Tag Archive: Stephen Sweeney

Senate Democratic Leadership

I’m re-posting this from Monday. That morning,  one of the busiest days in the Senate, the Democratic leadership granted Blue Jersey a significant amount of time for this interview. It was overshadowed by the tragic events that evening, but the remarks by Senators Sweeney and Weinberg set the stage for the new session, ahead.

This morning, Senate President Stephen Sweeney and incoming Majority Leader Senator Loretta Weinberg took time out of their busy day to give Blue Jersey readers an exclusive interview. They talked about the accomplishments of the last session, goals for the new session (which starts tomorrow), the new initiative for marriage equality, jobs, energy, and the recent controversies about residency requirements in the last legislative election.

Is Carl Lewis Still Running?

Conventional wisdom says that one way to defeat Congressman Jon Runyan this year is to fight fire with fire. That is, instead of the Democrats standing up a run-of-the-mill politician against Runyan, they should nominate a celebrity. The thinking is that there’s really no one in the Burlington/Ocean county political establishment that has the name recognition, fundraising ability, and gravitas to compete with the ex-NFL “bad boy” and his bottomless source of campaign funds from the corporatists.

There is a celebrity athlete in Runyan’s congressional district – one who has dabbled in politics before., and can be orders of magnitude better than Runyan. Olympian Carl Lewis ran for state senate last year, only to be denied the opportunity to serve because a judge ruled that the long-time New Jerseyan did not strictly fit the residency requirements.

More below the photo…

Photo of Lewis’ announcement of his senate run – April, 2011

(Left to right: Orange, NJ Mayor Eldrige Hawkins, Carl Lewis, Christopher Walker – Executive Director of the Carl Lewis Foundation, New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney)

Strange Bedfellows

Flying pig

Who would have thought that there would come a time on this blog when I would agree with firstamend07 and disagree with my good friend and former colleague Jeff Pickens? Well, as implausible as it sounds, it’s true – in at least one instance.

It started when Jeff posted an excellent diary entitled “I’m Not Sure I Can Hold My Nose This Time” where he excoriates his Democratic District 4 legislators for their unresponsiveness to some legitimate questions he has asked them. In that diary, Jeff asks what he should do on Election Day to express his disgust. Staying home and voting Republican, he says, are not options. Should he write in someone else? Should he vote for a third party candidate?

I responded in the comments, saying that if Jeff does not vote for the Democrats, he essentially is voting for the Republicans.

New Jersey’s Thirst for Power

With the Governor on vacation and Senator Sweeney’s bombast being supplanted by the hand wringing surrounding the Casey Anthony verdict, you would think that Trenton’s name-calling and argumentative style would be on hiatus, and you would be wrong.

Republicans For Sweeney. Sweeney For Republicans.

On the heels of Stephen Sweeney’s fake outrage against Chris Christie after being “duped” on a line item pen wielding uncompromising Governor, a number of New Jerseyans have reported received robocalls paid for by none other than the Republican State Committee thanking Sweeney for his bipartisanship in crushing unions and further solidifying himself as Christie’s biggest ally in destroying the middle class.

Ok, so it wasn’t put exactly that way, but it would seem appropriate to me based on the fact that I received no fewer than a dozen (and quite possibly more) press releases from Legislative Republicans applauding Sweeney for his continued movement toward the dark side while the feeling of betrayal by Sweeney is growing and patience for his act is wearing thin by those who he is supposed to represent and the Party he is supposed to be viewed as a leader of.

The irony is that Sweeney is doing this on policies where Christie’s rightfully getting the most criticism and his ratings are the worst.  I guess the Republican State Committee and Governor Christie do have a lot to thank Sweeney for.  Not just this latest bill that further weakens this state’s working class (a bill his office put out a number of press releases crowing about) but also for helping Christie pass his draconian budget last year, for supporting the nonsensical property tax “cap”, for a stunning lack of a spine or leadership on marriage equality…..just to mention a few that jump to mind quickly.

When the opposition Party spends money to praise you for helping them with one of their long time pet issues, that’s not something to be proud of.  When you are a so-called leader of the party that has handed a number of huge wins to that opposition Party at the expense of your own Party’s core values, that is embarrassing.  When your actions also happen to enrich your political benefactor – someone who stands to benefit personally, financially and politically from your actions, that is screaming for a no confidence vote.

You Reap What You Sow

Tom Moran has a column in today’s NJ.com that provides an account of Senate President Steve Sweeney’s ire after Governor Christie vetoed scores of programs that would have created jobs and helped the poor and middle class. Sweeney’s anger is puzzling.

Like nearly every Republican who touts “bipartisanship”, Christie is a BiNO – bipartisan in name only. And Sweeney should have known this.

When you have a party like the GOP that is willing to wreck the economy for the sake of their political benefactors, you have to recognize that real compromise is not in their vocabulary.

It is hard to believe that Sweeney considers Christie as a partner instead of an adversary as far as working people of New Jersey are concerned. Maybe Sweeney had a gentleman’s agreement with Christie, but Sweeney knows that Christie is one of the former US prosecutors who was not fired by Bush’s capo, Karl Rove, during Rove’s reign of unethical political terror. Anyone with a heartbeat should realize that this alone taints Christie with a dubious ethical record.

The only thing Sweeney accomplished last week was to advance Chris Christie’s presidential ambitions.

So the question remains. As the highest ranking elected Democratic official in New Jersey, is Sweeney over his head in dealing with a very clever governor? Or is Sweeny simply a GOP mole who is in Trenton to advance the Christie/Norcross axis of greed? Either way, Sweeney must be stripped of his leadership position and return the Democratic Party to real Democrats.

On a final note, Moran’s article quotes Sweeney as calling the governor a “rotten prick.” This type of language is uncalled for. Sweeney should immediately apologize to rotten pricks everywhere.

Stephen Sweeney should resign or switch parties

Realistic or not, this is what it comes down to.  To quote one of my fellow Blue Jerseyans, “this is war”.  To quote another, “Sweeney, the union boss, is bragging that the union lost.”  To quote another, “sending around this column to the press is the equivalent of high fiving himself for the union man’s unique role in helping a strongman Republican Governor bring organized labor to its knees.” – a column that includes the following quote from Sweeney:

“You saw the unions today do their best to intimidate people,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney. “But guess what? We’re in charge. I didn’t come down here to be told what to do.”

Sweeney must be proud.  He did the bidding for his benefactor, insurance man George Norcross and carried water for Governor Christie’s anti-middle class agenda yet again.  But in reality, he has yet again betrayed the values of Democrats – the party he is supposed to be one of the leaders of – as well as the middle class workers that the Party has historically stood up for, not to mention the unions that we was a part of for so long.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane when Sweeney sold out another Democratic value, equality:

“If we learned anything in this last election it’s that the main issue right now is the economy,”

Ahhhhh yes, the economy.   When Sweeney could have made sure that Christie’s tax cut for the wealthy didn’t happen during the lame duck session, he didn’t lead.  Then, he could have blocked a vote (singlehandedly) on Christie’s horrific budget last year but refused to do so.  And while there could have been a shutdown, it would have given New Jerseyans a taste of what “life in Chris Christie’s New Jersey” would be like – and has become.  Instead, Sweeney made sure there were just enough votes from his caucus to pass Christie’s draconian budget last year.  

If Sweeney cared about Democratic values or cared about the economy while failing to lead on the issue of equality, he wouldn’t be taking the lead on this nonsense on eliminating worker rights and demolishing collective bargaining in the first place.  If Sweeney cared about Democratic values or cared about the economy, he wouldn’t have led the charge on some of Christie’s property tax pet projects like the cap that did nothing to lower property taxes or help towns or schools.  That doesn’t create jobs.  That doesn’t help the economy.  

He is a failure in his role as Democratic Leader on many many levels and is not deserving of his position.  If anything, he is acting like those on the other side of the aisle.

“When I Run, I Run to Win”

On the warmest day of the year so far, Olympic medalist Carl Lewis was cool as a cucumber when he announced his candidacy as a Democrat for the state Senate seat currently held by Dawn Addiego.

Against a backdrop of the historic old Mount Holly courthouse and flanked by his mother, his high school track coach, Senate President Sweeney, and a dozen or so supporters, Lewis gave a polished announcement, stressing his commitment to children and community. He railed against the “culture of mediocrity” that he claims is pervasive today, and said it is now our opportunity to inspire.

more below…

Shore Sellout

In the contentious world of politics, many are calling for bipartisan cooperation. A legislator’s job is certainly easier and less stressful if he or she can work cooperatively with the other party. But bipartisanship run amok can result in capitulation – capitulation of ideals and failure to serve those who matter most, the electorate.

Such is the case in New Jersey, where the Democratic legislative majority has allowed Republican Governor Chris Christie to run roughshod over state employees, labor unions, and public school students.

Now, Democrats and Republicans in New Jersey have joined forces to try once again to revitalize Atlantic City tourism. On the surface, this is a wonderful and much-needed initiative. Once the crown jewel of shore attractions, the “Las Vegas of the East” has succumbed to the proliferation of gambling establishments throughout the northeast, and has been consistently losing market share and revenue.

Democratic Reactions to Governor Christie’s State of the State Speech

Governor Christie was accurate in saying a few days ago there would be no big surprises in today’s speech. His three themes were “maintaining fiscal discipline, achieving needed education reform, and fixing the state’s broken pension and benefits systems.” His tone was somewhat more subdued than normal, but he was also frequently blunt and to the point.

Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver (D-Essex/Passaic) statement:

“It’s been painfully clear throughout the Governor’s first year in office that we are living in two very distinct and separate New Jerseys.

“In Chris Christie’s New Jersey, he thinks he can say ‘buck up’ and deal with my painful budget cuts and working and middle class families will simply fall in line without missing a beat.  In the other New Jersey – the reality the rest of us live in – families are paying more for less and systematically being forced out of their way of life.

“Working class women have lost access to critical healthcare.  Seniors have lost their property tax rebates and the working poor have seen their Earned Income Tax Credit cut while the state’s wealthiest received a tax break. Vital after-school programs have been slashed, while transit fares have been hiked.  Meanwhile, our unemployment rate remains alarmingly high and the Governor seems content with that. 

“This year cannot be about more of the same. 

“This week the Legislature finished passing a package of roughly 30 bills designed to create real and lasting jobs and stimulate long-term economic growth.  The fate of New Jerseyans everywhere is now in the Governor’s hands.

“If Governor Christie truly cares about turning New Jersey around, he will sign this package into law and he will do it quickly.  We are now on year two of the Christie agenda and residents cannot afford to wait any longer.”

Open Thread: your comments on his speech