What would you like to see 2006 hold for New Jersey?
What would you like to see 2006 hold for New Jersey?
Nope, not AM. Not PM.
The US House of Representatives consists of 435 members. The other day I was idly wondering – why 435? why not 434, or 436? Where did 435 come from? The Constitution specifies only that each House seat shall represent at least 30,000 people – so why 435?
Why indeed? Historically, the size of the House was increased after every decennial census, as the Constitution calls for. The last time, though, was in 1911, when it reached its current size. In 1920-21, Congress could not decide on what methodology to use to do the reapportionment and so they did nothing that session. By 1930, they’d apparently decided that they really liked the idea of not watering down their influence and power any further – so ever since then we’ve had just 435 seats in the House (with a 4-year blip to 437 when Alaska and Hawaii entered the Union).
The House of Representatives is supposed to be the People’s House – but a House member now represents, on average, about 660,000 people. That’s way too many – a far cry from the constitutional lower limit of 30,000. It makes Congressional district constituencies so large that no individual constituent is adequately represented in Congress. How often have YOU spoken to your Representative? Have you even MET him or her? Odds are you haven’t. Because they have to reach so many people, over such large geographic areas, it also makes Congressional campaigns so expensive that ordinary citizens without the ability to contribute to those campaigns have become almost irrelevant to them. The limited number of seats leads to rampant dishonesty and corruption of the re-districting process – as we’ve seen in Tom DeLay’s recent indictments in connection with Texas’ redistricting 2 years ago.
It’s time to take a look at true Congressional reapportionment. The US population as of the 2000 census was roughly 282 million. If we went with 30,000 constituents per Member, the House would swell to almost 10,000 seats. Kind of unwieldy, I’ll admit (it would be difficult to fit them all in the Capitol Building). But there are many compelling reasons for a serious increase in the size of the House – if not all the way down to 30,000, at least to something far lower than the 800,000 constituents per member it will likely be after the 2010 census.
I’ll be doing some research over the next weeks, figuring out how this would work and what its likely advantages and disadvantages might be. I’ll be posting my findings and analysis as I go.
Here’s hoping for a more democratic (and a more Democratic) 2006, and I wish you all a happy, healthy New Year.
[Cross-posted from Mapleberry Blog]
New Jersey would like to welcome you to the new year by screwing you over yet again. As of January 1st, EZ-Pass users will now pay up to 20% more than before to drive on the Turnpike. First they suckered us in with the promise of saving time and money.
The whole idea of the discount, Orlando added, was to encourage drivers to switch to E-ZPass after its debut five years ago. Now that more than half the turnpike’s drivers use E-ZPass, the need for an incentive is all but gone, he said.
Ahhh…the old bait and switch. Wasn’t this system supposed to save money? How many turnpike employees lost their jobs because of EZ-Pass? Why are EZ-Pass users now paying more than those who don’t use it? Happy New Year!
PoliticsNJ has a nifty end of the year review of all the winners and losers in NJ politics.
Among the “candidates with promise” is Dana Wefer, a second year law student who ran for freeholder in Morris County and got 41% of the vote. Dana knew that the odds were against her. No Democrat has been elected freeholder in Morris for 30 years, but Dana has always worked to improve her community, and that’s what this election was about.
The Morris County Democrats have witnessed her years of dedication and contributions and asked her to run. She sacrificed valuable grad school time to make sure that her ideas were heard and to challenge the corrupt entrenched Republicans. Dana has shown yet again that anyone – regardless of age – can make a difference. We need more people like Dana Wefer, and just as importantly, we need to support those with the courage to do what she did. Thanks, Dana.
Arctic Refuge Action — which is a bunch of groups — is still running an ad on PoliticsNJ.com that congratulates NJ’s congressional delegation for stopping the drilling in ANWR. Of course, the House has voted to approve the drilling and four of our Republican members of Congress went along.
Here’s the ad:
This is kind of like my pet peeve on boycots, only in reverse.= People often boycot a company long after the company came around to do the right thing, essentially punishing them after they fixed the issue. In this case, Arctic Refuge Action is rewarding politicians who went directly against their issue. It’s just stupid.
You can write to Arctic Refuge Action at email@example.com tell them to take down the ad and put up one that is a little more timely.
One of the things I appreciate most about The Sopranos is the fact that its writers have obviously done their New Jersey research. Allowing for the occasional slip-up, like that boneheaded “Pine Barrens” episode, the show’s writers are so diligent that I can sometimes spot their research footprints. Thus, when a mobster gets a freaky scare while digging up a body beneath the Newark Bay Extension, I know somebody on the staff spent some quality time with Robert Rudolph’s excellent book The
Boys from New Jersey.
In that vein, this Star-Ledger
news story reminds us that fictional gunsel Christopher Moltisanti and his dreams of making it in Hollywood have a real-life parallel in Danny Provenzano, now serving a 10-year sentence on racketeering charges.
COUNCILMAN STEVEN FULOP: STATEMENT ON 2006 CONGRESSIONAL RUN
“After serious consideration, I am officially declining the opportunity to be a candidate for the open seat in New Jerseyâ€™s 13th Congressional District. At this point, I think it is best that I continue my work serving the people of Jersey City as their councilman.
I recently had the opportunity to personally meet with both Mr. Sires and Mr. Vas and I am confident that either candidate will work effectively on behalf of Jersey City on the federal level. I look forward to a spirited debate of ideas in the upcoming months.
I would like to thank all of the people who have encouraged me to run over the last few weeks. Your calls, letters and kind words of support were humbling and Iâ€™m honored to have such broad support not only in Jersey City — but throughout the district.”
10-1 says he is angling for a state legislature seat.