Tag Archive: Latino Action Network

What You Can Do – Right Now – to Keep Christie from Bullying the Bench

I’m going to ask you to take a look at a video, then sign a petition to tell Gov. Christie not to play politics with our courts, and your constitutional rights. This is a project Blue Jersey worked on with Lambda Legal, NJ Citizen Action, CWA, Latino Action Network & our allies. And now, it needs you. – Rosi


Not decisions to be made by 7 people in black robes who are elected by no one and who believe that they are not a co-equal branch of government but a superior branch of government.

                                                        – Gov. Chris Christie

Gov. Chris Christie is a politician having a very bad year, after having one of the best years last year of any pol in the country, the fleece-wearing, SNL-guesting, Democratic Party-corrupting, Republican King of polls, the RNC, and looking like an easy shot to the White House guy of 2013.

But that was then. This is now. 2014 Christie’s a pol desperately in need of changing the subject. The Mastro report didn’t do it. Despite the hefty price tag, the public, the papers, and the comics are all laughing. Then there’s this, NJ’s credit rating downgraded five times under Christie. And the days are over when he could slide past that by insulting (the clearly more realistic) David Rosen. If voters in GOP primary states can read, they know about his budget problems, his tunnel problem, his cringeworthy cancer-funding problem. And Google can tell any GOP voter why even Mitt Romney put Christie on ice.

When things don’t go well for Christie, things happen that shouldn’t.. Ask the commuters on the GWB. As Sokolich. Ask Zimmer.

We need – and we deserve as citizens – to have judges who will decide our cases fairly and impartially, based on the evidence and facts that are presented before them, without any concern as to retaliation for the decision they make.

                     – Karol Corbin Walker, former NJ State Bar Assn. president

Or maybe ask newly-married gay New Jerseyans, plaintiffs, teachers and students, housing and workers’ rights advocates – even the NJ State Bar Association and former Justice Gary Stein. They’re all concerned that Christie may do harm to his home state by taking an action that will perk up big-pocket GOP donors – elsewhere – and get his scandals off their minds.

Next month, Chief Justice Stuart Rabner, who authored the opinion in the marriage case, is up for reappointment. Christie already has a bad track record, with Justice John Wallace, and Helen Hoens. Take action. Before he does.

There are two vacancies on the Supreme Court. And the failure to reappoint the Chief Justice could leave three. And that really leaves the Court in disarray.

                                                                  – Justice Gary Stein

Please take a look at this video. And sign this petition, and tell Christie not to play politics with our courts and our constitutional rights.

Outside the Courthouse in Trenton Today

As Bill laid out this morning, today is a key moment in the timeline of the investigation of the political ramifications of the sudden lane closures and 5-day traffic chaos last September. This morning, as the proceeding began, Judge Mary Jacobson called it what most New Jerseyans do by now: “the Bridgegate controversy”. Arguments are still going on inside the courtroom. This was the scene outside the courthouse:


Created with flickr slideshow.

Participants include the following: AFTNJ, NAACP,  Justice at Stake, NJEA, Health Professionals & Allied Employees, PFANJ, NJ Citizen Action, Working Families Alliance, Lambda Legal, Latino Action Network, Fair Share Housing, CWA, 1199 SEIU, 32 BJ, NJ United Students, and IFPTE.

The outcome of these proceedings may have tremendous impact on the ability of the people’s elected representatives – the investigative panel led by John Wisniewski and Loretta Weinberg – to find out who was ultimately responsible for what appears to be a massive misuse of government power and risk to public safety when the lanes were closed without warning or timehonored professional procedure, as well as possible cover-up, and motive. For the two Christie advisors whose lawyers are making their case inside (which just ended now after more than 3 hours) much is at stake, too. They both may know a great deal, and their own futures are at stake.

But there are larger questions at stake too, to protect the independence and integrity of NJ’s judiciary system, which is why all those people showed up outside the courthouse today. That’s my next post.

Photos: Rob Duffey, Hetty Rosenstein and Ann Vardeman.

What’s Happening Today Fri. 12/13/2013

ON THE PORTFRONT

A Bombshell Revelation of a Coverup in the Making: The Wall Street Journal reports that “Gov. Christie complained in a private phone call to Gov. Cuomo that NY/NJ Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye was pressing too hard to get to the bottom of why the number of toll lanes onto the bridge from Fort Lee was cut from three to one in early September.”

OMG! Given all the damage done and the involvement of his own appointees, it is Christie who should be pressing hard to get to the bottom of the matter. Of course, Christie might already know or suspect exactly what happened and realizes the truth can only hurt him. He is not known for fostering transparency or admitting errors. Our former Federal Attorney in this case is actually reported in the act of trying to hide the facts and impede an investigation. The smoking gun in a coverup? Is this Watergate all over again?

SANDY GATE (Continued)

Fair Share Housing: Data it obtained through litigation with the Christie Administration and reviewed by the NAACP and Latino Action Network reveal, “African Americans and Latinos were rejected at higher rates for Federal Sandy relief funds. Also the administration provided misinformation on the Spanish version of the www.renewjerseystronger.org website, failing to inform many Latinos of options to appeal rejections and other key information. A summary of the data and charts is here.

New Jersey NAACP Housing Chair Mike McNeil stated, “Governor Christie made his appeal for funds to the federal government with a promise to help everyone equally. When African Americans are rejected at a rate two and a half times that of whites, we at the NAACP believe it is grounds for an investigation into the overall process and functionality of these programs.” A summary of the data and charts is here. Kudos to Fair Share for its excellent job of investigating Sandy Relief funds.

We have not yet heard the end of how the administration mismanage its task, misspent funds, discriminated against groups, and favored contractors (including AshBritt) which made political contributions. Then using federal funds Christie suffused the whole operation with the false glow of “Stronger Than the Storm” featuring himself in the ads while he was running an election campaign. Let’s not forget that in April “Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill requiring oversight of billions of dollars in federal aid for Hurricane Sandy, despite Democratic objections, calling the measure redundant and wasteful.” It is becoming increasingly apparent that it is our Governor who is “redundant, wasteful” and worse.

The Making of Sausages And Gun Laws

Bismark said “Laws are like sausages. It is better not to see them being made.” Someone else might have said, “Too many cooks spoil the sausage.” In the case of New Jersey gun law reform the process has started off messy with over 30 bills introduced in the legislature – some moving forward, some being altered, and others unlikely to see the light of day. Then we have the cooks: the Governor, Sen. Barbara Buono, the Assembly, the Senate, NRA, NJ 2nd Amendment Society, Heeding God’s Call, and others. Part of making the sausages we can’t see as behind closed doors legislators, lobbyists and advocates across the spectrum have their own recipes. What we can see is often confusing and changes from day to day.

The governor’s violence task force recommended weak measures, such as limiting the sale of violent video games and changing rules on treating the mentally ill. The Governor’s personal response was tepid and failed to address key issues such as magazine size. Like others, he accepts contributions from the NRA and its advocates.

Sen. Buono called the governor’s plan “a shallow one that does nothing.”  Her proposals are more robust, and include smaller magazine capacity and face-to-face sale of ammunition.

Unlike the federal government and many other states, it does appear that our legislature will pass gun bills shortly. Our governor may even sign off on some of them. A few of the more innocuous bills are actually supported by the NRA, and some have received bipartisan support.

It appears that the rift between the Assembly and Senate is healing now that Senate President Sweeney has acquiesced to advocates who in recent weeks said the package was too weak. So far the Senate has passed 10 bills and the Assembly 22 bills. Further bill reconcilation between the two houses will be needed.

The final outputput remains unclear. The sausage recipes are undergoing development in this sloppy, sometimes secretive process. I happen to like robust sausages, but I suspect only a very few will be robust, some watered down, and many will never exit the factory. We will, however, have made progress and be able to continue the fight another day for saner gun policies.

Latinos and Latinas for Barbara Buono

At a restaurant in Newark’s Ironboud the Latino Action Network bestowed a fullsome endorsement upon Senator Barbara Buono for governor. It was an appropriate city as Newark’s population is 30% Hispanic and an appropriately named restaurant, Sabor Latino (Latin Flavor), bringing out the Latina in the candidate whose brother-in-law was Hispanic.

In making the endorsement, LAN Chair Frank Argote-Freyre noted Sen. Buono’s support of in-state higher education tuition for children of immigrants brought illegally into the country, her oppostion to school vouchers, and her opposition to severe cuts in social services championed by the governor. He went on to add, “The governor has never met a rich man he can’t support.”

During her brief speech she stuck to the main themes of her campaign: support for the working and middle class, an increase in the minimum wage, reversing the governor’s cut in EITC, reduction in gun violence, and increased funding for education. Such general issues are of concern to Hispanics and non-Hispanics alike.

When she was asked to address issues more specific to the Hispanic community, such as restoring legal aid funding, more oversight of the ICE detention centers in New Jersey, and Community I.D. cards for immigrants, she demurred. She said, “It would take hours to  discuss such matters.”  

Sen. Buono can count on support from Hispanics but she does not have a lock on this segment of the population. The Latino Leadership Alliance in February endorsed the Governor saying, “His accomplishments on education reform and small business growth made him worthy of a second term.” A strong ground game run by Hispanic Democrats is essential to assure turnout, and further  articulation of her Hispanic/immigration platform might be helpful. For more information on the press conference go here or here.

Latino Action Network and Allies File Amicus Brief in Gabriella Mosquera Case

Earlier this week the Latino Action Network joined with the Women’s Political Caucus, Latinas United for Political Empowerment – Political Action Committee, New Jersey Muslim Lawyers Association, Latino Coalition of Monmouth County, and Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO to file an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief in In re Contest of November 8, 2011 General Election of Office of New Jersey General Assembly, Fourth Legislative District, the New Jersey Supreme Court case in which Gabriela Mosquera’s election as 4th District Assemblywoman in November 2011 is being challenged despite her having won more votes than her opponents.

On Wednesday, January 26, 2012 we heard that the Supreme Court has accepted our amicus brief.  

One of her opponents, Shelley Lovett, argues that because Ms. Mosquera moved to the 4th District 11 months prior to the election, she violated a requirement in the New Jersey Constitution that all candidates must live in their district for at least a year. However, a federal judge back in 2002 had held that provision invalid under the United States Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. As such the Secretary of State (Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno) had told Ms. Mosquera that she could run for office, without challenge, and in fact every candidate since 2002 has been told the same thing.

We made three arguments:

Latino Action Network Opposes Opportunity Scholarship Act

promoted by Rosi

Last month, Governor Christie called on the New Jersey lawmakers to pass his version of education reform during the lame duck session of the legislature.  The governor listed four bills as crucial to his reform agenda.  Among those bills was the controversial ‘Opportunity Scholarship Act’ which would provide corporations a 100% tax credit for contributions made to a state run voucher program, which would then distribute the funds.  This legislation would divert from $360 million to over $1 billion in tax dollars away from the public education system to private and religious schools.  As a result of the governor’s announcement, voucher proponents have renewed their efforts to get this bill passed claiming that vouchers would help poor children in New Jersey.

The Latino Action Network opposes the publicly funded voucher bill because we see it as a big gimmick that benefits corporate interests that would do nothing to help poor children stuck in failing school districts.  Not one penny of corporate money would fund the scholarships established by this misguided legislation.