Tag Archive: affordable housing

Christie & the Wild, Wild West of Mega Political Donations

In the last presidential race Super PACs started later in the process. Now they have begun operating before individuals even announce their presidential candidacy. The Washington Post explains, “That’s because once they announce their bids, federal rules require them to keep their distance.” The Republican leader of the pack appears to be Jeb Bush who is is headlining $100,000-a-head fundraisers with the hope of gaining an unassailable early lead. Paul S. Ryan, senior counsel at the Campaign Legal Center, says, “We’re seeing a bending and an abuse and an evasion of federal campaign contribution limits to an extent that we’ve never before seen.” However, a sharply divided Federal Election Commission has deadlocked over whether to even open up enforcement investigations since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010.

Gov. Christie who has yet to announce his candidacy has jumped into this Wild, Wild West world with both a Political Action Committee, which can accept up to $5,000 from donors, and a Super PAC, which can accept an unlimited amount. The Political Action Committee, LEADERSHIP MATTERS, was registered with the FEC in January by Christie confidante Bill Palatucci. According to Bloomberg News “It has lured 41 donors.” At no more than $5,000 a pop it is not much to brag about so far. The Super PAC AMERICA LEADS was registered in late February by Treasurer Timothy Koch and is headed by Phil Cox, former executive director of the Republican Governors Association where Christie served as Chair last year. Each group have set up staff with Cox serving on both. There is no report yet from the FEC on donations from either group.

Christie is fully engaged and making use of what some political consultants might call “best practices,” but others concerned about mega donations would call “worst practices.” So far he is way behind in the polls, and it appears he is not doing particularly well in raising funds. Recent news in New Jersey regarding court actions on the Pension Fund and affordable housing, combined with further revelations on close Christie associates involved with Bridgegate and the Exxon Mobile settlement are probably not helping him.  

Be Careful What You Wish For, Governor

Four decades ago, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued what is known today as the Mount Laurel Decision – an interpretation of the state constitution that requires affordable housing be made available in the state’s municipalities. Ten years after that decision, the state legislature created the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH), an agency that was charged with developing the regulations and approach to comply with the court’s order.

Chris Christie has never been a fan of affordable housing. From Day One of his administration, he has tried to eviscerate and neuter COAH. His minions stonewalled, met infrequently, and never satisfactorily executed the agency’s mission. This week, Christie got his wish. COAH is dead. But not in the way he wanted.

Because of the agency’s intransigence, the New Jersey Supreme Court stripped COAH of its powers and ordered local courts to start to ensure that the requirements for affordable housing are complied with.

The attorney who argued this case is Kevin Walsh, Executive Director of the Fair Share Housing Center. I spoke with Walsh on the ongoing need for affordable housing in the state and the approach his organization will take to help meet that need.

Jump below the fold to see the interview, or for an audio podcast, click here.

NJ Supreme Court Acts Decisively on Affordable Housing

After years of inaction and failure to respond to court requests from the Christie administration and his Council on Affordable Housing (COAH), the New Jersey Supreme Court decided yesterday to take matters into its own hands and provide a remedy.  

When COAH had failed to promulgate Third Round Rules requested by the court by November 17, 2014, Fair Share Housing Center filed an instant motion. “The Court heard oral argument on January 6, 2015, and COAH’s representative admitted that COAH has not conducted or scheduled any meetings since its last meeting in October 2014, that it does not have any plans to meet further in an effort to adopt Third Round Rules, and that staff have not been directed to perform any work in furtherance of adoption of Third Round Rules.”

Yesterday the court ruled as a remedy that “towns must subject themselves to judicial review for constitutional compliance, as was the case before the Fair Housing Act was enacted.”

This ruling should help people of low and moderate income seeking much needed affordable housing throughout New Jersey.

For individuals interested in learning more about yesterday’s unanimous decision, below the fold are a few key paragraphs from the court’s syllabus on this decision.  

Past NAACP NJ Chief on Gov. Christie: “A pattern of breaking the law when it comes to civil rights”

A couple of days ago when I posted this – Chris Christie: The guy who lives HERE doesn’t think NJ needs affordable housing – about how our private-jetting, luxury hotel-loving, fabulous mansion-living governor doesn’t see the need for affordable housing in his state, Darnell Hardwick of NAACP New Jersey reminded me of this, two years ago:

Here is NAACP NJ’s former chief James E. Harris, charging Gov. Christie with a pattern of breaking the law when it comes to civil rights. This is dead-on:

“He’s breaking the law because he has a different idea of what government should be. [Christie] wants to disengage government at the local level and let local people have control. In a state like New Jersey that’s so racially segregated, if you leave the choice to local communities, they won’t change. We’re the most racially segregated state in the United States of America … We have school systems based on housing patterns where students go to school without having much interaction with any of the students other than their own race. So the governor wants to placate and play to the governor’s side which is leave us alone and we’ll be fine. Well, civil rights says you can’t leave people alone because things will never change.”

On the jump page, watch Harris on NJToday with Mike Schneider (6/10/13):

Gov. Christie in Iowa (again). Oh really?

After a disastrous trip to London, bad press over his luxurious travel style and calls for him to focus on NJ issues, Gov. Christie returned to Iowa yesterday to speak to Dallas County Republicans. He said, “What we need in this country more than anything else is some blunt, direct, straight talk to fix big problems we have been avoiding for too long because we care more about the comfort of people’s feelings than about telling the truth and fixing the problems that need to be fixed.”

Oh really? What he thinks of as straight talk is more frequently his solution to a problem (often a bad solution), his bluntness can be crude and rude, and his directness oversimplifies problems. In the meantime he blithely ignores or postpones issues he does not want to address and refuses to turn over documents requested by OPRA. His big problem early in his administration included fixing the transportation fund by canceling ARC, drawing funds from affordable housing, schools, and environmental programs. Most recently he fixed Pen/Ben, boasted about it, and then reneged on the agreement. After months of waiting there is still no plan for Pen/Ben, transportation, or Atlantic City. Also, caring for the comfort of people’s feelings is not a highlight of his career.

After blowback from his inoculation comments, he attempted to recover in Iowa. He said, “I have no concerns at all because when people really listen to what I said they know that I favor vaccines and I favor them strongly.” Oh really? In London he mentioned “choice” and “balance.”

So Governor Christie, combining travel time spent a day or more out of state, incurred police security costs (which may or may not be reimbursed), likely ignored pressing NJ issues, and for what? He met privately with Republican Gov. Terry Branstad and spoke to more than 50 people gathered in a hotel ballroom.