Tag Archive: convention

Different Captain, Same Crew

BCDO convention is now Thursday of this week. – – promoted by Rosi

I wish I had better political news to report from the Bergen County frontlines, home of convicted felon Party Chairmen, and sitting Council members indicted for forgery.

I had hoped the Ferriero conviction and the subsequent crushing loss of the first Ferriero-crats to lose a Freeholder election in years, would at least chasten the Pay-to-Play crowd. I was also hoping the new Chairman of the BCDO, who seems like a decent guy, would have the strength of will to stand up to Lynn Hurwitz, who is actually still running the BCDO.   It appears I was wrong.

The BCDO is as bad as ever.  We have a new captain, but the same old crew is steering the ship.  At the BCDO, the folks who carried out Joe’s orders are still very much in charge. Leading the crew is Lynn Hurwitz, who looks like Phylis Diller but isn’t funny in the least.  Ms. Hurwitz, who was the lead cheerleader for Boss Joe, is the Hackensack Municipal Democratic Chair as well as being Deputy Chief of Staff for Bergen County. She also happens to be married to Howie Hurwitz, who is Executive Director of the Northwest Bergen County Utilities Authority, one of the shadow government bodies in the news lately.  She is one half of the BCDO’s most active Power Couple and very much in charge at the BCDO no matter who the Chairman is right now.  

This week is a big one for the BCDO.  There will be the BCDO convention this Thursday night.  The silver lining is that there are some positive differences this time.  Instead of having the candidates address the Committee AFTER the vote where only one choice was available all the way down the ballot, there was actually a candidates night BEFORE the BCDO convention.  Due to  one Freeholder stepping down there are 3 freeholder seats in play this election instead of only two.  There is wrangling over that third seat. But because of that, and new candidates in the election, there is also the danger for the Ferriero-crats that one of the newcomers may dislodge one of the incumbents. Oh, joy!

The two incumbents in question, are staunch FOJ (Friends of Joe Ferriero) – or Ferriero-crats.  Current Freeholder James Carroll is ALSO  a dual office holder as current Mayor of Demarest.   Unfortunately for the incumbents, they are both tied to the legacy of Joe Ferriero.  

The current BCDO members are painfully aware that despite what Dennis Oury used to say, the voters actually know what pay to play is now, and they really do care.  They see the impact on their Municipal tax bill when Halliburton-sized engineering firms who donate to the BCDO are hired by their towns.  In Bogota, T&M, (which is jokingly referred to as “Time and Materials”) the big engineering firm from South Jersey, was dumped this year, and in Emerson, Mazer, another big firm who often got no-bid jobs from Bergen County under the incumbent Freeholders, was ALMOST replaced until the Democratic Mayor broke the tie to keep them.  This was AFTER the Dems LOST in Emerson because of Redevelopment plans hatched without the consent of the governed.  The Bergen County voters now have a low tolerance for dual office holders as well and can’t wait to rectify that situation by separating Carrol from one of his elected offices.

And so, the crew at the BCDO appeared to panic last week.  Faced with the very embarrassing possibility of having their incumbents losing the BCDO nomination, they asked all candidates running for Freeholder to actually sign a letter stating that they would not run in the Primary if they lost in the BCDO convention.  Adding to their panic was the moment on Candidate’s night last Tuesday when Joe Ariyan read Julie O’brien’s email dropping out of the race.  In it she explained that she was dropping out due to too large a field of candidates, which led to speculation that she was politely asked to bow out so as not to hurt Carroll’s and Calabrese’s chances.  She also made reference that the Chairman’s pick was actually Northvale Mayor John Hogan, the guy with the lightest resume. The progressives in the BCDO smelled blood in the water. The old guard Ferriero-crats were finally actually worried that the rank and file BCDO members might actually ditch the incumbents.

And so it was no surprise what happened next.  While everyone else in Bergen County was gearing up for a Nor’Easter, the BCDO leadership exhibited an unnatural hesitation to cancel the BCDO convention scheduled for Thursday night.  They didn’t cancel it until Thursday morning, after getting complaints by committee members Wed night who wanted to know how people were going to get there. Apparently, an email had been circulated regarding BCDO’s decision to hold the convention and that people would have to get there regardless of the weather.  It suspiciously appeared that the ONLY folks who would be able to get there would be from Hackensack – Lynn Hurwitz’s Committee Members or folks picked up in SUV’s perhaps courtesy of some officials the way Joe Ferriero used to get rides from the County cops. The BCDO leadership, after getting wind that the rank and file may come to the conclusion that their motives may not be as pure as the Nor’easter driven snow, realized folks might question their hesitation to cancel the election.  AFTER the complaints  robo calls finally went out Wednesday night assuring everyone that IF the storm did hit, the convention would be postponed to another day. The actual robo-calls finally postponing the convention went out Thursday morning.

With the convention wisely postponed to this Thursday we MAY see a fair election this time.  There should even be actual voting machines too.  There are a several good candidates this time, including the very popular Mayor Birkner of Westwood who is heavily supported by labor, progressive Sebastian Belfon, supported by grassroots Dems in Bergen County and impressive Dr. Pargellan McHall.  These are three candidates popular with the BCDO members and who are also not tied to the BCDO Pay-to-Play legacy of the past.

Long story short.  The BCDO crew that ran the show for Ferriero is supporting incumbants Freeholder Calabrese and dual office holder Carroll as well as Hogan, who, surprise, surprise was also a member of the compromised Bergen County Board of Elections.   (The Election Commission deserves it’s own whole diary).  The Ferriero-crats are supporting the Ferriero-crats.  The rest of the BCDO may be ready for a change, but we still have the same crew steering the ship and re-arranging the same old worn out deck chairs.  This Thursday we’ll see if the BCDO can actually turn before it hits that looming iceberg – the November election or at least toss a few old deck chairs off the boat.


Just say “NO” to the “Joe Show”

On January 15, the day Joe Ferriero should resign, based on the vote of the Executive Committee of the BCDO, instead of a going away party, the Executive Committee will be holding a meeting at 8 pm at the BCDO HQ at 50 Main Street in Hackensack.  Now that Joe suddenly UN-stepped down with the intention of presiding over a fundraiser on January 17th and extending his rule for another week in a final defiant (obscene) gesture, they are getting together to probably call for the special election Joe wants to coronate his own successor.  

I can’t quite figure out if it is Joe’s crushing guilt for leaving the BCDO in the financial lurch and hiding the treasurer reports I asked for last year, (like Madoff keeping his Ponzi scheme secret all these years), and in a fit of lame duck pique Joe is afraid his legacy as an amazing fundraiser will be overshadowed by his spending other peoples money like a drunken sailor while enriching himself at taxpayer expense.  OR if it is simply the hubris and arrogance that he feels we can’t get along without him steering the ship.  OR if it is just simply wanting to be in CONTROL till the bitter end of his reign.  OR all of the above.  Or maybe just being a bag man for the Governmental Grants Consulting firm he got indicted for, means Joe likes to be around money and the folks who use it to buy influence.

But then again, I DON’T CARE about Joe’s feelings.  This is about who will be the new head of the Bergen County Democrats.  It is a decision that Joe thinks we should only have 7 days to mull over, while he cajoles, threatens, and rounds up the votes (the county committee members who have county jobs) he needs to pick a successor.  Joe is a lawyer, and lawyers never ask a question unless they already know the answer. Joe would never have called a “convention” if he didn’t twist all the arms he needs to win the seat for a handpicked clone.  

That said.  We have a choice.  We can demand to postpone the convention to have the time necessary to choose a successor.  We can ask the Executive Committee that meets this Thursday nite to postpone any convention to choose a Chairman because we need time to vet candidates  and for those candidates to tell us their positions.  Democracy demands no less than a full, fair process. Our main complaint with the Ferriero-crats is that they aren’t so good at fair elections:

Let me tell you all a little story.  Unfortunately for two honest poll workers, this story is true.  Once upon a time, in a Borough named Teaneck, there were a few kindly elderly women who loved participating in democracy.  In fact they loved it so much, they worked as poll workers every year for thirty (30!) years. These pillars of the community in their voting district in Teaneck, faithfully rendered their service to the community by carefully guarding the process of democracy all these long years, years long after the public ceased their vigilant watch over our most precious right – the right to vote.

Now Teaneck is a very special place.  It is a vibrant place, an exciting place, a beautiful place. The lively Cedar lane, the gorgeous shaded tree-lined avenues, the most diverse town in the county, truly an interesting, fascinating, welcoming place.  And most unusual of all – it is a non-partisan place.  Or, well, it USED to be.  You see, we suspected it was under attack from outside forces, but on May 13, 2008, all illusions of  nonpartisan municipal elections were completely and totally shattered by three individuals on the Board of elections with ties to Joe Ferriero.  Sadly, the two elderly ladies who attempted to enforce the voting laws they could recite in their sleep and backwards (after 30 years doing this – you all know women like this – I have them in my district too) these two longstanding pillars of the community, were FIRED for trying to prevent shenanigans in their Precinct.  Keith Carbone of NEW MILFORD attempted at 10 am that morning to swagger in to the Bryant School voting district polling place, and demand to see the count and to have access to the back of the machines to just help himself.

Town-wide challenger status DOES NOT EXIST in Bergen County municipal elections.  When the husband of a candidate in the election questioned Eileen DeBari about these fraudulent town wide certificate holders one of whom showed him his NEW MILFORD badge with the date and time scribbled out, Eileen DiBari then asked to look at HIS (legal) certificate which she then scribbled all over scratching out the date and time to make “more fair”.  You can’t make this stuff up, folks.

Eileen DeBari gave out these phony credentials AFTER, Keith Carbone of NEW MILFORD had attempted to enter the Bryant school district and was stopped by the two poll workers.  He then ran outside to speak with Candidate Elnatan Rudolf, the developer from Teaneck who was Joe Ferriero’s candidate (in a non-partisan town, mind you) who was waiting in his illegally parked Hummer (Seriously).  Rudolph and Carbone re-enter the polling place where Rudolph, makes a scene – phoning DiBari himself (illegally) from INSIDE the polling room.  Whereapon, DeBari warns the poll workers that there are new rules not out yet that say Carbone and Rudolph HAVE THE AUTHORITY to be challengers and that the poll workers will be FIRED if they don’t let these creeps have access to the voting machines.  DiBari made good on her threat the very next day by FIRING the two poll workers who attempted to enforce the law.  Later election day, Carbone and Rudolph come back with phony credentials – probably scribbled all over by DeBari – lacking times and dates, and they were permitted access to the voting machines for the rest of the day.

When the honest candidate’s husband called Chairman of the elections Board, Peter Incardone, Incardone said that the DeBari should have given the poll workers “more training” and that the term non-partisan for Teaneck was a “misnomer”.  After Rudoph made his phone call, Eileen DeBari and  Ken Zisa himself show up to back the fraudulent challengers. Yikes.

In fact, forty two (42!) “townwide challenger” badges were given to BCDO flunkies  – most of whom had county jobs – by Eileen DeBari of the Bergen County Board of Elections.  Now the other Commissioner from the BOE you may remember.  A certain Charles “Ken” Zisa, who almost won a state senate seat due to 4 forgeries in Bergenfield.  Now did I forget to mention where else you may have heard of the Bergen County BOE and forgeries in the same breath?  Kevin Clancy, who was on the Board of Elections was long suspected of being the Bergenfiled forger, until his live-in girlfriend, sitting Councilwoman Elaine Rabbitt was indicted for that illegal act this fall.  And so the Board of Elections is staffed with Joe Ferriero supporters who let Team Teaneck’s Ferriero candidate for Council not only make a scene at a polling place but illegally use his cell phone – in the voting room – to call DeBari who told the women to let Keith Carbone conduct his illegal inspection behind the voting machines.  It appears its OKEY DOKEY for the BCDO to interfere in an election in a NON-PARTISAN town.  In fact it is CONDONED by the Bergen County Board of Elections.

Long story short: it appears in Bergen County it is OKEY DOKEY for folks from NEW MILFORD to sit in on an election in TEANECK without a properly certified challenger certificate and screw around with the voting machines WITH THE BLESSING OF THE BOARD OF ELECTIONS.  If you speak up about the illegality of that, after 30 years of experience, then YOU will be fired.  The illegal, carpet-bagger out of town challengers from the BCDO who have COUNTY jobs, the petulant, obstructive candidate, the Bergen County Commissioners who WON”T LET YOU EVEN call your Municipal Clerk who is charge of the election, THEY won’t go to jail, nothing happens to them.  You, the honest poll workers who try to keep the process honest – YOU get immediately FIRED the next day.  

Toto, we’re not in Bergen County anymore.  I feel like I am in Hudson County, in Jersey City where dead folks can vote – more than once, might I add.  The problem with the BCDO is that this is so much bigger and worse than people realize.  The illegal and corrupt election process was perfected in practice at the BCDO “conventions” and “special elections”  however, and this is crucial, the pilot test phase is over. They are now moving into full production.  Forty Two (42!)  illegal town-wide challenger badges were given by Joe’s buddies at the BOE to crooks and liars who work at the County or the BCDO and are Joe Ferriero apologists and supporters to derail what should have been a non-partisan election in Teaneck.  Keith Carbone was from New Milford  and Hackensack Police Chief Ken Zisa and Elections Commissioner Eilleen DiBari stood and watched it all go down.  

THAT is how emboldened these creeps are.  Do I trust these guys to run an honest, fair election at the BCDO, when they do THIS to honest hardworking poll workers who serve their communities in NON-PARTISAN towns?  

Do You?

We need to make the BCDO Executive Committee hear us loud and clear.  We want fair honest elections, and ethics reform.  Democracy starts at home – in our own house – at 50 Main Street. Lets start by DEMANDING a proper election for our next Bergen County Democratic Chairman.  Or we can wait until the next hand picked pay-to-play BCDO Chairman winds up indicted while YOU all are running for Governor, or Senator, or Congressman, or state office.  Remember last November.

I plan on asking the Executive Committee to accept Ferriero’s resignation and postpone the election to replace him until we can vet candidates properly.  Don’t let Ferriero continue the circus.  Say “NO!” to the Joe show.  How much money do you think he is gonna raise now that he has been indicted?  I know I don’t have the stomach to go to a fundraiser where INDICTED Joe Ferriero is holding court.

Consider, if we let bogus elections continue at the BCDO, it isn’t long before ALL the polling places in Bergen County are tainted by corruption. THAT has already begun in Teaneck – what SHOULD BE a non-partisan town.  Imagine if it were the Republicans doing it.  Would you stand for that?  

BTW, If you want to help the poll workers who have suffered public humiliation and embarassment at he hands of the BCDO illegally interfering in municipal elections, contact Teaneck Stands Up who are assisting the poll workers in their legal fight.  

If you want to help defend Eileen DeBari and Ken Zisa, don’t worry, you already are.  The Bergen County Freeholders who are all in Joe’s pocket are sparing no expense at throwing many lawyers to defend the illegal actions of the Elections Commissioners.  So, once again, we are all paying a corruption tax.  To defend criminals who would dismantle our democracy.  Sorry this story didn’t have a happy ending.  Yet.

Joe Ferriero, Dennis Oury, Elaine Rabbitt, and Dennis Mulligan aren’t the ONLY BCDO dems to embarass our party.  We need to clean house NOW.  Now its personal.  We ALL are footing the bill for the way the BCDO runs the entire county.  

The Real Bergen Dems originally began because we did not trust Joe Ferriero to run an honest BCDO convention.  Based on what occurred on May 13 in municipal elections in Teaneck, it appears those fears are well founded.

We need CHANGE.  Inauguration week is a great time to begin it.  I will be at 50 Main Street in Hackensack on Thursday nite to ask for a postponement so that WE and not Joe Ferriero chart a new course for the BCDO.  

Who is with me?

Blue Jersey Radio Tonight at 8:00 (Eastern, that is)

Extra special thanks to Asm. Reed Gusciora for the call-in and update on the now-famous roll call. For a little slice of Denver, have a listen. -JG

Each week, Blue Jersey Radio streams LIVE with New Jersey’s latest political buzz, interviews with newsmakers, and your stimulating calls.

This week: We’re breaking down the happenings in Denver, with updates from our correspondents in Denver – plus, some surprise calls from members of the New Jersey delegation. And, of course, it’s all LIVE.

We’ve got so much to cover, we’re making this a special one-hour edition. Want to join in? Give us a call tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time and have your say with me, Jason and members of the NJ Delegation LIVE from Denver!.

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Talk to you then!

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Convening a National Conversation about Democracy & America in Denver

By Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper

Now that one of the most remarkable primaries in our nation’s history has concluded, attention is turning to the Democratic National Convention in Denver.  In less than three months, the Mile High City and the Rocky Mountain West will host this historic event for the first time since 1908.

The Convention also coincides with Denver’s 150th birthday – a

century-and-a-half of progress and innovation since its birth at the height of the Colorado gold rush.  A hub of opportunity for people seeking new frontiers, people come to Colorado seeking much more than gold these days.  The spirit of visionary zeal and limitless possibility is as strong as ever in the New West.  So it’s fitting that as the Democratic Party marches toward its own new frontier, it will do so through Denver.

A message to all of you in New Jersey: you don’t have to be in Denver – or on the Convention floor – to get in on the action though.  The Denver 2008 Convention Host Committee has organized two interactive ways for people anywhere in America to get involved.  We’re convening a national conversation about democracy and community and invite everyone to participate.

The Unitary Chairman

It appears Joe Ferriero is taking a page from the Unitary President’s playbook.  He is ignoring the laws.  The Bylaws of the Bergen County Democratic Party. 

Last night while watching Alberto Gonzales try to wiggle his way out of saying torture was OK and that visiting a sick man on sedation in the hospital wasn’t pressuring the guy, I got that familiar feeling.  That someone was trying to get away with something yet again.  I needed to vent.  I needed to tell you all what was going on up here. 

On June 20, our call for a County Convention which is provided for in our Bylaws was completely disregarded by Chairman Joe Ferriero.  In response, Committee member Robert Gulack sent a letter which I will post here in it’s entirety:

Dear Chairman Ferriero:

On June 20, 2007, you mailed the members of the Bergen County Democratic Organization a letter in which you offered excuses for not calling a convention on June 27 even though our By-Laws required you to do so.  Your letter makes it clear that you are countenancing ongoing violations of Article III, Section 5(E); Article IX, Section 3; and Article X, Section 4 of our By-laws.  Title 19:5-3, which covers the membership and organization of county committees, provides that “The chairman shall … perform all duties required of him by … the constitution and bylaws of such committee.”

You are Violating Our Right to Call a Convention

Article IX, Section 3 permits any five percent of our Committee to call a convention “at any time”, provided solely that they submit the request for the convention in writing to our Chairman and Secretary.  Once a convention has been called under Article IX, Section 3, you are required to see that the convention is called at the time specified by the written request.  The By-laws do not provide you with any power to make a judgement call overruling the written request by five percent to call the convention.  Neither do the Bylaws provide you with any power to delay the convention beyond the date specified by the written request.

Under Article IX, Section 6(c), you were required to send out the convention notice June 20.  You failed to do so.

In the present case, there are 1328 members of our Committee.  Five percent of that is 67.  Seventy-three members submitted their written request June 11, 2007.  You do not contest these facts.  You simply ignore them.

You May Oppose the Tenth Resolution, but You Must Let Us Vote On It

In your judgement, the tenth resolution is a “waste of resources”.  You are perfectly free to make that argument at the convention.  You are not allowed to deny us the convention because you oppose one of the proposed resolutions.  We have the right to hear your argument, and decide if we agree.

You are Violating Our Right to Pass Sense-of-the-Convention Resolutions

Under Article X, Section 4 of our By-laws, “[u]nless otherwise provided for in these by-laws or by statute, all business shall be governed by Robert’s Rules of Order.” Section 39 of Robert’s Rules allows our convention to pass simple sense-of-the-Convention resolutions, unless such resolutions “conflict with the … by-laws.”

None of the ten proposed resolutions conflict with our By-laws.  Indeed, you wrote that “many of these resolutions . . .represent a practice currently utilized by me as Chairman.”  Since you are clearly not saying that “many” of your “practice[s]” conflict with our By-laws, your letter admits that there is no conflict between our By-laws and these resolutions.  (If, on the other hand, these resolutions do somehow conflict with our By-laws, your own June 20 letter would constitute a written admission that you routinely violate our By-laws and would therefore raise the question as to whether you are guilty of “many” violations of Title 19.  You can’t have it both ways.)

Since these resolutions do not conflict with our By-laws, our Committee has every right to pass these nine resolutions as simple sense-of-the-convention resolutions under Robert’s Rules of Order.  We are required to submit these resolutions to a committee controlled by you, and then pass them only by a two-thirds vote.

You Are Violating Our Right to Appeal Parliamentary Rulings

Once a convention is in progress, the issue as to whether any of these resolutions are out of order could be addressed by the Chair.  Any ruling by the Chair could then be appealed under Robert’s Rules of Order Section 24. By issuing what is, in effect, a parliamentary runling as a fait accompli in your letter, you are denying the Committee its right to appeal your parliamentary ruling.

The Bergen Democratic Party Must Follow the Rule of Law

Our Committee’s By-laws are not a string of esoteric technicalities, which you may ignore according to your whim.  Our By-laws are the detailed and explicit framework in which we do our business as a Committee – when they are trampled upon, our Committee is transformed from a political party of free women and men into a collection of serfs shoved this way or that at the pleasure of a single individual.  Our By-laws also have the force of state law under Title 19.

To be an effective political froce for the betterment of a democratic nation, our  Democratic Party must be conducted with the full respect for the democratic rights of every member of our Committee.  Every one of us has rights under the By-laws – not just you.  We are calling a convention to show our support for democratic processes.  Your continuing failure to call the required convention shows your contempt for democracy under law

Sincerely, Robert Gulack, Member, Bergen County Democratic Committee.

Liveblogging the NJ Dem Convention

OK, so this is not really live blogging the convention since I am back in my hotel room after attending the Labor reception.  But there’s no wireless in Bally’s convention area and I wasn’t about to lug my laptop over there and back to the hotel anyway.

Pretty much this started like any other convention, meeting up with folks I’ve seen and haven’t seen over the year and a couple months since the last one.  Glad-handing, smiling, telling dumb stories, sharing potty-training secrets (really!) and finding out about some of the campaigns out there.

Mitch Manzella was working the crowd for Carol Gay, and though I didn’t see her someone told me she was there.  Governor Jim Florio held court in a few places, telling stories that made folks laugh and since he’s out of office that means they  were funny.  Joe Cryan, our chairman, moved around everywhere very well and spread his charm throughout the crowd.  Essentially, a schmooze-fest like the first night of a convention should be.

The most notable thing that happened (besides dipping rice crispy treats in a chocolate fountain) was during the presentation part of the Labor reception.  First, all the speakers — there were five — were brief and to the point.  That’s remarkable in and of itself.

But the best part was when Charlie Wowkanech from the AFL-CIO gave a proud and happy shout-out to Senator Steve Sweeney, who is an Ironworker union leader.

Sweeney, most Blue Jersey readers should recall, is the leader of a legislative effort to take wages and benefits away from state workers.  He maintains that private sector workers are making less and have lower benefits, so he as a leader of the working man and woman wants to reduce state worker benefits.

Needless to say, the AFL-CIO was not amused and put out a press release that said, in part:

Most troublesome about Senator Sweeney and Assemblymen Green and Moriarty’s announcement yesterday is that it undermines the collective bargaining process by bypassing negotiations and simply imposing their will upon thousands of middle class public employees. We are deeply disappointed with this action and respectfully urge these Legislators to retract this proposal and instead raise these concerns at the bargaining table.

In June the AFL-CIO was “deeply disappointed” and troubled by Sweeney’s efforts, efforts which have not let up since then.  But today, in the gladhanding atmosphere of a party convention, all is forgiven.

That’s all for tonight, as I need to get a good night’s sleep to be ready for tomorrow.  Could someone call the casinos for me and see if they can bring back $5 minimum blackjack?