Category: Clips

Bramnick: ‘It’s just Wiz’s report’

PolitickerNJ -

Jon Bramnick

Targeting Democratic leaders, Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-21) today tore into the news, first reported by PolitickerNJ, that the Joint Legislative Committee will imminently issue its findings on Bridgegate.

Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-19) and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-37) said an interim report of the findings of the legislative Select Committee on Investigation regarding the Bridgegate scandal will be submitted tomorrow to committee members and released to the public on Monday.

“They should never call this an interim committee report,” Bramnick said. “It should be called an interim Wisniewski report. They never included Republicans. Stop calling it the Bridgegate committee. Call it the ‘partisan report’ or the ‘Wiz report,’ but not an interim committee report.

“They never consulted with Republican members of this committee,” the Republican leader added. “It’s just Wiz’s report. They should call it the Wiz-Weinberg report. I object to them calling it an interim committee report.”

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Ciattarelli-Simon Oppose PennEast Pipeline

Courier News -

The three District 16 state legislators have come out in opposition to the proposed PennEast Pipeline through western Hunterdon County.

Jack Ciattarelli

In a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, state Sen. Kip Bateman and Assembly members Jack Ciattarelli and Donna Simon said that 100-mile natural gas pipeline from northeast Pennsylvania to Mercer County would “permanently scar an exceptionally pristine, rich agricultural heritage that truly defines and sustains residents of the area.”

The legislators said it is “curious” that the pipeline route “seems to almost exclusively intersect previously preserved farmland.”

Donna Simon

“To the very best of our knowledge, no pipeline has ever been developed in a more bucolic, previously preserved and historically significant area,” the legislators wrote.

PennEast is expected to file an official application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission next summer to build the 30-inch pipeline that is designed to deliver 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day.

PennEast said that if it gets federal approval, construction could begin in spring 2017 and be finished in seven months.

The pipeline has already drawn vehement opposition from municipalities along the proposed route which would cross the Delaware River near the Hunterdon County-Warren County border then cut through Holland, Alexandria, Kingwood, Delaware and West Amwell townships parallel to the river.

Rep. Leonard Lance (R-District 7) has also come out in opposition to the pipeline route.

Bateman, Ciatarelli and Simon said they will also also contact the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Lance, and U.S. Sens. Cory Booker and Robert Menendez, asking them to address their concerns and advocate for alternative options.

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O’Scanlon says Newark’s cameras are stealing millions from drivers

Source: The Star-Ledger -

With New Jersey’s 73 red light cameras set to go dark in just two weeks, the mayor of the cash-strapped city of Newark and a group of lawmakers who represent it are planning a fight to resurrect them.

“There’s a lot of cameras stealing a lot of money from a lot of people passing through Newark,” Assembly Republican Declan O’Scanlon said. 

[Assembly Democrats] said they and other lawmakers plan to meet with Newark Mayor Ras Baraka on Friday to discuss the cameras, which provide millions in revenue to Newark, and will soon introduce a bill to renew it, [giving municipalities the option to reinstate the red light camera program in their municipalities].

Newark has 19 of the state’s 73 red light cameras — by far the most of any New Jersey municipality. [The cameras bring in an estimated $5 to $10 million in revenue to the city.]

New Jersey’s red light cameras operate under a five-year-old pilot program that expires on Dec. 16. Spencer said her bill to renew it would not have an expiration date.

The state Department of Transportation has in annual reports said the program led to fewer collisions. But its findings have been challenged by critics like Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth) — who pointed to what he said were faults in the methodology.

Critics have also bashed the cameras over short yellow light timing and the fact that a computer glitch forced towns to throw out 17,000 fines issued from the cameras because drivers never received the tickets in the mail.

O’Scanlon — who has his own competing bill that would bar the state from allowing red light cameras in the future (A1132) — said he’s not surprised that the impetus to re-start the program is coming out of Newark.

“There’s a lot of cameras stealing a lot of money from a lot of people passing through Newark,” O’Scanlon said. “It’s a disaster if you look at the facts. If you’re only interested in figuring out a way to continue to steal from people, then OK, your motivation is something other than in the best interests of the public.”

O’Scanlon said that even if the Department of Transportation studies are taken at their word for safety improvements, drivers are spending far more on tickets than they’re saving by avoiding accidents.

“The cost to motorists is a huge net negative if you factor in the costs of the fines. It is a horrific deal for motorists. And there is no safety benefit,” he said.

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Brown Calls Democrat Plan for A.C. ‘short-sighted’

Source: Press of Atlantic City -

Two state lawmakers on Tuesday unveiled legislation intended to stabilize the finances of Atlantic City, which have been hurt by sharp declines in ratables and casino revenue.

The legislation would implement a plan released in November by Senate President Stephen Sweeney and comes weeks after the second of two summits convened by Gov. Chris Christie in Atlantic City. Those meetings were aimed at finding a way forward for an economy that’s lost four of its 12 casinos, and about 8,000 casino-hotel jobs, so far this year.

Chris A. Brown

Assemblyman Chris Brown said diverting those dollars “is a short sighted, quick fix that effectively eliminates the one program that actually attracts new businesses and jobs.” And he said “any serious legislative package intended to help Atlantic City” should eliminate the possibility of a casino in northern New Jersey.

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Anti-red light camera crusader O’Scanlon seeing red

NJ 101.5 -

New Jersey’s five-year red light camera pilot program will come to an end Dec. 16 unless legislation is passed to continue it, and Gov. Chris Christie then signs the bill into law.

Right now, that appears to be very doubtful, with the Assembly Transportation Committee chairman telling the Associated Press last week that it’s unlikely a new bill can be moved in the next calendar year. With the issue not completely settled, however, the legislature’s top opponent of the program is blasting the red light companies — and local officials in towns where the cameras are operating — for suggesting the devices promote safety.

Declan O'Scanlon

“What they’re saying is ticket rates are going down, so that must mean safety is being improved,” said Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon (R-Red Bank). “The problem is, that’s not true.”

O’Scanlon said citation rates are dropping for drivers at red light camera intersections for a variety of reasons.

“They’re avoiding these intersections altogether, transferring any hazard that goes along with them to their alternate route, or they’re just deciding never to make a safe right turn on red,” he said. “Red light cameras are not changing the behavior that causes accidents. (They are) just another sign of the desperation of these people to want to be able to continue to steal motorists of New Jersey’s money.”

He said the bottom line remains the same: Red light cameras do not improve safety.

“We have 20 years of data on this, and every single objective, competent study that has been done of red light cameras and their safety has shown they do not improve safety,” O’Scanlon said. “The people causing red light accidents are you and I on a bad day, a screaming kid in the back seat, worried about work, trying to get where you’re going. It’s people spacing out and not paying attention, and red light cameras are not going to change that.”

O’Scanlon also said that in many towns where red light cameras are now in operation, crash rates have not decreased. He cited Springfield as one town where right-angle crashes have actually doubled. And in Linden, the cumulative severity cost of accidents has gone up by more than $300,000.

The program was temporarily suspended in New Jersey in 2012 over concerns about the timing of yellow lights, and a federal settlement awarded partial refunds to 500,000 violators nationwide.

“Sane state officials have come to the conclusion that we should let the red light camera program come to an end on Dec. 16 — Merry Christmas, everyone — but the camera companies will no doubt come back and try to argue that accident rates have gone up when the cameras are removed,” he said. “We’ve seen them blatantly lie about the data before, and they’ll probably try to do it again.”

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Schepisi discusses women in government on NJTV [video]

Source: NJTV News [video] -

Holly Schepisi

Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi was honored by the League of Municipalities with the Outstanding Woman in Government Award, presented by the Women in Municipal Government Committee. She sat down with NJTV News Anchor Mary Alice Williams to discuss women’s involvement in government, including her own.

New Jersey is 10th in the nation for the number of women serving in elected office and the state legislature is 30 percent female. Schepisi believes it can be hard for women to break into politics. “I don’t think it’s as difficult for women to get elected as it is for maybe them to be brought into the process and selected to begin with,” she said.

Schepisi, and fellow honoree Nancy Pinkin, attended a breakfast where they discussed issues surrounding women’s involvement in government with other women.

To try to bridge the gap between Democrats and Republicans, Schepisi said she has started to get together more regularly with women from both parties to brainstorm ways to help New Jersey communities, “recognizing we’re not always going to agree on a lot of issues, but there are core issues that we can sit down and we can work through.”

The League of Municipalities created the Women in Municipal Government Committee, which Schepisi sees as positive. “You had a very large and strong turnout of women representatives from all over the state — mayors, council members, lobbyists, women who are involved in many different facets. And it’s a great start. And there are so many different programs that I think people don’t even realize are available and the more organizations like the League, the Rutgers institute, all of these different places are out there bringing women together and showing them how they can be leaders. It’s so important towards our future,” she said.

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Angelini welcomes opening of new workforce technology center in Eatontown

Source: NJ Advance Media -

State and local officials helped celebrate the grand opening of the new Festo Didatic Center for Workforce Technology Education on Industrial Way on Monday.

Mary Pat Angelini

Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini, R-Monmouth, said Monday’s grand opening was a terrific opportunity to see a business growing in New Jersey, particularly in Monmouth County.

“Good, strong communities need good cooperate partners,” Angelini said. “I know this is going to be a very strong corporate partnership … and hopefully I’ll be back here in a year with an expansion.”

The Festo Didactic Center, part of the Festo AG company with 17,600 employees in more than 100 countries, is a high-tech learning laboratory that will help provide the kind of instruction that modern manufacturers need to compete and succeed.

According to the company, two million manufacturing jobs in the United State are unfilled due to a lack of trained individuals.

Nader Imani, CEO of Festo Didactic Inc., said the new center would be a “job multiplier in New Jersey and beyond for many years to come.”

Tim Lizura, president of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, thanked Festo Didactic, on behalf of the state, for locating the facility in New Jersey.

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Ciattarelli chides stores open on Thanksgiving

Jack Ciattarelli

Hillsborough Beacon -

Assemblyman Jack M. Ciattarelli, who is a Hillsborough resident, lauded retailers who recognize the importance of Thanksgiving by choosing to keep their stores closed.

At the same time, he expressed disappointment with the two dozen malls in New Jersey and the scores of retailers who are open during the holiday.

“Thanksgiving is a truly American holiday which commemorates the harvest festival celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1621,” said Mr. Ciattarelli, a Republican representing the 16th Legislative District. “In that sense, Thanksgiving is really more than just a holiday — it is an American ideal.

“American capitalism, marked by free markets and choice, is also an ideal. What happens, however, when long-held values collide with capitalism?” questioned Ciattarelli rhetorically.

“More and more stores opening earlier and earlier on Thanksgiving is deeply troubling,” he said. “Do the stores open because people shop, or do people shop because stores are open?

“As for dedicated retail employees, I am saddened that they cannot enjoy the holiday,” said Mr. Ciattarelli. “Stores that recognize the meaning of Thanksgiving by staying closed and allowing their workers to enjoy the holiday should be commended.”

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O’Scanlon, Linden officials debate red-light cameras

Source: MyCentralJersey.com -

In a hot, cramped Police Traffic Bureau office at City Hall in Linden, the state’s most vocal opponent of red-light traffic cameras on Monday afternoon faced off with elected city officials who are intent on keeping the program.

Declan O'Scanlon

After 45 minutes of fierce debate, Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon shook hands with Mayor Richard Gerbounka and Councilman Peter Brown — and they agreed to disagree.

This Union County city is one of 24 that the state has allowed to install the cameras.

The pilot program, however, appears to be headed for a dead end. The state Department of Transportation has informed municipalities that they must turn off the cameras Dec. 16, when the law expires. Lawmakers have not decided whether to continue or expand the pilot program.

Proponents of the cameras say they improve safety and reduce accidents. But critics say they are a money-making scheme for third-party camera operators and cash-strapped municipalities, and that they in fact cause more accidents.

Few municipal officials have spoken out against the cameras. Earlier this year, however, the mayor of Brick became the first mayor to turn off the ones in his town.

O’Scanlon pointed to data compiled by Linden showing that there were 10 right-angle crashes the year before any of the city’s five cameras were installed and 10 accidents at the same intersections in the most recent year.

During those years, the city raked in $10 million in fines issued by the cameras.

O’Scanlon, a Monmouth County Republican whose district is nowhere near this Democratic city, visited with officials after he took up the mayor’s invitation.

The assemblyman called the city’s program a “poster child” for what is wrong with the program.

“You not only have not less accidents, you have more severe accidents. The Linden example is a disaster for the red-light camera program,” he said.

Gerbounka and Brown disagreed, saying that there have not been any pedestrian fatalities since the cameras were installed.

But O’Scanlon argued that if the cameras were improving safety, the data should show fewer right-angle crashes.

Just one camera intersection — Route 1 at Park Avenue — showed a reduction of right-angle crashes from seven before the installation to two in the most recent year.

Three others showed an increase, including Route 1 at Morses Mill Road, which had an increase of one right-angle crash before the camera to six crashes in the most recent year.

City officials’ meeting with O’Scanlon ended on a friendly note after Gerbounka acknowledged that neither side would be able to get the other to budge.

“You’ve won me over as far as your character goes,” O’Scanlon told him. “We all agree we want to improve safety. But I will tell you, the numbers don’t back that up.”

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Dancer sponsors Pledge of Allegiance bill

NJ 101.5 -

In response to a lawsuit against a Monmouth County school district, a local lawmaker has introduced legislation to protect the Pledge of Allegiance in its current form and potentially reimburse any public entity that successfully defends the Pledge in court.

Under the measure from Assemblyman Ron Dancer (R-Cream Ridge), court costs and attorney fees could be awarded to a public body – a school or local government, for example – that prevails in fighting for the Pledge. The reimbursement would come from the plaintiffs, or those looking to change or discard the Pledge.

Ron Dancer

“Our public tax dollars are better spent on students in the classroom than on attorneys in the courtroom,” Dancer said, noting there has not been one ruling against the Pledge in any federal district court.

“If anyone wants to remain silent during the Pledge of Allegiance, that’s their right,” he said. “But it is not their right to silence us and make us pay to defend a right that was paid for by the men and women of our armed services.”

An unnamed family, claiming the Pledge discriminates against children with atheist beliefs, has taken the Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District to court, attempting to remove the words “Under God.”

A state Superior Court judge on Wednesday heard arguments on the school district’s efforts to dismiss the suit, but has not yet issued a ruling.

Dancer’s bill would also authorize the recitation of the Pledge at all public meetings in New Jersey.

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