Tag Archive: Paul Sarlo

2018 Democratic Leadership Team

Retweeted Steve Sweeney (@NJSenatePres): I am pleased to announce the outstanding leadership team of Majority Leader @SenatorLorettaW, President Pro Temp M. Teresa Ruiz, Deputy Majority Leader & Budget Chair @PaulASarlo, Deputy Majority Leader & Higher Education Chair Sandra Cunningham &…
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Public Comment on Christie’s Budget Begins in Bergen County

Former president George W. Bush knew what a budget was. As he explained, “It’s clearly a budget. It’s got a lot of numbers in it.” The NJ Budget Summary starting July 1, 2015 has over 80 pages replete with numbers, and the final Budget Detail report when available will exceed 500 pages. Missing is sufficient funding for two big-ticket items: state contribution to the pension fund and the Transportation Trust fund. Individual departments have little or no increase to meet inflation or growing needs.

Vice President Joe Biden once said, “Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.” This budget represents Gov. Christie’s values, choices, and aspirations – shrinking the size of government, reducing regulations, aiding big business, moving dedicated funds to bolster the General Fund, maintaining the bona fides necessary for a Republican presidential candidate, and obscuring his intentions. Christie holds most of the cards (including line item veto) but the legislature will have an opportunity to make some changes. They can add an item such as revenue from a millionaire’s tax surcharge or increase, decrease or remove a departmental budget line item. At the end of the process the legislature fine-tunes the budget, Christie takes out what he wishes, and we end up theoretically with a balanced budget by June 30.    

People came to Paramus in Bergen County today to express their concerns, needs and points of view. The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee met there to hold its first of two public hearings. There will also be an additional three Assembly hearings. Polite but solicitous citizens raised many objections to Christie’s budget proposals. You can read their comments below the fold.

Ferriero Trial – Break out the Popcorn

Cross posted at my blog at The Epoch Times.  

Next week the racketeering trial of Joe Ferriero, the former Chairman of the Bergen County Democratic Organization begins. The antics of Mr. Ferriero, who the New York Times portrayed as a modern day Boss Tweed, is the reason I became a political blogger in New Jersey in the first place. Next week, the biggest rock in New Jersey is about to be overturned in front of a jury and the politicians are about to scatter every which way. It will be quite fascinating. I know I will be breaking out the popcorn.

The charges are for racketeering. A nice way of saying Ferriero ran the most affluent county in NJ like Tony Soprano, minus the murder. Everyone had to kiss his ring. Even Hillary Rodham Clinton herself when she was running for President. I remember because I was there as a Bergen County Democratic Committee member and shook hands with her husband at the Hackensack Courthouse steps. Boss Joe was the most powerful Democratic Chairman in the state, even more powerful than Democratic Boss George Norcross of the South, who ascended to power when Christie indicted Ferriero on his way to the Governor’s mansion.

These Bosses are so powerful, even Governors and US Senators are afraid to cross them. But when you make deals with them, stuff happens. Chris Christie elevated Norcross by indicting Ferriero, and then went on to make deals with Norcross, to the utter consternation of the loyal Republican legislators who faithfully refused to overturn a single Christie veto. That courting, and Christie skipping town during their convention last week, is what has caused State Republicans to seriously consider dumping their embarrassing uncle. Christie is drawn to power, and in blue NJ, the guys with power were Ferriero and Norcross. Senator Loretta Weinberg succeeded in weakening Ferriero by exposing his corruption, and Christie took the opportunity to indict Ferriero because the writing was on the wall, and it gave him some corruption busting cred, even if that was only short lived. I expect if Christie announces a run for President it will be during Boss Joe’s trial to get that credibility back.

Weak-Willed Quote of the Day

Paul Sarlo (D 36) Chair of the Senate Budget Committee says,    

“I know Democrats want to hear you talk about a millionaires tax. I want to be realistic… We could talk about it, we could do it, and [Christie] could veto it. All that does is put everything on hold.”

Legislative leaders should lead, not whine that Christie would reject their proposals. Christie respects strength not weakness. He has shown that on important matters he is willing to compromise in order to get part of what he wants. Most recently he compromised on Supreme Court nominations. Now he wants to renege on state contributions to the pension plan.

Governor Christie: Leaving Us in the Lurch

At yesterday’s Senate Budget Hearing Chair Paul Sarlo noted: “All of the credit-rating agencies have downgraded our credit outlook to negative because this administration keeps proposing structurally imbalanced budgets based on overly optimistic revenue projections.” Office of Legislative Services Budget Director David Rosen warned that the revenue projections for the current and next budget were short by at least $500 million. As Mark Magyar points out in NJ Spotlight, “Over the past three years the Christie administration’s revenue projections have come up more than $1.6 billion short overall.”

The real problem is not the too optimistic projections nor the “smoke and mirrors” needed to make the budget appear structurally balanced. The problem is that Christie has mismanaged our economy. “New Jersey’s growth in jobs, personal income and gross state product has lagged the nation,” Rosen told the senators. In fact, Rosen said that New York, Pennsylvania and the country as a whole have all zoomed past New Jersey in recent years. As NJ Policy Perspective explained about the February job numbers, “New Jersey has now recovered just 38 percent of the jobs it lost during the Great Recession. New York, by comparison, has recovered 122 percent, and Pennsylvania has recovered 81 percent.”

Governor Christie has failed his constituents in so many ways. Much focus recently has been on Bridgegate and Sandy recovery. However an enduring part of his legacy will be his failed economic policies which have left us in the lurch while others are surging ahead.  

Closing GWB Lanes & Poor Super Bowl transportation Are Like Mosquito Bites

Closing Fort Lee traffic lanes to GWB was a reprehensible abuse of power. Likewise the failure to make clear to Super Bowl riders that NJ Transit could in no way handle such high traffic volume was also wrong. Decisions in both cases can be traced to politics in the Executive Office, and those on top who are responsible deserve scrutiny and punishment. The apology yesterday from Port Authority Chair Samson was too little, too late.

These two incidents, however, are like two mosquito bites on an already diseased and decrepit body. They expose the ugly underbelly of a moribund, second-world transportation system – particularly on the heavily traveled routes between NJ and NY. Our arteries are critical for our economy but are now sclerotic as anyone who uses them knows.  

The PATH system opened in 1908, The North River Tunnels (Amtrak & NJ Transit) in 1910, The Holland Tunnel in 1927, The Goethals Bridge in 1928, The Outerbridge Crossing in 1928, The Bayonne Bridge in 1931, The GWB in 1931 and The Lincoln Tunnel in 1937. These were engineering marvels in their day but that was 70 to over 100 years ago. Far worse than whatever Christie or his henchmen did in Fort Lee or the Meadowlands was Christie’s failure to build the ARC Tunnel.

These marvels of construction were not cheap in their day, but they were brought about by leadership, vision and innovation. Our current governor lacks those qualities and instead relies on taking money (designated for ARC) from the Port Authority and syphoning funds from NJ Turnpike and Garden State Parkway which have their own unmet capital requirements. The recent resignation of the Executive Director of NJ Transit will not solve the problem. As Sen. Budget Chair Paul Sarlo says, “We need a stable source for transportation funding.”

Like it or not we get what we pay for. Our state budget does not have the monies to meet our transportation needs. An increase in the gas tax would provide the necessary infusion coupled with federal funds, reorganization of the Port Authority, and leadership from our governor. Maybe these two mosquito bites will draw attention to the bigger problem.  

What’s Happening Today 12/10/2013

ON THE PORTFRONT (Continued…)

As with most investigations, including those of political corruption, the culprits do not make it easy to unearth the truth. Typically they act slowly or not at all in response to requests for public information. They select an individual lower down the chain of command to be fired in hopes of saving the scalps of those higher up who also were at fault.

Were laws violated?: It appears that the failure to notify local and State authorities was a violation of the law. There appear to be other inappropriate actions in play.

Who did it? Not clear: David Wildstein ordered the lane closures, but did he act alone? He reported to Bill Baroni (who tried to defend the action as a “traffic study” and bears direct responsibility), and both individuals were appointed to their positions by Governor Christie.

Why? Not clear: As others testified, a traffic study could have been conducted without closing the lanes and causing the ensued chaos. Was Wildstein ignorant of the procedures to carry out a study or did he (and possibly Baroni) have other intentions, such as retribution against the Fort Lee mayor?

How:  It appears Wildstein ordered the closure against the recommendation of other staffers and he falsely told them he would inform the Authority’s Executive Director and other officials of what was happening.

What punishment is appropriate? It would seem that rather than accepting Wildstein’s resignation, they should have fired him and possibly subjected him to criminal charges. (By Baroni not firing him, assuring his silence, and possibly offering him a job when the uproar subsides other potentially guilty parties could escape punishment.)

What will prevent it from happening again? The Port Authority is too big for its own britches. It acts in defiance of others by ignoring freedom of information requests and doing as it pleases. Such should be stopped. The importance of its work and the amount of money it collects should not allow it to act outside legal norms and escape scrutiny. While each governor should continue to appoint individuals to the Board, there should be independent members who are not aligned with a governor and who understand the broader mission of the authority. Furthermore, governors should be severely restricted in the number of political appointees they can make. The authority needs professionals on its staff not political hacks.

Congratulations to Senator Loretta Weinberg and Assemblyman John Wisniewski who have vigorously pursued this matter. Unfortunately, there is still more to learn.

EVENTS TODAY

Clergy women, religious activists and community members brave the weather today to say “Not One More person in detention or deportation.” Join them at the Elizabeth Detention Center starting at 7 am For more info on this event already in progress go here.

NJ Business & Industry Association Forum: 8;45am – 2:00pm, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno is the keynote speaker, and receives an award. Other speakers include former U.S. Sen. Jeffrey Chiesa, Assembly Speaker-elect Vincent Prieto, Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean Jr., Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick and Sen. Paul Sarlo, at the Renaissance Woodbridge Hotel in Iselin.  

What’s Happening Today, Thu. 12/05/2013

Gov. Christie heads to Oklahoma today to support anti-LGBT Gov. Mary Fallin: As GSE points out, she refuses  to process military applications for spousal benefits at state-owned facilities of the Oklahoma National Guard. All applicants, regardless of sexual orientation, can now only apply at federally owned Guard facilities. Oklahoma does not have marriage equality, nor LGBT-inclusive hate crimes laws nor laws barring housing or employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Christie will headline a fundraiser at 6:30 p.m. CST at the Cox Convention Center, Oklahoma City to aid her re-election campaign, and he will attend other events there. After only three days in New Jersey he is off to support a Republican bigot. Get used to it!

Environment New Jersey: 11:30am, with Senate President Steve Sweeney, will hold a press conference and release and discuss a new report at the Statehouse Room 103, Trenton. The report highlights environmental benefits of wind, but points out that the New Jersey off-shore wind program is stuck in neutral.

 

Four State Senate Committees meet today

Commerce Committee: 1:00pm, Chair Sen. Nia Gill holds a hearing on the State’s recent plan allowing health insurers to decide themselves whether  to continue selling plans which under ACA are considered substandard. Some insurers have already decided not to re-institute these plans. Included in the cancellations are some Medicare Advantage Plans. The good news: the federal health exchange website appears to be working better; the bad news: time is running out to enroll.  

Budget and Appropriations Committee: 1:00pm, Chair Sen. Paul Sarlo plans a vote on S2469 which would create a new category of crime called Cyber Harassment, “which would ban people from using electronic devices and social media to threaten to injure or commit any crime against a person or his property, or send obscene material to or about someone.

Environment & Energy Committee: 10:00am.

Health, Human Services & Senior Citizens Committe: 1:00pm.

For more info go here. To view or listen to the hearings go here.

ELEC: releases today the “twenty-day post-election campaign-finance reports” for the General Election candidates.

What’s Happening Today Fri. 09/06/2013

Campaign Stop Trivia: Thursday afternoon Gov. Christie went to Moonachie’s Robert L. Craig School, much-damaged during Sandy but now open. As opposed to his Town Hall shows, this was a no-glittz affair without music, spotlights, video, banners or even a flag. (Isn’t that a no-no?). The audience consisted of about 250 pre-K through 8th grade students (not a voter among them), a few teachers, Education Commissioner Chris Cerf, District Senator Paul Sarlo, embattled Republican County Executive Kathleen Donovan, the press (including seven video cameras glued on the stage) and Christie’s retinue. Maria Comella, Christie’s Communications Director (in charge of marketing Christie with a large, savvy staff that must make other governors envious) sits patiently at the rear of the gymnasium until she learns the Governor is arriving whereupon she ducks into the back room where he stands with his security detail. After having waited for about 40 minutes the well-behaved kids have started getting a little restless. Ten minutes later Christie walks in, speaks a few minutes, and then answers questions from the students. He acknowledges help from President Obama in repairing the school and even refers once to “the President and me.” There was plenty of space outdoors (and inside) for those who don’t like Christie’s and Cerf’s education policies to carry signs, march and protest, but no protestors were there.

Organizing for Action (OFA) is holding events in New Jersey to tell Congress to move forward with comprehensive immigration reform. 12:00pm, Rep. Chris Smith’s (R CD 4) Office, 112 Village Center Drive – 2nd Fl. Raintree Shopping Center, Freehold; and on Saturday, 12:00pm, Congressman Runyan’s (R CD3) Office, 4167 Church Road , Mount Laurel.  

The Assembly is back in session on Monday at 10:00am and has scheduled the following bills for a vote:

A3680 [Coutinho, Albert/Singleton, Troy+26], NJ Econ. Opportunity Act of 2013

A3797 [Mainor, Charles/Eustace, Timothy J.+5], Firearms, cert-concern reporting of info

A4329 [Bramnick, Jon M./Angelini, Mary Pat], Home invasion-creates crime

AR176 [Chivukula, Upendra J./Bramnick, Jon M.], Baha’i prisoners-immediate release

S2842 [Scutari, Nicholas P./Vitale, Joseph F.+1], Med. marijuana prog.

Public Schedules:

Buono/Silva gubernatorial campaign: 11:30am, Barbara Buono, Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-20), and Assemblyman Gordon Johnson (D-37): Press Conference to call for New Jersey high-school graduates who are undocumented immigrants brought to America as children to qualify for in-state tutition rates at the state’s public colleges, Rutgers AAUP-AFT, 11 Stone St. New Brunswick; Barbara Buono and Milly Silva: 5:30pm, 22nd Annual “Celebration of Labor” Parade and March, Newark City Hall, 920 Broad St, Newark.

Governor and Gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie: early morning appearance on NFL AM show. He heads to Texas this weekend, Michael Symons says, “where he’ll attend Sunday’s NFL opening-weekend game in Dallas between the Cowboys and Giants – rooting for the home team, not the one that plays in New Jersey. He’s attending with Ray Washburne, a Dallas businessman and finance chairman for the Republican National Committee.”

Senate candidate Cory Booker: has said he is discontinuing his campaign events this week in order to concentrate on Newark crime matters.