Tag Archive: Koch Brothers

Chris Christie’s Legacy

All politicians have egos. Few are as big as Chris Christie’s. With a big ego comes the drive to establish one’s legacy. So what can Chris Christie do to build a legacy that would put him in a positive light in the annals of history?

One way is to be elected President of the United States. Christie opted not to actively enter the race in 2012, and his actions in the Hurricane Sandy relief effort were right and admirable, but made a future presidential run less likely. He alienated the Republican base by standing side-by-side with President Obama and promoting the big government rescue and relief efforts that the GOP hates. If President Obama wins on Tuesday, I doubt that the GOP will have an epiphany and realize that they have become a party of extreme zealots. So while the New Jersey governor’s brusque style resonates well with the GOP, his cooperation with a black Democratic president makes a future nomination from his party highly unlikely.

There’s been talk about Christie accepting a cabinet post in a second Obama administration, or God forbid a Romney administration. But while serving on the President’s cabinet is a tough and important job, it’s a dead end for a politician with grander ambitions.

Christie can, and probably will, run for a second term as New Jersey governor. If the Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts go well, the resulting economic stimulus will create jobs and be an excellent boost to the state’s economy. Christie could be hard to beat in 2013.

Given the fact that a Romney victory would cut Christie out from presidential politics for eight years and an Obama victory would move the GOP even further to the right, what could Christie do to establish his legacy?

Thank You, Governor Christie

Dear Governor Christie,

Thank you for your efforts in providing relief and comfort to the citizens of New Jersey in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. I’m glad you did your job. You are receiving a lot of well-deserved praise from the press on your performance. After all, the bar was set pretty low by your patron, George W Bush in Katrina, and by yourself and your Lieutenant Governor when you were both out of the state during a major snowstorm here – leaving the relief efforts to the Senate President. So while your response to Sandy is appreciated, it is what we would expect from any governor.

It was comforting and reassuring to New Jerseyans to see you walk hand in hand with President Obama to provide solace to those touched by this tragedy. This was a welcome change from your disdain for teachers, union workers, and women’s health. Perhaps this is because Hurricane Sandy knew no class distinction. On Long Beach Island, she destroyed multimillion dollar homes in Harvey Cedars as well as trailer homes in Holgate. I only wish you had the same equality of compassion in times other than those imposed upon us by Mother Nature.

You and the President showed how governing used to be, and how it should be. You toned down your rhetoric (although Mayor Langford might disagree) and put the people before politics. You took the risk of angering your base by realizing and embracing the fact that there is a role for big government – whether it is in FEMA and the military in providing the type of assistance that cash-strapped states can’t, or in the Army Corps of Engineers repairing the beaches.

There’s a saying that “all politics is local” and whether your decision to cooperate with the President was motivated by politics or by compassion doesn’t matter. You are handling this crisis well, and we all thank you for that. Hopefully, this will be a learning moment for you and that you realize that whether or not we voted for you, you are the governor of all New Jerseyans. You are my governor. I hope the lesson of Sandy is carried forward and that you continue in the spirit of cooperation to work with those who support clean air and water, those who advocate for women’s health, those who promote marriage as a way any two adults can commit to each other, and those who rely on the public infrastructure. After all, you work for us, not the Koch Brothers and Karl Rove.

With appreciation,


One More Reason to Support Marie Corfield

If you’re a frequent reader of Blue Jersey, you know that we are proactively supporting Marie Corfield’s campaign to replace Donna Simon in the New Jersey General Assembly. Although Marie’s emergence as a political candidate stems from her passion to educate our children, she’s not a one issue candidate. You can check out her web site to see that she supports the middle class, civil rights for all, and the environment.

Her opponent, on the other hand, is a consistent mouthpiece for the destructive policies of the Tea Party.

Yesterday, the New Jersey General Assembly voted on a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn the egregious Citizens United decision that equates corporations with people when it comes to free speech. As a consequence of that decision, the democratic process has been hijacked by such unelected powers as the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson, and perhaps several more billionaires who are beyond our radar screens.

One of the people who voted against this resolution was Assemblywoman Donna Simon. So Simon does agree that corporations are people and that extremist robber barons can pour unlimited dollars into campaigns without any accountability. This is hardly consistent with the tenets that our Founding Fathers promulgated.

So if you have “undecided” friends or colleagues who are voters in the 16th Legislative District, ask them if they think corporations are people. And let them know who answers that question in the affirmative.

A Healthy New Jersey is a Prosperous New Jersey

While taxes, revenue, and spending are keys to improving New Jersey’s moribund economy, they are not the only factors that enter into the equation of the state’s prosperity. While we need to spend money on preventable health issues and environmental cleanup, if we could avoid or mitigate such problems in the first place, the state’s economy would be much stronger. Yet Governor Christie’s actions indicate that he has blinders on to these fundamental truths.

Recently, the Governor vetoed a bill that would have prohibited the storage and treatment of highly toxic waste water from hydraulic fracturing. That veto was the subject of a conference call today organized by Food and Water Watch, with participation from several dozen other environmental groups.

During the call, these groups announced that they are working with the legislature to override the veto. We were told that Assembly Speaker Oliver will soon post the override in the lower chamber, and if the override is successful, it would then be brought to the Senate.

While the original bill was passed with a bipartisan majority in both houses, according to the Sierra Club’s Jeff Tittel, the vote was 3 short in the Senate and 7 in the Assembly of the supermajorities needed to override.

In his veto message, the Governor contended that the bill was unconstitutional and that the harmful effects of fracking waste water were unknown. But as discussed in today’s call, the non-partisan Office of Legislative Services has analyzed the bill, and its legal experts have concluded that the bill passes Constitutional muster. And even if the effects of fracking waste leaking into our drinking water supply are not proven, why take the risk until a full analysis is completed? (Oh yeah – I forgot that Republicans generally eschew scientific fact.)

It is a sad fact of life that the Governor is in the back pocket of the Koch Brothers, and that a large number of decent Republican legislators are in the back pocket of the Governor. It’s also sad that not every Democrat voted to ban these harmful chemicals from entering our drinking water. Below the fold, you can find how your legislator voted on the original bill.

We can spend our scarce resources on cleanup and health issues which do nothing to promote a better economy, or we can spend the money on education, infrastructure, and development to bring New Jersey back to the top of the economic pile. The choice is ours. Will the legislature do the right thing and override?

I Support Chris Christie

I can’t match Sheldon Adelson or the Koch Brothers, but I contribute some money to political candidates I would like to see elected. I’ve given to local and state wide candidates like Aimee Belgard and Marie Corfield, and to out-of-state contenders like Dan Maffei, who is running against a tea party candidate in my former home town of Syracuse, and to Claire McCaskill, the Blue Dog Democrat who is running against extremist Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin.

And I’ve also given to Chris Christie’s political campaign.

This may sound odd, but it isn’t.

You see, I’m a New Jersey taxpayer, and some of the money I send to Trenton goes to Christie’s political activities. I’m referring to his so-called “town hall” meetings, the 90th one of which was held this week. I’ve been to two of them myself, and have seen a few of the hundreds of YouTube videos which I am also paying for. These are all political events, not a “listening tour” and not geared to keeping voters informed.

Recent press reports reveal that the cost of Christie’s executive office has risen about 14%. While (I hope) much of this is for legitimate state business, the governor is bilking the taxpayer while simultaneously demanding other departments to do more with less. Part of this increase is the staff that arranges and runs his so-called “town hall” meetings and his entourage of videographers who produce his state-funded political ads.

Certainly, the governor should stay in touch with the populace. But the present format does not do that. It only serves as a forum for his political agenda and for rants that are inappropriate for a chief executive but get him on the news. If the governor wants to hold a political rally, that’s fine – but it should be paid for by the Republican Party, not by me. If only the mainstream media would call him out on this misappropriation of taxpayer funds.

In This Race Between Christie and O’Malley, I’m Rooting for Christie

Take a break from the Tampa Christiepalooza, and read about an issue that will affect our economy and our overall health…

There’s a chance that Chris Christie may face Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley in the race for President in 2016. That’s a race I’d work hard for an O’Malley win. But there’s another race – today – between these two men, and that’s one that I’d like Chris Christie to win, even though he’s not acting like he’s even in the game.

The race I’m referring to is to become the predominant state for the offshore wind manufacturing and support industry. The Atlantic Ocean is a ripe territory to harness this energy, both in terms of favorable wind patterns and proximity to millions of consumers. In this race, O’Malley is preparing his state to reap these economic benefits while Christie has hitched his energy wagon to the Koch Brothers and the “drill, baby, drill” GOP platform.

Two years ago, Christie signed the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act (OWEDA), but his administration has been stagnant on providing regulations and support to make any progress. Today, at the site of the Paulsboro Marine Terminal, elected officials and the Director of the Sierra Club held a press conference to urge the governor to take action.

The site, across the river from Philadelphia International Airport, is 193 acres, formerly an oil tank storage facility. It’s been remediated and is ready for economic development.

Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club opened the press conference, and Senate President Stephen Sweeney, Assemblyman John Burzichelli, and Assemblywoman Celeste Riley spoke. Sweeney indicated that there are developers interested in the site, adjacent to the Delaware River and major overland highways, but nothing can happen until the governor directs his bureaucracy to issue the required permits and regulations. Once this happens, several thousand jobs will be created. These are manufacturing jobs to build the turbines, blades, and other portions of the offshore wind farms, and support jobs for transportation and distribution. But if we wait too long, other states like Maryland may beat us in becoming the center of wind energy on the east coast.

I spoke with Senator Sweeney right after the press conference – his remarks are below. The entire press conference may be found below the fold. I’ll also be posting my interview with Jeff Tittel on a number of other environmental issues later this week.

Questions the National Media Should Ask Governor Christie, but Won’t

Next week, Governor Christie will bask in the biggest national spotlight he’s had since he excoriated teacher Marie Corfield in one of his earliest YouTube events. It’s an opportunity he relishes, and it’s also an opportunity for the national media to provide a balanced view of the true Chris Christie to the American voters.

Here are some questions I’d like to hear asked by the national media:

  • Do you support the so-called “pro-life” GOP platform that prohibits abortion in all instances including rape, incest, and when the mother’s life is in peril?

  • New Jersey lags the nation in job creation. Do you regret cancelling job-creating programs to improve infrastructure (like the ARC tunnel) and reduction in public safety personnel in high-crime urban areas?

  • You vetoed a Marriage Equality bill based on your personal beliefs. Should personal beliefs trump equal rights for all New Jersey citizens?

  • Some of your GOP colleagues have introduced voter ID legislation just weeks before a major election. Even if you support these voter suppression efforts, shouldn’t any such changes to election eligibility be done with as much advance notice as possible to allow voters time to obtain the proper credentials?

  • Your record on the energy and environment is mixed, at best. While you supported some renewable energy initiatives, you also took New Jersey out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative – an initiative that promotes clean air and creates jobs. Your action was taken right after a secret meeting that you had with the Koch Brothers. What influence did they have on your decision?

  • Do you support or reject laws that would restrict the possession of assault weapons? Concealed carry?

  • Many of your GOP colleagues oppose teaching evolution in schools. Do you agree with them?
  • Blue Jerseyans – what other questions should the national media ask him? Leave your suggestions in the Comments section

Will the GOP Lawmakers Do the Right Thing for Their Own Kids?

Now that Governor Christie’s national political ambitions are put on hold, the question remains whether he will release his stranglehold on GOP legislators, or remain beholden to his Koch Brothers benefactors.

The first test may be coming soon. Earlier this year, in a surprise and profoundly misguided move, Christie withdrew the state from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). This “cap and trade” policy is reducing the harmful effects of fossil fuels and promote clean alternative energy sources.

The state legislature directed the governor to keep New Jersey in RGGI, but  kowtowing to the extreme right, the Governor vetoed that bill.

Now Assemblyman John McKeon (D-27) is leading an effort to override the veto. He told News 12’s Walt Kane, “In the first three years since [its] enactment, RGGI has supported an estimated 1800 local jobs in New Jersey, generated more than $150 million in economic value and brought in $181 million from auction proceeds.”

If there’s a silver lining in the climate change debate, it’s that its deleterious effects are felt by people of all political stripes. As a society we are creating serious problems for the children of the most radical conservative legislators, as well as those of more sane and rational people. If the governor sends word that his GOP colleagues are permitted to vote their conscience, there’s a chance that the veto can be overridden and New Jersey can regain its leadership in the domain of environmental stewardship.

All of our energy comes from that nuclear fusion device that we call The Sun. As solar advocate Danny Kennedy is quoted in today’s New York Times:

When we burn coal, gas or oil, we are simply harnessing an archived version of that same energy from the sun, stored in plant and animal life, compacted and preserved under the earth’s crust. As Kennedy puts it in his passionate but rational way: “Think about it this way. We’re killing people in foreign lands in order to extract 200-million-year-old sunlight. Then we burn it … in order to boil water to create steam to drive a turbine to generate electricity. We frack our own backyards and pollute our rivers, or we blow up our mountaintops just miles from our nation’s capital for an hour of electricity, when we could just take what’s falling free from the sky.”

We have been raping the environment for the last 200 years. The best legacy to leave our children and grandchildren is to start down the long, hard road to reversing the damage we continue to cause.

What the Frack?

How would you like it if your neighbor dumped the waste from his septic tank into your back yard? Well, that’s what Christie’s Cronies are proposing to let happen in New Jersey, and some legislators are working to prevent this.

Energy companies are promoting the use of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, to extract gas and oil from underground deposits. Fracking involves injecting millions of gallons of water laced with proprietary chemicals into the ground to force the gas and oil out. But the broth that is injected into the earth must go somewhere, and that detritus contains carcinogens and radioactive materials.

The New Jersey legislature banned fracking, but the governor issued a conditional veto which only puts a one year moratorium on the practice in the state. However, states like Pennsylvania and Ohio permit the process, and much of the toxic waste liquid is shipped to the Garden State for disposal.

Today, a coalition of 70 environmental and other organizations held a press conference in Trenton in support of a bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Connie Wagner and supported by Assemblyman John McKeon and 15 other co-sponsors that would prohibit the transport and storage of fracking waste in the state. No matter how safe the energy companies claim their processes are, this is a human endeavor and involves accidents. We are endangering New Jersey’s drinking water for the enrichment of the energy barons and out-of-state employers.

While tax relief is at the top of the agenda for everyone in Trenton, if we don’t have clean air and water, no amount of tax relief will make New Jersey a pleasant place to live. That message needs to be sent loud and clear to our leaders in Trenton.

This Guy has One of the Toughest Jobs in Trenton

Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin has a tough job. He has to convince the legislature and the general public that his boss, Governor Chris Christie, is pro-environment at a time when the governor is putting the financial desires of his polluting friends above the health and well-being of New Jersey’s citizens.

The most egregious example in the recent past has been the governor’s unilateral withdrawal from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative – a money-saving, job-creating clean air program. Why did he do this? No doubt it is due to Christie’s alliance with the Koch Brothers coal barons, with whom the governor had a secret meeting just prior to his withdrawal announcement. But that’s not all. Today’s Philadelphia Inquirer editorial pointed out that the governor “has received a well-deserved failing grade for his environmental policies.” They mention instances where he appointed unqualified cronies to important environmental posts, and how Christie has weakened protections.

Yesterday, Commissioner Martin tried to put a positive spin on the governor’s actions when Martin testified in front of the Assembly Budget Committee. He failed.  Martin’s testimony is below. The Sierra Club’s reaction is below the fold.