Author Archive: Rosi Efthim

Gary Chiusano & Alison Littell McHose – give them a call

Few days ago, we got a peep at a press release the Assembly GOP sent out under the names of Assistant Republican Whip Gary Chiusano & Alison Littell McHose. Seems they think it’s just peachy they can help Chris Christie drive the demolition of the – “duplicative, wasteful and unnecessary” NJ Public Advocates Office.

Besides, they see themselves as the real public advocates, which I guess makes folks like Ron Chen nothing more than so much Trenton clutter:

The public has 120 advocates in the Legislature and if each one identified a proposal such as this – to cut $16 million from the state’s budget without affecting services to residents – then we could wipe out the $2 billion deficit that greeted Governor Christie when he entered office,” Chiusano said. “That’s probably an overly simplistic notion, but it does stress the point that we are under severe economic distress and must be diligent about not wasting a single tax dollar, let alone 16 million of them.

Emphasis mine. I don’t for one second buy that either gives much thought to cutting “without affecting services to residents.” Feh.

But I guess Chiusano and McHose just announced that if you’re elderly, disabled, getting clobbered with eminent domain, have a kid at risk for lead poisoning or anything else Chen oversaw last year, well, Gary Chiusano’s your man, and Alison Littell McHose is your woman. Feel free to give them a call if you have any issues.

And meanwhile, here’s some people who see the value in an advocate for citizens, even when it means protecting them against their own government. Hey, that sounds like a concept Chiusano & McHose could get behind.  

News Roundup & Open Thread for Monday, Feb. 15, 2009

There’s no need to feel sluggish this Monday morning. Today we get to celebrate an entire branch of the government. If you’re off for the holiday, here’s to you. If you’re working today, watch out for weather later. Yeah, there’s more snow coming, but you can take it – you’ve developed a hardened, leathery exterior by now and nothing can knock you off your game. Besides, there’s always Snow Ice Cream.

Happy Presidents Day

  • No, I didn’t mean happy presidents. I meant happy, oh hell forget it – look who your fellow statespeeps think is the best president (top poll).
  • Mark DiIonno on George Washington’s impact on New Jersey, and his on us. Maybe we need more of this so the George Washingtons of our world don’t end up crawling down popularity polls while gross distortions like Ronald Reagan end up fondly remembered.

    Martin O’Shea

  • Our Monday morning columnist Loretta Weinberg is off this week, but will roar back next Monday morning. I suspect if she were here, she would be writing about Martin O’Shea’s final transparency victory in West Milford, New Jersey, so I’ll link here to a story about that.

    Who bankrolls North Jersey House campaigns?

  • Herb Jackson tracks back the money on congressmen Rothman, Garrett & Pascrell and looks for influence, bought and paid for.

    Carla Katz calls out Patrick Christie

  • And discusses his father’s snide use of his equally snide 9-year-old’s word “unfair”.

    Yo commuters!

  • New York Times The Local column wants to know how you feel about Christie’s slicing $32.7 million from New Jersey Transit’s $296 million yearly subsidy. This going to force NJ Transit to be more efficient with the state’s $$? Or does it feel more like an assault on already weary commuters?

    Adam, Tia & 2 little boys

  • How a young family, from Salem and Gloucester counties, who never expected to be homeless, ended up that way.

    As health care reform stalls, insurers rake it in

  • This ought to drive your blood pressure through the roof this fresh, new Monday morning. Which could be especially problematic if you’re not insured at all.

    Audit exposes flaws in New Jersey’s tax rebates

  • In a state that can’t really afford it right now, thank you very much, a report by the state auditor uncovered lax oversight, confusing rules, and potential fraud, combining to cost NJ millions each year in rebates and tax deductions given to homeowners who may not qualify for them.

    The Auditor

  • On Essex County Prosecutor rumors, a pretty dumb move Christie’s press operation tried with reporters, and who’s behind the efforts to recall Bob Menendez.

    Maybe this is why Sweeney decided to stick around as Freeholder Director

  • Gloucester County is about to launch New Jersey’s first-ever county-run tax assessment, hoping to save taxpayers more than $1.5 million annually. The pilot program will be phased in over a three-year period, beginning this month.

    Campaign $$$

  • ELEC reports that even during an economic crisis, New Jersey can still raise plenty of dough to power its candidates.

    This is an Open Thread. What’s shaking?

  • Weekend News Roundup for Feb. 13-14, 2009

    Happy Valentines Day, politics lovers. This is an Open Thread.

    Gov. Chris Christie’s bully budget

  • Star Ledger acknowledges the governor’s back is against the wall, but calls him out for arrogance, and has a few key suggestions where Democrats should look to investigate.

    Chris Christie does not truck with nuance

  • With Christie and his squad of prosecutors, now running the state, there’s a little culture clash. They’re short on cooperation, on compromise – both realities of politics. Forget nuance.

    Should we be paying more attention to the Bergen County BOE?

  • Two Democratic Senators – Sarlo, and it appears, Weinberg – are engaged in trying to save the position of long-time Bergen Board of Elections Chair Peter Incardone, who Sarlo says is about to be replaced by Republican Chair Bob Yudin, to reward a supporter of his and punish Incardone, who is close to his rival for power inside the party, Clerk Kathleen Donovan.

    Out March 1

  • The embattled chief of the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission will step down from his whopping $313,000-a-year salary at the end of the month.

    And he should.

  • Gannett says Sen. Menendez’ “ethical lapse” in not disclosing his own political contribution ties to First BankAmericano of Elizabeth puts him under an ethical cloud and will provide fodder for a Republican challenge he will have to deal with in 2012.

    Retirement papers

  • With Chris Christie targeting public worker benefits, some government employees are thinking it’s time to get out before changes take effect.

    Rep. Donald Payne heads the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation

  • In 2008, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation spent more on the caterer for its signature legislative dinner and conference – nearly $700,000 for an event one organizer called “Hollywood on the Potomac” – than it gave out in scholarships, federal tax records show.

    Deported veterans

  • Daily Targum has a story about Veterans for Education’s work to draw attention to veterans of American military service who have been deported back to their home countries. Join Veterans for Education here.

    “The church is trying to be green.”

  • Eco-funerals gain in popularity.

    3 northern counties want to squeeze NJ Association of Counties

  • Sussex, Warren & Morris counties are withholding dues to the NJAC, a taxpayer-funded lobbying group that represents county interests in Trenton, to protest “excessive” pay and benefits there, including Celeste Carpiano’s $205,000 salary, and concern that NJAC employees are enrolled in the state’s overburdened pension system.

    What I like most about this policy is that fathers can also participate

  • Project Storybook lets incarcerated N.J. mothers read to their children on cassette tapes, which are sent home with postage they pay themselves. The project, a collaboration that began with prison officials at Edna Mahon Correctional Facility for Women in Hunterdon, and children’s book author Pat Brisson of Phillipsburg.

    The State Brain Injury Fund

  • Economic realities, a recession that caused a spike in applications to the Fund, and some concern that the Fund has been paying for things a little too far from the specific needs related to brain injury are factors in recommendations that the state limit Fund spending to those whose brain damage came from a direct blow to the head, eliminating those whose injuries were “acquired” from strokes, tumors or other injuries. That will mean enormous change for some of NJ’s brain injured. Public comment on the change ends Friday.

    Statewide poison info system

  • Might be on the chopping block.

    “Towers twice as tall as the tree line”

  • Having lost their bid to get the state BOE to reject 500,000-volt, 146-mile power line project, opponents of the Susquehanna-Roseland line are turning their sights this week to the National Park Service, in a public pitch to consider them a threat to national landmarks like Delaware Water Gap and the Appalachian Trail.

    Life over the plume

  • EPA is using facebook and twitter to reach out to people living over the contaminated DuPont site in Pompton Lakes. EPA’s Pompton Lakes/DuPont Group on fb

    There was cake!

  • The teaparty people showed up at Frank Pallone’s Long Branch District office at the start of the long weekend. He was in D.C. but here’s his statement on the occasion. They brought cake, but not to be nice.
  • Tea Party folks visit Frank Pallone’s District Office

    The tea party people have come and gone from Rep. Frank Pallone’s District Office in Long Branch today. As I understand it, they didn’t let the office know they were coming; I think Pallone’s staff found out from a right-wing blog (imagine that!).

    I’m hoping I’ll have pictures to go with this later, and I don’t know how many people showed up. But, though the Congressman was in D.C. today, he had this statement:

    I respect the right of the tea party members to speak out. But, i am concerned that their policies would give more New Jerseyans pink slips.

    They opposed the stimulus bill, which povided the biggest tax cut to the middle class in history. It prevented teachers,police officers and fire fighters from being laid off, helped ppl with extended ubemployment compensation, Medicaid and COBRA subsidies.

    The Tea Party opposes a new jobs bill that provides more tax cuts and loans to small businesses as well as money for transportation projects – all to create more jobs.

    The legislation they oppose is actually good for NJ and will help us get out of the recession.

    News Roundup & Open Thread for Friday, Feb. 12, 2009

    Chris Christie declares martial law

  • In case you were wondering, this is the kind of governor Christie is going to be; an exaggerating, swaggering bully with little respect for the other branch of government he’s required to work alongside, and completely willing to do an end run around the legislature to move the state where he wants.

  • Full text of Christie’s budget speech

  • Josh Zeitz walks you through Christie’s fuzzy math.

  • Senator Sweeney: “So much for a handshake.”

  • Assembly Dems battle back ([VIDEO].

  • “I don’t know that the honeymoon is over, but clearly we’re on the plane ride home.” Democratic Chair John Wisniewski, and more reaction from legislative Dems.

    Charlie Stile calls Christie on his game

  • And says the Democrats pretty much fell for it.

    Environmental groups predictably unhappy

  • Accuse Christie of raiding funds for clean air and water.

    Jersey City to lay off nearly 300 workers

  • Next Tuesday, 280 seasonal and provisional employees will get layoff notices, to save more than $1.3M between now and June, the end of JC’s fiscal year, with 2011 fiscal year savings pegged at $4.3M. All an attempt to rein in a proposed budget that has many residents fuming about a potential 25% hike in property taxes. Public hearing is Feb. 24.

    Mixed verdict for Beldini

  • Guilty on 2 counts of corruption for taking $20K in bribes from government informant Solomon Dwek, but acquitted of the most serious charges against her; conspiracy to commit extortion and 2 counts of extortion. She faces up to 10 years in prison for each bribery count, but may be sentenced to far less time under federal guidelines.

    “Essex County Prosecutor Paula T. Dow Crime Scene Unit”

  • Star Ledger: It’s too soon to honor – or to name anything – after the Essex County Prosecutor. And there are a few other reasons too.

    Todd Christie tries to get relevant

  • But just gets Facebooky.

    NJ shore finally catches a break

  • For the most part, escaped major erosion from this last snow & wind blast.  
  • News Roundup & Open Thread for Thursday, Feb. 11, 2009

    Dug out yet?

  • Official snowfall amounts around Jersey – hmm, my yardstick stuck down into the snow told me nearly double that.

    Will Wisniewski pull a Sweeney?

  • The new Democratic State Chair is still undecided if he will pull any of predecessor Joe Cryan’s picks for redistricting commissions. At stake, the appointments of Corzine campaign manager Maggie Moran to the Congressional Redistricting Commission, and Sen. Paul Sarlo and Cryan himself to the State Legislative Redistricting Commission.

    Spicuzzo won’t seek sheriff’s nomination

  • Whether it’s because Middlesex County paid $1 million to settle a sexual harassment suit against Sheriff Joe Spicuzzo last year, or a credible, hard-charging challenge from Freeholder H. James Polos, or his recovery from gastric-bypass surgery, Spicuzzo, who has been sheriff for nearly 3 decades will not seek re-election as sheriff. He will, however, run again to captain Middlesex County Democrats as Chair.
  • kwilkenson muses on the women involved in that sexual harassment suit, which sheriff candidate they might appreciate, and whether change is finally coming to Middlesex..

    In the middle of a state emergency, Christie calls a state emergency

  • Governor summons the legislature to snowy Trenton this morning to talk budget. Christie plans to declare a state of emergency, giving himself the power to freeze aid to about 500 of the state’s 600 schools. Schools will have to spend their stored surplus, but some Democratic lawmakers worry Christie’s school cuts may go too far, forcing property taxes higher. Assembly budget Chair Lou Greenwald: “”We’re not really balancing our budget if we’re passing on our problems to someone else.”
  • Joe Albright’s Capital Clips: Good things Christie should keep in the budget.

    Yeah, the angry governor thing could get old

  • Charlie Stile: on the strategy and the risk of Christie’s swaggering, combative style.

    Mulshine scorches Lesniak

  • New Jersey has plenty of hypocrisy to go around. Mulshine accuses Sen. Lesniak of plenty.

    Check back with us in a year, then let’s see where he is

  • Chris Christie ties with Dick Codey – who’s served more days as Govy than he has so far – for 2nd place in the Monmouth U/Gannett New Jersey poll of the state’s favorite governors. But Tom Kean still rules.

    CWA balks at naming a building after Paula Dow

  • CWA Local 1081 wants to get in the way of a crime scene teams Orange HQ the “Essex County Prosecutor Paula T. Dow Crime Scene Unit.” The union prez calls the naming a “favor” and says state employees are barred from accepting favors. Last night’s freeholder meeting was canceled for snow, so the resolution is tabled. But so is a resolution to accept a nearly $400K grant from the state attorney general’s office for Essex County’s crime victim advocacy, leaving the question of whether Dow got that as Attorney General or Essex Prosecutor.

    Clive Cummis, lawyer and Democratic fundraiser, dead at 81

  • Involved in bringing gambling to AC, early fundraiser for both Newark Museum and NJPAC, adviser to many presidential contenders.

    How hard are we going to clamp down on New Brunswick?

  • Sen. Nick Scutari pledges an open mind in considering Sen. Loretta Weinberg’s legislation that overturns the “referendum kill bill” (which he supported) that narrowly passed and was signed into law by Corzine in his last 15 minutes in office.  
  • Show us your snow

    Central-western NJ is in white-out, which is something South Jersey’s used to by now. My street’s not plowed, but I’m going out anyway for a Hunterdon DFA planning meeting a couple blocks away. What does it look like where you are? Show us your snow. Extra credit for sledding hills and snowmen…

    My backyard in Flemington, out my ancient and drafty 1847 double-hung window to the back yard with a distant view of my just-recalled Prius

    Snow Prius 2-10

    About the baby, and about the bathwater

    “Some very good Democrats stood up and supported this issue on the floor of the senate,” said Wisniewski. “To hurl a broadside against the one party that stood up for this and say the effort wasn’t good enough is throwing the baby out with the bath water.”

    What’s all this outrage from some Democrats all about?

    I think some Democrats have forgotten themselves in their response to a unanimous decision by the board of Garden State Equality to suspend contributions to political parties in favor of more targeted donations to specific candidates.

    What’s clear in newly-elected State Democratic Chair John Wisniewski’s snap comment, above, is that some Democrats have grown so used to the money, and the labor that certain groups give the party, that the news that they’ll be denied it is an outrage to them. That strikes me as ungracious, unthankful, and unwise.

    Garden State Equality has every right to decide for itself where to put its money. This is consequence

    News Roundup & Open Thread for Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2009

    Stay off the roads, and stay home

  • The airport’s closed, most of the schools are closed. No bad guys will come to trial today; courts are shut up. There are speed restrictions on the Turnpike and AC Expressway, which will either mean the casinos are empty because people are sensible, or full because so many get the day off (wanna bet?). Your state officials want you to stay home today.

    Marcia Karrow gets her hands on COAH

  • The former Senator from Hunterdon County, a long-time foe of affordable housing rules as they stand, will run a task force for Gov. Christie to remake affordable housing rules a la Christie. The group, named Housing Opportunity Task Force, to consider “workforce” housing and renovation of existing structures as well as new building. Christie’s order also halts all work by COAH, unless the DCA commissioner decides that burden is too great.

    Newark: State of the City

  • Focusing on economic development, the biz he’s attracted to the city, and job creation programs, Mayor Cory Booker delivered his 4th State of the City address three months before he stands for re-election. Among his his councilmen, Booker singled out the South Ward’s Oscar James, who faces a lively challenge from Ras Baraka. Before the speech, Booker told reporters polling by Obama’s pollster Joel Benenson shows he and his policies have wide support among likely voters, but the mayor wouldn’t give numbers. Not among the mayor’s supporters is opponent Clifford Minor, who says too many making key decisions are from outside Newark, and that Booker was not as specific as he needs to be about te budget and deficit.

    Rep. Donald Payne on Blue Jersey Radio

  • Tough talk on health care reform, his opinion on the Newark elections in May, and being shot at in Mogadishu. Have a listen.

    Kumbaya in Trenton

  • The public worker pension and benefit reforms making their way through Trenton get a smile from the governor.

    Fixing a “lending crisis”

  • Small businesses desperately need credit but banks refuse to lend, say Sen. Bob Menendez and Rep. Bill Pascrell, who have a bill to enable businesses to seek loans up to $1.5 million from the SBA at a favorable rate and term.

    Newark judge confirmed to Alito’s old seat after long wait

  • Despite agitation from both New Jersey’s senators, it took 5 months for U.S. District Court Judge Joseph A. Greenaway to be confirmed in the Senate to fill the seat on the 3rd US Court of Appeals that Samuel Alito left empty when he moved to the Supreme Court four years ago. They blame Republican  ovstructionism. Of course, both blocked George Bush’s nominee, whose confirmation never was voted on by the time Obama took office.

    NJ Schools Report Card

  • The cost of educating a NJ school student went up this year, an average $1,003 or 8%. Also up this year, SAT scores. Compared to scores 2 years ago, math is up 6 points to an average 515, and verbal scores up to 494, from 491. Full Report Card from NJ Dept. of Education.

    Codey: “I guess he likes removing Essex guys.”

  • Nothing less than how our congressional map will look is at stake, so watching the 2010 Census Congressional Redistricting Commission become the latest ground for the skirmishes between Steve Sweeney and Dick Codey to play out is aggravating. Sweeney removed Orange Mayor Eldridge Hawkins Jr. from the Commission, which will draw new boundaries for the state’s seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Sweeney doesn’t like dealing with appointments Codey made that “bind” him. We’re probably losing a seat, so the questions they’ll deal with – like which two incumbents are going to have to face off – are important enough that I’d like this to be shenanigan-free, please.

    Menendez: “I don’t regret advocating for it. I regret the wording.”

  • Menendez defended his efforts to help bail out First BankAmericano; a strongly-worded letter to regulators he conceded he should have put differently. With major contributors to his campaign including Ray Lesniak involved in its board, Menendez concedes his wording shouldn’t have been as strong. Although the bank was minority-owned and mainly served the Hispanic community, Menendez says the government’s solution makes no requirements on the new owners to maintain it as a community bank.
  • Insider loans: Meanwhile, Lesniak and 5 other directors of the bank borrowed more than $2 million for mortgages and commercial loans, some of them after First BankAmericano was put under a July 2007 federal loan to stop what authorities called unsound banking and loan practices.

    What’s on your mind this snowy day, Blue Jersey? This is an Open Thread.  

  • News Roundup & Open Thread for Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2009

    Snowzilla v. Flakenstein (h/t philly.com)

  • Get ready for more. A lot of more.
  • Some parts of SJ are still struggling with the last storm’s damage.

    Westwood Marine is laid to rest in snowy Arlington Cemetary

  • Marine Sgt. Christopher Hrbek was killed last month by an explosive device in Afghanistan. Hrbek, whose stepfather and brothers are firefighters, also served three combat tours in Iraq within six years. He had been planning to become a drill sergeant at Parris Island, SC. Rest in peace.

    Garden State Equality closes the gay ATM to political parties

  • Donations will now be only to those politicians who are working for the same things the group is, to avoid situations where its donations filter to politicians working directly against the interests of the people it represents.
  • Missing the point, new Democratic State Chair Asm John Wisniewski says Garden State Equality’s decision “throws the baby out with the bathwater.” Actually, what it does is refocus contributions – expect them to soar, by the way – to individual candidates who are pro-equality.

    Steven Goldstein’s Telepalmter

  • Best. Laugh. of. the. Day.

    Closing arguments in the Beldini political corruption trial

  • Best coverage all along is by Jack Bohrer here at Jersey City Independent.

    After 5-hour grilling, Paula Dow makes it through the Judiciary Committee

  • Among the issues Christie’s AG nominee dealt with Monday was an hour-long discussion with Sen. Nia Gill about former Newark councilwoman Dana Rone, and whether Dow’s opposition to removing her from office after her conviction for obstruction of justice was politically motivated. She also went head-to-head with Sen. Nicholas Scutari over a proposal to alleviate witness intimidation.
  • Also approved by Senate Judiciary Committee, Major General Glenn Rieth, to continue leading the NJ National Guard, a Corzine holdover.

    Want to bet on the next Super Bowl?

  • Sen. Ray Lesniak wants you to be able to.

    Reform state spending on its public workers

  • Comprehensive changes to public worker salaries and benefits introduced.
  • Star Ledger likes the reform to public worker salaries and benefits driven by Christie, but want them to go further to contain rising salaries, and change collective bargaining rules they say tilt toward unions.

    NAACP wants Lesniak and Bateman out of the affordable housing reform business

  • Both Senators, says NAACP, should recuse themselves instead of drafting policy change because both their law firms represent dozens of towns throughout the state. The Senators are prime sponsors of a bill that would dismantle COAH and change the responsibilities town have for creating housing low-income people can afford. NAACP’s view of their bill is that it would create more economic and racial segregation. Lesniak flatly denies conflict of interest, and Bateman says his firm benefits from COAH as it iss, and would actually lose business if COAH was ended.

    Leonard Lance gets a challenge from the right

  • “My opponent’s family career is government and politics – and my career is windows and doors,” says David Larson of Tewksbury. The political neophyte, who raises quarterhorses to supplement his window business, is opening a campaign HQ in Green Brook this week. He’s pro-life, “womb-to-tomb”, disparages Lance’s career & family ties in politics, and he’s talking teaparty.

    Joe Vas gets a court date

  • The ex-Assemblyman is facing charges in campaign finance corruption, along with 5 co-defendants. Ah, remember the days when Vas was touted as a reformer? Sigh.