Tag Archive: Nia Gill

Sen. Sweeney maneuvers from Pinelands to Gateway Tunnel

Senator Steve Sweeney is a mercurial man who is not adverse to changing his position on a matter nor to taking a non-progressive stance on an issue one day and a progressive stance on another issue the next day. He was against marriage equality until he was in favor of it. He had opposed limiting gun magazine round legislation, but later supported the bill. He urged pension/benefit overhaul in 2011 and now opposes overhaul until the governor makes “a good faith effort” to fully fund the pension system. He supports progressive ideals except when he does not. His changes are not dissimilar to those of some other legislators, but they are significant because he has the power of the senate president and is a likely gubernatorial candidate.

On environmental issues he has sometimes been supportive. However, yesterday he cast a deciding vote blow against protecting the Pinelands. Gov. Christie had earlier failed to reappoint a commissioner who opposed the construction of a 20-mile gas pipeline through this protected area. Instead Christie who wants the pipeline built nominated Robert Barr as a new commissioner. Against loud protests from environmentalists, and only after an initial vote failed, Sweeney swung his support in favor of Mr. Barr who then won confirmation.


What’s Happening Today, Thu. 12/05/2013

Gov. Christie heads to Oklahoma today to support anti-LGBT Gov. Mary Fallin: As GSE points out, she refuses  to process military applications for spousal benefits at state-owned facilities of the Oklahoma National Guard. All applicants, regardless of sexual orientation, can now only apply at federally owned Guard facilities. Oklahoma does not have marriage equality, nor LGBT-inclusive hate crimes laws nor laws barring housing or employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Christie will headline a fundraiser at 6:30 p.m. CST at the Cox Convention Center, Oklahoma City to aid her re-election campaign, and he will attend other events there. After only three days in New Jersey he is off to support a Republican bigot. Get used to it!

Environment New Jersey: 11:30am, with Senate President Steve Sweeney, will hold a press conference and release and discuss a new report at the Statehouse Room 103, Trenton. The report highlights environmental benefits of wind, but points out that the New Jersey off-shore wind program is stuck in neutral.


Four State Senate Committees meet today

Commerce Committee: 1:00pm, Chair Sen. Nia Gill holds a hearing on the State’s recent plan allowing health insurers to decide themselves whether  to continue selling plans which under ACA are considered substandard. Some insurers have already decided not to re-institute these plans. Included in the cancellations are some Medicare Advantage Plans. The good news: the federal health exchange website appears to be working better; the bad news: time is running out to enroll.  

Budget and Appropriations Committee: 1:00pm, Chair Sen. Paul Sarlo plans a vote on S2469 which would create a new category of crime called Cyber Harassment, “which would ban people from using electronic devices and social media to threaten to injure or commit any crime against a person or his property, or send obscene material to or about someone.

Environment & Energy Committee: 10:00am.

Health, Human Services & Senior Citizens Committe: 1:00pm.

For more info go here. To view or listen to the hearings go here.

ELEC: releases today the “twenty-day post-election campaign-finance reports” for the General Election candidates.

What’s Happening Today Mon. 09/30/2013

Countdown to shutdown: As the N. Y. Times reports this morning, “The Senate is expected to reject decisively a House bill that would delay the full effect of President Obama’s health care law as a condition for keeping the government running.” Then it’s back to the House. Will Republicans continue to insist that in order to keep our government open we must delay or end Obamacare, which is not only a law, but has passed Supreme Court muster? Our N. J. Republican Congressmen so far have voted in lock step to defund the ACA in spite of the fact that the Senate will not agree with such action and the President has emphatically said he would veto the bill. Sen. Jeff Chiesa has also joined this pointless quest. In a perverse way both parties have profited from this quagmire by upping their fundraising – the Democrats  reminding their base how stupid the Republicans are acting, and the Republicans extolling their brave stand against the evil Obamacare. It’s no way to run a government, and on that point even Chris Christie is now in agreement.

Public Schedules:  

Buono/Silva gubernatorial campaign: Milly Silva: 6:15pm, Democratic Committee of Bergen Hall Fame Induction, Stony Hill, Hackensack.

Christie/Guadagno gubernatorial campaign: Chris Christie: 4:00pm, “Soul of Hunger” roundtable discussion with the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, Count Basie Theatre, Red Bank; 6:30pm, address members of Laborers’ International Union of North America, Newark.

U. S. Senate candidate Cory Booker: 2:30pm, the New Jersey Democratic State Committee’s Newark field office to thank get-out-the-vote volunteers; evening reception at the home of Tracy Higgins and Jim Leitner, Montclair, RSVP: smaltzman@corybooker.com; 8:30pm, jogging with Montclair Democratic Chairman and Freeholder Brendan Gil, and others, Montclair.

U. S. Senate candidate Steve Lonegan: 7:00pm, Fundraiser, The home of Seth and Avigail Rothenberg, 126 Amsterdam Avenue, Passaic.

Senate President Steve Sweeney, Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Sens. Nia Gill and Raymond Lesniak: noon, a news conference to discuss the latest developments in efforts to make it legal for gay couples to marry in New Jersey, Statehouse Room 103, Trenton. Gov. Christie has said he will appeal the summary judgment which calls for same-sex marriages to commence October 21. He continues to argue for a ballot initiative for this civil rights issue, but the legislature disagrees and will not vote to permit the initiative.

Senate: Noon, quorum call, Senate chamber.

Senate and Assembly environment committees: 10am, joint hearing with testimony about the progress of Superstorm Sandy recovery efforts from Community Affairs Commissioner Richard Constable III and Marc Ferzan, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Recovery and Rebuilding, Committee Room 4, Statehouse Annex. Recovery is far from complete for many who continue to have difficulty navigating through state and federal red tape.

Assembly Health & Senior Services Committee: 10:00am, testimony about “changing health care practices and improvements in access, cost and quality,” Room 16, Statehouse Annex.

Senate Commerce Committee: 10am, Room 6, Statehouse Annex.

U.S. Rep. Rush Holt: 9:00am, hosts a workshop to help small-business owners understand the health reform law, East Brunswick Library. The NJ Health exchange opens tomorrow. To become a member at the earliest date, January 1, 2014, people must enroll by by December 31. To learn more about the exchange and whether you qualify, go to this federal website.

Open thread: Add an event taking place today of interest to our readers, or email items for this column the evening before to BillOrr563@gmail.com

What’s Happening Today Wed. 09/11/2013

Coming to rescue Steve Lonegan: It’s a bird… it’s a plane… It’s Americans for Prosperity… with a press release that claims,”Hard-working families in New Jersey are suffocated enough by high taxes and high electric bills yet Senator Buono wants to pile on even more by re-imposing the job-destroying RGGI electricity tax.” Big surprise from AFP bosses, the Koch brothers, who have become fabulously wealthy in the energy business. However, their attack on RGGI and Buono is lame. Lonegan started his campaiign in August with only $150,000. Now with five weeks left the big spenders (aka Independent Expenditure funders) have reported doling out only $2,600 for their man. Add to that the cost of the press release.

Barbara Buono’s vision for urban communities: a common-sense, progressive plan. Read a one-page summary that highlights eight key measures.

Democratic Legislators announce their members of the ACA Task force: With indifference (and hostility) from Gov. Christie and many Republicans, and with insufficient funding, the State has a steep, hard road to climb in its efforts to enroll New Jerseyans into health insurance. The exchanges are scheduled to open January 1, 2014. Sen. Nia Gill (D-34) says, “Our goal as a state must be to ensure that the 1.3 million uninsured, the underinsured and small businesses seeking affordable options are able to access quality coverage.”

Likely voters give Booker a large lead: Today’s Rutgers/Eagleton poll indicates, “Cory Booker now holds a 64% – 29% lead over Steve Lonegan. No matter how we slice the sample Booker is doing very well.”

Where were you today 12 years ago? I was in a Newark office building with a view of Manhattan watching what was happening – at first hard to believe and then horriffying. A timely reminder as Americans contemplate yet another intervention in the Middle East.

Public Schedules:

Buono/Silva gubernatorial campaign: Barbara Buono: 8:30am, with Fairview Police Chief Frank Del Vecchio, Second Annual 9/11 Remembrance Run, Ridgewood Duck Pond, East Ridgewood Ave., Ridgewood. She will run the first six miles toward the World Trade Center.

Christie/Guadagno gubernatorial campaign: Gov. Christie: 6:30am, with NJ families of 9/11 victims, Liberty State Park, Jersey City; 8:15am, World Trade Center Remembrance Ceremony, WTC; 7:00pm, an ecumenical service, Christian Love Baptist Church, Irvington. Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno: 8:00am, Essex Remembers 9/11 Ceremony, Eagle Rock Reservation; 6:00pm, a 9/11 wreath laying ceremony, Old Bridge.

Senate candidate Steve Lonegan: 1:00pm. news conference to denounce the Common Core federal curriculum mandates on local public schools, outside the state Department of Education building, Trenton.

Email items for this column the evening before to BillOrr563@gmail.com

Video: Weinberg, Lesniak, Sweeney, Gill & Buono join ACLU & GSE in Kean Jr.’s district

Here’s video of a visit marriage equality allies in the NJ Senate – Steve Sweeney, Nia Gill, Barbara Buono, Loretta Weinberg & Ray Lesniak – made with the chiefs of ACLU-NJ and Garden State Equality, Udi Ofer and Troy Stevenson, to the Westfield home of Liz Flanagan and Nancy Wilkinson. Westfield is district home base of Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. (Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick, too) and the group was there – with Flanagan, Wilkinson, their son and grandkids – to urge Kean to release his caucus to vote their conscience on this.

Kean seemed to take it as lecturing, which is a shame. I hope he takes the suggestion they made that he visit with the family privately – they’re his constituents, after all – and let’s them tell him what this means to them. July 11, they celebrate 30 years together.

NJ Senate Dems sent around this video:

Weekend Poll: Sen. Buono’s L.G. Selection

Shortly after next week’s primaries, Sen. Barbara Buono will announce her Lieutenant Governor running mate.

So far there has been a lot of speculation, but no one even near being a front runner. This year all 120 State  legislative seats are up for grabs, and no one running for the Legislature can simultaneously run for L. G. In today’s Star-Ledger, Jarrett Renshaw speculates on the kind of choices available.

Whom would you like Sen. Buono to select?

Below the fold are some possible candidates, but feel free to add another candidate and let us know why you like the person for the job.

Chris Christie’s Race to the Bottom

By opting out of state-run health exchanges, Governor Christie shows that he is fiscally irresponsible as well as uncaring for the 99%. His actions will hurt businesses and consumers alike.

When Governor Christie vetoed the establishment of state-run health insurance exchanges, and instead opted for federally-run exchanges, he established the fact that he will settle for the lowest common denominator instead of striving for excellence for the people of New Jersey. This blatantly political move not only hurts the uninsured, but will have a detrimental financial impact on New Jersey’s businesses.

By opting for federally-run exchanges, Christie is foregoing millions of federal dollars that would be used to inform and aid the populace in signing up for and utilizing the benefits of the Affordable Care Act.

By contrast, Maryland, with a population about two-thirds of that of the Garden State, will receive about $34 per uninsured person for outreach and information services, while New Jersey’s take from the federal coffers will be about $2 per uninsured citizen. The difference? Maryland has established a state-run exchange which, in turn, opens up federal funding for these outreach programs.

But the dollars and cents don’t just affect these awareness programs. The way Christie has grudgingly implemented “Obamacare” will hurt businesses too. With fewer insured people, workers will stay sick longer, absenteeism will rise, and those ill workers who opt to stay on the job while sick will infect their co-workers, resulting in even more inefficient and absent personnel. Some will die. Others will use the emergency room and charity care as a last resort. Even ignoring the moral imperative of ubiquitous health care, these numbers are not part of the balance sheet that Christies’s bean counters work from.

Assemblyman Herb Conaway, MD, who spearheaded the now-futile effort to establish locally-run exchanges, has introduced a bill (A-3878) to require the Department of Banking and Insurance to take the lead in a public awareness campaign using the meager funds that are available. The bill passed the Assembly, mostly on party lines, and was introduced in the Senate by Nia Gill. It’s now sitting at the Senate Commerce Committee, awaiting hearing.

Assuming the bill is heard and passed in the Senate, what will Chris Christie do? Will he continue to block the inevitable reform of health care at the cost of the health of our citizens? Or will he do the right thing and sign this watered-down attempt to help inform people about their health care options? I won’t hold my breath waiting for Christie to do the right thing.

On Mark Alexander, Nia Gill, and Voltaire

In his recent diary here, Professor Mark Alexander chose to use a quote uttered by his opponent, Senator Nia Gill, when she tried to justify her lack of support on the limitation of ammunition magazine size as part of the gun safety debate.

Gill said, “We cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

According to the Google machine, this quote is attributable to Voltaire, a French philosopher who plagiarized the idea from Italian sages.

As an engineer, who was trained to always look for the optimum solution to a problem and has worked in the corporate world for over four decades, I often heard my bosses invoke this quote in order to meet cost, schedule, or performance on a myriad of projects.

Despite the way the Tea Party views the world, the world is not black and white. We can strive for perfection while realizing that we will never get there. We will never be able to eliminate all accidental or criminal gun murders, but does Senator Gill’s use of Voltaire’s line mean we are doing enough? How close to perfection can we come?

Let’s take a look at another area, where we have come very close to perfection:  America’s commercial aviation system. Thanks to investment in upgrades to our air traffic control system, strict ongoing training for flight crews, and other government regulations, a person could fly every day for 123,000 years before being in a fatal crash. If the fatality rate for air travel were the same as the fatality rate for gun owners, people would be enraged and demand action.

We should take the same tack with gun safety. There’s no logical or legal reason we need 15-round magazines. Heck, even 10 is too much. When the Second Amendment was crafted, shooters had to reload after each shot. As we heard from the Newtown parents this week in Trenton, some of their kids would still be alive today if the terrorist had not had easy access to high-capacity magazines. Maybe he could have obtained them illegally, but why make it easy for him?

It’s up to our leaders like Senator Gill to work toward perfection while being willing to accept a reasonable compromise. After sitting through the Newtown parents’ press conference, I can only conclude that the abandonment of the magazine size limitation is not such a compromise.

While the perfect may be the enemy of the good, without striving for perfection we are settling for mediocrity. Is that what we elect our leaders for?

An Unfortunate Honor

Up top again today, in honor of the six-month anniversary of the killings by gun at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Video below the fold. Promoted by Rosi.

As she approached the podium in a small conference room festooned with intermingled tripods and television cameras, Nelba Márquez-Greene described her appearance at a Trenton press conference as “an unfortunate honor.”

Márquez-Greene is the mother of Ana – a child brutally murdered with an assault weapon at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut last December.

The event, sponsored by the New Jersey General Assembly leadership, was to call attention to one particular issue in the gun safety debate – the size of ammunition magazines.

Currently, New Jersey law limits magazine capacity to 15 rounds. Several Assembly members and Senators are pushing to lower that to 10 rounds – the same parameter that was in effect until the Federal assault weapon bill expired.