Tag Archive: Citizens Campaign

Clean and Green

BY DECIMINYAN Last night, a dozen civic and environmental organizations conducted a “Clean and Green” forum at the Trinity Episcopal Church in Trenton. Despite the inclement weather, a group of about 40 involved residents came to hear presenations on various…
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Bergen County Pay-To-Play Marching Band

When I was a young boy,

My father took me into the city

To see a marching band…

He said “Will you defeat them,

The plans that they have made?”

My Chemical Romance: The Black Parade

Last week six of the seven Bergen County Freeholders, both Democrats and Republicans, joined the band. You marched in unison to the Pay-To-Play music – to “the disappointed faces of your peers.” Paul Eisenman, Director of Bergen Grassroots (a progressive political organization aligned with Democracy for America), said, “It’s depressing to find elected officials from both parties conspiring to deprive the public of real pay-to-play reform.”

The hoped for sea change last November with voters throwing out Democrats and placing a majority of Republicans on the BC Board has produced only more of the same. On September 7 six freeholders voted during a first of three readings to support a plan that provides minor improvements but continues the so-called “fair and open process” which is so vague that it perpetuates pay-to-play – particularly among moneyed professionals. Heather Taylor of the Citizens Campaign, which also advocates for campaign finance reform, points out “Business entities will be able to give up to the current limit, which is $37,000 – that’s per year to a county party. That would be continuing business as usual.” State law permits the “fair and open process” loophole, but it should be ended. With no sign of legislators rescinding it, the simplest method of stopping pay-to-play in county and municipal government is to adopt the Citizens Campaign model ordinance for public contracting.

Without citizen activists quickly contacting their freeholders the answer to the question posed in the lyrics, “Will you defeat them, The plans that they have made?” is an emphatic NO! And this Band will continue marching to the tune of those who seek government business by making large donations, in concert with the politicians who acquiesce and wallow in the spoils.  

I’m Back…..

…..from a happily chaotic Thanksgiving family week in Los Angeles.  Hope you all had a great holiday, and are now enjoying Hanukkah. If you are not lighting the Menorah, make sure you at least eat a couple of potato latkes.

Press Conference at 11 a.m. today in Trenton on government transparency. We will announce our new and very stringent Pay-to-Play bill.  This should be part of the “tool kit” because political contributions from state and local contractors definitely add to the cost of government in our state and contribute to our escalating property taxes. This new bill will establish one state-wide standard in New Jersey, and I’ve been working on it with the help of the Citizens Campaign. I will be joined by my colleague Assemblyman Gordon Johnson.  We will also call attention to our newly updated Open Public Meetings Act and Open Public Records Act and will ask that they be posted for Committee hearings in December or January.  These bills go hand-in-hand with the new issue-advocacy disclosure bill sponsored by Senator Barbara Buono and me.  The passage of these bills together will decrease the cost of government and will increase government transparency.  We’ve been waiting patiently to hear if the Republicans in the legislature and the Governor will join in a bipartisan effort to get these bill passed.

Medical Marijuana “agreement”? I was a little surprised at the news report and look forward to hearing personally from Senator Nick Scutari.  Senator Scutari has been an outstanding advocate for this important issue, and if an “agreement” was reached without his input,  at the very least I am disappointed.  My husband, Irwin, died from cancer almost 12 years ago.  We were both deprived of any meaningful communication during his last days with us because he was treated with morphine.  Perhaps medical marijuana could have made him comfortable and would have enabled us to share more experiences during those days.  Of course, I will never know that for sure. However, what I do know, is that patients and their doctors should have as much right to be treated with medical marijuana as they today have a right to be prescribed morphine or oxycontin or any other controlled dangerous substance to treat pain in terminally ill patients. Is anybody asking a Doc to warn a terminally ill person to substitute another less effective medication for morphine? Is a doctor forced to tell a seriously ill patient that he must wean that patient off oxycontin every three months?  How demeaning to both patient and medical professional. Please don’t tell me that my good colleague, Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, made a bad deal with the Governor! I guess we’ll soon find out.

Will be chairing the Senate Health, Human Services & Senior Services Committee this afternoon. Probably one of my bills which will cause the most comment is the requirement that certified advance practice nurses must continue to be supervised by anesthesiologists in the administration of general anesthesia. Lots of pros and cons on both sides of this issue, and I’m sure we’ll hear it all.

So we have a busy December ahead of us with more committee days and another voting session.  We’ll be dealing with more “tool kit” legislation and another try at women’s access to family planning.  Every Republican in the Assembly voted “No” or abstained on covering more folks under medicaid for family planning and basic medical care. A bill which will result in $9 for every $1 put up by the State. What is wrong with these folks? What has this Governor given them to make so many of them march in unison while they raise so few questions? It’s hard to understand and I must admit, it makes me particularly discouraged about the women of the legislature working together on issues of importance to our families.

Carol Hoernlein housewarming 12/5/10
Blue Jerseyans & friends Hoernlein, Lento, Parano, Weinberg & Mazza

Hey, a few of us “North Jersey/Blue Jersey” followers, writers and bloggers were invited to join Carol Hoernlein (and Eric) to celebrate a wonderful housewarming in their “tiny house with the big kitchen”. Nick Lento, Carol H, Rocco (of “let’s  draft Rocco” and “I still love the Governor” while “I still love Rocco”) Mazza, Dave Parano, Chief Ron Holloway and many others had a lovely afternoon with lots of good company, good food, political talk and we’re all connected through Blue Jersey discussions. Great fun for those of us Bergen County types!  Great to see Carol looking so well, happy and coming back to our Blue Jersey blogs.  

Note to Jay Lassiter & Rosi Efthim:  Maybe you can find Keith Chaudruc of Madison who took on the Governor at the Parsippany Town Meeting and get his side of the story for our own Blue Jersey UTube.  According to news reports, Mr. Chaudruc was escorted on and off the stage by a state trooper and never got Mr. Christie to answer any of his questions. Might be an interesting interview.

Keep your voices heard!


Parsippany passes pay to play reform

Tom Wyka sends this update:

Tonight at a special meeting held in response to our grassroots petition, the Citizens’ Campaign Model Ordinance against Pay-to-Play was passed by the Parsippany Town Council.

Thanks to all who helped in this effort and who came tonight to show your support!

Contact us to find out how to take action in your hometown!


The council passed the ordinance 3-1 with the council members up for re-election voting in support of the measure. The council member opposing said the problem should be solved in Trenton and he feels that town-to-town regulations would be “chaotic” as if each town has it’s own DMV.

Tom kept us updated on what they were doing and support for their efforts as the process moved along. Congratulations to all of those involved on their success in passing the reform.  

Suddenly, Everyone Wants to Ban Pay-to-Play in Washington Twp

Last week, Washington Township resident Josh Aronovitch submitted about 1,800 petition signatures in order to have a pay-to-play ordinance placed on the November ballot. Washington Township mayor and Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, who in 2005 introduced and passed weaker pay-to-play legislation, criticized the ordinance saying it “does nothing to limit the influence of specific special interest groups”.

Yesterday the township clerk certified that there were enough signatures for the ordinance to be placed on the November ballot if the council doesn’t enact the ordinance. They are required to consider it at their next meeting.

Miraculously, after two years of inaction and accepting a flawed pay-to-play law, the council wants to act. Council President Frank Scarpato III:

“I wouldn’t be surprised if it passes. I’m in favor of the ordinance. I believe in it, I absolutely do.”

Councilwoman Anita LaPierre:

“If we can strengthen it, by all means. I feel like the public needs to know that their elected officials are on the up and up and that there is no favoritism.”

And even Mayor Moriarty:

Moriarty said his ordinance has worked, and believes Aronovitch’s proposal “does not go far enough in limiting the influence or contributions of special interest groups.”

“I plan to introduce, along with township council, a pay-to-play ordinance that goes beyond what the petitioners have suggested, and I would expect council to introduce it at the next council meeting,” he said.

It’s good to see everyone taking action to strengthen the pay-to-play ban in Washington Township, but I’m a bit skeptical of Moriarty’s approach. The timing would suggest that he plans to introduce and pass his own (arguably weaker) legislation while opposing the proposed ordinance so that when voters are presented with the choice on the November ballot, he can urge them to oppose the stronger ordinance by saying that he’s already done something about it.

But that’s just speculation, and if that’s the plan, I don’t think it will work. Voters will overwhelmingly support the ordinance if it appears on the November ballot. One way or another, Washington Township will get a tougher pay-to-play law.

This grassroots effort is working exactly as intended. Once there are enough certified signatures for the ordinance to go before the voters, the municipal council is often shamed into action — despite prior fierce opposition — because they know it is what the voters want and will vote for. It’s been done in dozens of municipalities already. To start or join an effort in your town, visit the Citizens’ Campaign.