Tag Archive: Middlesex

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

Happy Thanksgiving from Middlesex County

This Thanksgiving, New Jersey residents have much to be thankful for. In a time of crisis during Superstorm Sandy we banded together. Now in her aftermath, we continue to support one another.

As neighbors helped neighbors, we were reminded of the solid character of New Jerseyans. And as our elected officials acted calmly, pragmatically and creatively to aid us in our time of need, we were reminded just how important it is to elect the right people to serve.

Now more than ever, it’s clear that we need leaders at all levels of government who are looking out for the safety of our families.  And here in New Jersey we are blessed to have just such statesmen looking out for us.

Like all of you, I am indeed thankful to our country for re-electing President Barack Obama, who has proven that he always puts the well-being of our nation’s citizens first. We are closer each day to being an America whose rhetoric matches its reality by being truly free, equal and just.

I am also thankful that New Jersey re-elected Bob Menendez, who will continue to work in the U.S. Senate alongside Frank Lautenberg. And I’m grateful that Congressmen Frank Pallone and Rush Holt will continue representing Middlesex County’s families in the House of Representatives.

I am thankful most of all for the fact that Middlesex County voters re-elected our local leaders, Surrogate Kevin J. Hoagland, Freeholder H. James Polos and Freeholder Ronald G. Rios. Together we will continue fighting for a stronger Middlesex County.

The past two weeks have been extremely difficult for New Jersey as we clean up from Superstorm Sandy and the Nor’easter. It also has been very arduous for County Election Board and clerk’s offices around the state as they oversaw an election that created unprecedented voting issues through the various directives from the Governor’s Office.

I am especially thankful for the hard work of Middlesex County Clerk Elaine Flynn and her staff, along with the Middlesex County Board of Elections, Administrator Jim Vokral, board commissioners and staff. They handled the unique situations in the aftermath of Sandy with true professionalism, making sure voters were able to cast their ballots in the face of extreme circumstances.

Election Day was an extremely difficult and stressful situation for county officials as they faced a massive amount of ballot requests and changing timelines to process the ballots. They did a yeoman’s job of ensuring voters received the proper voting instructions either by phone or via the internet through the County Clerk’s website.

In America, we take pride in going to polls each year. It is the way in which our voices are heard to determine who should govern us from the national to local level. I am proud to say that our Middlesex County election officials accomplished their mission despite extenuating circumstances. They are to be congratulated. And I am thankful to call them – and all of you – my friends.

9/27 Middlesex Dems Social Media Seminar

Come out and see the blogbrothers. Promoted by Rosi

Fresh off last week’s Democratic National Convention, the Middlesex Democrats are ready for the final push to Election Day.

I know I don’t have to tell everyone at Blue Jersey how – now more than ever – social media is playing an important role in politics.  You’ve all been at the cutting-edge of things for several years now.

That’s why, for my first diary here, I wanted to let everyone know something the Middlesex Dems are putting together later this month to help our local candidates, activists and elected officials learn a bit more about Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc.  And I hope some of you can take part, too.

Please join us Thursday, September 27th, as we bring in some of New Jersey’s leading experts to talk about how to best use social media on the campaign trail, in elected office and in your day-to-day life.

Thursday, September 27th

6 PM

IBEW Local 456

1295 Livingston Avenue

North Brunswick, NJ 08902

In fact, the panel’s participants will be some names very familiar to those here at Blue Jersey.

You can RSVP to Dana Korbman at dkorbman@mcdonj.org or (732) 906-3680.

In today’s fast-paced political world, it’s critically important for us all to learn how to best utilize these tools –  to communicate with voters and constituents. The very fact that you’re reading this diary means you know exactly what I’m talking about.  

Ed Potosnak declares in NJ-7 2012 race, Barney Frank headlines first funder

Ed Potosnak, who got 40% in his 2010 race against first-time GOP incumbent Leonard Lance, has filed with the FEC to run again in 2012. Former Edison mayor Jun Choi announced his intention to run a few days ago. New Jersey loses a congressional district in this cycle, but of course we don’t know which one, and NJ-7 has lost fewer constituents than some of the northern congressional districts. So, it’s full steam ahead, and I’m glad to see Potosnak run again, and start early.

Barney Frank is a great get for Potosnak’s first funder (June 18 in Somerset County). I’ve seen him speak, and he’s red meat for sharp Democrats. Frank’s the House architect of the law that created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He fought for Elizabeth Warren to run it. Now both the new bureau and Warren are is Kryptonite to Senate Republicans Barney Frank definitely doesn’t pull his punches or suffer fools gladly. He’s famous for his toughness. He is also one of the most well-known gay politicians in the country, and Ed Potosnak is a progressive Democrat who is also out.

You can argue that a race against Lance is not only easier if you’ve run one before here, but also easier this time around because Lance, something of a GOP maverick in the NJ legislature, has become a disappointing Party sycophant sliding to the right in a CD that may be less tolerant of it, and less invested in him than some of my Hunterdon neighbors still are.  

NJ-7 debates: Will GOP’s Leonard Lance snub Hunterdon, Somerset & Middlesex?

I live in Hunterdon County. Leonard Lance, whom I’ve known for years, is my congressman. It’s hard to explain to someone outside this crimson geography Hunterdon’s relationship with Lance. He’s a known presence on the street, as his father Wesley Lance –  who preceded him in both the Assembly and Senate – was. A friendly person, even if you don’t always agree.

Why then is Lance ducking a debate with his Democratic challenger, Ed Potosnak, here on Hunterdon home turf? I’m bamboozled.

Potosnak’s asked Lance to debate for months. Hearing nothing back, Potosnak accepted 6 debate invitations himself. Potosnak finally heard from Lance last week, a friendly call but without Lance agreeing on the number of debates, location, or dates. (Potosnak also invited Lance on a side-by-side grassroots tour of the District together – yes, he declined).

Now comes word Lance will accept just 2 debates – one for TV (hosted outside NJ-7), and only one in NJ-7 – in Union County. Far away from Lance’s home turf. Why is that? You’d think Lance would insist on at least one matchup here where he’s served the public his entire adult life, where his father’s political legacy still commands respect, where Chris Christie had victory just 11 months ago. Is he concerned his support in the reddest part of NJ-7 has eroded? Lance had 3 Tea Party-inspired opponents – the most of anyone in NJ. Two are from Hunterdon; David Larsen (Tewksbury), the strongest, who’s already signaled he’s running in 2012, and Alonzo “Lon” Hosford (Milford).

Still, I’m surprised Lance declines to stand up here in this county he’s represented for years, and face his opponent. Looks like Middlesex and Somerset get snubbed, too. Two years ago, he wanted more debate with Linda Stender.Is this the same guy? What happens next?  

Who will the next Middlesex Co. Sheriff be?

Could it be that Middlesex Dems are finally starting to clean house?  In the wake of $1 million settlement by the county in a sexual harrassment lawsuit, Sheriff Joe Spicuzzo announced that he won’t run for his seat after being sheriff for nearly 30 years.  Politicker NJ points out that if former sheriff’s officer and current Freeholder Millie Scott were to gain the seat, she would be the first African American woman sheriff in NJ.

I wonder how the women in the lawsuit, who are still in the sheriff’s office, would like having Millie Scott as their boss?  She had to come up through the ranks in a department with an entrenched sexist culture.  It couldn’t have been easy.  She’s a woman of few words, so I don’t expect to hear from her on how it was for her, though I admit, I’m curious.

As I said in my diary about this the other day, it seems the ‘Boys will be boys’ attitude isn’t flying any more in Middlesex.  This is saving Wisniewski a big headache.  And if he’s still looking for advice, I’d say keep on cleaning house.


Middlesex County settles for $1M over harrassment in the Sheriff’s office, more advice to Chair

Promoted by Rosi. I’m sending the url of this diary to Chairman Wisniewski’s office to see if he would like to comment, as he has in the diary he posted Monday asking for advice.

The Star Ledger reported that Middlesex County is settling for $1 million in a lawsuit filed by 5 female sheriff’s officers.  County Sheriff and Democratic County Chair Spicuzzo said last month that he’s still running for his 10th term as sheriff.

He was re-elected Dem County Chair last June.

I guess what we’re seeing is that the ‘boys will be boys’ attitude no longer flies.

In the suit, the five officers alleged they were the targets of “pervasive and regular harassment” from the day they were hired. Accusations were made against Sheriff Joseph Spicuzzo and his then Undersheriff Angelo Falcone among other ranking officers. The women alleged they were subjected to sexual propositions, innuendo, exposure to sexually explicit material and sexually derogatory language…

How do you think the settlement will show in the county budget? I’m definitely going to have stop by and get a copy of the budget, which is being voted on tomorrow, to see how our new Freeholder Director Rafano plans to close the budget gaps.  It’s going to be a tight one, also including the loss of $5 million from doing the right thing and canceling the contract to house immigrant detainees in the jail.

And there’s another lawsuit still out there:

A separate lawsuit, filed by two former women sheriff’s officers claiming harassment — Joan Ivana and Angel Jazikoff — is still pending in federal court… In their suit filed by Garrigan, the women claim a hostile work environment affected their mental and physical health. Garrigan contends Ivana was fired in retaliation for the suit. Their suit claims, among other allegations, that Jazikoff complained Officer Robert Landis exposed himself to her in front of other male officers on Aug. 31, 2001… Ivana alleges she was “subjected to constant, continuous and pervasive comments of an offensive and sexual nature.”

Wisniewski, are you still wanting advice?  As I just said in the comments of your ‘I want advice‘ diary, we need more diversity, and we need to clean house in Middlesex county or the Democrats will continue lose seats around the county. Even though the countywide positions are still all in Democratic party hands, we’ve lost 25 seats over the last 3 years and couldn’t even hold the county for Corzine.  Reform is not a luxury, it is an imperative.

All Citizens Speak English, according to Latina New Bruns Councilwoman/Mdlsx Freeholder

Dual officeholder Blanquita Valenti, New Brunswick Councilwoman and Middlesex County Freeholder responded at yesterday’s NB council meeting, when asked why campaign lit wasn’t in Spanish and English (after some sotto voce comments from others – council, counsel, administrators or whoever else on the panel – about “them‘ not being citizens):

If they don’t speak English, they can’t become citizens.

Um, some people gain citizenship, like I did, by being born here.  Truly astounding from the woman who purports to represent the hispanic community in New Brunswick and the county, and who also represents a county with monolingual Korean, Chinese, Hindi, (probably Urdu and Gujarati for all I know) speakers who are citizens, in substantial numbers.

Kudos to the Rutgers student who responded at the meeting, though she missed his point on the education system, resting on whatever laurels she has from back in the day for setting up bilingual education.  

Makes me worry about the upcoming nat’l immigration debate.

New Brunswick City Council Meeting Nov 4th: Valenti Says Only Those Who Speak English Can Vote from Daniel Dalonzo on Vimeo.