Tag Archive: Oliver

Rush, Frank, and Sheila: Alas…


According to Quinnipiac, Booker leads with 54 percent while U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone placed second with 17 percent from likely voters. U.S. Rep. Rush Holt accounted for 15 percent, ahead of N.J. Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver’s five percent.

As for the Republican primary, Steve Lonegan garnered 74 percent of the poll to Alieta Eck’s 10 percent. Thirteen percent remained undecided.

If you combine Pallone’s, Holt’s, and Oliver’s votes, you still don’t get enough to beat Booker. But you do get a credible, serious candidate who could have been a real challenger; a candidate who could have forced New Jersey’s voters (and the press) to look at Booker’s corporatists leanings and actual track record in Newark.

Alas, it was not to be. For myself: I’ve always liked Holt and will vote for him on Tuesday. But I’ve come to admire Pallone; he would have been an excellent Senator. And my respect for Oliver has grown as well – far more than I thought it would have for a woman who is a product of the North Jersey machine.

Any of them would have beaten Lonegan; any would have been a better, more progressive leader for New Jersey than Cory Booker.

What a shame we liberals are once again denied our chance to have a voice. Once Booker wins, that’s it: short of a scandal, he’s in the Senate for as long as he wants.

He’ll be good on many social issues, and I grant you that’s no small thing. He’ll make sure the Supreme Court isn’t filled with rabid, conservative activists (assuming the Dems keep a majority and/or the presidency). He won’t go beating the war drums too loudly. He’ll make some wishy-washy concessions to income inequity; he’ll take away a few outrageous corporate tax deductions and pretend he’s leveling the playing field. Whoo-hoo…

But, in the end, this was yet another wasted opportunity for the left-wing, silenced majority of the Democratic Party. If only two of the three losing challengers had opted to pull out. If only they had thrown their support behind one candidate. If only they had agreed that it was time to do whatever it took to get a proud progressive into the upper chamber as New Jersey’s junior senator.


Who will be Assembly speaker and majority leader?

PolitickerNJ has had several reports on negotiations over who will be Assembly speaker and majority leader. In case you missed them, here’s a summary of what they report – with a disclaimer that this post relies entirely on those reports which all themselves rely on unnamed, and surely not unbiased, sources.

The underlying assumptions seem to be (a) the Democrats will retain both houses of the Legislature (which even Chris Christie agrees will happen); and (b) Steve Sweeney will remain Senate President unless something unexpected happens (watch for a separate post on Blue Jersey on that soon).

Several key considerations – existing and potential new alliances among power brokers and county parties, the pen-ben vote, and racial and ethnic diversity – appear to be driving the discussions on whether Speaker Sheila Oliver and Majority Leader Joe Cryan will keep their positions.

Where will it all go? And what do you want to see happen? A more detailed summary below the fold – and the floor is open for comments.

Too late for Oliver

It is far too late for Oliver to be taking on Christie. Words…BIG DEAL, actions were needed and still are. She needs to be thrown out. Sign the petition!! You will find the link on my site or NJ-can

New Jersey Betrayal

Once upon a time in the State of New Jersey, we had a situation where the public workers (of the state) such as teachers, nurses, police, and others were blatantly violating the laws of NJ by not  contributing into their pension funds. In fact for 11 of the last 15 years, these irresponsible people paid ZERO DOLLARS into the funds. During this time the State of New Jersey has been paying its full share amount into each pension fund all along. Now the pension system is severely underfunded and it is time for those who have not been paying into the system to pay up. Why should the State/taxpayers have to make up the difference when these people were so irresponsible? Those who have been paying their fair share should not be made to bear the burden for the irresponsibility of those who did not.

In an admirable bipartisan spirit, Governor Chris Christie (Republican) has worked closely with Senate President Stephen Sweeney (Democrat) and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (Democrat) to forge a Pension-Benefits Reduction Bill that will restore solvency to the pension system. This bill will hold those who have not paid their fair share responsible for restoring solvency to the system through additional deductions, reduced health care benefits, no cost of living increases for pensioners, the establishment of a board that would offer plans with fewer benefits as well as increased co-pays and prescriptions and most importantly the stripping of the unions’ right to negotiate their health-care insurance coverage and contribution levels.


So again, why should those who have been paying their fair share be made to bear the burden of the irresponsibility of those who did not?  The pensioners will no longer receive cost-of-living increases until the system is “determined to be solvent”.  These are people who paid faithfully into the system their entire professional lives. While this might sound like a reasonable concession on the surface, if you look deeper, it will devastate this group.  According to a well respected data site, shadowstats.org, the current annual inflation rate is 12% and is climbing. This means that pensioners will lose half their buying power in 4 years. In 8 to 12 years they will be living in poverty!

During the courtship of Governor Christie, Senator Sweeney and Sheila Oliver failed to strong arm their Democratic Caucuses to support the bill and were not successful at getting a majority to do so. However, in North Jersey (Essex area) and in Southern New Jersey, the very powerful party bosses were able to order enough Democrats to betray their principles, so that when combined with the Republican minority in both houses, the Pension-Benefits Reduction Bill was able to pass.

In a cynical move, to protect themselves from the inevitable backlash for their betrayal, the vote on this Pension-Benefits Reduction Bill was purposely withheld until after the primary elections had been completed and the deadline had passed for adding names to the coming election ballot.

This betrayal of organized labor by the South Jersey Democrats has ignited a firestorm among this core constituent group as well as others who recognize the injustice of making some pay for the irresponsibility of others. Meetings were called and the NJ Progressive Democrats of America (no affiliation to the Democratic Party) charted a strategy.  During these meetings the Democratic legislators who betrayed their constituents were renamed “Christiecrats”.

These Christiecrats claim that they are looking to make the fund solvent, but where were they during all the years the Democrats controlled the Senate and Assembly and the state was not making its contributions into the fund? Their silence was deafening.

On Monday, August 8, at the War Memorial in Trenton, the NJ Progressive Democrats of America will be starting a petition drive for the removal of Stephen Sweeney from the Senate Presidency and Sheila Oliver from the Assembly Speakership.  The petition will be presented to NJ State Democratic Committee chair John Wisniewski.

In these times when public workers are under increasing attack by the corporate controlled media, it is important to remember that:

1. it was not the public workers who instigated multi $trillion bond fraud on Wall Street

2. it was not the public workers who lobbied for financial deregulation

3. it was not the public workers who gambled in derivatives with other peoples’ money

4. it was not the public workers who accepted $billions in bailouts

5. it was not the public workers who paid themselves huge bonuses

6. it was not the public workers who brought the economy to its knees

Remember, the media will try to redirect your anger away from the Wall Street aristocracy. In a classic case of divide and conquer they will try to turn you against other middle class workers, and then place the question in your mind, “why does the bus mechanic who works for the state have full benefits?” WRONG QUESTION! You should be asking why you do not have them.



Not Getting What You Paid For

The members of the Democratic Hall of Shame just voted to stick it to public workers: cops, firefighters, teachers, etc. Their cowardly vote will cost middle class families thousands of dollars and drive away qualified young people who may have considered a career in public service before this betrayal.

What’s especially sad is that these same Democrats have been happy to fuel their campaigns with public employee unions’ money. For example, they were glad to take the voluntary contributions teachers made to their campaigns in 2009 (by law, dues can’t be used to fund campaigns). But when the teachers needed them, they stabbed them in the back, costing them thousands of dollars.

What follows is a list of all of the Christiecrats who voted with the governor for slashing teacher pay, followed by how much money they received from the NJEA in the last election cycle. Teachers, read it and weep:

Welcome to NJ Public Service, Best and Brightest!

Tonight, let me be the first to welcome the best and the brightest to the corps of public workers for the great Garden State!

Yes, I know you bright, ambitious, industrious young people could have pursued careers on Wall Street or Madison Avenue or K Street. But you’ve looked at the high regard in which our political class holds public workers tonight, and you’ve signed on for a career of serving the people of New Jersey! You won’t be disappointed!

We want you to know that we value your service! We know that when you run into a burning building, or answer an armed robbery call, or teach a child in poverty to read, or build a bridge, or counsel the old… that we value you. We respect you.

So much that we will cut your pay by 10% at the drop of a hat.

So much that we will take away the small dignity you enjoy in retirement by making your pension’s cost of living increases subject to the whims of politicians.

So much that your governor will turn to your fellow taxpayers and blame you for the fiscal mess created by sellouts to corporate interests.

Yes, young people, you’ll enjoy all of the benefits of lower pay and reduced benefits and derision and disrespect and condescension. You’ll get to be sold out by lackeys of the wealthy who claim to share your roots. You’ll get all the security that comes from having promises made to you tossed aside like a dirty sock whenever the political climate changes.

Welcome to the police forces, firefighter squads, schools, hospitals, towns, counties, and state offices of New Jersey!



Hey, where are you going?


Sweeney, Oliver compromise on health care choice

I don’t think it qualifies as a victory until we see the bill, but Senator Sweeney and Speaker Oliver have announced they will act to repeal their own “Section 76” language that would have blocked state employees from using their own health insurance at out-of-state hospitals:

Under the new legislation, the entirety of Section 76 of the pending pensions and health benefits reform legislation (S-2937/A-4133) would be repealed. It would be replaced by language that would direct the new health care boards to create insurance plans that would specifically include only in-state providers, and other plans that would include coverage for out-of-state providers. No employee would be forced to choose the in-state option.

Very much a poor compromise in my opinion but certainly an improvement.