Some strange news out of Camden
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Some strange news out of Camden

Sep 23, 2023


08/04/2022 06:55 AM EDT

Presented by AARP

Here's something potentially novel: The city of Camden and progressive activists might agree on something.

Almost a month ago, City Clerk Luis Pastoriza rejected a petition filed by activists to force the city to consider a proposed ordinance that would require major employers to disclose info about where their employees live and their salary ranges. Pastoriza gave two reasons: Not enough valid signatures, and that the ordinance would fall outside of the city's legal authority. The petitioners sued.

The activists — The Camden We Choose Coalition, the New Jersey Working Families Party et. al. — cured the signatures, as state law allows. And last week, the city informed them it had accepted the new petition signatures. Bill Tambussi, an attorney for the city — among many other powerful things and people — in a letter to the petitioners said the City Council has scheduled a vote on their proposed ordinance on August 9.

And in a statement dated Aug. 2, Camden Mayor Vic Carstarphen and City Council President Angel Fuentes said they support the ordinance.

The city made some proposed changes to the ordinance. The biggest, as far as I can tell, would loosen the definition of "full-time" employee a bit, adding hourly as well as salaried employees who work at least 30 hours per week. It also expands the type of employers subject to the law to include "school, university, hospital" (cough cough, Cooper) and a few others. And the ordinance under the city edits appears to include collection of data on other factors like health benefits, charitable contributions to city organizations and "other support and benefits to Camden residents."

Why would Camden reverse course? I can only speculate. I do know that this is rooted in the 2019 tax incentive scandal that South Jersey Democrats and the Murphy administration have both worked to put behind them, and any headline about this effort threatens to dredge that up. And if the council rejects this and it goes to a referendum, they may not want to risk losing that battle. Or, who knows, maybe they figured the information coughed up by city employers would be positive for them?

If the activists and city government agree on the ordinance, there won't be a referendum. The activists have not yet made a decision, spokesperson Anthony Campisi said. I hope to have more on this today.


WHERE’S MURPHY? No public schedule.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "[T]he Republican National Committee calls upon Congress to modernize and/or replace the Electoral Count Act of 1887 in order to prevent a repeat of the tragedy of January 6, 2021, which resulted in serious injury, not only to the law enforcement officers who were protecting the U.S. Capitol and Members of Congress and the Vice President that day, but injury to important American institutions in the minds of most Americans and our allies around the world." — Part of a resolution proposed to the Republican National Committee by New Jersey Committeeman Bill Palatucci.

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY — Former Rep. Rob Andrews

A message from AARP:

Family caregivers help their aging parents and other loved ones live in their homes, where they want to be—and out of costly taxpayer-funded nursing homes. They save New Jersey billions of dollars annually. But family caregivers are struggling to make it work. The Caregiver's Assistance Act would provide a modest tax credit to family caregivers—financial relief that they’ve earned. Tell your lawmakers: Pass the Caregiver's Assistance Act (A1802/S2021) now.

SENATE DEMOCRATS WORSEN JUDICIAL SHORTAGE — "Accettola leaving Senate post; Lydon will resign judgeship to become Senate Majority E.D.," by New Jersey Globe's David Wildstein: "After less than four months on the job, Allison Accettola has resigned as executive director of the New Jersey Senate Majority Office, two sources have confirmed. Superior Court Judge Timothy Lydon, who served as executive director of the Senate Democrats under Senate President Steve Sweeney, is expected to resign from the bench and return to his old legislative staff job. Accettola replaced Kevin Drennan on April 18 after serving as general counsel to the Senate Democrats for seven years. He had been the top staff to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where the current Senate President, Nicholas Scutari, was chairman. The 50-year-old Lydon is walking away from a tenured seat on the bench, where he is currently the presiding judge of the general equity court in Mercer County. He could have spent an additional twenty years as a judge."

COURTING DISASTER — "Murphy's slow roll on courts now ‘catastrophic’," by NJ Spotlight News’ Colleen O’Dea: "The existence of three open seats on the New Jersey Supreme Court less than a month before it begins its new term is both ‘historic’ and ‘catastrophic,’ the president of the New Jersey State Bar Association said, urging Gov. Phil Murphy and senators to quickly confirm nominees for those seats and to fill another 63 openings on the state courts. ‘It's mind-boggling. It's catastrophic. It's unheard of. It's historic,’ said Jeralyn L. Lawrence, the bar association president. ‘Here we sit, less than a month away from the next session, and we have a Supreme Court that's forty-three percent vacant. Can you imagine any profession operating with a forty-three percent vacancy?’ Echoing comments by Chief Justice Stuart Rabner, superior court judges and the administrator of the state courts, Lawrence said that people are suffering.’"

IS IT ABOUT 2023 OR 2025? — PAC tied to Ciattarelli rivals plans to raise money in hopes of flipping state Legislature, by POLITICO's Matt Friedman: A PAC with ties to two former Republican state chairs — and rivals of former GOP gubernatorial nominee Jack Ciattarelli — is raising money to help the party flip the state Legislature next year. Building a Competitive New Jersey registered with the state Election Law Enforcement Commission in October 2021 — a month before the gubernatorial election which saw Ciattarelli lose to Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy by about 3 points. It was chaired at the time by Doug Steinhardt, the former state GOP chair who had been Ciattarelli's chief rival for the party's gubernatorial nomination but dropped out early in the race citing "unforeseen professional obligations. The PAC, whose mission statement on its first filing with the ELEC on Oct. 6, 2021, said it would "promote conservative ideas and responsible government," has yet to report raising or spending any money on New Jersey races. But last week, attorney Michael Lavery, a Steinhardt ally who briefly succeeded him as Republican state chair last year, took over as Building a Competitive New Jersey's chair and announced a planned fundraiser in Toms River for Sept. 7.

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R.I.P. — "Gerald Silliphant, longtime OLS budget expert, ex-senate minority E.D., dies at 95"

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THE LAND OF OZ — "Carpetbagging Oz needs to stop his PA Senate run. We want him home in Jersey," by U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. for The Record: "It is important to have pride in where you live. Pride builds collective community and individual happiness. I have pride in my state and think others should too. Which is why I take umbrage at my longtime North Jersey constituent Dr. Mehmet Oz claiming to be a Pennsylvanian to run for U.S. Senate in the Keystone State. If elected, Oz would be the first U.S. senator from Cliffside Park, New Jersey since the late Frank Lautenberg — also a Paterson native — passed away in 2013. Oz's campaign for Senate disrespects the over 9 million New Jersey residents in our state and does disservice to the nearly 13 million Americans who call the Commonwealth home. They"

—Snowflack: "Sherrill, Dems, and the big waiting game"

IF THE RAISE IS BASED SOLELY ON ENTERTAINMENT VALUE, THEY’VE EARNED IT — "Trenton council renews bid to increase salaries as terms near end," by The Trentonian's Isaac Avilucea: "A council that earned a reputation as being the most dysfunctional governing body In New Jersey is introducing an ordinance Thursday that would double the salaries of legislators by next year. Council members’ salaries would jump to $40,000 and the council president's to $45,000 under the proposal, records show. If passed, pay increases would go into effect Jan. 1, 2023, and include 2.5 percent hikes for legislators each January, which legislators say is consistent with contractual raises received by other city employees. Aide salaries would also triple to $15,000 a year under the proposal."

—"After years of record violence, [Trenton] just went 2 months without a homicide"

OPT IN AND OUT — "Middletown will require students to ‘opt in’ to sex ed. classes," by Patch's Carly Baldwin: "Middletown will be one of the first districts in the state to have parents "opt in" to the new sex education curriculum this fall. These are the new sex education mandates New Jersey public schools are required to start teaching in the 2022-23 school year, at the behest of Gov. Phil Murphy and acting Education Commissioner Angelica Allen-McMillan. The 66-page curriculum guide from the DOE includes talking about masturbation and gender identity to elementary students … Other school districts are giving students the chance to ‘opt out’ of the new sex education classes, but Middletown is one of the first school districts in the state to require parents ‘opt in.’ That means Middletown parents will be told in advance what will be taught and must give their child permission to attend that day's lesson. ‘Middletown envisions an opt-in (by unit) for the health curriculum rather than an opt-out,’ said Middletown board member Kate Farley, who chairs the curriculum committee. ‘The administrative team has worked very hard to put together a revised K-5 health curriculum that is compliant with state standards but also wholly age-appropriate for our students at each grade level.’"

A message from AARP:

THE HITS KEEP COMING — "Despite nearly $200K income and a home, Jersey City councilwoman lives in income-restricted apartment complex," by The Jersey Journal's Joshua Rosario: "The Jersey City councilwoman at the center of a hit-and-run firestorm lives in an apartment complex intended for low- to moderate income families, even though she earns nearly $200,000 annually from two taxpayer-funded jobs and also owns a home in the city … Jersey City's guide to affordable housing, last updated in 2019, listed all of the College Towers’ 320 units as restricted to people making 60-80% of the area median income, or $50,820 to $67,760 … DeGise earns $105,000 at the Hudson County Schools of Technology, according to 2021 records, and $85,000 as a councilmember … Despite her income, DeGise is likely not in violation of the College Towers’ income restriction rules. One resident, a police officer who declined to give his name, said Wednesday the management checks applicants’ salaries to make sure they’re within the restrictions when they first apply, but as residents earn more money, they can stay and pay market rate rents. A spokeswoman from HUD confirmed that income-restricted properties normally allow residents to stay put, as long as they pay more in rent … While DeGise may be allowed to stay at College Towers, some critics say she is taking an affordable apartment away from a family that needs it."

— "Jersey City councilwoman in hit-and-run says she has received death threats"

—"Petition to remove Jersey City councilmember gets more than 4,000 signatures after hit and run"

—"Party unity, 2025 elections hang on how Hudson Dems handle DeGise's hit-and-run, insiders say"

AND THEY’VE ELECTED YOUNGER POLITICAL LEADERSHIP, TOO, LIKE… OH, NEVER MIND — "Ocean County is no longer among the oldest. How much did affordable housing help?" by The Asbury Park Press’ Susanne Cervenka: "Ocean County's affordability once made it a haven for New Jersey's retirees, who flocked to 55 and older communities like Leisure Village and Holiday City. For years, it made Ocean County one of New Jersey's oldest counties. Yet new data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows Ocean County is no longer among the oldest. In fact, it now ranks 12th of New Jersey's 21 counties in terms of median age, down from third place in 2010, according to recently released Census data. As other New Jersey counties are getting older, Ocean County's median age has ticked down in the past decade. It's the only county in the state that saw its median age decrease. Experts say a combination of factors led to the shift. And housing affordability — the same thing that beckoned retirees for years — is among the characteristics now attracting younger people to Ocean County."

BAN THE BLUE — "Parents demand sexually explicit book banned from NJ school's summer reading," by NJ 101.5's Rick Rickman: "’All Boys Aren't Blue’ is banned from school libraries in at least eight states, Time magazine reported …Northern Valley Regional High School at Old Tappan is the latest school to come under fire in connection with the book … NVRHS District Superintendent James Santana told New Jersey 101.5 in a statement that the book is not on a list provided by the district. Santana added that ‘all summer reading is based on student choice.’ ‘I am aware that some parents in a few NV communities are concerned about a book that is available to young adults around the world,’ Santana said. ‘What I have learned is that a lot of the parental concerns brought to my attention related to our summer reading list are based on misinformation.’ … Woodcliff Mayor Carlos Rendo, a Republican and a former candidate for lieutenant governor, is calling for parents to go to school board meetings and call for the book's removal. ‘It's time that we take a stand! This is the agenda that Democrats are pushing,’ Rendo said on social media Wednesday … However, North Valley schools don't serve students from Woodcliff. Instead, they attend Pascack Hills High School in Montvale. ‘I’m not sure why a mayor from a town not associated with our district would be publicly raising concerns about something in the Northern Valley schools without first reaching out to the Chief School Administrator,’ Santana said."

—"Cedar Grove school board member resigns to avoid recall over gender identity survey"

—"Lake Hopatcong beach closed due to dangerous algae blooms"

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HUNGER — "Families in need skip meals to pay other expenses. Food pantries also in dire straits," by The Record's Matt Fagan: "With inflation at a 40-year high, the state's most financially vulnerable are finding themselves having to prioritize between buying groceries to feed their families and covering other expenses, such as gas for their vehicles or paying rent and utilities. State residents, along with the rest of the country, are dealing with a 32.2% increase in the price of eggs, a 14.2% increase in meat, poultry and fish, and an 11.8% increase in dairy products. Although gas prices have fallen, they are still above $4 per gallon. The overall rate of inflation stands at 9.06%. More than one-third of all state residents reported they cut back on food and groceries to meet other expenses. ‘It is a double whammy,’ said Laura Van Bloem, Eva's Village senior director of development and communications. Demand for groceries is up, and the cost to fill the empty shelves is also up, she said of the nonprofit, which offers meals, recovery and assistance"

GROW NJ — "How do they grow all that weed? Inside a new 270,000-square-foot pot producing plant in South Jersey," by The Philadelphia Inquirer's Frank Kummer: "Volley Hayhurst had just finished donning a disposable lab coat when he glanced at his mobile phone and let out an enthusiastic ‘Yes!’ ‘My phone is blowing up. The results just came back," said Hayhurst, vice president of operations at Columbia Care's new 270,000-square-foot cannabis growing and packaging facility in Vineland, N.J. "We have something fun and new for the market.’ It's THC-infused salt water taffy, a Shore favorite that the company will launch soon in Delaware, likely to follow eventually in New Jersey … For Columbia Care, plants get their start at the publicly traded company's two facilities in Vineland, Cumberland County: Its original 50,000-square-foot plant and the one that opened in June that's the equivalent of just under five football fields. Most commercial pot is grown indoors where security, cleanliness, temperature, humidity, light, and water flow can all be controlled with precision."

—"It was once the largest nursing home in N.J., now just 15 residents remain in a facility soon to close"

—"Families in need skip meals to pay other expenses. Food pantries also in dire straits"

—"How do you get summer vacationers at the Shore to keep the faith? Bless their boats"

—"Atlantic City's Joe Lupo to run Mirage casino for Hard Rock"

—"Climate change will boost flood repair costs, study says"

—"In fight against invasive plants, strike team stepped up when New Jersey wouldn't"

A message from AARP:

New Jersey family caregivers save the state—and taxpayers—over $17 billion annually providing care for their spouses, aging parents, or other loved ones. Yet, caregivers pay out of their own pockets—on average spending 26% of their income. With inflation making everything more expensive, too many families are struggling to help keep their loved ones at home.

AARP is fighting to bring some financial relief to family caregivers, who need and deserve support. The Caregiver's Assistance Act (A1802/S2021) would provide a modest tax credit for families who take on caregiving expenses. It's crucial financial relief that family caregivers have earned. Tell Governor Murphy and your state lawmakers: Pass the Caregiver's Assistance Act (A1802/S2021) to provide family caregivers financial relief now.

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