Saturday, June 30, 2007

No Holiday From Politics as House Dems Launch Ad Blitz

The Democrats will be launching an ad blitz this July 4th weekend, attacking Repubs on a range of issues.

The key targets will be those Republican members of Congress who have been solid supporters of President Bush's failed policies in Iraq.

Well, it's about time. If you cannot muster the votes to change the President's policy, at least attack those who do. Way to go Dems.

Two Republicans — Phil English of Pennsylvania and Mike Ferguson of New Jersey — will be targeted with Web ads.

I am very glad we're starting EARLY to bring Linda Stender to represent the 7th Congressional District in Washington.

fully, Mike is waving NJ-7th
Good Bye!

Full Political Friday: Debate, breakfast with a Congressman, then “Sicko”.

Going to the candidate's debate.
Laugh about it, shout about it
When you've got to choose
Every way you look at this you lose

(But only if you vote Republican...)

After the Democratic candidates debate Thursday night [courtesy of Rosi of DFA], we had a brief breakfast with Congressman Dennis Kucinich and his campaign staff. It was a good conversation about his policy and his campaign.

The debate itself was a very inspirational event for me ---given the subject matter and the Tavis Smiley book ---assuaging a portion of the political cynicism that has been haunting my brain of late.

I thought I would use this opportunity over the next few days and briefly post about the Dems who want to sit in the White House. First up: Kucinich.

Although, I would imagine, that any of them will have to get the While House clean and fumigated upon entry to get rid of the Cheney/Bush stench.

Kucinich is a real true believer who is right on target [and has been for years] on the majority of the issues important to me. He is right on the War in Iraq, global warming and healthcare. And he has never been afraid to speak his mind on the issues that matter in the debates.

He got off the best line on Thursday’s debate: “The Republicans want everyone to lift themselves up by their own boot straps, and then they steal the boot from you.” All too true.

But for Howard Dean, he would have been my candidate in ’04. And there is the issue with the Congressman for me: Elect-ability. While Dean was perceived as having been able to win the Presidency, Kucinich is not. In order to get my support, he will have to persuade progressives he can win.

I think that most progressive Democrats would judge Kucinich with high marks on his policy. But, to do the job, he needs to get the job. Given the field for 2008, that will be tough for him.

Michael Moore supports HR 676, health care plan co-authored by Kucinich ---which leads me to "Sicko".

After the war, health care is the most important in the nation. Moore is right on target every moment of the film, “Sicko”.

Some facts to tell your right-wing Repub friends about healthcare:

1-Conservative governments in Canada, England and France all support universal health care. 2-the United States is the only developed nation without it.
3-In the US, there are four health care lobbyists for every congressman.

We have free public education, we road departments, police departments, fire departments---why not national healthcare? Makes sense to me.

The Democratic candidates need to be held accountable on this issue, as well as the war.

Friday, June 29, 2007

And the winner is…

I attended the debate of the Democratic candidates for President tonight at Howard University in DC. It is late and we just got back, so this will be short.

Subject matter for the first time was about race in America. Clearly, Hillary Clinton was the outstanding participant tonight. Her answers were sharp, clear and filled with good policy. A good portion of the audience was African-American, and included Dr. Cornell West and Rev. Al Sharpton. The moderator was Tavis Smiley, and the core subject matter was directly inspired by his book, “The Covenant” . Surprisingly, Barack Obama was not as compelling as one would think he would be in front of a mostly African-American crowd.

The best line of the evening came from Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut, when Smiley cut the candidates’ time from one minute to just thirty seconds per question. “If I were Paris Hilton up here, you'd give a whole hour.”

The format ----which included questions on issues of concern to Black America as it relates to the Covenant with Black America book ---gave each candidate a very brief time to answer. Not the best format I thought for such a complex issue. Poor sound, along with too brief a time to answer the questions posed, made for a frustrating debate.

However, I discovered the real winner of tonight’s debate:
The Democratic Party.

Any of these candidates ---with the possible exception of Mike Gravel---is better than any of the Repubs. Including unannounced candidates Fred Thompson, Newt Gingrich or Mike Bloomberg.

So, bring it on. We are ready to win no matter which Democrat is nominated, and no matter who is the Repub opponent.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

I am a Democrat, a member of the Democratic Party

On Tuesday night in Linden, I gave a presentation on clean community elections in NJ to the Linden Rotary. They were a nice bunch, and seem to enjoy the subject matter over all.

I mentioned that I was proud that New Jersey’s Democratic Governor Jon Corzine signed in to law a clean campaign bill earlier this year. A Rotarian, who I found out later was Republican, piped up in the group that “there is no Democratic Party. They are the ‘Democrat Party’. They are not and never been ‘democratic’. That name is just an attempt by them to tell the world that they are democratic, when they’re not.”

Now, this statement was so shockingly stupid on so many levels, I just didn’t know where to begin.

“The name is the Democratic Party. I am a Democrat, and the Party is the Democratic Party”,
I tried to assure him. That, it is the DEMOCRATIC Party itself that should certainly be able to decide upon their name, not some Republican from Linden, New Jersey. He was unmoved.

However, it did give me pause for thought about the issue. I have heard for years in Hunterdon County, Republican elected officials refer to the Democratic Party as the “Democrat Party”. I always wondered where that came from, and how they always seemed to me like snickering adolescent school kids, chanting “I know you are, but what am I”, over and over again to be as annoying possible .

Bush uses the phrase lots of times, using the noun-as-adjective, Democrat Party instead of Democratic Party. He used it the State of the Union address several times. But then again, he is just plain stupid. Other Republicans, not as stupid, use it too. If a Republican knows your name, but gets it wrong anyway --- it either comes out of Republican stupidity or passive-aggressive behavior or both.

The Republican use of noun-as-adjective ‘Democrat’ has its history. New Yorker commentator Hendrik Hertzberg wrote:

"There’s no great mystery about the motives behind this deliberate misnaming. 'Democrat Party' is a slur, or intended to be - a handy way to express contempt. Aesthetic judgments are subjective, of course, but 'Democrat Party' is jarring verging on ugly. It fairly screams 'rat.'”

In 1947, Republican leader Senator Robert A. Taft said,
"Nor can we expect any other policy from any Democrat Party or any Democrat President under present day conditions. They can not possibly win an election solely through the support of the solid South, and yet their political strategists believe the Southern Democrat Party will not break away no matter how radical the allies imposed upon it." President Dwight D. Eisenhower used the term in his acceptance speech in 1952 and in partisan speeches to Republican groups. Ruth Walker notes how Joseph McCarthy repeatedly used the phrase "the Democrat Party," and critics argue that if McCarthy used the term in the 1950s, then no one else should do so.
From the New Yorker article:

“…the use of " 'Democrat Party' is now nearly universal" thanks to "Newt Gingrich, the nominal author of the notorious 1990 memo 'Language: A Key Mechanism of Control,' and his Contract with America pollster, Frank Luntz." While Hertzberg noted that Luntz "road-tested the adjectival use of 'Democrat' with a focus group in 2001" and "concluded that the only people who really dislike it are highly partisan adherents of the ... Democratic Party," he also wrote that Luntz had told him recently that "[t]hose two letters ['ic'] actually do matter," and that Luntz "recently finished writing a book ... entitled 'Words That Work.' "

And now they have trained the media to use the term, too.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Politics aside, The Arts are good business for towns in NJ

As an actor and stand-up comedian, I have traveled in the world of entertainment for about twenty-five years. And as an elected official in my town of Flemington, I've been concerned about how to bring more business to Main Street . There is considerable debate in every community on just how to bring people in to town in order to help the downtown retail businesses come to life.

There is retail shopping, many a restaurant, and a good mix of historic sights to see in most towns in New Jersey. The Arts are a great way to bring business to any town ---whether it be the largest town in NJ of Newark or any small town like Flemington. It's just common sense.

This week in Trenton, there was a conference of towns, cultural organizations and businesses. Here is what was reported in the Star-Ledger:

Theaters, museums and historic sites are valued as places of entertainment and education, but they also must be seen as employers, tax generators and magnets for shopping and dining, state officials said yesterday. In other words, culture means business in towns across the state. In towns like Red Bank, Madison, Newark, Trenton, Orange, Montclair and Lambertville, the catalyst for economic revitalization has been the arts," Secretary of State Nina Mitchell Wells told about 200 representatives of New Jersey's municipalities, cultural organizations and businesses at a conference in Trenton.”
The organization “Americans for the Arts” is the nation's leading nonprofit advocacy group for advancing the arts in the country. I have found their website an invaluable in helping to generate ideas for arts in local communities.

So, there you go. A good idea for any community in New Jersey. Republican or Democratic.

Monday, June 25, 2007

ComboNews: All The News That Fits, We Print

Here are the two most important news stories of the day.

Condensed and combined to save you, the busy New Jersey resident, lots of time:

A smiling Paris Hilton walked out of a Los Angeles County jail early Tuesday, officially ending a bizarre, three-week stay that ignited furious debate over celebrity treatment in the jail system.

A grim and serious Christie Todd Whitman officially ended her three-year silence on the issue of the EPA report that declared the air at Ground Zero was safe to breathe. A silence that ignited furious debate over who was to blame for causing irreversable health problems to Ground Zero workers.

The 26-year-old celebutante was greeted by an enormous gathering of cameras and reporters upon leaving the all-women's facility in Lynwood about 15 minutes past midnight.

The 61-year-old former Governor was grilled by a “largely hostile House Judiciary subcommittee that she relied on sound scientific data when she told residents of Lower Manhattan that the air around Ground Zero was safe to breathe.” The Ex-EPA chief Christie Whitman was bombarded Monday with boos, hisses, and a host of accusations.

Hilton smiled and waved as she filed past deputies and the media, her blond hair pulled back in a braided ponytail. Hilton, who was wearing a sage jacket with white trim over a white shirt and skinny jeans, did not respond to reporters' questions.

Governor Whitman looked stern and emotionless as she fielded aggressive questions from members of Congress, her hair pulled back to reveal a lovely pair of pearl earrings and a matching pearl necklace.
She responded to the inquiry regarding the EPA false reports by declaring she is tired of the "innuendo and outrig
ht falsehoods” and “I have been called a liar and a criminal.” She did not seem to respond well to Congress members' questions.

During her stay at the Lynwood facility, Hilton was mostly confined to a solitary cell in the special needs unit away from the other 2,200 inmates.

During her testimony before Congress, Whitman stayed mostly at the table in front of the House Judiciary subcommittee looking sort of ticked off; you know the way some Repubs do when they’re being sanctimonious and holier-than-thou.

After spending only three days in jail, Hilton was released to home confinement by Sheriff Lee Baca for an unspecified medical condition that he later said was psychological.The following day, Hilton was called back into court and was ordered returned to jail, the judge saying he had not condoned her release. Hilton left the courtroom in tears calling for her mother and shouting, ''It's not right!''

After more than three years of silence, Whitman told the House subcommittee, "Let me be clear: There are indeed people to blame. They are the terrorists who attacked the United States, not the men and women at all levels of government who worked heroically to protect and defend this country.”

Yes, blame it on the terrorists. Aha! They must have been the ones to write the report that contained sound scientific data that told residents of
Lower Manhattan that the air around Ground Zero was safe to breathe. So, it was not the EPA after all.

“I used to act dumb. It was an act. I am 26 years old, and that act is no longer cute,'' Hilton told ABC’s Barbara Walters. ''It is not who I am, nor do I want to be that person for the young girls who looked up to me.”

"I am disappointed at the misstatements, innuendo and outright falsehoods that have characterized the public discussion about the EPA in the aftermath of the terrorists' attacks," Whitman told Congress. "EPA's most extreme critics have alleged that I knowingly misled New Yorkers and the workers at Ground Zero about the safety risks associated with environmental contamination."

Hilton's stay in jail cost taxpayers $1,109.78 a day, more than 10 times the cost of housing inmates in the general population.

Whitman’s lies and this Administration’s incompetence in the days following 9/11 cost hundreds and hundred of workers and volunteers their good health.

Subcommittee chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), who represents Lower
Manhattan, was among the most vociferous critics, accusing Whitman of reassuring the public when such reassurances were not justified.

"As a result of the actions by Whitman and others in the Bush administration', said Nadler, ‘our government has knowingly exposed thousands of American citizens unnecessarily to deadly hazardous materials.’

And so it goes.

It’s time to dump Doherty in the 23rd

The 23rd Legislative District is represented in Trenton by Senator Leonard Lance, Assemblywoman Marcia Karrow and Assemblyman Michael Doherty. As Repubs go, like the Meatloaf song says, Don’t Be sad, ‘cause Two out of Three Ain’t Bad.”

In that mix, Doherty needs to be dumped in November. Doherty actually wants to be the US Senator from NJ. Yes, really.

He is bad for the 23rd, and would be bad for New Jersey in DC.

Assemblywoman Karrow and Senator Lance are moderates on many issues. However, every once and a while they go completely cold-stone conservative ---probably to retain their neo-con ‘street cred’ with their right-wing peeps.

For example, they both took a hard right-turn when they followed their Party line on domestic partnerships and civil union. Sometimes the two diverge on issues, too: Like Lance went environmentalist on the Highlands Act, and Karrow went anti-Democratic Party/populist. He supported the Highlands; she opposes it big big time.

But one thing they both agree on: Doherty should be the next U.S. Senator from the Garden State. Yes, really.

Now, I do not know what hallucinogens they have been downing at Hunterdon County Repub Party meetings ----maybe Kuhl-Aid? Who knows.

They have signed on to be part and parcel of Doherty’s Exploratory Committee for Senate. I know both of them reasonably well, and Karrow and Lance are way too smart to support a dullard like Doherty.

Doherty is a guy who is Ronald Reagan-ish all over, from head to toe: He opposes stem cell research. He denies the existence of global warming. He said that ‘it does not matter’ if one believes creationism or evolution. He supports President Bush’s war in Iraq.

This guy is out of touch with the 23rd district, and radically out of touch with the working families of New Jersey.

Other neo-cons who have signed on early to be part of the Doherty for Senate exploratory panel:
  • Bogota Mayor and leader of the super right-wingers in the state, Steve Lonegan.
  • Congressman Scott Garrett.
  • Conservative activist and former election opponent to Rep. Rush Holt, Bill Spadea.
  • Lance and Karrow round out the Committee.
It is doubtful that Doherty would even survive a primary, let alone a general election. And remember, he does not have to give up his Assembly seat to run.

But, we can work hard to dump Doherty early and derail his Senate plans by supporting full-throttle a great guy for Assembly in the 23rd ---Pete Maurer ---in November 2007.

More on Pete later, but he is the guy for the job.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

As Dan Qualye said, “The future will be better tomorrow.”

Years ago, my dad and I drove to the 1964 World’s Fair in our 1954 Buick Special.

Upon arrival, we made a bee-line for the Ford Motor Car Company exhibit to see what the cars of The Future would look like.
In the 21st century, Ford told us, American-made cars would dominate the world.

They’d zoom at 75 mph along a massive connection of complex highways that would get Mom & Dad & the Kids anywhere in the country virtually traffic free.

Cars would have fins and look like rocket ships. Satellites would guide your Ford car with directions to grandma’s house. From your car telephone you could call anywhere in the world. And gas would always be about 30.9 cents a gallon.

But the single thing that impressed this 11 year-old from Brooklyn the most was a TV in our car.
The thought of being able to watch My Mother The Car on car trips was more excitement than I could bear. Who cared about my dad getting us lost yet again, if I could be watching “Get Smart” on long Sunday trips to Long Island to visit my Rosentraub family cousins.

And for Bernie Novick, the most impressive feature was having a phone in the car. This way, he could call my Uncle Philly to let him know we’d be late ‘cause we were lost yet again.

“Are driving you on the Belt Parkway or the BQE?”
, my Uncle Philly would yell in to the phone.

As Dan Qualye said, “The future will be better tomorrow.”
Just not in New Je

Flash forward to 2007: Gas is over $3.00 a gallon. During rush hour, we don’t so much ‘zoom along’ the Turnpike as ‘creep along’. Kids in the backs of Japanese-made mini-vans can watch Shrek The Third over and over again.

But if my dad, gets lost in New Jersey, can’t call or text message my Uncle Philly to let him know we're gonna be late. Not without incurring the wrath of the New Jersey State Police.

From the Philadelphia Inquirer from last week:

The state Assembly and Senate are expected today to approve legislation that would allow police to pull over and ticket drivers for talking on handheld cell phones or text messaging on the road.

Yup. The state has ratcheted up the penalties on text messaging and cell phoning in the car while driving in NJ. And made it a primary, rather than secondary offense. I guess it makes sense.

Most of the people I know from NJ politics are always calling or texting from their cars.

“I can get lots more work done in the car that way,” one of them told me. And he’s a guy I know from the PoliticsNJ List of the Top 100 Most Powerful Pols. Probably got there as a function of deals he was able to cut while driving in the car on the cell phone.

The bill would make New Jersey the first state to make cell phone use and texting while driving primary offenses, meaning drivers could be pulled over for doing either.

So, if you’re lost on the NJ Turnpike with your kids and you’re trying to call your Uncle Philly to get directions, wear a headset. Or call hands free.

Or the next cell or text message you may receive may be from that State Trooper near Turnpike Exit 14 stating, “Pull over”.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

“You have ‘inner-clout’, dear.”

Do you remember when you’d ask your mother, ‘Mom, am I good looking? Am I smart?’ And she’d say in her sweet motherly way,“Dear, you have 'inner beauty'. And the kind of intelligence they can’t teach in school. You have street smarts.” And you’d think to yourself, ‘Great. I’m ugly AND stupid.’

And that is, perhaps, solace to those who did not make The List.

Almost one hundred percent of the people I predicted to be on the “PoliticsNJ Top 100” made it to The List. Of course, I included several elected officials, not recognizing that they were not to be included. I told you yesterday that the criteria was ‘hush-hush.’ So, I stand corrected.

So, who was I right about? Racist frat-boys from 101.5, Carton & Rossi at Number 9; Juan Meli of in at Number 17, well ahead of Donald Trump at Number 20. It's the hair, Donald.

Lobbyist Dale Florio of the Princeton Public Affairs Group is on the list once again, no surprise. Steven Goldstein of Garden State Equality is there, too, as I thought.

However, I was wrong about Bill Dressel of NJ State League of Municipalities, someone who has a great deal of clout with municipalities. I was equally wrong as well with the omission of the “Voters of New Jersey” --- as a list choice with real muscle.

I was pleasantly surprised to see my former Seton Hall law professor and current chair of the New Jersey Ethics Commission Paula Franzese clocking in at Number 18. She is a good law professor, has a great sense of humor --- and is very ethical, too.

The thing I am impressed with the most is that if you’re in the Top Ten of The List , you get a drawn caricature of yourself. Now that is privilege, as well as power. Who was the artist?
Probably a police sketch artist, figuring, after all that this is New Jersey. If you're in politics in
New Jersey, having a picture like that already can be a real time saver later on.

The caricature of Carla Katz [left] makes her look like a joyous Howard Stern [right].

In his caricature, George Norcross looks a little ‘too happy’ about being 'Number Two'.

And Joe Ferriero looks like he’s cackling to himself, “I’ll get you yet, Loretta Weinberg....and your little dog, too”.

I was, however, just a touch miffed at the spot I was placed on the list. We folks down at The List Number 452,034 found it difficult to spot those in the top 100, with so many taller people blocking my view.

Fortunately, I did happily find out just now that I ranked higher this year than some very important people: I beat out 1985 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Peter Shapiro; former NJ Homeland Security guy Golan Cipal; and the third-string catcher for the Camden Riversharks. That’s progress in my book.

So, to those of you who did not make The List and do not have the clout of the Top 100:
"You have the kind of power that does not come from being on any dumb old PoliticsNJ list. You have’ inner-clout’, dear."
Those of us not on The List will just have to go on thinking that.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Want to know who in politics in New Jersey has been eating their spinach...

... and wields a great deal of political muscle?

This morning at 10:30am on the nose, PoliticsNJ will release The List of “100 Most Powerful People in New Jersey Politics”. Prepare to have their site crash because of all the folks who will log on right at 10:30 on the dot.

The criteria for The List is kept very hush-hush. And The List is probably only important to (a) the folks at PoliticsNJ who actually make up the list, (b) the folks who actually get chosen for the List, (c) those who wish they were on the list, and (d) the folks who get to comment on The List. For the rest of New Jersey’s working class families, it’s a big yawn.

However, since I fit somewhere between between (c) and (d), I am making my predictions about The List --- the night before.

I am sure the folks on The List will include Gov. Jon Corzine [duh], and the former [and possibly future] Acting Governor/Senate President Richard Codey [double 'duh'] ---they certainly deserve it. Also, our two Senators Lautenberg and Menendez wield a great deal of power. Democratic Congressmen Holt, Pallone, and Andrews should find their way somewhere there. And perhaps Loretta Weinberg, Susan Bass Levin, Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson-Coleman and retired NJ Supreme Court Chief Justice Deborah Poritz.

Also, my guess given the state of the Repubs these days nationally, fewer Repubs will be on the list this year statewide. Undoubtedly, Chris Christie [United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey] and Senate Minority Leader Leonard Lance will make the list. Where on the list, who knows ---but I predict that Christie will place higher than Lance. Christie is the clear choice [if he so chooses] to challenge Gov. Corzine in 2009, while Sen. Lance will be challenged by Tom Kean, Jr. for the Senate Minority Leadership post. Maybe Jr. will be in the top 100, but he won’t be higher than 50. As far as Mayors go, look for Cory Booker of Newark and Jun Choi of Edison.

There will be a smattering of hired guns here and there in the top 25 ---the usual suspects including Dale Florio, Brad Brewster, Judy Shaw, Hazel Gluck on the Repub side. On the Dem side, certainly Karen Kominsky and Paul Matacera.

There will be some non-governmental players in the top 100, too. In spite of their racist frat-boy antics, Craig Carton and Ray Rossi of 101.5 may be in the top 100. Their show reaches so far and wide, and they have such a powerful drive time listening public, that they wield enormous influence.

It’s a more sure thing than a blackjack bet at any Trump Casino that Juan Melli of [named Politician of the Year for 2006 by PoliticsNJ] will be in the top 20, if not the Top 10.

Other non-elected players in the top 100 will be Steven Goldstein of Garden State Equality [who engineered the civil unions in to law, and vows marriage equality to follow within two years]; and Bill Dressel of the NJ State League of Municipalities for his no-nonsense common sense approach advocacy for NJ’s 566 towns.

Who won’t make The List? Well, me, for one. I am fairly certain of that, but who knows.

Also, Assemblywoman Marcia Karrow and Raritan Twp Committeewoman Chris Harcar for their Sunday night fisticuffs. Assemblyman Mike Doherty’s name will be missing--- hard to put someone on The List who does not believe in evolution or global warming or stem cell research.

But the most glaring omission from The List ---and perhaps really the most powerful entity in all of New Jersey --- is the New Jersey voting public. After all, without the voting public, no one on The List would need to be on the Any List at all. And they are no dummies.

Heckuva job, Bloomie!

With Mr. 28% at lower than a 28% approval rating in New Jersey, Republican voters are leaving their party by the score. And this is especially true in the Big Apple, where Repubs are now taking smaller bites.

Across the river and through the tunnel, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced that he, too, is leaving the party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Reagan to become an ‘independent’. Hell, if Lincoln and Teddy were around today, I am sure that would say good-bye to the GOP, too. If Reagan were around, I am not sure he would ever really know what was going on anyway.

Now, an argument can be made that Bloomberg was a lifelong Democrat, and never embraced the neo-con values of today's Repubs, anyway. However, he did stand shoulder to shoulder with Bush and other Republicans while in office and embraced their support and as well as their good will.

And that makes him the beneficiary of the Repubs in my book.
I guess when you have a couple of billion dollars, you can play fast and loose with your core values.

What does this mean for New Jersey? That Republican days are numbered here and they may very well become 'the third party' they were back in 1856.

Repub core values will be in the back of voters’ minds on Election Day, not helping Repubs in close races. While no doubt property taxes, auto insurance, sprawl, school funding, open space, etc. --- will always be the issues at the heart of every New Jersey voter ----Repub stands on national issues that reflect the core values of the Bush/Cheney regime in DC will be in the back of voters’ minds at the polls in November.

Voters will be lots smarter this year: The Repubs' stand on such issues as abortion, marriage equality, the war in Iraq, torture, spying on Americans, the suspension of habeas corpus, Alberto Gonzalez… [The list is endless!] will help the Democrats pick up seats in the NJ State Legislature.

This is at a time when the Party in power usually loses seats, during the mid-term election.

Two races to watch closely:

Senator Ellen Karcher vs. Assemblywoman Jen Beck in the 12th and Senator Tom Kean, Jr vs. Gina Genovese in the 21st. Both races will be very expensive and provide opportunities for the Democrats to solidify even more strength in the Senate.


Karcher, in a close race, will retain her seat.

Right now, an even money coin toss for Jr. He’s probably focusing too much on his Minority Senate Leadership race against Senator Leonard Lance, and not enough on his race in the 21st. I have met Gina and she is a contender.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Big Apple: First, a cover charge, and now a minimum, too.

For years, it cost a cover charge to get in to the Big Apple from New Jersey. The “Bridge and Tunnel” crowd from NJ [and the surrounding boroughs, of course,] would make their way in to Manhattan by those very bridges and tunnels, and pay a hefty fee for the privilege of being in NYC.

Those 'bridges and tunnels' are the ones named for former presidents Lincoln and Washington, and the one-not-named for the nickname for the Netherlands, Holland. We love the folks from Holland very much, but not so much to name a tunnel after them. We like Clifford Milburn Holland, the guy who designed the tunnel much more than we love the Dutch folks, so we named the tunnel after him.

For just six bucks, payable in cash or EZPass, you, too can gain access to the very exclusive land the Indians called Man-hat-tan’ ---from Algonquian word meaning “isolated thing in water”--- [and possibly from ‘land needing hyphens in the name’].

Oh, so accurate were the island natives back then with their naming skills. The thing was such an ‘isolated thing’, that we had to build tunnels and bridges to keep them connected to the rest of the nation. While NJ is actually part of the American continent, Man-hat-tan is not. Their only attachment to the rest of US are those very bridges and tunnels.

Besides the cover charge of six bucks, now Mayor Bloomberg wishes to charge a ‘minimum’ in the form of a ‘congestion fee’ --- charging cars $8 and trucks $21 to drive into Manhattan below 86th Street between 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. for the privilege of just being present in the Big Apple. This is a plan the Mayor was inspired to consider because of its use in London. And we are amused that the Mayor is inspired by what the folks across the pond are doing to control the riff-raff that makes its way in to London town.

The scuttlebutt/gossip/rumor-mill is that Gov. Corzine is not thrilled with the Mayor’s idea just yet. “I have some concerns, which I have expressed, about how it will impact New Jersey commuters. . . . We don't have the capacity to handle dramatic surges in additional riders on our mass transit system, which is what congestion pricing is going to," he told the folks at Gannett.

So, just like everything else with New York City, when they have a problem, they dump it on us. It’s like having a big, fat party animal John Belushi-type friend, who is fun to have around, but always makes us be the designated driver when we go out partying.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Save $$$ in Property Taxes: Become a diplomatic mission to the UN

The folks in Mongolia hate property taxes as much as NJ does:

The US Supreme Court sided with Bloomberg and NYC last week --- that the government of Mongolia must pay the $ 2.1 million in property taxes their nation of 2,594,100 owes the Big Apple for buildings where they operate diplomatic offices.

Come on, Prime Minister Miyeegombyn Enkhbold: youse guys can certainly come up with that in either dollars or tögrögs, your official currency.

That’s less than a buck a head for every Mongolian man, woman or child! And certainly much less than we pay per head in New Jersey. You guys have a bargain in the Big Apple.

New York City has been trying to collect property taxes from nations that house their employees in the same buildings where they operate diplomatic offices. And there are plenty of these around Manhattan, given the United Nations building in town. Those “countries have tax exemptions for the diplomatic mission section of the properties, but the city says they must pay taxes for the space that houses employees,” according to Fox News.

Mongolia owes a little over a cool 2 mil. India owes over $16 million. And that's a lot of tögrögs or Indian Rupees any way you slice it.

We all have to pay property taxes. Even Mongolia and India. But tax exemptions for the diplomatic mission section of the properties?

This gives me a great idea for NJ property tax payers: Rent your house to a diplomatic mission. They get out of NY, and you get a tax break! It's win-win.

Let’s say you get a small nation to house their diplomatic mission to the UN in your house? That should get you some property tax relief in the form of the diplomatic exemption. Certianly not China, India or Russia ----they probably have huge delegations to the UN and need lots of space. But maybe Chad, Tuvalu, or San Marino can use the help. After all, how many delegates to the UN can a nation of a few thousand have? One, maybe two guys? And they’re probably at the UN most of the time.

So, maybe you can offer the rep from the Palau Islands in the Pacific Ocean near the Philippines your garage or the folks from San Marino your back bedroom for a few nights a week. And I am sure the folks from Tuvalu would not mind putting their feet up on your coffee table, chugging down a cool BudLight after a hard day of diplomacy, and listening to the Tuvalu national anthem. So, become an official diplomatic office ----complete with the property tax exemption it comes with.

I am sure you can easily explain that to your town tax collector.

So, Mongolia and India: I am certain that while NYC can give you a little more time to pay your property taxes ---- but after that, we folks in the Garden State will lend them the Sopranos to collect. After all, they're not busy in New Jersey any more.