Tag Archive: State Senate

Senator Weinberg announces 1st Clean Elections Deadline Met Today

From the diaries — Juan

Real Bergen Dems Clean Elections Press ConferenceHistory in the making – again!

Today at 11:00 am in front of the Weinberg, Johnson, Huttle campaign HQ on Cedar Lane in Teaneck, Senator Weinberg and her running mates announced they have met the first hurdle in qualifying for Clean Elections funds.

The numbers:

Senator Loretta Weinberg 452
Assemblyman Gordon Johnson 428
Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle 430

Clara S. Nibot for Senate- 162
Frank Cifferelli for Assembly – 56
Wojciech J. Siemaszkiewicz for Assembly – 78

To give some perspective – because Weinberg’s team participated in the Primary in June, they could not start qualifying for Clean Elections money until AFTER the primary.  Meanwhile – their Republican opponents, who started in April  (several MONTHS before the Weinberg team) could not even raise 400 qualifying contributions in that time.

Folks today said they actually felt sorry for the Republicans, because the results on their part were so pathetic.  And so  after being accused of not wanting to participate in clean elections by their opponents, the Weinberg team handily beat the Republicans in Clean Elections donations in a much shorter time. 

Todays press conference was great – Senator Weinberg explained that the Clean Elections milestone was an important one to hit because it shows the voters that NO SPECIAL INTEREST MONEY will be used in this election.  Their commitment to ending Pay-To-Play is serious.  It was fitting, the Senator pointed out, that the announcement was made in Teaneck, where efforts to stop the practice of Pay-To-Play are underway. 

The real star of the Press Conference was LD37 District registered voter Frances Levine who – curious about the hubbub going on in front of the HQ while walking to the butcher shop on Cedar Lane, asked what was going on.  Senator Weinberg explained the Clean Elections program to her on the spot – right in front of NJN news cameras.  Ms. Levine wanted to donate right then and there.  Opponents could have accused this of being a setup – but Ms. Levine was for real. You couldn’t have asked for a better scenario to show how the Clean Elections campaign works by asking a voter on the street for her vote.  Frances pretty much won everybody’s heart right then and there. 

When asked by reporters from NJN what worked about the program, Gordon Johnson said it improved “face time” with the average voter.  Not having to worry about raising so much money increased the amount of time he spent with each voter asking for their support – and ten dollars.  He said it takes about 20 minutes per voter – just to explain the program and do the paperwork right. 

The main downside of the current program is the sheer amount of paperwork involved.  Reports must be given in EVERY WEEK.  That is a lot of work for the staff of the candidates.  It was downright brutal – paperwork wise for the accountants.  You would think it would be easy to raise only ten dollars from folks but as Assemblywoman Huttle stated – you have to explain to a married couple that instead of just making out one check for 60 bucks and one form – they have to make out 6 (six) checks and fill out 6 (six) different forms. 

The idea is great, some kinks need to be worked out, but the absolute best payback is that in November – the Clean Elections Candidates get that moniker next to their names on the ballot AND a 250 word statement on the sample ballot.  It is like getting free advertising.  Weinberg, Huttle and Johnson qualified for that – their Republican opponents did not.

Senator Weinberg’s team met the first hurdle.  But now we have the next deadline coming up – September 30, 2007.  So PLEASE if you have friends who haven’t given their money in – they can still do so UNTIL SEPT 30.  That qualifies the Clean Elections Candidates for the next round of funds. They need 400 more registered voters in District 37.  So get calling, tell your friends and family they still can participate.  This is NOT OVER – it’s just beginning. 

Now folks know the Weinberg team is serious about fighting Pay-To-Play.  Lets help them out, what do you say?

Come 2008, in the new State Senate, Minority Women outnumber Minority Men in Trenton.

Diversity has come slowly and painstakingly to the New Jersey state legislature, no doubt, a legislative body that often serves as a pipeline to NJ’s congressional delegation.  Some with little conscience for social justice might say “we” are post-race or post-gender and thus shouldn’t even bother with a diary about this kind of thing, but we progressives know better, especially in the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision that, for all practical purposes, overturns the 1954 Brown decision.

In the state senate, the new gender breakdown among the minority membership of the upper chamber will be radically altered, and not just the minimum 4-3 split.  It could likely be an even more significant 5-2.  It would be yet another sign of the turnover this election cycle, and points to one more way the dynamic in the Statehouse will be different come January ’08.

A New Day for New Jersey Politics?

Cross-Posted from ShapTalk.com:

The New Jersey State Senate is composed of forty individuals who serve part-time.  The Senate currently houses twenty-two Democrats and eighteen Republicans.  In the past few weeks, eleven Senators have announced that they will not seek re-election; others may soon follow. Interestingly, eight of the ten Senators who are not seeking re-election are Republicans: Martha Bark, Leonard Connors, Bill Gormley, Walter Kavanaugh, Robert Littell, Robert Martin, Henry McNamara, and Joseph Palaia.  The three Democrats are: Wayne Bryant, Joseph Doria and Bernard Kenny. 

Quote of the Day

Yesterday, the US Attorney served “a volley” of federal subpoenas on both the Democratic and Republican leadership in the Senate and the Assembly.

“Trenton is on fire,” declared Assemblyman Kevin O’Toole (R-Essex), as news of the subpoenas broke. “This is equivalent to Rome burning.”

Christie Subpoena Sparks Standoff

This morning, Josh Margolin and Ted Sherman of the Star Ledger report that U.S. Attorney Chris Christie has issued a “broad federal subpoena seeking internal memos, e-mails and other records that the Legislature generates each year when putting together the annual budget.”

The documents are at the heart of an inquiry by Christie that is focused on potential legislative conflicts, and specifically whether some elected officials steered money to nonprofit organizations or institutions that would have benefited themselves, friends or family, according to four sources with direct knowledge of the investigation.


The subpoena grew out of a criminal probe of Sen. Wayne Bryant (D-Camden), one of the Legislature’s most influential members and former chairman of the powerful Senate budget committee.

Basically, Christie issued a subpoena for budget-related documents at the Office of Legislative Services, the Senate and the Treasury Department. The controversy came because it extended to “any documents pertaining to conflicts of interest for lawmakers and staffers” — unrelated to Bryant.

The Ledger reporters go on to quote legal and legislative experts on the unusual scope of the subpoenas, and possible conflicts due to separation of powers.

[B]oth sides will appear before U.S. District Judge Mary Cooper in Trenton on Wednesday to argue whether the Legislature can be forced to turn over records it considers confidential.

The 37th has a great team

Senator Loretta Weinberg, Assemblywoman Valerie Huttle, and Assemblyman Gordon Johnson ARE the best hope of our NJ state Government.  That is why the grassroots is fighting so hard to keep these INCUMBENTS in Trenton.  They do not adhere to the Joe Ferriero school of pay-to-play.  They are UNBOUGHT and UNBOSSED. Why else would Joe Ferriero play games like he is doing tonite at 5 pm at the Hackensack Middle School to change the bylaws to throw INCUMBENT DEMOCRATS that YOU voted for in the general election OFF the ballot.  He did not ASK me or my fellow county committee members for my vote.  He all but demanded we vote for Ken Zisa and Michael Wildes in 2005 – our constituents be damned.  Talk about chutzpah.  He had the nerve to basically tell Jon Corzine  – see if you can get elected without my help – when the Governor suggested Loretta Weinberg for the State Senate.  That is chutzpah.

He spent over $70,000 on ONE party he basically threw for himself at the most expensive club in the newest Atlantic City casino and spent millions on the County Executive race that he needed to keep our County Employees held hostage to his whims, and spent NOTHING on the race for the Congress in the 5th district. We are dealing with guys who would be considered local warlords if we were in Afganistan.  I for one refuse to appease Mr. Ferriero.  I want to keep my honest legislators where they belong.

I hope you will join me at the Hackensack Middle school tonite. Ferriero’s goons will be there, intimidating our County Committee folks, but the votes should be secret, and even though Mr. Ferriero has twisted arms to get signatures on the propaganda he sent out this week, the consciences of individual committee members I hope should be enough to shoot down this ill conceived attack on our very democracy. 

Think about this folks. Part of your property taxes go to pay for professional services.  In a Ferriero town, you can bet you are paying much more for a Borough attorney or engineer than you would be in a non-Ferriero controlled town.  How else can money get funneled back to the BCDO and Ferriero’s machine? 

This huge problem affects so many more things in your local government than you realize.  If we stop the pay-to play nonsense, then maybe our County employees can breathe easier and not be beholden to one man who can destroy their careers in a heartbeat.  Our civil servants in Bergen county are hostage to Boss Ferriero.  Lets free them.  Come to the Hackensack Middle School and send a message to the local warlord.  WE will choose our own government.  Not you, sir. 

TODAY: Rally for Loretta Weinberg, Gordon Johnson and Valerie Vainieri-Huttle. PLEASE JOIN US!

Update: The room is full with some people having to stand. There’s about 250-300 people attending the rally.

Update 2: More people are still arriving. The unions say “we stand up for the people who have always stood up for us.”

Update 3: In attendance: HPAE, Local 164, laborers local 592, CWA, Firefighters union district 37, Garden State Equality, Phyllis Salloway-Kaye of Citizen Action

Update 4: Also attending: Amy Goldsmith of the NJ Environmental Federation, SEIU, UFCW, Mike Herson of the Sierra Club.

Join us Wednesday, January 17 at 4 pm in Paramus at a HUGE RALLY of union leaders and progressive activists to support Senator Loretta Weinberg, Assemblyman Gordon Johnson and Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle.

Wednesday, January 17 at 4 pm
IBEW 164 Union Hall Auditorium
205 Robin Road
Paramus, NJ 07652

4 pm: Loretta, Gordon and Valerie hold a pre-rally meeting with progressive activists — they want to talk to us before the hoopla.  A photographer will be present to take photos of each of us with the legislators.

5 pm:  The rally itself.  A who’s who of labor and progressive activists across the state — it’s going to be amazing.

Here’s why the event has historic significance:  There aren’t enough times when we progressives join with our incredible friends from the labor movement in political action.  New Jersey, as you know, is per capita the most unionized state in America.  And thanks in huge part to Blue Jersey, its bloggers and their other respective organizations, New Jersey right now is the hottest place for progressive activism in America.

Imagine all we can achieve when progressives and labor unite! 

This event is also when we progressives, almost all of us staunch Democrats, stand up to a county party machine when it strays from the values of progressive, clean and open government that we cherish by not expressing sufficient support for incredible legislators like Loretta, Gordon and Valerie – reformers and champions of justice everyday in every way.

What an incredible signal we’re sending with this event, one that will reverberate politically statewide. 

So join us
Wednesday, January 17 at 4 pm
IBEW 164 Union Hall Auditorium
205 Robin Road
Paramus, NJ 07652

Please don’t hesitate to be in touch if you have any questions.  Best, Steven, cell (917) 449-8918, Goldstein@GardenStateEquality.org.

Love you, Blue Jersey!

Legislators Run Away From Civil Unions Bill

There is only one sponsor of the Civil Unions bill in the Assembly: Wilfredo Caraballo, who in the past has been a staunch advocate of marriage.

Meanwhile, the Civil Marriage bill has six sponsors and may have more by Thursday: Reed Gusciora, Mims Hackett, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, William D. Payne, Brian Stack, and John McKeon.

In the Senate, Civil Unions has a ringing endorsement with two sponsors: President Dick Codey and Loretta Weinberg, who was for marriage before she was against it.

The Civil Marriage bill doesn’t have a sponsor in the Senate yet, but it is telling that the Democratic leadership with all their arm-twisting can only find 2 non-ledership sponsors for civil unions.

Civil unions in New Jersey is a sinking ship that hasn’t even left port. A recent editorial expressed dismay that everyone testifying at the committee hearings were against civil unions. It said they “represented te extremes of opinion,” and, “Missing was the majority in the middle.”

Wrong. The families this bill affects are not extremists, and if the so-called majority in the middle had to hear their testimony, they’d stand with them, too.

Our state legislators have heard their stories, and they know how wrong and ineffective this bill is. No wonder they don’t want any more to do with it than vote  on the floor and move on. Civil unions aren’t a quick fix to the NJ Supreme Court’s decision; it’s an embarassment to everyone who puts their name on it.

Wanted: Someone to Take on Wayne Bryant for State Senate

There are some Democrats in this state who give the rest of us a bad name through their unethical conduct and failure to act in the public’s best interest, and Wayne Bryant, State Senator in N.J.’s 5th Legislative District, certainly fits that description.  The list of ethical quandaries and investigations is rather long, including

“criminal investigations into his alleged low-show job at the state University of Medicine and Dentistry.”

Marriage equality whip count

Where does your delegation stand?

Bernard Kenny (D-33) (Majority Leader) (Star Ledger 10/27/06)
Loretta Weinberg (D-37) (Star Ledger 10/27/06)
Barbara Buono (D-18) (Asbury Park Press 10/27/06)
Reed Gusciora (D-15) * (Garden State Equality PR 10/25/06)
Brian Stack (D-33) * (Garden State Equality PR 10/25/06)
Wilfred Caraballo (D-29) * (Speaker Pro Tem) ( ”  ” )
Mims Hackett (D-27) * (Blue Jersey 10/26/06)
Jerry Green (D-22) (Blue Jersey 10/26/06)
Joe Roberts (D-05) (Assembly Speaker) (Trenton Times 10/27/06)

* indicates the legislator will sponsor the Caraballo/Gusciora/Stack marriage equality legislation

The rest below the fold.