Tag Archive: New York

Moral Mondays & Progressive Summits

Moral Monday in Albany NY

Moral Monday Rally for public education, Albany. Photo: @strongforall

To our east today one thousand people crowded into the New York Capitol Building in Albany, as Moral Mondays and its founder Rev. William Barber came to rally for public education.

To our west next month for two days activists from all over the Keystone State will be in that state’s capital for the Pennsylvania Progressive Summit to strategize with such people as Senator Bernie Sanders, Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards.

Sometimes I laugh when people who don’t read us very carefully describe Blue Jersey as a “Democratic blog”. I don’t check the party affiliations of even our front pagers, let alone our readers. Most are Democrats; I am. But all, or nearly all, are more interested in progressive change and values than in simple or unquestioning allegiance to party. Given what I know about how our writers operate and advocate here and in their regular lives, I’d say that makes most of those who built Blue Jersey very good Dems indeed. But given that New Jersey Democrats in positions of power don’t always act on what used to be clear and obvious Democratic values. And that’s when the rest of us have to question the party most of us hew to, and remind our power brokers of the values they profess when they run for office. It’s why some Democrats don’t like us much, and why trolls are sent in to plead their case.

New Jersey is blue by virtue of being majority Democrat. But what does that really means in this year when showboat governor Chris Christie – who can claim he was so good that powerful Democrats lined up to help him?

There should be more in front of us than simply being blue. Right now, I’m looking east to what took place in Albany, New York today – and west to the PA Progressive Summit next month.

I think my party should be, too.  

QoTD: November Jobs Numbers

November NJ unemployment figures are out today. And Gov. Christie, who’s as slick at re-packaging his slow economic recovery as Jersey Comeback as he is hyping up his disappointing Sandy recovery as a TV ad opportunity for himself, will spin it with the usual bombast.  

But check this. US=blue. NJ=black. Track it long-term. We’re still not doing well under Christie. Quote of the Day, from NJPP’s Gordon MacInnes, below.

“It’s certainly good news that New Jersey’s unemployment rate dropped to 7.8 percent, but there’s no reason to jump for joy as our state’s economy remains very weak. New Jersey’s recovery is tepid and far behind the rest of the nation; we’ve regained only 59 percent of the jobs we lost in the Great Recession (neighboring New York, by comparison, has regained 150 percent). Worse, this November drop in the unemployment rate is largely attributable to the fact that 30,600 New Jerseyans gave up looking for work and dropped out of the labor force last month – we now have the fewest residents actively looking for work that we’ve had since December 2008, not exactly the sign of a thriving, healthy economy.”

                             Gordon MacInnes, NJ Policy Perspective

NJ’s jobless rate fell to 7.8%. But the national rate is still well below – at 7.0%. With Christie as governor, New Jersey’s consistently had the highest unemployment rate in the region (one of the highest in U.S.) despite all that Jersey Comeback hoopla of his. This week Moody’s downgraded NJ’s credit outlook due to our “sluggish” economic recovery. But what are a few piffling little facts compared to Chris Christie’s star-making machinery?  

Should Blue Jersey Push To Take on DoMA?

What say ye, Blue Jersey? And what would that look like? – promoted by Rosi

It looks like Vermont has joined New York and Connecticut in suing the federal government over the Defense of Marriage Act, or DoMA, the Clinton era law that bans recognition of marriage equality at the federal level.

The Obama administration has already stopped defending the legislation, something that sent Republicans in the House of Representatives around the bend.  They’ve spent almost a million dollars already defending the bill that the President and the country don’t want.

Blue Jersey has been a staunch advocate of marriage equality since the early days of the site, and continues to be so.

So should we start pushing for New Jersey to join the suit?  Sure, it’s not likely to happen given the current occupant of Drumthwacket, but it’s still important.  Should this odious law and the resulting lawsuit not be settled by 2014 we may — hard work and smart candidate selection willing — have a supportive Governor ready to help.

So, do we join the chorus?

Marriage Equality: The Cost of Delay

Empire State Building goes rainbowThis week, New York celebrated the one-year anniversary of respecting the right of gay couples to marry.

What kind of economic impact New York seen in that year? Nah, forget that. Let’s just even deal with what kind of money has pumped into New York City in that year, according to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the recently-married City Council Speaker Christine Quinn:

$259 million. Boom. These Gov. Christie should look long and hard at, if there’s any struggle in him whatsoever between his fiscal responsibilities to New Jersey and his personal-fulfillment desires to score with national Republicans.

That’s minimum 8,200 same-sex marriage licenses issued, more than 10% of the 75,000 licenses the city issued over the last year. The city’s tourism and marketing arm did a survey, compiling enough info to come up with these averages:  

  • $9,000 – what each couple spent on their wedding (average)

  • $12,000 – What each wedding brought in, spent by all wedding guests – includes hotel, transportation.

  • 200,000-plus – guests coming in from outside the city to weddings.

  • 235,000-plus hotel rooms booked at about $275 a pop.

  • $10,500 – the multiplyer effect from each wedding on the city’s economy, including trickle-down effect like financial boon to restaurateurs who get hired for a wedding, who are then able to pay their rent or employees’ wages.

    I’m here to tell you a chunk of that money has been drained out of New Jersey, like when Alex & Sean got married in NYC instead of central NJ where they live.

    Balloons. Flowers. Wedding clothes. Banquet rooms. Invitations. Catering. Restaurants. Rehearsal dinners. Photographers. Video. Spa treatments. Mani-pedis. Bands. Gifts. Wedding favors. Wedding planners. Rings. Cakes …

    New York is still in its honeymoon phase and pulling in the cash. New Jersey, now behind such disparate locales as Iowa, Vermont and D.C., is still a little virgin. But she’s ready.  

  • Alex & Sean Get Married in New York City

    Flipping the bird to New Jersey

    Alex & Sean got married yesterday. As close to home as they could make it, and still be legal. They said their vows on a beautiful boat sailing around New York City. Cruising close to New Jersey, both grooms and many of the guests climbed up topside and gave New Jersey the finger. (Photo courtesy Jeff Tureaud, candidshotphoto.com)

    Don’t get the wrong idea. Alex & Sean love New Jersey. So do I. So do their guests, especially the ones who live here, as Alex & Sean do. But they’re disappointed in their state, where their commitment to each other is recognized only as a thing apart, not quite what it is.

    At Blue Jersey, we mostly report about marriage equality, not so much actual weddings. (Why is that?) But I was lucky enough to be invited to this wedding, and both the grooms are members of the Blue Jersey community. So for me, ME will forever be about Alex and Sean, who have loved each other for 13 years, and waited most of this time for the law to catch up to their own jubilant love.

    Alex & Sean's weddingI love weddings. And this one was spectacular. Vows topside on a yacht, under sunny skies the color of the water. Both grooms escorted by family to cheers from all of us as they came upstairs into the top deck sunlight. Marriage vows warm and personal. Guests gay and straight. Present, a same-sex couple just married in New York this week, at our table another getting hitched on Thursday. Even a proposal on board. “A rainbow tsunami of love,” one guest called it.

    When Garden State Equality lobbied state senators in the runup to their crushing 2010 No vote, part of the case made was economic.

    A few years ago, the Williams Institute at UCLA projected $248 million in spending in NJ if we gained marriage equality before surrounding states. Our friend Jack Bohrer did a great job illustrating how that might impact tourism in destination Atlantic City, still struggling with revenue loss and hotel layoffs. At this point, with NY and destination NYC getting the jump on us, we can only guess at the money flowing across the Hudson from family-minded Jersey couples. And those across the country spending their money there, instead of here. With our failure to come in early, we can only guess at the revenue sacrificed.

    GayMarriedBut something even bigger is lost. Yesterday, the proprietors of this lovely boat were so excited by their inaugural same-sex wedding, that all the servers were outfitted in different rainbow colors. Spirits were high; it meant something to be there.

    There is so much goodwill for Love. And that’s what skittish legislators have missed, the goodwill good people have for happy families and loving couples. Even beyond the loss of wedding revenue, we lose living in a culture of greater acceptance of each other, in celebration of the happiness of our neighbors, in the infectious joy of people pledging forever to the one they love for the world to see. rainbow flowers

    So, here’s to the day New Jersey’s decision-makers catch up to her people. Here’s to the day we strengthen marriage itself by recognizing all our families. Here’s to the day when this most extraordinary day in a couple’s life can take place on our turf, or in our waters.

    Here’s to Love. And here’s to Alex & Sean. Married October 2, 2011, in New York City.

    Disclosure: Yes, I’m on GSE’s board. And Blue Jersey’s all in for Love. Any questions?


    9/11 Memo to Gov. Christie: Not Everything is About You

    Like everyone, I’m still dumbstruck by the events of September 11, 2001. I was in Detroit, not here. Detroit, sharing a river, bridge & tunnel with Canada, is the nation’s most vulnerable area to illegal entry. City was in lockdown. Travel between the two countries at dead-stop. On Woodward Avenue, National Guardsmen on jeeps with rifles on their shoulders.

    But I’ve always believed that September 11 didn’t happen to America, it happened to New York – and also to New Jersey & Connecticut. Because the people who died in the World Trade Center were our people. I can’t imagine what it was to be here. In the middle school, kids throwing up whose parents worked in NYC. The flyers. The smoke and steam visible from our cities on the Hudson.

    With the 10th anniversary coming, felt as deeply near the Pentagon, Christie’s usual bombast seems particularly unwelcome now. In the last few days, Christie has called Mayor Bloomberg, whose city deserves respect right now, a Napolean a dictator and a putz. I realize part of what he’s is after is to get recognition for Donald DiFrancesco, who was ever so briefly sitting as governor when 9/11 happened. That he wants a role for David Samson, Port Authority Chair, and not inconsequentially his appointee. That some of it is wanting to make sure NJ has a role in the commemoration, as we certainly had a role in the loss.

    But, even giving the Governor that benefit of doubt, most of his embarrassing kicking and screaming is simply typical Christie conduct.

    But as we come up to the worst national day in most of our lives, it’s time for the Governor to tuck away his tantrums, and show respect – with his own behavior – for that loss. It’s not the time for ungentlemanly name-calling or jockeying for position. Gov. Christie is the biggest of big wheels – okay, Governor, we all get it, bully for you. But arguing about the program? People died – try to keep your eye on the ball. Grow up a little before September 11, 2011. Try to remember that not everything is about you.

    Postscript: At a presser this morning at Trinitas Hospital in Elizabeth, the Governor denied calling Bloomberg any of those things. I don’t believe him for a minute.

    North Jersey to suffer more sea level rise?

    The consensus Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) forecast is that global warming will lead to a one foot rise in sea level by the end of this century. (As I understand it, this is mainly expansion of the warmer oceans, and could be higher depending on ice melt.) The BBC is now reporting on a new result:

    But this is a global average; and now a Dutch team has made what appears to be the first attempt to model all the factors leading to regional variations…

    Of the 13 regions where the team makes specific projections, New York sees the biggest increase from the global average

    The BBC and the Dutch may call the region New York, but I think it’s safe to say the North Jersey shore is included. To be sure, it seems it’s just 20% higher than average, and I imagine the uncertainties

    Union solidarity closes NJ/NY ports

    This morning, vmars brought our attention to the sparse news coverage of the developing port shutdown by the International Longshoremen’s Association, a protest over local jobs lost. Vmars likened the union action to the real Boston Tea Party, lamenting that if you don’t have the antics, hate or handguns of a Tea Party rally, you don’t get much news coverage.

    Now, the union action is spreading, and a solidarity work stoppage is shutting down all cargo terminals at the Port of New York. A picket line was set up by members of the ILA, and New York’s dock workers are not crossing it.

    Shut down now are the ports in Camden, Port Elizabeth, Newark, Bayonne and New York.

    The heart of all this is the loss of jobs paying a living wage – International Longshoremen’s Association Local 1291 is set to lose 200 to 300 jobs – 400,000 labor hours a year – when when Del Monte Fresh Produce Co. shifts 75 ships and a half million tons of banana cargo from Camden to the privately-owned Gloucester Terminals L.L.C., which pays workers less, and where some workers get no benefits. The company plans to move those jobs even though the union offered considerable concessions to keep those jobs, including an offer to Del Monte that would keep business, dock and terminal workers at $21.50-$22.50 down from top rates of $31 per hour. In frustration at the loss of Del Monte’s banana-shipping jobs, dock workers dumped cases of Del Monte pineapple into the Delaware River.

    There’s some talk now of solidarity actions spreading to ports in Florida and Texas.