Tag Archive: Jersey City

NJ Cities Working Together

Cross-posted at Huffington Post

Crime recognizes few boundaries – urban or suburban. That’s why it’s so important to have police departments cooperate as regional crime fighters, especially to slow the movement of guns and drugs. But fighting crime is more than just good police work. We also need to remedy some of the problems that cause crime to occur by focusing not only on public safety but job creation, housing security and recreation opportunities as well.

That’s why, in New Jersey, the mayors of the state’s three largest cities have joined together to launch a three-pronged, united front to help change the cycle of poverty and crime. In Jersey City, Newark and Paterson, we have come together to share services, and at times personnel, in fighting crime, while also seeking to coordinate community outreach efforts. Mayors Ras Baraka, Joey Torres and I believe this can become a model for mayors throughout the United States to follow.

Saving New Jersey’s children three zip codes at a time

Cross-posted with Marie Corfield blog. – Promoted by Rosi.

Yesterday the mayors of New Jersey’s three largest cities, Ras Baraka of Newark, Jose Torres of Paterson and Steven Fulop of Jersey City, announced a bold move to collaborate on reducing violent crime in all three cities.

The proposal evolved from the Passaic River Corridor Initiative along Route 21, which has involved as many as 80 municipalities sharing police intelligence, according to Tom O’Reilly, the head of the Police Institute at Rutgers University. State authorities have said the program has led to hundreds of arrests.

But sharing police officers among three large cities that are not adjacent to one another while also combining social services is “sort of a first,” O’Reilly said. “They are challenging the traditional ways of thinking,” he said of the mayors. “The idea that three mayors have cut across bureaucratic lines is the first step.”

Get Real on Climate Change

Cross-posted at Huffington Post.

Earth Day is upon us and that means attention is focused on cleaner water and air, along with a more recent emphasis on climate change – perhaps this century’s greatest challenge. It’s appalling we are wasting time debating whether or not climate change is real. Instead, we should be talking about solutions.

In March, two reports were issued that make clear – yet again – the problems of climate change are real and getting more severe. First, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the largest scientific organization in the world, declared that the planet is now seeing the impact of climate change and that the consequences could be catastrophic. Most ominous, the association said the window for effective action is swiftly closing.

Then, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations organization that for 15 years has been warning us about the awful costs of a hotter Earth, released its most dire report yet. Melting polar ice caps, extended droughts and massive floods are getting worse – at an increasing rate. What’s more, unless we reduce our fossil fuel dependency, the report concludes we are sure to face climbing temperatures, rising seas, species loss and dwindling agricultural yields for decades, if not centuries. The damage will be particularly severe in coastal communities.

Monday night: Trayvon Martin family’s attorney speaking in Jersey City

Tamara Taylor-Schenck of Plainfield "Hoodie March" protesting death of Trayvon MartinJust wanted to flag this event for you, which looks interesting to me. Monday night, Benjamin Crump, the attorney for the family of the late Trayvon Martin, will be speaking at New Jersey City University. Crump, a civil rights lawyer based in Tallahassee, took on the Martin family’s case on a pro-bono basis after George Zimmerman shot and killed the unarmed 17-year old carrying Skittles and iced tea, claiming Florida’s Stand your Ground law as defense.

To the left, that’s Tamara Taylor-Schenck at 2012’s Hoodie March in Plainfield, one of several across NJ after Martin’s death. [Photo: Jody Somer, Star-Ledger].

On Friday, Trayvon’s mother Sybrina Fulton spoke at a Milwaukee college and told her audience that she believes Trayvon and other kids are being ‘profiled’ by people like Zimmerman. The 30-year old Zimmerman has had other run-ins with the law before and since Martin’s killing. He made the news earlier this week signing autographs at a gun show, – though fewer than 20 people showed up to get one, after complaints about Zimmerman’s presence shifted the event from a much larger venue.

Benjamin Crump’s speech in Jersey City Monday night is free and open to the public. The event is called Emancipation 2.0, Still Fighting for Justice. Details here.

Hate Your Commute? Read This Column

Cross-posted at Huffington Post.

Mention asphalt or rail in a conversation to someone outside the transportation industry and you will surely be met by a blank stare or feigned yawn. But, ask the same person about his or her commute and emotion quickly returns.

This is the dilemma for policy makers when it comes to improving our transportation infrastructure — how to make commuters aware of the need for significant investment to make our transportation system better and safer. Even tea party Republicans acknowledge our roads and bridges are crumbling but they don’t want to commit the revenues needed to make a dent in the problem.

It’s important to understand the enormity of the nation’s infrastructure disaster. Make no mistake, in the land of the car, our road quality ranks with many third world nations. Our rail lines are worse, especially when compared to other G8 countries plus China. In fact, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ACSE), which issues reports every four years on the state of America’s transportation infrastructure, saw little improvement even after the massive stimulus spending early in the Obama presidency. In 2009, ASCE gave the United States road infrastructure a grade of D-, transit a grade of D, bridges a C, and rails a C-. In 2013, both road and transit infrastructures each received a D, and both bridge and rail infrastructure each received a C+. Despite some improvement, these are not grades that should make our political leaders proud.

Training Ex-Offenders is the Right Thing to Do to Boost Our Economy

Cross-posted at Huffington Post

Most Americans would be shocked to know the United States has a higher incarceration rate than that of any other country in the world. One out of every hundred Americans is imprisoned today and one out of every 35 Americans is either jailed, under watch through probation or on parole. Said another way, nearly nine million Americans have been a part of our corrections system.

It’s even worse if you are a person of color. For instance, the incarceration rate of black males in the U.S. today is higher than the rate of black males imprisoned in South Africa under Apartheid rule. This is a tragedy that ought to give moral pause to all Americans.

In no way am I suggesting that people who commit serious crimes ought not to be incarcerated. Instead, what I am stating is the need to change for the better the lives of those who have served their time.

A New Approach on Gun Reform — Let’s Get Started

This is an interesting idea. Promoted by Rosi. Cross-posted at Huffington Post.

One year after Newtown, Congress has failed to enact a single reform that would make children safer from gun violence. This is a tragedy in every sense of the word — for those who perished. And, for the living. It’s also a tragedy for those who believe in public service because on all levels, Newtown, and indeed all mass gun violence, is the clear failure of government to protect the innocent among us.

We face an unacceptable situation and one that sadly seems unlikely to be altered anytime soon in Washington. Instead, change regarding guns must come on the local level. Incremental though it may be, it is a start and clearly we can no longer wait on Washington to change national policy.

That’s why Jersey City will help start to transform the thinking about guns. Police departments are huge buyers of guns and ammunition but have not taken advantage of their power in the marketplace to demand change from gun manufacturers. This has been a missed opportunity that must be — and will be — reversed.

We owe a debt of gratitude to the Marine Corps

Cross-posted at The Bergen Record

THIS WEEK the U.S. Marine Corps celebrates its 238th birthday. No doubt it is a proud achievement for the approximately 2.5 million Marines veterans and those on active duty. But it should be an even prouder day for all Americans. The Marine Corps is emblematic of the best qualities of our nation – honor, courage and commitment.

Being a Marine has been likened by some as more than service to country. It’s almost like a calling. A Marine is part of a unit that demands and delivers excellence in all that it does. This is the Corps, the strongest organization in the world.

As Americans, we need to recount the importance of not taking the Corps for granted. The gridlock in Washington has had a brutal impact on most Americans and this includes the Marines. Unfortunately, it’s not the first time leaders in Washington have taken aim at those who serve. That makes this week’s birthday a bittersweet celebration.

Hey, PolitickerNJ, think you forgot to mention something?

PolitickerNJ logoMatt Arco has a great story in PolitickerNJ this morning, a warning from Senator Loretta Weinberg to JC Mayor Steve Fulop with a well-deserved zing to the cesspool that is Port Authority. More on that below. First, I want to deal with the fact that I think PNJ owes its readers a disclaimer. After all, PNJ has more than passing connection to this story – that Weinberg’s warning Fulop about – the sudden closure of George Washington Bridge local lanes and the dangerous traffic tie-up that may all have been political payback against a Democratic mayor who refused to fall over for Chris Christie.  

Why should PolitickerNJ disclose? Because in their story, there is zero mention that PNJ’s founder – and driving force for most of its life – is a key player. Maybe the key player. David Wildstein. A/K/A “Wally Edge,” who founded the site, announced its 2007 sale with a quote from Machiavelli, and finally unmasked himself as David Wildstein when he took a $215,000 job as a Port Authority executive. The Record calls Wildstein, hired by Christie appointee Bill Baroni, “Christie’s eyes and ears inside the Port Authority”. Wildstein went to high school with Christie. You can see why there are serious questions about Wildstein’s conduct, after Wall Street Journal reported it was the former “Wally Edge” who ordered bridge officials to close the lanes, then stood and watched the massive traffic jam it created. For days. It’s all a little … close. And while PNJ did no wrong (it remains to be seen if Wildstein did), it’s the kind of thing we expect a responsible news organization to mention. To disclose.  

Weinberg says she wants the Port Authority to answer for those lane closures, and invites Blue Jersey readers to join her as she goes to Wednesday’s Port Authority Commission meeting (yes, in JC). Arco’s story, and what Sen. Loretta Weinberg wants Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop to think hard about, below the fold:  

NJ Gets The Marvel Superhero Treatment

How cool is this?  It’s election night and the polls close in five minutes, but awesome news is that a new Marvel book is coming out starring a teenage girl from Jersey City who celebrates Islam.  Her name secret identity is Kamala Khan and her Superhero moniker is Ms. Marvel.

Her superpower appears to be morphing her body, so she can do things like make a big fist.