Tag Archive: Hawthorne

Christie’s Crassness

Either Governor Christie thinks New Jersey residents are stupid, or he just enjoys kicking them in the groin.

Ever since the start of his reign in Trenton, Chris Christie has balanced the state budget on the backs of our children and those who could least afford it. Now that it’s an election year, he’s used sleight of hand to make election points. His latest obfuscatory move has been to increase state aid to public schools – aid that he had previously slashed. But the increase for dozens of towns has been the grand total of one dollar. Now, Christie can use his Koch Brothers backed TV ads and his taxpayer-funded town halls to spout out that he has increased aid to public education.

Even this one dollar increase is a lie, as explained by one of Christie’s victims, Hawthorne Superintendent of Schools Robert Mooney. As Mooney describes, additional state assessments have eaten away the one dollar increase and much more from aid to his district.

So while Christie pals around with billionaires like Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg, and the Koch Brothers, just remember school districts like Hawthorne that don’t even get enough increase in aid to fill the coffee pot in the teachers’ lounge while millionaires and polluters are riding the Christie wagon to further riches.

Calling Out Gov. Christie, One Dollar at a Time

Dollar DistrictToday I joined a group of Hawthorne parents and the NJ Working Families Alliance for a press conference at our Borough Hall. We came out because Hawthorne is one of the 40 “Dollar Districts” that Governor Christie claims are getting a bump in state aid this year when he is in fact giving them a single dollar increase.

If you’re like me, you’ve been inundated with campaign commercials from the governor touting this year’s budget as the “most education funding ever.” That’s about as ridiculous as claiming that one additional dollar is an increase. To commemorate Christie’s chutzpah, we brought a giant one dollar bill with the governor’s face on it. Christie can claim to be a friend to public education in his campaign commercials and in his town halls, but New Jersey parents have his number. Literally.

The truth is that this governor has a terrible record on public education, and every parent and property tax payer has suffered the consequences. Hawthorne, like every other municipality in New Jersey, was cut to the bone in 2010 and has been underfunded every year since. In fact, it’s getting only half of the aid it’s entitled to under the law. Each school district dealt with their cuts a different way. Some districts laid off teachers and staff, others imposed heavy fees, and almost all raised property taxes.

Parents at the event talked about the impact of the cuts on their child’s education, whether it was larger class sizes or a loss of special education support. Others spoke about property tax increases. Let’s face it: school aid is essentially direct property tax relief for middle-class families. And it’s no surprise that between Christie’s cuts to school aid and the Homestead Rebate program the property tax burden for middle-class families is up 20%.

The worst part of Christie’s continued underfunding of education is that it’s so unnecessary. The money is there. For the last three years Governor Christie has underfunded our schools while giving tax breaks to the richest 1% and the state’s most profitable corporations. If Prudential, Panasonic and Pearson Education can get their new office towers bankrolled by the state, why can’t Hawthorne get the $1.8 million it’s entitled to under the law?

In less than a month the legislature is going to pass a budget. They can choose to either accept Christie’s numbers or they can fight for a meaningful increase in aid for Hawthorne and every other district in the state. Here’s hoping they make the right choice.  

Gays in teh Burbs

Over the weekend, AP (via The Record) had an interesting article about 2010 census figures showing a 3-% rise over the past decade in NJ households headed by same-sex partners. Many are couples raising kids.

John and Michael Galluccio are the folks behind my currently favorite tee shirt in all of Jerseyland – WTFNJ? (a chunk of the profits fund Garden State Equality). That name sound familiar? The Galluccios won a landmark 1997 court case to become the first gay couple in NJ to jointly adopt a child – Adam, now 15.

Michael Galluccio’s on his local school board. Nearly 25% of North Jersey households headed by male couples and almost a third headed by lesbian couples have related kids. Gay couples come in all flavors the same way straight couples do, but once you look up and find gay-headed families in the ‘burbs, place of worship, school board, and in every job, and town in New Jersey, you get how the NJ Senate blew it big-time representing Jersey on this issue.

Disclosure: I’m on the GSE board (it’s big). I’d be writing this, even if I wasn’t. GSE ranked 83 NJ munis by how many GSE members (who are both gay & straight) each has. Whoa, my little town of Flemington (pop. 4500) has more GSE members than Hawthorne (pop. 18,000)? Bite me, Jeff Gardner, is my little town in crimson red Hunterdon gay-friendlier than yours?  

Want to see the list? It’s after the jump.

Anti-gay? Anti-semitic? Or just disgusting?

Here we go again in Hawthorne. Those of you who follow me on Twitter or are friends with me on Facebook may have wondered over the last day or so what I was alluding to when talking about anti-gay politicking in Hawthorne. Well, here’s the story:

Anti-gay palmcardAnti-gay politicking fails again in Hawthorne

We have 4 Ward Council races this year, and in 3 of those Wards, we had an uncontested primary yesterday. But, one of our candidates – Rob VanDeusen, an Iraq War veteran and volunteer firefighter – faced a contested primary against a perennial candidate in town, Phil Speulda, who stooped to new lows in dirty campaigning, using hateful language that has no place in Hawthorne, let alone in a Democratic primary anywhere.

Speulda delivered the pictured palmcard throughout the Ward, announcing:

As you may know our Hawthorne Democratic County Committee and the Row A Passaic County Democratic Organization, Inc. Line has been hi-jacked by a fringe special interest group that raises their money from gay marriage activists who don’t represent our Good Old Fashion Christian Values no less know the issues of our good town of Hawthorne.

(Hmmm. Now where have I heard language like that before in Hawthorne?)

The palmcard goes on to call our candidate “IRRESPONSIBLE and FLAMBOYANT” and asks voters to choose “The Alternate Democratic Candidate running against The Alternate Lifestyle Candidate.” It closes with a photo plucked from Facebook that was probably foolish to post, but certainly not salacious in any way, and proclaims “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” to suggest/remind the reader that Rob VanDeusen is gay. (Rob is also Jewish, but these days it is hard to tell which “Good Old Fashion Christian Values” one is not living up to.)

So, what to do? Should we have complained loudly about the piece ahead of the primary? Maybe. But, we chose instead to focus on our GOTV operation, and the results spoke for themselves: Rob won the primary 70%-30%. Chalk one up for the good people of Hawthorne who rejected bigotry for the second consecutive year.

But, here’s the most interesting part: the paid-for line. Ah, the paid-for line. The paid-for line on this piece says: “printed on home printer with leftover 2007 campaign material” (I told you he was a perennial candidate). The problem is, we know this candidate has no home computer, let alone a home printer, let alone a color printer. Nor is he on Facebook. And this piece is very obviously professionally designed and printed, in full color, two-sided, perfectly cut, and with graphic design far above the skills of this candidate (or me for that matter).

Someone paid for this hit piece – there is no doubt about it. Someone who did not want people to know about their involvement. Someone who would be embarrassed (at least) if they were exposed as financing Speulda’s campaign. So, on the heels of another victory in Hawthorne, we’ve got our next mission: to find out who financed this hate lit, and expose them.

Wish us luck!

Republican v. Republican in Hawthorne

Almost all the fun primary action in Passaic County this year is on the Republican side (for a change). In what has been an ongoing battle between the current Republican Chairman, and the old Republican Chairman, Republicans have contested races up and down the ballot throughout the county. And, at least in Hawthorne – special bonus – the old Republican Chairman has made common cause with the Tea Party faction of the party (we really have one!), resulting in this delightful video, which seems poised for a November comeback:

Now, technically, we do have one primary race in Hawthorne on the Democratic side – in the 2nd Ward, currently held by incumbent Republican John Bertollo who’s referenced in the video. (Psst: Vote Rob VanDeusen!)

This beauty was made in support of the Tea Party candidates, and against the old guard. But you may recognize the format from the classic anti-Tea Party video that awaits on the flip side. Still funny.

I’ll Never Be Able to Thank You All Enough

Well, it has been 10 days since I came up short in my pursuit of the Bergen County endorsement for 38th District Assembly. And while on the one hand, I feel like I’ve been thanking people non-stop ever since; on the other hand, I feel like I have barely begun to thank all the people who made my experience as a candidate so positive.

So, since I started my campaign with an announcement on Blue Jersey, I thought I’d say one big final thank you here to finish the campaign.

Thank you Blue Jersey!

Together with DFA, Garden State Equality, Paterson Grassroots for Change, BlueAmericaPAC, NJ Stonewall Dems, and of course the amazing Democrats for Hawthorne, your support throughout (and not just the incredibly successful Money Bomb) helped make the campaign the success that it was. And special thanks to the party leaders and elected officials who loudly supported me for the 38th District seat, and to those who quietly supported me in the 35th (bless you, you know who you are).

I am very proud of what we accomplished – our efforts were a victory for progressives in New Jersey and around the nation. We sent a clear message to incumbents everywhere that they will be held accountable for their votes and their conduct in office, and that progressives are up to that challenge. In that regard, the campaign was indeed a huge success, and I am forever grateful.

As a token of my appreciation, I want to invite you to a Thank You party next Tuesday, April 26th at 7:30 p.m. in Hawthorne. Whether you donated money, time,  energy, or all of the above – please join us at 7:30p at the Llewellyn Ave. Firehouse, 10 Llewellyn Ave., Hawthorne, NJ. You’ll meet our campaign staff, our incredible Hawthorne Democrats, and members of our 38th District Legislative team for a fun evening of food, friends and celebration. Feel free to let us know you’re coming in the comments.

Now, it’s time to turn our attention to upcoming races around the state – School Board Elections next week, Primary Elections in many Districts, and ultimately the big prize in November, when we see just how “Democratic” this new map really turns out to be. And, importantly, how “Democratic” our elected democrats turn out to be (ahem, I think you know who you are too).

So, thank you again for the donations, the hours spent volunteering, and the words of advice – they did not go unnoticed. As they say, the cause endures. I plan to continue fighting for a stronger Democratic Party and a better New Jersey, and I’m counting on you to join me.

One door closes, another door opens … maybe

After weeks (months?) of speculation, we finally know where things stand with legislative redistricting. My hometown of Hawthorne is now squarely in the newly configured 38th District.  

This creates a new opportunity to run alongside Senator Bob Gordon and Assemblywoman Connie Wagner to continue their record of strong representation for 38th District families. My hat is officially in the ring to fill the vacant Assembly seat on their ticket.


Over the next five days we are in a sprint to convince a majority of County Committee members and other Elected Officials in Bergen County that I’m the right person for this vacant seat. This process will be all about one-on-one time with community leaders in Bergen County. However, there are still many ways you can help put me over the top this Sunday. more…

Girgenti looking for houses in Paterson?

Edit: A federal district court found in 2001 that New Jersey’s legislative district residency requirement violated the Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution, so much of what’s in this diary is incorrect. Girgenti can move to Paterson to run in the 35th district if he wants. Whether he is serious or merely bluffing about moving is another matter entirely. If he does “move” to Paterson before he submits his petition (on which he certify that he is a resident of the district in which he is running), someone should check to make sure the address submitted actually exists and that Girgenti is actually residing there. I leave the original diary below the fold.

A Great Big Thank You!

High-fives, Jeff – Rosi

I’m nearly speechless. Thank you to Rosi, Jay, and most importantly the entire Blue Jersey community for helping to make my campaign’s money bomb an incredible success yesterday.

Together with Democracy for America and BlueAmericaPAC, we raised well over $10,000 from nearly 500 contributors – all online, all in one day. Amazing! And it brings our online fundraising across ActBlue to nearly $15,000 from over 500 individuals. And we’re just getting started! I hope you’ll join my facebook campaign page, and stay engaged as the campaign moves forward.

As the candidate, of course, I am very grateful for the support. Every campaign needs money, and yesterday was a real boost. But, as a member of the progressive community here in New Jersey, more than anything, I am proud. Proud of the strength of the community we have built and continue to build. As I’ve said over and over, this is a people’s campaign, and yesterday’s success was your success.

Thank you all so much!


This is what people-powered looks like

I have a hunch we’ll hear from Jeff later. Meanwhile, big thanks from Blue Jersey to everybody who gave in yesterday’s money bomb! – Rosi

Big hat tip to the Blue Jersey community, Blue America PAC, and Democracy for America for making the money bomb a huge success. – Matt

Honestly, when we had our initial conference call on the money bomb idea – Rosi, Jay, a DFA national staffer, and myself – we all thought somewhere between $1,000 on the low end and$5,000 on the high end would be a successful for a one day haul.  This just has never really been done in a state legislative race, so we just weren’t sure what to expect.

435 donors and $10,728 raised was double our best case scenario.  If the establishment wasn’t listening before, they are now.  more below…