Tag Archive: machine politics

Opposition To Civil Rights=Bigotry

Let’s face it, this is a civil rights issue…..and just like the struggles for de jure (we’re still working on de facto) equality in the 50’s and 60’s, on the racial front, the chief/underlying motivation for the opposition to marriage equality is bigotry. Plain and simple.

People back then also used quasi-religious rationales….but it always boils down to an irrational fear and loathing of “the other” i.e. bigotry.    

Even the elected officials who may not themselves be bigots, but will still vote against equality under the law, are voting that way because they are afraid of losing the votes of bigots.

Yesterday’s NY vote made it very clear as only ONE of the no votes had the guts to speak out on the floor (and that was a “Reverend”)….all the rest voted in silent shame.

Bigots have to be named and shamed…..I DO NOT believe that the majority of my fellow New Jerseyans are bigots……that’s why this issue is an eventual winner both morally and politically.

As an older straight person I know just how much attitudes have changed in this state over the last 45 years, it’s dramatic…..if marriage equality is not passed in this session it needs to become a major plank in the state Democratic party platform (which we need to develop) and it needs to be one of the chief VOTING issues upon which progressive primary challengers seek to unseat incumbents who are stuck in the toxic “mud” of the status quo…..and that toxicity includes way more than the tendency to appeal to the bigot vote on this one issue……but it’s all related.

The same type of person who is afraid to offend bigots is also more likely to want to keep the pay to play machine politics as is. It’s all connected, and it’s a matter of values. New Jersey voters really are eager to throw the BUMS out……we progressives just have to have the guts to run for office and to call out the bums and to keep a bright spotlight on them.

Marriage equality needs to come to a vote, if only to publicly “out” those who would dare to vote on the side of ignorance, fear, intolerance and, yes, bigotry

Political Machines and Glass Ceilings

Latinos represent one of the fastest-growing segments of New Jersey’s population, and nowhere in New Jersey do they represent a greater share of the population than Hudson County. Yet relatively few major political officeholders in the county are Hispanic.

Curiously, Latinos are particularly underrepresented at the local level. Of the county’s twelve mayors, just one are Hispanic. Three of the county’s four majority-Hispanic municipalities have a white, non-Hispanic mayor. In total, somewhere between a quarter and a third of the other local local officeholders in the county are Hispanic.

Municipality White non-
Union City 13% 82% Brian Stack
West New York 15% 79% Silverio Vega
North Bergen 32% 57% Nick Sacco
Guttenberg 32% 54% Gerald Drasheff
East Newark 45% 48% Joseph Smith
Weehawken 50% 41% Richard Turner
Harrison 47% 37% Raymond McDonough
Jersey City 24% 28% Jerramiah Healy
Kearny 60% 27% Albert Santos
Hoboken 70% 20% Dawn Zimmer (acting)
Bayonne 70% 18% Mark Smith
Secaucus 70% 12% John Reilly (acting)

Latinos are similarly underrepresented in Hudson County’s state legislative delegation. Only twothree of the county’s nine state legislators, the two Assemblymen from the 32nd district, are Hispanic (again in bold; African-Americans are in italics).

District White non-
Black Hispanic/
Senator Assembly Members
LD-31 34% 28% 22% Cunningham Chiappone (busted)
Smith (busted)
LD-32 42% 5% 40% Sacco Prieto
LD-33 31% 3% 58% Stack Ramos
Total 36% 12% 40% 2 white
1 black
3 white
2 hispanic
1 black

Latinos fare somwheat better in county government, where they hold three of nine freeholder seats and the position of sheriff. On the federal level, Albio Sires represents most of the county in the US House, and his predecessor in that district, Bob Menendez, is one of the state’s two US Senators; both Sires and Menendez are Cuban. Still, less than one-third of elected officials from the County are Hispanic.

Latinos are not the only underrepresented group in Hudson County politics. Women are even scarcer among public officeholders than Latinos, even though they cast a majority of the votes in every election. Just two elected officials in Hudson County government and two of the county’s state legislators are women.A woman has never been elected mayor in a Hudson County municipality, and no woman even served as one until Dawn Zimmer was sworn in as Mayor of Hoboken following the resignation of Peter Cammarano earlier this month. Just 30% of all local officeholders in Hudson County are women, and only in Kearny do they hold a majority in local government.

Nowhere is the glass ceiling so shatter-resistant as in majority-Hispanic North Bergen and Union City, the political fiefdoms of the Hudson County’s two Senator-Mayors. Both are Walsh Act municipalities, and thus they are each governed by a five-member commission which elects a mayor each year. The “mayor” merely chairs the commission; he has no more executive power than the other four commissioners. In many Walsh Act (and Township form) municipalities, commissioners (alternatively, township committee members) will usually allow the title of mayor to rotate between members of the majority party from year to year. Yet in North Bergen and Union City, Nick Sacco and Brian Stack have hoarded the mayoralty for themselves for 18 and 9 years respectively. While the title of mayor isn’t necessary for either Sacco and Stack to continue manipulating the levers of power, it undoubtedly helps each maintain and maximize control over his town. There are women and Latinos on both commissions who are capable of chairing a commission meeting, but they stand little hope of becoming mayor as long as Sacco and Stack are around. Machine politics in Hudson County no doubt includes women and minorities in the process, but positions of leadership largely remain the domain of white men.

Double-Dipping and the Budget

John P. McAlpin, Josh Gohlke and Mitchel Maddux deserve credit for not doing a hatchet job on the issue of double-dipping and exploring its budgetary connections.  But I don’t think they actually bring out the problems with it.  Still, credit where it’s due, we need more in-depth reporting.

Let’s look at case they present as an illustration:

Paterson needed help paying off an unexpectedly high garbage bill two years ago.

Assistant City Business Administrator Nellie Pou was on the job — as Assemblywoman Nellie Pou, voting for two state budgets that would later give $1 million for Paterson’s problem.

That grant was one of hundreds that added up to more than $100 million for towns represented by fellow Democrats.

Take the jump to discuss why this is more of the problem than most people want to realize.