Tag Archive: League of Women Voters

Clean and Green

BY DECIMINYAN Last night, a dozen civic and environmental organizations conducted a “Clean and Green” forum at the Trinity Episcopal Church in Trenton. Despite the inclement weather, a group of about 40 involved residents came to hear presenations on various…
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Another David vs. Goliath Battle

Suppose you are working a low-paying job and require 50 days off for cancer treatment. If you live in the United States, you’re in the only developed nation that does not require your employer to provide at least some paid sick leave.

Suppose you are a restaurant worker in Trenton and come down with the flu. If you take a few days off to recover, you won’t be paid, and if you’re not paid, you can’t feed your family. What choice do you have? Come into work and spread your germs, or let your kids go hungry.

Although 80% of Trenton’s workers already have some paid sick leave benefits, approximately 13,000 workers – mostly in low-paying jobs – are forced to make a decision on whether to work if they or their child is ill.

Last November, Trenton voters overwhelmingly approved an ordinance extending paid sick leave to nearly all workers.

In a classic David vs. Goliath confrontation, powerful business lobbyists are now trying to nullify the will of the voters.  A Superior Court judge is scheduled to hear arguments on April 16 as to whether this ordinance should go into effect or be postponed indefinitely.

Today, in Trenton, a coalition of groups held a rally and press conference to heighten awareness of this issue.

GOP’s Disdain for the Rules

Back in September, I posted a diary railing against the League of Women Voters for prohibiting videotaping of a debate among the four Burlington County Freeholders. While I came to the debate with the equipment to record the proceedings, I respected their ban.

Now we see that the Republicans are running ads with footage that must have been shot surreptitiously at that same debate. The ads are edited to be negative and misleading against the Democratic challengers.

If we can’t trust the GOP Freeholders to follow simple debate rules, how can we trust them with our tax dollars?

“Democracy is Not a Spectator Sport”

Rock

I love this quote!

It’s a frequent refrain for Democracy for America supporters like myself; widely attributed to Lotte E. Scharfman, a former President of the League of Women Voters of MA; and this week – it showed up in the mailboxes of NJ’s DNC2012 Delegates, courtesy of prolific swag-giver, and future statewide candidate-for-something, Newark Mayor Cory Booker.

I guess it can now be officially declared that the brick city Mayor is a “rock” star. And, credit where it’s due, I love my new inspirational paperweight.

Now, we can only hope New Jersey democrats translate this into the call to action it should be – not only to reelect our President, U.S. Senator and Congressional incumbents, but to do what it takes for our Congressional Challengers, our Legislative Candidates, and the down-ballot candidates who form our bench for the future.

How the League of Women Voters Enables the GOP’s Aversion to Transparency

The Mission Statement of the League of Women Voters says it “…encourages informed and active participation in government [and] works to increase understanding of major public policy issues…”

One of the ways it purports to accomplish this is by conducting debates between various political candidates. Last night, the League sponsored a debate between the Democrats and Republicans running for two seats on the Burlington County Board of Freeholders. But the representatives from the League clearly ignored their Mission Statement.

Menendez v. Kyrillos Debate Schedule

Here’s the debate schedule for the important contest between Sen. Bob Menendez and his opponent state senator Joe Kyrillos, who face off in November the United States Senate. This has the corrected time for the first debate, which may have been printed incorrectly elsewhere.

Thursday, October 4, 8 p.m.

Sponsored by North Jersey Media Group and NJTV

To be held at Montclair State University

Moderated by Mike Schneider, NJTV

Wednesday, October 10, 7 p.m.

Sponsored by New Jersey 101.5 FM Radio

Moderated by Eric Scott

Executive Director, News and Network Programming

Saturday, October 13, 5 p.m. (taping)

Air Date: Sunday, October 14 (broadcast time to be determined)

Sponsored by the League of Women Voters of New Jersey Education Fund, WABC-TV, WPVI-TV, Univision

Kyrillos, as you know, is heavily dependent on Chris Christie for direct fundraising. He also depends on him for messaging, direction and enthusiam his campaign can’t seem to generate on its own.

Neverthless, challenger candidates are alert to the potential value to them of debates, of the chance to be seen on an an even plane, in this case for Kyrillos to try and appear senatorial next to a man who already holds the position he seeks. Prior to these debates being scheduled, the Kyrillos team tried the tack of saying Menendez was avoiding debate, which his team confirms is not true (they are the ones who released the debate schedule). Even so, I would encourage supporters to find a way to be in the room for these debates. It’s quite a contrast, particularly since Kyrillos is shilling for the Christie view of government.

 

Resurrecting RGGI

Last summer, without consulting the legislature, following what he hoped would be a secret meeting with the notorious Koch Brothers climate change deniers, Governor Christie abruptly announced that he was withdrawing New Jersey from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). 

RGGI is a cap-and-trade initiative started by New York Republican Governor George Pataki in 2003, with participation from several states in the Northeast. Its goal is to reduce the amount of pollutants in the atmosphere by imposing a small tax on carbon emissions. Polluters can purchase offsets at quarterly auctions, which would bring money into state coffers. That money is supposed to go to conservation and energy efficiency programs. 

In response to the Governor’s foolish and unilateral action, Senators Sweeney and Smith have introduced a bill (S1322) which requires New Jersey to participate in RGGI. 

Today, Senator Smith chaired the Environment and Energy Committee hearing, receiving testimony from advocates on both sides of the issue. 

There is a difference between New Jersey and some of the more backward states that cater to the Rick Santorums of the world. At least in today’s testimony, there were no witnesses who opposed the bill on the basis of climate change denial. Those opposing RGGI put forth what seem to be fallacious economic arguments on how RGGI will raise electric rates. The arguments were quickly shot down by RGGI advocates. 

Of particular interest was the testimony of a small businessman from Princeton who pointed out how RGGI actually creates jobs in the state – jobs that are desperately needed as our unemployment rate exceeds the national average. 

The bill passed the Senate committee unanimously, including the vote of the lone Republican present, Senator Kip Bateman. Once it passes the full legislature, we’ll wait to see if the Governor continues to put his national political ambitions ahead of the health of New Jerseyans and vetoes the bill, or if he does what is right and signs it.

Testimony video below the fold…

Anti-Voucher Rally in Jersey City, Wednesday Afternoon

Opportunity! Scholarships! Action! All of these things sound awesome, and even moreso when you string them together – “Opportunity Scholarship Act” – it just rolls off the tongue, like “Madoff Investment Securities,” or “House Un-American Activities Committee.” Still, everyone knows that the OSA, likely to rear its zombie-vampire head once again in the lame duck, is just a marketing name for school vouchers – a famously failed scheme with over two decades of pure bleh to show for itself – a misuse of taxpayer money and violation of civil liberties done in the interest of advancing an education “solution” that has not, in over 20 years, done anything to improve student achievement. Even voucher advocates now must concede that students who receive vouchers do no better than students in regular public schools. (You can see this defeat in action as many voucher advocates now no longer sell better test scores in their pitch, instead pivoting to a promise to boost parent involvement.) You have to wonder what else voucher advocates will suggest – a new VCR for every classroom in the state? New mimeograph machines?

Voucher opponents will rally tomorrow in Jersey City at 3:30 p.m. in the auditorium of Franklin Williams Middle School (M.S. #7). Senators Rice and Cunningham, Assemblyman Mainor, former Assistant Commissioner of Education Gordon MacInnes and activist Junius Williams will be in attendance along with what’s expected to be a large crowd of parents and children.

Note the impressive list of sponsor organizations:

ACLU NJ

Coalition for Effective Newark Public Schools

The Latino Institute

League of Women Voters of NJ

Delaware Valley Americans United for Separation of Church and State

NJ Working Families

Our Children/Our Schools

The Paterson Education Fund

Save Our Schools NJ

Statewide Education Organizing Committee

It’s also notable that a number of Republican legislators oppose school vouchers, including Senators Diane Allen and Kip Bateman, and Assembly members David Wolff and James Holzapfel.

WHEN: Wed, Nov. 30. 3:30 p.m.

WHERE: Franklin L. Williams Middle School #7 (Auditorium); 222 Laidlaw Ave., Jersey City