Tag Archive: Teresa Ruiz

2018 Democratic Leadership Team

Retweeted Steve Sweeney (@NJSenatePres): I am pleased to announce the outstanding leadership team of Majority Leader @SenatorLorettaW, President Pro Temp M. Teresa Ruiz, Deputy Majority Leader & Budget Chair @PaulASarlo, Deputy Majority Leader & Higher Education Chair Sandra Cunningham &…
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What’s Happening Today, Tue. 10-/29/2013

Today we celebrate the resiliency of New Jerseyans in the face of a catastrophic event with the realization that recovery is far from complete. Chris Christie today celebrates Chris Christie.  

Under the banner: “Superstorm Sandy – One Year Later: A Stronger New Jersey,” Governor Chris Christie today marks the one year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy’s landfall with a series of visits to impacted communities. Those communities do not include the affected areas of Paterson and Hoboken – two Democratic strongholds. According to one report today: “Poor families in Hudson County had the hardest time in the state recovering from Sandy.”

The press can attend the events, but at none of them is the press allowed to address questions to the Governor. (He hasn’t taken questions from them in over a month.) Such does not prevent protesters from airing their grievances over his mishandling of the recovery effort. In contrast, Barbara Buono’s events today encourage questions from the press.

The schedule has undergone numerous revisions in the past week. Originally there was no schedule for L. G. Kim Guadagno, and Christie had invited her to attend only one event. (Seems churlish as she might soon be our Governor if Christie resigns to run for President.) Now there is separate schedule with multiple activities for the LG., but she still is on the podium with the governor only once. (He does not seem to like sharing the spotlight with her.) There is another schedule for events to be attended by Mary Pat Christie. Also there is a schedule for administrative staff, some of whom have been censured for poor performance during and after the storm. You can be there to protest, but it is unlikely that they will take any questions. The lengthy schedules are listed below the fold.

PUBLIC SCHEDULES

Buono/Silva gubernatorial campaign: Barbara Buono: 10:30am, East Orange Meet & Greet, Arlington House, 55-57 Munn Ave., East Orange;  Barbara Buono: 12:00pm, Buono Opportunity Tour: Public Education, Nutley High School, 300 Franklin Ave., Nutley;  Milly Silva: 6:15pm, DCBC Chairman’s Roast, II Villagio, 651 New Jersey 17, Carlstadt;  Barbara Buono: 7:15pm, DSC South Asia Caucus, 76 National Rd., Edison;  Milly Silva: 7:30pm, with Chairman Philip Thigpen and Vice-Chair M. Teresa Ruiz, Essex County Democratic Committee Chairman’s Annual Dinner, Mayfair Farms, 481 Eagle Rock Ave., West Orange;  Barbara Buono: 9:30pm, with Senator-elect Cory Booker, Barbara Runs New Jersey, 130 College Ave., New Brunswick.

Christie/Guadagno gubernatorial campaign: See below the fold for the schedules of Gov. Christie, L.G. Kim Guadagno, Mary Pat Christie and administrative staff.

U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez: 12:00pm, news conference to discuss bipartisan legislation that would extend the number of years over which flood-insurance bills would gradually increase for homeowners losing federal subsidies, Washington, D.C..  

Heated Senate Hearing on Halfway Houses Starts at 2:00 PM

The long-awaited Halfway House drama starts at about 2:00 PM with a hearing of the Senate Legislative Oversight Committee. There were many warnings of problems culminating in the N Y Times series Unlocked. Now the investigation begins.  

Key scheduled witnesses will include:

  • Comptroller Matthew Boxer whose June 2011 audit revealed serious problems and provided 26 recommendations for changes. A key question is what changes have been made?

  • John Clancy, CEO of Community Education Centers, whose firm received last year $71 million of the $105 million our government spent on such facilities.  His operation came under withering criticism in the NY Times articles and is now believed to be in financial distress.

  • Gary Lanigan, Commissioner of the Department of Corrections, who since 2010 was reponsible for monitoring CEC and other halfway houses.

    Members of the Senate committee are: Robert Gordon – Chair, Barbara Buono – Vice-Chair, Thomas Kean, Joseph Kyrillos, Teresa Ruiz, and Paul Sarlo. In firstamend07’s diary, he asks whether the event will be “fight or fluff.” The Democrats have lots of ammunition, but some of the witnesses will be wily and obfuscate, while Republicans will try their best to protect their governor who has praised and enabled CEC.

    For more information see CEC Investigation: Our Leaders Take Action – Part VII.  

    The debate will become heated so make some popcorn and listen to both sides on the legislative website.

    Deciminyan will be live Tweeting up a storm @bluejersey.

    This is open thread…

  • CEC Investigation: There’s A Lot Of Dirt In Them Thar Hills

    Eleven months after an inmate was killed at CEC’s Delaney Hall, Governor Christie served as keynote speaker for its 2010 10th-anniversary celebration. He said, “This is where I need to be, because even as governor, you treasure the times when you can come and be someplace where the work is purely good.”

    Following the New York Times three-part series, countless other newspaper articles over the years, NJ Comptroller Boxer’s report, an SCI report Gangs in Prisons, information from prisoner advocacy groups, and many Blue Jersey diaries, the need for a full independent investigation of Community Education Centers (CEC) is apparent. Its facilities are not places where “the work is purely good.”

    The problem as Charles Stile points out is that founder William Clancy, his family, and CEC since the early 1990’s have donated over $600,000 to elected officials at the state and local level. That’s a lot of dirt and many enriched hills. Essex County has proven particularly fertile ground for CEC, but Clancy’s largesse has included governors of both parties and officials in counties where CEC operates or would like to operate. Particularly troubling has been Governor Christie’s past participation as registered lobbyist for CEC, his frequent visits to the centers where he spews praises, his acceptance of donations, failure to address publicized problems, and his close relationship with CEC Senior Vice President William Palatucci.

    In addition to the largesse, which constitutes conflicts of interest for those who might investigate CEC, the problem for any investigatory group is the sheer number of issues to be examined: “pay-to-play,” public safety when inmates “walk away” from a facility, violence, rape, and drugs within the institutions, lack of quality counseling and education, lack of financial accountability and collusion with local authorities to obtain business.  

    With so many pockets of enriched hills and so many varieties of dirt, what group is independent enough with sufficient staff and skills to attack the problem?

    Charles Mainor (D-Hudson), Chair of the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee, is one of two individuals who has called for legislative hearings. How independent can he be, however, as his county houses and receives monies for CEC’s Talbot Hall in Kearny. In Part I of the NY Times series he was quoted as being asked for his estimate of how many people escaped from halfway houses in 2011. “I have heard of no more than three,” he responded. According to state records, the number was 452. Another member of the committee Sean Kean (R-30) in the NY Times article appeared dismissive, saying about the escapes, “It’s not really a problem. It’s a cheaper way of doing business, so that’s why it behooves us to use that option.” In summary, this committee is not a promising group to investigate the matter.

    Senator Barbara Buono is the other individual who has expressed concern, stating, “They should be held accountable for their failures.” One of her key staffers said that with the current budget issues on the front burner, she has not yet developed a strategy on how to move forward. She is Vice Chair of the Senate Oversight Committee. Although she has received a combined $2,600 in donations in 2010 and 2011, she has shown the independence and fervor necessary to undertake such an investigation. She has not discussed the matter yet with Chair Robert Gordon (D-38), nor Paul Sarlo (D-36), neither of whom reside in a county where CEC operates. However, another committee member Teresa Ruiz (D-29) is a part of the Essex County Democratic machine which is probably the largest recipient of CEC largesse. With a small committee and an even smaller staff it would be difficult for this group to undertake such a far-ranging investigation.

    Because of conflicts of interest and the broad scope necessary, a legislative investigation does not seem the best course. Individual committees, however,  can review matters within their purview and promote legislation. There is currently a Senate bill (S927) sponsored by Jeff Van Drew (D-3) and Steven Sweeney (D-3) which would require the State Auditor to review Department of Corrections privatization contracts to determine whether privatization yields a reduction in costs and whether there was any malfeasance on the part of DOC with the contract. It has been reviewed by two committees, however, the identical Assembly bill (A1880) has seen no committee action. If the bill were to gain passage it would represent a step forward, with some dirt removed, but large mounds still remaining.

    There are other more promising venues for investigation which will be discussed in Part II of this diary.  There is a lot of dirt, a lot of hills and we need heavy duty equipment to level the land.  

    Love Fest II

    Last week, the Assembly Education Committee passed a tenure reform bill with all stakeholders lavishing praise on the legislators and on one another for coming up with a bill that was acceptable to all. Not to be outdone, today the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee heard from many of the same folks, and the love fest continued. Senator Teresa Ruiz, the author of the Senate version, was the target of most of the adoration.

    As Republican Senator Kevin O’Toole noted, “To see John Tomicki [of the League of American Families] and the NJEA [simultaneously] praise this effort…speaks volumes.”

    While the GOP abstained as a bloc in the Assembly, today’s vote was unanimous for the Senate bill (which Governor Christie said he will support). No one went away completely happy. The NJEA objected to the fact that taxpayer-funded charter schools are not subject to these reforms. The New Jersey Press Association testified that the process for tenure hearings will not be transparent. Some praised the fact that this was a first step in the goal of complete elimination of tenure.

    Here’s the complete testimony. Let us know what you think. Is this kumbaya or is it a sell-out?





    Ruiz on Tenure

    promoted by Rosi

    This just in from state Senator Teresa Ruiz:

    “Tenure reform will boost respect for the profession,” Ruiz said.

    “It will turn teaching into something that’s evaluated and tenure into something that’s honorable, not a job protection defined by time.”

    It’s nice to know that the author of a bill that will shape the course of teaching and learning in New Jersey doesn’t understand that tenure is a fair dismissal due process right, not a job protection defined by time. It’s also nice to know that she doesn’t realize that teachers are evaluated (or should be) by their principals or supervisors over the course of the academic year.

    Evaluating teachers using student test scores will not lead to teachers gaining more respect. It will lead to teaching to the test and a curriculum that is narrowly focused on that test.

    I’m looking forward to the hearings on June 14.

    What a Tenure-Free Future Looks Like

    Transcript of recorded conversation

    Office of Freeholder xxxxx xxxxx

    County of xxxxx, NJ

    April 3, 2015

    Hello?… Joey, hey how are you?… Good, good… Yeah, I got your email… OK, let me see if I got this right:

    You’ve got a councilman who needs a favor for his niece: she’s an artist… yeah, young people, what’re you goin’ do?… and she needs a job, and is thinking about teaching. No training as a teacher, no education degree… yeah, don’t worry, that’s fine, we’ll get her into an alternate route thing…

    And then you’ve also got this “friend” who’s been “generous.” He’s got a kid who wants to be a bowling coach. We could make that happen, but why don’t we make him a teacher too; then he can coach during the season, and teach during the rest of the year. Is he good at anything?… You think he’s OK at math?… Yeah, I think we can do something…

    How can I hook them up? OK, here’s the deal: in the last election, we managed to get several of our friends on one of the local school boards. And since the Ruiz bill passed back in 2012… yeah, the TEACHNJ Act… that’s right, since it passed, we can make a lot of things happen that we couldn’t make happen before. So here’s what our friends on the school board are telling me…

    Let’s start with the niece. The local union vice-president is an art teacher, and I gotta tell you, Joe – she’s a big pain in the ass. Tough negotiator, always active in union business, always making a big stink about working conditions, calling out incompetent administrators… yeah, you know the type. I’ll tell you, there are quite a few people on the board who’d be happy to see her go who aren’t even our “friends,” you know?

    Well, now that the Ruiz bill is in place, it only takes one bad review to rate her as “ineffective,” which she got last year. Yeah, her principal and the superintendent are sick of her, so they’ll gladly write her another bad review, and it doesn’t even matter if they don’t know the first thing about teaching art…

    Yeah, you’re right, there is another teacher who sits on a committee that oversees her evaluation. But you know what? The bill didn’t clearly define that committee’s power. And the teacher who sits on it doesn’t want to lose his job; he’ll play along…

    How long will this take? Joey, that’s the beauty of this thing: she was rated “ineffective” immediately. There wasn’t an appeal, there wasn’t an outside source to confirm anything… and because she’s an art teacher, there weren’t even tests to show if her kids were learning. She’s going to lose her tenure, she won’t get a new contract, and she’ll be gone by the end of June. Tell the councilman to have his niece put together her resume right now… Yeah, it’s just a formality, but we’ve got to keep up appearances, you know?

    OK, the bowling coach… yeah, I know just the spot for him. We’ve got the 7th Grade math teacher who’s… well, let’s just say he’s “different” than most other folks in the rest of the town. You know what I mean?… Yeah, he would kinda stand out if he showed up at the next church social…

    The board made sure the superintendent gave him some challenging students again this year… yeah, his test scores won’t be so great. This has been going on for a couple of years now, so he’s going to be rated “partially effective” for another year…

    No…no, you gotta understand this: he doesn’t get a hearing. He doesn’t get to explain his situation. He’s just gone if the principal says so; and if the superintendent says so, the principal says so; and if I say so, the super says so. You understand? Yeah… yeah, exactly: there’s no more oversight outside of the district. As long as our people run the board, we make all the decisions.

    So let’s get this kid the math job, and then we’ll make him the bowling coach at the high school… The current coach? Joe, do you think he’s gonna make any waves about this? Or the athletic director?… Exactly – everybody’s running scared now. No one’s standing up for themselves anymore, just how we like it…

    Yeah… yeah, I never thought we’d be able to have this much juice in the schools. Gotta hand it to Elizabeth: they paved the way. We’ve got all these teachers under our thumbs, making contributions to campaigns, working the polls, scared of losing their jobs if they don’t… yeah, it’s going to be great at the next election…

    What’s that? How are the students doing?

    (Pause)

    Oh, you son of a… (laughter) oh, you dirty… (laughter) …you had me going there for a second!… (laughter) …I thought you were serious!…

    OK… yeah, OK, let me know when you need another favor… No, you can email me at my county address. Yeah, it’s fine: this is now all perfectly legal… yeah, say hi to the senator for me. So long…

    (end transcript)

    Kids Count! – A Challenge To Our Governor And Legislature

    “Now more than ever, the well-being of children lies in the hands of state policymakers. Children now receive relatively little federal government support and what support they do get is highly influenced by the state and local districts in which they live.” – January 18, 2012 –  State  Child and Youth Well-Being Index (CWI): Investing in Public Programs Matters

    This just-released annual report from the Foundation for Child Development indicates, “A child’s well-being is strongly related to the state where he or she lives.” The good news is that this year’s report ranked New Jersey number one among all states in the State Child and Youth Well-Being Index (CWI). The bad news is that this study presents results for 2007 (the most recent year for which data are available from the National Survey of Children’s Health), and in recent years Governor Christie has reduced State expenditures and sought less federal matching funds. As the legislature and Governor Christie grapple with next year’s budget, the message is clear: state investment in children matters.  

    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.