Tag Archive: featured

Thank You for Your Contribution to Christie’s Presidential Campaign

When Chris Christie decided to formally announce he was running for President, the venue was his old high school in Livingston. I became curious as to how the school district was to be reimbursed for the expenses it incurred in hosting that event. So I submitted a request under the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) to find out. I wanted to make sure the school district was not providing its facilities at no charge to a presidential campaign.  

Netroots Nation – Day 1

Attending a Netroots Nation conference is akin to drinking from a fire hose. There’s so much going on that it’s difficult to absorb a lot of it.

The last Netroots that I attended was in 2013 – a year that only New Jersey and Virginia had races that had some sort of national attention. Both winners were national figures – Chris Christie for his mouth and Terry McAuliffe for his close ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton. Barbara Buono was there as the progressive challenger to Christie, so there was a good amount of New Jersey interest. This year, Christie is just another gnat in the clown car, and there’s not much New Jersey interest or presence here. But that doesn’t mean that progressive issues are not important to Blue Jersey readers or New Jersey residents.

This year’s conference is in Phoenix. That was not a non-controversial choice and some long-time supporters are not here, protesting the actions of the repressive state government. But Phoenix was chosen to emphasize this year’s theme – comprehensive immigration reform.



Phoenix Convention Center

In memory of Helen Holt 1913-2015

Helen HoltSo much of what I have always liked about Rush Holt was true – maybe even moreso – of his mother, Helen Holt. She died Sunday in Boca Raton of heart failure. She was 101, almost 102.

Back before I worked for him, Rush Holt used to tell a couple of stories about me at DFA events I’d organized. One was about when we first met him, pulling the car over on Main Street and leaping out at him with, “Are you a candidate?” when we spotted an unfamiliar blue suit with a clipboard. For him, the story was about how alert we were. For me, the best part was his answer, a sincere little speech about how he had the right to collect signatures out in public. From then on, Rush Holt’s earnestness was one of my favorite things.

I don’t come out as well in the other story, but that was fine with me. Because I was wrong, and he was right. Big-time. After Holt lost the 1996 CD12 primary (to Lambertville mayor Dave DelVecchio, who lost the general to GOP crooner Mike Pappas, who Rush beat in ’98), I was helping run a geographically-challenged leg race in LD23. Holt called me up to chat. We met on Route 31 in one of the Amwells, and talked in front of a WaWa that’s now a bank, leaning against my car sipping a coffee (me) and a tea (him). He told me he was going to run for Congress again, and win. I sighed. And told him he should really start lower on the food chain. Because after all, the House is shooting pretty high for somebody who’d never been elected ever.

Well.

I really didn’t know who I was dealing with. I knew he was smart, great on the issues, well-connected. I did not realize he had been preparing not just to win but to legislate, for years. And I did not realize he was Helen Holt’s son.

The first time I met her was at the 1998 Mercer County Dem Convention, in some glorious old lecture hall. I went upstairs to the gallery, sat next to an elegant woman in a fussy blue suit. We chatted; she didn’t tell me her name. Carl Mayer was expected to walk away with the nomination; he spoke like a firebrand and spent his own millions. He spoke first. As Rush Holt climbed to the lectern, she whispered, “Watch this.”

Judge Hogan rules in favor of the NJ DEP (“Department of Exxon Protection”)

In what is probably the largest boondoggle since the ARC tunnel, Burlington County Judge Michael Hogan denied the request of environmental groups and Sen. Ray Lesniak to intervene in the EXXON Mobil contamination lawsuit.

The judge  ruled: “The court denies the motion as to the environmental groups because the DEP adequately represents their interests. The court denies the motion as to Senator Lesniak because he lacks an interest or, alternatively, assuming he has an interest, because the DEP adequately represents that interest. The court denies the motions because they are not timely and granting them would unduly delay proceedings and prejudice the original parties.”

To a layman the notion that the NJ Department of Environmental Protection represents the interests of the environmental groups is hard swallow. What started out as an $8.9 billion court case is now reduced to $225 million, which after deducting legal fees and diverting monies to the general fund represents a pitifully small sum to cover two refineries, 16 industrial sites and 800 to 1,700 privately-owned gas stations.

Jeff Tittel of Sierra Club said,

“Today the people lost but the fight will continue. We are very disappointed with this decision. Over 70,000 people have weighed in against the NJDEP ExxonMobil settlement. DEP’s opposition is shameful since they should be on the side of the environment. Our motion to intervene and future appeal will show that the DEP has misled the public. The DEP now stands for the Department of Exxon Protection.”

[Additional note from Rosi: I spoke to Sen. Lesniak a few minutes ago. He told me he’s optimistic that the judge ultimately will not approve the settlement. He points out that the public comment period generated vigorous opposition to the settlement (including those 70,000 howls of protest noted above) including the information he provided as an elected senator and one from one of the affected areas. Lesniak plans to file an amicus brief in order to have a legal role in the settlement process: “The administration and Exxon are working together as allies but the people need a voice in the case. The fight is far from over,” Lesniak promised. ]

Nonetheless the court story is not over. Oral arguments on the proposed settlement of $225 million will be held on July 21 after which the judge will issue his ruling on the settlement amount.  

Who really runs NJ when Christie is away?

 The above was the headline in a Star-Ledger article yesterday. The reporter got it about half right. He first posed the question, “So when Christie’s away who runs the show?” His correct answer was, “The reality is that Gov. Christie is in charge.” Next he asked the question, “But who minds the shop?” He answered, “That would be L.G. Kim Guadagno.” In no way does our lieutenant governor mind the shop. Constitutionally she is given control when he is out of state but the reins are tightly managed by the same people whether Christie is in or out of state.

Christie delegates those reins to his executive staff, most particularly Chief of Staff Regina Egea, Chief Counsel Chris Porrino, and their subordinates. Most cabinet members are kept on a short leash and must go through the chief of staff’s office for anything that’s not routine. If there is an issue normally the chief of staff, knowing what the governor wants, will address it or contact the governor and then get back to the cabinet member. For certain matters related to politics the office might call Christie confidantes such as Mike DuHaime or Bill Palatucci.

 

2017: President Christie is in the White House. Who Gets the Credit?

So Chris Christie is running for president. No surprise there. Chances are he will never inhabit the living quarters of the White House. But the election is a year and a half away and anything could happen. Suppose he does become our next president. Who would get the “credit” for this upset?

Certainly, a lot of the credit would go to Christie himself. He wants it badly and is willing to do whatever it takes (ethical or unethical) to reach the Oval Office. His whirlwind tour of the other 49 states has just begun, and he’ll throw in a couple of overseas visits to “establish” his foreign policy creds. He would win debates with Hillary Clinton on style points, and that’s sufficient as most of the electorate can be swayed on the issues.

Port Authority Reform: “A bird in hand is worth two in the bush”

The NY Democratic  Assembly and Republican Senate have passed a NY/NJ Port Authority reform bill urged by Gov. Cuomo which he will sign shortly. In NJ our legislators are planning to introduce their own bill. Both Govs. Cuomo and Christie support the NY bill and indicate they will sign it. The NY bill provides most reforms we seek including organization, open meetings, public hearings, financial reporting and disposition of PA property. 21 months post-Bridgegate we have the opportunity to rein in the PA. We have a bird in hand.

Would the NJ bill be somewhat more favorable to us? Yes. Is the NY bill a good one? Yes. Is the NJ bill likely to be enacted while Christie and/or Cuomo are in in office? No. It is likely that Christie will remain governor until early 2018.

If NJ legislators persist there will still be no PA reform at least until 2018, and probably not soon thereafter. Governors, present and future, will not like the NJ proposed termination of development banks (slush funds) which provide monies to governors for pet projects. Nor are they particularly concerned about another proposal – requiring without a subpoena appearance of PA officials before the legislature – a reasonable expectation but something which Christie has routinely avoided for his own staff.  

SCOTUS Rules Marriage Equality is the law of the land

The U. S. Supreme Court today affirmed that the Fourteenth Amendment requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when a marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out of state. Let the wedding bells ring throughout the country!

The ruling was 5-4 with Justice Kennedy delivering the opinion of the court and joined by the four liberal justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan.  

As of yesterday 37 states allowed same-sex marriage, 26 by court decision (including New Jersey), 8 by the legislature, and 3 by popular vote. Now it will be legal in all states. Massachusetts led the way with a marriage equality law in May, 2004, and just 15 years later it has become the law throughout our country. Polls show it is supported by a majority of Americans.  

In New Jersey wedding bells for same-sex couples began ringing in October 2013 after the NJ Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage must be permitted. However today is the culmination of a national effort with inspirational early leadership from conservative lawyer David Boies and liberal lawyer Eugene Olson. Justice Kennedy ends the ruling by saying,

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”

As one of the most important rulings in many years, it opens up a window that the LGBT community so richly deserves. After many legal battles, rallies, legislative hearings, vetoes, endorsements, laws in favor and bans against, and even calumny heaped upon supporters, the victory and vindication have arrived. It brings joy not only to those same-sex couples who want to marry but their children, families, friends, work colleagues and so many others who believe that people of the same sex have the same right to share in matrimony.

From the early days of rioting at the Stonewall Inn bar (1969) in New York City to the stately halls of the Supreme Court in Washington, DC., it has been a remarkable journey, difficult, determined and sometimes painful, but remarkably quick and resulting in an outcome that should bring pride to all Americans.

For more about the struggle to bring marriage equality to NJ, some of those instrumental in the success, and a little history, go beyond the fold

Senate poised to address bike and pedestrian safety on New Jersey’s roadways

More diary rescue fron the weekend – Promoted by Rosi.

Within the next few weeks, a vote is expected to come up on a bill that would give those of us who walk and bike around our communities more visibility in the state government. With bill S2521, the state Senate aims to create a Pedestrian Safety Study Commission whose job it will be to “study, examine, and review the issue of pedestrian safety in New Jersey.” It will create a commission whose members will range from members of the legislature to NJDOT officials to members of the public.