South Jersey Politics Blog

5/8/15 – Howard Dean to headline New Jersey Democrats’ annual conference

 

Former Vermont governor and Democratic National Committee ChairmanHoward Dean will be the guest speaker on May 14 at the NJ Democrats’ annual Democratic State Conference, which serves as a combination strategy session and pre-campaign-season pep rally for state Democrats. New Jersey Democratic State Committee Deputy Vice Chair Colin G. Bell sees Howard Dean as a fitting guest speaker for the event, which will take place May 14-16 at Harrah’s Resort and Casino in Atlantic City.
 
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5/6/15 – Shamong, NJ feeling the cost of open space as state reimbursements drop

Things typically don’t change much in the small township of Shamong, N.J.,nestled in southern Burlington County’s Pine Barrens. Local people like it that way, according to Mayor Kenneth Long. But one big change has been going on in recent years, invisible to anyone who isn’t keeping an eye on state and municipal budgets. State government has drastically cut back on the money it’s historically paid the town as part of a “payment in lieu of taxes” — or PILOT — program.

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4/24/15 – New Jersey Libertarians quietly plan their revolution over seafood

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The six Libertarians seated at Grabbe’s Seafood Restaurant and Crab House in Westville, N.J. in Gloucester County, were talking about strategies for the upcoming election season. The general consensus was that prospects looked pretty good by third-party standards.

At the New Jersey Libertarian Party’s nominating convention last month, they put up a handful of candidates for state assembly, county freeholder boards and township councils around New Jersey. They hope to recruit more before the June 2 primary, which is the deadline.

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4/24/14 – Congressman MacArthur pushing to expand mental health service options for veterans

New Jersey Congressman Tom MacArthur, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, wants the federal government to do even more to prevent returning war veterans from committing suicide. In February President Obama signed into law the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act, which is designed to provide better support for soldiers returning home. 

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4/21/15 – The line between campaigning and legislating can get blurry in New Jersey

New Jersey state Sen. James Beach (D-Camden), acknowledges that his posts as state senator and as co-chair of the Camden County Democratic Committee are both big duties. And one of the major tasks for both jobs is keeping them separate. Beach said that also goes for his Camden County Democratic co-chair, U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross, D-N.J. “That’s something I’m always very cognizant of,” Beach said. “Keeping my responsibilities as state senator different from my political responsibilities as co-chairman.”

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4/16/15 – Mayor optimistic that Cherry Hill will rebound after Subaru’s exit

It’s not like Cherry Hill Mayor Chuck Cahn was crazy about the decision of Subaru headquarters — a local presence he described as “iconic” — to leave his town for Camden. Subaru announced the decision late last year, citing state tax incentives as a major reason. But ultimately, Cahn said he has no hard feelings about the move. 

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4/15/15 – NJ NAACP: Blacks need to vote in larger numbers if they want to be heard
Richard Smith, president of the New Jersey State Conference of the NAACP, said an “older gentleman” who used to serve as a mentor of his would use an image to describe the role of African Americans in this country — a ring around the outside of a barrel.  A part of the barrel. Integral to its structure. But never actually inside.
 
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4/7/15 – Mayor hopes Gloucester Premium Outlets will be a good deal for shoppers, and for his town [Photos]

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Gloucester Township Mayor David Mayer said he fully expects Gloucester Premium Outlets, the largest economic development project in the history of his community, to alter the town for good. “We’re poised to have tremendous economic growth now,” Mayer said.
 
The outlet mall scheduled to open in August is being built on a 65-acre stretch of former farmland off the Black Horse Pike and Route 42 in Camden County. Mayer says the project will likely spark more nearby commercial development that could include Burlington-Cross Keys Road and Blackwood-Clementon Road.
 
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4/2/15 – Evesham mayor: I never once said someone can’t ask questions

Randy Brown, the Republican mayor of Evesham Township, wants to make one thing clear. “I never once said someone can’t ask questions at a meeting,” Brown said. “Never, ever, ever did those words come out of my mouth.”

Even Brown’s political opponents in Evesham agree that he didn’t specifically say members of the public aren’t permitted to ask questions at township council meetings — a purported assertion that recently earned Brown his 15 minutes of national notoriety.
 
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3/31/15 – Assemblyman Paul Moriarty continues to be the consumer advocate we remember from TV

New Jersey Assembly member Paul Moriarty, D-Camden, Gloucester, admits that making the transition from journalist to lawmaker carried a certain degree of culture shock. Moriarity had worked as an investigative journalist at KYW-CBS-3 for 17 years before getting elected to the Assembly in 2005. “When you’re on the other side (as a politician), it’s quite different,” he said. “People are asking you questions, and they may not be the questions you want them to ask.” Yet for all that, the jobs aren’t all that dissimilar. 

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3/28/15 – The 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia could provide a boost for South Jersey

Philadelphia may have scored the 2016 Democratic National Convention. But South Jersey Democrats are hoping there’s going to be some spillover into the Garden State — both in economic and political benefits. “I think that it’s obviously a tremendous plus to the region,” said state Sen. James Beach, D-Camden, who is also co-chair of the Camden County Democratic Committee. “Economically, 50,000 people are coming.”

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3/27/15  – Head of New Jersey’s NAACP calls for marijuana to be legalized 

The head of the NAACP in New Jersey says it’s time to legalize marijuana. Richard Smith, president of the New Jersey State Conference of the NAACP says laws against marijuana disproportionately hurt African Americans.

It’s something Smith, a resident of Vineland, N.J., has seen firsthand through his job as a prison guard. He sees no contradiction in what he does for a living, and legalizing marijuana. “From a moral standpoint and from a civil rights standpoint, we had no choice but to be involved when we see the devastating impact it’s having on our community,” Smith said.

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3/12/15 – Critics of proposed Pinelands pipeline begin bus tour

Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey, calls the potential appointment of new Pinelands Commission member Robert Barr “Bridgegate in the Pines.” On the surface it may not appear particularly dramatic compared to apocalyptic traffic jams in Fort Lee. But O’Malley insists that it’s just as emblematic of New Jersey’s political culture — a system of bosses at the top of the political food chain trying to exert their influence on every decision-making body statewide, and exacting revenge when it doesn’t happen.
 
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3/6/15 – Nilsa Cruz Perez: Camden, NJ can be the thriving urban center it once was

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When state Sen. Nilsa Cruz Perez, D-Barrington, talks about Camden’s revitalization, she’s not coming at it from the perspective of some starry-eyed idealist who never set foot in the city. Cruz Perez lived in Camden from 1995 to 2006, and knows full well how dangerous and crime-ridden it was for much of its modern history. 

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2/28/15 – Democrats face an uphill battle to win in NJ’s deep red Hunterdon County

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November may seem like a long way off for the average person. But Arlene Quinones Perez, Hunterdon County Democratic Committee chairwoman, is already hard at work. So are her counterparts, both Republican and Democrat, in counties throughout the state. “I don’t think people realize the time commitment,” Quinones Perez said.

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2/25/15 – Gov Christie’s Moorestown visit fits into presidential bid strategy

Burlington County Republican Party Chairman William Layton said he believes Moorestown is a good spot for Gov. Chris Christie’s town hall meeting scheduled Wednesday afternoon, because he considers Burlington County to be kind of a perfect microcosm of New Jersey as a whole. “It’s a symbol of the rest of the state,” Layton said.

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2/20/15 – Why Republican Christopher J. Brown has had enough of Trenton

State Rep. Chris Brown, R-8th Dist., said being a member of the minority party in Trenton hasn’t been easy. The chance of legislation you’ve sponsored coming up for a vote, let alone getting passed, is pretty much slim to none. And he found it discouraging to see the property tax reform legislation he introduced for the past two years get ignored.

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2/19/15 – Donald Norcross: Republicans playing politics with America’s security

Freshman New Jersey Congressman Donald Norcross is not happy with the Republicans threat to shut down the Department of Homeland Security. The Democrat who represents the 1st District across the Delaware River from Philadelphia says the Republican leaders in the U.S. House are not showing great leadership right now.  

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2/17/15 – New Jersey’s 3 freshman congressional members open district offices

All three freshman members of Congress from New Jersey, who were sworn into office last month, have opened their district offices.

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2/6/15 – Could New Jersey get sports betting through Congress?

Rep. Frank LoBiondo, (R-NJ), said he’s lost count of the people he’s spoken to who are out of their jobs as a result of the casino closings in Atlantic City, which is in his district. They’ve contacted his office, approached him at a community events, or events sponsored by Local 54.

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2/4/15 – Jon Bramnick holds a GOP pep-rally ahead of 2015 NJ Assembly elections

About 900 people showed up at the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa in Atlantic City Monday night for the 2015 Statewide Republican Event that State Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick organized. A bit less than the 1,000 people who’d signed up. But still not bad, in light of the fact that the weather didn’t exactly cooperate.

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1/30/15 – New Jersey’s first black congresswoman says racism is more prevalent now

Democratic Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, who is finishing her first month representing the 12th District, said she has mixed feelings about being the first African American woman from New Jersey sworn in to Congress. (Donald Payne was the first African American to represent N.J. in Congress in 1989) 

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1/29/15 – Bonnie Watson Coleman learning quickly about the politics of Homeland Security

Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) said she spent one of her first committee sessions as a U.S. member of Congress in a 12-plus-hour struggle trying to prevent anti-immigration measures from being snuck into a homeland security bill.

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1/24/15 – Democrat Elizabeth Maher Muoio named as new Assemblywoman in NJ’s 15th District

On Saturday, Democratic committee members from Mercer and Hunterdon counties elected Elizabeth Maher Muoio the new state Assembly member from the 15th District.

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1/23/15 – Democrats to choose Bonnie Watson Coleman’s replacement in the NJ Assembly

On Saturday morning, about 240 Democratic committee members from Mercer and Hunterdon counties are scheduled to vote on who will suceed Bonnie Watson Coleman in New Jersey’s Assembly’s 15th Legislative District. Watson Coleman is now serving her first term in Congress representing the 12th Congressional District.

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1/15/15 –  All 80 N.J. Assembly seats are up for reelection in 2015

This year, all 80 seats in the New Jersey General Assembly are up for grabs. The election for the 40 state Senate seats isn’t until 2016. So what are South Jersey’s hot races going to be?

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1/9/15 – Freshman Congressman Tom MacArthur’s first impressions of life in D.C.

New Jersey’s new 3rd District Congressman Tom MacArthur (R-NJ) says he doesn’t want to be part of partisan gridlock in DC.

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1/8/15 – Former Republican Congressman Jon Runyan says he got fed up with the do-nothing Congress

On the day his successor was sworn into office, former U.S. Rep. Jon Runyan said he hasn’t yet decided what he’s going to do now that he’s out of Congress. “I’m working on a bunch of stuff,” he said. “I’m throwing stuff at the wall and trying to see what sticks.” Republican Tom MacArthur was elected in November to represent the 3rd District.

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1/2/15 – Rush Holt: We’re in a period of ‘dangerous cynicism’ towards government

As he prepared to turn over leadership of New Jersey’s 12th Congressional District to successor and fellow Democrat Bonnie Watson Coleman, Rush Holt said he believes Congress has a lot to do.

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12/31/14 – Departing Congressman Rush Holt to become CEO of American Association for the Advancement of Science

Democrat Congressman Rush Holt has a job waiting for him when he leaves the House in January. He has accepted the position of CEO of American Association for the Advancement of Science. It’s an international nonprofit dating to the 19th Century that makes scientific education and outreach two of its major goals.

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12/29/14 – Election scheduled to fill Bonnie Watson Coleman’s Assembly seat

 

Though 2015 hasn’t officially started yet, campaign season is already in full swing in the New Jersey Assembly’s 15th District, according to Arlene Quinones Perez, the chair of the Hunterdon County Democratic Committee.

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12/26/14 – South Jersey lawmaker wants to bring relief to Atlantic City’s neighborhoods

Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo (D-2nd) of Atlantic County has already been busy cranking out bills ostensibly designed to help get Atlantic City back on its feet, including ones providing tax breaks for casinos, and for home builders.

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 12/26/14 – New Jersey targeting unsolicited checks that can lead to unwanted fees

Ever get a “check” in the mail promising you free money? In this case, a South Jersey resident cashed the check only to find out that he was automatically enrolled in a $16-a-month automotive roadside assistance program.

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 12/18/14 – Menendez: Obama just gave an “economic lifeline” for a dictatorial regime

U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey was getting a lot of press on Wednesday, following President Obama’s announcement that the United States will restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba.

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12/15/14 – Nilsa Cruz-Perez to be sworn-in to the N.J. Senate today

New Jersey State Assembly Member Angel Fuentes said he regards Nilsa Cruz-Perez as a trailblazer for the other Hispanic members of the state legislature.

He still marvels at the fact that it took until 1996 for Cruz-Perez to become the first Hispanic member. Now there are 12, Fuentes said.

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12/13/14 – A couple of Canadian reactions to Gov Christie’s recent visit

Former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau once famously compared Canada’s proximity to the United States as being like sleeping with an elephant, in that “one is affected by every twitch and grunt.”

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12/12/14 – NJEA backing David Hespe’s nomination as next state education commissioner 

 So is it safe to say the New Jersey teacher’s union hasn’t always seen eye-to-eye with Gov. Chris Christie? Ask New Jersey Education Association spokeswoman Dawn Hiltner that question, and you’ll get a laugh tinged with bitterness.

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12/12/14 – New Jersey’s U.S. Senators announce federal aid for preschool programs

The U.S. Department of Education and Health and Human Services released $17.5 million in federal grants for preschool programs in high-need communities in New Jersey.

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12/8/14 – Women gaining more political power in New Jersey

The good news? According to Rutgers University’s Center for American Women and Politics, New Jersey ranks pretty high in the nation when it comes to proportion of women in the state legislature. The Garden State’s ranking is 11 among all the states. A couple of decades back, New Jersey always languished around the bottom 10, according to Jean Sinzdak, director of the Center’s Program for Women Public Officials. 

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12/5/14 – LoBiondo and Booker urge feds to help Atlantic City

U.S. Representative Frank LoBiondo of Atlantic County has joined with U.S. Sen. Corey Booker and other members of Congress in sending a letter to U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, asking Perez to support New Jersey’s application for emergency assistance related to job losses from this year’s Atlantic City casino closings.     

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12/2/14 – Christie announces money for Camden High makeover

Gov. Chris Christie has announced that his administration is providing more than $50 million for a major rehabilitation and renovation project at Camden High School. The state teacher’s union, while pleased with the planned renovation, alleges that the money was actually delayed in getting to the school because of Christie.

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12/1/14 – Burlington County reappoints Sean Earlen to Pinelands Commision

Members of the Pineland Preservation Alliance are crying foul over the Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders’ practices for appointing the county’s representative to the Pinelands Commission — the body charged with enforcing regulations in New Jersey’s Pinelands National Reserve.

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