Tag Archive: Declan O’Scanlon

Oh, Canada!

Canadian Maple Leaf Flag

Even with Obamacare, affordable access to high quality medical care in many developed nations is better than what most Americans experience. Now Canada is extending this availability to certain patients with terminal diseases who choose to die in dignity. After…
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QoTD – Jersey Girls are Perfectly Competent to Pump their own Gas Edition

Usually, Republican Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon and I are on opposite sides of political arguments. But recently, he and I are in sync on two issues. First, he’s a sponsor of the compassionate Death with Dignity Act. But secondly, what attracts the attention of more New Jerseyans, is that he is in favor of changing our laws to allow self-service at gasoline pumps. When asked about the opponents to self-serve, he is quoted in the New York Times as saying,

“The only way to win that argument is if you make a legislative argument that New Jerseyans are more flammable than other people.”

“They are a little more volatile. We consume a lot more greasy boardwalk food and funnel cakes, so maybe we are.”

Trying to Make Christie look like a Good Steward of the Economy

Following this morning’s Assembly Budget Committee hearing with the Director of the Office of Legislative Services, in the afternoon, the committee heard from the New Jersey State Treasurer and Christie confidante, Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff.

While the morning session was non-confrontational, the presence of about half again more press and observers was probably due to the expectation of discord between the Treasurer and the Democratic committee members. For a while, that was not to be. Only close to the end of the session did the Treasure make some political statements, and to be excoriated for that by the Committee Chairman, Assemblyman Gary Schaer.

Sidamon-Eristoff’s opening statement could have been a list of debate points developed for Governor Christie’s presidential campaign. It painted a rosy picture of New Jersey’s economy and the “accomplishments” of the Christie administration. Of note was one area of “saving” – $140 million dollars in budget reduction for hospital charity care. When asked why, the treasurer noted that this was due to thousands of New Jerseyans now able to get health insurance whereas they could not in prior years. And he did this without once uttering the words “Affordable Care Act” or “Obamacare.”

Partisanship: The Schrödinger’s Cat of #NJAssembly

Nothing says partisanship more than voting against your conscience because your party leader wants you to.  We saw that two years ago during the fight for marriage equality when a significant number of moderate Republicans voted against an override of Governor Christie’s veto, even though they leaned in favor of the bill.

Today, in the New Jersey Assembly, we saw several variants of partisanship. Some good, some not so good.

Bipartisanship: The Assembly unanimously passed a bill to promote better transparency in the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The bill is identical to one passed by the New York legislature (also unanimously) and is a “no-brainer” start toward fixing this patronage pit. So while the Governor has vetoed unanimous or near-unanimous legislation in the past, he’s likely to sign this simply to enhance his presidential aspirations. A veto would be used by his GOP opponents to highlight the cronyism in the Christie administration.

Cross-partisanship (a/k/a bipartisanship lite): The “Aid in Dying for the terminally Ill Act” passed in the Assembly today by a vote of 41 to 31. While it was generally supported by Democrats and opposed by Republicans, there were several crossovers on both sides. GOP Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, who usually carries Chris Christie’s water, told an impassioned story about his conversation with his father, a psychiatrist, and how that resulted in a “yes” vote. Several Democrats voted against the bill, and given the vote count, there’s no way this bill will survive the governor’s veto (assuming it even gets through the Senate.)

Orwellian-partisanship: I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. One Republican Assemblyman said he was opposed to the Aid in Dying bill because he felt that politicians should not get between doctors and patients.

Jersey City Mayor’s Race: What Makes a Democrat a Democrat?

Promoted back up top, because this was posted late-late last night. – Rosi

It’s difficult to imagine a Republican getting elected as the mayor of Jersey City*, the largest city in true blue Hudson County. So what are conservatives to do when they want to make inroads in the Democratic stronghold? (You know, other than call Union City Mayor and Chris Christie Superfan Brian Stack.) They find a Democrat who can be wooed.

At least that’s what seems to be happening in Hudson County, where current councilman and long-time mayoral hopeful Steven Fulop is attempting to unseat incumbent Jerramiah Healy. And despite having run and served as a Democrat throughout his career in Jersey City, Fulop is receiving funding and political support from his connections among Monmouth County Republicans. This story first emerged in December when it was revealed that a former Executive Director of the NJ Republican State Party and counsel to the Romney campaign  – Brian Nelson – had been soliciting contributions for a Fulop fundraiser. Then, this week, Monmouth County Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon pushed out a press blast specifically targeting Jersey City’s use of red light cameras, despite the fact that such cameras are in use throughout the state and in municipalities much closer to O’Scanlon’s than Jersey City.

All of this comes months after a leaked email from Fulop revealed that he was meeting secretly with Christie’s Commissioner of Education Chris Cerf and Fulop’s hand-picked Board of Education members. Cerf, who is also a registered Democrat, is at the forefront of the Republican agenda of privatizing public schools and union busting. True, Democrats aren’t generally known for their hostility toward organized labor and wanting to reduce children and teachers to test scores; but that doesn’t seem to phase folks like Cerf, or apparently Fulop.

Jerramiah Healy’s imperfections as a mayor and candidate are not a secret, but his accomplishments don’t get nearly enough attention. And his challenger’s associations dash the notion that Fulop is somehow a more pure or forthright alternative. Why would Republicans from another county want to see him in office, enough to help with both their money and political cover? Fulop has long shouldered accusations of careerism, and getting help from those who seek to undo the work of the Democratic party doesn’t help him shake that cloud.

(* Jersey City’s last Republican mayor was Bret Schundler – Christie’s first Education Commissioner and Race to the Top blunder scape goat – in 1992. He had been the city’s first Republican mayor since 1917.)

Questions for the Acting Education Commissioner

Yesterday, I posted the opening remarks delivered by Acting Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf at the Assembly Budget Committee.

Following his remarks, there were several hours of questions and answers. The videos posted here are in two parts – the morning session below, and the afternoon session below the fold.

I don’t expect anyone except the most fervent edunerds (thanks for the term, Rosi) to watch the whole thing, but below the fold is an index of the initial appearance of your favorite assemblycritters.

The discussion falls into three categories:

  • Political posturing

  • Kowtowing to special interests

  • Dealing with local constituent issues

There was no real discussion on the merits (or otherwise) of charter schools, funding religious schools, or the education-industrial complex. To be fair, this was a budget hearing, not a hearing of the Education Committee. But things like sending taxpayer dollars to unaccountable for-profit entities and religious institutions do have an impact on the budget, especially when the outcomes are so nebulous.

The Real Coming Hurricane

Unless you’re living in a cave and are cut off from the outside world, you probably are aware that a hurricane is coming to New Jersey. The press coverage is relentless, and credit should be given to those reporters who are providing helpful hints on how to deal with the pending disaster.

By all accounts, Irene is predicted to be one of the worst natural disasters to hit New Jersey in a long time. There will be millions of dollars of damage, lots of inconvenience as we are diverted from our daily routine, and, tragically an inevitable loss of life.

Bill to Decriminalize small amounts of Marijuana garners 18 co-sponsors.

22,439 people were arrested in New Jersey for possessing less than 50 grams* of cannabis in 2009.

FreedomIsGreen.Com, a local blog devoted to advancing more enlightened cannabis policy in New Jersey is reporting an an intriguing new bill on the Assembly docket that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana in the Garden State.

The bill, which already has 18 co-sponsors (5 from the GOP) was introduced by Assemblymen Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer) and Michael Patrick Carroll (R-Morris), the same bi-partisan duo that introduced the state’s nascent medical marijuana law.

Sometimes the Real Story is Hidden Right Under our Nose

I attended the Assembly Budget Committee hearings today on the impact of Governor Christie’s cuts to programs that provide real and necessary support to the state’s children. We heard heart-wrenching stories of kids with multiple disabilities whose safety net had been yanked out from under them. I heard everything one would expect from a session like this.

Assemblywomen Vanieri Huttle and Watson-Coleman passionately argued for restoration of funds for the kids. Assemblyman Chiusano argued that the Governor’s balanced budget had to have top priority.  There were not-so-relevant arguments over procedure from Assemblymen O’Scanlon and Bucco. And there was a poignant question to Chairman Greenwald from a blind tot, “Can I get my Braille (teacher) now?”