Tag Archive: Linda Stender

Koch Conspirators

There’s an old Middle Eastern saying, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” I don’t buy into this philosophy, but it does provide a starting point for evaluating that enemy of my enemy.

Today, the Koch Brothers’ organization, Americans for Prosperity, released a 2014 scorecard of New Jersey legislators. AFP has a simplistic philosophy – government and taxes are bad. However, the real world is more nuanced than that, but it’s interesting to see how AFP rated some of our New Jersey legislators.

They give in a shadow afraid to be known

Who are these people and organizations? What are their names? How much do they contribute? Assembly Bill 3863 would require disclosure of contributions received and expenditures made by committees or organizations not affiliated or coordinated with any candidate.

The bill passed the Assembly State Government Committee with the three Democrats, Linda Stender, John McKeon, and Herb Conaway in support. The two Republicans, Donna Simon and Chris Brown, abstained and issued a Minority Report. It pays lip service to transparency but serves as a preamble for likely opposition from other Republicans and from the governor who expects significant contributions to go to “independent” groups which support him.

Following the Citizens United court ruling at least 27 states have strengthened their campaign finance laws. It is important that New Jersey do so as well. The Assembly and Senate Democrats should be willing to make some accommodations to avert a veto or gain enough Republican support to override a veto. We need more sunshine and less shadow.  

Can there be more than one? An Open Letter to Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and the WPCNJ

Dear Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and the Women’s Political Caucus of New Jersey:

Ronald Reagan coined a phrase, “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican,” when running for Governor of California in 1966, which became known as the 11th Commandment of Republican Party politics.

Since the Democratic Party has always been known as the party of the circular firing squad, I would not expect State Senator Nia Gill to refrain from criticizing her opponents in the CD10 primary election, but I was shocked to read PolitickerNJ today and find that Gill dismissed the candidacy of Shelley Adler in CD3 and every other woman, running for Congress throughout the state this year, in an attempt to raise money from donors who are committed to sending more NJ women to Congress.

In a fundraising letter sent this week, the Gill campaign asked donors to “ensure that the New Jersey Congressional delegation will include at least one woman.”

“Unless Nia Gill wins, it won’t,” the email sent to prospective donors proclaims.

Knowing that both Adler and Gill have been endorsed by both of you in the CD3 general election and the CD10 primary election, I would be interested to know what you think about one of your endorsed candidates disrespecting the candidacy of another endorsed candidate to the degree that Gill has.

I could be wrong, but I think that it is safe to assume that there is at least some crossover between Adler’s and Gill’s donor prospecting lists and it clearly does not benefit Adler, who probably needs to raise $1-2 million to be in a position to defeat Jon Runyan this fall, compared to Senator Gill, who is probably not going to raise much more than $100K during the primary election cycle and will not need to raise much at all if she is fortunate enough to win the primary election, considering the degree to which CD10 is a safe Democratic district.

I recognize that it might not be my place to say this, being male, but aside from the fact that it is not nice to spit on the efforts of other women who are running for Congress in NJ, particularly those of someone like Shelley Adler, who recently lost her husband, the late State Senator and Congressman, John Adler, and has been inspired by his example and memory as well as a personal commitment and dedication to public service and a desire to continue his legacy, I think that a very strong argument could be made that Adler has as good a chance of winning in November as Gill does, if not a better one, primarily because Adler is definitely going to be on the general election ballot in CD3.  There is no such guarantee that anyone will be seeing Senator Gill’s name on a general election ballot this year or in any other year to come.

Will the Congressional Redistricting Commission give Joe Cryan a golden parachute to Washington?

Unless a miracle takes place this Tuesday and Republicans in LD1, LD3, and LD4 pull off major upsets, South Jersey party boss, George Norcross, will have more than enough votes to replace his primary adversary in the Assembly, Majority Leader Joe Cryan, with his top ally in the legislative body, Louis Greenwald, sending Cryan to the back bench.

What remains to be seen, however, is what Cryan will do once he is sent there.  Will he unite with his fellow back bencher in the Senate, Dick Codey, to build an opposition movement that will contend not only for the Governor’s office in 2013, but also all 120 legislative seats?  As much as I would love to see this, I do not expect that this will happen.  It is very possible that Dick Codey will run for Governor in 2013, but it is also possible that Cory Booker, Barbara Buono, and Steve Sweeney will run as well and it is unlikely that any of them will run opposition slates against the party lines that they do not win, which means that regardless of who wins the gubernatorial primary, there will not be much change in the legislative roster or its leadership.

If I am right about this, then Cryan will most likely remain on the back bench for most of the next decade.  That is, unless he finds a new office for which to run or that office finds him.  There have been times in the past decade when Cryan expressed an interest in running for Congress in the 7th district, but admitted that the current configuration of the district made it extremely difficult for a Democrat to win.

This is very true.  Our best chance to win this district came in 2006 when a very popular Assemblywoman, Linda Stender, challenged a very unpopular Congressman Mike Ferguson in a year that Democrats were trending up and Republicans were trending down.  However, despite these trends, Stender came a few thousand votes short of victory.  Two years later, Stender did not run as strong of a campaign as she did in 2006 and faced a very popular State Senator, Leonard Lance.  Despite huge turnout increases inspired by Barack Obama’s candidacy, it was not enough for a Democrat to win the 7th and Lance defeated Stender by a much wider margin than Ferguson did two years earlier.

Bill to Decriminalize small amounts of Marijuana garners 18 co-sponsors.

22,439 people were arrested in New Jersey for possessing less than 50 grams* of cannabis in 2009.

FreedomIsGreen.Com, a local blog devoted to advancing more enlightened cannabis policy in New Jersey is reporting an an intriguing new bill on the Assembly docket that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana in the Garden State.

The bill, which already has 18 co-sponsors (5 from the GOP) was introduced by Assemblymen Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer) and Michael Patrick Carroll (R-Morris), the same bi-partisan duo that introduced the state’s nascent medical marijuana law.

Rally for Women’s Health (and Hot Feminist Men)

Women's Health Care Rally4 6-2011We saw it today. The sliding approval ratings of our headstrong governor (more on this later) are being driven downward by New Jersey’s women. Women unimpressed by gubernatorial bluster, who may wonder what Chris Christie’s attitude towards their gender might be, given that he is incapable of speaking about or to women legislators – like Loretta Weinberg (“take a bat to her”), Valerie Huttle (“a jerk”) Sheila Oliver (“liar”) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (responsible for a murder) – without unprofessional conduct and insulting language.

On the other hand, maybe New Jersey women don’t have to wonder, since everything in Gov. Christie attitude toward his female constituents, particularly those of lower income, is crystal clear. He removed from the state budget the $7.5 million the state was funding women’s health and family planning programs, of critical need. He has ignored or resisted all attempts to find alternate ways to restore that funding, while spending freely on other things. And he’s caused the state to lose $9 of federal funding for every $1 New Jersey isn’t spending on these programs.

Women's Health Rally 6-20-11Fortunately, there is leadership in both houses of the legislature – with Sen. Loretta Weinberg & Asw Linda Stender in the lead – who will not give up. Yesterday was a killer day in Trenton, and the disgraceful votes in the Senate and Assembly Budget blotted out the rest of the day. So, reaching back a day, here are some pictures from yesterday’s rally calling for a full restoration of the funds removed from family planning and women’s health programs.

Women's Health Care Rally3 6-20-11I want to note the delegations from National Council of Jewish Women and Planned Parenthood, who showed in numbers. And that among the men who showed up – sexy beasts all of them – was Rep. Frank Pallone, who towered over everyone else at the podium, and LD-8 candidate Carl Lewis, who pointed out that sometimes it takes a man to stand up for a woman. I have to say it: Feminist men are hot.

I Believe The Governor is a Good Husband and Father. I Just Don’t Believe He’s A Good Governor!

For The New Jersey Family.

Twas a good convention. I was moved by speeches given by Chair John Wisniewski, our Senator Frank Lautenberg and most notably the one passionately delivered by Speaker Sheila Oliver. The theme of all was: remember why we’re Democrats, and go back to the grass roots who share our values. Young people, candidates, vendors and many interesting folk in attendance. The breakout sessions were informative, and meeting other Dems was most satisfying.  Made some great connections with other women throughout the state who want to help with the womens’ access to health care issue. Also enjoyed meeting some of the very famous Blue Jersey bloggers in person. They were all over the convention. Rosi, with her trusty computer, kept all of you up to date in real time.

But why do some in our ranks continue to try to plant negative stories with the press? Not designed to help anyone!

Along with the Women’s Political Caucus, we hosted the Women’s Health Roundtable in Trenton this past week. Very well attended and representatives of the various groups including nurses and other health professionals, womens’ organizations, and providers were outspoken in describing what the cuts to these health programs mean for women and their families. Thanks to Jay Lassiter for being there with his camera. I did describe the Governor as having initiated a “war on women”. Mike Drewniak, Gov’s press secretary, responded with: ‘that’s over the top – everyone knows Chris Christie is a loving husband and devoted father to two daughters’.  I would assume that’s very true, and would only add: And they have very good health insurance and access to health care!  more below…

Are Toll Collectors about to be Schundlered?

When the New Jersey State Department of Education was competing for $400 million in federal funds last Spring, then-Education Commissioner Brett Schundler reached an agreement with the teachers’ union on an approach to utilize the money. This didn’t sit well with Governor Christie, who abhors workers, especially those in unions. Consequently, Schundler was fired for having the temerity to negotiate with the union, Christie’s minions modified the grant application at the last minute, and New Jersey lost out on the federal funds.

This action apparently did not go unnoticed by Department of Transportation Commissioner James Simpson. At a hearing of the Assembly State Governance Committee today, it became apparent that Simpson got the message and in the last several months his office went from cooperation to obstruction in dealing with the toll collectors on the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway.

While the hearings, which were held in a packed meeting room, were ostensibly billed as a discussion of the privatization of toll collection services, it became quickly apparent that this initiative is another move by the Christie administration to punish union workers.