NJ climate crisis activists lobby Congress
Ananya Singh is 16.
The climate crisis is a very real threat to my generation.
Soak the Rich graphic in yellow
NJ ranks 12th-highest in income inequality.
And NJ has a budget crisis.
Babs Siperstein at 2016 Democratic Convention
Honoring the late Equality Rights Heroine BABS SIPERSTEIN
Gov. Murphy’s eulogy
The Political Power of Women’s Anger
WATCH. Before pink pussy hats, Hillary, the Midterms.
History of ignoring women’s anger to keep organizing down. Boom, like that. WATCH.
Covington Catholic HS boy
That white boy smugness.
Do you know it as well as Jim Keady does?
Green New Deal House protest
Green New Deal is PRIORITY.
Where does our new House delegation stand?

Latest Posts

Let’s talk about the gas tax

The title read, in today’s Times of Trenton: Search continues for ways to save transportation fund. There is much talk in the article about refinancing the Transportation Trust Fund’s debt, which will only increase the total of the debt, and should be avoided as a gimmick that increases the load down the road. Refinancing the debt in the past has increased the total debt load and length, basically helping to put us where we are now.

So, should we raise the gas tax?

Free Speech in Private Communities

An appeals court has issued a great decision ruling that the NJ Constitution protects the free speech rights of residents of homeowners associations. 

The plaintiffs won the right to post political signs on lawns, have equal access to the community newspaper, and have equitable access to the community room for meetings for dissident members of the homeowner association.

More than one million NJ residents are subject to the actions of their homeowner’s associations.  Now, these associations will be held to constitutional standards:

“It follows that fundamental rights exercises, including free speech, must be protected as fully as they always have been, even where modern societal developments have created new relationships or changed old ones. Expressive exercises, especially those bearing upon real and legitimate community issues, should not be silenced or subject to undue limitation because of changes in residential relationships, such as where lifestyle issues are governed or administered by community associations in addition to being regulated by governmental entities.”

This is good for democracy. 

You Heard it Here First

Way back in ancient blog history (November), you may have read  a post or two by yours truly describing how Doug Forrester was using a flawed study to portray New Jersey’s business climate in a dismal light.

Today, NJ Policy Perspective’s very own Sarah Stecker delves deeper and basically says what I said…

Don’t trust any study comming from a right wing think tank; particularly those that label themselves “independent.”  That goes double for candidates who throw this junk science out there during their campaigns. It goes triple for any slimy business coalition that uses this type of junk as a foundation.

All that being said, I wish there were more liquor licenses available in this great state so that I could open a brew pub in a decent location at a reasonable cost.

Anyway go read the whole thing. Then come back here early and often. Because if anything, this is proof positive that you can definitely trust the BlueJersey Bloggers to sniff this sort of BS out months before official bonified policy wonks get to it.

Sunshine Law Needs a Little More Sunshine

In 1975, the state enacted The Open Public Meetings Act, more commonly known as the “Sunshine Law”. It was intended to increase transparency and trust in government. While well-intentioned, the bill was full of loopholes.

The state’s “Sunshine Law,”passed in 1975, requires that school boards, town councils and all other public bodies hold open meetings if a quorum is present.

So, if a controversial or politically sensitive topic emerges that a body wants to discuss in secret, the modus operandi is simple: form a subcommittee with a minority of members. That small group can then meet behind closed doors all it wants. Ultimately, the subcommittee makes a recommendation to the full council, which is just about always accepted.

Senator Robert Martin (R-Morris), who led the effort to pass the The Open Public Records Act of 2002, recently propsed legislation to amend the Open Public Meetings Act. The act would require public bodies to post information on a public website, keep audio recordings of meetings, and would require that “virtual meetings” (email, chat rooms, instant messaging, etc) be open to the public just like all other meetings, closing a big loophole facilitated by new technology. A more complete list of key points can be found at the NJ Sunshine Law website.

This is a bill that deserves bipartisan support, and I was glad to learn that Sen. Ellen Karcher (D-Monmouth) is supporting the bill. It took 13 years to get OPRA passed. Let’s hope state legislators act quicker on this. Ask your state legislators to support S-1219.

Then, sign the petition in support of the bill.

Wal-Mart Watch Executive Director Testifies For Fair Share Health Care

Wal-Mart Watch Executive Director Andrew Grossman today testified before the New Jersey Senate Committee on Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens, in support of a bill that would require the state’s large employers to disclose the number of recipients on taxpayer-funded health care. Excerpts from Grossman’s testimony (and numbers to call) are below.

Self-Correcting Blogosphere

On January 27th, I wrote a post about Marie DeNoia attending a $300 per person Democrat fund raiser. I extrapolated the following from a Wally Edge post:

Marie DeNoia’s body of work is vast and for the most part good.

Why she would risk her good name by donating $300 to a political party is beyond me.

An anonymous sr. level administration source who was at this fundraiser has let us know on double super secret background that Marie DeNoia did not pay for her ticket. She was at the fundraiser as an attendee’s date.

Penguins over politicos

The Academy Award nominations for best documentary are an annual scandal, and this year is no exception. But the fact that Werner Herzog’s fascinating character study Grizzly Man was conspicuously absent from the list of nominees shouldn’t blind anyone to the quality of what did get nominated, and for New Jersey residents it’s particularly interesting to see Street Fight, Marshall Curry’s fine documentary about the sulfurous 2002 mayoral race in Newark, standing tall among the nominees. Apparently more than a few New Jersey political junkies had fantasies of seeing Newark mayor Sharpe James and his antagonist Cory Booker in the audience on Oscar night, but ’tis not to be. Anyway, the odds-on favorite to win is March of the Penguins, and as much as I enjoyed that film, I’d love to see endearing penguins get muscled aside by political vultures. A man can dream, can’t he?

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Cross-posted at The Opinion Mill.

Anti-sprawl and NJ Dems

I’m not trying to start trouble, but I am looking for answers.  It’s my (Monmouth County) experience that local Dems are not on the “right side” of the sprawl issue.  The GOP around here (take Amy Handlin as an excellent example) are always joining up with groups against new developments, road widening, etc.

Is this the case statewide?

I see a few possible underlying issues.  If Democrats are more pro-labor, and construction unions are better organized here than others, then we wind up on the pro-development side.  Secondly, there is clearly a partnership between developers and low-income and minority communities on the affordable housing issue.  (I’m all in favor of affordable housing, but not as the “silver lining” for huge market-price developments, which is often how they are ramrodded through.)

I hope others can inform me and/or set me straight.

Science 101 on Capitol Hill

I don’t like to praise Republicans, but Boehlert of NY took a positive step for science by bringing together staff and pols for a discussion of what counts as science. Of course, it’s the GOP that abolished the advisory agency on science during Gingrich’s reign. From the NY Times:

Where Science and Public Policy Intersect, Researchers Offer a Short Lesson on Basics

…when scientific questions pervade legislation on issues like climate change and stem cell research, there is growing concern that Congressional misunderstanding can produce misguided policy.

To fight such misunderstanding, Mr. Boehlert and others sponsored the Jan. 23 briefing, organized by the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard…

Some criticize these briefings as little more than showboating. But Mr. Boehlert, like many others, thinks they are “absolutely” useful. And the briefing was unusual in that its subject was not avian flu, the budget for NASA or any other relatively narrow issue, but rather “how science works.”

And of course, Rush Holt is all in favor.

And some on Capitol Hill, notably Representative Rush Holt, a New Jersey Democrat and a physicist, say Congress should address the lack of knowledge and understanding of science by establishing something similar to the Office of Technology Assessment, an agency that advised Congress until it was abolished after Republicans won control of the House in 1994. Prospects for that are uncertain. 

Not everyone thought defining science was even possible, in such a short session. “It makes me extremely tired that they are going to do this again,” said Sheila Jasanoff, a professor of science and technology studies at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, who has written widely on how science policy is made. “There is no easily graspable definition”…

But the briefing’s subject apparently struck a chord. More than 100 committee staff members, Congressional aides and at least one senator, Jeff Bingaman, Democrat of New Mexico, crammed into a basement meeting room. With all of the seats filled, people leaned on walls, sat on the floor and spilled out into the hall.

Dr. Eric Chivian, who directs the Harvard center, said he got the idea for the briefing while following the debate over intelligent design and noticing what he called widespread misunderstanding about science.