Tag Archive: Stephen Sweeney

Marie Blistan – NJEA Vice President

At today’s rally in front of Senate President Sweeney’s office, NJEA Education Association Vice President Marie Blistan spoke to Blue Jersey about the organization’s campaign to pass a constitutional amendment requiring the state to meet its pension obligations.

Just because it’s legal doesn’t make it right. Or ethical.

I’ve written before about the Burlington County Freeholders taking money from the companies to whom they award big county contracts. Under the current law, these quid pro quo arrangements are legal. But they are not right. Nor are they ethical.

The same thing applies to the gun protestors who are harassing Senate President Steve Sweeney and his family by protesting against gun safety in front of the senator’s home. Just because they may have a First Amendment right to protest there (within reason), doesn’t make it right or ethical or decent. If I were advising the gun advocates, I’d tell them to go to the State House where they’d get more coverage and even run across sympathetic legislators. Their actions at the home of Senator Sweeney are indecent. But if the gun advocates had any decency, we’d have fewer guns in the hands of those who shouldn’t have them and fewer terrorist attacks like the one in South Carolina.

Environmental Kumbaya (Almost)

New Jersey Senate Energy and Environment Committee Chairman Bob Smith noted today that on the environment, there should be no disagreements. Of course, we know that this is not the case with our current governor who puts the interests of his dirty energy donors ahead of clean air and water for New Jerseyans.

Several bills and resolutions were heard at Smith’s committee this morning. All but one passed with unanimous, bipartisan support. There was universal agreement on technical items related to the Environmental Infrastructure Trust (low-interest loans for certain projects), and the installation of automobile charging stations at rest areas on New Jersey’s major tollways.

The capstone of today’s meeting was SCR-163, a proposed amendment to the New Jersey Constitution to “dedicate all State moneys received from settlements and awards in cases of environmental contamination for certain environmental purposes.”

Is Chris Christie Pandering to the Moderates?

Every action that Chris Christie takes is filtered through the lens of his political ambition.  Whether it’s his stance on hot-button issues like gun safety and marriage equality, or his top-caliber cadre of social media propagandists, the governor has one goal in mind – 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Some of his recent actions may indicate that he’s given up pandering to the extreme wing of his party and is hoping that the dying breed of moderate Republicans may come out victorious among the dozen or so contenders for the nomination.

A few days ago, Christie surprised us (and probably his dirty energy backers) by announcing that he thought global climate change might be man-made. And on Friday, his Department of Environmental Protection stepped in to a controversy about destroying hundreds of acres of forestland in the Six Flags Amusement Park to install solar panels. The DEP made an offer to purchase the land from Six Flags in order to save the trees.

Of course, these two actions in isolation don’t make Christie a moderate. He’s still in favor of draconian cuts in Social Security and has shown no empathy for state workers whose deferred compensation is being stolen to balance the budget.

It’s Time for MacArthur to Protect his District

At one of the debates during his campaign to purchase a seat in Congress, Tom MacArthur was asked a question about Atlantic offshore oil drilling. Realize that he was vying for a seat in a district in which he didn’t live, so it’s understandable if he didn’t quite get that tourism is big business in the Ocean County towns that he wanted to represent.

His answer was perfectly aligned with the right-wing mantra. He said that it was up to the individual states to determine whether or not to allow offshore drilling. Perhaps he thought that the inevitable spill that occurs in another state would not wash up on New Jersey’s shores.

MacArthur may have a chance to show where his true allegiance lies – either with the New Jersey tourism industry or with the big oil companies. Both New Jersey U.S. Senators have joined several other Democrats to introduce legislation (The Clean Ocean and Safe Tourism or COAST act) to prohibit drilling in the Atlantic, even though the President supports this folly. Senator Menendez remarked, “The Jersey Shore’s tourism industry alone generates $38 billion a year and directly supports almost half a million jobs. We’re introducing the COAST Act to help protect our local economies, marine life, the health of our shore residents and to tell Big Oil that America’s coastline is not for sale.”

Elected officials change their positions all the time. Senator Sweeney and President Obama “evolved” on marriage equality. Governor Christie was for funding teachers’ pensions before he was against it.

Let’s hope if COAST can miraculously get through the oil-company-dominated Senate that Congressman MacArthur evolves in to a vocal proponent for saving New Jersey’s beaches and tourism industry.

Blue Jersey Interview: Senate Leadership

For the past several years, Blue Jersey has been conducting an annual interview with the Senate Democratic leadership. Earlier today, I met with Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg to discuss some of the pressing issues of the day, and of course politics.

Twitter Thursdays

Got a question for the Senate President? If you can ask it in 140 characters, you can pose the question to Senator Sweeney during his “Twitter Thursday” session.

According to his office, Sweeney will be answering at least five questions every Thursday throughout the day via Twitter. His handle is @NJSenatePres.

Sweeney doesn’t have the huge staff of taxpayer-funded videographers that the Governor uses, but it should be interesting to observe how well a low-budget social media outreach works in getting his message out.