Tag Archive: Bergen Grassroots

Remembering a friend and progressive

promoted by Rosi – I also admired Paul Eisenman

Just a short diary as anyone who has been involved in Bergen County (or probably north Jersey) politics has come across Paul Eisenman at one time or another.  I found out late Sunday night that Paul passed away earlier that day, and although I probably hadn’t seen him in a year or so, I considered him a friend and someone to look up to.

Paul is probably best known for either Bergen Grassroots, which I believe was the chapter up here for Democracy for America – or his tireless work to bring pay-to-play reform to Bergen County.  The stain on the County from the pay-to-play politics had Paul seek out those in either party who would end this practice in Bergen.  His passion – even when I first met him when he was close to 80 years old – was something to admire.  His charisma drew me in as we worked on a few District wide issues over a 3-4 year period and I will always remember him fondly.

There is a lot more that can be said about Paul, but I’ll leave it at that – he was a man that I knew for a few short years, but he taught me a lot during that time and was a pleasure to talk to, learn from and be around.

He will most certainly be missed.

A Recap from the Dais

promoted by Rosi

cross posted from http://retiregarrett.com

Last evening, Bergen Grassroots and the Ethical Cultural Society of Bergen County hosted a debate for the candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for Congress in the 5th District.  The two candidates in attendance were Jason Castle and LaRouche Democrat Diane Sare.   The third candidate, Adam Gussen was not in attendance.  I was the “moderator” of the debate.  I say “moderator” because I did not ask the questions – in fact I only posed a single question to the candidates.  Rather it was my challenge to call on members of the audience so that they could ask their questions.  Why I make this distinction will become evident as I recap the events of the evening.

Both candidates had two minutes for opening remarks.  I’ve seen both of these candidates speak on several occasions and they both remained true to form.   Castle spoke about his military experience and that for him running for Congress was a natural extension of his desire to serve the country.  Sare then made her opening remarks.  She said that she was running to see some very specific things done in Washington.  She called for the restoration of Glass-Steagall which was repealed in 1999 (Glass-Steagall was legislation passed during the Great Depression which created a separation between investment and commercial banks).  She further called for the impeachment of President Obama for going to war in Libya without Congressional authorization and the implementation of NAWAPA – an idea conceived in the 1950′s to would bring water down from Alaska to the “lower 48.”

Calling Adam Gussen: Where Are You?

A funny thing happened on the way to the forum. Three candidates for Congress in the 5th CD agreed to participate in tonight’s event sponsored by Bergen Grassroots at Teaneck’s Ethical Culture Society: Marine veteran Jason Castle, Teaneck Deputy Mayor Adam Gussen, and LaRouche Democrat Diane Sare. Then yesterday Adam Gussen abruptly backed out of the forum. Two calls to his office asking why he will not attend have received no response.

NortherJersey.com reports, Gussen said he was notified last minute of a work meeting. Gussen said he had no choice. “I’m not ducking or dodging anyone.” Paul Eisenman, Chair of Bergen Grassroots, sponsor of the event, said this morning Gussen’s explanation “strains credulity.” Upon learning yesterday that Gussen said he would not attend, Eisenman sent him an email saying, “Since you are presenting this as an occasion that ‘would jeopardize my ability to provide for my family,’ I now conclude that your employment can make demands upon your time on a weekday at about 7:30pm and you only get to know about that demand 36 hours in advance of the occasion. I’ll report that to our audience tomorrow evening. Our many Teaneck members will undoubtedly not be surprised by this behavior.” And while providing for one’s family is all-important, one wonders whether seeking the office of Congressman would not be sufficient for being excused from one night’s work.  

Jason  Castle responded to the sudden withdrawal, saying, “This primary is an opportunity for voters to meet the candidates, learn about the issues, and decide who will be the strongest candidate in November and the best advocate in Congress. To win this district, our nominee will need the dedication to spread the message, meet the voters and present a clear contrast with Scott Garrett when they debate.”  

While Jason Castle earned the Democratic Party Line in Sussex and Warren Counties, Adam Gussen won the uncontested Bergen County line which represents the majority of voters. Nonetheless, Adam Gussen’s candidacy has no official website nor active facebook page and has filed no financial report with the Federal Election Commission. Also with little apparent campaigning, Gussen is relying perhaps on the Democratic Committee of Bergen County’s endorsement and their efforts to carry the day for him.

Another funny thing happened on the way to the forum. Paul Eisenman when planning the event initially invited the two commonly known candidates – Jason Castle and Adam Gussen – and he was unaware of Diane Sare’s candidacy. Her LaRouche supporters vociferously demanded that Sare be included in forum. Eisenman said, “It’s a distraction to include her. How on earth can a person who believes President Obama is a clone of Adolph Hitler seek a position on the same ballot with Obama? Nonetheless, as a worshipper of Voltaire’s philosophy, I have no recourse but to welcome her as an equal to the forum.”

In a further comment Castle added, “I hope and expect there will be a time for Adam and I to stand next to each other and each present our case for the honor and responsibility of this nomination.”  Alas, such will not be the case tonight, where there will be an empty seat on the podium. For further information on the event go here, although it may not be updated to reflect the absence of candidate Gussen.  

Bergen County Pay-To-Play Marching Band

When I was a young boy,

My father took me into the city

To see a marching band…

He said “Will you defeat them,

The plans that they have made?”

My Chemical Romance: The Black Parade

Last week six of the seven Bergen County Freeholders, both Democrats and Republicans, joined the band. You marched in unison to the Pay-To-Play music – to “the disappointed faces of your peers.” Paul Eisenman, Director of Bergen Grassroots (a progressive political organization aligned with Democracy for America), said, “It’s depressing to find elected officials from both parties conspiring to deprive the public of real pay-to-play reform.”

The hoped for sea change last November with voters throwing out Democrats and placing a majority of Republicans on the BC Board has produced only more of the same. On September 7 six freeholders voted during a first of three readings to support a plan that provides minor improvements but continues the so-called “fair and open process” which is so vague that it perpetuates pay-to-play – particularly among moneyed professionals. Heather Taylor of the Citizens Campaign, which also advocates for campaign finance reform, points out “Business entities will be able to give up to the current limit, which is $37,000 – that’s per year to a county party. That would be continuing business as usual.” State law permits the “fair and open process” loophole, but it should be ended. With no sign of legislators rescinding it, the simplest method of stopping pay-to-play in county and municipal government is to adopt the Citizens Campaign model ordinance for public contracting.

Without citizen activists quickly contacting their freeholders the answer to the question posed in the lyrics, “Will you defeat them, The plans that they have made?” is an emphatic NO! And this Band will continue marching to the tune of those who seek government business by making large donations, in concert with the politicians who acquiesce and wallow in the spoils.  

Livestreaming the RGGI Debate

Tonight, the Sierra Club’s Jeff Tittel and Americans for Prosperity’s Steve Lonegan are debating the merits of New Jersey’s (soon to be non-) participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. I’ll be there, but I thought I’d post the live stream for those interested who can’t make it.

The debate is scheduled for 7p, but if it hasn’t quite started yet, you probaby have time to check out a description of the event, and extensive links with background information on RGGI, Click Here. Then, sit back, relax, and enjoy the fireworks:

Live broadcast by Ustream

RGGI Debate: Lonegan v. Tittel (but so much more)

Remember RGGI? That’s the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative – the first real effort nationally to implement a “cap and trade” system in an effort to use market forces to reduce greenhouse gases. By most accounts, the program has been a success, raising hundreds of millions of dollars, while reducing carbon emissions, in ten northeastern states controlled by both democrats and republicans.

It really didn’t seem too controversial in the Garden State, until this Spring, when Gov. Christie pulled NJ out of the program, a move most observers called pandering to a right-wing national audience, and which infuriated environmental groups. It got even more controversial when Democratic Sen. Paul Sarlo showed up for a press conference with “Americans for Prosperity” chief, Steve Lonegan, to announce his opposition to RGGI as well. Sarlo was soon followed by Sen. Nick Sacco and Sen. Jeff Van Drew in supporting the Christie move.

This prompted Sen. Barbara Buono (hey, why didn’t they poll her against Christie the other day?) to write a post here on Blue Jersey calling out what she saw as a huge mistake, and other democrats in the Senate and Assembly to propose blocking Christie’s move. Obviously, divisions within the party had begun, even before all the allegations about “fake democrats” and “Christiecrats” caught fire during the pension and budget battles.

Confused yet? I confess, I could use some education on the subject. So, I’m looking forward to next Wednesday’s forum: Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative: Asset or Liability for New Jersey?, featuring none other than AFP’s Steve Lonegan and the Sierra Club’s Jeff Tittel. (Professor Alain L. Sanders, a member of the Political Science Department of St. Peter’s College, will moderate the discussion.)

It’s next Wednesday, July 27, 2011 from 7 to 9pm at the Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County, 687 Larch Ave, Teaneck, NJ, presented by Bergen Grassroots (DFA). See some of you there, and maybe just maybe we’ll learn a few things – about RGGI, and about where our state is headed.

What would Howard do?

Last month, I received an interesting message from a Bergen County official:

What a shame this organization [Bergen Grassroots] has come to this.  Early on I thought it was a group that could make a difference and worked with them.  Very childish.  Not what Governor Dean had in mind I’m guessing.

The message was a response to an email sent by Paul Eisenman, Chairman of Bergen Grassroots, the local chapter of Democracy for America (DFA) which I co-founded. The purpose of Mr. Eisenman’s email was to rally grassroots activists to protest BCDO Chairman Joe Ferriero’s hastily called January 31st vote to alter the BCDO bylaws in a way that would have given him complete control over the party line. (Amazingly, the changes to the bylaws were defeated despite Mr. Ferriero’s committee purges of 2006.)

Remember Iraq?

It may not run as the lead story much lately, but if recent BlueJersey diaries are any indication, what happens in Iraq matters in New Jersey.

So, starting this week, NJ for Democracy, local DFA groups and others are sponsoring a series of forums across New Jersey on strategies for ending the quagmire in Iraq. The forums feature panels of politicians, academics, veterans, and other experts, bringing a broad range of experience and perspective to the table.

The series begins this Thursday, August 3rd in Clifton when a panel featuring Rep. William J. Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-8), Rutgers Professor Lloyd C. Gardner, and NJ Veterans for Peace President Ken Dalton addresses whether Iraq is the new Vietnam, and seeks strategies for ending the war. The event is co-sponsored by Passaic County DFA and City Belt.

It continues Saturday, August 5th in Morristown with a panel featuring Senator Robert Menendez, Congressional Candidate Tom Wyka, Veterans Activist Joe Attamante, and Amanda Schroeder, sister of a fallen soldier, addressing issues of accountability and security. The event is co-sponsored by Morris DFA/PDA and NWNJ for Democracy, and hosted by Seeds of Peace.

And later this month, on Wednesday, August 23rd in Edgewater, Bergen Grassroots and Hudson DFA are co-sponsoring “If not now, when?” with panelists including Congressmen Steve Rothman (NJ-9) and Rush Holt (NJ-12) as well as other invited guests.

More events are in the works.

Bergen County Group Supports Librarian, Army Officer

Cross-posted from BergenGrassroots.org


Bergen County—Michele Reutty, the embattled Hasbrouck Heights library director, has gained the support of Bergen Grassroots, a public interest group headquartered in Teaneck. (Text of resolution)

In a separate resolution, Bergen Grassroots announced similar support for Lt. Ehren Watada, who has refused orders to go to Iraq and is now facing a court martial. (Text of resolution)

Bergen Grassroots Launches Bergen County’s First Antiwar Billboard Campaign


Photo by Keith Krebs

Written by Paul Eisenman

  Bergen Grassroots has posted what we believe is the first antiwar billboard sentiment in our home county, Bergen.

  We have launched this advertising campaign to underscore our commitment to continuing to pressure the Bush administration, as well as our Congressional representatives in the 5th and 9th Districts, to bring the troops home from Iraq NOW.

  With funds raised from Bergen Grassroots members, we have rented a total of four billboards over the next three months. We are profoundly grateful to all who made this first stage possible.