Greetings from the blue man ( and woman) group in the heart of Morris. We had our Democracy for America/Progressive Democrats of America Holiday party in Morristown last week and had 25 people attend. In addition to the usual good cheer, fine wine and Bush bashing, it was agreed that we would be working on 3 issues in 2006: 1) the war in Iraq 2) campaign and election reform and 3) labor issues and a minimum wage increase nationwide. Additionally, we are going to hold Frelinghuysen accountable for recent votes to 1) cut student loans and food stamps 2) say torture is ok and 3) to reauthorize the patriot act and make it permanent. Finally, we took a poll and the overwhelming consensus was to encourage a Senate primary and then ultimately back the winner against Kean Jr. The top person at our holiday party was Rush Holt among the 25 people in attendance, although Pallone had some support, and Menendez as well
On Friday, the Ocean County Observer reported on the possible costs associated with approving pension benefits for domestic partners in Ocean County. Lt Laurel Hester, a 24 year veteran of the prosecutor’s office, is dying of lung cancer and has asked the freeholders to let her pass her pension benefits to her partner, who otherwise will not be able to keep their home.
Their excuses have ranged from immoral smoke screens about the “sanctity of marriage” to vague complaints about costs to taxpayers. Six months after Laurel Hester made her request, they’ve finally decided to actually work out some numbers and guessed that it could cost between $114,000 and $220,000 to fund pension benefits for domestic partners – or 23 to 45 cents per resident in Ocean County. Freeholder Kelly calls these added pension benefits a “tremendous cost.”
Kelly, who fears that his marriage would be ruined by granting Hester the same pension benefits that he’s double-dipping into, tried to take credit for the help that Laurel is getting (from The Big Gay Picture):
Freeholder Kelly pointed out what the county has so generously done for Ms. Hester. Her salary continues to be paid in full as other employees have donated sick leave since Ms. Hester has used up hers fighting cancer. Note that this is not something extra done at the behest of the freeholders. It is what would be granted to any employee. It’s nice that Freeholder Kelly tries to take credit for it though.
The freeholder also notes that the county provides life insurance for Ms. Hester and that along with the money Ms. Hester put into the pension system herself, she will be able to leave $450,000 to her partner. But wait–there’s a catch. To get the life inusrance, Ms. Hester must die within the next nineteen days. After that her sick time runs out and she will have to retire. You see, the life insurance benefit only applies to active employees. Odd that Freeholder Kelly failed to mention that.
Kelly comforts himself by adding that his “personal prayers have been for the lieutenant.” He can pray all he wants, but his actions tell us everything we need to know about his values. While his wife will benefit from taxpayer-funded pension plans, he washes his hands clean of another couples’ misfortune by citing a possible added tax burden of 45 cents.
To solve this dilema, I would like to offer to pay for Mr. Kelly’s 45 cents, as well as the 45 cents of the other freeholders (I doubt anyone else in the county would complain about 45 cents). Although I am putting my financial health and the future of my marriage at great risk, a check for $2.25 will be in the mail soon. Don’t spend it all at once, guys.
Harrison NJ, a nice blue collar old fashioned town residing on the banks of the
toxic glorious Passaic river, will soon be home to another New York Pro-sports team the Metrostars. A huge swath of the southeastern part of Harrison, once riddled with booming factories which have been abandoned since the 1930’s, will be transformed into a “gold coast” Gratuitous digression: As a resident, I laugh every time I see these words associated with Harrison and/or the Passaic. Included in the development will be a stadium, some infrastructure from RT. 280, and a generally vast area of condo’s and commerce rivaling the bazaars of the middle east!(NOT!)
There have been everything from medical waste dumps, to large shopping malls pitched to the town council, yet the stadium etc. is what was finally settled on. Fantastic, it has taken them only decades to keep everyone happy.
Finally, the town council can get to the business of doling out some tax abatements…
We would like to congratulate Congressman Bob Menendez on his upcoming appointment to the United States Senate. While we have disagreed with the Congressman in the past concerning specific votes, and some questions about personal behaviors, we do believe he has the ability to be a good Senator.
However, we would also like to take this opportunity to encourage Congressman Rush Holt, Congressman Rob Andrews, Congressman Frank Pallone, and any others who are considering a candidacy in the upcoming Senate primary to fully explore their options. The people of New Jersey deserve to have a full voice in the choosing of their representatives. In the interest of good democracy and fully articulating a vibrant Democratic message, we encourage a contested primary to focus on specific political issues, and not personal attacks.
We strongly urge Congressman Rush Holt, as the state’s most progressive leader, to run for the United States Senate. We have found Congressman Holt to be very open and willing to listen to all points of view, but ultimately guided by his personal sense of ethics and ideology. We respect this. We need more leaders of Mr. Holt’s ilk, and we are willing to work in Hudson County to achieve his, and our, success in doing so.
While 7th District Democrats battle just for the chance to take back the House in 2006, there’s also that little matter of our safe seats:
In the 13th District, a seat so safe that no republican is likely even to run (not even Bret Schundler), Perth Amboy Mayor Joe Vas is announced, Assemblyman Albio Sires is annointed, and Jersey City Councilman Steven Fulop is angling.
Hey, I guess it’s hard to resist taking a shot when all you have to do is win the primary.
Jockeying has started for a Dem House leadership position left in Menendez’s wake. Pallone “mulls” and “remains undecided.” The Hill
Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has been calling undecided House Democrats and urging them to support Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) in the contest for vice chairman of the Democratic caucus, while New York Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) and Charles Schumer (D) have offered to help fellow New Yorker Rep. Joe Crowley (D)…
Meanwhile, across the House chamber, Schakowsky sat with Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), who tilted his head from side to side as if mulling her comments. Pallone remains undecided.
He did finally decide on Murtha and is co-sponsoring. Menendez hasn’t signed on.
It looks like seniors are pulling away from the Republican Congress:
The results can be seen in Americans’ attitudes toward Congress 11 months before Election Day 2006. By a 65%-19% margin, Americans age 65 and above disapprove of the performance of Congress; those under 65 are also negative but less lopsidedly, 58%-27%. Moreover, senior citizens say by 47%-37% that they want Democrats rather than Republicans to win control of Capitol Hill. Those under 65 prefer a Democratic victory by a narrower 45%-39% margin.
That disparity, like some other political differences between older and younger Americans, is relatively slight. But it has big implications for the 2006 campaign for two reasons.
The attempt to change Social Security, and the ham-handedness people like Congressman Mike Ferguson in pushing the plan, has really hurt the Republicans with seniors.
If you want a bumper sticker with the slogan, “Save Social Security, dumpmike.com.” send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and address and we’ll send you one. Please use it, preferably on a car, because they cost money!
(cross posted from Dump Mike Ferguson)
Rep John Murtha of Pennsylvania introduced a bill calling for troops to be “strategically redeployed” from Iraq. The bill is gaining momentum and to date has 95 co-sponsors, including 5 of New Jersey’s 7 Democrats (and 0 of 6 Republicans). Rep Rob Andrews and Bob Menendez have still not signed on. There will be a civil war in Iraq, if it has not already started. The decision that needs to be made now is whether or not we want our troops to be caught in the middle of it. These five Congressmen should be commended for making the right decision:
Rep Rush Holt – 11/18/2005
Rep Donald Payne – 12/7/2005
Rep Steve Rothman – 12/7/2005
Rep Frank Pallone, Jr. – 12/14/2005
Rep Bill Pascrell, Jr. – 12/14/2005