Tag Archive: environment

Wyka Outshines Frelinghuysen on Internet

Parsippany, October 29–Even though Frelinghuysen has raised far more money than Wyka in this election cycle, Wyka has by far the stronger presence on the video-hosting Web sites such as www.YouTube.com, largely because of videos produced by volunteers and by members of the public with no connection to his campaign.

Wyka says, “Frelinghuysen’s campaign is money-powered, mine is people-powered. His supporters tend to be corporate interests who cut big checks. My supporters are middle-class people who make smaller donations but roll up their sleeves and work for the campaign. They’ve been making phone calls and knocking on doors. Some of them have made videos.”

The following link shows videos related to the search term “Wyka” on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/results…

Some of the videos on YouTube were produced for the 2006 campaign but are still timely. Others were produced for this election. Still others are clips from public forums and debates.

An independent journalist with no connection to the Wyka campaign made a videorecording of the entire October 26 debate and made it available via the Internet (http://blip.tv/file/1400777). A videorecording of part of a debate from 2006 is also available via the Internet (http://blip.tv/file/9321).

In the videos, Wyka speaks about issues such as campaign finance reform, healthcare reform, support for U.S. troops and veterans, and support for the middle class. Other videos cover Frelinghuysen’s record on veterans and the environment, among other issues.

Wyka says, “I have always believed in what Thomas Jefferson said, that an informed democracy will behave responsibly. So it’s good that private citizens are videotaping public debates and making them available to everyone with Internet access. It’s what the First Amendment is all about.”



Poll Says Wyka Can Win

Parsippany, October 21-Although New Jersey’s 11th Congressional district has long been considered a Republican stronghold, unaffiliated voters will determine the outcome of the 2008 race, and those who are aware of Democratic challenger Tom Wyka strongly support him.

The 11th Congressional district consists of all of Morris County, plus parts of Somerset, Essex, Sussex and Passaic Counties. Although the 11th is believed to be a Republican majority district, the largest group of registered voters within the district are “unaffiliated,” and the percentage of registered Democrats is growing, particularly in the eastern portion of the district. As of September 2008, there were 150,000 unaffiliated voters, 135,000 Republicans, and 95,000 Democrats.

“We calculate that Tom needs 65% of the unaffiliated vote in order to win the seat,” says Milin Shah, Campaign Coordinator of Wyka for Congress. “Our current polling indicates that 26% of the unaffiliated voters are undecided, with 49% leaning Democratic and 25% leaning Republican. If we can get our message out to those undecided unaffiliated voters, we will win.”

“Both candidates had surprisingly low name recognition among unaffiliated voters. Only 9% of the unaffiliated voters could name their current Congressman, as opposed to 2% who could name Wyka. But only 11% of the unaffiliateds who could name Frelinghuysen supported him. That’s compared to 100% support for Wyka among the unaffiliated voters who could name him,” said Shah.

Wyka’s campaign message focuses heavily on the incumbent’s voting record. Shah said, “Since 2006, more and more people have been paying attention to how Frelinghuysen has been voting. For years, he’s sent out newsletters that talk about how he ‘works with’ various groups and ‘supports’ their causes. So people are really stunned to discover that he doesn’t necessarily vote for the things he claims to work for and support. Voters deserve to know that their Congressman has voted against the best interest of homeowners, women, children, vets, and seniors. Rodney has voted against equal pay for men and women, voted against reforming the mortgage industry and against consumer protection in the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights; voted against children’s healthcare, voted against expanding Medicare. Environment New Jersey says that Frelinghuysen’s environmental voting record is ‘dismal.’ Frelinghuysen is one of the lowest-rated members of Congress in the entire country in the eyes of Disabled Veterans of America and continues to vote in lockstep with the Bush administration on the war in Iraq but often failed to vote to support the troops when they come home. In contrast, Tom Wyka has been endorsed by the National Organization for Women, the New Jersey Education Association, and the Council for a Livable World’s Veterans’ Alliance for Security and Democracy. Our campaign will continue to inform the electorate about Rodney’s voting record, and we are optimistic that on election day New Jersey’s District 11 will send Tom Wyka to Congress.”






100th Anniversary of Water Chlorination

(Re-posted from Huffington Post)

I became an environmental activist in the early 1970s just as I was completing my doctorate in ecology at the University of British Columbia. It was the height of the Cold War and the height of the Viet Nam War and we were compelled to take a very public stand against activities we thought to be catastrophic both for people and for the planet.

I joined a small committee that was meeting in the basement of the Unitarian Church. We organized a protest voyage against U.S. hydrogen bomb testing in Alaska and had tens of thousands marching in the streets. When that H-bomb was set off at Amchitka Island in November 1971, it was the last hydrogen bomb the U.S. ever detonated.

It was the birth of Greenpeace, the organization I co-founded, spending 15 years in its top committee, helping to lead environmental campaigns around the world.

But it’s ironic in the extreme that, as we mark the 100th anniversary of drinking water chlorination, my old organization and other activist groups aligned with it continue to oppose this most important public health achievement.  

Frelinghuysen environmental record “dismal”

August 19, 2008-Rep. Rodney P. Frelinghuysen’s (R-11) record for votes on environmental issues is the second worst in New Jersey’s Congressional delegation, according to a scorecard by Environment New Jersey. He scored only 54%, compared with 83% for the New Jersey Congressional delegation as a whole and 58% for the entire Congress. According to the summary on the scorecard, “While he [Frelinghuysen] often espouses the rhetoric of environmental protection, his voting record has been dismal, specifically on the Arctic Refuge drilling and toxic waste cleanup funding. However, he did support measures to increase fuel efficiency this session.” Only Scott Garrett (R-5), who voted for only 8% of the items on Environment New Jersey’s scorecard, had a lower score.

Environmental issues got bipartisan support from New Jersey’s Congressional delegation. Both of New Jersey’s Senators, Robert Menendez (D) and Frank Lautenberg (D), had perfect scores, voting for all of the key environmental votes identified by Environment New Jersey. So did eight of the New Jersey members of the House of Representatives, including Republicans as well as Democrats: Rob Andrews (D-1), Frank LoBiondo (R-2), Chris Smith (R-4), Frank Pallone (D-6), Bill Pascrell (D-8), Steve Rothman (D-9), Rush Holt (D-12), and Albio Sires (D-13). The scores were from a tally of votes on key environmental issues tracked by Environment New Jersey between January 18, 2007 and February 27, 2008. According to Environment New Jersey, “This scorecard is one tool used by Environment New Jersey to hold our government accountable to the public. Among Environment New Jersey’s federal priorities: curbing global warming and promoting clean energy; defending and strengthening clean air and water protections; saving our national forests and other environmentally sensitive areas; cutting government handouts to polluters; and keeping people safe from toxic chemicals.”

Frelinghuysen is being challenged again in this election year by Democrat Tom Wyka. According to Wyka, “When I was in school, 54% was a failing grade. The Environment New Jersey scorecard tells us that my opponent is below average, not only for New Jersey, but for the nation as a whole.  They describe his performance as ‘dismal.’ The people in the 11th district care about the environment. Most of the voters I meet think that Frelinghuysen cares about the environment, because of what they read in the newsletters that he sends out at taxpayers’ expense. So people are really stunned when they see how he rates in scorecards from nonpartisan organizations like Environment New Jersey or the League of Conservation Voters. Frelinghuysen has been in Congress a long time, and his father was a Congressman before him, so he knows how to ‘talk the talk’ to voters. But when you look at his voting record, you see that he’s not willing to ‘walk the walk’ by voting the way his constituents want him to vote. He probably hopes that they just don’t notice. Lots of people have voted for Rodney in the past because they were misled into thinking that he cared about the environment. But for a Congressman, ‘support’ isn’t about showing up for photo ops at Superfund sites, it’s about voting the right way down in Washington. It’s high time that he was held accountable for his votes.”

Wyka was particularly concerned by Frelinghuysen’s votes against ending subsidies for big oil companies. “Big oil is making record profits, while consumers are paying record high prices for gasoline. The big oil companies don’t need these subsidies. We should be using that money to fund clean energy initiatives instead.”

He was also concerned by Frelinghuysen’s vote against preserving funding for global warming research. “The overwhelming majority of the climate scientists worldwide say that we have a real problem. Why is Frelinghuysen voting against funding for research to help solve it?”

Wyka argues that Frelinghuysen’s energy policy is to support subsidies for big oil while spending hundreds of billions of dollars on the occupation of Iraq, with its large oil reserves. “Even if American oil companies were to get a piece of the action in the Iraqi oil fields, that doesn’t mean that American consumers will pay one penny less per gallon of gasoline.” Wyka adds that “As a member of the Defense Appropriations subcommittee, our Congressman has a lot of responsibility for the fact that Congress has allocated over $540 billion dollars on the war in Iraq so far. That comes out to $3.2 billion from the taxpayers in this Congressional district alone.  And there is no end in sight. Just imagine what we could have accomplished if even a fraction of this amount of money had been spent on developing green energy instead.”




Zeitz vs. Smith: Smith voted against Clean Water

Chris Smith says that he wants to run on his record in Congress. Unfortunately, there are parts of his record that voters may find less than appealing, namely his vote against clean water.

In 2005, Chris Smith voted against $342 Million in clean water funding. The votes were against restoring funding to the Clean Water Fund. The fund, established under the Clean Water Act, assists local communities with their water processing infrastructure to prevent sewage and waste from contaminating bodies of water. Communities nationwide face more than $300 billion in backlogged requirements to upgrade and repair clean up water systems. There are over 29,000 impaired rivers, lakes and steams nationwide. (2005 Votes # 198 and Vote #194; 2005 Statement by Rep. David Obey, 109th Congressional Record, pg. H.3642, 5/19/05; EPA, National Section and New Jersey Section 303(d) List, link here.)

The problem hits especially hard in New Jersey where 675 streams, creeks and rivers, 161 lakes and 134 other bodies of water need monitoring to ensure contamination is prevented. These waters are considered impaired and at risk.

Why did Chris Smith vote against restoring funding?

He certainly cannot use the Federal budget as an excuse, he voted to give himself a pay-raise nine times since 1999. (CRS: Salaries of Members of Congress Updated January 8, 2008; 1999 Vote #300; 2000 Vote #419; 2001 House Vote #267; 2002 House Vote #322; 2003 House Vote #463; 2004 House Vote #451; 2005 House Vote #327; 2006 vote #261; 2007 Vote #580)

“While Chris Smith was busy raising his own salary he was also voting against clean water protection for New Jersey. Voters deserve and explanation.” said Josh Zeitz campaign manager Steve D’Amico.

If you’d like to volunteer, please contact ian_at_joshzeitz_dot_com. Please visit Josh’s website to learn more about why we need to elect Josh to Congress.

Garrett Stays Silent While Constituents Sink (Literally)

Cross-posted on Daily Kos

Back in May, I discussed meeting the Ramapough Mountain Indians. The Ramapough must live with the legacy of two decades of toxic waste dumped on their land, and meeting them strengthened my desire to run for Congress in a profound way. That’s why I’m running for Congress to represent the people of North Jersey who currently do not have a voice in Washington.

Now, I’m posting today because the Ramapough Indians and their neighbors in Ringwood face yet more environmental challenges. Near the Ford Superfund site, the source of the toxic waste dumps, are neighborhoods build on a network of abandoned mines. And those neighborhoods are sinking.

Explains the Bergen Record: “In recent years, two homes have been evacuated, one huge sinkhole has opened in a back yard of a house that is still occupied, and part of a street was lost to a sinkhole.”

Although these sinkholes began appearing three years ago, little has been done about them. The street site was repaired, but the other sites cannot get money from the state because they are on private property. Moreover, two evacuated families still have no permanent homes. And although the sinkholes first appeared while Ford was excavating “tons of toxic waste sludge,” the company refuses to accept any responsibility for them.

The Ramapough Reinforce My Decision to Run for Congress

When I first decided to run for the Congressional seat in New Jersey’s Fifth District, I did it because I knew that I wanted to be a voice for the families of North Jersey who have not had a voice in Washington the past five years.

Tuesday night, I met with leaders of the Ramapough Mountain Indians, whose land was used as a dumping ground for industrial waste for nearly two decades, and are now left to deal with the after-effects of an industry which has since pulled its jobs, and the wealth that came with it, out of the community.

Some of the excruciating details of their plight can be found at this invaluable website, http://toxiclegacy.com/ .  

Now here’s a school protest with wheels

Promoted from the diaries — Juan

I’m sure you remember the penny protest by Hunterdon County middle school students back in March and the national attention it received.

Now students at Bridgewater-Raritan High School are using some well-timed civil disobedience over their Principal’s refusal to allow the installation of a free bicycle rack on school property:

Yesterday, more than 50 students rode their bikes to school, commuting in pairs and groups. After studying up on state biking laws — and carrying copies with them — the students legally tethered their bikes in conspicuous clusters around lamp posts, trees and other poles dotting the circular drive in front of the school.

The Principal’s objection seems to be over concern for student safety on the roads leading to the school’s massive campus, and that is a very legitimate issue.

Those who are alarmed by childhood obesity have cited Postwar neighborhood design as a major obstacle in encouraging kids to walk or bike to school.  BRHS is probably the poster child for sprawl gone wrong in the Garden State, as the school is surrounded by acres of fields and framed by busy roads that link sidewalk-free suburban housing developments.  Walking or biking to BRHS can truly be hazardous to your health!

However, what the school should do is use this dispute as an opportunity to work cooperatively with the Township and citizens by developing pedestrian and bike-friendly ways of getting kids to school.  Rather than asking property taxpayers to provide expensive “courtesy” busing to students who live close to the school, the Board of Education and Township can tap some of New Jersey’s “Smart Growth” grants to develop paths and “safe walking” programs that use parents to take turns walking their entire neighborhood’s children to school.

Click here to see how Maryland is helping citizens take back their streets and have a real voice in how people can get around town.

Let’s hope that New Jersey’s newest school protest can draw nationwide attention to how lousy planning can lead to unhealthy neighborhoods and unhealthy kids.

Every Day Should Be Earth Day

Today, April 22, marks the annual commemoration of Earth Day. A day to inspire awareness of and appreciation for the environment. One day out of the year to focus on the environment isn’t too much to ask, and it’s a small step in the right direction toward preserving the environment around us every day.

But almost 40 years after this bright idea was launched, it can seem almost beside the point, and some observers have even called for an end to Earth Day:

The biggest problem with Earth Day is that it has become a ritual of sympathy for the idea of environmental sanity. Small steps, we’re told, ignoring the fact that most of the steps most frequently promoted (returning your bottles, bringing your own bag, turning off the water while you brush your teeth) are of such minor impact (compared to our ecological footprints) that they are essentially meaningless without larger, systemic action as well.

I fall somewhere in between these two ideas. I do think there is value in setting aside specific days to raise awareness of important issues, like the environment. I also think when it comes to tackling the world’s problems, something is better than nothing, and every little effort helps. You have to start somewhere.

But, I also recognize that the best, and sometimes only, solutions to man-made environmental problems are more systemic in nature than anything any one of us can do at home. That’s why it’s so good to read about New Jersey towns “going green” – from our first green community, pioneering Highland Park, to the most recent entry, Cherry Hill – and why I find the sustainability movement so compelling.

Sustainability is about altering a community’s way of thinking about the world around it, and making choices that are both environmentally and economically for the community for the long term. In New Jersey, sustainability groups have popped up from Lawrence Township to West Milford to Kinnelon, to join the growing list of green communities.

Maybe this Earth Day will inspire more systemic changes like these groups are advocating, and more and more town to “go green.” That would add up to much more than just a small step.