Tag Archive: Woodbridge

Standing Up to Bullies – John McCormac Edition

promoted by Rosi

Last night, I failed to stand up to a bully — namely Woodbridge mayor John McCormac. I allowed my desire to avoid making a scene to outweigh the need confront the plague of bullying that has increasingly infected our political discourse and members of our own Democratic Party.

A little background: Last night I was a member of Senator Joe Vitale’s team for his annual charity softball game to benefit Habitat for Humanity. Each year the Senator hosts this great event for a great cause and this year was no different. Ray Rossi and the 101.5 softball team were gracious enough to be our opponents and we put on a hitting clinic (winning 39-4 in 5 innings).  The weather was great, as was the crowd, and over $6,500 was raised for Habitat.

The only thing that blemished a fantastic event was the public comments of Mayor John McCormac. Since the game was being played in Woodbridge, McCormac decided to make a campaign stop to address the crowd and press the flesh. One of the Senator’s staffers was handling PA duties, introducing each batter and any notable people in attendance. When McCormac showed up halfway through the game, the announcer slipped up and addressed him as “Mayor McGreevey.” The crowd chuckled (most probably would have been happy to see the fondly remembered former Mayor/Governor) and then McCormac took the mic.

He started out with a weak joke about getting the announcer fired from his full time job. Then the standard platitudes that had the crowd returning their attention to the game at hand. Then he wrapped it all up with the following line:

“Thank you. Good night. And I am a straight American.”

At that point, all you could hear was crickets. Everyone knew it was a jab at McGreevey’s now infamous resignation speech. It was the most inappropriate thing I have heard from an elected official in quite a while, and it came out of the mouth of a Democrat!  Besides the latent homophobia running through those five words, it was said but five feet away from where Gov. McGreevey’s father and sister were sitting.  

Why I’m running for Woodbridge At-Large Council

promoted by Rosi

My name is Jean Pierce and I’m running for At-Large Council in Woodbridge Township in the Democratic Primary on Tuesday, June 7th. I’m running off-the-line on Line B, as a Democrat for Working Families.

I’m running for At-Large Council to be a voice for Woodbridge residents, because I’m tired of seeing our schools and libraries get cut back while corporations don’t pay their fair share.  I’m a lifelong Democrat and a community activist, and I’m running an independent, grassroots campaign. I’m reaching out to BlueJersey readers asking you to support my candidacy by volunteering your time or contributing to my campaign.

If you have an hour after work on Tuesday, come join me a Happy Hour fundraiser this Tuesday, May 24th at 6 pm at Tumulty’s Pub, 361 George St in New Brunswick hosted by a group of progressive organizers and union leaders.

In the meantime, here’s a little more about me and why I am the strongest candidate to represent the residents of Woodbridge.

I learned to be a voice for my community from my parents. They were union members who worked hard to provide a good home and a good education for their kids.  They taught by example that it is our responsibility to support our family, union and community. My father was a volunteer firefighter who not only risked his life to save lives, but also worked to improve the lives of his co-workers and ensured public safety. Their community spirit is what led me to become an activist in my own neighborhood. Along with the community, I fought to keep the Sewaren Library open when it was facing budget cuts.  Currently, I’m a Commissioner on the Woodbridge Housing Authority where I ensure our seniors and low-income families have a safe and affordable place to live. more below...

“Vote of no confidence” in Wisniewski, from entire Woodbridge delegation at MCDO convention

Tonight, at the Middlesex County Democratic Organization (MCDO) convention, John Wisniewski got some measure of comeuppance for the leaked redistricting map that would have required two of the state’s most progressive Senators, Barbara Buono and Joe Vitale (both of Middlesex), to compete against each other, and carved an opportunity for Wisniewski himself to move up to the Senate. Progressive outrage after that leak rose within hours; multi-level and very public. The map, rumor had it, could be attributed to Wisniewski himself and what looked like opportunism fueled that mobilization. At this evening’s gathering of Middlesex Dems, that common perception of what happened during redistricting nearly cost John Wisniewski, state party chair and a candidate in November, the line. In his own re-election in his own home county party.

When Alan Rosenthal threw his vote behind the map proffered by the Democrats, there was jubilation in Party circles, high-fives for NJDSC Chair & redistricting co-Chair Wisniewski and a palpable air of self-satisfaction that the Democrats made Christie – who had poked his executive branch nose deep into the legislative branch’s process – lose something.

But what is a score for Democrats is not necessarily the same kind of score for progressives. There are different measuring sticks and the priorities are for more than party loyalty and a sunnier outcome for Democrats. From an infuriating Senate vote against marriage equality, to a too-cozy relationship between Chris Christie and sometimes-helpmate Democratic Senate President Sweeney, there is a sense that the Democrats have not done enough with their majority. And so it was that when that map leaked there was a one-day, multi-level, ferocious and very public expression of outrage from progressives in defense of Buono – an obvious contender for governor – and Vitale. (Disclosure, several members of the Blue Jersey staff were involved).

But while that was going on, the leaked map had what I think is a separate impact on local Democrats loyal to their own in Vitale and Buono, people they’ve worked alongside and helped develop. And so, there was actually discussion among the Buono and Vitale camps to organize to deny Wisniewski the line tonight. But, maybe because longtime MCDO Chair Joe Spicuzzo was just arrested a month ago on corruption charges something many shades less extreme took place.

In the end, the entire Woodbridge delegation abstained in a vote to endorse Wisniewski for re-election, minus Woodbridge mayor John McCormac, who is not on the county committee and didn’t vote, but made clear their position:

Woodbridge is a team, and Wisniewski’s actions threatened our teammate [Vitale], and we don’t appreciate that. It was symbolic, but it was essentially a vote of no confidence.

It remains to be seen what fissures tonight’s vote revealed or opened. Wisniewski played it all down: “Middlesex County’s fine. I don’t think there’s any lack of cohesion in Middlesex County.”

Town Hall, Shmown Hall

How about a moratorium on reporting on Governor Christie's so-called “town hall meetings” until one or more is held in the evening or on a weekend, when working people can attend? Now, if you are not on the Governor's coveted mailing list, you must scour the news websites for announcements, which typically come out with 1-2 days notice. By then, the Faithful have already been tipped off, and can make arrangements to attend, while the rest of us must either miss the event due to work, or jeopardize our jobs by calling in sick. There is a “town hall” scheduled for Woodbridge Tuesday morning. NJ.com dutifully announced the event on Thursday but managed to leave out the date and location. This has since been corrected in later versions of the post.

I have been to one of these, and from what I witnessed and have read about subsequent town hall meetings, they are routine, the same tired stories. The same script.

The Governor approaches the stage to wild applause, talks about “reform” (since when did “reform” become a synonym for “dismantling”?), blasts the usual scapegoats, the Legislature, public workers, and reminds us that his beef is not with teachers but the NJEA.

Then comes the Q&A, which may result in a “YouTube” moment, followed by his closing remarks, a heart-wrenching story about visiting his cancer-stricken mother on her deathbed, where she tells him to get back to work because “there's nothing left unsaid between us”. Every town hall ends with this story, and there is barely a dry eye in the house.

Now, I am not in any way mocking Mrs. Christie's untimely death, but I cannot help but wonder, if she was the tough cookie he often describes, would she approve of her son cynically exploiting this intimate mother-son moment to score political points? I am sure my late mother would haunt my ass, big-time, if I pulled a stunt like that.

Note that, ever since the fiasco in Parsippany, where the Governor invited a questioner to the stage, berated him, and had him expelled from the meeting by his State Police detail, there have been no more reports of confrontations at these town halls. Is this the sign of a new, mellowed, improved Chris Christie, or has his staff become more adept at packing the hall with sycophants? Lately the format has featured the Governor performing in-the-round, in a roped-off area resembling a pro wrestling ring.

In my last diary about possible 1st amendment issues with holding one of these town halls at a Catholic church facility, on Ash Wednesday, a Catholic holiday, Blue Jersey staff writer Deciminyan posted the following comment:

Is it time yet to post a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging that these “Town Hall' meetings are really political events and should be funded by Christie's shadow campaign organizations instead of the taxpayer?

Good question. As long as these events continue to be held at a time to maximize a pro-Christie crowd, when it is difficult or impossible for working people to attend, the question remains, are they really “town hall meetings” or partisan campaign events?

If they are the latter, and each one follows the same predictable script, why bother covering them, other than to raise this question and explore possible FEC violations?

Ed Potosnak, Jim Dean, Loretta Weinberg & Jeff Gardner & Me

A few days ago, Democracy for America (DFA), with more than 1 million members, endorsed Ed Potosnak for Congress in NJ’s 7th congressional district. I just want to talk about that for a sec, before anything else. Full disclosure: No secret that there’s crossover here between DFA and Blue Jersey. Jeff Gardner & I are two of the 5 who run the state DFA group. We helped get this endorsement. And both of us will be in central NJ Monday when DFA Chair Jim Dean joins Loretta Weinberg (a 2007 national DFA candidate), and me & Jeff, and a lot of our friends, to campaign with Ed Potosnak. Want to come? Monday’s Columbus Day – a day off for a lot of folks:

11am – Woodbridge: Join us at Ed’s Campaign HQ for canvass kick off followed by Door-to-Door and Phone Banking voter contact.  Address is 115 Main St., Woodbridge.

3pm – Flemington:
At the Hunterdon County Democratic HQ for a rally followed by Door-to-Door and Phone Banking voter contact.  Hunterdon Dem HQ is 200 Main St., Flemington. Parking & entrance in back of Law Office.

4pm – Hunterdon County:  Right now, if you make a contribution of $25 you will be entered to win a seat at the table for a high dollar afternoon supper with Ed, Jim and Senator Loretta Weinberg. Location TBA in Hunterdon County.

Bonus! The runner up will receive a signed copy of Senator Weinberg’s book, What’s Love Got to Do With it? The Case for Same-Sex Marriage (co-authored by Sen. Ray Lesniak). So, contribute $25 to our campaign right now.  Whoa … is that Jay Lassiter in that picture?

I’ll be there. Jeff Gardner will be there. People you know will probably be there. You don’t need to be a DFA member to join us – did you know Ed’s endorsed not only by DFA but also MoveOn? And Stonewall Democrats. And American Federation of Teachers. Have you seen this PSA Ed made for young people like Tyler Clementi?

This is a good guy challenging a first-term incumbent – Leonard Lance – who had 3 Tea Party challengers in the Primary. Voted against the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Terrible record on financial reform and on jobs. We can do better with Ed, high school chemistry teacher who won an Einstein Fellowship that sent him to Washington to work on education policy. Now we want to send him back to Washington. And make it stick.


The 7th District Tour Comes to an End

As we turn the page to August, that means there are just over three months to go until Election Day.  And while we might have wrapped up our week-long tour of the 7th district, our conversation with the voters is just beginning.

On Thursday, we started in Edison, where Robert Riedinger showed me around his independent community pharmacy on Oak Tree Road. Upon entering Devine’s Pharmacy, I was greeted with an official sign welcoming me, which was an incredibly kind gesture I very much appreciated. Our independent pharmacists serve an important role in our communities, as millions of Americans rely upon their health care services. It was very helpful to hear about the issues facing pharmacies like Devine’s, and it reminds us all why we need real reforms in our healthcare system. Together, we must work together to guarantee every American access to quality, affordable health coverage.

Next it was on to Woodbridge, where I joined local supporters at the famous Reo Diner.  It’s always nice to stop in and visit with old friends (and as I’m sure you all know, no campaign tour would be complete without a trip to the Reo).  Like everywhere I’ve traveled around the 7th District, families are struggling in Woodbridge. They’re struggling to afford the rising cost of everything, from gas to food to healthcare. And they need a leader in Washington who will fight for them, and bring the change they so desperately need. I’m running for Congress to bring that change. With your help, I’ll work to get us back on the right track.

The afternoon took me to Summit, where I toured Overlook Hospital. There are some great new facilities which were very exciting to explore and learn more about. Again, I was reminded why our healthcare system needs real reform. Rising costs are a disaster for the middle class, as premiums are skyrocketing and the out-of-pocket expenses are growing everyday.

Meanwhile, healthcare providers are hurting and trying to make ends meet. We need reforms that let us keep our doctors and guarantees choice in coverage, while creating a healthcare system of shared responsibility in which individuals, business, and government must all contribute. In Washington, I’ll work to make sure every American has access to quality, affordable healthcare.

I ended the day and the tour at the Summit Democrats’ Picnic. Summit is lucky to have the strong leadership of Mayor Jordan Glatt, a terrific Democrat and a good friend. Thank you to Chairman Paul Dillon for organizing a wonderful event, full of energized Democrats who are hungry for change. It wonderful to end my tour of the district surrounded by so many passionate supporters!

Americans are ready for change, and it starts here in New Jersey’s 7th District. I know I felt the energy, passion and momentum building behind our campaign for change this past week.  And just because the “official week-long tour” has ended, that doesn’t mean we are slowing down by any stretch of the imagination.

This weekend I will be at the Carpenters Local 715 Annual Picnic in Clark to meet supporters and talk more about all these important issues. Next week, I will also be making stops at the Hot Summer Nights Concert Series in Summit, Seafood Fest in Flemington, the India Day Parade in Edison. I hope to see you there!