The Week in Review
Welcome to the latest installment of the NJDSC's week in review. From my family to yours, I would like to express my best wishes for a wonderful holiday and a very Happy New Year. Here's a look back at some of the news from this past week:
Wisniewski Announces Penna As New NJDSC Executive Director
- Chairman Wisniewski: “I am very excited to welcome Paul Penna as the new Executive Director for the New Jersey Democratic State Committee. 2012 is a big year for New Jersey Democrats with the re-election of President Obama, Senator Menendez and our Congressional delegation. Paul’s political and governmental experience makes him the perfect choice to lead our party organization."
- Paul Penna is a former director of operations at the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance, regional political director with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs for Governors Codey and McGreevey and was Campaign Manager for U.S. Rep. Rush Holt, among others.
Christie's Obama Bashing Is Alot Of Fiction
- New Jersey Newsroom: "Fiction can be fun when you’re looking to entertain a room full of moviegoers in the summer, but it’s entirely different when you’re an elected official presiding over a state of more than 8 million people. Taking fiction to a level that not even "Avatar" director James Cameron could imagine, Christie claimed Obama hasn’t faced nearly as much political opposition as he has in New Jersey. Perhaps too many helicopter rides has severely altered the governor’s equilibrium, rendering him with amnesia."
- Examiner: "Governor Christie can present himself anyway he wants but the people of New Jersey know the truth. Christie is a highly divisive political figure who is pursuing a partisan anti-poor, anti-middle class agenda just like the Tea Party extremists in Congress. He wants to cut important government programs for the less fortunate, bash unions and continue to cater to the rich. In order to get his budget under control, instead of asking the wealthiest members of his state to contribute, Christie attacked union members and forced them into pension and health care cuts and froze their raises in the future. The New Jersey governor has cut over $1 billion in public education which affects both teachers and students. Education cuts made last year by Christie were so large that the state Supreme Court ruled they violated the state’s constitutional requirement to provide a “thorough and efficient system of free public schools.” Cuts to after-school programs have left as many as 15,000 low-income children without a structured and supervised after school environment."
- Mediaite: Morning D’oh! Chris Christie Falsely Claims President Obama Had Filibuster-Proof Majority For 2 Years - "This wasn’t the only big, fat steamer in the segment (Christie tried to sell the House GOP’s renege on the payroll tax deal as an example of Republicans not obstructing the President), but it was the biggest and steamiest."
House Republicans Voted To Raise Taxes On 160 Million Workers Before They Caved
- Star Ledger: The House rejected a plan backed by President Barack Obama that would have extended a payroll tax cut and jobless benefits for two months. The move raises the stakes in a holiday season clash that seems likely to result in a lapse in a tax cut enjoyed by 160 million workers.
- Chairman Wisniewski: "With today's vote in the House of Representatives, Republicans now rival the Grinch who stole Christmas as America's #1 holiday villain. By rejecting the Senate's compromise measure, they are threatening working families with higher taxes and to take away unemployment benefits from the long-term unemployed. They have once again catered to "Tea Party" ideology rather than defend the interests of America's hardworking middle class. I am particularly disturbed by New Jersey's Republican Members of Congress for their refusal to stand up to this Tea Party extortion. They have again rejected New Jersey values to placate the right-wing of their party."
- President Obama urged the House to pass the Senate's payroll tax bill: "This is not poker; this is not a game. This shouldn’t be politics as usual. … It’s not a game for the average family who doesn’t have an extra $1,000 to lose. It’s not a game for somebody who’s out there looking for work right now."
- Senator Lautenberg: “This is a new low for the band of Tea Party extremists running the House of Representatives. House Republicans had a simple decision – vote for tax cuts for middle class families, or let a massive tax hike hit 160 million Americans on New Year's Day. Instead of voting to cut taxes, House Republicans chose to raise taxes on millions of middle class Americans. House Republicans still have a chance to do the right thing for the American people and take a straight up-or-down vote on the bipartisan compromise bill that was supported by an overwhelming bipartisan majority of the Senate. Time is running out for House Republicans to pass this bill and put the interests of American families ahead of politics.”
- Senator Menendez said you can't take from the middle class to give to the middle class. (Video)
- More from Senator Menendez: “There should be no misunderstanding about what House Republicans are doing: They’re itching for a fight with the President and are willing to raise taxes on 160 million middle class families to get it. Their actions are shameful and they alone will be responsible for the consequences on January 1. Not only did they not have the guts to vote on our compromise bill – supported by 90% of the Senate – they’re burying tax relief for middle class families in a legislative graveyard. Speaker Boehner: The clock is ticking, but there is still time to do the right thing. If you can stand up to the Tea Party, we can stand up for middle class families.”
- Congressman Rothman criticized House Republicans for voting against extending the payroll tax cut: The bipartisan compromise would have extended unemployment benefits for more than 120,000 New Jerseyans and a payroll tax cut of $1,500, on average, to 4.7 million New Jerseyans. In addition, the compromise would have prevented more than a 27% cut for payments to doctors under Medicare. This cut threatens to deprive 1.3 million New Jersey seniors, and 48 million seniors nationwide, of a doctor's care.
- (Video): Congressman Pascrell spoke on the House floor directly to Republican members who blocked a bill that would avoid a $1000 tax hike.
- Wall Street Journal: The GOP's payroll tax fiasco.
- NJ 101.5: D.C. Deadlock Could Be Crushing For Jobless Jerseyans [VIDEO]
- Think Progress: Speaker Cuts Off C-SPAN Cameras When Dems Attempt To Bring Vote On Payroll Tax Cut.
- FACT SHEET: Understanding the Impact of Republicans' Refusal on Short-Term Extension.
- ABC News: House Republicans Cave on Payroll Tax Cut Extension.
New Congressional Map Adopted
- Star Ledger: Over the strenuous objection of Democrats, the congressional redistricting commission this morning adopted a map that puts U.S. Rep Steve Rothman (D-9th Dist.) in a district with Scott Garrett (R-5th Dist.).
- Democrats protested and attempted to delay the vote, the official deadline for which is not until January 17, because they said it did not provide a “fair fight” for Rothman and, they said, split similar minority communities – in particular Asian-Americans in Bergen County. “The map that is before us today is not a fair fight district. It is a map that has a very significant advantage for Congressman Garrett,” said former Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts, who led the Democrats’ redistricting team.
- Chairman Wisniewski responded to the new map: "In an effort to be “fair” to Republicans, Dean Farmer unfortunately created a map that is unfair to New Jersey voters by ignoring their preference for Democratic representation. We will do everything in our power to maintain our Democratic Majority and ensure that 2012 is a successful year for Democrats once again."
- Congressman Rothman: “Lines on a map do not change the need to continue the fight to expand opportunity for all Americans; get our economy back on track; protect middle class taxpayers, seniors, and families; stop those who would end Social Security and Medicare; and to keep our beloved nation safe,”
- Congressman Pascrell: "I couldn't be more ready to begin serving the people of New Jersey's new 9th Congressional District."
- PolitickerNJ: Redistricting data from OLS: map, population, district breakdowns.
- Blue Jersey: Find your town - The New Congressional Redistricting Map.
- Patrick Murray disputed Farmer’s assertion that the new District 3 – without Democratic haven Cherry Hill and including Republican base Brick – is a “fair fight” district. Murray was curious to know what numbers Farmer was using that led to that conclusion. Congressional race polling numbers, Murray said, are “the only numbers that really matter,” and without examining in depth those numbers himself, the pollster said his first impression was that District 3 had a distinct GOP advantage.
An Audacious Move By Christie To Set Aside Decades Of Hard Won Environmental Protections
- Star Ledger Editorial: By itself, the DEP’s proposed “waiver rule” is perhaps the most dangerous, overreaching and potentially corrupting document in Trenton. It is the nuke that would give the Christie administration near-unlimited power to set aside decades of hard-won environmental protections for ... any reason it wants. The waiver rule is written with such vague language that it could be used to overrule any environmental rule at any time for any reason. It is an audacious move by Gov. Chris Christie, the single greatest threat to decades of work to protect New Jersey’s air, wildlife and water.
Menendez Calls For Marriage Equality
- Senator Menendez Op-Ed: I have engaged in discussions about the issue of marriage equality with friends, family members, colleagues and of course, the people I serve in New Jersey. I have heard and listened to many different views. But for me, this comes down to an issue of fundamental fairness. For me, this comes down to the principles I learned as the child of immigrants and that I cherish as an American: that we believe in equality for all people under the law. So today, I am announcing my support for the Respect for Marriage Act, which repeals DOMA and ensures that all lawfully married couples — including same-sex couples — receive the benefits of marriage under federal law. I believe the time has come to recognize the civil rights of the LGBT community. Fundamentally, I do not view this as an issue of special rights, but simply one of equal rights.
- Garden State Equality: Every Democrat in the New Jersey Congressional delegation is now a sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act to repeal DOMA.
Christie Administration Continues Secrecy And Costs New Jersey
- Asbury Park Press: For the state Department of Education, the cost of withholding public information from the public has a steep price tag: $40,290.80.
- Star Ledger: The state education department has paid more than $40,000 to cover the legal fees incurred by a New Jersey newspaper that successfully sued to gain access to department records. Citing the state's Open Public Records Act, the Asbury Park Press of Neptune sued after being denied full access to a list of schools the department planned to investigate for possibly tampering with state-mandated tests.
- Ingle: Because idiots in the state Education Department tried to keep public information secret, the department has to fork over more than $40,000 to cover legal fees for a newspaper that sued to get the information.
- Ingle on more Christie secrecy: Rob Jennings of the New Jersey Herald reports a reporter was barred from covering a speech by Lt. Gov. Guadagno last week. A New Jersey Herald reporter who showed up at the joint meeting of the Morris/Sussex/Warren County League of Municipalities meeting, was not allowed inside and left after a member of the governor’s advance staff raised the prospect of calling police.
Questioning Toll Hikes And Seeking A Sustainable Transportation Funding Solution
- Star Ledger Editorial: When Christie killed the ARC rail tunnel project between New Jersey and Manhattan, he took the $1.25 billion saved and dropped it into the Transportation Trust Fund — keeping the fund solvent, paying for repairs to local roads and bridges for the next five years. The one-time infusion allowed Christie to solve an immediate budget crisis without solving the underlying problem: The TTF is running out of money as it pays off past loans. It was a gimmick that allowed Christie to delay a real solution until someone else is governor. What New Jersey needs is a sustainable solution.
- More Ledger Editorial: Assemblyman John Wisniewski, whose constituents live in the stretch of Middlesex County between the Parkway and Turnpike, estimates the gas tax charges drivers half a penny per mile. Tolls, on the other hand, cost drivers 7 cents a mile on the Turnpike and 4 cents on the Parkway.
- Proposed bill would give federal government the authority to roll back Port Authority toll hikes.
- Senator Lautenberg: "When it costs $12 to drive your car across a bridge in America, something is wrong. While the Port Authority and the two states are struggling to explain why these dramatic hikes were imposed, commuters are suffering. There’s a clear need for federal oversight here to make sure toll revenue is being used appropriately and not going to fund excessive salaries or political patronage jobs," Lautenberg said. "Given these out-of-control toll hikes and the cloud of misinformation surrounding them, these federal protections for commuters need to be restored."
- National Journal Transportation Blog: Tolling Woes.
- The Trucker: The legislation has already drawn support from AAA New York, and AAA Clubs of New Jersey, the American Trucking Associations, the American Highway Users Alliance, the American Motorcyclist Association and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.
- Senators Lautenberg and Menendez and Congressman Pascrell announced that language to authorize the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to invest $6 million for voluntary home buyouts in flood prone areas of Passaic County is included in the final version of the FY 2012 Consolidated Appropriations bill that was approved in the House and Senate.
- Senator Lautenberg announced an extension of the Lautenberg Amendment, which protects certain religious minorities fleeing persecution, has been approved as part of the Fiscal Year 2012 Consolidated Appropriations bill passed by the House and Senate. The bill will now be sent to President Obama for his signature.
- As consumers flock to retailers during the holiday season and as the use of prepaid cards continues to expand rapidly, Senator Menendez introduced The Prepaid Card Consumer Protection Act to curb hidden fees associated with many of these cards. This act will eliminate some of the most egregious hidden fees and let consumers know what the fees are before they buy the cards. It will also let consumers get their money back if the cards are lost, stolen, or the company goes bankrupt. As it stands now, if the prepaid card is lost, stolen, or the company goes bankrupt, all monies on that card may be gone.
- Senators Lautenberg and Menendez announced that the state can apply for more time to complete a $118 million project to make homes more energy-efficient as part of the 2009 federal stimulus project. Federal Secretary of Energy Steven Chu would grant an extension for the weatherization project – meant to create jobs and make homes more energy-efficient – if the state applied for one.
- Senator Lautenberg announced $11 million for the design and reconstruction of Pier 4 at the United States Coast Guard Training Center in Cape May has been included in the Fiscal Year 2012 Consolidated Appropriations bill. The Coast Guard originally had not planned to begin work on this project until 2017, but Senator Lautenberg, recognizing the serious need for repairs, worked to include funding in this year’s bill. The bill will now be sent to President Barack Obama for his signature.
- Congressman Pallone announced that Congress has approved $2.94 million for beach replenishment efforts in Port Monmouth as part of the overall Fiscal Year 2012 spending bill.
- Congressman Rothman said that "President Obama sent a strong message by signing into law the highest levels of funding for the joint US-Israel missile defense programs in our history. Our enemies and friends will now continue to know that the US and Israel are making even more powerful the already unprecedented military and intelligence cooperation between our two nations."
- Congressman Pascrell announced that the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has awarded a new federal Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) to the South Orange Fire Department (SOFD) in the amount of $665,000. The grant will be used towards the village’s upcoming fire truck purchase. This is the fourth Firefighter Investment Response Enhancement (F.I.R.E.) Act AFG grant to be awarded to the South Orange Fire Department, making a total of $887,735 awarded to the department since 2001.
- Congressman Holt announced $40M for Military Suicide Prevention in the 2012 Federal Budget.
- Congressman Sires announced that the Hoboken Fire Department has received a grant award of $272,697 from the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. This program provides grants to qualified agencies in order to strengthen their overall level of preparedness and ability to respond to fire and related hazards. This grant will give the Bayonne Fire Department the funds necessary to obtain turnout gear and thermal imaging devices.
- Congressman Andrews announced that New Jersey will receive $7 million dollars in funding to create jobs making hospitals safer and more efficient. This funding comes as a result of the Affordable Care Act, of which Congressman Andrews was an author and major proponent. The money will be used to train existing staff on how to best prevent infections and other ailments that can be contracted in a hospital environment, as well as to hire more staff to provide more individualized patient attention. Not only will this create jobs, but it will also help save money by reducing the hospital readmission rate.
- Congressman Payne commended the work of NJ for Haiti for joining the world’s largest humanitarian response as a key partner in helping Haiti recover and rebuild after the devastating earthquake two years ago.
- Congressman Pallone attended the 8th annual gala for the Edison Cricket Club (ECC) as they celebrated eight years of promoting and playing cricket in New Jersey. The annual gala, held at Crown Plaza in Edison, was attended by families of players, fans, followers, and attracted the usual bevy of sponsors and luminaries.
- As winter weather approaches, Assembly Democrats are pushing for legislation that would facilitate donations to NJ SHARES, a statewide organization that assists New Jersey families who are struggling financially and cannot afford to pay their heating bills.
- Legislation to cut through the bureaucracy strangling New Jersey small businesses continues to advance toward law.
- Assemblyman Chivukula talked with Verizon Let's Talk about renewable energy. (Video)
- Senator Weinberg said in her weekly column that Chris Christie is consistently inconsistent.
- New Jersey Newsroom: N.J. bill that seeks to improve lives of developmentally disabled passes legislature.
- The full Assembly has granted final legislative approval to a measure that would establish a statewide ovarian cancer public awareness campaign to help increase survival rates among women.
- Legislation to combat the lack of basic online information about state, regional and local boards, commissions and authorities is heading to the governor.
- Assembly members are co-sponsoring a bill to make it easier for Garden State residents to make donations to NJ SHARES, a statewide organization that assists New Jersey families who are struggling financially and cannot afford to pay their heating bills. The measure would allow taxpayers to make voluntary contributions to NJ SHARES on their gross income tax returns.
- Shore News Today: Legislation to improve evacuation plans throughout the state in preparation for a catastrophic event or natural disaster such as a hurricane or nor’easter was approved 67-0-2 by the Assembly.
- Watch Assemblyman Greenwald discuss job creation, education & sports wagering on CBS 3 Newsmakers. (Video)
- Legislation to permit the development of solar and photovoltaic energy facilities on closed landfills has been signed into law.
- Legislation paving the way for the creation of a statewide plan to address youth suicide prevention received final legislative approval by the full Senate.
- Legislation to begin cutting back on burdensome rules and regulation and improve New Jersey’s business climate is headed to the governor’s desk. The bill is yet another piece of the Democratic effort to create jobs and economic development.
- NJ 101.5: Bill Seeks to Shine Light On Shadow Governments [AUDIO]
- Legislation which will permit the development of solar, photovoltaic and wind energy facilities on closed landfills or quarries was signed into law last week.
- Assemblyman Singleton expressed disappointment in the decision made by the United States Congress to pass a $1 trillion spending bill that included deep cuts to the Low Income Heating Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Singleton sent letters to all 13 members of the New Jersey Congressional delegation this week imploring them to reconsider the near $100 million in heating assistance being taken away from seniors and low-income families in New Jersey next year as a result of proposed cuts to discretionary funding.
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We will continue to have updates about news from our elected officials and the many campaigns across the state. There will certainly be more to come next week. Have a great weekend.
John Wisniewski, Chairman
New Jersey Democratic State Committee