Tag Archive: Stephen Sweeney

A Challenger for Sweeney?

From Today’s Sunbeam:

Salem County Freeholder Sue Bestwick has resigned from office, fueling wide speculation that she’s preparing for a run against entrenched state Sen. Stephen Sweeney in the Third Legislative District.

Bestwick was the last of our Republican freeholders in Salem County. She has not said she is running for other office.  She’ll be replaced by a Republican as freeholder, so that person will be running in November as an incumbent. 

The paper says that Gloucester County Republicans would support her run.  Everything seems to depend on whether she can raise enough money.

Quote of the Day

State Senator Stephen Sweeney on the failure of consolidation of local governments and services:

“These people want a Mercedes-Benz, but they only have Oldsmobile money.  And you know Oldsmobile went out of business.”

First Roberts, now Sweeney.  South Jersey owns the property tax quote game!

The Fighting Third! (Better Know a District Series)

The Third Legislative District is in the southwest corner of  New Jersey.  It includes all of Salem County (known as “The Garden Spot of the Garden State”), part of Gloucester County, and part of Cumberland County.  48% of the registered voters are in Gloucester County, 31% in Salem, and 21% in Cumberland (based on 2005 statistics).  North Jersey residents may think of it as Exits One and Two on the New Jersey Turnpike.  Much of the district remains rural, but suburban development is increasingly taking over the farmland, especially in Gloucester County.  The geography includes significant wetlands and marshes along the Delaware River. 

The Census 2000 State Legislative District Summary File (see factfinder.census.gov) reports a 2000 population of 209,230.  Compared to the average for all of New Jersey, the district has less expensive houses ($109,100 vs. $170,800) and lower income ($47,535 vs.  $55,146).  1.7% of the employed civilians 16 years or older are employed in agriculture/forestry/fishing/hunting, which is the highest of any New Jersey district.  15.6% of workers are in manufacturing.  On the other hand, only 16.8% of those 25 or older have a bachelor’s degree (or higher), well below New Jersey’s 29.8% average.  Only 3.7% of the population is foreign born, the lowest of any New Jersey district, and only 8.3% speak a language other than English at home.  The population is 79.0% white, 15.3% black, and only 0.8% Asian, in contrast to New Jersey’s overall values of 72.6, 13.6, and 5.7%.  Latinos make up 5.7% of the population, again below New Jersey’s 13.3%, at least in 2000.  7.1% of the population was below the poverty line in 1999.

This overall demographic picture of this district — more whites, fewer immigrants, rural, less education — suggests a more culturally conservative district but with “blue collar” economic concerns.  In fact, Democrats (25.5% of registered voters) outnumber Republicans (17.3%), but as usual in New Jersey, unaffiliated voters are a majority.  The district is represented by three Democrats.  Gloucester County is dominated by Democrats, and Salem County has been trending Democratic in recent freeholder elections. 

News Roundup & Open Thread for Wednesday, November 29, 2006

  • State Senator Stephen Sweeney says he is going to push a paid family leave plan.  I think it sounds great. Here’s the idea:

    Under Sweeney’s plan, workers who take leave from work would be paid through the state’s temporary disability insurance fund, which allows people who miss time from work because of illness or injury to receive two-thirds of their weekly wages, up to $488 per week. People taking paid family leave would receive the same benefits.

    The leave would be funded by a 0.1 percent charge against a worker’s weekly wages. Legislative officials estimate that would cost most workers less than $1 a week. Most New Jersey workers pay $129 a year in temporary disability insurance through their paychecks.

  • Casinos continue to complain about the smoking ban.  Delaware included its casinos in their smoking ban. 
  • A whistleblower at UMDNJ is now filing a lawsuit alleging he faced retaliation.  Since there are so many UMDNJ scandals, I should let you know that this is the one about telecommications services:

    The monitor, former federal Judge Herbert J. Stern, issued a report in July on the billing irregularities reported by Nappe. Stern found the university had paid $35.2 million for telecommunications services under a contract that only authorized $5.9 million in spending. Stern’s auditing team also cited a $301,660 bill under that contract for the simple removal of two computer viruses from a desktop computer.

    There may be billions more in fraud, but the computer viruses sure are memorable. 

  • New Jersey is finishing a huge database to track public school students.  However, they’re not just collecting grades, but all kinds of information like birthplace, and there seems to be no way for parents to check the accuracy.  Furthermore, can anyone explain to me why I get memos saying that it is illegal for me to e-mail a test grade to a college student, even if she says it is okay in writing, but it’s okay for the state to collect children’s grades and personal information and hold on to them forever?
  • A new report on cancer in New Jersey has good news and bad news.  The survival rate has gone up, but we lag the nation overall.  African Americans both here and nationwide have a lower survival rate. 
  • Salem county will give you a $25 gift card for every gun you turn in this Saturday. 
  • The outgoing chief operating officer — also known as the state overseer — of Camden has issued his final report.  He discusses a great variety of problems he encountered.  Let us know in the comments want you think of the job he did.

    This is an open thread.

  • Marriage equality whip count

    Where does your delegation stand?

    Bernard Kenny (D-33) (Majority Leader) (Star Ledger 10/27/06)
    Loretta Weinberg (D-37) (Star Ledger 10/27/06)
    Barbara Buono (D-18) (Asbury Park Press 10/27/06)
    Reed Gusciora (D-15) * (Garden State Equality PR 10/25/06)
    Brian Stack (D-33) * (Garden State Equality PR 10/25/06)
    Wilfred Caraballo (D-29) * (Speaker Pro Tem) ( ”  ” )
    Mims Hackett (D-27) * (Blue Jersey 10/26/06)
    Jerry Green (D-22) (Blue Jersey 10/26/06)
    Joe Roberts (D-05) (Assembly Speaker) (Trenton Times 10/27/06)

    * indicates the legislator will sponsor the Caraballo/Gusciora/Stack marriage equality legislation

    The rest below the fold.

    News Round-up and Open Thread for Tuesday, October 24

    There’s a lot to report today, folks.

    • Environmental protection commissioner Lisa Jackson yesterday revealed plans to do a complete overhaul of Our Fair State’s $60 million cleanup program. Changes will include prioritizing the sites for cleanup, starting a licensing program for environmental consultants, and adopting programs with incentives for cleaning up sites quickly. The department is trying to fix the system after the high-profile closing of a daycare in Gloucester County which was located on contaminated soil.
    • Children and Families Commissioner Kevin Ryan reported to the Assembly Human Services Committee yesterday that new child welfare workers are getting their training but re-training existing workers is taking longer. Also, the number of kids in foster care who receive physical and psychological examinations has increased, but an overhaul of the health care system for foster children is needed and will be proposed.
    • As expected, the State Senate unanimously approved Associate Justice James Zazzali as Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court yesterday, and Judge Helen Hoens was approved to fill the associate position.
    • State Senator Ellen Karcher’s bill to curb political contributions from redevelopment contractors and professionals has received bipartisan support. Even with such support the bill may not pass, because of other ethics reform legislation being proposed.
    • State Senator Stephen Sweeney has been under fire from labor groups about his proposal to cut the benefits and pay of unionized state workers. Sweeney met with the president of the AFL-CIO earlier this month and has been defending his proposals.
    • The Legislative ethics panel met yesterday, selecting Raymond Bramucci as chairman. The panel put off a decision to investigate Wayne Bryant and his “job” at UMDNJ, citing two ongoing criminal investigations by the US and State Attorneys’ General offices.
    • Rutgers announced yesterday the formation of the Rutgers Energy Institute, which will bring together all energy-focused projects under one banner. The Institute’s long-term goal is to help break American dependence on fossil fuels, particularly those from foreign sources.
    • Speaking of alternative power sources, more residents of Our Fair State favor the use of offshore wind power than oppose them, and even more are in favor if the turbines are further away. Woo-hoo!
    • Viola Thomas-Hughes is feeling little support in her run against Frank LoBiondo. Until last week, she had received no financial support, from Dem organizations in Gloucester and Cumberland counties. In the last week Cape May Democrats and Cumberland County Dem organization have donated, with the Gloucester County Dems promising some as well. Visit her site if you can help, too.
    • New Jersey is a tough place for military recruiters; only Connecticut and Rhode Island have lower recruiting percentages. Officials and researchers blame the lack of interaction between military folks and civilians in Our Fair State, while some recruiters directly blame the Iraq war.

    Open Thread: What’s on your mind today, Blue Jersey?

    News Round-up & Open Thread for Thursday, Oct 12

    36 years ago today, President Nixon announced another round of troop withdrawals from South Vietnam. Despite already losing the war, Bush bravely insists on keeping others’ sons and daughters in Iraq without a plan until they’re all killed, or until he leaves office – whichever comes first.

    And now back to your regularly scheduled news:

  • The latest Quinnipiac University poll has Menendez ahead 49%-45%, a 7 point swing since September when Kean Jr led 48%-45%. A Rasmussen poll will show Menendez ahead 44%-40%.
  • Not surprisingly, members of the Black Ministers Council endorsed Bob Menendez yesterday saying Kean Jr has offered nothing but unsubstantiated negative attacks. They also “voiced concern over Kean’s 2002 vote in Trenton opposing racial profiling legislation.” Kean Jr’s spokeswoman says he actually did vote for it in the Senate after he voted against it in the Assembly.
  • Hamilton mayor Glen Gilmore has donated more than $12,000 he received from John Lynch, who recently pleaded guilty to corruption. “Gilmore had originally declined to give up the money, but changed his mind this week.” Mercer County Republicans are calling the Mercer Democratics to return over $32,000 they’ve received from Lynch. Democrats say Republicans are hypocrites and should return $36,000 from Harry Parkin and others – all of whom pleaded or were found guilty as well.
  • There’s not much love for Sen Karcher’s bill to ban trans fats from restaurant food. Assemblyman Lou Manzo said “I just don’t like the taste of this bill.”
  • Third district legislators, Sen Stephen Sweeney and Assemblymen John Burzichelli and Doug Fisher, visited with students at Woodstown. One eighth grader said: “I never realized what they could actually do…It’s nice to finally be able to see how they can affect us on a daily basis.” Another added: “They made me really want to learn more about politics…They inspired me to maybe one day become a politician.”
  • Assemblyman Joe Roberts has proposed creating 21 “super” county school superintendents as a way to cut property taxes, but Assemblyman Senator Bob Smith wants to go a step further and create 21 “administrative” county school districts, where purchasing, HR, transportation and other work is consolidated, eliminating an estimated 600 local administrators and staffers.
  • Salem County News

    Here’s my latest roundup of Salem County news.  I’ve got tax cut plans, election fraud, and a sex scandal, all without mentioning anyone in Ohio, Florida or Washington, DC. 

    Our Candidates

  • Freeholder Beth Timberman and Freeholder Candidate Jeff Hogan presented their plan to lower property taxes in 2007.  The Democrats already reduced the county tax rate by 2 cents this year.  Courtney Elko of Today’s Sunbeam reports:

    “This year the Democrats did something that the Republicans did not do since 1996,” [Timberman] said. “We lowered the tax rate.”

    She also proposed free county transportation to senior citizens over the age of 65 and disabled and honorably discharged veterans.

    The program would cost taxpayers little, Timberman said, and would entitle seniors to free transportation through the county’s transportation infrastructure.

    “These are realistic goals and we’re addressing the community’s needs,” she said. “We and all Democrats, elected and candidates, will continue to fight for the future of Salem County.”

  • Cross Your Fingers!

    According to an article in the Gloucester County Times, some Democrats are breaking ranks to criticize the budget and decry the sales tax hike. State Sen. Stephen Sweeney and Assemblyman John Burzichelli are both looking to scuttle key provisions of this budget:

    Two Democrats confirmed lawmakers are looking to pare down Corzine’s $1.8 billion payment into the state pension system, trim his expanded list of items covered by the sales tax and hope for better-than-expected income tax collections in order to avoid a hike.

    Hope? Hope for better-than-expected tax collections? That’s a budget strategy? I hate to tell you, folks, but “hope” just doesn’t work as part of a logical, well-thought-out plan for anything. Especially when data just doesn’t back it up; The Office of Legislative Services advised the Assembly Budget Committee last week that they expect New Jersey to take in $186 million less than Corzine estimated over the rest of this fiscal year and the next. So much for hoping for more money to show up in the mailbox- it may be even less.

    It’s time for serious solutions, not crossing our fingers.

    Wal-Mart And New Jersey: Not Perfect Together

    With Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott gaining media traction from his speech before the National Governor’s Association, it’s worth reminding the public that taxpayers continue to foot Wal-Mart’s healthcare in New Jersey. The Philadelphia Inquirer has the story:

    State Sen. Joe Vitale fought for years to expand FamilyCare, New Jersey’s health-insurance program for families just above the poverty line.

    “FamilyCare was never meant to be a dumping ground for the country’s most successful businesses,” said Vitale, the Senate Health Committee chairman. “Taxpayers shouldn’t be picking up their bills.”

    The bill, sponsored by Vitale and Senate Labor Committee Chairman Stephen Sweeney (D., Gloucester), requires businesses with more than 1,000 employees to provide benefits worth $4.17 an hour – or pay that amount, per worker, into a state fund that will reimburse the nearly $400 million that the state spends on FamilyCare and other health-insurance programs each year.

    New Jersey Policy Perspective, a liberal think tank, conducted an unofficial study of FamilyCare recipients last fall, finding that Wal-Mart employees and their children led the state’s insurance rolls. After Wal-Mart’s 589 in FamilyCare, Home Depot had 335, Pathmark grocery stores had 329, and Target had 302. ShopRite, Macy’s, Kmart, McDonald’s and CVS weren’t far behind.

    Learn more about the Wal-Mart Tax:


    Brian Kline