Category: Clips

Bramnick’s ‘Real Talk’ Tour: Getting the Job Done [video]

Source: Assembly Republican Video -

Jon Bramnick

Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick takes his “Real Talk Tour” to Livingston to listen to local leaders’ ideas on how Trenton can help improve life for New Jersey residents.

Leader Bramnick was joined by: Livingston Mayor Michael Rieber, North Caldwell Mayor Joe Alessi, Roseland Councilman Richard Leonard and Nutley Commissioner Steven Rogers.

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O’Scanlon: Another strike against red-light cameras

Source: Star-Ledger -

Perhaps you’ve heard some of those radio ads in which an Australian company tries to influence New Jersey legislators to keep its red-light cameras by claiming safety benefits to drivers and pedestrians.

Or you might have seen a video posted online by the Redflex Co. in which Newark traffic-safety official Jack Nata says the following about the cameras:

“They keep the intersections safe. Anyone who uses the intersections is safer and we’re not going to take the cameras down because of that.”

Declan O'Scanlon

No, no, and no, says Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon. The Monmouth County Republican is spearheading what is looking like a successful effort to keep the program from being renewed when a five-year trail period ends Dec. 16.

“Every single peer-reviewed, objective study has shown they don’t improve safety,” said O’Scanlon. “I find it offensive these companies are coming in here lying about their product. Their placing ads still further extends the lie.”

O’Scanlon has documented in great detail all the questionable numbers employed by the company and municipal officials to keep the program running. Here’s one number you never hear them talk about: $61,977,475.

That’s the amount of fines the cameras generated last year.

Here’s another number I came across the other day that debunks another key claim made by the camera defenders: 1,100 percent.

The claim is that the cameras improve pedestrian safety. But it turns out pedestrian accidents have skyrocketed at an intersection in Newark that the company cites as the pride of the program.

I learned that from a couple of concerned citizens who have set up a website to combat traffic cameras. Rick Short of Cherry Hill and George Ford of Lawrenceville set up the site after hearing complaints from neighbors in their respective towns, both of which have those money-making machines posted at key intersections.

Ford, who is retired, devotes his time to downloading state Department of Transportation accident reports. He then creates data bases to counter the claims put out by those who profit from the cameras.

“It takes hours and hours to go through these reports one by one,” said Short.

But it was worth the trouble. One thing they found is that the towns were cherry-picking data to create the impression that dangerous right-angle crashes are reduced by the cameras. But the statistic that really leapt out at them concerned pedestrian safety. That’s a key selling point for the camera companies.

Most of the cameras are posted on suburban highways with little pedestrian presence. But then there’s Newark, a place where there are plenty of walkers.

Ford looked at figures for accidents near the intersections of Broad Street with Market Street and Raymond Boulevard in Newark. He found that the number of pedestrians hit by cars increased each year from just one in 2009, the last year without the cameras, to 12 last year.

I e-mailed city’s spokesman David Lippman to ask whether I could talk with Nata to get some sort of an explanation for that huge jump in the walking wounded. Apparently he only grants interviews to Australians, though. So I asked O’Scanlon what he thought of it.

“If they had a category that showed this much improvement, they’d be bragging about it,” he said “That’s their M.O. They take credit for every benefit and deny any detriment.”

O’Scanlon cited a case in which a number of drivers were ticketed in Newark even though a cop had waved them through the light. It’s that sort of behavior that has sparked the groundswell in public opinion that is causing legislators to shy away from the program, he said.

By the end of the day, Lippman finally got back to me with a statement he attributed to Nata:

“The only intersection at which the pedestrian accidents increased was Broad Street and Market Street. At this intersection all turns are prohibited by vehicles, so all pedestrian accidents occurred when cars made illegal turns, or pedestrians crossed against the signal, or pedestrians jaywalked, none of which has anything to do with red light running and none of which could have been avoided by having red light cameras at this location.”

That explains nothing. I know that intersection well. There were plenty of jaywalkers and bad drivers there back before the cameras were installed in 2009. The only thing that’s changed is the cameras.

I asked Short for his opinion of what’s causing all those accidents. He said he’s learned that some drivers apparently believe they can beat the cameras by either gunning it to get through the intersection or making a quick turn in the hopes of escaping the camera.

Maybe Nata has another explanation, so I again asked to talk with him. But he must have been on the phone to Sydney or something.

So there’s only one way to find out whether the cameras were responsible for that increase in injuries.

Turn them off. The sooner the better.

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Ciattarelli: The real fundamentals of betting on college games in N.J.

Source: The Star-Ledger (Letter-to-the-editor by Jack Ciattarelli) -

Jack Ciattarelli

Last week, New Jersey’s Assembly voted to allow racetrack and casino sports betting on professional and college games. The bill (S-2460) passed 73-4.

Many see sports betting in New Jersey as another lifeline to racetracks and, especially, Atlantic City. There’s no denying Atlantic City needs help, though not this kind. That was not, however, the reason for my ‘no’ vote.

S-2460 does not permit betting on all college games – it prohibits betting on New Jersey college teams and all college games played in New Jersey, regardless of the teams. While the intent of this ‘carve-out’ is to protect New Jersey and visiting student-athletes from the influences of sports betting, what is it saying about college sports betting in general?

Something is fundamentally wrong with betting on college games played by student-athletes, many of whom are teenagers.

The excesses of sports are everywhere. Allowing betting on games played by student-athletes only accelerates the turbo-charge commercialization of college sports. For what purpose and at what expense? Granted, college sports are a multibillion-dollar business. The ‘ka-ching’ of state coffers and cash registers at racetracks and casinos, however, isn’t adequate justification for the ongoing bastardization of collegiate athletics.

Jack M. Ciattarelli, Somerville
Assemblyman, Legislative District #16

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Bramnick pushes ‘fiscal sanity,’ bipartisanship at Livingston conference

Source: The Star-Ledger -

Assembly minority leader Jon Bramnick was in Essex County yesterday for the latest stop on what he says is a tour to “restore fiscal sanity” to the state.

Jon Bramnick

Bramnick (R-Union) held a press conference with local elected officials to tout his idea to set up a bi-partisan strategic long-term planning committee in the Assembly. Bramnick originally proposed the committees in July.

“These (committees) would be think tanks that would work together on the major issues,” Bramnick said in a phone interview after the conference yesterday. “A committee would have, say, four Republicans, four Democrats, and former governors on it.”

The committees, he said, would not address issues or bills as they come up, but would be meant to discuss ongoing issues across the state.

The conference in front of a Livingston shopping center Tuesday comes after several other public stops across the state discussing the idea, including events in Cape May, Atlantic, Middlesex, and Burlington Counties, he said. Bramnick said he is planning his next stop in Newark.

“Four years ago, our (town) council became bipartisan for the first time in 20 years when I was elected,” Republican Livingston Mayor Michael Rieber said yesterday.

“We’ve been able to do a lot of good things here in a bi-partisan way. There is just such pure partisanship in Trenton, that nothing gets done.”

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Schepisi on reforms to increase Port Authority transparency [video]

Source: NJTV Online -

“Every street, two square miles around here. It was impossible. The worst I’d ever seen,” said Fort Lee resident Ted Allen.

Libertarian Allen recalls the traffic nightmares of September 2013 when an aide to Gov. Chris Christie emailed the Port Authority to tie up traffic in Fort Lee leading to the most traveled bridge in America — the GWB — in an apparent act of political retaliation against this borough’s mayor.

Now, lawmakers in both states have approved bills to make the Port Authority more transparent, opening up its decision-making to the public, mandating a study of the Port Authority every two years and setting up protection for whistleblowing.

Holly Schepisi

“It really starts to implement some of the fundamental changes to the Port Authority that we really wanted to see,” [said Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi, one of the Republican sponsors of the bills. “Financial disclosure forms — we wanted to be able to know if people have monetary interests.”

There’s no question the Bridgegate scandal and the investigations have given lawmakers the momentum, the impetus to reform the Port Authority. Which raises the question would these reforms have prevented the Bridgegate scandal altogether?

“Nobody can say for sure because we don’t know as to exactly what occurred,” Schepisi said.

Seton Hall law professor Matt Hale says the reforms likely would have made carrying out Bridgegate more difficult. But real reform?

Schepisi appears on the video at 1:09 and 1:45

He said, “At the end of the day you still have to have people within the organization, within whatever agency it is, embrace a culture of openness and transparency.”

Lawmakers says their action is a good start.

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Bramnick and Local Officials Discuss Shared Services, Bipartisan Leadership

Source: The Alternative Press -

Jon Bramnick

Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick joined elected officials Mayor Michael Rieber, Mayor of North Caldwell Joe Alessi, Commissioner of Nutley Steven Rogers and Roseland Councilman Richard Leonard for a press conference entitled, “Essex County Real Talk to Restore Fiscal Sanity,” on Tuesday at the Livingston Town Center.

Topics discussed included the sharing of services between local townships and bipartisan leadership in the communities.

Bramnick said the bipartisan leadership of the local communities is a “model for the state.”

“It’s about public policy,” said Bramnick. “I hope we can do more consolidation, more shared services and more bipartisanship.”

Leonard, who has served on the Roseland Council for 36 years, thanked Rieber for his idea to work with local administrators to find areas to consolidate services in a cost effective way.

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Angelini receives leadership award

Source: Atlanticville -

State Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini (R-Monmouth) was selected by the board of trustees of Children’s Aid and Family Services to receive the 2014 Building Futures Government Leadership Award for her commitment and support of children and families in New Jersey.

Mary Pat Angelini

“The work that Children’s Aid and Family Services does to help protect children in our communities is invaluable. It is a great honor to receive this leadership award from a compassionate organization that helps meet the social, educational, and emotional needs of vulnerable children and their families.” — Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini

Each year through its Building Futures Awards, Children’s Aid and Family Services — one of northern New Jersey’s leading nonprofit providers of human services and child welfare programs — honors individuals, companies and organizations dedicated to improving the community through supporting children and families.

“Children’s Aid and Family Services is delighted to be honoring Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini at our Building Futures Awards,” said Bob Jones, president and CEO of Children’s Aid and Family Services, in a press release. “Her commitment to drug- and alcohol-abuse prevention and education in New Jersey has made a huge difference in the lives of young people across the state,” he added.

“The work that Children’s Aid and Family Services does to help protect children in our communities is invaluable,” Angelini said. “It is a great honor to receive this leadership award from a compassionate organization that helps meet the social, educational, and emotional needs of vulnerable children and their families.”

Angelini accepted her Government Leadership Award at the Building Futures Awards Presentation, which was held at the Woman’s Club of Ridgewood on Sept. 30.

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Assembly panel advances DiMaio/Ciattarelli Bill protecting farmers

Source: Hunterdon County Democrat -

Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman John DiMaio and Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli that protect farmers from nuisance lawsuits was released today by the Assembly Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee.

John DiMaio

“New Jersey commercial farms are unique. Since many are located near residential areas, neighboring residents often complain about noise and odors,” said DiMaio, R-Warren, Hunterdon and Somerset. “Years ago, these farms were virtually isolated. As more people moved into areas in and around the farms, residents not only began complaining, they also started filing nuisance lawsuits that are time consuming and costly to defend. Farmers today face many challenges. Having to contend with harassing lawsuits shouldn’t be one of them.”

The bill, A-552, allows farmers whose commercial farms are in compliance with the state’s “Right to Farm Act” to be reimbursed for reasonable costs and attorney fees if a complaint filed against them has been brought in bad faith.

Jack Ciattarelli

“Unfortunately, we are seeing more groundless lawsuits against farmers,” said Ciattarelli, R-Somerset, Hunterdon, Mercer and Middlesex. “While people should never be dissuaded from exercising their legal right to file a lawsuit, this bill is about striking the right balance and ensuring fairness. If a lawsuit is truly frivolous, the farmer shouldn’t be required to pay all the fees associated with the case.”

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Carroll: Port Authority reform bills are a good start, more work still needed

Source: PolitickerNJ -

Sponsors from both sides of the Hudson of legislation aimed at reforming an embattled Port Authority defended their work against critics today, arguing that the bills they’ve proposed are “not incremental or half measures” but represent the first real steps toward increasing transparency at the agency.

Michael Patrick Carroll

“The simple fact of the matter is [the Port Authority] has been a pit for years. And if Bridgegate brought that to the fore, and gave us a chance to look at it, then god bless them for tying up traffic, because it gives us an opportunity to really go after this entity and make sure it stops spending money on museums, it stops buying property in Bayonne for whatever reason without telling us why.” — Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll

Testifying at an Assembly State and Local Government hearing this afternoon, where committee members unanimously released both bills, state Sen. Robert Gordon (D-38) and Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle (D-37) joined New York State Assembly people James Brennan and Amy Paulin in encouraging the passage of A3417 and A3350, two pieces of legislation meant to open up the historically-obscure organization to the public in the wake of ongoing controversy surrounding last year’s George Washington Bridge lane closings. But they were quick to clarify that this would involve serious changes to the organization — not the kind of cop-out reforms that some have accused them of proposing.

The bills, identical versions of which have already been passed by both the Senate in New Jersey and both houses in New York, cover an array of perceived problems at the Port Authority, a mutli-billion dollar agency whose responsibilities include overseeing operations at Newark Liberty, LaGuardia, Kennedy, Stewart, Atlantic City and Teterboro airports, the Port of New York and New Jersey, and the PATH mass transit system. One bill, sponsored by Huttle in the Assembly and Gordon in the Senate, contains provisions intended to enhance both transparency and accountability at the Port Authority, requiring mandatory annual reports by the agency to both states’ legislatures and whistleblower protections for employees who report what they believe to be impropriety.

The other bill, a similar version of which was sponsored by Paulin in New York’s legislature, would subject the agency freedom of information laws, requiring the agency to turn over any documents deemed public by either of the two states.

One member of the committee pointed out that the current version of the bills lack any real enforcement mechanisms, making them laws on paper only. Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll (R-25) argued the legislation does little to fundamentally change the structure of the Port Authority, which is the source of many of its current problems.

“The simple fact of the matter is this place has been a pit for years,” Carroll said. “And if Bridgegate brought that to the fore, and gave us a chance to look at it, then god bless them for tying up traffic, because it gives us an opportunity to really go after this entity and make sure it stops spending money on museums, it stops buying property in Bayonne for whatever reason without telling us why. It would be nice — and again these bills are nice, I don’t mean to be insulting in that way — but they’re really just process bills. What we really need is somebody out there who focuses like a laser beam on transportation.”

The Assembly State and Local Government Committee’s passage of the bills is one of the last hurdles the legislation faces — it still needs to pass the General Assembly — before arriving on Gov. Chris Christie’s desk. Brennan and Paulin said they are “confident” their own versions of the bills will be signed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the coming weeks.

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Handlin, Schepisi, McHose back Port Authority reform bills approved by panel

Source: The Star-Ledger -

A pair of bipartisan bills that would subject the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to more expansive open public records laws, protect whistle blowers, and require annual reports to lawmakers were approved today by the Assembly State and Local Government Committee.

Republican co-sponsors Amy Handlin, Alison McHose and Holly Schepisi applauded the committee’s passage of the two bills, which have already been approved by the state Senate, and could be scheduled by Prieto for a full vote of the Assembly as early as Nov. 13.

One of today’s bills, A3350, would subject the Port Authority to New York and New Jersey’s state freedom of information laws, requiring the agency to turn over any documents deemed public by either of the two states. People who believe their document request was wrongly denied would be able to sue the agency under either state law.

The other, A3417, contains provisions including mandatory annual reports by the agency to both states’ legislatures, and whistle blower protections for employees who report what they believe to be impropriety.

The bills were in response to the so-called Bridgegate scandal that grew out of the George Washington Bridge lane closures of September 2013, which exposed division within the bi-state agency.

The bills must be approved by both states’ legislatures and signed by both governors.

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