Tag Archive: statehouse

Video Recap of #NJEdMarch27

Pulling this back up top again. Two reasons: It went up late yesterday after sensible people had already closed their computers. Also, it’s just that good. – REE

There’s something happening here …

On Thursday of this week, there was a statewide rally in support of public education in Trenton at the Statehouse. There were student activists, parents, community members, teachers … and some of our NJ legislators stepped out of the statehouse to join. Here’s a video recap. Please share this on Facebook and your social networks. Thanks much.

#NJEdMarch27 from Ronen Kauffman on Vimeo.

Photos: #NJEdMarch27 Rally for Public Education at the Statehouse

Here are the first photos I have from #NJEdMarch27, the statewide rally for public education, going on right now at the Statehouse in Trenton. I’ll be updating:

Newark is here, big-time – 5 buses of Newark students, parents and community members outraged at the insulting treatment of the city’s students, teachers and community of Gov. Christie’s appointed superintendent Cami Anderson, and her poorly-conceived ‘One Newark’ school plan. Included are a delegation from Newark Students Union, and their teachers and school board. Student teachers are there. Rutgers is there. Also from Newark, Councilman and mayoral candidate (and Central HS principal, on leave) Ras Baraka. South Jersey parents and teachers, Highland Park, Hunterdon, Camden, Trenton and more. Bonnie Watson Coleman is there, and so is Tom Giblin.

Photos by: @NewarkStudents, @mariecorfield, @BlackWomanTeach, @rcabanas27, @NwkParentsUnion, @dangold, @AFTNJ, @NJEA. Thanks to all.

NJ Stand Up Rally in the Rain

I’ve been called a Klansman twice. I’ve walked past the part of West State Street that the Tea Party has staked for itself and been given the finger by a lady whose friends probably think she has better manners than that.

rally2Right now, still raining, I’m under a tiny overhang in front of a beautiful building, laptop poised on lap. The state house is a sea of red, and umbrellas being bent backwards in the wind.

rally3A few minutes ago, Sharonda Allen (that’s her on the right, with teacher and Assembly candidate in NJ-23 Marie Corfield) had a little moment with one of the counter-protesters. He was carrying a picture of Barack Obama with a Hitler moustache. She asked him to remove the moustache from the president’s picture. He replied, “That’s Charlie Chaplin! His moustache!” And she told him she’s a history teacher (in East Orange) and that moustache is meant to convey Adolf Hitler, and further that he knows it. We walked away. Peaceful rally, no matter what they do. Rally 1

I just ran into Blue Jersey’s Bill Orr, who took note of some of the counter-protesters signs – we’ll try to file that as soon as we can. He tells me Steve Lonegan of Americans for Prosperity –  the Koch Brothers-funded group that sits to Gov. Christie’s right – just thanked his crowd, a handful of people, for coming. And so it goes.

Just now, as the Secretary-Treasurer of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO walked up to the podium, the Tea Party folks tried to drown her out with America the Beautiful.  


Star-Ledger doubles statehouse bureau staff

Star-Ledger announced some news of the own last night. They’re doubling their staff at their statehouse bureau to cover Gov. Christie, the legislature, and the NJ Supreme Court. And, for their part, Politicker is launching their State Street Wire March 1. More coverage isn’t necessarily better coverage. And we compete with both, for readers and to provide context for those readers. But I’m glad to see this happen in commercial news coverage because they’ve taken a lot of hits over the last few years, and both the Ledger and politicker have, and I read them both.

Three years ago, Star-Ledger laid off 40% of its newsroom staff, which the New York Times noted at the time was one of the largest reductions in a single move by a major American paper. The Times had just had its own round of editorial layoffs – a first for the Times – and was soon to lay off another 100 newsroom staff, and the national paper of record no longer covers New Jersey news as closely as it once did. Across the country newsrooms were and are hurting; advertising down, and costs up – from bedrock papers like the Times and Ledger to smaller, locally-essential weeklies. The Delaware Valley News, which covered the river towns along the New Jersey and Pennsylvania banks of the Delaware, closed three years ago too – the first paper I ever worked for. Around the same time, Politicker’s national expansion took a dive, shutting down 12 state sites. (Juan Melli, who became Associate Editor at politicker.com 3 years after founding Blue Jersey, was out with that round of layoffs).

With massive shifts in editorial staffing have come changes, new ventures like newjerseynewsroom.com, formed out of the ruins of the Star-Ledger layoffs by journalists whose experience “adds up to over 1,000 years”. And into the reporting void, hyperlocals are springing up to catch news a new way, in very focused geographical areas. Citizen’s Campaign’s new NJ Hyperlocal News Association is helping hyperlocals develop, an effort Blue Jersey is involved in, in our own small way.

The latest bad news for newspapers came in a one-two punch over the last few days. It was the last day at work for nearly half of Gannett’s editorial staff with job losses at Courier News, Home News Tribune and Daily Record. One of those let go, Daily Record’s political columnist Fred Snowflack, who outed himself as a Democrat on his way out the door. And – bad timing – that bill that would allow municipalities to post legal notices on their websites rather than requiring them to pay newspapers for the service. Newspapers, the Star-Ledger in the lead, are charging that this is less a cost-cutting option for government and less an effort by government to control their content and cripple them financially. Jury’s still out on that one, for me.

So, I’m liking new reporting muscle at the state house. Good luck, Star-Ledger. Politicker too. Good luck.

A Tick Tock on Medical Marijuana

Two questions I get a lot lately are “what’s the deal with medical marijuana?” and “what’s going on with Jay Lassiter?”

This video should answer both, complete with a timeline for when seriously ill people can expect some relief.

Feel free to spread the word.  If you like what you see, head over to the iwitnessnNJ YouTube page and hit “subscribe.”

Blue Jersey Celebrates the Inaugurals

(Trenton) — I wanted to share some of the flavor from today's Inaugural festivities.  Kinda like the Assembly itself, our latest Vlog is a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll.  Enjoy!

I had a major video crash today and lost some great footage. Apologies to Grace Spencer and Wayne DeAngelo who were so kind to say hello.

(Note to self: when it comes to video you're NOBODY unless you've had your first painful crash.)  

Last day of the Legislative Session


IMG_2464ASSEMBLY TODAY, SENATE TOMORROW: Jim Whelan takes a last look around the Assembly chamber. His new gig starts tomorrow.

FINAL TALLY?: after some armtwisting into double over time the final score is forthcoming (It's 6:37pm and we are in triple overtime)

Update 8 6:15 SCHOOL FUNDING VOTE: it LOOKS like a TIE!!!!! Sacco — i think — cast the 20th vote! It's hard to see/hear everything going on via the video feed, but I can tell you the tension is exquisite in the Senate chambers. Everyone is looking intently at the scoreboard. Too stunned to speak. Can this be right? What's the rule on a tie?

Update 7 6pm, Sen. Kyrillos is being a pit bull and for good reason. This funding bill is a total bumrush. So what if I agree the GOP sometimes?

Update 6 5pm. More school funding debate. Wowza. Nia Gill is giving a command performance. Legislators making the most sense IMHO: Lance, Gill, Rice and even James (swear!)

Update 5 4:20p. This school funding debate is driving me to drink.

Update 4 2:50, Judges-get-a-raise-Act passed 51-26-3

Update 3, 1:50a.  The Greenhouse gas emissions act passed Assembly over the dissent of GOP members who fancy global warming a myth.  Thank God they are in the minority of the minority

Update 2, 1:31p.  the Senate hasn't even begun their pre-chambers caucus meeting.  Yawn.  On the bright side Reed Gusciora's E-waste bill sailed through Assembly along with recycling enhancement.  (I am chilling on the lower house in the meantime…)

Update 1 12:30, we'll be an hour last getting off the mark.  That's not atypical.  Good thing I am not a cab driver with the meter running.

Today is the last day of the session and there's a boatloat of legislation up for vote in both chambers.  

On the docket in the lower house: school funding, recycling/e-waste, judicial saleries, gun/ammo regulations, an apology for slavery, and a bullying/hatecrimes bill (PASSED!!)

Since I can't be in two places at once — and both votes commence at noon — I'll be chillin' in the upperhouse, namely since they have a highspeed wireless I can fish off of.  (Go figure?)

Here's specifically what I have my eye on:

  • S-2976, Greenhouse gas emissions act
  • S-4000, the school fund formula act
  • S-554, the E-Waste Act
  • S-557, Recycling Enhancement Act
  • S-2748, Judicial Pay
  • S-2470 Ammo regulations.  

    It promises to be a juicy last day.  I'll do my best to milk every last drop.

  • Workers Rally at the Statehouse


    unionUFCW #152 is hosting a Statehouse rally in a few minutes to highlight the plight of heathcare workers in the wake of recent Medicaid cuts in Washington.  Total cuts for NJ over the past two years is around $46m.  Or about a $2 cut, per Medicaid patient, per visit.  And that is for the poorest of the poor.


    OUCH!  No wonder the state's budget is in shambles, with all the wacky (unfunded) mandates and penny-penching out of the Whitehouse. 

      Claire Galiano, of UFCW's healthcare division says that medical workers (especially nurses and nursing home staff) are increasingly called upon to do more with less.

      “With less” meaning less supplies (!), less flexibility, less support staff, less job security, less benefits and so on.

      Ms. Galiano: “We are here to get the attention of our legislators to re-examine the Medicaid cuts from the past several years.

      The rally — complete with a band, refreshments, and a massive crowd — is set to begin shortly.  But the feeling of solidarity is paplable and very very exciting.

      So I'm gonna go absorb the atmosphere a bit and take some photos which I'll share shortly. 

      In the meantime, POWER TO THE PEOPLE!

    Update 1:30pm The reggae band is still jammin' away.  I LOVE THIS!  A few legislators took time to come out and stand with the workers.  I spotted Weinberg, Baroni and Huttle.  Asw. Huttle, fresh off a primary win, said her presence was about showing “compassion and sensitivity.  As this generation gets older we have to give back.”

    She went on:  “we have a moral issue to protect seniors and a legal obligation to not leave the healthcare workers understaffed.  They certainly don't deserve to be shortchanged.”

    Amen to that.