Friday, November 18, 2011

Report from the New Jersey League of Municipalities Convention: Day 3 – November 17, 2011

One of the interesting seminars I attended at this year’s convention dealt with PILOTs (Payments In Lieu Of Taxes). State Comptroller Matthew Boxer suggested very strongly that a municipality should conduct a very robust and comprehensive cost/benefit analysis up front before entering into a PILOT agreement with a developer. 

Three very important questions should be addressed during the analysis: 
1) is the PILOT necessary to attract development or would development still occur without it? 
2) Is the type of development being proposed really needed? 
3) Is it likely to achieve its intended economic goal?

Municipalities should guard against developers who may over-promise in order to make a project appear to be more attractive than it really is. If a PILOT is granted, the developer should be monitored and held accountable for the promised deliverables.

Another seminar I attended dealt with how to prevent sexual harassment and other hostile behaviors in the work place; it was presented by Esther H. Nevarez, Community Relations Coordinator in the Office of the Director for the New Jersey Department of Law & Public Safety. This was by far the most interesting of the eleven seminars I attended. The many definitions of sexual harassment were touched upon, along with the consequences and the remedies. We were reminded that women can sexually harass men; men can sexually harass women; men can sexually harass other men and women can sexually harass other women. Always keep in mind that being sexually harassed by a man or a woman is against the law.

The Department of Law & Public Safety, through the Division on Civil Rights, is responsible for enforcing the Law Against Discrimination (LAD). Anyone who believes that s/he has been a victim of unlawful discrimination should get in touch with the Division on Civil Rights at the office closest to where s/he lives or where the discrimination occurred.

Remember that it is against the law for anyone to retaliate against you because you choose to exercise your rights under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. I hope that this and other information brought to you over the past three days from the 2011 New Jersey League of Municipalities Convention has been helpful in some way.



Thursday, November 17, 2011

Report from the New Jersey League of Municipalities Convention - Day Two: November 16,2011

Assembly Bill 4124 prohibits the distribution of campaign materials at any facility owned, maintained, operated, or leased by a local government. This includes any campaign materials that advocate the nomination or election of a candidate or the defeat of any public question.
Assembly Bill 4034 now permits Freeholders and Municipal Clerks to solemnize marriage and civil union ceremonies.
Senate Bill 2862 - Emergency Information: This bill would require the Municipal Clerk to publish holiday and emergency information on the municipality's website or in the local newspaper.
Within 7 days following the annual reorganization meeting, the Municipal Clerk shall post on the city's website the following: 1) the days which the offices will be closed during the year; 2) days on which the collection of garbage and recycling collection will be suspended or postponed; 3) recommend emergency routes for inclement weather.
If the municipality does not have a dedicated website, the Municipal Clerk shall publish the information along with the schedule of meetings in the municipality's official newspaper.
Assembly Bill 3785 - Public Officials: This bill prohibits an elected public official, who was not reelected to office, from approving the promotion or increasing the compensation of any public officer or employee for whom that elected official is the appointing authority during the period from the date of election to the end of the elected official's term; except as may be provided in a collective negotiation agreement.
Stay tuned for my next report from the 2011 convention.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Report from the New Jersey League of Municipalities Convention - Day One: November 15, 2011

Assembly Bill 4166: This bill permits primary elections to be conducted by mail in a county where the governing body of the county adopts an ordinance or resolution for the process. The bill includes procedures for the County Clerk and County Board of Elections.
Senate Bill 2996: This bill would require certain documentation as proof of voter identity in order to vote. Essentially, a voter, whether voting in person or by mail, would have to show or submit a copy of a New Jersey Driver's license, or a New Jersey non-driver identification card or other document.
This new requirement would not apply to any voter by mail-in ballot under the federal "Uniformed and Oversees Citizens Absentee Voting Act" or under the "Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act."
Stay tuned for more reports from the 2011 NJLM Convention.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Thanks to Our Veterans

I wish to thank all of of Plainfield's veterans on this, their special day. I thank you for the enormity of your sacrifice, the depth of your courage, your loyalty to our great nation, and above all, for your unearned pain and suffering. We love you, and we exalt you above all but the Creator, whose saving grace has kept you through the many battles that you have fought. May you be blessed, this day and every day.

With great thanks,


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Congratulations to My Fellow Democrats

Voters in Plainfield and across the state rejected Republican ideas and Republican values in favor of Democrats who have demonstrated their affinity for the poor and working class people of the state. Voters also sent a message to the governor, expressing their displeasure with his assault on organized labor. The people of Plainfield and the state of New Jersey prefer to hold on to their hopes, dreams and aspirations for a better quality of life, knowing that the remedy can only be prescribed by Democrats who readily acknowledge the ills of our society and are best able to administer a cure.

Republicans, in general, still believe in the notion that ours is a nation built by self-made men and women whose success was achieved solely on the strength of their own initiatives. The social responsibility of government for those who need a helping hand to gain a footing up from the gutters of despair onto a social and economic ladder that would take them to a loftier life altering and fulfilling experience is one that Republicans continue to reject in favor of a permanent underclass.

This stark philosophical difference between Democrats and Republicans is the reason the playing fields of society continue to be laden with hurdles that are "tripping hazards" for America’s poor and middle class. It is partly the basis for the battle that is being waged between the 99% and the 1%; it is the reason why Democrats in general feel the need to come together in opposition to the rigid ways of the Republican party; it is the reason why Plainfield Democrats stood in solidarity with supporters of the trade union movement and in strong opposition to those who, if given the opportunity, would align themselves with a governor who is hell-bent on turning back the clock on organized labor.

Plainfield Democrats and all progressive-minded people must begin to organize in a show of support for President Barack Obama. The focus must now shift to 2012, a year in which much will be at stake, as Republicans are expected to continue digging in their heels to bring government to a halt as they pursue their obstructionist agenda for the purpose of defeating the President. We must push back and we must blunt the force of the Republican attack.

I congratulate all Democrats on their victory at the polls on Tuesday, and I encourage all to mobilize forces to do all that we can and all that we must to ensure victory for President Obama and other Democrats in 2012. Our work must begin today if there is to be success tomorrow. Again, congratulations to my fellow Democrats.



Monday, November 7, 2011

A Vote for Democrats This Year is a Vote for President Obama Next Year

This Tuesday, the entire state legislature is up for grabs, and Republicans are chomping at the bit to take control and to join Governor Christie in his march to the extreme right with his single-minded focus of bashing the labor movement--a movement that is responsible for the breadbaskets from which working families have been eating for generations and for the economic engines that have moved them up from poverty to a life of prosperity--into submission. I call on democratic and independent/non-affiliated voters in Plainfield to join me on Tuesday in voting for all of the Democrats in column A.

This is not an election year to stay at home; we must use it to elect Democrats so as to build momentum as we go into 2012, when we will all need to support the reelection of President Obama. A vote for Democrats is a vote for the millionaires tax; it’s a vote for the demonstrators on Wall Street who are fighting for the 99%; it's a vote for upholding collective bargaining agreements; it’s a vote for rebuilding America’s infrastructure and for job creation; it’s a vote for New Jersey’s teachers and for teachers all across the country; it’s a vote for protecting Medicare and Social Security; it’s a vote for working families and for those in the middle who have been squeezed to the point of seeing their American dream turned into a nightmare; and it’s a vote against those who are tearing down our President.

Vote for Democrats in column A. Let’s build momentum and let’s carry it into next year. This Tuesday’s election is really about the reelection of President Obama; it’s a dry run to test your willingness and eagerness to come out in large numbers, as you did three years ago. A vote for democrats this year is a vote for President Obama next year. Don’t give the media any reason to spin the voter turnout from this Tuesday into voter suppression next year. Come out and vote.