Tag Archive: NYC

Today: Taxpayers & education advocates protest Christie tax windfall to Pearson as jobs ship to NYC

This afternoon, there’s going to be a public protest of Chris Christie’s decision to grant a huge windfall with your tax dollars to a company moving hundreds of Jersey jobs out of state. The company is education testing giant Pearson, Inc., a multinational corporation. Pearson got a $66 million subsidy for a new office building in Hoboken. And New York City is getting hundreds of Jersey jobs Pearson is shipping across the Hudson.

Pearson is also a company well-known to educators. The private company has found all sorts of ways to profit from public funds.

What’s wrong with Pearson? Hofstra University’s Alan Singer starts you a list at Huffington Post.

Take the Pearson Test for NJ: Find out what Pearson’s doing with your tax dollars and what it means for your kids and their schools. via public education advocate Stan Karp

Playing NJ & NY against each other: How Pearson did it, and scored big-time tax dollars.

Since becoming governor, Christie has cut public education funding by northward of $1 billion. At the same time in Christie’s New Jersey, more families are having trouble making ends meet and more NJ children are falling below the poverty line. As the state lags behind the nation and the region in economic recovery and job growth. But there’s always plenty of gravy for corporate subsidies in Christie’s New Jersey – NJPP reports more than $2.1 billion since Christie took office (just rated by PolitiFact as true).

Today, public education advocates – including parents, citizens groups and labor folks – will be carrying a giant check for the $66 million Pearson’s getting from Gov. Christie (and your taxes) across the Hudson River by ferry to New York City, where Pearson’s actually sending those Jersey jobs.

WHAT:Demonstration followed by live shipment of a giant $66 million check from taxpayers across the Hudson via Hoboken Ferry

WHO: Bill Holland, Executive Director, New Jersey Working Families Alliance

Stan Karp, Director of Secondary Reform Project, Education Law Center,

Leonie Haimson, Executive Director, Class Size Matters

WHEN: Today, 12:30pm

WHERE: Hoboken Ferry, 1 Hudson Street in Hoboken


The Rising: World Trade Center’s glittery spire

The sky was falling and streaked with blood

I heard you calling me then you disappeared into the dust

Up the stairs, into the fire …

                                     – Bruce Springsteen, Into the Fire

That warm clear morning of September 11, 2001, it was public workers who rushed into the the twin towers to save lives. Union people, most of them, running up the stairs. The roll call of our lost first responders was awful: 343 NYC Fire Department firefighters, 23 NYPD officers, 37 Port Authority PD officers. More than 2,000 first responders injured.

Today, a 408-ft glittery spire was lifted high and bolted to One World Trade Center. Now 1,776 feet tall, the WTC was built with union labor. Union members rushed in on 9/11, and the rescue operation. Today’s a bittersweet full-cycle moment for the labor movement, and an achievement for the Port Authority of NY/NJ and all kinds of people whose lives are bound up in those building in some way. What must it have been like today for all the families, many in NJ, who lost people that day, or in two questionable wars after those towers?

What I remember from 2001 is the sense of unity and gratitude for the people who work in service for the public. Marie Corfield, a teacher running for Assembly in LD-16 – I contribute my time to this race – talks about this. About her first day as a teacher; it was 9/11, a day of chaos. And the investment we all felt we should make, in the lives of those who serve the public. That’s what I’m remembering today as that tower rises. Back before Chris Christie and his war on public employees. His union thug talk. His cheerleading of Gov. Scott Walker’s Wisconsin union busting. Before the Christiecrats who ruptured their party from the inside to service him, to cover him, and to grow his power.

Left the house this morning

Bells ringing filled the air

Wearin’ the cross of my calling

On wheels of fire I come rollin’ down here

Come on up for the rising …

                              – Bruce Springsteen, The Rising

Marriage Equality: The Cost of Delay

Empire State Building goes rainbowThis week, New York celebrated the one-year anniversary of respecting the right of gay couples to marry.

What kind of economic impact New York seen in that year? Nah, forget that. Let’s just even deal with what kind of money has pumped into New York City in that year, according to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the recently-married City Council Speaker Christine Quinn:

$259 million. Boom. These Gov. Christie should look long and hard at, if there’s any struggle in him whatsoever between his fiscal responsibilities to New Jersey and his personal-fulfillment desires to score with national Republicans.

That’s minimum 8,200 same-sex marriage licenses issued, more than 10% of the 75,000 licenses the city issued over the last year. The city’s tourism and marketing arm did a survey, compiling enough info to come up with these averages:  

  • $9,000 – what each couple spent on their wedding (average)

  • $12,000 – What each wedding brought in, spent by all wedding guests – includes hotel, transportation.

  • 200,000-plus – guests coming in from outside the city to weddings.

  • 235,000-plus hotel rooms booked at about $275 a pop.

  • $10,500 – the multiplyer effect from each wedding on the city’s economy, including trickle-down effect like financial boon to restaurateurs who get hired for a wedding, who are then able to pay their rent or employees’ wages.

    I’m here to tell you a chunk of that money has been drained out of New Jersey, like when Alex & Sean got married in NYC instead of central NJ where they live.

    Balloons. Flowers. Wedding clothes. Banquet rooms. Invitations. Catering. Restaurants. Rehearsal dinners. Photographers. Video. Spa treatments. Mani-pedis. Bands. Gifts. Wedding favors. Wedding planners. Rings. Cakes …

    New York is still in its honeymoon phase and pulling in the cash. New Jersey, now behind such disparate locales as Iowa, Vermont and D.C., is still a little virgin. But she’s ready.  

  • Education Reform That’s For The Birds

    promoted by Rosi

    If education historian Diane Ravitch was the all-knowing eagle of education during her speech at last week’s New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey’s Acting Education Commissioner, Chris Cerf, was clearly the prey being circled by hawks. Blue Jersey’s own Deciminyan reviewed Ravitch’s speech, and it’s a must read in light of my review of Cerf’s…  

    In a standing room only venue, all eyes and ears, and iPhones and iPads, were trained on Cerf as he spoke to educators for about an hour. Tweets and texts were flying from the more tech-savvy, while others took notes with pen and paper. Cerf represents everything educators know is wrong about the divisive, corporate ‘reforms’ that are destroying public education nationwide: increased reliance on standardized testing and charter schools, vouchers, merit pay, and value added measures (VAM).

    The former New York City Deputy Schools Chancellor under Joel Klein, Cerf came to New Jersey with some professional baggage. Leonie Haimson, education activist, Executive Director of the New York City group Class Size Matters, and founding member of Parents Across America (PAA) paints a troublesome portrait. With quite an extensive resume in the private and public sector, Cerf actually taught high school history for four years at the beginning of his career. However, it’s ironic that he didn’t make it to the five-year mark-the make-or-break point where teachers decide whether to stay or leave the profession. But he opened his speech with the applause garnering statement that he never worked harder than when he was teaching. Can’t argue with that.  

    However, the hawks swooped in with boos, hisses and shouts of “liar!” when he emphatically stated that Governor Christie “has the highest regard for teachers,” and that, “neither I nor the governor are against unions.” Now, I think it’s safe to say that anyone reading this post has some idea of current events in this state, so you know that this is simply not true. But if perchance you need some proof, look no further than Blue Jersey blogger Jersey Jazzman for evidence.  

    Alex & Sean Get Married in New York City

    Flipping the bird to New Jersey

    Alex & Sean got married yesterday. As close to home as they could make it, and still be legal. They said their vows on a beautiful boat sailing around New York City. Cruising close to New Jersey, both grooms and many of the guests climbed up topside and gave New Jersey the finger. (Photo courtesy Jeff Tureaud, candidshotphoto.com)

    Don’t get the wrong idea. Alex & Sean love New Jersey. So do I. So do their guests, especially the ones who live here, as Alex & Sean do. But they’re disappointed in their state, where their commitment to each other is recognized only as a thing apart, not quite what it is.

    At Blue Jersey, we mostly report about marriage equality, not so much actual weddings. (Why is that?) But I was lucky enough to be invited to this wedding, and both the grooms are members of the Blue Jersey community. So for me, ME will forever be about Alex and Sean, who have loved each other for 13 years, and waited most of this time for the law to catch up to their own jubilant love.

    Alex & Sean's weddingI love weddings. And this one was spectacular. Vows topside on a yacht, under sunny skies the color of the water. Both grooms escorted by family to cheers from all of us as they came upstairs into the top deck sunlight. Marriage vows warm and personal. Guests gay and straight. Present, a same-sex couple just married in New York this week, at our table another getting hitched on Thursday. Even a proposal on board. “A rainbow tsunami of love,” one guest called it.

    When Garden State Equality lobbied state senators in the runup to their crushing 2010 No vote, part of the case made was economic.

    A few years ago, the Williams Institute at UCLA projected $248 million in spending in NJ if we gained marriage equality before surrounding states. Our friend Jack Bohrer did a great job illustrating how that might impact tourism in destination Atlantic City, still struggling with revenue loss and hotel layoffs. At this point, with NY and destination NYC getting the jump on us, we can only guess at the money flowing across the Hudson from family-minded Jersey couples. And those across the country spending their money there, instead of here. With our failure to come in early, we can only guess at the revenue sacrificed.

    GayMarriedBut something even bigger is lost. Yesterday, the proprietors of this lovely boat were so excited by their inaugural same-sex wedding, that all the servers were outfitted in different rainbow colors. Spirits were high; it meant something to be there.

    There is so much goodwill for Love. And that’s what skittish legislators have missed, the goodwill good people have for happy families and loving couples. Even beyond the loss of wedding revenue, we lose living in a culture of greater acceptance of each other, in celebration of the happiness of our neighbors, in the infectious joy of people pledging forever to the one they love for the world to see. rainbow flowers

    So, here’s to the day New Jersey’s decision-makers catch up to her people. Here’s to the day we strengthen marriage itself by recognizing all our families. Here’s to the day when this most extraordinary day in a couple’s life can take place on our turf, or in our waters.

    Here’s to Love. And here’s to Alex & Sean. Married October 2, 2011, in New York City.

    Disclosure: Yes, I’m on GSE’s board. And Blue Jersey’s all in for Love. Any questions?


    Jersey: Representing at NYC Pride

    It was a two-mile long parade, the most jubilant in years. New York City’s annual Pride parade started uptown but ended up where a lot of the need, the sweat and the inspiration of the gay rights movement began, passing the Stonewall Inn

    Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire (NYC) & Wolf Muslin Undergarment Company Fire (Newark)

    I read today that people were writing names in chalk on the street below 23-29 Washington Place in Manhattan, the names of women and girls who died 101 years ago today in the fire that launched a women’s movement of empowerment and a labor movement toward the working conditions most of us here gladly still thank unions for. I wrote this post a year ago. But it’s still important to remember this day. 101 years ago tonight they were lining up in rows burned and broken women for their families to identify … did you also know about the fire in Newark? – Rosi

    One hundred years ago – at 4:45p.m – the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire lit up. Within 30 minutes, there were dozens of bodies of women and girls dead on the pavement below and a horrible vision of death up on top of what was a modern American sweatshop. We remember these who died that day, and those that died before them in another sweatshop in Newark. The labor movement which followed their deaths is being undermined all over the country – in NJ, in WI, in Michigan, everywhere. Blue Jersey, we know which side we are on.

    Do you know that a deadly factory fire presaged the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory? Exactly 4 months to the day before. On November 25th, 1910 at the corner of Orange & High Street (now Martin Luther King Blvd) a factory, the Wolf Muslin Undergarment Company, burst into flames, after gasoline was spilled in a lamp factory one floor below. The factory building had a mix of different industries, including an explosives company. Nineteen people lept to their deaths, some impaled on a spiky metal fence. At least six burned to death. The youngest worker was just 16. In a city-wide expression of grief, more than 100,000 people came to bear witness in the days after. New York City’s fire chief warned that that kind of tragedy could happen in any of the sweatshops of Manhattan, unless something was done to improve the working conditions. And so, the memory of the Newark fire was fresh in workers’ minds when 146 people, most immigrant women and girls, died at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory.

    One hundred years ago, high up in a building a block from Washington Square Park, most of the girls and women were getting ready to leave for the day. It was 4:45pm, and they were working on a Saturday. Packing up their things, getting ready to walk down the long stairs. Fire broke out on the eighth floor, and the women rushed to get out. The fire escape twisted with their weight, and women in long dresses plunged to the street below as men rushing from the park held out their arms to try and catch them. On the ninth floor, the exit was locked. Fire ladders only went as high as the sixth floor. New York City police were weeping as women sailed to the pavement; many of them had beaten back some of those same women as they marched for better working conditions in the weeks before.

    The Newark fire, below the fold …

    I laughed, I cried….it was better than Cats! (more NYC stuff)

    It massive, beautiful and powerful. There is little more I can say. But for those of you who weren’t there, yesterday’s event–which drew a staggering 3oo,ooo marchers and revelers (see pic)— was one of the most emotional and memorable days I’ve had in a long time. I remember walking down Broadway and at one point turning around and seeing the spectacular crowd behind me and it moved me to tears. At that point on the route i was at the bottom of a hill and noticed for the first time the massive breadth this mob. There is something very powerful indeed about the ‘crowd phenomenon.’ Seeing that many people swaying to to the same beat on such a picture-perfect day blew me away. I get goose bumps just thinking about it.