Tag Archive: Donald Payne

News Roundup and Open Thread for Wednesday, August 19, 2015


  • After yesterday’s Summit Meeting in Newark on a new trans-Hudson Tunnel, Christie, Sens. Cory Booker and Bob Menendez and U. S. Transportation Secretary Foxx said in a joint statement that they had a “substantive and productive meeting” and “all of us are committed to working together on a path forward on this critical project.” In other words they told us nothing.

  • Christie’s office followed up with a statement on the Governor’s press release site. In an unusual move, instead of a Christie press release, there appeared a reprint of NJ Transit Executive Director Veronique Hakim’s letter to The Record of August 13 in which she says, “Governor Christie and his administration support building a new tunnel.” She goes on to enumerate the same conditions that Christie has mentioned before. In effect our governor, trying to thread his way through a campaign in which he now ranks 11th, is not speaking forthrightly and “telling it like it is,” but rather  letting someone else provide a vague and unsatisfactory statement.

  • A NY Times editorial says clearly and simply, Build a New Hudson River Tunnel. In this editorial its second photo of the tunnel is scary: decrepit, crumbling concrete, and exposed wiring.

  • Another rush hour in Hell: An NJ Transit train broke down on the Amtrak line under the Hudson River Monday at 7 a.m.

  • How to make the tunnel a reality: Elect a majority Democratic Congress next year. (Some NJ incumbent Republican Representatives would not be missed.) But first some agreement on the estimated total cost and a reasonable buy-in from those affected. That includes NY whose governor did not attend the summit.

    As if his position on Cuba is not bad enough, Sen. Menendez yesterday “went on offense savaging the Iran nuclear deal backed by President Barack Obama.” Sen.Booker appears undecided so far. Rep. Donald Payne (D-10th) endorses it, and Rep. Albio Sires (D-8th) opposes it. The opposition at this point is substantial, but less likely to be sufficient to over-ride a presidential veto.

    More about 14 year old Radazz Hearns, voter expansion, a Christie paradox, Moody’s credit rating, and what would you pay for this meal?  

  • Student Walk-Out Today in Support of their School: East Side HS in Newark

    Before New Jersey breaks out in Bridgegate news …

    What: Student Walk-Out

    Where: East Side HSl, 238 Van Buren St, Newark

    When: Noon today

    Why: Students protesting planned dramatic restructuring of their school

    I just want to give a shout-out to the students at East Side High School in Newark. They will conduct a walk-out protest today at noon, less than an hour from now. The students are rejecting Superintendent Cami Anderson’s designation of their school as a “turnaround school.”

    Cami Anderson, hand-picked thy Gov. Christie to run dismantle Newark’s public education is a classic example of, When everybody tells you you’re drunk, it’s time to sit down.  

    House of Representatives sputtering onward

    The new 114th congressional session kicked off in early January with a few sputters. Its Republican membership has increased but so far not its openness to moderate issues. Nonetheless, two New Jersey Democrats (Reps. Norcross and Sires) have voted in support of Republican bills. Republicans who believe in “limited, constitutional government” have formed The House Freedom Caucus, whose membership includes New Jersey’s most rabid conservative Scott Garrett. Rep. Garrett earlier voted against John Boehner as Speaker, which did not endear him to leadership. So far the house seems to be operating under the principle of “same old same old.”  

    House action:

  • Keystone XL Pipeline Act passed 266-153. Democrats Norcross and Sires voted Yes as did all NJ Republicans. All other NJ D’s voted No.

  • Promoting Job Creation and Reducing Small Business Burdens (weakens Dodd Franks legislation) passed 271-154. Democrat Sires and All NJ R’s voted Yes, and all other NJ D’s voted No.

  • Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act passed 253-169. Norcross (D) and all NJ R’s voted Yes. Other NJ D’s voted No.

  • Prohibit taxpayer abortions passed 242-179. All NJ R’s voted Yes; all D’s voted No.

  • Appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (Limits the President’s authority to  to spare classes of deserving immigrants per his Executive Order.) passed 236-191. All NJ R’s voted Yes. All NJ D’s voted No.

    For committee assignments and power ratings, go below the fold.  

  • Another “hold your nose” vote to avert a government shutdown

    Update Sun. 8:30 am: The Omnibus 2015 federal spending bill passed the Senate Saturday night 56 to 40 averting a government shutdown. Both Senators Menendez and Booker joined progressives and others and voted against the bill. Sen. Booker said the bill would roll back regulations in the Dodd-Frank Act, compromise truck safety, and interfere with the rights of Washington, D.C. residents to change their marijuana laws. Sen. Menendez said, “The rollback of critical Wall Street reform provisions puts taxpayers on the hook to bail Wall Street out again. Moreover, this last-minute add-on – a poison pill written by large financial institutions – sets the table for more attacks on the protections I fought to put in place following the financial collapse.”

    Not so long ago the NJ legislature used to have an annual Christmas tree bill which was sprung upon the membership and laden with all sorts of holiday goodies inserted by individual legislators. This week in the House of Representatives with little more than two days to review the bill, leadership sprung their $1.1 trillion Christmas tree bill to fund the government next year and avert a federal shutdown.

    The bill narrowly passed 219 votes to 206. Many Republicans did not like the bill for the generic reason that it calls for “too much government spending,” and because the act does not explicitly block President Barack Obama from implementing his Executive Order on immigration. Republicans voted 162 in favor and 67 against.  Many Democrats did not like the bill because it weakens Dodd-Frank consumer legislation and because it increases substantially the amount donors can contribute to political parties. Democrats voted 57 in favor and 139 against.

    The House Speaker Republican John Boehner never had enough Republican votes to pass the bill, so he relied on support from Democrats. The White House vigorously lobbied Democrats for passage as did Steny Hoyer, Democratic Whip. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke out and voted against it. Five of our NJ Democrats refused to “hold their nose” and vote for it and instead voted against it.  

    Keystone Kops and Keystone Pipeline Gain New Adherents

    The saga of the Keystone Kops like the Keystone Pipeline is one of unsuccessful, seemingly incompetent people repeatedly failing in a venture which in this case increases carbon emissions, could cause significant environmental damage and is still under study. For the ninth time the House voted on Friday to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline – 252 to 161.The roll call for our New Jersey Representatives was not what you might expect.

    Republicans in the NJ delegation all voted YES to approve Keystone including Rep. Jon Runyan (R) who continues in office until January when his successor Tom MacArthur (R) is sworn in. Among the Democratic delegation the newly minted Don Norcross (replacing the already departed Rob Andrews) and Albio Sires also both voted YES. Donald Payne did not vote. The three remaining Democrats voted NO including Rush Holt who in January will be succeeded by Bonnie Watson Coleman (D).

    Norcross said “I am proud to stand with members of both parties to support this project that can transform the American economy and put our nation back on the path of lasting growth.” As a candidate his platform supported “Job creation and Economic Development,” but did not mention energy policy. He calls himself an “Advocate for South Jersey,” but while the pipeline has national consequences its impact on South Jersey is considerably less significant. When he was sworn in he said he would “specifically like to serve on the House Committee of Energy and Commerce.” He might be welcomed by the Republican majority on the committee but his vote seems out of sync with his Democratic colleagues.

    Rep. Albio Sires’ most recent website posting is a statement on Veterans Day, but there is no mention as to why he supported the pipeline. In fact in the past he supported an amendment to a bill (which did not pass) that would have required “a study of the vulnerabilities of the Keystone XL pipeline to a terrorist attack.”

    As Roll Call points out, “the bill would still need 60-votes in the Democratic Senate before heading to President Barack Obama’s desk – a tall, but perhaps achievable order.” The House vote did not reach the veto-proof level. President Obama has never expressed support for the pipeline, but he has not said definitively that he will veto it.  

    November 4, 2014: Looking Back & Recapping

    In the U. S. elections last week Republicans took control of the U. S. Senate with 7 new seats and as of now have a lead of 52 to 46 with two undecided. In the House of Representatives Republicans, already in the majority, have gained 12 seats to lead 244 to 184 with 7 undecided. In gubernatorial races, where Christie spent so much time, Republicans gained net 3 seats with 2 still undecided.  

    In New Jersey we note in congressional races low Democratic turn out, an exciting victory in CD 12, heartbreak in CD 3 and 5, the winners all being those who raised the most money, independent funders spending big in CD 3 but not so much elsewhere, the departure of a highly respected congressman in CD 12, mixed quality of public polls, all incumbents winning, and the congressional delegation balance remaining unchanged at six R’s and six D’s. Both Public Questions passed. Voting by mail has increased from 10,000 in 2003 to 139,000 in the most recent report for 2013.

    Also worth noting is the resurgence of county Democrats in Bergen, which has the state’s largest number of registered voters and whose Dem. Party Chair Lou Stellato is being wooed by potential gubernatorial candidates. Jim Tedesco (D) defeated long-time politician Kathe Donovan (R) to become the B. C. Executive. Current Freeholder Board Chair David Ganz (D) was re-elected as was Joan Voss (D), allowing the Board to remain in control of Democrats.    

    U. S. Senate

    With a bulging bankroll and a win in the 2012 Special Election, no Dem (big or small) wanted to take on Cory Booker (D) in the Senate primary. A Republican called Jeff Bell, who loves the Gold Standard (ended in 1933) and had not resided in NJ the past 30 years, defeated someone called Richard Pezzullo by 5,000 votes to become the challenger. Bell has since returned to obscurity while Booker continues on as a celebrity. (997,000 to 763,000)

    For brief comments on the 12 congressional races go below the fold.