Tag Archive: Deborah Jacobs

Women’s Equality Day Highlights

As I reported yesterday, a group of elected officials, activists, and ordinary citizens converged on Trenton to heighten awareness of the plight of minimum wage workers and urge passage of a state-wide referendum in November to raise that wage from $7.25 to $8.25. There were about 25 speakers over the course of the hour and a quarter news conference. Here’s the highlight reel, with comments from most of the speakers, edited for time.

NJTV – Not as Crappy as I Thought

I was a big fan of NJN, the state-funded television and news network that Governor Christie gave to his cronies last June. So, like others, I held the station’s new incarnation, NJTV, to the same high standards that its predecessor followed.

What I liked about NJN, and what I expected from NJTV was:

1. Balanced reporting

2. In depth (live) coverage of important legislative proceedings

3. Professional-quality television

I was disappointed on all three fronts.  

Marriage Equality Vote in Trenton, open thread

(Trenton State House)–

Today is the day that the NJ Senate finally votes on marriage equality.  This is hardly a news flash for regular readers of this blog, but it’s still feels kinda surreal that it’s finally show time.

If anyone reading has pics, video or updates to add, please feel free to share here.  If you’re on site in Trenton, grab a snack cuz it’s gonna be a long day……. I estimate the marriage vote to go down sometime around 5:30pm.  

One Hurdle Down, Three to Go: a schizophrenic day for Marriage

Jay Lassiter planned all along to go down to the statehouse yesterday and blog for us. But then, something happened in his hometown, that made him stay there, to capture for you today what the people of Cherry Hill did when the fools came to town. Great job, Jay – promoted by Rosi

Today the NJ Senate Judiciary voted on gay marriage equality.   And what a long strange trip it’s been clearing the first hurdle.

BREAKING: Chris Christie authorized tracking citizens through their cell phones as U.S. Attorney

While he was U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, Chris Christie gave approval to track people’s precise whereabouts through their cell phones, and he did this without a first obtaining a warrant, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

ACLU Executive Director Deborah Jacobs:

This is just the newest example of our privacy rights careening over the edge with federal officials drunk at the wheel. Big Brother is tucked away in our cell phones, and the man behind the curtain is Chris Christie.

If this accusation is true, Chris Christie grossly overstepped the authority of his office while serving in New Jersey as the federal government’s point-man for the U.S. Justice Department. And it makes it ever more clear that what he was really serving were the interests of a paranoid president of his party, George Bush, who thought little of using his authority to spy on the citizens of his country. And that would make Chris Christie New Jersey’s spy on the ground for George Bush.

ACLU’s accusations are based on Justice Department documents made public today following a July, 2008 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed by ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). EFF is a civil rights organization dealing with digital-age issues.The documents reveal show that the government is actively taking advantage of GPS or other similarly precise technology to monitor people’s coming and goings, specifically in New Jersey as well as Florida, and that it does not always obtain a search warrant beforehand, according to ACLU-NJ.

“Tracking the location of people’s cell phones reveals intimate details of their daily routines and is highly invasive of their privacy,” said Catherine Crump, a staff attorney with the ACLU. “The government is violating the Constitution when it fails to get a search warrant before tracking people this way.”

The just-released documents show that federal prosecutors in both New Jersey and Florida are obtaining court orders merely by showing the tracking information gathered is “relevant and material” to a criminal investigation. That is a much lower burden than the “probable cause” standard required by the Constitution.

Star Ledger:

The documents released by the ACLU say the U.S. Attorney’s office in New Jersey identified 79 such cases on or after Sept. 12, 2001 — 66 of which resulted in a criminal prosecution.

“This search also found that nineteen applications were granted after November 16, 2007, to permit the government to obtain GPS or similarly precise location data on target cell phones without a judicial determination of probable cause,” the document by the Department of Justice states. “Seventeen of these cases resulted in a criminal prosecution.”

ACLU posts the documents on line, here.

Christie was the U.S.Attorney for New Jersey Jan 17, 2002 – November 2008. The documents don’t make clear how many of the applications were made during that time.

EFF senior staff attorney Kevin Bankston:

Many people aren’t aware that they can be tracked using the GPS chip in their cell phones, even when the phone is not in use. It’s time for Congress to step in and make clear that federal law requires the government to get a warrant before tracking your cell phone.

This story is being filed, quickly, and ACLU is still hunting some of this information – specifically, the names of people who were under this warrantless surveillance, using their own cell phones to track them. Who was tracked? How many? We’re going to stay on top of this story.  

Statehouse Update: Fashion, Civil Liberties and Flippin’ Congressional Seats

(Trenton)–It’s a 230p press conference with DCCC head Chris Van Hollen that brought me here, but it’s the couture that  keeps me engaged.  Afterall, politics and fashion share a cornerstone: one day you’re in, and the next you’re out.

And the lameduck session gives legislators, staff, press and bloggers alike a chance to showcase their winter looks.

Today is no exception and some of our pols are looking sharp.  (Who grew a goatee?  Who’s rocking the Chanel?  Don’t you wish you knew!  I’ll have to download the pics from home; my statehouse connection is pretty slow….)

In the meantime, there is a lot of buzz around statehoue about Senate bill S-378 that would basically expand the state’s DNA database to include samples from teenage shoplifters along with the rapists and murders currently being catalogued..  The bill is sponsored by Democrats Sacco and Sarlo and the more I chat with people here in Trenton the crazier it sounds.  This whole idea was shelved thanks to a last minute intervention from AG Milgram’s office.