Tag Archive: Connie Wagner

What’s Happening Today Tue. 11/19/2013

“How can government be made to work?” That question was conveniently in the title of last night’s WSJ-sponsored CEO event which included a presentation by Chris Christie. His answer basically was “Elect me President.” Today he will be elevated to Chairman of the Republican Governors Association at its meeting in Arizona. Such will bring him more moola and opportunities to campaign in other states. Time will tell if he looks like a prince or a frog to the electorate.

How the FDA has changed: Those who have seen the movie Dallas Buyers Club are reminded that when thousands of individuals were dying of AIDS the FDA arrested people for importing DDC (approved for AIDS in Europe but not yet in the USA) as well as other medications not yet sanctioned by the FDA. Now the FDA is permitting the import of a meningitis vaccine (approved in Europe but not the USA) for Princeton University students where seven people have been afflicted but none fatally.  

Our fragile NJ Supreme Court: After unanimous Senate confirmation yesterday our newest member of the Supreme Court is the Cuban-born Faustino Fernandez-Vina, the Camden County assignment judge. He takes the oath of office this morning and joins a court beset by a governor who wants to re-make it. Christie has broken tradition by failing to grant judges tenure –  placing all tenured members in a position of insecurity whenever they decide in a way that goes against his wishes. This also impacts judges in the larger court system. For any future appointments to the Supreme Court, Senators should insist on at least one Democrat to retain balance.

Two new Democratic members of the Assembly are sworn into office: Filling the temporary vacancy left in LD 29 by Al Coutinho (who resigned and then pled guilty to theft) is Eliana Pintor Marin, who, also won the seat in the General Election for the next two years. Filling a vacancy until January created by the resignation (for personal reasons) in LD 38 of Connie Wagner is Paul Contillo (who previously served in the legislature). In LD38 where four candidates for two Assembly seats each garnered about 25% of the vote, Democrat Joe Lagana received the highest ballot count followed by Democrat Tim Eustace who recently was ahead by only some 50 votes. A recount is likely. Go Tim!

Dreamers may soon achieve their dream: The Senate yesterday passed the New Jersey DREAM Act (S2479 – Sponsor Teresa Ruiz) providing the two essential components: tuition equality and access to college loans for undocumented youths living in NJ and brought to the USA by a parent. The identical Assembly bill (A3509 – Sponsor: Gordon Johnson) still has to go through committee. Leadership in both houses seek to present the bill to Governor Christie during the lame-duck session. Christie recently said he might sign-off on such a bill,  but he could also prove meddlesome with a conditional veto. Supporters need to keep up the pressure and email Christie their concern until it is signed into law.

Get Covered America joins Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula for Health Reform Roundtable: 9:30am, Outreach, Informational Session to Provide Asian Americans with the Facts on Affordable Care Act, Raritan YMCA, 144 Tices Lane, East Brunswick. Our beleaguered  ACA Law relies not only on quickly fixing the website glitches, but on enrolling a large number of young, healthy individuals in order to spread the risk pool and keep prices reasonable.

Assemblywoman Connie Wagner is my new hero

Some diary rescue tonight. This by engineer carolh interested me. I’ll pull out one quote: “Dinosaurs are extinct for a reason.  They couldn’t adapt to a changing world. We need to be smarter than that.” She’ll tell you why and how. Promoted by Rosi.

This story just absolutely warmed my geeky, stormwater engineer’s heart this morning.  I have felt like a lone voice in the wilderness for a long time on this issue. But now we have a voice in Trenton on my favorite issue.

Assemblywoman Connie Wagner is sponsoring a new bill regarding Green Infrastructure. Green infrastruture related to construction is also known as Low Impact Design- (LID – which is what us engineers have been calling it for years) Wagner feels we need to turn to these new techniques to reduce flooding.  Amen.

We engineers actually call these “non-structural” techniques which makes them sound less effective than pipes and concrete somehow, but they are the future.  Our engineer lack of penchant for catchy names has been dogging us for a while. Which may be why we needed help from the architecture community to get the word out.

Thankfully, folks can grasp the concept of a green roof or a rain garden.  Sounds a lot prettier than LID, dontcha think?

Sadly, The Record makes no mention that the NJDEP has been trying for years to no avail to get folks to use these techniques. The STATE is ahead of the municipalities in this regard.  For example, Wayne has OUTLAWED pervious driveway and won’t allow pervious concrete sidewalk and makes every effort to INCREASE impervious surface. They are not the only municipality to enact backward laws that hurt their residents – but they ARE the poster child for flooding and I firmly believe NOT using LID is why.  We need to support the NJDEP in their efforts to increase LID in ALL engineering projects – not just roofs. They know what to do.  Here is the NJDEP manual on exactly how to do it.  

Rally for Gun Control in Jersey City

While a rally for sensible gun laws was being held on the National Mall today, a group of about 200 New Jerseyans came to Lincoln Park in Jersey City to rally for similar controls at the state and federal levels. Hosted by Jersey City Major Jeremiah Healy, a slew of Democratic elected officials spoke about how to prevent the next Columbine or Newtown.  While the temperatures were very cold, this did not dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd or the speakers.

Not a single Republican was on the stand. This should not be. Our children’s’ safety and that of ourselves should not be a partisan issue. Just like the Koch Brothers should not be dictating our energy policies, the NRA and their patrons should not be endangering our kids. As with marriage equality, the GOP is simply on the wrong side of history.

Stay tuned to Blue Jersey. Over the next few days, I’ll post some of the comments from the speakers including Congressman Frank Pallone, former Governor Jim Florio, Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, Senators Barbara Buono, Bob Gordon, and Ray Lesniak, and Assembly members Joe Cryan, Angelica Jimenez, Connie Wagner, Charles Mainor, and Jason O’Donnell.



Hard questions yesterday for the online schools ‘experts’

As Mother Crusader wrote today, yesterday’s presentation to the Joint Committee on the Public Schools on online learning was dominated by experts tied to the entities that stand to make a profit from it.

Mother Crusader live tweeted the hearing, picking up on the observations made by Joint Committee co-Chair Sen. Ronald Rice. Rice said virtual schooling wasn’t new. What is new, he said, is who’s behind it and that New Jersey can do this and doesn’t need hedge fund billionaires involved. Rice also expressed wariness because on line education is part of the privatization movement and Education Commissioner Chris Cerf is part of that movement – a movement he said is about taking taxpayer money and putting it into the hands of privatizers.  (It was Rice who used senatorial courtesy to stall Cerf’s confirmation hearing because he said Cerf failed to provide answers to such questions as his prior relationship with Newark Mayor Cory Booker, claiming Cerf misled him about whether he had been an advisor to Booker on vouchers and charter schools).

Today, the Assembly Democrats put out a statement from Rice’s Assembly counterpart and co-Chair, Connie Wagner, who seems to express some of the same wariness:

“We had a very lively, open discussion today on the topic of virtual charter schools that brought up wide-ranging concerns about their benefits and detriments.

“As a retired public school teacher, I support blended learning and feel that there is definitely a place for technology and online learning in the classroom.  My hesitation stems from handing the keys to that method of learning over to non- and for-profit entities.  I am not convinced they are the best delivery system for blended learning and, before we take steps down that road, we need to know precisely what we’re getting into….”

There’s a lot of money at stake. There are a lot of kids at stake. There should be hard questions.

 

What the Frack?

How would you like it if your neighbor dumped the waste from his septic tank into your back yard? Well, that’s what Christie’s Cronies are proposing to let happen in New Jersey, and some legislators are working to prevent this.

Energy companies are promoting the use of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, to extract gas and oil from underground deposits. Fracking involves injecting millions of gallons of water laced with proprietary chemicals into the ground to force the gas and oil out. But the broth that is injected into the earth must go somewhere, and that detritus contains carcinogens and radioactive materials.

The New Jersey legislature banned fracking, but the governor issued a conditional veto which only puts a one year moratorium on the practice in the state. However, states like Pennsylvania and Ohio permit the process, and much of the toxic waste liquid is shipped to the Garden State for disposal.

Today, a coalition of 70 environmental and other organizations held a press conference in Trenton in support of a bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Connie Wagner and supported by Assemblyman John McKeon and 15 other co-sponsors that would prohibit the transport and storage of fracking waste in the state. No matter how safe the energy companies claim their processes are, this is a human endeavor and involves accidents. We are endangering New Jersey’s drinking water for the enrichment of the energy barons and out-of-state employers.

While tax relief is at the top of the agenda for everyone in Trenton, if we don’t have clean air and water, no amount of tax relief will make New Jersey a pleasant place to live. That message needs to be sent loud and clear to our leaders in Trenton.





North/South Divide over Higher Education should end now

Important – Assemblywoman Wagner, a member of the Joint Higher Education Committee, parts ways with Sen. Steve Sweeney’s response to U.S. Sen. Lautenberg’s call for a federal review of the proposed merger of Rutgers-Camden and Rowan universities. – promoted by Rosi

As a member of the Joint Higher Education Committee on the merger of Rowan, Rutgers and UMDNJ, I had the opportunity to listen to the passionate testimony of over 100 individuals who represented varied interests.  

I came to the meeting with an open mind and the hope that two questions would be answered.  Would this merger offer expanded educational opportunities for the students of New Jersey and would this plan provide for a more efficient less costly method of delivering higher education to the students of New Jersey?  

Sadly enough, the plan offered little in the expansion of choice for the students of South Jersey and offered no financial details as to how this can occur.  

The plan simply needs more work.  The four month deadline is absurd.  There are too many questions that need to be answered.  The first one is how to pay for this.  I heard estimates from as low as 40 million dollars each year to millions upon millions of dollars to make this happen.  In addition, I struggle to have Rutgers Camden Law and Rutgers Camden Business School simply go away and be turned over to Rowan.  

The students in South Jersey deserve an opportunity to have a choice of Rutgers Camden or Rowan.  A possible alternate, if we are looking to cut down costs and offer more opportunities, would be to form a consortium of the two schools in order to share services, grants etc.

The Rutgers-New Brunswick UMDNJ piece of the consolidation also needs more work.  How will this merger affect University Hospital and how will this merger help or hinder the progress of Newark’s revitalization program? During his testimony, Mayor Corey Booker quoted an African Proverb when he stated, “Go fast, you go it alone.  Go slow and you go together. ”  

Keeping Up the Fight in NJ-5 (and Why Scott Garrett is Bad for Young People)

promoted by Rosi

Between marriage equality, debates over education policy, and a Democratic primary in NJ-9 that is heating up, it’s a busy time at Blue Jersey. But even as we learn that Assemblywoman Wagner will not be running, we must continue organizing and mobilizing in NJ-5. We cannot let the district fall off our radar. As a 22-year-old soon-to-be constituent of Scott Garrett, I know this race is far too important — because Scott Garrett is bad for young people (and for everyone else, too).

On the issues important to young people, Rep. Scott Garrett has consistently stood against progress. SAFRA, the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009, is a particularly good example. Benefits of SAFRA included expanding the Perkins Loan Program, enabling more families to qualify for Pell Grants, and taking the private, for-profit middlemen out of the loan business. Students and taxpayers won, but Garrett voted no. No to saving taxpayers money – and no to helping young people go to college.

PolitickerNJ: Connie Wagner not running vs. Garrett

According to a report in PolitckerNJ, Assemblywoman Connie Wagner has decided not to run against Scott Garrett for Congress here in the 5th District.

While I would have loved to have seen Wagner run for a number of reasons, it seemed to me (just my gut feeling from some discussions and observations I had) that others were more enthusiastic about her running than she may have been.  This is no knock against her – it is a huge undertaking and commitment to run for Congress, and Garrett has been known to play dirty against his opponents (recall he smeared former opponent and Rabbi Dennis Shulman as anti-Israel).

This creates a void in terms of big name NJ politicos who can raise the attention and money required to mount a successful run against a very well-funded Garrett.  Whether this was in the works for a while, whether this clears the way for former NY Giant Harry Carson to make a run (which has a lot of appeal as well as some potential hurdles), or whether it opens the door for a primary fight among a number of already-declared other candidates remains to be seen.

Either way, this decision by Assemblywoman Wagner to not run (if confirmed) is too bad as it would have brought a different and more high profile seasoned politician to challenge Garrett with more built in and coordinated support from the Democratic Committee of Bergen County.  Hopefully, whoever emerges as the challenger will receive coordinated support that will be needed up and down the ballot – especially with the Presidential and Senatorial races this coming year.  It is a big opportunity for Democrats in Bergen County and hopefully it isn’t a missed opportunity.

CD5 and CD3

I have lived in Northwestern New Jersey in CD5 for over 30 years, but for the last 9+ years I have had the misfortune of having Scott Garrett as my Representative in Congress. Assemblywoman Connie Wagner would be my choice to unseat him. Having served in the Assembly since 2008, representing the 38th District, she has proven to be a champion of progressive ideals and values. I also think that Connie will be able to raise a significant amount of money in order to compete against Garrett and the Tea Party money.

Dr. Tom Sacks-Wilner lives in Medford, CD3. For several years I have been a donor to Tom’s fundraising/bundling group. He is a person who raises money readily and efficiently. With an expansive donor base that he has fashioned, he can easily raise at least $6 million from now to November 6. His ability to fundraise will provide the mandatory funds needed to define Jon Runyan. He has been politically active behind the scenes, especially in progressive causes.

In light of the Republican-favorable redistricting, Connie and Tom would each have a mountain to climb to defeat their respective opponent; however the challenge is certainly not insurmountable. I believe both would make their races interesting, should they choose to run.