Tag Archive: Nick Scutari

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.

What’s Happening Today Tue. 01/28/2014

For today and the rest of the week attention will be focused on something called the Super Bowl – presumably named thusly because of the large bowl of tasty, high-caloric junk food that will be in front of so many TV sets. During a period when our legislature and the public will be talking about a new NJ bill to legalize the sale of recreational marijuana to individuals 21 and over, it is interesting that the two teams and their local fans come from states that allow or are about to allow legal sale of marijuana. (On Jan. 1 Colorado ended the marijuana prohibition law. Washington’s law goes into effect later this year.) Does this mean there will be high times at the stadium and other venues?

Visitors and locals should be aware of NJ law. NORML explains: Possession of 50 grams [1.7 ounces] or less is a “Disorderly Person” offense punishable by a maximum sentence of 6 months imprisonment and a maximum fine of $1,000. Possession of more than 50 grams is a felony punishable by a maximum sentence of 18 months imprisonment and a maximum fine of $25,000. Possession within 1,000 feet of a school adds a sentence of 100 hours of community service to the sentence, as well a variable (depending on quantity) additional fine.

Does anyone think these NJ laws will significantly reduce the use of pot or that imprisoning people for possessing weed is justifiable? Nick Scutari, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is preparing a bill modeled after the Colorado law that would generate tax revenue while also freeing up law enforcement resources. He says, “The bottom line is the current drug laws aren’t working. The only people who should be against this are the drug dealers.”

Go here for the Star-Ledger’s poll: “Should NJ legalize recreational use of Marijuana?” Gov. Christie said during his Inaugural Address, “We will end the failed war on drugs that believes that incarceration is the cure of every ill caused by drug abuse.” However, don’t expect him to support this legislation. Go here for information on Colorado’s law which allows the sale of up to one ounce at a time, and does not permit smoking in public.

Remembering Pete Seeger: He spent much of his later years on the Hudson River championing environmental causes. Early on he was a Communist until he realized the horrors perpetrated by Stalin. In between he was  a labor, peace and civil rights activist. Most important he was America’s great iconic folk singer. His voice is now silenced, but “We Shall Overcome,” “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” “Guantanamera,” “If I had a Hammer,” “Little Boxes,” “Turn” and many other songs live on.  

Today: Gov. Christie has no public schedule. Lt. Gov. Guadagno: 11:00am, New Jersey Association of Counties annual reorganization meeting, Senate chambers; and then will visit two of the  “Fastest Growing New Jersey Companies.” The Department of Education releases the 2013 School Performance Reports.

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.

Who Gets the Gavel?

promoted by Rosi

The new Senate committee lineups are taking shape and I just got my hands on the list of committee chairmen/women. Some seem like a natural fit (Vitale, Scutari for ex.) while other appear wildly out of place given their backgrounds and leadership skills. But that’s just my take.

Anyway, follow me below the fold to learn who the Senate’s gavel-bearers will be for the next 2 years.

I Know It’s Not Monday

Note: Jay went to the state house to testify today – Rosi

But I love Jay Lassiter.  We moved the clean needle bill out of the Senate Health & Human Services Committee today. Interesting vote on that one. We also established an overwhelming transcript to put on the desks of the entire legislature which spells out all the reasons why we must overrule the DHSS regs on Medical Marijuana.  Thank you Senator Nick Scutari for providing the leadership!

I’m Back…..

…..from a happily chaotic Thanksgiving family week in Los Angeles.  Hope you all had a great holiday, and are now enjoying Hanukkah. If you are not lighting the Menorah, make sure you at least eat a couple of potato latkes.

Press Conference at 11 a.m. today in Trenton on government transparency. We will announce our new and very stringent Pay-to-Play bill.  This should be part of the “tool kit” because political contributions from state and local contractors definitely add to the cost of government in our state and contribute to our escalating property taxes. This new bill will establish one state-wide standard in New Jersey, and I’ve been working on it with the help of the Citizens Campaign. I will be joined by my colleague Assemblyman Gordon Johnson.  We will also call attention to our newly updated Open Public Meetings Act and Open Public Records Act and will ask that they be posted for Committee hearings in December or January.  These bills go hand-in-hand with the new issue-advocacy disclosure bill sponsored by Senator Barbara Buono and me.  The passage of these bills together will decrease the cost of government and will increase government transparency.  We’ve been waiting patiently to hear if the Republicans in the legislature and the Governor will join in a bipartisan effort to get these bill passed.

Medical Marijuana “agreement”? I was a little surprised at the news report and look forward to hearing personally from Senator Nick Scutari.  Senator Scutari has been an outstanding advocate for this important issue, and if an “agreement” was reached without his input,  at the very least I am disappointed.  My husband, Irwin, died from cancer almost 12 years ago.  We were both deprived of any meaningful communication during his last days with us because he was treated with morphine.  Perhaps medical marijuana could have made him comfortable and would have enabled us to share more experiences during those days.  Of course, I will never know that for sure. However, what I do know, is that patients and their doctors should have as much right to be treated with medical marijuana as they today have a right to be prescribed morphine or oxycontin or any other controlled dangerous substance to treat pain in terminally ill patients. Is anybody asking a Doc to warn a terminally ill person to substitute another less effective medication for morphine? Is a doctor forced to tell a seriously ill patient that he must wean that patient off oxycontin every three months?  How demeaning to both patient and medical professional. Please don’t tell me that my good colleague, Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, made a bad deal with the Governor! I guess we’ll soon find out.

Will be chairing the Senate Health, Human Services & Senior Services Committee this afternoon. Probably one of my bills which will cause the most comment is the requirement that certified advance practice nurses must continue to be supervised by anesthesiologists in the administration of general anesthesia. Lots of pros and cons on both sides of this issue, and I’m sure we’ll hear it all.

So we have a busy December ahead of us with more committee days and another voting session.  We’ll be dealing with more “tool kit” legislation and another try at women’s access to family planning.  Every Republican in the Assembly voted “No” or abstained on covering more folks under medicaid for family planning and basic medical care. A bill which will result in $9 for every $1 put up by the State. What is wrong with these folks? What has this Governor given them to make so many of them march in unison while they raise so few questions? It’s hard to understand and I must admit, it makes me particularly discouraged about the women of the legislature working together on issues of importance to our families.

Carol Hoernlein housewarming 12/5/10
Blue Jerseyans & friends Hoernlein, Lento, Parano, Weinberg & Mazza

Hey, a few of us “North Jersey/Blue Jersey” followers, writers and bloggers were invited to join Carol Hoernlein (and Eric) to celebrate a wonderful housewarming in their “tiny house with the big kitchen”. Nick Lento, Carol H, Rocco (of “let’s  draft Rocco” and “I still love the Governor” while “I still love Rocco”) Mazza, Dave Parano, Chief Ron Holloway and many others had a lovely afternoon with lots of good company, good food, political talk and we’re all connected through Blue Jersey discussions. Great fun for those of us Bergen County types!  Great to see Carol looking so well, happy and coming back to our Blue Jersey blogs.  

Note to Jay Lassiter & Rosi Efthim:  Maybe you can find Keith Chaudruc of Madison who took on the Governor at the Parsippany Town Meeting and get his side of the story for our own Blue Jersey UTube.  According to news reports, Mr. Chaudruc was escorted on and off the stage by a state trooper and never got Mr. Christie to answer any of his questions. Might be an interesting interview.

Keep your voices heard!


Sweeney, Lesniak and Scutari refuse confirmation hearings on Christie’s Supreme Court nominee

The sides are digging in and we truly are headed for a showdown over the courts. Senator Sweeney has said it’s Justice Wallace or no one and that he won’t allow anyone to fill Wallace’s seat on the New Jersey Supreme Court for almost two years, when he would have faced mandatory retirement. Senator Scutari, who would Chair the hearing in the Judiciary committee echoed his sentiments:

“Regardless of her qualifications, she’s not going to get a hearing,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Nicholas Scutari (D-Union), whose committee is responsible for vetting the governor’s nominees.

Senator Lesniak offered these comments on the current standoff:

Lesniak says he, Sweeney and Scutari agree that the nomination won’t be heard until the appointment comes up in two years, when he says they will judge that nominee on the merits. If the standoff isn’t resolved by May 20, Chief Justice Rabner can fill the seat for the duration from the ranks of the Appellate court or retired Justices. For now though, the rhetoric on both sides continues to build.

Updated by Jason: We get this response from the Christie administration:

“The Governor has fulfilled his constitutional duties by making a judicial nomination; the Senate’s constitutional duty is to provide ‘advise and consent’ through a hearing for the nominee, followed by an up-or-down vote in the full Senate.  That’s all we ask.  So, we would be surprised if the Senate President is willing to simply abandon the New Jersey Constitution and refuse to consider a qualified judicial nominee.  That would truly be a historic and unfortunate precedent.  

“Also, the Constitution clearly states that all justices of the Supreme Court are appointed to an initial seven-year term – not automatic lifetime tenure.  The framers of our state Constitution did that for a reason, and we have to believe that the Senate President understands and respects that.”

Does anyone find it ironic that after making the unprecedented decision of to not renominate a sitting Justice, that now all of a sudden they are going to worry about setting precedent?

Bret Schundler on notice

I just reached Senator Loretta Weinberg, on her way to talk to a Jewish Women’s group at Eagleton Institute on the Rutgers campus, to ask her about what went on in yesterday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. Bret Schundler, Gov. Christie’s pick for Education Commissioner, made it out of the confirmation hearing by an 11-0 yes vote and after two sessions of intensive questioning, but he goes on his way without the Judiciary Committee’s recommendation.

In an obvious effort to suss out whether his personal religious views would dictate his managing New Jersey’s schools, Schundler was questioned on everything from evolution, abstinence-only sex education, and teaching about homosexuality as a “lifestyle.” Schundler recently worked as Chief Operating Officer of The King’s College, a Christian liberal arts school. Senators asked Schundler whether he would try to revise how same-sex relationships are discussed in New Jersey’s schools, with Sen. Nick Scutari doing much of the questioning.  

Loretta reports that some of her colleagues didn’t want to vote for Schundler at all, and others wanted him confirmed. What I didn’t know, and Loretta reports today, is that Sen. Gerry Cardinale –  senior Republican on the Judiciary – asked him a series of questions “on the other side” of all these issues. Quoting Loretta:

For instance, Cardinale asked him if he would approve a curriculum which “advocated for the gay lifestyle”. He was appropriate in his replies. I couldn’t resist to then ask him if he would “advocate for the heterosexual” lifestyle.

The full Senate may consider Schundler’s nomination as early as March 11.