Author Archive: Rosi Efthim

News Roundup & Open Thread for Thursday, Sept. 3, 2009

The All-Star Shuffle

  • Roberts announces. & kind words for Roberts.
  • Assembly speaker buzz starts for Cryan, Wisniewski & Watson Coleman.
  • SJ Dems back Donald Norcross.
  • Battle expected for the Senate presidency.

    2009 Democratic State Conference in AC

  • Discount rate to attend is extended to Sept. 8.

    Governors race debate schedule

  • Three-way debate; Corzine, Christie & Daggett.. First televised live on NJN Oct. 1. Second at William Patterson University Oct. 16, to be broadcast 2 days later.  LG candidates meet Oct. 8.

    Health care reform

  • Rallies last night in several towns demanding the public option.

    Headed to jail

  • Former UMDNJ dean starts his prison term, convicted in the same bribery scheme that sent Wayne Bryant to prison.


  • Mayor & council return from August break, with work to do.

    George Washington Bridge

  • A whistleblower on a bike cracks open a serious problem with the guards. Hello, Port Authority?


  • Craig Coughlin is tapped as the Democrats’choice.


  • Hillside:Judge says Mayor Menza exceeded his authority appointing business administrator, attorney & auditor without Council’s approval.
  • Somerville: $300,000 in budget cuts still needed, with cuts expected.
  • Jersey City: Parents plan to rally next Tuesday to demand better high schools.
  • Mercer County:The last work week for nearly 60 county employees, laid off. Budget problems in Burlington County too.
  • Plainfield: It might be good to let some, you know, Democrats know you’re in town.
  • Morristown:Cresitello to Milgram: It’s none of your beeswax.
  • Hunterdon: H1N1 flu plan, and federal aid.
  • Hudson River: FAA to change rules for airspace after this summer’s disaster.


  • News Roundup & Open Thread for Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2009

    Roberts out, Norcross in?

  • Announcements 8 a.m. this morning.

    Newark’s George “Buddy Gee” Branch, dead at 80

  • The 16-year Central Ward councilman who helped rebuild his part of the city after the ’67 riots was beaten by Cory Booker.

    Picking a new candidate

  • Middlesex Dems nominate a NJ-19 Assembly candidate tonight, to fill the vacancy left when South Amboy mayor John O’Leary withdrew.

    Health care reform

  • Record profits and rising premiums: As he and the rest of the Senate Finance Committee get ready to return to D.C. to draft a Senate health care reform plan, Bob Menendez addresses the organized opposition the insurance industry puts in the way of change.
  • Oh, also in the way? The NJ Chamber of Commerce.

    Pleading not guilty

  • Two Jersey City pols arrested in July’s massive political corruption sweep pleaded not guilty in federal court in Newark today. Leona Beldini  and Edward Cheatam are the only 2 indictments so far, on charges of conspiracy to commit extortion. Jerramiah Healy … backs away …

    Concerns about wildlife

  • NJ DEP opposes a Delaware Bay wind energy project from Ocean County company.


  • Newark: As a tenants rights group protested, long lines at City Hall, property owners arriving to pay delinquent water bills under threat of a shut off. $6.5 million due the city.
  • Hackensack: Questions follow Coniglio conviction.
  • New Providence: Headed for mediation.
  • Rahway: Too much carbon monoxide & sulfur dioxide from Union County’s incinerator.
  • Randolph, Roxbury, Mine Hill, Wharton & Rockaway Borough: Exploring a possible joint health service. Meanwhile, old-fashioned wetdown in Madison.
  • Bridgeton: Doesn’t like graffiti.
  • Hunterdon County: Freeholders are eyeing cutback measures and developing a provisional plan to lay off and furlough county employees next year.
  • Pine Hill: Tax official suspended after arrest.
  • Green Brook: Big. Fat. Tomatoes.  
  • Coniglio sentenced to 2.5 years

    Former State Senator Joe Coniglio was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison today on corruption charges. He will also be required to pay $15,000 in fines.

    He was convicted in April of funneling state money to Hackensack University Medical Center after securing a high-paying consulting job there for himself.  The Medical Center paid him more than $100,000 to help them secure $1 million in state grants.

    Coniglio’s lawyer had asked U.S. District Judge Dennis M. Cavanaugh to sentence his client to probation.

    Coniglio was on the Senate Budget Committee, and in an ideal position to exploit a tradition that allowed lawmakers to award millions of dollars in state grants without much oversight.

    News Roundup & Open Thread for Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2009


  • Q-Poll: Among likely voters, Corzine trails 47-37%, compared to the Aug. 11 Q-Poll which was tighter, at 46-40%. Daggett goes from 7-9%. Corzine ads focused on lucrative monitoring contracts to Christie friends are not working; of 77% who say they’ve seen them, 56% call them unfair. Among those familiar with the $46,000 loan to Michele Brown, nearly half (49%) call it unfair, to 43% calling it fair.
  • Fairleigh Dickinson-PublicMind poll has Christie up only 5% (47-42%) or roughly the same margin as two months ago.

    Governors Debates

  • Corzine agrees to two debates, whenever they are.

    Corzine communications shuffle

  • Over at the governor’s office, Deborah Howlett is reassigned and Steve Sigmund is in temporarily.

    Power struggle for New Brunswick’s future?

  • A second citizens group is trying to get a question on the November ballot countering a ward system already proposed.

    Ex-State Senator Joe Coniglio

  • Coniglio is due to be sentenced today, following conviction for fraud and extortion for funneling more than $1 million dollars in state funding to Hackensack University Medical Center after it gave him a high-paying job.

    Running Camden

  • An interim chief operating officer has been named, but there was some surprise expressed by officials on who Corzine named.

    Welcoming vets home

  • The difference that can make.


  • Elizabeth: Two companies will pay NJ $860K for the cleanup for a contaminated school site, once a polluted Getty gas station.
  • Trenton: South Ward candidates debate Tuesday, Sept. 8.
  • Moorestown:The township adopted a $1.4 million bond ordinance to buy 3 acres of farmland as a possible affordable-housing site.
  • Holland Twp.: The wold-dogs captured over the weekend may prompt a new ordinance.
  • Chesilhurst:A decision by NJ’s Education Commissioner will mean the borough’s school district non-operational and children bussed to other schools

    For Sale: A little piece of NJ rock real estate

  • Were you Born to Run?
  • Stink bomb thrown into Corzine HQ in Somerset County

    HQ facade

    A stink bomb was thrown into the Somerset County Democratic Headquarters a little after noon today, the office where the Corzine for Governor campaign is coordinating their field efforts in the county.

    This is the same Division Street office Governor Corzine visited last weekend during the Opening Day Party of the field office.

    One person was present – an intern named Lash Green II, who was in the office working on invitations for an upcoming event with Mayor Cory Booker. Green told police he believed the stink bomb was thrown from the passenger window of a white Chrysler 300 that pulled away from the curb in front of the HQ entrance moments after. Somerville police responded but refused to file a report, citing lack of damage.

    No one was hurt but the stink bomb produced a cloud of acrid sulphur odor. County Party Executive Director Alex Radus said a few minutes of work time were lost but the staff continued to work even in the “very uncomfortable environment”. Said Somerset Democratic Chair Peg Schaffer:

    This kind of childish behavior takes on grave significance when a political organization is targeted. It is a mark of intolerance, and amounts to nothing less than assault, voter intimidation and harassment.

    The incident was filed with the NJ Secretary of State, the entity charged with overseeing the election process.


    News Roundup & Open Thread for Monday, Aug. 31, 2009

    A very progressive mural

  • Rises again, with the labors of students and tattoo artists in Passaic.

    Ya think?

  • Chris Christie says it was a mistake to speed through Lambertville, but insists he didn’t pull rank when he was pulled over. But his story is increasingly squishy on the facts.

    In the only 2 governors races in the US this year

  • The Politico: Labor gears up in NJ & VA.

    We’re almost at 8 years

  • Voices of September 11th opens up a New Jersey office in New Brunswick, to serve long-term needs of survivors, families & rescue workers tied to that day.

    Ferriero’s successor at BCDO

  • A look at how Michael Kasparian is handling “a broken system”.

    A medical mistake “report card” for NJ hospitals

  • New legislation, due to be signed by the Governor today, is a transparency effort designed to help consumers make more informed choices, and make good on their worst mistakes.

    Economic pressures

  • Layoffs in New Jersey’s non-profit sector.


  • Piscataway zoning: A bustling mosque.Will it get the chance to expand?
  • Ridgewood: Green road #1.
  • Teaneck: 210 consecutive weeks out protesting the war.
  • Englewood: Gadhafi isn’t coming. Can we all please dial it down, now?

    Happy Birthday, TUBES!

  • Its humble, wonky roots. And a perfect excuse to … start your Monday dancing around the room to this (again)!
  • Weekend News Roundup & Open Thread for Aug. 29-30, 2009

    Newark: Death of a 14-year-old boy on the street

  • Renews the struggle in the city between curfew enforcement and civil liberties.

    SEIU endorses

  • Representing 45,000 child care, janitorial, hospital and nursing home workers in the state, SEIU endorses Gov. Corzine.

    A fuller picture of the Dept. of Corrections

  • Revealed only after Star-Ledger obtained 355 pages of personnel records through the Open Public Records Act (OPRA).

    With little pictures of fake fetuses?

  • The murky future of Choose Life license plates in NJ.

    For Senator Edward Moore Kennedy

  • Gov. Corzine orders flags be flown half-staff on Tuesday, one week after the Senator’s death, citing his effective leadership in support of historic legislation on health care, civil rights, education and immigration.

    State tax investigator, from Toms River, indicted

  • Charged with stealing more than $6,000 from taxpayer accounts.

    Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s on his way

  • To do a star-turn for Chris Christie, and continue his audition for President of the United States. Meanwhile, that pretty much busts up his rationale for no-Sarah Palin.


  • Ridgefield: Renewed scrutiny of the record of Mayor Anthony Suarez.
  • Lacey Twp: The Oyster Creek nuclear plant is back on line. It’s the oldest – 40 yrs – commercial nuclear reactor in the USA. So I drive fast past Lacey Twp.
  • Salem County: Unemployment’s down, and so is Cape May County’s.
  • Sussex County: State DEP reports Swartswood Park lake’s bacteria levels are down. But Sparta Lake has a little alligator thing goin’ on.


  • Bravo, Trenton! A surge of pro-music initiatives in the city shed light on music education.
  • Flash drives: cool.
  • School lunches: The Slow Food movement’s on it.

    Sunday afternoon beasties

  • Life isn’t all politics. You need a pet. Here are some who need adopting. North Jersey, too.
  • Rush Holt Health Care Town Hall – Middletown

    UPDATE #1: Dan Preston has photos from the event in a link in Comments – here.

    UPDATE #2: Winston Smith had an altogether different view of this event than I did. His diary is here.

    Maybe it was the configuration of the room, shallow and wide and not narrow and deep, making no allowance for shouters to use distance from the stage to intimidate like at Frank Pallone’s Red Bank Town Hall. Maybe it was the Congressional District, NJ-12 not NJ-6. And this congressman doesn’t bear direct responsibility for the public option bill, the way Pallone does, with HR 3200 out of his Health Subcommittee, of House Energy & Commerce.

    But the experience of sitting in on Rush Holt’s event, while contentious, was different. It lacked the manic surges, and lines of people demanding serial sessions. Questions were collected and read aloud by the congressman. That tended to lead to briefer, substantive audience feedback, rather than the set-up Pallone staggered under in Red Bank, grappling with questions from microphones louder than his own.

    I saw Holt slip into a reactive posture only once, when he called some shouters “noisemakers.” Minor. Pallone, who I saw through nearly 9 hours on his feet over 2 nights, kept his cool completely. The tamer audience allowed for a better information flow. From both sides. And Holt got the chance to be eloquent.

    Asked if public option meant rationed care:

    As a matter of fact, health care is rationed right now. Some people don’t get it! And I prefer rational health care, which this would be, over rationed.

    Why is this legislation moving so fast?

    The situation as it is now is not sustainable. And it’s not morally or ethically acceptable. Further, the economy will not recover as long as we’re saddled with these escalating health care costs. In fact, this should have been done before this time.

    To a similar question, about timing:

    We’ve been working toward some of the elements of this for many years. It goes back to Roosevelt – Teddy Roosevelt, as well as FDR.

    After the Town Hall, Holt met privately with three reporters. One of us asked where all this vitriol and opposition was coming from:

    Well, I can certainly point you toward some websites that are the source of misinformation and upset. But where the anxiety of people is coming from is tougher to say. We are living through tough economic times. A lot of people are on edge. And, in fact, a lot of people are living on the edge.

    We’re going to try to cover as many of the Congressional Town Halls as we can. Shoot us an email – – if you know one’s coming. If you go, we hope you’ll write about it here. Holt’s was last Wednesday. But I needed recovery time after the stress of two last week. Two more coming from Holt, both on Saturday, Sept. 12: 9:00am in Somerset & 2:30pm in Tinton Falls.  

    They will try to Wellstone Ted Kennedy. Don’t let them.

    Not too long ago, there was a conversation between some of us political bloggers; it went on across the country and across state lines. We talked about this: How long do you think it will be before somebody on the right takes Ted Kennedy’s memorial service, and what will inevitably be said there, and trashes it like they did Paul Wellstone’s?

    That struck me. I count two things as the engines behind everything I’m doing in politics right now. Howard Dean’s What I want to know … speech. And the massive arena celebration of the lives of Paul & Sheila Wellstone. Sen. Wellstone was not perfect; he was not angelic. But what he was, was brave. An ordinary, everyday guy with a Minnesota Senate seat.

    Ted Kennedy was a very different guy. Tried most of his life to connect with the ordinary. And you bet there’s going to be an effort to remind grieving congressional Democrats that health care was the cause of Kennedy’s life. They’d better damn well pass it. And there’s no way the right will not challenge that.

    The answer to that question – How long?is now. Today, Rush Limbaugh ridiculed Wellstone’s memorial, that arena brimming with people who knew early that change was coming, and there was work to be done. Forward-thinkers, progressives, and fearless local organizers. There was more loss, and backlash, before there was winning. But that memorial – those people, those speeches – meant everything to me. And I can’t just sit and listen to what was just said on the radio, without saying this:

    Paul Wellstone didn’t die. Not like they wanted him to.

    He’s now called Wellstone Action.

    He’s called Democracy for America.

    You can call him the 2008 Senate, House & White House, if progressive.

    He’s called Barack Obama. Called Michelle Obama. Aim higher, he’d say.

    He is called first-time voters, and change.

    Canvasser. Phonebanker. Local organizer.

    He’s called Organizing for America. PDA.


    They call him janitor, and educator, and factory worker. New immigrant.

    He is called the Congressional Black Caucus, and Progressive Caucus.

    He’s the survivors of Hurricane Katrina, and those who didn’t made it.

    He’s a first-time candidate, who thinks politics isn’t about winning, it’s about improving people’s lives.

    He’s not going to let up on Marriage Equality.

    He demands the public option.

    He’s called the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

    And he’s called 50-State Strategy.

    He is called Loretta Weinberg.

    Paul Wellstone is called Senator Al Franken now.

    And he’s called Blue Jersey.

    Take that, Rush Limbaugh. You disrespectful son of a bitch.

    News Roundup & Open Thread for Friday, Aug. 28, 2009


  • Water in the pipes, water from the sky.

    Christie’s record: 6 accidents, 13 moving violations, 25 points, does not wear a seat belt

  • Star-Ledger compares driving records for Christie & Corzine and finds both wanting. But Corzine’s near-fatal beltless accident changed his life and habits, and resulted in a public service message that Christie should have watched. His latest ticket this year …… for driving without a seatbelt.

    Racial profiling on our roads

  • The federal monitoring of our state police is over.


  • Says he’s innocent, plans to win in November, and went out to dinner.

    Daggett & Christie accuse Corzine of delaying debates

  • The two teamed up to suggest Corzine wants to minimize the audience.

    Great students, deserving a boost from NJ

  • Making sure scholars know about the NJ STARS program.

    Remembering Kennedy

  • In Central Jersey.


  • Woodbridge Councilman Charles Kenny drops out of the race.

    The skies over the Hudson River

  • The deadly crash this summer of a small plane out of Teterboro Airport and a sightseeing helicopter opens up a push to change air traffic procedures over the river, so close to major populations.

    UNITE-HERE Local 54

  • A suit against Atlantic City and two councilmen may go forward.

    Where the heck are we?

  • West Patterson? Woodland Park? Or West Patterson?


  • Candidates for office disagree on the number of times they should meet to debate the issues before November.