Tag Archive: Joe Cryan

In Union County, “Democrats for Change” = Democrats for Christie

Weigh in, especially you Union County folks – Rosi

By Stephen Yellin – I am proud to be on the ballot for the June 7th primary on Column A. I am also a candidate for Township Council in Berkeley Heights.

This isn’t a ‘me-first’ rally – this is a ‘community-first’ rally…a worker’s rights rally!

            Joe Cryan, March 3 2011 (standing with union workers in Trenton)

He’s going to do a wonderful, fabulous job as our next Governor.

         Tony Monteiro, November 4 2009 (at Chris Christie’s victory party)

On June 7th, Democrats in the 20th Legislative District (Elizabeth, Hillside, Roselle and Union) have a clear choice to make. They have a choice between the regular Democratic ticket, whose Democratic Party credentials aren’t in question, and a renegade group called “Democrats for Change”.

Just who are these “Democrats for Change”, and what do they stand for? Examining the facts paints a troubling picture of this group, and its candidates for the State Legislature in the 20th District. This ticket has managed to combine the 2 worst problems confronting New Jersey today: a corrupt, unaccountable political machine and the enabling of Chris Christie’s destructive, divisive policies across our state.

Assembly Democrats Rally Mashup

As thousands of New Jersey’s first-responders – firefighters, police, corrections officers emergency medical services members & many of the people they protect every day – rallied outside the State House, many of their signs expressed their disgust with Senate President Steve Sweeney, members of NJ’s other legislative body were out in force at yesterday’s massive rally.

Below, in video shot by the Assembly majority office, Democratic legislators look out at a sea of blue:

Assembly Democrats Voice Their Support for Workers’ Right to Collectively Bargain from NJ Assembly Democratic Office on Vimeo.

Let the Redistricting Games Begin

The United  States Constitution is pretty succinct on the requirements for a decennial census:

The actual enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. (Article 1, Section 2)

This sounds simple in theory, but in practice, this clause requires each state to go through what has turned out to be an often contentious, politically-driven kabuki dance. The “gerrymandering” that we learned about in middle school has been supplanted by “packing” and “cracking” of electoral districts as the maps are drawn. (These terms are explained below.)

Democratic Response to State of the State Address

It seems like Governor Christie’s State-of-the-State oration is posted on a gazillion internet sites, while the Democratic response is difficult to find. Bill Orr posted some responses yesterday.

Below are two videos, one from NJN where Michael Aron interviews Senator Sarlo and Assemblyman Cryan right after Christie’s address.  The second video is from the Star-Ledger and is a press conference among several Democratic leaders commenting on Christie’s assertions.

From NJN:

From NJ.com:

Cryan & Buono on Dems’ ‘Back to Work NJ’ bills: the press conference Drewniak called “high-pitched”

Here is video of the press conference with Joe Cryan and Barbara Buono that Gov. Christie took such exception to, with his spokesman Michael Drewniak referring to Buono herself as“high-pitched”, a comment it’s hard to see as anything but sexist, and foolishly personal, as Thurman Hart pointed out last night. Note that Drewniak didn’t make any such disrespectful comment about Cryan.

You can see for yourself in this video whether Buono appears high-pitched. She looks pretty calm, well-spoken and in command to me. I don’t think it will be as easy for Christie or his front office to get away with as much of their pugilistic, name-calling as they used to. With some loss of their credibility, they need a new bag of tricks.

These are the majority leaders of the legislature. The Christie front office’s sneer, so obviously reflecting his own, just makes them all look ridiculous, and unable to have intelligent grown-up conversation with people where some deliberation and compromise are called for. Drewniak had nothing to say about the jobs package the Democrats are rolling out except to restate his boss’ own highly divisive p-o-v that everything is somebody else’s fault, sidestepping any real response to the ideas being offered.

The ‘Back to Work NJ’ bills package is due to advance in both houses of the Legislature Thursday. Maybe by then Christie’s people will have something a little better thought-out to say about it.  

Buono & Cryan Call on Republicans to Support ‘Back to Work NJ’ Jobs Package from NJ Assembly Democratic Office on Vimeo.

Will the Adubato-Norcross ‘Axis of Evil’ fall apart at the redistricting table?

Two very interesting articles about redistricting were posted on PolitickerNJ.com today that could provide anyone interested in the redistricting process with some insight into the developing drama as Republicans appear united in their efforts to reclaim majorities in the State Assembly and State Senate that have been out of their grasp for the last decade against Democratic adversaries who seem to be anything but that.

After a year that has seen the Democrats in Trenton capitulate to our state’s Republican Governor on issue after issue, thanks primarily to overly cozy relations between the Governor and acolytes of Steve Adubato and George Norcross, the two most powerful Democratic Party bosses in the state, the unholy alliance between Adubato and Norcross seems to be fraying at the most dangerous possible time for all Democrats, when division could result in a legislative district map that could guarantee Republican dominance in the state for most if not all of the next decade the way that the last map, conceived by then-Senate Minority Leader, Richard Codey, who would go on to become Senate President and Acting Governor before being unceremoniously ousted from his leadership position in a coup, led by his fiercest adversaries, Adubato and Norcross and their acolytes, enabled the Democrats in Trenton to enjoy the majorities that they have held and squandered for the last decade.

One article presents the players for each team that will go head-to-head in the weeks and months to come to either draw competing (most likely) or cooperating (highly unlikely) legislative district maps that will determine the playing fields on which the next decade’s worth of legislative elections will be held and infers about the strategy that could lead to the end of Codey’s political career.

The other discusses potential fractures in the Democratic ranks in general and between Adubato and Norcross in particular that could spell doom for the Democratic majorities in Trenton once and for all.

Transparency & Accountability – Who runs the Democrats? An Open Thread …

A letter came to light today, via politickernj, from a Somerset County Democratic state committeeman to John Wisniewski, suggesting Wisniewski resign from the NJ Assembly, and bylaws be drawn to keep elected officials from serving the state party committee forevermore. And at least one Democratic County Chair – Somerset’s Peg Schaffer – is on board with that.

Frankly, that’s a hard case to make. Joe Cryan, Joe Roberts and Bonnie Watson Coleman all ran the Party from the Assembly. And Asm Jay Webber runs NJ GOP. That begs the question why the hell the Dems should alter bylaws for what only may be an issue right now – if it’s an issue at all.

And the public relations here is dicey. Awful, maybe. I’m sure Joel Shain – former Orange mayor, who once primaried and lost to Dick Codey – didn’t intend this, but a letter asking the Democratic State Chair to demote himself and have less power than he is already perceived to have, well … not cool. Even though, face it, with notable exceptions the Democrats have a serious swagger deficiency, despite their number advantages. That’s what Shain’s getting at, asking Wisniewski to choose, and pick only the Party. But I think there’s another problem.

Transparency & accountability: Try to find the state committee folks who represent your county, people in Shain’s position –

  • I don’t see their names on the NJDSC website, with other Party contacts.

  • Or on the  NJ Democrats facebook group page.

  • Or the wiki.  

    Note: NJDSC parliamentarian Regan McGrory is thorough & very responsive to requests for info. I’ve asked her for that list, and I expect to post it – but I think those names should be listed on their site, and nobody should have to ask for it.

    Who runs the show? The reality is that the state committee is a rubber stamp. In theory, NJDSC’s primary function – and Wisniewski’s –  is to enact the will of its members. And committeemen like Shain are elected to express that will – our will. And the Chair’s supposed to be guided, at least in part, by those locally-elected to the state Party. In practice … very different. The state committee may have power they don’t exercise, and at any rate we never hear about it. It’s top-down, all the way. We know that the people running the show – really running it – are the professional Dems, the class comprised of high-level state electeds, and Democratic staffers. They’re good people – don’t get me wrong, from time to time, Blue Jersey even lobs a person or two into the front office – and they’re fully committed, good Democrats. It’s reasonable that key daily decisions are made by them – they’re there every day.

    The problem is, in their party capacity they’re not answerable – except to each other, and for their jobs. They don’t report to you. County & state committee people can be a key to change, and greater accountability, but they have to hear from the rest of us that we expect that. And the beginning of expecting them to exercise their power, is seeing who they are, and locally contributing feedback to them. And I expect the NJDSC to work overtime to promote that.

    A good start …I want more: The Party Democracy Act has been a lever to dislodge centralized control, giving party activists (on both sides) a better shot at tracking what really goes on. It’s a good process. And if the state committee is actually nothing more than a rubber stamp – except on rare occasions when they make news, or shock the hell out of the party Chair – then maybe we should be asking why that is, and how actually to have our voices heard when our Party takes action, defines itself, or does battle with an impudent Governor who thinks it’s his way or the highway.

    I’ll post the elected members of the NJ Democratic State Committee, reps from all 21 counties, when I get it. Meanwhile, consider this an Open Thread on Shain’s letter to John Wisniewski.

    Blue Jersey, what do you think?   Text of the letter is after the jump.

  • An Unsettling Update!

    No money in Christie’s budget for family planning centers! According to what we were told in today’s Democratic caucus, the Governor said that whatever and however we reinstate dollars for women’s health care, (HIV testing, family planning, cervical cancer screening, etc..) he will VETO that appropriation. How infuriating and disrespectful to the women of New Jersey! I immediately dropped in a bill today to reinstate these important dollars which I hope to get before the Senate budget committee on Thursday and then get passed by the Senate on Monday. When the Governor vetos this expenditure, we in the legislature will have another chance to stand up for women’s health care services! Let’s hope that this time, some of our sister legislators across the aisle will stand with us, along with a few of those “good guys” who I know sit along side them. Don’t make us still fight for our rights in the year 2010. But if need be, this is a women’s equality march I’m ready to organize.

    Caps and craziness:  I was really taken by surprise (and disappointed) at Mayor Cory Booker’s embrace of the Governor’s “hard” 2.5% cap.  I know Mayor Booker must understand the impossibility of functioning under the Christie cap. Why would anyone want to govern any complex community with such restraints? Growing up in California, I know about those property tax caps and what it has done to schools, libraries and the magnificent California University system. Senator Sweeney’s proposal allows for certain important cost exemptions to the cap.  We will be discussing these alternatives during the next weeks.

    Judiciary Committee members approved several judicial reappointments
    . Among others, we also approved the reappointment of Dr. Kevin Barry to the UMDNJ board. He at least recognized the importance of training physicians in appropriate abortion procedures. The fastest way for women to lose their right to chose is not having access to trained health care providers. By the way, Dr Barry is also from Mendham!

    The legislature also moved along a “government transparency” bill
    sponsored by Assemblyman Joe Cryan and me to regulate costs to the public of copying public documents. We removed any charges for the electronic transfer of documents, and set fixed costs of 7 cents and 5 cents for other public document requests. This will comply with a recent court decision.  I am looking at a complete updating of the Open Public Records Act and the Open Public Meetings Act which we hope to have finished by the end of the summer for a Fall introduction.

    Schedule as of this moment calls for Budget Committee meetings on Wednesday and Thursday and a vote on the budget on Monday, June 28th.  It’s certainly not a great time in Trenton, and things are still “fluid”. Will try to keep you all updated.


    QoTD: Unitary Executive Edition

    In its reporting of yesterday’s whiplash veto of a Democratic package of bills including the millionaires’ tax and a restoration of senior benefits, politickernj picked up a killer quote. First the windup:

    Someone in the press corps asked Christie about a quote from earlier yesterday, attributed to Majority Leader Joe Cryan, who suggested headlines should read: Christie to seniors: Drop Dead. Now, the pitch. Christie’s response is the Quote of the Day:

    I long ago stopped caring about what Joe Cryan said about anything.

    Yeah, or almost anybody else besides the yuk-yucking yes-men (and women) who bind around him and think his every moment is brilliant. As Adam pointed out, Christie is The Unitary Executive, his way pointed by George Bush, schooled in the art by Karl Rove. And like Bush, Christie not only doesn’t care what the other Party thinks, or reporters think, but he doesn’t give two figs for you either.

    Democrats lay out their case on ‘millionaires’ tax’ & senior benefits

    UPDATE: The legislation known to Democrats as the ‘millionaires’ tax’ has just been passed by a Senate working late – 23-17, along partisan lines. Gov. Christie is expected to veto, immediately, tonight.

    The Assembly majority office just released this video, below, in which Democratic legislators lay out their case for legislation to raise taxes on income over $1 million to pay for reinstating property tax rebates to seniors and prescription drug benefits to seniors and the disabled, all in defiance of Gov. Christie’s economic plans for the state. The state Assembly voted 46-31 to pass the bill this afternoon.

    Star Ledger reports the big wooden desk the Governor uses to sign and veto bills was just wheeled into his outer office minutes ago, as the Senate is next to consider the legislation.

    Of the legislators you hear in the video, Assembly members Celeste Riley and Paul Moriarty sponsored A-20 to restore the rebates and ensure prescription assistance for more than 600,000 seniors and disabled New Jerseyans. Speaker Sheila Oliver and Majority Leader Joe Cryan sponsored A-10 to restore the new version of the millionaires’ tax, which was approved 46-32.