romantic lives they not only accept but have every parents’ high hopes for. And parents whose children are too young to know about yet, a pre-acceptance that confirms support no matter who those kids grow to love.

    How do they understand, when you do not?

    How you legislators voting No could show suck a lack of faith in your own traditional marriages is a disappointment that I hope haunts you. How you feel weakened by the idea of inclusion should embarrass you.

    To you who claim conservatism and the safe walls of tradition, I say this: Marriage is the most conservatising force in the world. It means permanence and trust, commitment and a promise to be home every night. How you don’t want that for your community … your city …your District … your State … leaves me seriously doubting your conservatism. And in an age when some of your friends are on their 3rd and 4th marriages, how dare you lock out those who want just one?

    And the clergy. How could you miss them yesterday, some of them in vestments with Clergy for Equality pinned to their clothes? Their view of the world includes God, the God you claim. And their view of God includes His hope for the best for all His people, including committed, faithful love children in stable families. Cherishing all the kids, including ones that grow up gay. Really, it’s such a small thing. How do you imagine a God who gets snagged up in that, and misses the fullness of the person behind that. It mystifies me. We’re all as as “traditional” as you are; we simply also find that traditionalism in all our neighbors. And you do not.

    How can you be faced with so much spiritual direction as was in your statehouse yesterday but still cleave to those arrogant souls whose surety is little more than a claim that their own lives are worthy, approved by the Heavens, and that others are “less than.” Sure that God has spoken to them personally, and He has said: “Shut the door behind you when you come into my House.”

    To be sure, there were heroes yesterday. Thousands of people, freshly skilled in political organizing will remember you, and have your backs. To you who voted No, you need to know that marriage equality is coming anyway. If the thousands at the statehouse, the arguments about fairness and the fierce urgency of now that you see on people’s faces does not convince you of that, the Supreme Court has suggested it, and another Court will show you soon.

    To the Yeses, you done good. And you done right. Thank you.  

    An Open Letter to the New Jersey Senate

    There’s something cold in a Senate that votes down a bill recognizing civil rights when people by the hundreds, by the thousands, whose lives are affected by that vote line your hallways to watch their own love lives clamped down on by your vote. Something a little heartless about doing that in the full force of so many people hanging on your every word at the microphone. Your every pronouncement about what is “enough” for them.

    I was talking to Jeff on cell last night after the vote. I never saw Jeff at the statehouse yesterday, that’s how many people were there. As usual, we locked into cell-to-cell conversation in our separate cars speeding down to Trenton; we emailed, called, sent each other pictures of the rooms we ended up in through the miracle of satellites. But I never saw his face. After it was all, by phone we talked about the “kids” who were there. When you’re 20, a new voter  xxxxxxx Young people, new voters, come hard charging when they work on an issue like this. They stay up late and pour out work, their sense of the importance of things carries to older, tireder people with mortgages and messy houses. Here, when their own romantic lives are fresh and emotional, the wounds are deep but the hope is soaring.

    There’s something harsh about saying No when so many hopeful young people roam your statehouse hallways with stickers on freshly-pressed jackets with the names of their Senator, and District #. Hoping to talk to you for just a moment as you rush by, to say how important this is.

    Shame on you Senators who hurried past them from committee to session with your Senate pins quietly removed from your chests so you could avoid taking that moment for the earnest, freshman persuasions of those young people.

    Late last night, at the hotel ballroom that took the spillover from the day, I spent an hour talking to a 20-year-old man who sat crumpled up and folding in on himself on a stairway away from everybody; your decision saddened him and hems him in. Shame on you for making him question whether he did enough to help you see the right way to vote. And I saw a rangy kid, age maybe 18, under a magnificent mass of curly hair barely pulled back by a bandanna, approach a knot of women in their 50’s. “I hope I can do for my generation what I’ve seen you do,” he said quietly, before withdrawing. “I just wanted to say Thanks.” It left everyone speechless. I marveled at what this kid must be learning – about politics, about people, about civic responsibility. How his legislators could let him down, I’ll never comprehend.

    As revelatory as it is talking to gay people, talking to straight people yesterday was as eye-opening. They were crammed into the gallery, into every overflow room, they lined your hallways. Young parents like Alexis and Dan, who brought their 6-month old. Middle-aged moms whose own traditional marriages are well-gelled. Marriages that equal mortgages and soccer, car pool and savings accounts but also equal permanence, family Christmases, futures they can relax about and complete acceptance from their neighbors on all sides.

    They want that – that ability to exhale – for everybody who wants it. Like Heidi, who says that opening marriage to all couples in love strengthens marriage itself, including hers. Most of all, straight parents were there for their kids, family values in everyday practice and not lip-service. There were parents of gay kids, whose romantic lives they not only accept but have every parents’ high hopes for. And parents whose children are too young to know which direction their love will go; in those cases a loving pre-acceptance that being there yesterday was a vote of confidence in a future that supports their kids no matter who they grow up to be.

    Those ordinary parents entrusted you to vote. How could you let them down? How do they understand this, when you do not?

    How you legislators voting No could show suck a lack of faith in your own traditional marriages is a disappointment that I hope haunts you. How you feel weakened by inclusion in the face of equality should embarrass you.

    And to you legislators who claim conservatism and the safe walls of tradition, I say this: Marriage is the most conservatising force in the world. It means permanence and trust, commitment and a promise to be home every night. How you don’t want that for your community, your city, your District and your State leaves me seriously doubting your conservatism. And in an age when some of your friends are on their 3rd and 4th marriages, how dare you lock out people who want just one?

    And the clergy. How could you miss them yesterday, some of them in vestments, all of them with Clergy for Equality pinned to their clothes? Their view of the world includes God, the God you claim. And their view of God includes His hope for the best for all His people, including committed, faithful love children in stable families. And it includes cherishing all the kids, including ones that grow up to fall in love with a person whose gender matches theirs. Really, it’s such a small thing. How do you imagine a God who gets snagged up in that, and misses the fullness of the person behind that. It mystifies me. All of us are as “traditional” as you are; we simply find that traditionalism in all our neighbors. And you do not.

    How can you be faced with so much spiritual direction as was in your statehouse yesterday but still cleave to those claiming a disapproving God? Whose arrogance about God is little more than a claim that their own lives are worthy, approved by the Heavens, and that some people are “less than.” So sure that God has spoken to them personally, and He has said: “Shut the door behind you when you come into my House.”

    To be sure, there were heroes yesterday. Thousands of people, freshly skilled in political organizing will remember you, and have your backs. To you who voted No, you need to know that marriage equality is coming anyway. If the thousands at the statehouse, the arguments about fairness and the fierce urgency of now that you see on people’s faces does not convince you of that, the Supreme Court has suggested it, and another Court will show you soon.

    Those of you who voted Yes, you done good. We’re proud of you. And you done right. Thank you.  

    Marriage Equality – We’re going back to court

    Live blog & tally of the Senate vote.

    Snapshots and vignettes from an overflow room.

    LIVE from the Gallery

    It boggles the mind that the New Jersey Senate could vote down – and by wide margin – a bill recognizing the civil rights of its citizens. Astonishing, too, is that this could happen with supporters by the hundreds – and maybe thousands today – all taking the day off to participate in the proceedings and make their opinions heard. But today’s vote is not a surprise; the writing’s been on the wall, in blood, for days.

    But there is no giving up. All day long I’ve been asking people whether this finishes it for them. It does not. The movement is resilient. In a few minutes, as soon as everybody gets over there, there is a news conference. Here are Steven Goldstein’s remarks, prepared last night, and embargoed to Blue Jersey until now.

    Steven Goldstein:

    With today’s vote in the state Senate, the New Jersey legislature defaulted on its constitutional obligation to provide same-sex couples in New Jersey equal protection, as unanimously mandated by the New Jersey Supreme Court in 2006.  That’s why we at Garden State Equality are here with our partner Lambda Legal, which has an extraordinary track record of advancing LGBT civil rights in the courts.

    Now our organizations will announce major news.  Our side is going back to court to win marriage equality.  

    We’ll hear from Lambda Legal in a moment.   Let’s be clear about what this news means.  We are not waiting out the term of any new Administration to bring equality to same-sex couples in our state.  

    In 2006, the New Jersey Supreme Court told the legislature it could enact marriage or another structure that provides the equal protection of marriage.  But the civil union law failed to do that.   Too often, civil union couples too often cannot visit loved ones in hospitals, make medical decisions for their partners or receive equal health benefits from employers.   Hospitals and employers have treated civil union couples differently because they’ve been labeled differently.   Children have been treated differently at school because their families are labeled differently.  

    In recent months, including today and at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in December, New Jersey legislators publicly recognized these failures.  They publicly acknowledged that the civil union law has not provided equal protection.  That’s important.  New Jersey legislators themselves said it.  Our opponents in the legislature said it.

    More after the jump.

    Snapshots from the Senate Marriage Equality vote

    Statehouse Annex overflow room, moments before the vote

    IMG00028-20100107-1407

    Naomi and Heidi from Hawthorne

    naomi and heidi ehmanThe last time Naomi Collier, a candidate for Hawthorne Council last year, was here at the statehouse, she had Krstofer, 6, and Kaleb, 4, with her. Waiting on long lines is easier without them today, but she’s glad they were with her when she testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in December. Heidi’s young Hope – sick at home today with her Dad – has also come with her many times volunteering for marriage equality. Naomi: “I hope I’m not disappointed today, but I’m ready for whatever we need to do to do what’s right. Heidi: “I’m just praying for the side of right. We’re here not for ourselves and our generation – we’re both straight – we’re here for all our kids, and for whoever it is they grow up to love in their lives.”

    Alexis, Dan & Dmitri of Mt. Laurel

    dan dimitriAlexis and Dan are both 21. Dmitri is only 6 months old, and arrived for his inaugural statehouse lobbying trip in his stroller marked with a big EQUALITY sticker. They got involved after a Corzine rally when somebody from Garden State Equality signed them up to volunteer at the Collingswood HQ: “All our friends – all of them – believe in this, too. Like we do.”

    Rev. Carlton Smith of Paramus

    IMG00033-20100107-1343Rev. Smith is Interim Pastor at Central Unitarian Church in Paramus. I asked him if he was here representing his congregation: “Absolutely. We have supported this for … decades. In our congregation, families headed by same-sex couples are treated the same as those headed by opposite sex couples. We want to extend this into the wider world. And I’m here today on the side of Love.”

    Lauren & Susan, Chloe and Robin (below)

    Nearly every inch of the floor in the statehouse annex overflow room (one of many in use today). On the left (arm raised, mid-joke) is Lauren, behind her is her mom Susan (North Brunswick). On the right across from Susan, in white and smiling at her photographer, is Chloe, who’s here with her mom (in pink sitting behind her) from Plainfield. Robin is in the front on the right; she’s from Maplewood. I asked them why they were here today and they all started talking at once. Lauren: “We’re all here for equality.” Susan: “And for civil rights – when Black people needed to fight they had people fighting alongside them. This is like that, it has to be like that.” Robin: “Right! This is not a minority issue. It’s an equality issue. And when I get married, if we can strengthen marriage by making it include everyone, it will strengthen my marriage too, make it more meaningful.”

    robin

    At the Statehouse for the full Senate marriage equality vote

    There is a sea of dark blue EQUALITY t-shirts here at the statehouse, and almost all the people tucked inside them have taken the day off from work today to be here. The full Senate vote on marriage equality is set for 2pm today, and right now there are people already in the gallery, in overflow rooms, crowding the hallways, and trying to grab a last energy bar from the cafeteria for the long day ahead.

    At 2pm: Full Senate will be session. They will hear and vote on marriage equality during that session. Click this link to listen live at that time and choose Senate Session.

    Security is tighter even than usual, which is how it should be. I can tell you the rabbi quotient is higher than other times I’ve been here, but the number of marriage equality supporters is exponentially higher than that. I’m going to leave my safe, warm blogging location now (yay! I have my own outlet!) and go downstairs to talk to some of the people here.  

    News Roundup & Open Thread for Thursday, Jan. 7, 2009

    Short roundup today, I’m headed to Trenton. See you down there?

    Today: Full Senate votes on marriage equality

  • Uphill battle today.
  • Senate prepares for debate and vote.
  • If you’re going: Bundle up; it’s cold. Meet in front of the statehouse (125 West State St.) 9am or earlier. Park at Trenton Marriott (1 West Lafayette St.). Wear your blue EQUALITY t-shirt if you have one. Lobby legislators till the vote. After the vote, join a news conference and free pasta dinner at Trenton Marriott (short walk).

    Rep. Scott Garrett join lawsuit to strip Washington D.C. residents of their new marriage rights

  • This is just piles and piles of wrong. And while we’re at it, D.C. deserves its own representation, if only to keep some of the knuckleheads out of their bidness.

    Senate also to vote on in-state tuition for illegal immigrants

  • A bill making college and university education more affordable to illegal immigrants who live in New Jersey also comes to the floor today.

    2 GOP candidates now vie for the chance to run against Rush Holt

  • Fair Haven Mayor, who staged a teabaggers protest outside Rep. Holt’s Health Care Town Hall in Middletown this summer has a challenger in the NJ-12 Republican primary. New guy is venture capitalist Scott Sipprelle, who can presumably self-fund. But he hasn’t done laid the district groundwork Halfacre has.

    Christie to struggling NJ cities: Drop Dead

  • Yeah, it’s hard not to reference the famous 1975 New York Daily News headline for which President Gerald Ford (who never said such a thing either, but who did say in essence just that) lost a re-election. Yesterday, Christie announced he was cutting off aid to cities the state has helped survive It remains to be seen whether Christie is merely forcing them to eliminate any bloat and excess in their budgets during a time of real state crisis, or whether he’s just torpedoed the thousands of people who live in places like Camden, Bridgeton, Union City and Paterson.

    Christie does not [heart] lame ducks

  • Clearly wanting to take over before he gets to take over, the incoming governor says he’s unhappy with bills passed in these waning days, saying the Democrats are tying his hands.

    And my boyfriend wonders why I won’t fly out of Newark Airport

  • Your 7-Eleven has a working security camera. Watch yourself buying yogurt. But Newark Airport, an airport used by 9/11 terrorists, a place where 30 million people come and go each year, did not have theirs working. But Continental Airlines had their own camera going, and it captured the incident which snafu’d air traffic and stranded passengers for hours. But the image of the guy who somehow breached a secure area is still unreleased though it’s apparently a clear picture. Sen. Lautenberg wants the video released to find the guy, but so far there’s nothing but delays. Another reason I don’t fly out of Newark.

    Camden sees big drop in crime

  • Incidents of major crime in Camden during the past year fell to the lowest level since similar data was first recorded four decades ago.

    Fill in whatever I missed, please, Blue Jerseyans. Appreciate it.