Wharton State Forest Motorized Access Plan

We’d like to explain why the Pinelands Preservation Alliance supports the Motorized Access Plan (MAP), with the understanding that there is plenty of room for honest disagreement.  For years, PPA has called for a set of actions to address what we see as a real crisis in the State Forest: the destruction being caused by illegal and irresponsible “mudding” and ATV use and dumping.  The MAP actually reiterates rules that have been in place for many years, but haven’t been enforced.  It leaves all public rights of way open for motorized vehicles, with the exception of a few that are currently too dangerous but will be opened when (and if) repaired.  The “roads” the MAP closes to trucks, cars and motorcycles are all unofficial roads that have been created by a variety of people over a long range of time.  The MAP will make it possible for the State to protect the forest from illegal activities and to repair the public roads within Wharton State Forest.

Some key facts about the MAP that guide our decision are these:

• More than 220 miles of sand roads are open to the public for driving.  All of Wharton State Forest is within one mile or less of these public sand roads or paved public roads.  Check the maps: it’s true.

• The liveries, including Pinelands Adventures and Micks and Bel Haven, as well as all other groups like PPA, are subject to the MAP just like the general public.  There are no special deals for or against the groups supporting or opposing the MAP.  PPA doesn’t get to charge people so they can go places in the woods.  Like the other liveries, Adventures charges people for the livery service and boat rentals, not for access, because access is free to everyone (except the liveries, which pay the state for permits to the same places that are free to the public).

• The Forest Fire Service strongly supports the MAP because it will keep the fire fighting roads it needs open and safe, whereas today many of those roads have become impassable and dangerous due to “mudding” by trucks and jeeps.

• The only special accommodation in the MAP is for those with physical disabilities who cannot walk to their special places.  The DEP states it will provide special permits to those with disabilities.

The MAP will only work if it is enforced by the State Park Police.  Some people are justly worried that the people doing harm will ignore the rules and continue to use the informal sand roads, while law-abiding citizens will be the only ones excluded from driving on roads they have used for many years.  The Department of Environmental Protection states that the Park Police will step up its game and make the MAP work.  We will be watching to hold the State to that commitment.

NJ Department of Environmental Protection FAQs about the Wharton State Forest MAP:


More information about PPA’s work on Off-Road Vehicles:


From Camden: Takeaways from Don Norcross’ Win

Reposted from the Local Knowledge Blog. Promoted by Rosi.

And so the trend continues. When I write about education, it gets shared on twitter. When I write about local police, it gets shared on Facebook. And when I write about the Norcrosses, no one in Camden shares anything. Which is not to say views stop, it’s just that people choose to share in private. But that makes it all the more important to try to get some wonky policy talk going in one of the biggest shadows in the state.

From Camden: Takeaways from Sen Norcross’ Win

Reposted from the Local Knowledge Blog .

And so the trend continues. When I write about education, it gets shared on twitter. When I write about local police, it gets shared on Facebook. And when I write about the Norcrosses, no one shares anything. Which is not to say views stop, it’s just that people choose to share in private. But that’s all the more important to try to get some wonky policy talk going in one of the biggest shadows in the state.

I scoured the internet long and hard for some analysis on the NJ D1 primary race won by Don Norcross, and there wasn’t much. Here’s an excerpt from a community contribution over at Blue Jersey by SouthernBlueDog:

Congratulations to Senator Donald Norcross on winning the two primary races in CD1. The senator won with 71.9% of the vote. Frank Broomell got 15.3% and Frank Minor got 12.9%

It’s no secret that I was against Frank Minor’s candidacy. I’m no exit poll expert, but I see that he lost (badly) for many reasons. Some of those reasons include a lack of name recognition, a lack of establishment support, a lack of a real message, lack of money, and poor use of social media. I was really surprised that there wasn’t even a call for action on Tuesday from the Mayor’s campaign Facebook page.

Mayor Minor ran as the “anti-machine” candidate. It didn’t work. It was such a poor message (in this district, at this time) that he even got fewer votes than Frank Broomell, who has no real political experience.

In South Jersey, there was no real reason to be passionately upset with the establishment. I know the talking points. Some people are tired of the Norcross family having a stranglehold on the government. I get it. But until the family does something to enrage the 18,264 people who just voted for the Senator, nothing will change.

I’m not in love with this analysis, but it hits on important themes that we would do well to analyze a little better in Camden. There aren’t a whole lot of takeaways from this race, especially given neither opponent mustered much of a campaign and Sen. Norcross was coronated from day one. The obvious takeaway is what we’ve known since the day Rob Andrews stepped down: Don Norcross is almost assuredly the next Congressman from this NJ CD1.

But I think there are some important questions we should be asking that go beyond who will be our next Congressman:

 – Who is the base of the machine/establishment (as the post above calls it)? I ask this in part because Norcross is a curious figure; a man who cut his teeth as a union leader and refers to himself as “an electrician with a tie,” (drink! This is my one and only Norcross drinking game). But Sen. Norcross has been involved in some pretty serious union busting in the education and crime enforcement sectors. I was hoping to do some analysis on if this hurt him in union-heavy areas in the primary, but it’s hard to find breakdowns of voting info within the congressional district. 

 – What to make of the establishment’s accomplishments? SouthernBlueDog is high on them, and I do hear support for the movements towards Eds and Meds, education “reform,” serious tax breaks in South Jersey and increased state control. There are plenty of people who think these are good policy decisions. It’s also clear that all these policies are made possible, in part, by a consolidation of power in South Jersey. As Gov. Christie likes to say, “politics ain’t beanbag.” 

 – Speaking of Gov. Christie, what’s up with the Camden-Christie Coalition? Almost all of the ideas above are profoundly conservative in nature. Christie was in Camden this week trumpeting the new Metro Police as a policy model. He’s done the same with education. Why is Camden being used as an experimental model so that a Republican can claim to address poverty (probably for a presidential run)? Much more on this next week. 

I’ve had a lot of conversations about George and Don Norcross this week, and many of them have started, “what have they ever done for the city?” I don’t think that’s quite right. It leaves the floor for folks like SouthernBlueDog to look around and say: the hospital! Rutgers! Eds and Meds! South Jersey Power! No, there are better questions, like: do you support the Southern Jersey establishment’s coalition with Republic Gov. Christie? Do you think these policies are moving the city/region in the right direction? Do you approve of the methods, in a system that has the reputation for being an old-school political machine?

It is hard to talk about these things, and often there’s a significant overlap because the voices brash enough to yell, and those with a need to express anger not nuance. But Don Norcross will likely be our next Congressman, and we’re going to have to find a way to talk about it.

Think Globally, Not Just Locally

I am a New Jersey resident and taxpayer living in Morris County. I am also a supporter of human rights, particularly in China because I believe that our state government’s involvement in sister state agreements (through the New Jersey Commerce & Economic Growth Commission) with provinces in China (specifically Shanghai and Tianjin) indirectly supports the ongoing slave labor prevalent in China as well as the illegal exports of products made by slave labor to the state of New Jersey.

Our state government’s relationship with China supports overseas slave labor or cheap labor rather than focusing on relationships with businesses here in New Jersey to encourage economic stability and growth for New Jersey residents. It may very well be cheaper for us as taxpayers to have our state government maintain this sister relationship with local Chinese governments, but at what cost to innocent people who don’t deserve to suffer, so that our state can get some cheap products.

There must be a better way!  

When local and state governments and other New Jersey citizens are presented the details of the slave labor conditions in China, the typical response is that it does not have anything to do with us or there is nothing we can do about that since it is an international matter.

I think this response is due to a lack of understanding and education.  While we stay consumed with our own local matters, we fail to realize that our problems at the local level are deeply connected to what goes on internationally.

It’s called the trickle-down effect. If citizens of all states don’t start taking an interest in what is happening globally and join together as one body, the local problems will become increasingly worse.

In reviewing this blog and some of the postings, there are concerns about various legislation and pending bills, which more than likely stem from actions being taken on a more global level.  The very people we seek resolutions from are the same people who maintain a national and global connection.

There are companies right here in New Jersey that have factories in China because of the opportunities for cheap labor, or the opportunity for slave labor. These very same companies then illegally transport their slave labor goods to New Jersey and other states where it is sold in numerous department stores and other establishments. http://www.theepochtimes.com/n…

For example, a Chinese American New Jersey resident named Charles Lee was forced to make products manufactured by a Hackensack, NJ company while he was illegally imprisoned in a Chinese labor camp.  www.freechinamovie.com He was a U.S. citizen and New Jersey resident visiting China at the time that he was imprisoned. Why is this not considered a local problem? One of New Jersey’s citizens was persecuted and used as slave labor for a New Jersey company.

It’s unconscionable.

New Jersey has maintained a business/sister relationship with Zhejiang Province, China since 1981. These sister relationships are foreign trade agreements. http://www.nj.gov/njbusiness/i…

Our state is engaging in international affairs with our tax dollars, yet we as citizens and local governments fail to see any connection locally.

And the trade is most likely illegal pursuant to Section 307 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended, which prohibits the importation of goods produced by convict, forced or indentured labor.

I think we as New Jersey citizens and local governments need to have a more global perspective when we address legislative decisions being made in our state and have more of a sense of the bigger picture. We need to hold our politicians accountable for decisions made on a national or global level, which greatly impact us at the local level.

The fact that our tax dollars are more than likely funding the foreign trade agreement  between New Jersey and China is cause enough for alarm, not to mention the underlying illegal nature of the business relationship.

Arleen Richards, Esq, Mountain Lakes, NJ

Volunteer for New Tang Dynasty TV (co-producer of Free China movie)

Christie, Palatucci, & Jersey

Late last year, Bill Palatucci, friend and mentor of NJ Gov. Chris Christie, left Community Education Centers for the law firm of Gibbons, PC.

Community Education Centers, CEC, calls itself “A leading provider of offender reentry” is the company to which New Jersey has outsourced halfway houses.

It is also the company that allows felons to – in words Mitt Romney might use – “Self-Parole” and “Self-Pardon” – to walk away at will. The New York Times covered this at length. The Times, not known for sensationalist reporting, described Community Education Centers half-way houses as places where “bedlam” reigns.

Palatucci said that his resignation from CEC had nothing to do with Governor Christie’s re-election campaign. He also said that he wants to have time to work on Republican campaigns in 2013.

If Gov. Christie runs his campaign the way Community Education Centers runs their half-way houses I expect Mr. Christie to lose his re-election campaign.  

South Jersey Poll: Adler-Runyan toss-up, Andrews and LoBiondo easy wins

Let’s take another break from advocacy to check the races. I just noticed in the Courier-Post that I missed Monday’s polls from the William J. Hughes Center at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. They’ve again asked Zogby to poll South Jersey and given us data for the First, Second and Third Congressional Districts. The NJ1 (PDF) and NJ2 (PDF) polls have 400 likely voters each while the closer NJ3 (PDF) poll has 600.  

Let’s look at the easy districts first:

Rob Andrews (D) leads Dale Glading (R) 63.4% to 21.9%.

Frank LoBiondo (R) leads Gary Stein (D) 57.3% to 20.0%

Note that there are demographic numbers (party, age, race, education) included in the PDFs and you can see the district-level favoriability of the Representatives, President Obama and Governor Christie.  Obama is over 50% (if barely) in all three districts.  “Christie’s decision to promote Atlantic City” does well in all districts but best in NJ2, which (gasp) includes Atlantic City.  In other results, I trust no one is surprised that voters think “jobs and economy” is the top issue.

Now for the big race: Adler (37.1%) trails Runyan (40.3%), the first time I have seen that result. These seem like low percentages so late in the election, but note the 4.1% margin of error is larger than the difference. Runyan is at 48% favorable so any Adler attack ads have not been effective enough.  Zogby says more Republicans than Democrats will vote in this race.  

DeStefano (Tea Party) still draws in 4.9%.  Almost half (37%) of those voters would switch to Runyan if “they learned the New Jersey Tea Party endorsed Jon Runyan and not Peter DeStefano.” Half (48%) would switch if told (“they learned that the Democrats recruited DeStefano in order to hurt Runyan’s chances for election.” I’d like to hear more from the 4 DeStafano voters who would then switch to Adler! Small number statistics to be sure but you can see why those Democratic operatives wanted DeStafeno on the ballot and Republicans want to play up the story as much as possible.  The poll was taken 10/18 to 10/22 so there’s a real possibility the DeStefano voters have learned the story since the poll was taken.  

Rating How Competitive New Jersey Congressional Districts Are: Nate Silver’s PPI Index

Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com has just introduced his new “Partisan Propensity Index” (PPI). If you’ve been following elections closely, you’re probably already familiar with the Partisan Voting Index (PVI) from Cook, and similar statistics from Swing State Project. Cook’s idea is to look at how each Congressional District voted for President compared to the nationwide average. So, for example, the NJ5 district (Garrett’s) is rated R+7, meaning it voted 7 points more Republican than nationwide, while NJ13 (Sire’s) is rated D+21. You can see why Democrats had such a hard time even with a good candidate against Garrett, and why Republicans didn’t seriously contest NJ13 when Menendez left it. Unlike Congressional races, where often one candidate is hardly covered in the news and has hardly any campaign budget, the two party’s Presidential candidates are well known. The PVI index is widely used to identify competitive districts.  

Here’s Silver’s idea:

Are there any systematic differences in the ways that votes tend to fall for the Congress, as opposed to the Presidency? Are certain districts better or worse for Democrats, or Republicans, than PVI alone would suggest?

It turns out that there’s one other factor which is fairly useful to look at, which is socioeconomic status. Relative to how they do for the Presidency, Democrats are somewhat more likely to win races for Congress in poorer districts, and somewhat more likely to lose them in wealthier ones. Another way to put this is that a split ticket of Republican for President, Democrat for Congress is more likely to occur in a poor district, whereas a split ticket of Democrat for President, Republican for Congress is more likely to occur in a wealthy one.

Click through for the statistical analysis he uses. Silver expresses his PPI index as the chance for Democrats to win an open seat in an average election cycle, based solely on two factors: the recent Presidential Vote and the percentage of the population with incomes under $25,000/yr.  Here are the results for New Jersey:

District Name PVI PPI
NJ11 Frelinhguysen R+7 2.5%
NJ5 Garrett R+7 3.2%
NJ4 Smith R+6 10.9%
NJ7 Lance R+3 13.9%
NJ3 Adler R+1 27.9%
NJ12 Holt D+5 62.9%
NJ2 LoBiondo D+1 66.0%
NJ6 Pallone D+8 85.2%
NJ9 Rothman D+9 88.8%
NJ8 Pascrell D+10 96.6%
NJ1 Andrews D+12 97.0%
NJ13 Sires D+21 99.95%
NJ10 Payne D+33 99.998%

The main lesson, if you take this ratings seriously, is that New Jersey’s wealth makes the battleground Congressional districts lean Republican compared to how they vote at the Presidential level. In many states, the R+3 and even the R+7 districts have a great chance of going Democratic at the Congressional level, but here NJ5 and NJ7 are actually quite unfavorable, and should vote for the House like R+14 districts in the rest of the country. When we evaluate how our candidates did, it’s worth keeping this effect in mind.

Frank LoBiondo’s district is the poorest in New Jersey, and by this measure is slightly better for Democrats than Holt’s district, but we are stuck with the echo of 1994. In case it’s not obvious, being an incumbent matters, scandals matter, and cycles can be more or less Republican than the average cycle, and you should always remember that the most likely outcome doesn’t always happen. All of our 2010 races have incumbents so the percentages definitely do not apply. Also, this is the last election in the current districts.