Storm over Congress
2018 midterm issues
If there’s a blue wave coming, what are the issues driving it?
Debate info
WEDNESDAYS in OCT: NJTV Debates
Next up: CD7 - Tom Malinowski v. Leonard Lance (Weds. Oct. 17)
Native American students
VOTE in Blue Jersey’s poll: Should NJ junk Columbus Day?
for Indigenous People’s Day (like other states)?
Voters stand in line
A convo about Dem Party reform
Toward a more transparent, justice-focused, fair & fierce progressive party
Khizr Khan and wife at Dem Convention
Gold Star father Khizr Khan for for Andy Kim
Watch.

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Tough challenges when you renew and reuse

    Ooooh that smell
    Can’t you smell that smell

      Lynyrd Skynyrd

“Organic recycler faces regulatory wrath” is the headline of this article in Monday’sTimes of Trenton, but you might wonder why after reading the opening paragraphs:

Eastern Organic Resources has big plans for the decomposing fruit, vegetables and grass clippings it collects at its composting plant in Springfield, Burlington County, hoping to enclose the pungent piles and generate enough methane gas to power a 5-megawatt cogeneration plant at neighboring McGuire Air Force Base.

If the company wins approval from regulators, it would be the first commercial food waste composter in the state to produce both soil and fuel, solid waste experts say.

Eastern Organic’s plans sound like a win-win scenario. But read on and you’ll
understand the problem in a story that highlights the pitfalls and promise of
recycling and renewable energy.

New Jersey Will Sue to Block Port Deal

Corzine has asked that state and federal lawsuits be filed to prevent the sale of our ports to a company owned by the United Arab Emirates::

[T]he Port Authority of New York & New Jersey will seek to terminate its lease with Port Newark Container Terminal, a current operator at Port Newark. Under the terms of the lease, the type of transaction engaged in with Dubai Ports World requires prior written approval from the Port Authority; none was sought and none was given. The lawsuit will be filed in Superior Court in Essex County.

Also:

Corzine also directed Attorney General Zulima Farber to file a lawsuit in federal court based on the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, which gives independent sovereignty to the states. As part of the suit, the state will assert its independent authority and obligation to protect New Jersey citizens and the Port of Newark.

Rich Sexton, Assemblyman Joe Roberts, Senator Shirley Turner, Assemblyman Joe Pennachio, Assembly Speaker Albio Sires and Assemblyman Tom Kean Jr all jumped on the deal-blocking bandwagon today.

Ferguson’s Polluted Slide in Washington

We have long maintained on this site that Congressman Michael Ferguson presents a moderate face to the 7th Congressional District, but that when he goes down to Washington DC he removes the mask and votes as the true right wing conservative he truly is.  For a time, he could get away with it and even fool progressive organizations into believing they could work with him. 

As a result, early in his tenure Ferguson received endorsements from groups like the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), a non-partisan organization that endorses Democrats and Republicans.  In 2001, LCV gave Ferguson an impressive 71 percent rating for his first year in Congress and endorsed his reelection in 2002.

Then things changed, and Ferguson’s true voting patten emerged.  After starting well, Ferguson finished his first full term with a lowly 59 percent rating.  His second term score dropped even farther, slipping to 35 percent over 2003 and 2004 and losing the LCV endorsement.

Today the LCV ratings for 2005 came out and, as predicted last week, his environmental record plummetted to a lowly 17 percent

Junior Come Lately

Tom Kean, Jr finally spoke up against the port deal. He says that “the security of the people residing in the surrounding communities should not have to wait for congressional action when the State of New Jersey can act decisively to protect the security of our residents.” Sounds to me like he’s trying to steal the thunder from Menendez’ legislation to block the port deal, which he announced four days ago. Still, Kean suggests that Corzine may be able to void the lease aggrement:

Section 48 of the lease Between the Port Authority and Port Newark Container Terminal, the subsidiary of P&O that operates the terminal, entitled “Right of Termination/Ownership and Control,” would appear to give the port authority the ability to void the provisions of the lease if the transaction is contrary to public interest.

If Bill Frist and Congress do not follow Senators Clinton and Menendez’ lead to block all such port deals, this is an option that the state should definitely consider.

LCV 2005 Environmental Scorecard is out

The NJ delegation gets the following scores from The League of Conservation Voters:

Senate:
Lautenberg  100%
Corzine  80%  (for missing votes)

House:
1.  Andrews:  83%
2.  LoBiondo:  78%
3.  Saxton:  72%
4.  Smith:  78%
5.  Garrett:  11%
6.  Pallone:  100%
7.  Ferguson:  17%
8.  Pascrell:  89%
9.  Rothman:  94%
10. Payne:  83%
11. Frelinghuysen  33%
12. Holt  100%
13. Menendez:  100% 

The standouts with miserable voting records on the environment are Garrett and Ferguson.  Frelinghuysen’s is pretty lousy too.

Frist Agrees to Menendez’ call to Stop Port Sale to UAE

Senators Menendez, Clinton, Lautenberg and Boxer sent a letter to Bill Frist urging him to consider legislation that would prevent the sale of our ports to foreign governments.

In the letter, they wrote: “This sale will create an unacceptable risk to the security of our ports. We therefore request that emergency legislation we are introducing to ban foreign governments from controlling operations at our ports be slated for immediate consideration when the Senate convenes on February 27.”

Today, Frist said that if the Bush administration does not reverse course on the decision to sell the ports, he will ask the Senate to act:

“If the administration cannot delay the process, I plan on introducing legislation to ensure that the deal is placed on hold until this decision gets a more thorough review.”

Senators Lautenberg and Boxer today announced that they will co-sponsor legislation being introduced by Menendez and Clinton to prevent the sale of ports to foreign governments.

The full letter to Frist is below.

Cino Claims Victory in Congressional Republican Committee Convention

Cino Claims Victory in Congressional Republican Committee Convention
Says Garrett is Disqualified from Convention Ballot

DEMAREST, February 20 – Today I claim a Victory in the Bergen County Republican Convention for Republican County Committee’s endorsement in New Jersey’s 5th Congressional District and I base this Victory on one simple fact that no lawyer can ever dispute and that the Chairman of the Bergen County Republican Committee will never ever forget: Shall means Must.

We do not need a Latin teacher, we do not need a foreign language teacher all we need is a dictionary.

A dictionary and the Republican Committee’s own Bylaws will tell you that Scott Garrett has disqualified himself from the Republican Convention’s ballot AND by the Republican Chairman’s own precedent Garrett and his entire staff CAN NOT EVEN BE IN the Bergen County Republican County Committee’s Actual Building on the day of the Convention.

Quite Astonishing.

However true.  You see the Bergen County Republican County Committee has been run, well how do I put it, as best can be described, as well, a circus.  At the Policy Committee Meeting on February 1, 2006, many Policy Committee Members acted more like third graders than in the dignified manner that one should conduct oneself if one finds oneself a member of the Policy Committee of a County Republican Committee.

Laurel Hester Scholarship Fund

Laurel Hester’s dream was to be a resource to help gay teens:

As she came closer to retirement, the inevitable questions about what she would do after leaving the job started coming. She said she didn’t dare reveal her true desire — to be a resource person for high school gay student groups — so she’d always make up something.

Her calling to help kids was rooted in her experiences in college. She said that when she was outed she had no support groups, nothing at school to guide her through that tumultuous time.

“In the ’70s when I helped start that group, that was a huge controversy,” she said. “Now we’re seeing high schools on that same level, forming clubs, filing lawsuits, meeting resistance.

“My dream job was to be a resource person for any school in Ocean County, for any kid that needs somebody to talk to, needs somebody to listen, has questions, but is too embarrassed to ask,” she said. “Just a place to go to report incidents. A place where they could get together as a group and realize they are not alone.”

She also was realistic about her dream.

“Oh, man, I think I would have hit a ton of bricks,” she said. “There are about 700 high school (gay) groups across the nation, but that’s not nearly enough. Too many kids are being harassed, beaten. They’re afraid to go to school.”

In Laurel’s memory, a scholarship fund has been set up with the help of her partner Stacie Andree and friend Dane Wells. The Laurel Hester Scholarship Fund, which will be administered by the NJ Lesbian & Gay Coalition, will be for the benefit of “young adults who have shown leadership in the LGBTI community.”

Memorial contributions can be made to:

Laurel Hester Scholarship Fund/TPLF
c/o The Personal Liberty Fund
P.O. Box 11335
New Brunswick, NJ 08906-1335

Laurel’s obituary is below.

Weedman Bails

The Weedman, perennial candidate and stoner, is leaving New Jersey for California.

The kicker is that he is going to become a guru at a pot club.

That left one alternative: to accept an offer to manage a “cannabis club” in the Los Angeles area, on Ventura Boulevard just across from a Ferrari dealership. He will also provide spiritual guidance, he said.

And he’ll keep copies of his autobiography, illustrated by a comic book artist, at the ready “just in case” a director drops by.

Ferguson’s Ties To Lobbyist Cloud Position on Student Loans

As noted a few weeks ago, the Bush administration’s proposed 2007 budget includes huge cuts to student loan programs totaling $12 billion.  These cuts will make it harder for middle class students to go to college, and will increase the interest rates on existing loans people are struggling to pay off.

Calls to Congressman Mike Ferguson’s offices to see if he supports these cuts have gone unanswered for more than two weeks.  Staffers from both the Washington, DC and Warren, NJ offices are unable to give a direct answer to a number of calls seeking an answer.  Not one person who called the office has received a written response, either.

We may now have figured out why.  One of the side effects of the reduction in funding for student loans noted above is that interest rates for existing college loans are likely to rise, creating a windfall for companies that process and manage student loans.

This includes companies like the College Loan Corporation owned by Cary Katz of Poway, California and the Student Loan Consolidation Center (now Goal Financial) owned by Ryan Katz of Alexandria, Virginia.  The two are brothers in their mid-30s who started their companies in the past 10 years and now manage more than $7 billion of student loans nation-wide.

What does this have to do with Mike Ferguson and his position on student loans? 

The Katz brothers and their wives have contributed $18,500 to Ferguson between 2002 and 2005.  That’s an average of more than four grand a year in Ferguson’s campaign coffers from two families from California and Virginia.