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Menendez Delivers Response To Bush

Yesterday Senator Bob Menendez delivered the response to President Bush’s weekly radio address where he slammed the President’s budget priorities for the pain the will cause the middle class.

It will increase the cost of college by locking in the largest student aid cut in the history of our nation.

It will increase health insurance premiums and out of pocket costs through new schemes that will expand tax shelters for the healthy and the wealthy and drive up costs for the rest of us.

It will leave many in colder regions, like my state of New Jersey, with higher heating costs, by underfunding the one federal initiative designed to help.

And it rejects Democratic proposals to crack down on oil company price gouging, even though Big Oil has reaped record profits while gas prices have shot through the roof.

Laurel Hester Passed Away This Morning

Laurel Hester, partner of Stacie Andree, and described as “New Jersey’s Rosa Parks”, passed away this morning at their home in Point Pleasant. Although I never met Laurel, I will remember her for her unselfish, relentless courage – from her 24-year career in the county prosecutor’s office through the most physically and emotionally painful last year of her life. Laurel always fought for justice and her bravery inspired countless others to join in that fight. Without a doubt, Laurel left the world a better and more just place than she found it.

Stacie Andree:

“She meant the world to me. I’m glad what we went through is done with. It was the fight that kept her going. … She’s at peace now. There’s no more pain.”

Dane Wells:

“She really did make a gigantic impact on literally the world. She was a very, very private, guarded person. Something like this was the absolute last thing she wanted. It took a lot of absolute courage to do what she did.

She was perhaps best known for her dedication, integrity and dignity. She was really a pioneer among women in law enforcement and as such faced an uphill climb. She very quickly earned the respect of men in her profession.”

Steven Goldstein of Garden State Equality:

“Make no mistake about this. Laurel Hester was the Rosa Parks of New Jersey gay and lesbian civil rights. She gave a face and a name to our struggle for equality, particularly in marriage equality.

It was as if the role was always destined for her even if she didn’t already know it. History sometimes taps on the shoulder heroes who never anticipated they would be heroes. Laurel Hester is one such person.”

Rosi Efthim:

Like any person who knows they’re dying, Hester was interested in providing for the person she loved, her partner of many years, Stacie. How ordinary, how everyday, how remarkable.

Hester, who was gay, was blocked by her employers, the Ocean County Freeholder board, from making sure Stacie could receive Hester’s benefits. And the Freeholders resisted – because the law allowed them to.

It doesn’t surprise me that a woman in law enforcement would fight what she saw as an injustice, and she did that, gracefully. But as she faded and grew weaker, other people began to show up and fight first alongside her and then for her, and in her name. And the pressure was too much for five local Freeholders. They relented, they reversed. Stacie will inherit what Laurel fought for her to have. And towns and counties all over New Jersey are suddenly more open-minded about what defines family.

The woman who focused a movement in New Jersey has died. But before she did that, she triumphed.


Laurel Hester’s battle for justice was thoroughly inspiring. After such a long period of what at times has seemed like fruitless activism – her courage and determination – and success – were acts of love, not just for her partner Stacie, but for everyone fighting for justice in an unjust world.

May she be remembered long after her passing.

Michael Jenson at The Big Gay Picture:

I’ve little doubt Laurel lived as long as she did not only because she had something to fight for, but because she believed she was fighting for every one of us. Her passing is a terrible loss, but know that Laurel died content having finished her life the way she had always lived it–doing the right thing in the most honorable and ethical way possible.

New Jersey Lesbian and Gay Coalition:

“The board and membership of the New Jersey Lesbian and Gay Coalition join in sorrow with all of New Jerse’s LBGTI community as we honor the passing of Laurel Hester, the heroic woman whose dramatic battle for equal rights touched lives around the world.”


New Jersey should be sadder for her passing, but is a better place for her having lived.


All of us owe her a debt of gratitude for fighting (and winning) an important battle in the struggle for equality. 

That she and her partner undertook this effort while battling cancer at the same time is a remarkable example of courage and tenacity under even the most trying circumstances. 

I salute the Liuetenant and her partner, through tears of appreciation. Heroes in the true sense of the word.


We will honor and remember her with gratitude for her life lived in service; for her courage to the end in fighting for what’s right; and for her passing at her home in the presence of those she loved.


I grieve for Stacie, and for all of Laurel’s friends and wellwishers, those Lt. Hester knew and those she had never met, including me.

But I rejoice in the following thought: We would all feel much worse, had Stacie’s and Laurel’s and our fight been in vain.

It was NOT in vain. Hester, Andree, and all of us fought against bigotry and injustice, and we ALL won. Out of the tragedy of Lt. Laurel’s struggle and death, we have all won a victory for equal rights, and a promise of hope for the future, for every LGBT person in the world.

Every such victory enhances and advances our world and our species. Each victory is a light against the darkness of fear and prejudice. Any victory for justice means one less injustice in history.

For myself, every time I think about Laurel Hester’s cruel last year, I will remind myself that Stacie Andree gets to remain living in their own house. And I will smile through my tears.

The Star Ledger:

Her plea put a poignant face on the gay rights movement in New Jersey and around the nation. The freeholder board, which initially turned her down, ultimately acquiesced last month, and other counties began changing their rules as well.
Asbury Park Press
Associated Press
Press of Atlantic City
New York Post
The Star Ledger
Ocean County Observer

Everything’s a Horse Race

Matt Stoller at MyDD has a great post on the disservice done by the press when they fail to do their job by reporting the relevant facts and instead talk about appearances:

I really like Wally Edge of, but this post is a classic example of how the press can screw up public policy in their quest to report on the optics of every situation.  The issue is that a proposal to open a for-profit medical school by two disgraced New Jersey citizens is being considered by the state of New Jersey.

Corzine is in a bad spot. One of his aides complained that the medical school plan began when James E. McGreevey was Governor and progressed under Richard Codey’s tenure in office; Codey declined to make a final decision, leaving it up to Corzine — who was criticized by Republicans last year for his interest in purchasing the New Jersey Nets with Kushner in a deal brokered by the sometimes toxic Torricelli. If Corzine approves plan, which may not necessarily be bad public policy, the headlines of his doing favors for Kushner and Torricelli may be unavoidable.

There’s no question that this looks bad. But that’s what the friggin’ press exists for, to explain matters of public policy. If this is good policy it’s good policy.  If it’s bad policy it’s bad policy. But if there’s corruption here, prove it. Don’t pull this ‘it’s good policy but it looks like Corzine is corrupt even though he’s not’ line; that’s not fair to anyone, especially the people of New Jersey.

I mean, the headlines are not some mystical force with a pull of their own, as words like ‘inevitable’ portend to. You write them.

$12.8 Billion to Finish Abbott School Projects

Jeebus! I am not even going to try and figure out how we got here (people get paid for that kind of thing), but 12.8 billion bucks is a ton of money.

However, before Repugnicans can go off and rant away at how this sounds impossible to reconcile, consider the NJ State factsheet from the 2006 Bush Budget:

2006 Budget Good News for New Jersey’s Children

The U.S. Department of Education’s FY 2006 budget provides $56 billion in Federal education funding – an increase of 33 percent since the President took office.

Title I Program funding increases to $13.3 billion for students in high-poverty schools. This is a 52 percent increase over 2001 levels.

Assuming Title I schools are the same schools affected by the Abbott ruling, NO PROBLEM.

So long as Bushie boy and the Repugnicans come through with the money, we don’t have anything to worry about!

Calling all Repugnicans in the Statehouse and Congress. Now is your time to shine!

Bush Outsources NJ Ports to Country with Terrorism Ties

Earlier this week, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (John Snow, Alberto Gonzales, Condoleeza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, et al) approved the sale of six major U.S. ports (including New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia) to a company owned by the United Arab Emirates.

Senator Lautenberg stated the obvious:

“(The UAE) has allowed terrorists to pass freely through their own country…Why in the world should we let this rogue government control ports in the United States.”

Senator Menendez agreed:

“Our ports are the front lines of the war on terrorism.  They are both vulnerable targets for attack and venues for smuggling and human trafficking. We wouldn’t turn the border patrol or the customs service over to a foreign government, and we can’t afford to turn our ports over to one either.”

He and Senator Clinton are introducing a bill that would prohibit foreign companies from controlling our ports. To anyone concerned about national security, it’s common sense, but this administration would rather sell our national security to the highest bidder behind closed doors and hope nobody notices. They have absolutely no shame.

If you’re curious to see some more of UAE’s impressive resume, jump down below the fold.

Election tomorrow for many NJ towns

Many towns across Our Fair state are holding Fire District elections tomorrow.  These elections directly affect your property taxes via fire budgets, and your fire protection and officials, so read up on the issues and make your voice heard.

The Asbury Park Press today has an editorial about how the turnout is expected to be mighty low for these elections. S1188 has been proposed by State Sen. Leonard Lance to combine fire district elections with the school elections held in May to increase voter turnout. I wonder if it wouldn’t save a bit of taxpayer money, too. The bill is sitting in the Senate State Government committee. This bill should get passed. Let you state senator know you support the combining of these elections.

Partial list of townships with elections below:

Sour Grapes and a Glass of Insanity on the Side

A couple of weeks ago, I posted the news that Assemblyman Joe Cryan was accused of taking a bribe.  The Star-Ledger reports today:

Attorney General Zulima Farber yesterday cleared Assemblyman Joseph Cryan of allegations he was given a $2,000 cash donation that never appeared on his campaign finance reports, paving the way for him to become the new chairman of the Democratic State Committee.

Farber’s spokesman said a two- week investigation found that the accusations by Carol Segal, a would-be developer in Union Township who claimed he gave the cash to Cryan, were not credible.

You get one question to ask Congressman Pallone – GO!

BlueJersey’s podcast series soon will be continuing with our next guest, Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-6).

Congressman Pallone has graciously agreed to sit down with me for a half-hour interview that will be recorded and available as a podcast. And you, dear reader, are invited to whisper your questions into my ears. Best questions will be included in the interview.

What? You mean you haven’t subscribed to the podcast yet? What are you waiting for? Subscribe!