Tag Archive: Rosi Efthim

Thank you Rosi – a Bright Spot In A Down Week!

Being a progressive legislator in Trenton is not an easy job these days. I spent a good portion of this past week meeting with various groups who wanted to point out to me personally what the loss of state funds meant to their particular missions: less hours of operation of the local library; closing sheltered workshop locations which give developmentally disabled folks paid work slots along with their sense of independence and pride; reducing the amount of frail elderly who can be accommodated at a medical day care center; closing a pre-school program for lack of funds and so it goes!

This past Thursday, we voted in the Legislature the bill re-instituting the so-called “Millionaire’s Tax”. First let’s get the facts straight: the one year tax which expired in December, 2009 was a surcharge on all those earnings over $400,000 – really a “less than millionaire’s tax”. The 2010 version which passed the legislature on Thursday is a surcharge on only that income in excess of $1million earned. In other words, if one  earns $1 million and $10, the surcharge (or additional tax) is only paid on the $10. Anything up to $1 million earned is taxed at the current rates. So we passed a reasonable alternative to grave cuts in important programs, and the Governor was ready, pen-in-hand, to veto the bill. A day of drama, that ended without real forward movement.

Oh yes, I did get my bill passed in the Senate which does put additional public input and health analysis on any move by Horizon Blue Cross to privatize. And how would you like to be Bill Marino, the CEO of Horizon who just received a bonus in excess of $7 million?  Guess the veto of the “Millionaires Tax” will save him a few dollars! And where did that “bonus” money come from? How come Governor Christie has not called to cap salaries on that “non-profit” which derives its income from all those paying premiums for health insurance.

With all the depressing issues, we did have some sunny highlights.  30,000 folks or more turned out in Trenton to condemn the draconian budget cuts put forth by Governor Christie and the Republicans. They took a Saturday to travel to Trenton and make a stand! Let’s hope some folks pay attention. On Sunday I was privileged to attend the Hunterdon Democratic brunch along with Congressman Rush Holt and Democratic Chair John Wisnewski. My wonderful job was to present the Professor Carey McWilliams award to Blue Jersey, Hunterdon County and Democracy For America’s own Rosi Efthim! What a treat! As the program said “progressive politics is in Rosi’s DNA.”  Learning about Professor McWiliams was also a treat.  He was a transplanted Californian who was not only an academician and author in the field of political science, but also a practitioner, having served as a Democratic Committeeman, a councilman and Municipal Chair in Flemington.

Rosi was truly surprised by the beautiful award, and I was moved by being asked to present it to her.  Knowing there are women like Rosi in the generation of leaders behind gives me confidence in our future.  Thank you Rosi for all you do! You are truly an inspiration!

And so another week begins. I’ll be visiting an ARC sheltered workshop to see firsthand the work they do; will be attending a group meeting of students who are planning to speak about sensible alternatives to school cuts, will lead a Senate Health Committee meeting on Thursday with some questions for our new Health Commissioner, will be meeting with Bergen County area social service agencies about what the budget cuts mean to them and am going to an evening discussion on women and politics with a group or Israeli women political leaders visiting our country.  Lots to do, and lots to talk about.

We “progressive Democrats” have to find our collective voice. We do have to address our serious budget problems; we need all our public employees part of the solution and not deride them as “the problem”; we need to clearly let the public know that while the Governor does his mantra of “no new taxes”, his budget will directly result in the biggest increase in property taxes in our lifetime. This is our challenge and I will work to make sure we are up to it!

Keep your voices heard!

Zerlina’s going to Netroots Nation

Zerlina, DFA Netroots Nation Scholar 2010
Lady Z

Last year, I went to Netroots Nation, as one of the Democracy for America Netroots Nation scholars. Two years ago, Jeff Gardner got there the same way. Zerlina – Lady Z at The Urban Politico – is headed to Las Vegas in July for NN10. She’s a Round One winner in DFA’s competitive scholarship that’s sending 40 bloggers to Vegas for the 5th Netroots Nation. Zerlina’s from Millburn. How many more DFA NN scholars from New Jersey is up to you. Want to apply?

Zerlina blogs as Lady Z at The Urban Politico, a blog I like a lot. She’s a founder, and the manager. And she just started blogging in September.

The Urban Politico’s a 4-person team, in NJ, Philly & D.C. – one a lawyer, one in state government and the other working in D.C. Zerlina’s works as a paralegal by day, and attends Rutgers Law School, Newark as a night student. She’s “the most liberal” of the four,  says they talk all day long, and often collaborate on diaries. And they weigh in on each other’s posts with “2 cents” reactions that broaden the conversation. Some of those conversations go on for a days, like the question, Is Gay the New Black?

Zerlina’s a fellow at New Leaders Council, and was an organizer posted in Virginia for the Obama campaign, but says her blog chops come from heavy on-line reading after college (Tufts, she’s 28). Before she found blogging, she shipped op-eds she found to friends via facebook. She’s always been the person “everybody goes to for news.”

Best way to describe Netroots Nation is blogger heaven. A couple thousand extraordinarily smart and opinionated people under one roof all at the same time to confab and, uh, seriously party. Speakers lineup isn’t out year, but Senator Al Franken (damn, that still sounds awesome) is closing, and last year’s speakers included Bill Clinton, Howard Dean, and Valerie Jarrett. Anybody can go, but the DFA NN10 scholars get most of their expenses paid (want to help contribute to that?), an extraordinary thing DFA does. Want to see what a winning application looks like? Here are the Round One winners. May 23’s the deadline for Round Two.

I’ll be at Netroots Nation. So will Adam. And Lady Z. You coming?  

We’re in the car, on the way to Netroots Nation


This morning, clammyc and I are hitting the road on the way to beautiful Pittsburgh and Netroots Nation 09. I’m stoked.

I’m going as one of Democracy for America’s Netroots Nation Scholars. DFA has this fabulous competitive program to underwrite costs for people they think ought to have that opportunity. It’s a savvy way of undescoring deep ties between grassroots political organizers and those of us who ride the interwebs. I’m very lucky they chose me. (Shrugs.)

If you’ve got the means, throw DFA some coin. They’re sending 40 of us this year to NN09- and that’s all expenses paid.

Last year, they sent 30. On of them was Jeff Gardner, my buddy and a denizen of this site, and of DFA-NJ, like I am. There was a friendly, but cutthroat competition for votes with one Robert Harding at The Albany Project, which Jeff won, being that he’s awesome. Don’t worry, Robert got to go, too.

Clammyc’s an old hand at NN, and he’s participating in a session on red districts (for the fighting NJ-5) and moderating this one on PTSD.

Saturday, we’ll be there to greet Governor Corzine, headlining the keynote panel, on 21st Century economy. It’s a great “get” for Netroots Nation. With just two big state races this year – NJ & VA – the Republicans are focusing a lot of resources here to try and climb out of their hole. That’s a story every blogger at NN09 is going to know. (Barring last-minute surprise, Creigh Deeds, running for the open seat in VA, won’t be there).

Bill Clinton, Valerie Jarrett, and Howard Dean are also coming. Here’s the full schedule. And some vid from past NNs.

Blue Jersey’s friends TJ and Ian are coming. You going? It’s not too late – drop us a note  here, so we can be on the lookout for you.

Here we go!

DFA-NJ Training, Day One

Updated by Jason: Kudos to Rosi, Jeff, Adam and Matt for keeping us updated, great job. Chairman Cryan stopped by and offered this, which Rosi posted in the thread:

Hi, Blue Jersey. This training looks great. It’s another great day for the partnership between DFA and progressive Democrats all over New Jersey.

It’s great to see folks so committed to building this party the way it should be built, on the local level. That’s door-by-door, street-by-street.

And our partnership produced the first Latino elected statewide – Senator Menendez. And New Jersey voting for the first African American for president in history. And then an important statistic: together we took NJ from 2007, 43rd of of the 50 states as a percentage of women legislators to men, to 11th today.

So together, we’ve made a difference in NJ, and this year we have the election of the only democratic incumbent Democrat governor up for re-election in the country: Jon Corzine.

Thanks for inviting me.

Matt Blizek kicked off the NJ-DFA Campaign Training with Councilman Ron Rice this morning.  As Rosi posted about earlier this week we have a nearly full house with a lot of great people here at Rutgers Law School in Newark.  

We are learning the tools needed to target, identify, and turn out voters to be successful on Election Day.  November is so important for so many issues, and we need to get Democrats and Progressives motivated (and trained) to send Jon Corzine back to Trenton and expand our majority in the State Assembly.  In addition to pushing Democrats into new electoral territory in towns and communities all over the State.  

I know the Hawthorne Democrats are here, along with Blue Jersey’s own Jeff Gardner, and I am sure they are going to put the Republicans on defense this November with the tools they learn today and tomorrow.  I am confident Hawthorne Councilman Joe Wojtecki will have more allies on the City Council and in the Mayor’s office on November 4th.  

Chris Montana and Matt Blizek are teaching us how to crunch the numbers and find the votes we need to be successful in our campaigns.  Identifying and targeting where the votes are is essential to winning in November.

So what are you doing Blue Jersey to help your local, legislative and Governor win this November?

Are you here learning the skills needed to win?