Tag Archive: Working Families Alliance

E Pluribus Cleanum

Pipelines leaking toxic material into our water supply. Oil bomb trains traveling on antiquated infrastructure through our towns and villages. Fossil fuel plants spewing carcinogens into the air we breathe. These are the things we can look forward to if we conduct business as usual.

Today, a coalition of 36 environmental, religious, and activist groups announced the launch of a coalition to scrap  “business as usual” and jump start an aggressive campaign to address these problems.

Most of the actions taken by these individual groups to date have been in opposition of something – a pipeline through the Pinelands or processing of liquefied natural gas, a highly explosive and dangerous endeavor. Each group has done its own thing, often without specific goals other than to shut down a harmful project.

Now, the coalition is going head on with the dirty fuel industry by promoting the eventual elimination of these energy sources in favor of renewable energy. In a nutshell, they are proposing that our electricity be generated 100% from renewables by 2030, and the we totally eliminate dirty energy by 2050. These are realistic goals based academic research being conducted at Stanford University.

Dudley Burdge Cleared of Wrong Doing, and The Ethics Commission Admits Samson Investigation

Earlier, a crowd of mostly-CWA members listened as the State Ethics Commission threw out the case against Dudley Burdge.

Here is a clip of CWA’s Hetty Rosenstein explaining why Burge was being investigated, and the hypocrisy of focusing on a union rep who was doing his job as opposed to one of the many scandals endemic to the Christie Administration.

Following the rally outside the commission, CWA members and other supporters of Dudley Burdge came inside the hearing to show our support. While inside, several people, including Hetty Rosenstein and Working Families Alliance’s Analilia Meija asked commissioners when we were goiing to know about their investigation of David Samson. They promptly went into close session.  The video of the crowd leaving the hearing can be found Here

Earlier this week,

The Star Ledger pointed out the hypocrisy behind the 5 year investigation into Dudley Burdge. To quote them at length,

It now appears that this Tuesday, instead of examining NJWF’s accusations against Samson other Christie cronies, the Ethics Commission plans to review a ridiculous five year old case against a union representative, Dudley Burdge, for the “unethical” behavior of making a phone call to investigate potential identity theft. Earlier this year, Burdge had a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge – who found the complaint had no merit and dismissed it.

When the commission reconvened its public session, they announced they were siding with common sense (and an administrative judge’s previous ruling) and dropping all accusations. The crowd stayed to continue to pressure the ethics board. Finally, after back and forth with CWA and WFA members, the board announced that they are indeed investigating Samson, but that they would not reveal the docket number or investigator assigned to him.  

So where is Christie? In the catbird seat or a rough rumble seat? Part I

Gov. Christie has suffered a severe blow in the past few months. His Executive Office and other close colleagues are under investigation. He has gone down in both national and NJ polls. Questions about Bridgegate, Sandy, and the NY/NJ Port Authority have hounded him. Following his initial two-hour press conference in January, he has refused to meet with the press and has tried to convey the appearance of conducting business as usual.

We now have learned from the NY Times that the administration’s internal review performed by lawyer Randy Mastro of what went wrong in Bridgegate will be made public shortly. “According to people with firsthand knowledge of the inquiry, it has uncovered no evidence that the governor was involved in the plotting or directing of the lane closings.” Nobody really expected that Christie’s lawyer would say the governor was guilty of something. The article is an excellent read, and although many will be skeptical, let’s accept the conclusion for now at face value.  

So where does this leave Christie? In the catbird seat or a rough rumble seat? More likely the latter. However, several points at the moment benefit Christie:

  • The review bolsters his earlier stated claim that  he had “no knowledge that traffic lanes leading to the bridge had been closed until after they were reopened.”  So far there is no evidence to the contrary and no charges have been brought against him.

  • Americans have a tradition of looking past the misdeeds of of office-holders. Mayor Sharpe James under indictment for many years was re-elected and later went to prison. Congressman Rob Andrews under a House Ethics investigation was re-elected and later resigned from the House. Scandals where a politician is seen as filling his own pockets, like the previous examples, are often viewed more seriously by the public than scandals in which politicians use their power as Christie does to stay in office or to expand his reach – often seen as “politics as usual,” or just “hardball politics.”

  • The Legislature’s select Committee on Investigation so far has delivered no crippling blow to Christie. The most revealing document, “Time for Traffic problems in Fort Lee” raises more questions than it answers. Lawyers for defendants who might know the most about what happened (Wildstein, Kelly and Stepien) are using the court to sidestep subpoenas.

  • The NJ Attorney General has shown no interest in investigating the matter. U. S. Federal Attorney Paul Fishman is wisely taking his time but has released no indictments. There remains uncertainty as to what charges are applicable. The State Ethics Commission, which has its own conflict of interest problems, has not decided what to do regarding New Jersey Working Families Alliance’s lawsuit against Port Authority Chair Samson and his inter-connected relationship with Gov. Christie and Wolff Samson law firm.

    For the moment the clouds appear to have lifted for Christie, but there is a storm brewing ahead, which we will explore in Part II.  

  • 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.

    A big win

    Such a big step forward to ethical treatment of workers & customers. Promoted by Rosi

    Last night Jersey City made a little bit of history.

    In a 7-1 vote (with one abstention) the Jersey City Council passed legislation proposed by Mayor Steven Fulop that would let private sector employees earn sick time. It means that 30,000 Jersey City workers – many of them low-income workers, immigrants, women and people of color – will no longer risk getting fired every time they come down with the flu.

    Earned sick days is one of the major progressive causes of the day, and it’s easy to see why. About 23% of all workers will either be fired or be threatened with layoffs because they got sick or they needed to care for a sick family member. Most good jobs provide paid sick days, so the burden falls disproportionately on the working poor and the most vulnerable.

    Momentum for paid sick days has been building around the country. San Francisco passed paid sick days in 2007, and Connecticut and Seattle followed suit. This year Portland, Oregon and New York City joined their ranks. The issue became a lightning rod in New York City’s mayoral primary, and it’s arguable that Speaker Chris Quinn alienated much of the liberal support that pushed Bill de Blasio to victory when she held up an earned sick days bill for three years.

    Progressive victories in the public interest have been few and far between these last four years in New Jersey. Chris Christie has consistently used his office to enrich the wealthy and corporations at the expense of the rest of us. Good budgets that funded our schools and our safety net have been dissected with line-item vetoes – and good bills have been shot down altogether.

    That’s (part) of what makes what happened last night in Jersey City so special. For those who couldn’t make it, it was a sight. Dozens of supporters filled the seats with signs saying, “Dunkin’ Donuts workers need sick days too!” A huge line of workers, small business owners, and policy experts waited to testify about how paid sick days is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do. On the other side? A single business association leader who repeated the same sad song about how even the most benign and commonsense worker protections will destroy Jersey City’s economy and capitalism as we know it.

    But this time, it was the people’s voices that were heard rather than the business lobbyists.