Tag Archive: Sen. Steve Sweeney

News Roundup & Open Thread for Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Exxon Mobil and the administration vs. NJ’s environment

  • Progressives had hoped for a crackdown against the polluter Exxon, instead they received a sellout against New Jerseyans and their environment. The judge yesterday ruled the consent agreement of only $225 million “was fair and reasonable.” Of the $225 million, $50 million will go to legal costs, $50 million to environmental cleanup and $125 million to the state’s General Fund.

  • Sen. Raymond Lesniak said he believes Superior Court Judge Michael Hogan’s concerns could give him an opportunity to appeal the judgment.

  • Margaret Brown, a lawyer for the Natural Resources Defense Council, called it  a “slap on the wrist for Exxon that will do little to undo the damage.” For comments from other environmentalists go here.

    NJ sports betting gets another thumbs down. A federal appellate panel once again upheld a federal ban on New Jersey’s bid to allow sports betting at the state’s racetracks and Atlantic City’s casino.

    DEAL OR NO DEAL?

  • Christie and Rabbi/politician Shmuley Boteach urge opposition to the Iran deal. Christie joined Jewish groups at Rutgers University to criticize the proposal and pressure U.S. Sen. Cory Booker and the NJ congressional delegation to oppose the deal. Christie said, “It’s not about politics.” The Star-Ledger reports, “Both Boteach and Sen. Menendez have received financial support from casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson who opposes the Iran deal.”

  • No War in Iran Action. Join move-on.org protestors today at Noon in front of Rep. Scott Garrett’s office at 266 Harristown Road, Glen Rock, NJ 07452.

    CHRISTIEOLOGY

  • Christie in South Carolina: Monmouth University poll reports that the governor as a first choice is 12th and as a second choice is 11th. His favorabily rating is negative 42% to 34%.

  • Moran: Christie on Bridgegate: “Telling it like it isn’t, again.” “Christie claimed that his administration was not under investigation at the time he deleted a series of text messages regarding the scandal.”

  • Gun proposals reflect Christie’s rightward shift on guns.

    Newark’s St. Michael’s Medical Center saga continues. The bankrupt St. Michael’s and the community want it to stay open, Barnabas Health (the largest NJ hospital chain) wants to purchase and then close it to reduce competition, Prime (out-of-state and for-profit) wants to buy it, invest capital and keep it open, and a state-funded consultant recommended it be converted into same-day treatment centers. The bankruptcy judge has ordered bids be submitted by November 3. Ultimately, as health lawyer John Jacobi points out, Saint Michael’s future rests in the state’s hands with the Health’s Commissioner’s “mandate” to decide “what is best for the people of Newark.”

    After union’s encouragement for Guv campaign, Sweeney says, issues like New Jersey’s flagging Transportation Trust Fund, higher education development and economic initiatives would be essential to his potential gubernatorial run.”

  • 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.

    A Day in the Life of Political New Jersey

  • Dwindling down to a precious few…  According to PolitickerNJ, Senate President Steve Sweeney will not run for Governor. He is likely to formally announce this decision today or tomorrow. No big surprise. Can U.S. Representative Bill Pascrell be far behind him? It appears that the suspense is over and that it will be Sen. Barbara Buono who remains standing – tall and proud. Other Democratic leaders still need to endorse her, and we all need to put on our working boots to assure her victory.  

  • U.S. Senate Action today on Sandy…   The Senate is scheduled to take up the aid bill today at 4:30 and to vote on the matter at 5:30. Sen. Mike Lee (R Utah) is expected to introduce an amendment requiring that the cost of the aid be offset by reducing expenditures in the budget, but his measure seems bound for defeat. The aid bill should pass and President Obama will sign it into law quickly. The hurricane struck us on October 29, so getting this bill enacted has taken a painful and prolonged three months.

  • Late  afternoon press release…   As Governor Christie has been luke-warm on increasing the minimum wage and adamantly opposed to indexing its rate to the CPI, we can anticipate a press release today or tomorrow issued after most newspapers’ deadlines stating that the Governor is vetoing or conditionally vetoing the bill. So much for his statement last year: “I propose that we better engage and serve New Jersey’s most vulnerable citizens.” But there is still hope for increasing the minimum wage via a public ballot initiative. Polls show strong public support for an increase.

  • No cure for the housing blues?…   Christie’s concern for the vulnerable also does not extend toward those in need of low-cost housing. Today the State is contesting an appellate ruling and will continue its battle before the NJ Supreme Court to weaken New Jersey’s strict affordable housing requirements. At stake also is a dangerous precedent of giving New Jersey’s governor, viewed as one of the most powerful in the country, even more control over state government.