Tag Archive: John Girgenti

Corruption is Really Expensive

Jeff is a candidate for the NJ legislature. Depending on redistricting, he may be Girgenti’s opponent.  Both reside in Hawthorne. –Rosi

I have something to say to politicians who use political patronage and hand out public jobs to their family members, political donors and assorted cronies: It’s. Not. Your. Money.

Sunday’s Star Ledger shines the light on a practice everyone knows exists and everyone claims to despise, but which has continued essentially unabated for decades as “business as usual” or just “New Jersey politics.” It’s the fleecing of taxpayers to enrich the campaign coffers of certain politicians.

State Sen. John Girgenti (D-Passaic) does not work for the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commissioners.

Instead, it appears to work for him….

In Girgenti’s most recent campaign finance report, employees wrote checks totaling $7,900 in support of his re-election…. That same report showed those who do business with the commission kicked in another $14,000 for Girgenti’s election.

The article goes on to report that “tickets for political fundraising events were being sold at [the PVSC] itself by supervisors there, and its employees were being pressured to buy them out of fear of retribution.” This comes on the heels of last week’s PolitickerNJ piece detailing this all-too-common practice, which drives up the cost of government, and in turn drives up our taxes. It’s as simple as that.

As we look at the hard choices presented by the state’s budget crisis, we’re often told we need to choose between higher taxes or reduced services. But, if we’re serious about holding the line on taxes, while keeping the services we want and need, maybe what really needs cutting out is this kind of corruption. It’s too expensive.

Fun with Redistricting Redux: Keeping Hawthorne in LD35

The Blue Jersey community was very excited to read this week that our very own, Jeff Gardner, has made his electoral intentions official and opened up a legislative campaign account.  Ever since John Girgenti voted against marriage equality and set in motion a process that was kicked into high gear when Jeff’s slate of County Committee candidates defeated Girgenti’s last June, enabling Jeff to become Hawthorne’s Municipal Chair, I have thought about how redistricting might impact Jeff’s chances of running for and winning a State Assembly or State Senate seat in 2011.

There has been a lot of talk about John Girgenti’s future with regards to redistricting, primarily because he was a loyalist of Governor/Senator Richard Codey’s when the Steve Adubato/George Norcross axis of corruption staged their takeover of the Democratic leadership in Trenton.  As a result, neither Jeff nor Girgenti have any advocates for keeping their otherwise Republican-leaning town of Hawthorne in the very Democratic (thanks to Paterson) 35th LD on the legislative redistricting commission.  I could be wrong, but I think that if there is anything that Jeff and Girgenti agree on, is that it is in their best electoral interest for Hawthorne to stay in LD35.

But without any advocates on the LRC, the only thing that might help them keep Hawthorne in LD35 is a compelling argument that serves the agendas of some of the commission’s members.  There are two members of the LRC in particular whose agendas have become quite clear over the last year.

There really is a “Jeff Gardner for Senate”

I guess any speculating can stop now. Because, if it’s 4:00 p.m., then I’m probably standing in the Election Law Enforcement Commission offices, filing the paperwork for my campaign committee: “Jeff Gardner for Senate” in what is currently the 35th Legislative District.

Oh sure, there is much that can happen between now and the June primary, what with redistricting, and the lobbying and jockeying for positions, etc. that is bound to follow. But, I wanted to make sure Blue Jersey readers were the first to hear that I’ve opened up a campaign account, and have officially tossed my proverbial hat into the ring for the 2011 Primary.

Thank you to everyone for their advice, support and encouragement. I hope you’ll take this ride with me, and help me be another voice for you in Trenton. Stay tuned! 🙂

New questions arise from Hawthorne as one is answered

…whether or not Hawthorne remains in LD35.

…whether or not Currie, Pascrell, and the PCDO support Girgenti or choose to go in a different direction in LD35.

If Hawthorne remains in LD35, I predict that Sweeney and the Norcross machine will want to have a dog in this fight, and unless that dog is Girgenti, my guess is that they recruit someone from Paterson to take Girgenti on, which would create an interesting conundrum for Jeff.

If Norcross and Sweeney through their relationship with Adubato and Oliver place enough pressure on Currie, they could get their slate of candidates the party endorsement in Passaic County.  If they are backing someone from Paterson instead of Girgenti, then they would probably want Jeff to run for Assembly on that slate.  

The big question is whether or not Jeff wants to get into bed with the bosses or not, especially since that would mean making peace with Sweeney, who abstained on the marriage equality vote and placed pressure on other Senators to do the same or worse, vote no.

As much as I dislike Norcross, Sweeney, et al, I wouldn’t hold it against Jeff if he agreed to run with their slate of candidates.  Sadly, these are the kinds of tough choices that otherwise good and progressive people like Jeff are forced to make to be able to be effective advocates for their issues of concern, especially in the absence of an organized progressive community that can provide a legitimate alternative to the Democratic establishment in our state.

And as much as I would love to see Jeff run on a progressive slate of candidates against both a Girgenti slate and a boss-backed slate, it is hard to imagine such a slate having access to the resources required to win a three-way race.  The ideal scenario is one where the bosses back Girgenti, enabling Jeff to run on a Paterson-based progressive insurgent slate, but I don’t think that this scenario is very likely as the bosses are too smart to back a has-been like Girgenti, when they can just as easily buy an ambitious pol from Paterson.

That said, an even more likely scenario is one where they (the bosses) cleave Hawthorne from LD35 and place it into LD38, setting up a primary election standoff between Girgenti and Bob Gordon or LD40, setting up a general election standoff between Girgenti and Kevin O’Toole.  Either scenario allows the bosses to choose a Paterson pol, if not an entire slate of Paterson pols and gain a stake in Passaic County politics for the next decade.

Of the two scenarios, I like the one that puts Hawthorne in LD38 the best, especially if this new LD38 no longer contains Fort Lee, where Joan Voss resides, creating an Assembly opening on the Gordon slate that could be offered to Jeff. Girgenti would then be forced to find a couple of ambitious pols from Fair Lawn and Paramus respectively to run with him.

However, if Hawthorne is placed in LD40, it simply adds a Republican-leaning town to an already heavily Republican district.  My guess is that if this happens, Girgenti will retire and Jeff will probably have a very good chance at being asked to run for State Senate in what would be an extremely difficult race to win.  The only other LD40 scenario where Jeff could have a remote chance of being elected to a State Assembly seat is if both Hawthorne and Dick Codey’s Fairfield are placed in the district.  

Codey has committed to run for re-election no matter what district he is placed in and has a $2 million warchest from which to wage what will most likely be the last major battle of his career.  Convincing Girgenti to retire so that he doesn’t have to spend any of that money on a primary election will be easy since Girgenti definitely doesn’t have the guts to run against O’Toole in LD40, much less run against Codey in a primary election.

It would be very smart of Codey to pick Jeff and possibly someone like Joan Waks or John Bartlett from Wayne to run with him.  It would still be a longshot in a district like LD40, no doubt, but the combination of Codey’s and Waks’ name recognition and popularity combined with Jeff’s netroots appeal could be enough to pull off an upset.

BlueJersey Blogger Jeff Gardner to challenge for NJ Legislature?

First of all, best wishes to BlueJersey blogger Jeff Gardner for some exciting new professional changes on his horizon.

And secondly, OMMFG is this a bombshell?

njn6He’d count on Netroots, LGBT+ Labor support

From today’s PolitickerNJ:

The chairman of the local Democratic committee in Hawthorne may challenge for a 35th Legislative District seat next year.

Jeff Gardner will leave his present job as an attorney with the National Labor Relations Board in January to star a solo law practice in his hometown.

I think it’s safe to say I have not ruled out a run,” said Gardner, who opposed state Sen. John Girgenti’s (D-Hawthorne) no vote on marriage equality and subsequently took control of the local Democratic committee.

I’ve texted the man personally for comment which should come soon, hopefully in the comments portion of this here diary.

Jeff Gardner’s good night in Hawthorne

Update 6/10/10 – The vote-by-mail results have been counted and have not altered Tuesday night’s outcome of this election. Jeff has a majority of county committee members, and the party election for new municipal chair in Hawthorne must take place by Tuesday.

Update: Jeff Gardner is the new Democratic Municipal Chair of Hawthorne, NJ.

Jeff Gardner is now well-positioned to become the next Democratic Municipal Chair of his hometown of Hawthorne (Passaic), having just prevailed over longtime Municipal Chair Senator John Girgenti in a party contest for county committee seats. Voting machine results show Jeff’s slate won 19 of 26 seats, to Girgenti’s 7 seats. Still to be counted, however, are at least 79 vote-by-mail ballots, which could still change that equation. So, it’s going to be a late night in Hawthorne, which may spill into tomorrow before the obvious trend is certified as a clear win.

During this campaign, Girgenti’s team employed disreputable tactics against the upstart party reformers led by Jeff, including sending out a mailer with a snarling police dog, an ugly chain link fence and the headline: Beware of Fake Democrats, accusing Jeff’s Democrats for Hawthorne team of being secret Republicans. In fact, something like the opposite was true, as GOP stalwarts in Hawthorne seemed uncomfortable enough at the idea of change that they inserted themselves into the Democratic primary as something quite more than mere bystanders.

But assumption of voter loyalty and contempt for challengers of your own party are no substitute for shoe leather and fresh ideas.

Jeff and the team behind him showed how it’s done. His people – who include bluestatejoe – simply and plainly did their work. They were out weekends, and evenings meeting voters, laying out their plans to fellow Democrats and engaging them in the changes to come. Also a factor in Jeff’s win was the Democracy for America group he leads in Passaic County, which meets in Hawthorne, enthusiastically supports the primary process, and contributed labor and ideas to the Hawthorne party reformers.

Congratulations, Jeff. Congratulations Democrats for Hawthorne. Next comes the reorganization meeting, and the election of a new Municipal Chair. You earned change. Can’t wait to watch you make it. And I hope you have Glee Tivo’d.

Up is Down, Down is Up in Hawthorne

Every town has them – diehard Republican families whose devotion and efforts on behalf of the party are known throughout the town. In Hawthorne, it’s the Shortway’s. Owners of a local tavern, one Shortway or another is a Republican candidate in nearly every election in town. They’ve been local Republican party leaders, and until the resignation earlier this year of Councilwoman Shirley Shortway English, they’ve held a seat on the Borough Council as Republicans for as long as most people can remember.

So, it came as a shock to see 5 Shortway’s (and some English’s) suddenly registered as Democrats for this year’s Primary election, along with a host of other Republicans suddenly turned Democrats this Spring.

Well, I guess it shouldn’t be too much of a shock. One of the prime motivating factors in the Democrats for Hawthorne‘s campaign to unseat Sen. John Girgenti as our municipal chair has been the fact that he has been too cozy with Republicans for too long at the expense of our Democratic candidates – like, e.g., Girgenti’s working to keep former Councilwoman Shortway’s legal troubles out of the news during last fall’s election.

So, it’s not so much shocking as fitting that on the heels of one of our Republican Councilmen’s LTTE endorsing the Girgenti team and another of our Republican Councilmen’s volunteering for the Girgenti team at their headquarters (a.k.a. the Senator’s District Office), the most diehard Republicans in Hawthorne would want to become “Democrats for a Day” to actually vote for the Girgenti team, with the goal of re-electing Girgenti as Hawthorne’s Democratic Leader.

And, it’s not so much shocking as hilarious that the Girgenti team, in their near-daily campaign mailings, have taken to calling themselves “Hawthorne’s Real Democrats” and touting their placement on the ballot with our unopposed federal and county officials. Basically, Girgenti knows he can’t win with democratic votes. So, he’s trying to get elected Democratic leader by the most diehard Republicans in town.

Naturally. Who else but Republicans know what’s best for Democrats? Shouldn’t they choose our next democratic leader?

Yes We Did.

Haw-Press-Apr-15-2010
Democrats for Hawthorne in the Press

As many of you know, I’ve been outspoken in support of primaries, and in support of running for county committee.

So, it was with great pride, and some courage, that I joined with 25 other proud democrats in Hawthorne on Monday to file a full slate of 26 democratic county committee candidates to run in this year’s primary election for Passaic County Committee – under the “Democrats for Hawthorne” banner. It is an historic undertaking – there has not been a contested primary for even one democratic committee seat in Hawthorne in at least 20 years. And our work is far from over.

But this is America, and we should still get to vote on who represents us, and who is in charge of our political parties. Publicly, everyone agrees with that sentiment. Privately, not so much.

You see, there’s another slate running in town, led by our current municipal chair, John Girgenti. Under his 30-year leadership, Hawthorne has failed to elect even one democrat as Mayor or At-Large Councilmember. And, in the last 10 years, we’ve elected only 3 democrats as Ward Councilmembers – 1 who has since switched parties, the other 2 who are supporting our slate. Indeed, about the only people not supporting our slate are Girgenti’s relatives and “employees” – including the multiple Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission employees who owe their jobs to the Senator’s generosity with our tax money.

Our goal is to unite and build the Democratic Party in Hawthorne for a winning future.

But, as you might guess, rather than embrace the increased interest in Democratic organizing this brings to Hawthorne, Girgenti is lashing out, upset that anyone would dare challenge him. He’s quoted in the local paper, basically accusing us of being liberal extremists, and blaming others for his own record of failure as Hawthorne’s Democratic leader.

And, he nearly came unglued at a public event last Saturday (Sheriff Speziale’s campaign HQ grand opening), when he refused to stand next to our only elected Democratic councilman, whose wife is running on our slate. Not very Senatorial. And more importantly, not how a democratic leader should behave in public.

We’re braced for much worse behavior than that – money can pay for all sorts of nastiness, and Girgenti has tons of money to spend. But in the end, this is a campaign to organize Democrats in a town that has been voting Republican for far too long, too often with the Senator’s help.

It’s time we change that. And we took the first step this week.

June 2011

Jeff Van Drew (D-Dennis)

Shirley Turner (D-Trenton)

Nicholas Sacco (D-North Bergen)

Ronald Rice (D-Newark)

John Girgenti (D-Hawthorne)

Fred Madden (D-Washinton Twp)

James Beach (D-Cherry Hill)

Stephen Sweeney (D-West Deptford)

Paul Sarlo (D-Wood-ridge)

Senator Van Drew is honestly the only person on this list who deserves a pass, his district is just overwhelmingly Republican.  

I’ve never been more disgusted and embarrassed than I was today to be a Democrat.  

Can we make this the official primary candidate suggestion list?  

Marriage Equality and 2011 State Senate Primaries

While no lawmaker has ever lost an election for voting for marriage equality, some New Jersey Senators could find themselves out of office if they vote against it.

John Girgenti, who represents the Paterson-based 35th district, voted no at yesterday’s Judiciary Committee hearing. Girgenti, who lives in suburban Hawthorne, may not even live in the district come 2011, especially if population trends allow for the creation of a majority-Hispanic district. If the map-drawers don’t remove him from office, then a primary challenge in this plurality Hispanic district might. Assemblywoman Nellie Pou, a Latina, is reportedly interested in moving up to the Senate, and Blue Jersey’s own Jeff Gardner has also been mentioned as a potential challenger.

In the 15th district, Shirley Turner is rumored to be on the fence and considering voting against the bill for “political” reasons. What these reasons could be is beyond me. The 15th is arguably the most progressive district in the state. In 2008, Barack Obama won here with 76% of the vote—only in the Newark-based 28th and 29th did he do better. Earlier this year, the PCDO considered a resolution on marriage equality at one of its monthly meetings. Of the dozens of people in attendance, only one or two voted against the resolution. Turner, who has already annoyed organized labor with her opposition to paid family leave in 2008, can ill afford to alienate another important Democratic constituency. Bonnie Watson Coleman, who supported paid family leave and is a cosponsor of the marraige equality bill, would stand an excellent chance to beat Turner at a county conventon. Watson Coleman may be interested in moving up now that her bid for Assembly Speaker has fallen short.