Tag Archive: Fred Madden

What’s Happening Today Tue. 01/07/2014

BridgeGate: Will we or won’t we get answers?: The matter is heating up as we near Thursday’s Assembly Hearing. David Wildstein, Christie’s number two staff appointee to the Port Authority, has been summoned to appear before the Transportation Committee. From previous testimony we learned he ordered the lane closures and told the head of the GW Bridge not to inform the local authorities, which appears to be a violation of the law. Wildstein also told the Director of Bridges, Tunnels, & Terminals he would inform the P. A. Executive Director about the action being taken, but failed to do so. The result was days of unnecessary traffic chaos in Fort Lee for ambulances, fire trucks, school buses, and the general public.

Transportation Committee Chair Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex) has said subpoenaed documents “create the implication that this originated outside the Port Authority.” He added, “Redactions  and a lack of related correspondence among the 900 pages of documents he received last month obscure their meaning and context.”  

Among the key questions are why were the lanes closed and were others in the administration involved? David Wildstein has some or all of the answers but he has retained a lawyer and may be subject to criminal charges. He could take the 5th Amendment to remain silent, or invoke the infamous Executive Privilege and not comment on communications with the Executive Office.

Others know or could find out what happened but are saying little or nothing. Port Authority Chair David Samson (a Christie appointee) has refused all comment. P. A. Executive Director Patrick Foye answered some but not all questions at a prior hearing. Former Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni (another Christie appointee) testified (not under oath) that lanes were closed for a traffic study, but Foye said there was no traffic study. Christie who has downplayed the issue is known for browbeating people and could get to the bottom of the matter, but maybe he already has information which is not beneficial to his administration.

There remain too many unanswered questions. The redactions and the fact that many documents under subpoena have not been produced suggest that ferreting out the truth will not be easy. If, as alleged, Chair Wisniewski has not yet made the documents received available to Republican committee members, he should do so today. The hearings on Thursday are likely to be interesting (and vituperative) but may not be illuminating. Assemblyman Wisniewski has shown determination in his investigation so far but after Thursday will need additional fortitude and legislative leadership support to continue until we get straight answers.  

One of Many New bills Now on the Governor’s Desk:  

S2995 (Sponsors: Sens. Weinberg and Madden) intended to counter an increase in discriminatory practices and treatment for the growing number of pregnant women in the workplace.

Stop FEMA Now: This group’s motto is “We must keep flood insurance Affordable.” Member George Kasimos (Toms River) who advocates for Superstorm Sandy victims is going to meet with Sen. Robert Mendez in Washington today to attend a press conference to delay increased premiums. NJ Spotlight wrote a profile on him: Sandy Storm Surge Turns Homeowner into Unlikely Activist.

Governor Chris Christie: 11:00am, Meeting with Hispanic Community Leaders and at 11:15, Dream Act Ceremonial Bill Signing and Remarks, Colin Powell Elementary School, 1500 New York Avenue, Union City. Gov. Christie  signed off on only half of the Dream Act, approving tuition equality but not state financial aid. It would be interesting to find out if some Hispanic leaders boycott the event.  

“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.

Town Halls – A Study in Contrasts

Governor Christie’s “Town Hall” meetings have fascinated the mainstream media with their bombast, fancy props, and security details consisting of State Police and men in dark suits wearing earpieces. The script is always the same – a daytime meeting making it difficult for working people to attend, the governor pontificating for a while and then taking off his coat to answer questions, and his relishing YouTube moments to bash Democrats, teachers, female legislators, or whoever his target happens to be that week.

By contrast, the Democrats’ Town Hall meetings are low key, with scant coverage by the press, and no fancy props. After all, while the Governor’s political rants are paid for by taxpayers, the Dem’s meetings are funded by the party.

Last night, Senate President Stephen Sweeney was introduced by Senator Fred Madden at a town hall meeting at Camden County College in Blackwood. The auditorium was full, but not overflowing. There were no long lines to get in, unobtrusive security from the campus police, and no hoards of mainstream press and TV cameras to bring the proceedings to the general public.

Sweeney only spoke for a few minutes before taking questions from the audience. While the main item on the agenda was his tax reform proposal, he took questions on a variety of topics. Blue Jersey was there to bring you the proceedings. (Unfortunately, we had technical problems with the campus audio feed. The audio is sub-par; listening with headphones for better clarity is recommended.)

Below the fold: some time markers for interesting questions and answers.

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.

Senator Fred Madden: the WORST Democrat in Trenton

Does the name Fred Madden ring a bell? Probably not. He’s a backbencher politician who represents the part of New Jersey that hardly anyone lives is. And judging from his voting record he’s a right wing tool.

For example:

  • He voted against gay marriage equality.
  • He voted to keep the death penalty on the books.
  • He’s a member of the NRA-sponsored “”Hunter Caucus.”
  • And yesterday he voted against the bill to curb HIV rates (and charity care costs) by giving IV drug users over-the-counter access to clean syringes.

    Fred Madden was elected in 2004 to the NJ State Senate as a Democrat by spending a record 4.2 million dollars on his campaign. Now we all know you don’t get $4.2m in your warchest without being someone’s handmaiden.

    It’s just a pity that Senator Madden’s special someone is not a Democrat.

  • GOP Voter Suppression (Again!)

    There are few Republicans that I would consider voting for. But if I see a member of the GOP who I think would bring the party back to becoming a viable loyal opposition instead of a bunch of extremist corporatists, I would consider voting for that candidate.

    Shelley Lovett was such a candidate in the recent election, a Republican running for Assembly from the Fourth Legislative District in Gloucester County. While she lost to political neophyte Gabriela Mosquera, Lovett was the kind of Republican we need in Trenton. When I met with Lovett back in October, she said “public education is the most important thing we can give our children” – heresy in the Christie religion.  Lovett was open to the idea of giving voters a say in the establishment of charter schools and had concerns about the use of standardized tests in teacher evaluation as proposed by Governor Christie’s “reforms.” Lovett’s Assembly running mate, Pat Fratticcoli, is also a member of that dying breed of moderate Republicans, and had either one been elected, I would not have been disappointed.

    I’m Not Sure I Can Hold My Nose This Time

    Multiple attempts to reach out to state representatives without ever a response? What could possibly be your reasons, Senator Madden? Assemblyman Moriarty? Assemblywoman Mosquera seems to have a chance here to do better with this constituent than her colleagues. – promoted by Rosi

    It seemed like a simple question to me. A question I posted on the Facebook page of the Democratic NJ State Legislature candidates for the 4th Legislative District.

    Senator Fred Madden and Assemblyman Paul Moriarty are incumbents. Gabriela Mosquera is a newcomer, running for the seat formerly held by Republican Domenic DiCicco, who was redistricted out of LD-4 in April.

    I have written to my state representatives numerous times on a variety of issues, both state and local. Never once have I ever received a response, not even a form letter or a robo-email, from Madden or Moriarty. Mr. DiCicco, the Republican, has personally responded to me, as has Governor Christie. I even got a phone call from a Christie staffer responding to one of my letters.

    Madden and Moriarty are also among the “Christiecrats” who sold out the public unions on pension and benefit “reform” (why does that now sound like such a dirty word?).

    Have You Written to Your Elected Officials Lately?

    Well, glad to see Gov. Christie's getting some mileage out of his self-serving videos at taxpayer expense. – promoted by Rosi

    Have You Written to Your Elected Officials Lately? I have.

    Recently I wrote to the triumvirate who represent my Legislative District, #4: Senator Fred Madden (D), Assemblyman Paul Moriarty (D), Assemblyman Domenick DiCicco Jr (R), along with Washington Twp Mayor Matthew Lyons (D). The subject was the growing number of once-thriving, now vacant, retail properties in the Township (which will be a topic for a future diary).

    I received two responses: one from Mayor Lyons, who thanked me for my concerns and suggested that I attend the next planning meeting . The other was from Assemblyman DiCicco, the sole Republican Legislator in my District, who expressed that he shared my concerns, and included the usual Republican boilerplate about making NJ more business-friendly. I believe he was sincere. I am disappointed by the silence form the two Democrats who represent my District, especially Mr. Moriarty, who is a Township resident and former mayor. At least Mr. DiCicco had the decency to respond. Perhaps he is the only one who realizes that he is up for re-election this year, and re-election is not a given.

    I also wrote to the Governors office, one sentence:

    “When can we expect the Governor to unveil his 2012 budget proposal?”

    his reply below

    A Time for Change: Day Laborer Treatment

    “Few in our society are as vulnerable as recent immigrants who seek work on a day-to-day basis and have limited English proficiency.”    

                – NJ Governor’s Advisory Panel on Immigration Policy

    “It’s a hard life…. We’re just looking for work. We need more people with good hearts who know why we’re here.”

                – Newark Ironbound day laborer

    In August 2010 Seton Hall Law School released a report entitled Ironbound Underground which documented that in Newark’s East Ward 96% of local immigrant day laborers have been victims of wage theft, 27% assaulted by an employer, 80% not given safety equipment, and 20% hurt on the job. Then in January 2011 the Law School issued All Work and No Pay in which it expanded its research to Elizabeth, Freehold, Morristown, Orange, Flemington, Bridgeton, and Palisades Park. There it documented among day laborers 48% not paid, 54% underpaid, 26% injured, 35% abandoned and 26% assaulted.

    Ironbound Underground concluded, “Our findings demonstrate a staggering degree of workplace violations and exploitation of day laborers by local employers in violation of federal and state law, resulting in a loss of dignity for the day laborer population and a loss of revenue to the public. Yet the day laborers in Newark have found few effective avenues to address the violations of their rights.” The more extensive All Work No Pay concludes: “Community organizations, municipal courts, prosecutors, and state and local officials all have essential parts to play in enforcing labor standards and further safeguarding the rights of workers.”  

    With the current tough economy the number of day laborers is increasing, and they are not only immigrants. Local officials should establish hiring halls for day laborers, as they decrease worker abuse. State legislators, in particular the Labor Committee chairs Sen. Fred Madden and Assemblyman Joseph Egan, and Judiciary Committee Chairs Sen. Nicholas Scutari and Assemblyman Peter Barnes, should draft new legislation. Bill S1588, which seeks to set up a division to investigate and address disparities and civil rights violations suffered by immigrants, could be a start. The All Work No Pay report recommends that New Jersey’s Wage Theft statute be updated and include standardization of the procedure which allows workers to file complaints directly with municipal courts, criminal sanctions against employers who retaliate against employees who file complaints, and sufficient fines and damages to deter wage theft.