Tag Archive: Bob Gordon

NJ Senate Today

The Senate Judiciary Committee has just commenced confirmation interviews for Jamie Fox as Transportation Commissioner, Richard Mroz as Chair of the Board of Public Utilities, and Upendra Chivukula as a member of the BPU. (You can listen here.) Both Fox and Chivukula are Democrats, a surprising step for Governor Christie. Fox has worked in the past for leading Democrats (he coined the powerful phrase “I am a gay American” for the resigning Gov. McGreevey), but has also served as a former Transportation Commissioner and Deputy Director at the NY/NJ Port Authority. Rumor has it that Christie, whose transportation fund is calamitously broke, may surrender his “no new taxes” policy and with help from Fox promote a gas tax increase. It is hard to remember when Christie nominations were scheduled so quickly before the Judiciary Committee. These appointments should sail through the vetting process today, and may even be presented this afternoon at a full Senate session.

At 2:00 pm there is a Senate voting session which includes a bill to reform the NY/NJ Port Authority, sponsored by Senator Bob Gordon and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg. This bill will have teeth as an identical bill has already passed the NY legislature. The PA – a bi-state agency – will be required to follow these regulations which call for increased transparency and accountability. The Assembly should act promptly to hold a committee hearing and schedule a vote. This bill is important but only a first step in reforming this complex, lone-wolf agency which in the past reported only to the two governors and even then was secretive about its actions and dismissive toward its customers.  

What’s Happening Today: Fri. 12/27/2013

THE SAD SAGA OF HALFWAY HOUSE MISDEEDS, GOV. CHRISTIE’S EFFORTS TO MINIMIZE THE PROBLEMS & THE LEGISLATURE’S INACTION

Many will remember the NY Times three-part series of articles in June 2012: UNLOCKED: I. As Escapees Stream Out a Penal Business Thrives, II. At a Halfway House Bedlam Reigns, and III. A Volatile Mix Fuels A Murder. Blue Jersey and other news sources wrote extensively about the problems, including Governor Christie’s disinterest in the matter and the legislature’s hearings chaired by Sen. Bob Gordon (D-38) and Assemblyman Charles Mainor (D-31) which promised action but produced nothing.

In the most recent development the NJ Law Journal reports this week, “The family of a woman murdered by a halfway house inmate who absconded after faking a seizure can sue the State contractor who operates the facility, a federal judge in New Jersey has ruled.” The contractor is Community Education Centers (CEC) from whose halfway house David Goodell absconded and hours later murdered a woman. The Journal continues, “The judge on Monday allowed to stand claims that the facilities – mismanaged, understaffed, and plagued by a high rate of escapes and other problems – breached their duty of care to the eventual victim.” Viviana Tulli was the tragically murdered victim.

Viviana Tulli’s sister Stella Tulli-Makowski had opened the Assembly hearing with testimony of heart-felt emotion and listened to Assemblyman Charles Mainor (D-31) say, “When escapes, gang activity, drugs and sexual abuse are widespread and yet Governor Christie opposes improved oversight, something is wrong and terribly unacceptable.” Sadly efforts from Sen. Loretta Weinberg and others were dismissed by Gov. Christie, and no reform bills were past by the Legislature. After hearing the court’s decision this week StellaTulli-Makowsk says, “I am greatly disappointed in the lag time in halfway house reform. To me, I feel like empty promises were made to stave off the public.”

One of the few tangible results has been that Christie’s close friend and political confidante Bill Palatucci, who for years served as a Senior Vice President at CEC, quietly resigned from his post there. Stella Tulli-Makowski  goes on to say, “If people really wanted this reform, it would be happening… not lingering in limbo. What will it take for a real, honest approach of trying to repair this broken and corrupt system?  Another murder? Or will the death of a public official’s loved one finally get the ball rolling?… Please, don’t talk about it….be about it.”

Naughty or Nice?: U.S. Senators Robert Menendez (sponsor) and Cory Booker (co-sponsor) along with 32 other co-sponsors are taking heat for introducing Senate Bill S1881: Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013. Ten Senate committee chairs are circulating a joint letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, urging him to reject then effort by Menendez to tighten sanctions on Iran and warning that his bill could disrupt ongoing nuclear negotiations.” Press Secretary Jay Carney said, “The president would veto it.”  Nonetheless, as the NY Times points out, the bill would only “impose new sanctions on Iran if it failed to conclude a nuclear agreement, or stick to the terms of its interim deal, with the United States and other major powers.” The bill permits a 180-day wait – and – see period before imposing further sanctions. If you like the bill join the company of other sponsors including Sens. Chuck Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Mark Kirk as well as Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz.  Apparently birds of different feathers flock together.

American Hustle (Hollywood style): This funny movie, with excellent actors and great dialogue, has a basis in the infamous Abscam scandal and “some of this [in the movie] actually happened.” It takes place in New Jersey with stereotypes we Jerseyans have learned to love and hate. It brings back memories of past crooks including scam artists, greedy politicians, and devious federal agents. Perhaps it also reminds us that such folks are still with us. However, let’s not take the Jersey angle too seriously. It’s just a movie. What it portrays is universal and as a story it is a damn good one.  

What’s Happening Today Wed. 10/30/2013

Our over-achiever governor: Dedicated to obtaining a record-breaking win in Tuesday’s election, Gov. Christie has embarked on a week-long bus tour of retail politics throughout New Jersey. LG Kim Guadagno has her own bus. Christie is not expected to provide much coattails assistance to legislators, but he has begun investing time and money to support Republican legislative candidates in LD 38 (against Sen. Bob Gordon), 18 (against Assemblyman Peter Barnes who is running for Sen. Buono’s seat), and 14 (against Sen. Linda Greenstein.) His tour includes stops in these districts. Christie’s main effort has been to help himself.

Did Sen. Buono miss an opportunity? Gov. Christie yesterday gobbled up all the news attention with his multiple Sandy-related visits throughout the State while Sen. Buono was silent on the topic. Perhaps, she thought any comments she made would be viewed as sour grapes against a governor who claims Sandy super-achievements. Nonetheless, there are plenty of New Jerseyans who are frustrated over Sandy and would have welcomed constructive comments from her.

Hurricane Sandy NJ Relief Fund: with Mary Pat Christie as Board Chair, HSNJRF announced it awarded yesterday another $3.1 million in grants for a total of $19.3 million. It is believed to have raised $38 million in donations, so after a year it has awarded only 50% of its monies. Such is a small per cent for a non-profit which bills itself as a “relief fund.” The most recent award and HSNJRF’s stated plan to issue further grants on October 31 are both taking place conveniently just before Governor Christie’s election.

In both July and October Mrs. Christie said the agency had raised $38 million. It seems odd that this amount did not change at all between July and October. (Possibly some past commitments are delinquent reducing their take while new commitments have been made, but none of this explained.) Neither on its website nor in filings with the IRS nor NJ Charitable Division has HSNJRF indicated how much it has raised, disbursed in grants, or paid out in operating expenses. The lack of transparency and slowness in awarding grants can not be what individual donors expected. It was slow in hiring staff and replete with politically-connected board members and contributors. It has been a disappointment.

PUBLIC SCHEDULES

Buono/Silva gubernatorial campaign: Barbara Buono: 7:05am, The Mark Riley Show, WWRL 1600AM;  Barbara Buono: 8:10am, WNYW Fox 5;  Milly Silva: 6:30pm, 34th Annual Installation & Swearing-In Ceremony of the HBA-NJ Incoming President Anna Maria Tejada, Westmount Country Club, 728 Rifle Camp Rd., Woodland Park;  Barbara Buono: 7:00pm, Reception Honoring Newark Councilwoman Mildred Crump, The Newark Club, 1085 Raymond Blvd., Newark.

Christie/Guadagno gubernatorial campaign: Chris Christie: 10:00am, Ritz Diner, Livingston; 11:10am, Beyond the C Restaurant, Linden;  12:30pm,   Fair Lawn Senior Center, Fair Lawn;  1:30pm, Nevada Diner, Bloomfield;  2:45pm, Chowpatty Restaurant, Iselin; 4:00pm, Hunterdon County Republican headquarters, Flemington;  8:00pm, JoJo’s Tavern and Restaurant, Hamilton.

The Working Families United for New Jersey, Inc.: 11:30am will urge NJ voters not to be “tricked” by opposition deception and to vote “Yes” on Ballot Question #2 to raise NJ’s minimum wage, Liberty Bell City Hall, Circle
260 High Street,
Perth Amboy.

The White House usher and head groundskeeper: 9:00am, visit Wyckoff’s Christmas Tree Farm to select the White House Christmas tree for this season.  

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.

PUBLIC SCHEDULE

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 Thu. 10/10/2013

“Obama is a Tyrant” and “bodies floating around of shooting victims”, were just a few of the extreme comments uttered by former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan in the last U.S. Senate debate with Newark Mayor Cory Booker. Democratic candidate Booker offered a strong performance last night – firm, rational, and giving no quarter to Steve Lonegan. In fact he made Lonegan flustered, mad and defensive on occasion. Booker frequently tied Lonegan to the Tea Party and added statements like “You are very much on the extreme on this issue.” Several times the debate became heated with each interrupting the other. Lonegan may have felt empowered as he threw out red meat because there appeared to be a large contingent of like-minded individuals in the audience. However, Lonegan’s rhetoric is not going to win the day with Democrats or most independents. According to yesterday’s Stockton Poll, “Booker leads by 11 points, which is identical to the percentage of respondents who are undecided or refuse to identify who they will vote for. Lonegan is in the position to have to convert all of these to draw the race into a tie with Booker.” With the lottery they say, “You have to be in it to win it.” It’s no different with this Special Election next Wednesday for which turn-out is predicted to be low.

Flags at half-staff today for Nicholas Oresko to mark the passing of a NJ veteran who had been the oldest living recipient of the Medal of Honor. The Army master sergeant, a Bayonne native, was badly wounded as he single-handedly took out two enemy bunkers during the horrific Battle of the Bulge in 1945. He died Oct. 4 at a New Jersey hospital at the age of 96.

No news is bad news: 10th day of the shutdown: For voters in CD 5 this is a petition you can sign here from MoveoOn.org to Rep. Scott Garrett: “From the government shutdown to the debt ceiling, Tea Party Republicans have wreaked enough havoc on our country. Stop holding the country hostage to further your political gains; vote on a clean budget resolution and raise the debt ceiling without demanding cuts to Social Security, Obamacare, or any other vital programs.” The petition will not stop Garrett, but in a district where Democrats and independents often accept apathetically his garbage, it is important to remind him there are many in disagreement with him.

Yardsigns have arrived for LD 38! You can get yardsigns for other districts as well by calling your local legislators. (Not recommended if they are Republicans.) For LD 38 you can show your support for Sen. Bob Gordon and Assemblymen Tim Eustace and Joe Lagana. Pick up your sign (and offer to volunteer) at their campaign headquarters at 31-00 Broadway, 3rd Floor in Fair Lawn.

The Tri-State Transportation Campaign says, NJDOT spends more on walking, biking and transit but not enough to improve safety or maintain State’s roads. The full report can be found here.

PUBLIC SCHEDULES

U. S. Senate candidate Cory Booker, Gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono, and  Lt. Gubernatorial Candidate Milly Silva: 4:30-6:30pm, a joint Monmouth County Voter Rally, 4:30-6:30pm, Bates Elks Lodge #220, 306 Shrewsbury Ave., Red Bank.  

Buono/Silva gubernatorial campaign: Barbara Buono: 7:45pm, with Assemblywoman Pamela Lampittt (D-6), Camden County Democratic Committee, 2240-15 Route 70 W., Cherry Hill.

Christie/Guadagno gubernatorial campaign: Chris Christie: 11:15am, with former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal (two individuals who are never shy) talk with students at the Boys & Girls Club and make an announcement about a Just Play campaign, East Camden.  

U.S. Senate candidate Cory Booker: morning news conference on the shutdown, with Senate President Stephen Sweeney and NJ State AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech, Social Security Administration office, Trenton; 7:00pm, fundraiser at the home of Ghulam Suhrawardi with Rep. Frank Pallone (D-CD 6), Monmouth County Democratic Chairman Vin Gopal, and Assemblyman Upendra J. Chivukula (D-17), Colts Neck, for more info go here.

What’s Happening Today Tue. 09/03/2013

Post Labor Day, election efforts now pick up for our State legislators: All 120 seats will be on the ballot in November. It’s time to get involved in donating and helping our candidates. Incumbents (generally) rule, but some seats are more tenuous than others and call out for help.

Below is a list of incumbents in the primaries who received less votes than their challengers – preceded by their legislative district and an asterisk to denote the incumbent. The fact that an incumbent got less votes than a challenger is not an indication that the person will lose (primaries are peculiar animals), but it can raise a flag and suggests that the Democrats in the race merit more assistance. Likewise, the fact that Democratic Assembly challengers like Marie Corfield (16th) and Ed Zipprich (11th ) received less votes than the incumbents serves as an incentive for Democrats to provide additional help.  

  •  Senate: 1st, Jeff Van Drew* (D), Susan Schmidt (R); 2nd, Jim Whelan* (D), Frank Balles (R); 7th, Diane Allen* (R), Gary Catrambone (D); 27th, Richard Codey* (D), Lee Holtzman (R); 38th, Bob Gordon* (D), Fernando Alonzo (R). 8th, no incumbent: Peter Barnes (D), David Stahl (R). 14th very close race with incumbent ahead by 61 votes: Linda Greenstein* (D), Peter Inverso (R).
  • Assembly: 1st, Nelson Albano* (D) & Bob Andrzejczak* (D), Sam Fiocchi (R) & Kristine Gabor (R); 27th, John McKeon* (D) & Mila Jasey* (D), Angelo Tedesco (R) & Laura Ali (R); 38th, Timothy Eustace* (D) & Connie Wagner* (D) who dropped out from the race and was replaced by Joseph Lagana, Joan Fragala (R) & Joseph Scarpa (R). 14th, close race: Wayne DeAngelo* (D) & Daniel Benson* (D), Steve Cook (R) & Ronald Haas (R).

    Senator Robert Menendez: 2:30pm, presides over the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Syria Hearing with testimony from Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, and Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin E. Dempsey, Washington, D. C. Live webcast here or probably CSPAN.

    Buono, Silva to Unveil Plan to Improve Higher Education in New Jersey: With thousands of students opting to leave the Garden State every year, the Buono/Silva campaign today presents a plan to lower tuition costs at public colleges and universities, reinvest in county colleges and improve vocational skills. (See Public Schedule below.)

    Public Schedules (your opportunity to cheer or jeer):

    Buono/Silva Campaign: Democratic gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono and Lt. gubernatorial candidate Milly Silva: 11:30am, Higher Education Press Conference, Rutgers University, Brower Commons, New Brunswick; Barbara Buono: 6:00pm, Hawthorne Democrats Cocktail Party, Brownstone House, 351 W. Broadway, Paterson.

    Governor and gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie: 11:00am, makes an announcement about New Jersey Institute of Technolog, Summit St., outside NJIT’s Central King Building, Newark; 2:00pm, Gotham Burger Co., 1383 Queen Anne Road, Teaneck.



    Email items for this column the evening before to BillOrr563@gmail.com.

  • What’s Happening Today Wed. 08/28/2013

    Blue Jersey Badge of Honor: This badge is bestowed upon those rudely insulted by Gov. Christie. Today we bestow the badge on Sen. Bob Gordon (D-38). A few days ago, Gov. Christie petulantly said,”I am so tired of Bob Gordon, I can’t stand him.” Many have served our state, but some, too many to list, have been nastily denigrated by our state’s leader. They must be honored.  

    “Christie: Jersey Shore not ready for another major storm” is yesterday’s Bergen Record headline. Chris Palmer posts in Blue Jersey on Facebook: “So according to Christie we’re stronger than storms. But one more will kill the shore. Inconsistent much?”

    Help Ed Zipprich, Democratic Assemblyman candidate in LD 11. He needs to raise $3,000 by 9pm Thursday night in order to rent campaign office space. You can donate here and come to the grand opening. Let’s get rid of the three Republican critters inhabiting LD 11.

    Trenton voices: Today we hear from the The Citizens Campaign which yesterday brought Trenton residents together: Calvin Thomas: “Individuals that reside and live in the community need to make things happen.” Darren Green: “Instead of complaining about what’s wrong, we need to understand what’s wrong and how to collectively and legitimately resolve it.” Rachel Cogsville-Lattimer: “We have to have a collective voice.” To learn the skills you need to cause change in your community go here.

    Rev. Robert Moore, Coalition for Peace Action Director, and a group of prominent Egyptian Americans: 12:00pm, news conference to discuss ideas and planned actions for “A Way Forward for Peace and Democracy in Egypt,” Statehouse, Trenton.

    Public Schedules:

    Buono/Silva Gubernatorial campaign: 6:00pm, Barbara Buono, Milly Silva, Assemblyman Tom Giblin (D-34), Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D-28) and Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-27), Bloomfield Office Opening, Buono for Governor Bloomfield Office, 73 Orchard St., Bloomfield.

    Governor & Gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie: tour focused on the effort to help businesses impacted by superstorm Sandy reopen: 11:30am, Cape May Mall; 3pm, East Ocean Avenue & East Church Street, Sea Bright; 7pm, New Jersey 101.5′s “Ask the Governor.” Was such awesome damage done to Cape May as to seriously impact businesses? I don’t think so, but that doesn’t stop Christie from visiting there on our dime to do campaigning.

    U. S. Senate candidate Mayor Cory Booker: This morning, a speech detailing proposals to the criminal justice system, including changes to drug sentencing policy, Metropolitan A.M.E. Zion Church, Jersey City. Dr. Martin Luther King spoke there eight days before his assassination in 1968.

    U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez and Newark Councilman Ras Baraka, a mayoral candidate: 3:00pm, address a rally marking the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, Lincoln Park, Newark.

    Email items for this column the evening before to BillOrr563@gmail.com.  

    “I am not broken. I am not confused. I don’t need to be fixed.”

    That was the testimony of Jacob Rudolph, a bisexual young man who struggled to come out and eventually did so in a speech to about 300 of his peers.

    Today, the Senate Health, Human Services, and Senior Citizens Committee heard three hours of testimony concerning a bill sponsored by Senators Lesniak, Sweeney, and Weinberg (and co-sponsored by Senator Buono) that would protect minors by prohibiting counseling attempts to change sexual orientation – so-called “gay conversion therapy.”

    The panel heard compelling stories from gay individuals who have been traumatized as children when forced to undergo these conversion attempts. Some of these “therapy” sessions included electric shock therapy (with their parents’ permission!) and forced masturbation with images of women.

    Of course, the opponents were there, too, claiming that this legislation is unconstitutional. But as was pointed out by one witness, this bill does not prohibit therapy, it just prohibits advocacy therapy.

    In the end, the bill passed with the following senators voting yes: Rice, Whelan, Gordon, Buono, Vitale, and Madden – all Democrats; and a yes vote from Republican Senator Allen. Among the other Republicans, Senator Thompson voted no, and Senators Singer and Addiego abstained.

    Before the hearings, I spoke with one of the sponsors, Senator Raymond Lesniak, and the Executive Director of Garden State Equality, Troy Stevenson.



    Correction: The original version of this article stated that Rudolph underwent conversion therapy. He did not. I regret the error.