Tag Archive: Helen Hoens

Christie’s Supreme Blunders Benefit New Jersey Residents

A right-wing group called the Judicial Crisis Network is running an attack ad (below) that paints Chris Christie as one who appoints liberal justices to the state Supreme Court. And although the video is full of hyperbole, factual error, and conservative catch phrases, it is not entirely wrong. Christie’s actions on the Supreme Court are just one more broken election promise, although one that turns out to be good for the people of the state.

What’s Happening Today Fri. 10/18/2013

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley returns to NJ today to support Barbara Buono’s campaign. The former head of the Democratic Governor’s Association, no friend of Gov. Christie, will attend two events in Trenton. (See schedule below.)

Tying the knot on Monday: On October 10 the Superior Court denied the State’s motion to delay the October 21 start date for same-sex marriages. That ruling indicated that “those who satisfy the requirements to enter a civil marriage” may marry in NJ on that date, ie., get your application filled in now to to wed on October 21. The Supreme Court is now handlling the case, and as of this morning is mum on the matter. Unless it rules differently the start date will remain Monday. Let the wedding bells ring!

Superior Court Judge Faustino Fernandez-Vina sailed through the Judiciary Committee yesterday as Christie’s most recent nomination to the NJ Supreme Court. The rationale of the Democratic legislators for approving him is that he is replacing the departed Republican Justice Helen Hoens, and his appointment leaves the court with two Democrats, two Republicans and one Independent – a balanced court. Democrats are in no rush to review the other two Christie nominees who would put the Court way out of balance.    

Bergen County Politics: This is the county where Steve Lonegan resides and part of which is in Republican Scott Garrett’s Congressional District. It is also where Democratic power brokers have misused the public trust. Yesterday it went 57% for Cory Booker. In the prior Senate race Sen. Menendez won with 58%, and in the last gubernatorial race Gov. Corzine won with 51%. It remains a Democratic county but often with close races, and Rep. Garrett regularly trounces his Democratic opponents. It’s not the land of of the progressive former Representative Steve Rothman. The  Democratic Committee of Bergen County in the past years has often been ineffective. The County Executive is a Republican, and the membership of the Board of Freeholders jumps back and forth but currently has a majority of Democrats. Republicans are pouring money into LD38 to defeat Sen. Bob Gordon, Assemblyman Tim Eustace, and  Joe Lagana. Also, Gov. Christie has devoted significant time and resources to win the county in the upcoming gubernatorial race, and he might succeed.

Democratic residents of Bergen County: rise up before it’s too late. This November we need a win for Barbara Buono, the LD38 candidates, a new  Sheriff, and three freeholder candidates. Next year we need a Democratic County Executive, a continued majority of freeholders, and the annihilation of Scott Garrett. The time is now to start working to achieve these outcomes.


Buono/Silva gubernatorial campaign: Barbara Buono: 8:45am, Jewish Community Gubernatorial Candidates Forum, Jewish Community Center MetroWest, 760 Northfield Ave., West Orange;  Barbara Buono: 1:45pm, Bob Burns Show, Radio interview, WOND 1400 AM;  Barbara Buono and Milly Silva: 2:30pm, with Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, Campaign Event, 24 S. Warren St., Trenton;  Barbara Buono and Milly Silva: 3:30pm, with Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, NJEA President Wendell Steinhauer, and Trenton Education Association President Naomi Johnson-LaFleur, Campaign Event, NJEA HQ, 180 West State St., Trenton;  Milly Silva: 7:10pm, Paterson Democratic Club 7th Annual Black Tie Affair, The Bethwood, 38 Lackawanna Ave, Totowa;  Milly Silva: 8:00pm, Latinos for Lauren for City Council, Noches de Colombia, 25 Lake Ave., Clifton.

Christie/Guadagno gubernatorial campaign: Chris Christie: 11:00am, New Jersey Career Fire Chiefs Association, The Westin, Jersey City; 2:00pm, announces a campaign endorsement, Sabor Latino Restaurante, Dover;  5:15pm, inducted into the Livingston High School Hall of Fame, The Wilshire Caterers, West Orange.

What’s Happening Today Fri. 08/23/2013

Where we are today: Jobs: With an an unemployment rate of 8.6%, we rank 43rd highest in the nation. We also have the highest unemployment rate in our region: CT (8.1%), DE (7.4%), NY (7.5%), and PA (7.5%). Other data from the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate we lost 11,800 jobs from last month. When the jobs data became available on August 15 Sen. Barbara Buono said, “Today, while Governor Christie is at the RNC summer meeting, preparing to run for higher office, New Jersey lost more than 11,000 jobs in July. His only job creation plan has been to protect the millionaires and subsidize corporations with no accountability. Clearly, this is not working. Unlike our current Governor, putting the 400,000 unemployed New Jerseyans back to work will be my number one priority.”

Stand-off at the OK court: Our Supreme Court is coping OK with the fact that Christie stopped following the standard practice of re-nominating judges for tenure to the court. With two vacancies the Chief Justice has appointed a Republican and a Democrat to serve on a temporary basis. Christie recently denied tenure to Republican Justice Hoens and instead nominated  Republican Judge Faustino Fernandez-Vina. Assembly Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg says, “This week, Senate President Sweeney indicated that he believes we should give Judge Fernandez-Vina a hearing and I agree wholeheartedly. I share the Senate President’s position that diversity, qualifications and balance are most important..” With a third vacancy in October when Justice Hoens departs, it makes sense for the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold this hearing.

Given free rein, with Christie’s nomination of Republican Anne Patterson confirmed in 2011 and the possible confirmation of three other Republicans (Fernandez-Vina, plus  two other nominees already in waiting) our Governor would have appointed four Republicans. He could still try for a fifth (on a court with seven members) by denying tenure in June to Chief Justice Stuart Rabner. Such is unacceptable and beyond a stand-off – we would metaphorically need a gun fight at the corral. If Justice Fernandez-Vina passes muster, OK, but three more Republicans – no way. The Senate should negotiate unconditionally with the governor for at least three to four Democrats on the court in order to maintain balance, or else continue the current stand-off.

Public Schedules: None today for Christie, Guadagno, Booker, Buono, and Silva.

U. S. Senate candidate Steve Lonegan: 7:30pm, meets with Sussex County GOP mayors, Sussex Republicans’ headquarters, Newton.

What’s happening tomorrow: Many New Jerseyans will be boarding buses and traveling to Washington, D.C. to participate in the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Among them are 1199SEIU members in New Jersey who go with a renewed sense of urgency after the Supreme Court overturned key provisions of the Voting Rights Act in June. We still don’t have a response from our Governor on that matter. Milly Silva, Executive Vice President of 1199SEIU and Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor, also says, “We need to expand economic opportunities for all people and create good-paying jobs. That is one step towards achieving Dr. King’s fifty-year old dream.”

If you have an item for this column email it to me the evening before at Billorr563@gmail.com

Weekend ME Poll: Eye on the New Jersey Supreme Court

The question this weekend was How will Marriage Equality arrive first in NJ?  Of the 19 votes cast, the majority of respondents (10 votes) said “through a NJ Supreme Court ruling.” Three respondents chose through “NJ Legislature’s override of Christie’s veto.” Two respondents each voted for the “US Supreme Court,” a “voter referendum,” and “some other venue.”

The fact that a majority of poll respondents believe we will get Marriage Equality through a NJ Supreme Court ruling highlights the importance of the nomination process underway. Of the current five justices two are Democrats (Chief Justice Stuart Rabner and Justice Barry Albin), two are Republican (Justices Helen Hoens and Anne Patterson) and one is Independent/Republican (Justice Jaynee LaVecchia). Governor Christie has already nominated out gay Bruce Harris, who it is said will recuse himself on marriage equality if he receives Senate confirmation. Governor Christie has yet to nominate a second candidate, and it seems that if Christie has his way the nominee will not support marriage equality. We may be headed toward a Supreme Court of seven members with only two Democrats.

In 2006 the court unanimously agreed that the state marriage law was unconstitutional with respect to the equal protection of same sex couples. Three Democratic justices argued that the only constitutional remedy was an amendment of state marriage law to include same-sex couples, but none of these justices remain on the bench. Four justices, the majority, ruled that the legislature could either amend marriage laws to allow ME or create civil unions. Two of these justices who were comfortable with civil unions are still on the bench (Justices Rabner and LaVecchia), and the other two have left.

There has been substantial change in the public’s attitude toward ME since 2006, and what the court might decide is anyone’s guess. To review the poll and comments go here, or for more information on the current Supreme Court go here.  

Our Republican Supreme Court in 2012

The NJ Supreme Court’s 2010-11 term opens tomorrow. With Chief Justice Rabner’s assignment of Edward Stern (D) to Associate Justice, there are now 4 Democrats, 2 Republicans and 1 Independent on the court. This make up could change substantially in 2012. Justice Stern is temporarily filling the position of John Wallace (D) whom Governor Christie did not resubmit for tenure, as customary, when his initial 7-year term expired earlier this year. Instead Christie selected Anne M. Patterson (R) as a replacement, and Senate President Sweeney declared the nomination dead on arrival.

Beyond the unknowns of death, resignation, impeachment, or some form of political intervention, such as the Senate changing its mind and deciding to confirm Patterson, below are key dates which signal change in personnel and/or political affiliations of the court’s membership.

Sep 2011 – Roberto Rivera-Soto (R), initial 7-year term expires.

Mar 2012 – John Wallace (D), mandatory retirement age, with seat temporarily assigned to Edward Stern (D).

Mar 2012 – Virginia Long (D), mandatory retirement date.

Jul 2013 – Helen Hoens (R), initial 7-year term expires.

Jun 2014 (after expiration of Christie’s current term) – Chief Justice Rabner (D), initial 7-year term as Chief Justice expires.  

(more below the fold)

News Round-up and Open Thread for Tuesday, October 24

There’s a lot to report today, folks.

  • Environmental protection commissioner Lisa Jackson yesterday revealed plans to do a complete overhaul of Our Fair State’s $60 million cleanup program. Changes will include prioritizing the sites for cleanup, starting a licensing program for environmental consultants, and adopting programs with incentives for cleaning up sites quickly. The department is trying to fix the system after the high-profile closing of a daycare in Gloucester County which was located on contaminated soil.
  • Children and Families Commissioner Kevin Ryan reported to the Assembly Human Services Committee yesterday that new child welfare workers are getting their training but re-training existing workers is taking longer. Also, the number of kids in foster care who receive physical and psychological examinations has increased, but an overhaul of the health care system for foster children is needed and will be proposed.
  • As expected, the State Senate unanimously approved Associate Justice James Zazzali as Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court yesterday, and Judge Helen Hoens was approved to fill the associate position.
  • State Senator Ellen Karcher’s bill to curb political contributions from redevelopment contractors and professionals has received bipartisan support. Even with such support the bill may not pass, because of other ethics reform legislation being proposed.
  • State Senator Stephen Sweeney has been under fire from labor groups about his proposal to cut the benefits and pay of unionized state workers. Sweeney met with the president of the AFL-CIO earlier this month and has been defending his proposals.
  • The Legislative ethics panel met yesterday, selecting Raymond Bramucci as chairman. The panel put off a decision to investigate Wayne Bryant and his “job” at UMDNJ, citing two ongoing criminal investigations by the US and State Attorneys’ General offices.
  • Rutgers announced yesterday the formation of the Rutgers Energy Institute, which will bring together all energy-focused projects under one banner. The Institute’s long-term goal is to help break American dependence on fossil fuels, particularly those from foreign sources.
  • Speaking of alternative power sources, more residents of Our Fair State favor the use of offshore wind power than oppose them, and even more are in favor if the turbines are further away. Woo-hoo!
  • Viola Thomas-Hughes is feeling little support in her run against Frank LoBiondo. Until last week, she had received no financial support, from Dem organizations in Gloucester and Cumberland counties. In the last week Cape May Democrats and Cumberland County Dem organization have donated, with the Gloucester County Dems promising some as well. Visit her site if you can help, too.
  • New Jersey is a tough place for military recruiters; only Connecticut and Rhode Island have lower recruiting percentages. Officials and researchers blame the lack of interaction between military folks and civilians in Our Fair State, while some recruiters directly blame the Iraq war.

Open Thread: What’s on your mind today, Blue Jersey?

News Round-up and Open Thread for Tuesday, October 17

  • The investigation of State Senator Wayne Bryant is expanding, with federal investigators subpoenaing financial records from Department of Children and Families’ dealings with Bryant’s former employer UMDNJ, and records from the Office of Legislative Services about public agencies’ business with Bryant’s law firm.
  • The Nat’l Republican Senate Committee is pouring more money into Tom Kean JUNIOR’s senate run, now to re-run an ad about ethics questions. No comment was made about the irony of JUNIOR redirecting attention with ethics questions.
  • Assembly Democrats are hearing updates and ideas from the special committees set up this summer to investigate property tax reform, hoping to meet the deadline they set of one month from now. Meanwhile, state Sen. Bill Gormely has proposed revamping the health insurance program for public employees, which would face strong opposition from the unions.
  • Moving forward: Lucile Davy is officially the state education commissioner now, while State Supreme Court Associate Justice James Zazzali has been approved by the State Senate judiciary committee to move to chief justice and Appellate Division Justice Helen Hoens has been approved to move to the high court.
  • Mayors are still allowed to collect fees for performing weddings. An ethics violation determination by the Department of Community Affairs has been dropped.
  • The Borough Council in Keyport is expected to consider a proposed ordinance that would fine landlords $1000 if they have units rented to illegal immigrants. “This is a racist ordinance with the sole purpose of getting rid of all Latinos in Keyport,” said the Rev. Miguel Rivera, president of the National Coalition of Latino Clergy & Christian Leaders. “We are ready to file a lawsuit in federal court should it ever be adopted.”
  • Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of NJ has settled a class-action suit brought by 40,000 doctors who said they were shortchanged by Our Fair State’s largest HMO. Horizon agreed to “continue significant business practice improvements” and will pay the doctors’ lawyer fees.
  • Atlantic City’s Steel Pier Amusement Park closed its doors this past weekend. Trump Entertainment plans to redevelop the pier, but into what is as yet unknown.
  • Feel crowded in this morning? About 7:46AM today, the United States population crossed the 300 million mark.
  • Today is the LAST DAY to register to vote to be eligible to vote in the election on Nov. 7th. Go here if you need information, and pass it on! You can also go vote now, if you’d like- no reason is needed to vote absentee in Our Fair State.

Open Thread: What’s on your mind today, Blue Jersey?