Tag Archive: Monmouth

Christie poll numbers plunge

It used to be that Chris Christie could count on job approval ratings of 50% or better. Even when polling respondents offered up traditionally “negative” adjectives to describe him, Christie could bask in the knowledge that New Jersey liked and trusted him, for the most part.  After Sandy, when he was suddenly everywhere, hugging people and talking the strength of his people, seemingly too concerned to sleep (or change out of the fleece), he looked unbeatable.

Now that 50% number reflects the percentage of people who think he was personally involved in the sudden GWB lane closures, and the 5 days of Fort Lee traffic chaos and disruption of first responder duties that followed.

Sixty-one percent think he’s not being honest about what happened.  

Deconstructing Christie’s 1st Post-Scandal “Town Hall”: Fair Share Housing’s Adam Gordon on MSNBC

Just a few weeks ago, Chris Christie was still riding high off well-received response to the devastation in his state of an awful hurricane that destroyed the shore of New Jersey, which is both a source of revenue for the state and hundreds of small businesses, and also its emotional heart. The Jersey Shore, where rain and wind left families homeless, boardwalks ripped and a summer showplace needing to recover. To anybody watching him on TV, his pitch was perfect then. He was sleepless governor, rushing to comfort old ladies and scared little kids, too busy to change out of his storm fleece, an equal measure of get-it-done

determination, promises, and real empathy.

This is the kind of thing you can build a White House run on, and he was well on his way to doing that. And then came complaints from some of those same Sandy victims, evidence that Sandy funds were diverted away from qualifying families, discrimination was in play. And thereafter, emails and texts that tied scandals right into his inner office.

Yesterday, Christie returned to comfortable ground with his first town hall since watching his poll numbers plummet. Covering it, New York Times and Charles Stile both picked up the same

Beware the Sandy Metaphors in Attacking the Governor

The new refrain about Sandy’s “mask” by NJ Democrats and progressives is both worrisome and troubling.  While there is much merit to the idea that the Governor is using Sandy to mask the economic failings of his administration, this line of attack as part of a 2013 strategic communications campaign is doomed to failure because it ignores the realities of the storm and its aftermath.  

Hoboken is still wrestling with FEMA definitions of basements that make sense for the Gulf Coast, suburbs, or areas where the water table is high, but not for northeastern urban architectures. Perth Amboy took a big hit to its waterfront and South Amboy and Sayreville were essentially abandoned during the storm and its immediate aftermath. And that’s before we get to Monmouth and Ocean Counties. At last count there were approximately 10,000 displaced residents and only approximately 6,750 available rental units between the two counties according to FEMA. And that number may actually be increasing as people run out of couch surfing possibilities or temporary arrangements with family or friends become no longer tenable.  These numbers also don’t include the annual population of people who live in the woods or their cars and seek indoor shelter during the coldest months of the winter.  

Senator Sweeney’s comments yesterday  and Bill Orr’s metaphor today of  “Christie Hiding behind the Fleece Coat” do more harm than good.  I spent the day today in the heart of Sandy-impacted communities in Monmouth and Ocean counties as part of a project I’m working on and in a professional role, not in the volunteer or community member role I’ve become accustomed to over the last couple of months.

The damage is real and the impact on people’s lives and livelihoods is very real and very palpable. The people who live in communities with substantial damage to homes and businesses are visibly exhausted. People want to talk, they want to share their experiences, but they also need to continue putting on brave fronts and professional appearances.  While getting a late lunch/early dinner at a local place near Long Branch today I saw a couple and their 2 year old doing a massive juggling act ordering dinner, grabbing some yogurts for tomorrow’s  breakfast, running the business. They own a local services business that is critical to homeowner, business and municipal recovery yet is still only a Mom and Pop business.  Not the first time I’ve seen this tableau since Sandy either.

Monmouth County is an affluent county with extremes of poverty and clusters of people barely getting by. Communities like Asbury Park were just turning the corner economically and are at serious risk post-Sandy. The hard-hit Bayshore communities may have a large number of tea partiers but many of the people who live there struggle paycheck to paycheck and some of those communities require (and receive) high degrees of social services in the best of times.

To use Sandy as a political ploy puts the NJ Democratic Party at severe risk, not just in this election but for the next generation. The Latino community from Hoboken to Long Branch and points in between has taken some serious hits because of Sandy. Suburban independents and blue collar democrats in Monmouth and Middlesex counties may be less favorable to the NJ Democratic agenda if they perceive the Democratic leadership as less interested in long-term recovery and more interested in scoring cheap political points. The strong African-American community tucked away in enclaves throughout Monmouth County may not show up at election time anymore except for leaders who speak directly to their concerns and their community.  

If we haven’t learned over the last 5 years that the Governor is extremely adept at exploiting divisions and fracturing fault lines, then we’ve learned nothing.  Keep using Sandy to attack the governor on his failures and he will indeed see the biggest vote total for a Republican Governor in a generation.

Stay Tuned for Part II: Moving Beyond Sandy: Embracing a Progressive Economic Growth Strategy for NJ

How I Learned to Love Sea Level Rise while New Jersey’s Land Sinks under our feet

promoted by Rosi

This is the first article for local publication in NJ I wrote after returning from New Orleans as State Communications Director for Repower America. It was published in the TriCityNews on January 21st 2010. TriCityNews only publishes in hard copy, so I reprinted it here, since it’s become suddenly relevant again in the last month. Originally published as: ‘Reshaping Asbury Park: Climate Change, Local Agriculture and Economic Development in a Hazardous World – or How I Learned to Love Sea Level Rise while New Jersey’s Land Sinks under our  feet’

So perhaps I’m crazy.  After a decade in Minnesota where stores sell t-shirts emblazoned with umbrella-carrying penguins and the slogan “Minnesotans for Global Warming” I spent a chunk of 2009 in Louisiana where a football field’s worth of land disappears into the sea every 15 minutes.  

So now I’m finally home in coastal Monmouth County in New Jersey – the Atlantic Coast state most threatened by sea level rise according to Geology, a science journal that reports on such things. New Jersey also happens to be the only eastern seaboard state with the same subsidence problem as Louisiana — the sinking of land due to geologic factors.  Luckily New Jersey doesn’t suffer from the severity of the problem that Louisiana does — destruction of wetlands from oil and gas production and massive losses of land-building sediment from the mighty Mississippi, but New Jersey’s coastal lands are slowly sinking even as overall sea level rises.  

What’s in a Poll?

This week, national Presidential polling has become more and more fun to watch, with President Obama’s national and swing state numbers looking pretty good for the Blue Team. And, locally, this was a pretty interesting week in polling right here in New Jersey too.

For starters, a fierce battle is on between our two statewide contenders – Barack Obama and Bob Menendez – over who will beat their opponent by more. According to the latest Monmouth/Asbury Park Poll, the two are currently deadlocked, both up by 15%, with Obama (52-37) winning the tie-breaker over Menendez (49-34) by surpassing the 50% threshold. It’s only a matter of time before Governor Christie throws in the towel for Joe Kyrillos’s chance to win here, as he already has for Mitt Romney.

But, the more interesting polling came later in the week (also from Monmouth), when the poll asked about the Governor, the Legislature and the field of nine potential 2013 Democratic challengers to a Christie second term. On these questions, there’s a lot of bad news for the Blue Team. Short version: the Governor is up (54-34), the Legislature is down (32-42), and most of our potential challengers remain little known.

One silver lining – if you can call it that – is that despite the bad numbers for our Democratic Legislature, only about one-third of respondents had ever heard of Senate President Steve Sweeney, and fewer than one-fourth had ever heard of Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver. And, both of them (along with almost every other potential candidate) had net positive ratings themselves! I’m not sure what that says about how well-informed the respondents were.

But, taking it all in, I know this: polling matters, but not all polling matters the same. For most New Jersey Democrats, the 2012 election cannot come soon enough, and the 2013 election feels like it’s coming way too soon.

Guadagno’s losing money for Monmouth? & Mouse traps

There are two recent articles on Guadagno’s application for Monmouth County Sheriffs to be trained as ICE agents (so called 287g).  No surprise that the weekly Examiner had a more reasonable headline than the APP:

Examiner’s:  Opinions differ on need for immigration checks

APP:  Monmouth jail got good deal on housing illegals

Even Chris Christie has pointed out that “illegals” as a term is incorrect, as many people who are undocumented have over-stayed a visa, which is not a crime.  Drivers who let their parking meter run out are not ‘illegal drivers’.

The content of the APP article, on the other hand, is surprising, they quote Guadagno’s Sheriff’s Dept Spokeswoman as saying:

The rate paid by the federal government to house detainees at the 1,328-inmate-capacity Monmouth County Jail was increased from $80 per day to $105 in May 2007…

Scott said the cost of housing, feeding and guarding an inmate comes to $134 per day…

There are currently 250 federal inmates housed at the $105 daily rate. Of those, 150 are being held on behalf of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Scott said.

We have a similar number of ICE detainees in the Middlesex County jail and there is no way that the cost of housing the detainees exceeds the $95 that Mdlsx County receives.  

Guadagno’s budget needs to be reviewed in detail, since as a commenter on the APP website, ‘simplicitytruth’ points out, since her spokeswoman is saying this could be costing the county up to $2,646,250 per year!

The bottom line on the program that Guadagno is going after, is that it will not generate that many more candidates for rented beds in the Monmouth jail, since the Attorney General’s directive already requires that people who commit felonies or DUIs be turned over to ICE.  That means that anyone who is questioned by the newly trained corrections officers (meals and per diem for the training at the county’s expense, along with overtime for the replacement officers) will have committed a minor offense.

It will lead to more civil rights violations, since revisions to the mandatory detention policy have not been implemented.  Detainees have no guaranteed right to a lawyer, and most can’t afford one.  Mukasay, in a midnight ruling, didn’t even want them to be allowed the right to competent counsel, but luckily that was rescinded.

Last month, ICE announced new Memos of Agreement with agencies and counties that have or will get 287g, which the ACLU points out is worse than the Bush administration one in certain ways – letting these guys issue warrants instead of a judge has me worried for one.  You can see their comparison of the old and the new memos here.

The priorities under the new MOA are supposed to be for exactly the kind of violations that are already covered by the Attorney General’s directive.

If you want to see the clearest case of 287g gone wrong, check out The New Yorker’s article on Sheriff Joe, Arpaio of Maricopa Co. Arizona.  It gives some insight into Sec’y Napolitano too.

Guadagno has at least said that visitors to the jail won’t be checked, but most people who are out of status are too afraid to anyway, even if it’s a close family member being detained.

So why does Guadagno want to cost the county money and antagonize the community?  According to the Latino Leadership Alliance of Monmouth county, it’s all for political gain.  It seems we will be seeing alot about the immigration issue during the upcoming campaign.  I’m prepared for a very ugly election season.

Finally, the APP quote from John Morton, the new director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, is downright scary and says alot about where the new administration is going.

Morton said ICE has long-term plans to find arrangements that are more suitable than prison-like facilities. “We’re going to focus on building a better mouse trap,” he said.

Comparing inmates to mice puts me in mind of Art Spiegelman’s Maus.