ANDY KIM DECLARES VICTORY
After more than 24 hours of counting votes in CD3
CD7 flips to Democrats
Tom Malinowski 50.91% - Leonard Lance 47.54%
CD11 flips to Democrats
Mikie Sherrill 56.10% - Jay Webber 42.79%
In a foregone conclusion engineered by South Jersey Dem machine
And bizarrely, Moms Demand Action, Van Drew 52.24% - Grossman 45.91%
@bluejersey Twitter
Kellyanne Conway changed her Twitter profile
So BLUE JERSEY did too (and we VOTED HERE)
The night Hillary Clinton lost
For my Hillary sisters. From your Bernie sister.
(And why I’m voting Bob Menendez)
Storm over Congress
2018 midterm issues
If there’s a blue wave coming, what are the issues driving it?

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Charles Cummings, local hero

The news that Charles Cummings died last week at the age of 68 strikes me as nothing less than a plot against Christmas. Cummings, a key member at the Newark Public Library for over four decades, was a talking book of Newark history and New Jersey lore in general. He not only authored books on New Jersey history, he also served as right-hand research man to Philip Roth, who was born in Newark’s Weequahic section and relied heavily on Cummings’ bottomless store of knowledge while writing American Pastoral and The Plot Against America.

Roth wrote this valediction for Cummings in the Sunday Star-Ledger:

Spadoro’s last hurrah

This Home News oped says it all:

Edison mayor wrong to appoint new chief

Edison Police Chief Edward Costello apparently saw the writing on the wall. And so on Thursday, a little more than a week before a new mayor was due to be installed, Costello abruptly announced his retirement, saying he didn’t “choose to work with the incoming administration.” The truth, of course, is that there is every likelihood that Costello himself might have been unchosen had he stuck around for the independent review of the troubled department promised by the incoming mayor, Jun Choi.

As it is, outgoing Mayor George Spadoro did the public, the new mayor and his own reputation one last disservice by promptly installing a new chief, without seeking input or even informing the man due to replace him. There were those who said Spadoro acted within his legal rights; but as Abraham Lincoln noted, some things that are legally right are not necessarily morally right.

Who knows what Spadoro had in mind by acting as he did: spite, one last power trip, or even a last attempt to reward another political friend? The man he appointed to succeed Costello, George Mieczkowski, also has served 33 years in the Edison Department and will likely see a boost in his pension from even a temporary stint as chief.

Besides the chutzpah involved in naming a replacement 11 days before he was due to lose his job as mayor, Spadoro also failed as a leader. There is no doubt Edison residents deserve a top-to-bottom review of operations within the department, given the embarrassment it has generated over the years, particularly in the last 12 months. It may be that Mieczkowski is the man who can bring change. But certainly every other option — including brand-new blood — ought to have been considered before the job was handed to him, seemingly without a moment of hesitation or review.

Deportation at Christmas

A Pakistani man, Irfan Khokhar, is about to be deported.

Nov. 15 was the last time Sayyida was able to squeeze her husband’s hand.

That morning, Irfan, a 37-year-old Pakistani immigrant, left home to deliver documents to the immigration office in Newark. Since Irfan and Sayyida entered the United States in 1994 on visitor visas, Irfan had been working on gaining permanent residence in the country.

That night, Irfan called Sayyida and told her he had been arrested and was being held at the Elizabeth Detention Facility, a holding pen for persons awaiting deportation.

Mike Gilhooly, a spokesman for the U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement department, confirmed that Irfan is being held on a “final order of deportation.” The case is being appealed, he said.

How this doting father and husband wound up behind bars in Elizabeth isn’t entirely clear.

Sayyida blames a Union City attorney. Unbeknownst to her husband, she said, this attorney signed a paper stating Irfan agreed to be voluntarily deported. Once they found out, the couple fired that attorney and hired another. But due to a paper mix-up, they missed a hearing on Irfan’s case, she said.

But the new attorney got things moving, she said.

Besides the emotional tempest the detention has caused, it has thrown the family into a financial crisis.

Teachers and administrators at School 30, which the children attend, have rallied to help the Greenville area family. On Wednesday, teachers from the school brought the family a Christmas tree and Christmas gifts from various anonymous donors.

Having collected enough money to pay the Khokhars’ January rent, school employees are now collecting money to pay utility bills, Principal Addie Rufino said.

Amna had a simple Christmas message for her father.

“I miss you,” she said. “I wish you could come back home.”

That’s so sad. Honestly, if this man gets deported because of a simple mistake, I will lose what little faith I have in the U.S. Immigration Department.

Four Memes

Passed to Blue Jersey by Matt Stoller at MyDD. I think I might be cheating by posting it myself. Oh well. It’s Christmas the holidays!

Four jobs you’ve had in your life: Waiter, Grocery Stocker, Musician, Blogger

Four movies you could watch over and over: Star Wars, Anchorman, All The President’s Men, Scrooged

Four places you’ve lived: New Brunswick and Rockaway, NJ, New York City, and Dallas

Four TV shows you love to watch: Lost, Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Saturday Night Live, My Name Is Earl

Four places you’ve been on vacation: Montreal, Florida, Yellowstone, Memphis

Four websites you visit daily: Waxy.org, TPMCafe, The Scowl, Yahoo News

Four of your favorite foods: Tumulty’s Black Angus Burger, Rendezvous Ribs, Popcorn (non-microwaved, please), Liz’s Macaroni with Turkey and Broccoli

Four places you’d rather be: Las Vegas, Yellowstone, the International Space Station, Disney World (make fun all you want…)

Now, everyone is passing this on to their friends in the blogosphere. That’s great. I encourage you all to post this meme on your own sites and pass it on as well. However, I’ve decided to pass it on to Enlighten. There are two reasons for this. One — the holiday spirit of forgiveness and renewal. Two — I think it’s hilarious. (I wonder if he’ll list “The Tape” under TV shows he loves to watch…)

And with that, happy holidays to all and to all a good night!

Misplaced Priorities & Part 3 of “Laurel Hester’s Wonderful Life”

Ocean County’s freeholders now cite a “tremendous cost” as the reason they are unable to extend pension benefits to domestic partners. According to their inflated estimates, the costs would be between $114,000 and $220,000, or 23 to 45 cents per taxpayer in the county.

While they complain about the costs for petty things such as death pension benefits, they approve $175,000 worth of funding for expanding a library, including $60,000 for a “floor…with a special seascape.” They then go on to hand out 192 turkeys and 400 toys to Ocean County veterans saying that each and every one deserves a “blessed holiday season.” How ironic that as they honor war veterans, they refuse to let Laurel Hester – a veteran herself of the county’s prosecutor’s office – have the benefits she has worked 23 years for. Apparently they feel no shame in ruining her holiday season.

Part three of “It’s Laurel Hester’s Wonderful Life” is below, stolen completely from The Big Gay Picture. Read it all, and considering sending the Ocean County freeholders To Kill a Mockingbird before their January 7th meeting.

OK, So Maybe This Is Not So Good

Assuming she did it, this is shocking, and stupid. 

Assemblywoman Evelyn Williams was arrested for shoplifting on Monday at a variety store in Irvington. Williams, a former Deputy Mayor of Newark, is charged with changing price stickers on two items. She took office on December 12th after winning a special election convention to replace the late Donald Tucker.

The amazing thing about this is that she couldn’t have saved that much money.  She just ruined her reputation and probably lost her Assembly gig for a few bucks at a variety store.

It’s shocking how people will risk their livelihoods and families for bribes of $1,000, $2,000 or $5,000.  It’s unthinkable to do it for what probably amounts to less than $10.

Monmouth County is first Republican-controlled county to approve domestic partner benefits

Monmouth County tonight joined Hudson, Bergen, Essex, Union and Mercer counties as the 6th county to provide domestic partner benefits. The vote was 4-0, with one absence. All five freeholders of Monmouth County are Republicans making Monmouth the first Republican-controlled county to pass domestic partner benefits. The decision will extend pension benefits, but not health benefits, to domestic partners.

New Jersey’s domestic partnership law allows each municipality and county to decide whether to grant their employees domestic partner benefits. Laurel Hester, a 23 year veteran of the Ocean County prosecutor’s office, is dying of lung cancer and her partner will lose their home if she cannot receive Laurel’s pension benefits. In response to the situation, the Asbury Park Press editorial board urged both Ocean and Monmouth County’s freeholders to pass domestic partner benefits. Since Laurel’s request, Mercer and Union Counties approved domestic partner benefits as a direct result of Laurel’s plight.

Monmouth County freeholder Tom Powers said that they also acted in response to Laurel Hester’s situation in neighboring Ocean County.

Hester, who has been told she has only a few months to live and who can no longer walk on her own, praised the Monmouth freeholders yesterday for their “courage.”

“If I were there, I would have given them a standing ovation, and that’s not easy,” she said.

Ocean County’s freeholders, who have double-dipped into the pension system, have made excuses about violating the “sanctity” of marriage and the “tremendous cost” (45 cents) to tax payers, but shamefully refuse to act. These are just lies and smoke screens. If Laurel had married a man, none of the freeholders would utter a word about the “tremendous cost”. These men feel threatened that a dying woman might expose their cold hearts and their willingness to appeal to a homophobic voting bloc, which is why they ran out the back door when pressed for an explanation from consituents at a recent freeholder meeting. It’s about time that they follow the example of their neighbors in Monmouth County and do the right thing. Laurel has given so much to her county – the least they could do is let her die a peaceful death knowing her partner will be taken care of.