Tag Archive: family planning

Coptergate: Loretta Weinberg on MSNBC’s The Ed Show

This is awesome. Not only because it begins with Glenn Beck’s profession of his man-love for Chris Christie (and that never gets old) but because Senator Weinberg hits it just right, calmly putting the Governor’s hubris and arrogance into the context of his own history and the damage he’s doing to New Jersey. Here’s Loretta Weinberg discussing Christie’s helicopter adventure, on The Ed Show last night:

Sorry, couldn’t erase a 30-second ad.

Michael Doherty compares Planned Parenthood to Nazis & apartheid

VOTE TALLY UPDATE 4:36pm: Senator Weinberg’s bill is passed 26-13 to restore state funding. Just before the vote, she remarked on the fact that almost every woman spoke in favor of it, “and some good men”, and that perhaps these women “know something”.

UPDATE: Listen LIVE to discussion about the bill to restore state funding to women’s health care – sorry, the feed is not embeddable.

UPDATE2: Doherty, speaking from the Senate floor, just apologized to Sen. Weinberg for accusing her of lying. Says he was “exuberant” at the Right to Life rally and should have said Weinberg was “misleading”. I’m not hearing an apology for “Nazi” and “apartheid”.

Here is part of what Senator Michael Doherty said today, speaking at a Right to Life rally on the State House steps:

Nobody has any problem trying to have no affiliation with nefarious organizations such as the Nazis or apartheid regimes,” said Doherty. “But somehow, we’re asked to use our tax dollars to support these type of organizations.

I’d like to say the LD-23 senator has gone ’round the bend. But, horrifying as this is, this is consistent with Doherty’s level. This is a guy who fears that kids on school trips to the state house might be freaked out by trans people in the washroom, and who – like Christie – denies global climate change.

Doherty also used today’s occasion to pile on (again, like Christie) Loretta Weinberg, accusing Weinberg of lying about access to critical health services if $7.45M state funding for women’s health services/family planning is not restored to the NJ budget.

Both Christie and Doherty have been saying women can be steered to hospital ERs and to FQHC’s, Federally Qualified Health Centers. But hospital ERs are simply not set up for non-emergent cases clogging their waiting rooms. And 2 weeks ago, Katherine Grant-Davis, president & CEO of NJ Primary Care Association – they represent the FQHCs – said they couldn’t keep up with the 124% increase in patient load that they’ve already had since 2002, and Christie’s cuts are already adding to the burden.

The New Jersey Senate votes today on a bill to restore that $7.45M state funding back into New Jersey’s budget. Like Star-Ledger said, in an editorial posting today, strongly backing the fight to restore that state funding, Weinberg has the facts on her side. But I suppose that doesn’t matter as much to Doherty, who only has to appeal to the right-wing and Christian money that fuels his political engines up in the sticks of Warren and Hunterdon counties.

Nazis. Apartheid. Wow.  

Weinberg at the NJ Women’s Health Forum:

Today, women took over the State House Annex, or at least one of its largest committee rooms, at the NJ Women’s Health Forum. Senator Loretta Weinberg hosted, and co-organized with the Women’s Political Caucus.

Weinberg called Gov. Christie’s cuts to women’s health care and family planning a “war” on women.

It was a round-table discussion, convened to examine the impact of Gov. Christie’s budget cuts to women’s health programs and to commemorate National Women’s Health Week. Weinberg, who writes at Blue Jersey regularly, has been the most visible challenger to Gov. Christie’s contention that it’s New Jersey’s economic conditions that forced him to drop state funding for long-standing programs and not the governor’s own ideology, and need to score points with national GOP donors watching him for a future presidential run. Weinberg, with the Democratic women of both houses in the NJ Legislature, is focused on moving Christie to add $1 million in the budget for health services for women earning up to 2x the federal poverty level so New Jersey could get a $9 million federal match. And that 9-1 match is unfortunate evidence that the economic rationale Christie is using, so far, to deny these funds doesn’t add up.

Here’s Senator Weinberg’s statement, delivered after today’s Forum:

Today’s discussion – with women representing a wide array of primary care providers, government officials and social service groups – helped to highlight that funding for women’s health care isn’t just an ideological sticking point.  Cuts to women’s health programs have a real-world impact, and that impact is being felt by women around the State who are unable to access basic health care services like cancer screening, STD testing, pre- and post-natal care and yes, contraception.

I know the Governor is fond of his town halls, and the ability to connect one-on-one with ‘real people,’ and today’s roundtable discussion was exactly that – an opportunity for women who are affected by health care cuts to voice their concerns, absent partisan labels or political agendas.  I know that if the Governor had been there, he probably would have learned just how short-sighted and unfair his cuts are for women who have nowhere else to turn.

Continues after the jump.

Planned Parenthood’s Pink Bus Tuesday

Planned Parenthood's Pink Bus

Michele Jaker of Planned Parenthood already invited everybody to Englewood for a little hot pink display of unity for women’s health. But now I’ve got a picture of the big pink bus that will roll up to the Englewood Planned Parenthood Health Center, where our own Loretta Weinberg will be speaking along with Assemblywomen Linda Stender and Valerie Huttle. I have a thing for feminist men, so I’m glad to see NJ’s congressional delegation will be repped by Senator Frank Lautenberg.

These women – Weinberg, Stender, Huttle – have not let up, with back-up advocacy from Lautenberg, since Chris Christie removed state funding from vital family planning and women’s health services, which are often the only medical services low income women have, including cervical cancer screening, breast exams, and HIV testing. Because Christie’s not willing to pay into this, we’re also losing federal dollars that require NJ’s participation, making Christie’s decision particularly destructive.

Cribbing from Michele’s post, here are the particulars:

Rally for Women’s Health

11:00 a.m. TOMORROW, Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Englewood Planned Parenthood Health Center

46 Van Brunt St.

Englewood, NJ 07631

All Aboard: Budget Hearing Train Starts Monday

Senate and Assembly Budget Committees will begin their first hearing on the 2012 budget on Monday at Bergen Community College in Paramus. These hearings are an opportunity to let legislators know what you think is important. And legislators are more likely to pay attention to you this year.

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Gov. Christie’s Budget Address Open Thread – A few of the sticking points

I’m still digesting this speech, but some immediate issues jumped out at me. What struck you, Blue Jersey? Read Gov. Chris Christie’s budget address.

Disparaging public employees: There was a reference to “keeping faith” with public employees in Gov. Christie’s budget address today. But the public-employee bashing came in the form of: “the rich benefits of the privileged few” who “do not contribute enough”. And that sounded more like the man.

Rich: Indeed, for a governor who threw his lot in with New Jersey’s richest the same year he touted “shared sacrifice”, the only references in the entire speech to “rich” came not in describing his own wealthy contributors and slush fund pals, or the cushy class he protected by vetoing the millionaire’s tax. In fact, that word – “rich” – was only used by Christie to describe New Jersey’s public employees. A great number of whom are represented by labor unions, the very definition of middle class.

Stand Up NJ and support collective bargaining and Wisconsin Workers – can you make the scene?

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The Not So Final Countdown

The countdown – a distinct part of the Christie stagecraft. Urgent! There’s only this much time left, and each day we’re that much closer to certain doom if everyone doesn’t do exactly as they are told! Of course, these deadlines are completely manufactured – not to align with the process of good policy making or New Jersey’s needs, but because they serve Chris Christie’s personal and political agenda.

So, how about some other countdowns? 411 days since Governor Christie took office, and 411 days since the people of NJ have waited for the him to lead on job creation. (Or, 37 days since a stack of jobs bills landed on his desk, and 37 days without him signing them into law.) 411 days since women’s health care and family planning were all but abandoned in NJ, with program reductions and eliminations sweeping the state. 419 days that people with cancer, MS and HIV/AIDS have waited for their legally entitled access to comfort from a plant that anyone can grow, for free. And don’t even ask how many days it’s been since anyone’s taxes went down – unless you’re a millionaire, of course. We all know the answer to that one.

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Twas The Week Before Christmas & Time to “Right” A Few “Wrongs”!

And the Senate is still passing bills.  Another day in Trenton is about to begin. Bills will be before us about the tourism district in Atlantic City, revising casino industry regulations and abolishing COAH.  I will be speaking and lobbying for two bills – the first amending our State medicaid plan to  cover more folks for family planning services.  Let’s see if we can get a few Republican votes for this in the Senate.  I’m counting on a few thinking “R” colleagues to join in putting forth this “no brainer” since the state gets $9 for every $1 of match it allocates.

Since the Governor vetoed the last family planning money, two sites in Browns Mills and Mt. Holley in Burlington have stopped seeing family planning patients.  In the past year these health centers saw over 2300 patients. The Dover Health Center will close at the end of this month and in the past year this center saw over 3900 patients. The Planned Parenthood of Northern New Jersey in Elizabeth will probably see more than 800 fewer patients due to reductions and restructuring.  Mercer, Ocean and Somerset County centers will also be affected. Each of those numbers represents a real person in need of services. This is just the tip of the coming iceberg in poor women’s access to health services. What is the Governor and some of his party stalwarts proving with these cuts?  Come on guys and gals, time to set “right” at least a few of these “wrongs”!

And speaking of setting things right, Governor Corzine signed a bill into law literally his last moments in office.  A bill that came out of a Middlesex community where a bunch of “upstarts” (read: reformers) attempted to change the form of government in one of their communities.  After hard work, they got the government change on the ballot and came within a few votes of winning.  Leaders of the party (read: my own party) got a little nervous.  So what was there to do?  Oh we can change the law and require that a government change referendum (even after a loss) cannot be brought up again for ten years rather than the three years in the then current law!  That will teach those citizens. By the time 10 years pass, most of them will either be gone or they’ll have given up. Not very (read: small d) democratic! We will be considering my bill today which returns the law to the 2009 version: three years in between referendum after a loss and five years if there was a win and the government actually changed. Keep your fingers crossed that Senator Vitale and I have enough votes in our Democratic caucus to get this passed. Watch the vote tally on this one.

It was a good day Saturday with the repeal of DADT. It is sad though to see what’s happened to the really brave war hero, Sen. John McCain. First Sarah Palin, then a prediction that our military will fall apart with this repeal.  And Arizona doesn’t need counseling for veterans facing mental health problems as a result of their service to our country – but maybe New Jersey does? We should all be as angry as Congressman Holt is. Years of cruel imprisonment couldn’t vanquish John McCain, but the pressure of partisan politics seems to have done the job on him. There’s not much more to say about that. The repeal of DADT is a giant step forward for our country and for granting full civil rights to the gay community. We all know what’s still missing. Looking forward to the courts doing the “right thing” (read: marriage) here too.

And let’s hope the Governor did something right by selecting Christopher Cerf of Montclair as the next Education Commissioner. Don’t know that much about him yet, but others have said he is smart and knows how to build consensus. I just hope Mr. Christie will not throw him out if he manages to attract the NJEA to join him in a grant application or to build  agreement on a program to improve our schools.

And so today, we in the Senate have a chance to “right” a few “wrongs“. ‘Tis the season to be kind to one another. Let’s hope that “spirit” will pervade the Senate chambers today.

Merry Christmas. Thank you Blue Jersey for helping to build a community of progressives. Thank you to our bloggers, commenters, and readers for giving voice to many good ideas.

Keep your voices heard!


Zombie Party Discipline – Will it Give Way to Compromise & Reconciliation?

Monday’s Senate failure to override Gov. Christie’s veto for women’s health funding was infuriating – for the women and men who may lose access to crucial medical care, screening and advice, and for the apparent sacrifice of reason & responsibility to pure zombie party discipline. I have so much appreciation for legislators who fought the good fight, for women and men who showed their support, and for the resilience of lawmakers like Loretta Weinberg and Linda Stender, who refuse to get mowed down and continue to propose solutions. Just after the vote, Senate President Steve Sweeney and Democratic legislators announced new legislation, for only $5M of $7.5M Christie cut from the budget, requiring the state to apply for federal matching dollars for Medicaid-eligible health care consumers. Too early to know how that will fly, but it would be welcome to see movement now on the GOP side. It’s been a disappointing few weeks watching some of them.

In the fight to retain needed funding for health care access for women and men who often have nowhere else to turn, here are some of the things legislators on the right side of this issue have done:

  • answered a Governor’s veto with a solid alternative plan;

  • found revenue-neutral plan suggested by non-partisan OLS;

  • asked NJ Treasurer his reasoning why that funding source wouldn’t work;

  • invited him to testify, messaged him, took a delegation to his office;

  • When he would not answer, OPRA’d his documentation;

  • gave requested extensions for that OPRA’d info – twice;

  • ran a full Senate override vote and lost – Monday;

  • lost by the # of GOP Senators who yanked support for GOP party discipline;

  • undaunted, will now approach funding from another angle.  

    And the Governor – whose actions here seem more and more wrapped in anti-choice disapproval and distortions and less and less  (as he insists) a function of budgetary concern – has done nothing but stay silent as his GOP party chair muddied discussion with warped rhetoric. No, that’s not even what he did. Asm Jay Webber went on a major nutty about sex, and implied somehow that family planning advocates are trying to prevent poor women from having babies. Gov. Christie’s silence made him complicit, and brand him an ideologue.

    Today, Republican Senators, who were for this before they were against it before their orders from on high refused to override the veto of a governor whose ascendant power they apparently view as more powerful than their own ability to decide, whose executive branch they may take more seriously than the branch of this government they serve. It failed by pure party line vote. A show of GOP party impressively disciplined and disappointingly reasoned.

    Some people are more culpable than others. Jay Webber’s so far gone on this issue he sees abortionists hiding under every bed and in every closet. Gov. Christie, likely ditto. GOP senators Diane Allen, Christopher “Kip” Bateman, Andrew Ciesla, Christopher Connors, Sean Kean, Robert Singer traded in some dignity August 3rd. Jennifer Beck joined them today. I’d like to think that some of these GOP Senators will redeem themselves, if they see possibility in this compromise. I’m going to say there’s hope there.

    After the fold, I’ll post the full statement of Sweeney and colleagues’ statement, which offers more detail about the compromise solution, and quotes. Also after the jump, a short video of Asw Linda Stender’s response to the loss. So, jump:

  • LISTEN LIVE: Veto override vote on women’s health

    UPDATE: Veto override vote failed 23-17. Senators Jennifer Beck and Diane Allen both indicated they would have interest in finding alternative funding. We’ll post more detail as we get it.

    Also see Jay’s diary from Trenton.

    I’m listening – or trying – to the live feed from the NJ Senate session, which is now taking up an override vote on Gov. Christie’s veto of women’s health care access funding. The link is not embeddable and I’m having all kinds of trouble hearing it. Listen Live – maybe you’ll have better luck. Jay is at the State House and we’ll be getting some color commentary later.

    Already Senator Weinberg, with Assemblywomen Linda Stender, Pam Lampitt and Linda Greenstein at her side has talked about her frustration getting straight answers from the NJ Treasurer whose response to her Open Public Records request for the figures and documents detailing his decision that alternative funding for women’s health cannot be provided via the route suggested by the non-partisan Office of Legislative Service. Weinberg had some figures of her own to cite, among them:

  • 136K women and men able to access basic health care through family planning centers.

  • 40,000 unplanned pregnancies prevented through this program.

  • 70,000 women received breast exams. 4,000 referred to mammograms through that initial testing, providing the crucial prescription from a physician which is the only way to have access to mammogram.

  • 130,000 testing for sexually transmitted disease.

  • More than 70,000 people cared for there, that have no health care coverage otherwise.

    Senator Buono also took the floor, disparaging an Op-Ed by the leader of NJ Right to Life which called Planned Parenthood “radical.”