Tag Archive: Accountability

How much did Chris Christie’s trip to cheer Dallas Cowboys cost NJ taxpayers? OPRA request: filed.

American Bridge has just asked Gov. Christie’s office to produce information about his Texas trip yesterday, where he cheered the Dallas Cowboys in owner Jerry Jones’ private box (where he did this). They’re seeking, among other things, travel records and expense logs for his air and ground travel, state police and trooper usage, private security expenses for Christie and any member of his family with him.

Read the full letter that just landed in Gov. Christie’s office on the jump page.

In this morning’s News Roundup, we highlighted an APP piece by Bob Jordan about Gov. Christie’s failure to account to New Jersey taxpayers how large a bill we’re all footing for his out of state travel, conducted not on NJ business but for his own political gain:

Christie in his political career and while he was U.S. attorney for New Jersey has been known as a big spender but secretive about how much public money is used for his travel.

Christie strayed outside New Jersey frequently over the past year on Republican Governors Association-funded political trips but there’s been no full accounting of costs incurred by New Jersey taxpayers on those trips. Christie has upcoming political trips to Florida, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Ohio, Maryland, Iowa and Illinois.

It falls to news organizations or ordinary citizens to spend time trying to get Christie’s front office to cough up that info. Those requests, via Open Public Records Act (OPRA) are frequently met with delay or incomplete response.  Read the full OPRA request – below.

Loretta Weinberg – one of the “Forward 50” in America

The Forward 50 - Loretta Weinberg

Don’t mess with Loretta Weinberg. The Senate Majority Leader of the New Jersey Senate may be 79 years old, but she still knows how to throw a political punch.

– from The Forward 50, profiling the most influential Jews in America

The Jewish Daily Forward has named Loretta Weinberg one of the 50 Americans who has had the most impact on the national story. She joins Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Notorious RBG, with whom she has plenty in common), politicians Henry Waxman, Jared Polis, and Michael Bloomberg and creative artists cartoonist Roz Chast, and filmmakers Darren Aronofsky, Scarlett Johansson and Maggie Gyllenhaal among others in culture, religion, tech, food, and sports.

Her profile outlines for those who don’t know her her role in investigating the Christie administration Bridgegate scandal, and her legislative work towards greater accountability in government, including protections for whistleblowers. She describes herself to the Forward as a “feisty Jewish grandmother”. You’ve heard that one before but that’s not fully how I see her.

Note to Christie: Those who live by the accountability sword will die by the accountability sword.

Promoted by Rosi

From the moment he was sworn in four years ago, Gov. Christie has been on a personal jihad against public education, unions and teachers. Labeling us “greedy” and “selfish”, and our apartheid schools in high-poverty districts as “failure factories”, he’s done everything possible to brainwash the general public into thinking our schools are overrun with bad teachers who must be held accountable.

He succeeded in getting a new evaluation system passed (my district uses Danielson)* that now tracks every pencil stroke of a student against their teacher. No stone is left unturned as administrators evaluate everything from how a teacher greets her students at the door, to whether students are able to solve their own social problems. And forget about expecting to be found ‘highly effective’ (a score of 4 on a 1-4 scale). Every teacher in New Jersey has been spoon-fed the mantra, “live in 3; vacation in 4”. To be highly effective, students pretty much have to teach themselves and solve their own problems. So, if you are a highly effective teacher, you essentially teach yourself into obsolescence. And yea, that’s totally reasonable, especially with kindergarteners.

Investigation of GWB lane closures may extend to U.S. Congress

Pulling this back up top for a while, since I posted it at nearly 3am and people might not have seen it. In addition to the new possibility that Congress may get involved, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation may enter this investigation. Below, video recap: Sen. Weinberg on @Maddow – Rosi

On Rachel Maddow tonight last night, Sen. Loretta Weinberg said she will ask the U.S. Congress – which passed the legislation that created the Port Authority itself – to investigate whether the sudden GWB lane closures were politically-motivated. Port Authority was already under the microscope of the federal General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress. In August the GAO submitted a report to the U.S. Senate with a  stinging criticism of PA’s 2011 process in jacking up tolls, recommending both better transparency and more oversight of its workings.

Ironically, that report was released to the public on September 13, the same day PA ED Patrick Foye learned of the lane closures and ordered the Christie appointees to reopen them immediately (see NJ.com’s timeline). Failures of transparency, and inadequate oversight. Add that it’s also a highly politicized agency. It isn’t hard to see how it might have been possible for political hacks answerable to a governor or his consiglieri might assume they could get away with ordering career professionals around, telling them they had to reverse years of safety procedure and eff up Fort Lee for the better part of a week. And keep their traps shut about it, or risk their jobs. Not hard to see how big-salaried dirty tricksters with more political loyalty than brains might have every reason to think they’d get away with it. Be insulated. Be rewarded. Run roughshod over the sober and responsible people who also work at the Authority.

Weinberg will introduce a resolution Thursday that asks Congress to investigate the Port Authority. My own thinking all along is that this should be in the province of investigations on any and every level that is productive – legislative, journalistic, and legal if warranted. And if there’s nothing politically rotten here that goes higher than it already has, and the only guys playing shenanigans with the 300,000 people who use that bridge every day are the disgraced David Wildstein and Bill Baroni, well then the governor should have no reason to oppose congressional inquiry.

Short ad. Then Maddow.

Super Storm Christie

There has been plenty written about the recovery from Sandy as we pass the one year anniversary, much of it revealing the reality of continued struggles of thousands of New Jersey residents and businesses to get basic assistance and information.

This past weekend I attended a breakfast where Barbara Buono listened to and spoke with people who have not experienced a day of normal since the storm.  Their stories are heartbreaking, ire inspiring, and indicative of this administration's failed efforts to implement effective recovery for New Jersey residents in a fair and equitable manner.

Residents are being given dates in December 2013 for evaluation of their assistance application, people are being told the demolition of their house is not a priority at this moment so they will have to wait, people have had to resubmit paper work three times as offices lose documents.  These stories are widespread and unacceptable.  They are also unaddressed by our current Governor.

The trauma of the storm pales in comparison to the traumas these people go through, describing the paperwork and red tape as a full time job and stress inducing to the point of needing to take time off of work.

What continues to strike me is the unwillingness of this Governor to take responsibility for what has gone wrong, as Senator Buono pointed out while speaking to residents.  Whenever there is success, he takes credit, but where there is fault, he does not own up. He has allowed the offices responsible for recovery to function poorly without adequate trained staff, without a sense of urgency and with red tape and incompetance that he blames on the Federal Government.  He refueses to release data that would illuminate what has not been done which is his standard stalling tactic.  And while other states produce comprehensive plans for storm preparation, Christie has offered up his view on climate change – esoteric and little in the way of preparing for the next storm.

It is clear to me, as I believe it is to thousands still struggling after the storm, that the continued damage being done here is by Christie himself.   He is a force of destruction and disregard that must be exposed and stopped.  We cannot afford another four, or even two, years of Superstorm Christie.  

Police Tape: ACLU-NJ police accountability app now for iPhone & iPad

imageDownload this right now. You may need it someday. And it’s free.

ACLU-NJ just made their police accountability app available for Apple products iPhone & iPad. The app – called Police Tape – allows people to securely, discreetly record and store interactions with police. ACLU-NJ Executive Director Ed Barocas:

“Too often incidents of serious misconduct go unreported because citizens don’t feel that they will be believed. Here, the technology empowers citizens to place a check on police power directly.”

How does it work?

In an incident with police, activate the app. In stealth mode, the screen goes black while recording; police cannot see that you’re recording or stop you. You can store the encounter on your device and also send it directlly to ACLU-NJ which can store it safely and analyze it for civil rights violations. It’s free via app developer OpenWatch.  

More than 35,000 have downloaded the Police Tape app since its first release in July for Android. New Jersey law allows citizens to record the actions of police officers in public, even without their knowledge. The app is designed for use in this state. (Read more about how courts have upheld citizen recording in public here. Download Police Tape for Android & Apple here).  

Judge Christie by his actions, not his words

Chris Christie will find this, from the communications shop at NJDSC, an inconvenient video. Particularly if you post it to your own facebook, Twitter and other places where you can help remind people that words have consequences beyond getting a media-savvy governor on teevee, and on stages in Republican strongholds across the country in front of adoring audiences.

Easy to bluster. Easy to strut. Easy to talk tough. Much harder when those words cycle back at you. Just like your mama told you in 4th grade – actions speak louder than words. From the NJ Democrats: