Tag Archive: Kevin Ryan

Bill to Decriminalize small amounts of Marijuana garners 18 co-sponsors.

22,439 people were arrested in New Jersey for possessing less than 50 grams* of cannabis in 2009.

FreedomIsGreen.Com, a local blog devoted to advancing more enlightened cannabis policy in New Jersey is reporting an an intriguing new bill on the Assembly docket that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana in the Garden State.

The bill, which already has 18 co-sponsors (5 from the GOP) was introduced by Assemblymen Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer) and Michael Patrick Carroll (R-Morris), the same bi-partisan duo that introduced the state’s nascent medical marijuana law.

Fun with Redistricting Redux: Keeping Hawthorne in LD35

The Blue Jersey community was very excited to read this week that our very own, Jeff Gardner, has made his electoral intentions official and opened up a legislative campaign account.  Ever since John Girgenti voted against marriage equality and set in motion a process that was kicked into high gear when Jeff’s slate of County Committee candidates defeated Girgenti’s last June, enabling Jeff to become Hawthorne’s Municipal Chair, I have thought about how redistricting might impact Jeff’s chances of running for and winning a State Assembly or State Senate seat in 2011.

There has been a lot of talk about John Girgenti’s future with regards to redistricting, primarily because he was a loyalist of Governor/Senator Richard Codey’s when the Steve Adubato/George Norcross axis of corruption staged their takeover of the Democratic leadership in Trenton.  As a result, neither Jeff nor Girgenti have any advocates for keeping their otherwise Republican-leaning town of Hawthorne in the very Democratic (thanks to Paterson) 35th LD on the legislative redistricting commission.  I could be wrong, but I think that if there is anything that Jeff and Girgenti agree on, is that it is in their best electoral interest for Hawthorne to stay in LD35.

But without any advocates on the LRC, the only thing that might help them keep Hawthorne in LD35 is a compelling argument that serves the agendas of some of the commission’s members.  There are two members of the LRC in particular whose agendas have become quite clear over the last year.

Draft Rocco Mazza for State Assembly in LD36

Assemblyman Fred Scalera resigned his seat today in order to take a position in the private sector, which in and of itself is refreshing, considering the fact that many of his colleagues in the State Assembly and the State Senate hold other part-time and full-time jobs in addition to their “part-time” legislative positions, regardless of any conflicts of interest that these other jobs might create.

Scalera’s resignation creates a vacancy in the State Assembly that will be filled via a special election whereby all of the County Committeepersons in LD36 will vote.  The only name that has been floated to date as a replacement for Scalera is that of Essex County Undersheriff Kevin Ryan who is from Scalera’s hometown of Nutley.  LD36 State Senator Paul Sarlo State Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Wood-Ridge) is noncommittal regarding the name of Scalera’s replacement, but believes that it should be someone from Nutley.

“That is a Nutley seat,” said Sarlo. “With the current makeup of the district, it’s a longstanding tradition to have an Essex, Passaic and Bergen representative. Essex County will have the ability to pick an interim successor.

What is interesting about Sarlo’s position is that it has been widely reported throughout the blogosphere that in his role as a member of the legislative redistricting commission, he has been working overtime to remove Nutley as well as possibly Passaic to shield himself from a general election challenge from former LD36 Assemblyman and gubernatorial candidate, Paul DiGaetano, and a primary challenge from LD36 Assemblyman Gary Schaer whose hometown of Passaic has more County Committeepersons than any other municipality in the district.

If Nutley were removed from LD36 through redistricting, different sources have theorized that it could find itself attached to LD28, LD29, LD34, or possibly even LD40. If the vacant seat goes to someone backed by Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo, it is very likely it would mean the end of the line for one of the incumbent Assemblypersons from Essex County.  If I had to guess, that person would most likely be Cleopatra Tucker as LD28 shifts further out of Newark and further into the adjoining suburbs.  The other possible target could be LD28 State Senator Ron Rice Sr., who has been on Steve Adubato’s hit list for some time now.

Sarlo appears to be the only South Bergen politician who believes in the Bergen/Essex/Passaic distribution of LD36 legislative, particularly as Sarlo works towards creating an all-Bergen LD36.  There is no shortage of ambitious politicians in South Bergen who may want to vy for one of the two Assembly seats that Sarlo’s manuevering could open up as well as Sarlo’s State Senate, which might explain why Sarlo would be resistent to elevating one of these would-be contenders to an Assembly seat that would enhance their ability to raise money for an Assembly re-election campaign or a primary challenge against Sarlo.

Being someone who believes in the Democratic process and does not think that this vacancy should be used to give one person an advantage over the many qualified contenders that an all-Bergen LD36 primary election would attract, I would like to advocate for the candidacy of someone who has personally expressed to me no interest whatsoever in running for this or any other LD36 office now or in the future, making him the perfect caretaker candidate, enabling the rest of the field of candidates to compete with each other next year on a level playing field.

News Round-up and Open Thread for Tuesday, October 24

There’s a lot to report today, folks.

  • Environmental protection commissioner Lisa Jackson yesterday revealed plans to do a complete overhaul of Our Fair State’s $60 million cleanup program. Changes will include prioritizing the sites for cleanup, starting a licensing program for environmental consultants, and adopting programs with incentives for cleaning up sites quickly. The department is trying to fix the system after the high-profile closing of a daycare in Gloucester County which was located on contaminated soil.
  • Children and Families Commissioner Kevin Ryan reported to the Assembly Human Services Committee yesterday that new child welfare workers are getting their training but re-training existing workers is taking longer. Also, the number of kids in foster care who receive physical and psychological examinations has increased, but an overhaul of the health care system for foster children is needed and will be proposed.
  • As expected, the State Senate unanimously approved Associate Justice James Zazzali as Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court yesterday, and Judge Helen Hoens was approved to fill the associate position.
  • State Senator Ellen Karcher’s bill to curb political contributions from redevelopment contractors and professionals has received bipartisan support. Even with such support the bill may not pass, because of other ethics reform legislation being proposed.
  • State Senator Stephen Sweeney has been under fire from labor groups about his proposal to cut the benefits and pay of unionized state workers. Sweeney met with the president of the AFL-CIO earlier this month and has been defending his proposals.
  • The Legislative ethics panel met yesterday, selecting Raymond Bramucci as chairman. The panel put off a decision to investigate Wayne Bryant and his “job” at UMDNJ, citing two ongoing criminal investigations by the US and State Attorneys’ General offices.
  • Rutgers announced yesterday the formation of the Rutgers Energy Institute, which will bring together all energy-focused projects under one banner. The Institute’s long-term goal is to help break American dependence on fossil fuels, particularly those from foreign sources.
  • Speaking of alternative power sources, more residents of Our Fair State favor the use of offshore wind power than oppose them, and even more are in favor if the turbines are further away. Woo-hoo!
  • Viola Thomas-Hughes is feeling little support in her run against Frank LoBiondo. Until last week, she had received no financial support, from Dem organizations in Gloucester and Cumberland counties. In the last week Cape May Democrats and Cumberland County Dem organization have donated, with the Gloucester County Dems promising some as well. Visit her site if you can help, too.
  • New Jersey is a tough place for military recruiters; only Connecticut and Rhode Island have lower recruiting percentages. Officials and researchers blame the lack of interaction between military folks and civilians in Our Fair State, while some recruiters directly blame the Iraq war.

Open Thread: What’s on your mind today, Blue Jersey?

News Round-up for Thursday, June 8

  • Turnout for Tuesday’s election was abysmally low- just 7%. This may be due to the lack (statewide) of hotly contested primaries, or due to the fact that we go to the polls upwards of a half-dozen times this year in Our Fair State, and frankly, we have Voter Fatigue. Isn’t it about time to combine some of these smaller elections?
  • Today, the State Senate Health, Human Services and Seniors Committee will hear testimony on the use of medical marijuana. S88 and its counterpart A933 would let “seriously ill” persons to possess one ounce of marijuana and up to six plants. Talk show host Montel Williams held a press conference yesterday, describing his own use of the drug to mitigate the effects of multiple sclerosis.
  • Acting Education Commissioner Lucille E. Davy recommended yesterday that a new statewide school funding formula should be established before granting more funds to certain rural districts. Gov. Corzine has recommended a new formula on a per-child basis, not based on geography.
  • The South Jersey Resource Conservation and Development Council issued a position paper this week saying the Delaware Bay’s levees have not been properly maintained and are desperately in need of repair in order to survive a dangerous coastal storm. Just in time for hurricane season!
  • Checks issued by former Trenton mayoral candidate and Mercer County Freeholder Tony Mack have been bouncing. Mack is refusing to comment, and business owners are threating to file police complaints if they don’t get paid for the funds as well as bank fees.
  • Human Services Commissioner Kevin Ryan is reported to be fine after colapsing yesterday at the state house. Ryan is recovering from pnemonia.
  • Senator Frank Lautenberg, on Arch-Demon Ann Coulter’s comment in her book about New Jersey 9/11 widows “I’ve never seen people enjoying their husbands’ deaths so much.”:
    “Ms. Coulter’s shameless attack on the victims of the worst act of terrorism in American history can only engender disgust. Her bookselling antics and accompanying vulgarity deserve our deepest contempt. Her foul remarks trivialize the deaths of every single person who died that terrible day, including .. .those brave police officers and firefighters who ran into those burning buildings.”