Tag Archive: COAH

Blue Jersey Focus – Senator Barbara Buono

I met with Senator Barbara Buono in Edison yesterday to discuss some current issues. In this interview she talks about (among other things) “The Ghost Entity”, why the two weeks after the November election are extremely important, why it’s taking so long to implement a law that helps sick people, the governor’s destruction of the integrity of our judicial system, and of course property taxes. She even lauds a Republican New Jersey governor (not the current one!)

Triple veto by Christie on housing bills undermines NJ economic recovery

promoted by Rosi

Over the past several days, Gov. Christie took decisive action to weaken New Jersey’s economy by vetoing three important legislative initiatives to revive our troubled housing market.

Take it from the head of the NJ Association of Realtors talking to NJBiz:

According to New Jersey Association of Realtors CEO Jarrod Grasso, foreclosed properties – which are now hitting New Jersey’s residential real estate market at a record pace – “have been the albatross preventing true recovery in the state. . . . We’re hopeful that, though the governor doesn’t support this bill, that it will be called back to the table.”

That was about the New Jersey Residential Foreclosure Transformation Act (S-1566/A-2168), which was supported by housing advocates, municipalities, bankers, special needs groups, and developers, to name a few. It would have reused foreclosed properties to create much-needed housing affordable to lower-income households.

Christie also vetoed bipartisan legislation (S-2011/A-2950), which would have extended the deadline to spend over $200 million in municipal housing trust funds by two years, and budget language which would have provided a safe harbor for municipalities to commit these trust funds rather than having them taken by the state for use in the General Fund.

Assemblyman and Housing and Local Government Committee Chair Jerry Green issued a statement expressing his disappointment and frustration with the Governor’s action stating, “The governor spent a good amount of time yesterday talking about helping the people of New Jersey.  I’m not sure what segment of the population he was referring to, but it’s certainly not the working class families of New Jersey.  Under this administration, they are on their own.”

The Legislature really stepped up to the plate in seeking solutions to New Jersey’s housing crisis, in which foreclosure filings have climbed 86% in the past year and are at triple the national average. Longtime champions of fair housing among the Democratic majority such as Green, Assemblywoman Mila Jasey, Assemblyman Albert Coutinho, Assemblyman Troy Singleton, Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson-Coleman, and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg worked hard to craft innovative and important solutions to this economic problem, and deserve praise for bringing together a wide array of support to move New Jersey’s housing market forward.

We also were glad to see leaders in the Governor’s own party including Senators Diane Allen, Christopher Connors, and Robert Singer, Assembly members DiAnne Gove, Amy Handlin, and David Wolfe, and mayors from throughout the state recognize the need to take action to fix New Jersey’s broken housing market.

More below about what comes next…

Christie Playbook: The Overreach

Governor Christie is always reminding us that he’s the governor. If you watch his town halls or television appearances and count the number of times he does this, you will quickly run out of fingers. We get it, Chris. You’re “in charge.” We know.

But perhaps he needs to insert a word into this meme he’s created, and start saying “I’m ONLY the governor.” Because his actions over the past few years indicate that when it comes to power, Chris Christie always seems to want more. The latest example can be observed in his plan to merge Rowan and Rutgers. Shooting first and asking questions only if someone makes him, Christie now plainly admits his tendency to act despite the law. He admits  that he doesn’t even know for sure if his plan is legal.

 Is this a pattern? You bet:

– His attempted elimination of COAH was illegal.

– His refusal to fund the state’s most troubled schools was illegal.

 – His early intention to unilaterally reopen government worker contracts in 2010 was squashed by his lawyers; it would have been illegal.

These examples of over-reaching are the ones involving illegality. Of course, there’s also the wide range of over-reaching that may be legal but is nonetheless unseemly. There are plenty of examples: He scuttled at $400M education grant in order to sustain his fight with teachers and the NJEA. He goes from zero to asshat in seconds, barfing insults at women, men, student “drug mules,” legislators, Navy Seals, teachers, or anyone else who disagrees with him without cowering in fear. And of course, there was the unilateral canceling of ARC.

More. More. More.


Court overturns Christie’s attempt to expand executive power, reinstates COAH’s independent board

promoted by Rosi

Last Thursday, the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey invalidated Gov. Christie’s abolition of the Council on Affordable Housing, ruling that New Jersey’s State Constitution and statutes do not allow Gov. Christie to unilaterally abolish independent agencies.  

I’d previously outlined the case in a post here, shortly after oral argument on February 15.  As I mentioned in that post, if the court had held that the Governor in fact had the power to abolish the boards of independent agencies, “then every time a board member of an independent agency makes a decision, she will be afraid of being fired if she disagrees with the Governor, the exact opposite of the intent of such agencies. No independent agency really would be independent.” The Court agreed, finding that only the Legislature, not the Governor, has the power to reorganize independent agencies.

The Court’s reasoning, in the decision available here,  followed the conservative modes of legal reasoning that the Governor claims to believe in, following a careful statutory and constitutional reading. The Court relied on quotes from Associate Justice Antonin Scalia on the proper separation of powers in the original meaning of the Constitution to reject Governor Christie’s argument that the constitution gave him unlimited power to change the structure of state government, stating that “While the framers of our Constitution intended to create a strong executive in the office of Governor (perhaps the strongest in the United States), they also recognized the need to insulate functions and agencies from executive control.”

More below…

Gov. Christie Claims Power to Abolish Independent Agencies

More Christie the Unitary Executive. – promoted by Rosi

In a case we at Fair Share Housing Center argued before New Jersey’s Appellate Division last week, the Christie Administration took a sweeping new position: the Governor has the power to abolish any independent agency through the Executive Reorganization Act of 1969, a statute never before interpreted this way. That means that if ELEC, the Board of Public Utilities, or the State Ethics Commission did something that the Governor didn’t like, he could get rid of it, and instead take over the administration of, say, campaign finance law through a cabinet official reporting directly to him.

This case came out of Gov. Christie’s action to abolish the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) which he said he was doing because he had “always believed that municipalities should be able to make their own decisions on affordable housing” – even in cases in which, say, a local council decides they don’t want disabled veterans in their town.

More below…

Christie Anti-Veteran Campaign Gains Another Supporter

promoted by Rosi

It looks like Chris Christie’s campaign to allow towns to say no to veterans looking for decent homes has gained another adherent.

As reported in another Blue Jersey post by Tom Wyka, a councilman in Parsippany, John Cesaro, voted against allowing a two-family home for formerly homeless veterans because he claimed it would be “social engineering.”

We at Fair Share Housing are not exactly sure what part of letting veterans live in a two-family home qualifies as “social engineering.” It seems a bit more accurate to say that trying to stop veterans from living in your town is “social engineering.”

Fortunately, Cesaro was outvoted by members of his own party to allow veterans to live in Parsippany, showing that there are people of both parties that believe that people who served our country deserve a place in our communities.

But perhaps Cesaro was just following the leader. Just two weeks ago, Gov. Christie stopped homes for disabled veterans from being built in Salem County.

We at Fair Share Housing Center are not sure what the moral or political calculation is that makes politicians like Christie and Cesaro think that keeping veterans out of communities is acceptable. It’s wrong – and frankly offensive. And it’s good to see that people like Tom Wyka and Cesaro’s council mates are not going along with it.

Jerry Green: We Have Just Started the Good Fight

A valuable reminder of who Chris Christie serves. – promoted by Rosi

In a powerful, stirring speech at the Housing and Community Development Network’s semi-annual membership meeting last week, Asm. Jerry Green, Speaker Pro Tempore and Chair of the Housing and Local Government Committee, described his fight with Gov. Christie on housing reform. Green’s speech came as he accepted one of two 2011 Legislators of the Year awards from the Network, along with Speaker Sheila Oliver (who was not able to attend at the last minute and had her Chief of Staff Thurman Barnes receive the award in her place).

Green gave a great overview of the standoff between him and Christie – and the issues at stake – in his speech:

Green noted the widening impacts of New Jersey’s housing crisis:

The last 30-40 years I’ve been in the trenches it’s always been about poor black people. . . But now it’s middle income white America that’s in the same boat. They’re hurting. They don’t see an opportunity for decent housing for their own kids.

I have legislators coming up to me saying Jerry, you know something, you’re right. My kids can’t even afford to live in the neighborhood. You have teachers who can’t afford to live in their neighborhoods. This is not fair.

And he said he would continue to take on Christie to fight for those decent homes:

My plan for the next two years is to meet with the Administration and meet with the Governor. He’s made it very clear: my way or no way. Well, Chris: it’s MY way or no way.

A brief reminder of how we got here, and more, below the fold…

Christie Says No to Homes for Disabled Veterans – Just in Time for Pearl Harbor Day

promoted by Rosi

Today is the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day, a day when we reflect on the sacrifices of so many veterans who made our country and our world what it is today.

It’s perhaps a little surprising, then, that Gov. Christie thought that this was a good time to shut down a proposed development for disabled veterans in Salem County – which, absent his interference, could have broken ground and provided both homes and jobs by Pearl Harbor Day next year.

Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss

promoted by Rosi

Today, DCA Commissioner Lori Grifa announced she is headed back to her law firm job after two years as the frontperson for the Christie Administration’s anti-family, pro-exclusion agenda. While New Jersey’s economy continued to tank, wealthy towns placed excluding the riff-raff above creating jobs and homes, with Grifa and the Administration’s enthusiastic cheerleading. Despite the rather unusual coalition of business leaders, housing advocates, special needs groups, and environmentalists pushing against them, Grifa – and the boss in the front office – refused to budge.

Grifa’s successor, Richard Constable, doesn’t seem to have much background in housing, community development, or municipal governance, most recently having served as Deputy Commissioner in the Department of Labor. Like many other Christie Administration leaders, he worked for Gov. Christie in the U.S. Attorney’s office for many years, which Gov. Christie joked about in his press conference today. He’s personally close to the Governor, according to an article in his graduate school alumni magazine.

We hope that we’re pleasantly surprised by Commissioner-designee Constable as he takes on this new job. But more likely we’ll see more of the same direction – more miserable failures in dealing with exclusionary communities that put blocking new homes near transit and jobs above the economy and more inaction in response to New Jersey’s growing foreclosure crisis.

Because it isn’t DCA that’s the problem. It’s the Governor’s pandering to the wealthy few who are making out like bandits in this economy – and who don’t feel the sting of the jobs they kill when they say no to working families, lower-income seniors, and people with special needs who want to be their neighbors.

South Brunswick Gets National Award – Township Recognizes Value of Everybody’s Labor

Posted over Labor Day weekend, definitely worth its shot on the front page – Rosi

Recently, Money Magazine named South Brunswick Township as the 22nd best place to live in the United States, and in doing so specifically recognized the Township’s racial and ethnic diversity and its “wide range of housing, from $100,000 one-bedroom condos to million-dollar homes.”

On this Labor Day weekend, we at Fair Share Housing recognize South Brunswick as an example of a town that appreciates the contribution of everyone’s labor – whether they are teachers in the township’s schools, parents caring for their kids or for adult children with special needs, or janitors who clean the office parks near Exit 8A.

And more broadly, we stand with our allies in New Jersey’s labor movement and recognize that our work is two sides of the same coin. If people don’t have decent jobs with good wages and benefits, then it’s harder for them to afford a decent home; if towns are allowed to keep out modestly priced homes, as Gov. Christie wants to give them carte blanche to do, then people who work in a town even with decent wages won’t be able to live there.

More on South Brunswick’s story – below the fold.