Category: Clips

Middlesex County mayors join Bramnick in blasting Trenton over fiscal mismanagement

Source: PolitickerNJ -

Jon Bramnick

Over the hum of industrial machinery at the factory of plastic bag manufacturer Glopak Corp here, Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick and a handful of Republican Middlesex County mayors and council people chastised top lawmakers in Trenton for their handling of the state’s finances and economy in recent months, imploring them to start to “unfreeze opportunity in this state” through tax breaks and better business incentives.

The visit continued Bramnick’s “Real Talk to Restore Fiscal Sanity” tour, which he’s used to engage New Jersey residents, business owners and elected officials across the state to address issues like education funding, pension and healthcare benefits and political elections.

“I’m here basically to say the following: this is a statewide discussions and pep rally for jobs,” Bramnick said. “And I have to tell you, you couldn’t get a better set of cheerleaders here.”

Following a tour of Glopak’s facility, which included its factory floor and outdoor solar field, Bramnick and local Republicans leaders like Old Bridge Mayor Owen Henry, South Plainfield Matt Anesh and South River Mayor John Krenzel blasted Trenton for mismanaging the state’s economy, and offered their own pointers on how to reign in what they called wasteful and inefficient spending.

“In terms of brining in business, it’s best if the government is run efficiently, and that’s what South River does,” Krenzel said. “And it’s our hope that the people in Trenton will run the state the same way.”

Krenzel said the first thing Trenton has to do is “pay it’s bills.”

“You’ve got to take care of expenses, and you’ve always got to watch expenses.” he said. “The two parties need to come together and do just that. If you don’t do that, then you keep going deeper and deeper into debt.”

Echoing the sentiment was Henry, who said that in the last three years, Old Bridge, a city of 65,000 residents, has reduced its budget from $56 million to $53 million and has brought in business and development projects, including a 5-story, $40 million expansion of Raritan Bay Hospital.

“We don’t run our town like a business, but we manage it like a business. And because we manage it like a business we have saved the taxpayers millions and millions of dollars each year,” he said.

“Old Bridge is doing it’s part,” he added.

Many of the officials’ gripes came down local issues, like high property taxes, finances for public services like police and fire, and increasing economic incentives for local business like Glopak, which moved to South Plainfield from Newark several years ago. But they also noted their concern over problems with the state’s pension system, currently suffering from almost $90 million in unfunded liabilities, as well as a nearly $1 billion budget deficit.

Bramnick said he’s proposed measures aimed at addressing those problems, including a constitutional amendment aimed at making the state’s legislative districts more competitive so that “people running for office have to answer to what the average voters wants, not the wing voters.” He’s also proposed the legislature create long-term planning committees to tackle issues like the underfunded pension system.

Today, he asked legislators in Trenton to “put a freeze on regulations, a freeze on new mandates on business, and start to unfreeze opportunity in this state.”

“To be here in Glopak tells you the following: that New Jersey can do it,” Bramnick added. “If you have local leaders who can facilitate and work with business you can get what we have here, a business open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Now that’s what we’re talking about in New Jersey.”

Bramnick said he chose Glopak for today’s visit because the innovative steps the company has taken to lower cost and boost efficiency, including a rooftop and backyard solar field.

Also present was East Brunswick Council President Camille Ferraro and South Plainfield Councilmen Alex Barletta, Rob Bengivenga and Derryck White.

Asked where the all Democrats were, Bramnick laughed.

“Not here,” he said.

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Bramnick: Companies should voluntarily report breaches

NJ 101.5 -

Home Depot is just the latest large retailer to investigate a possible credit card data breach and a New Jersey legislative leader predicts it will not be the last. He believes companies must report potential hacking to the proper authorities.

Jon Bramnick

Assemblyman Jon Bramnick, the Assembly’s minority leader, said, “I know of no mandatory regulation, but the breaches that occur now on businesses, they could easily be a breach on another business — and since it’s a new type of attack, our Homeland Security should know about it.”

Home Depot is reportedly working with banks and federal investigators to probe its potential breach. Target, P.F. Chang’s, UPS and others have had security breach issues this year as well, and the FBI is said to be investigating a possible hacking at J.P. Morgan.

“I understand that businesses are concerned about releasing information about a security breach, but this is really in the public interest,” Bramnick said.

The ripple effects of the massive breach at Target are still being felt. Published reports indicated that 40 million debit and credit card accounts were compromised, and upwards of 70 million customers may have had their personal information stolen by hackers.

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Dancer seeks tough penalty to warn parents against leaving kids in car

Source: NewsWorks -

A New Jersey lawmaker has introduced legislation he hopes will prevent the death of children in overheated cars.

The bill would make it a criminal offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison if a child under the age of 6 were seriously injured or died from being left unattended in a vehicle, said Assemblyman Ron Dancer, R-Ocean.

He says sometimes parents just forget a child is in the car.

Ron Dancer

“They get to their destination. They’ve got other things on their mind, like getting groceries out of the car because it’s hot. The child is sleeping,” Dancer said. “We need to beat the heat and check the back seat. That’s the theme of trying to heighten public awareness.”

The legislation would allow police to use whatever means necessary, including breaking a window, to get a child out of a locked vehicle with no civil liability.

“This is hard to believe, but law enforcement officers that have taken whatever means are necessary to protect and remove the child from the vehicle, they have been held liable by the owners of the vehicle for the damage in some cases to the windows,” Dancer said.

About 38 children in the U.S. die each year from being left in cars where the temperature can rise 20 degrees an hour on a sunny day, he said.

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Dancer bill would increase penalties for leaving kids in hot vehicles Read More: NJ bill increases penalties for leaving kids in hot vehicles

Source: NJ 101.5 -

A New Jersey lawmaker has introduced legislation to increase penalties for adults who leave a child unattended in a car.

Since 1998, 631 children have died of heatstroke in the U.S. after being left unattended in a car, according to statistics compiled by the Department of Meteorology and Climate Science at San Joe State University. Twenty-five kids of died this year alone.

Ron Dancer

“We certainly need to heighten awareness to everybody that we need to save the babies and beat the heat and check the back seat,” said Assemblyman Ron Dancer (R-Jackson). “Although the heat is subsiding, heightening public awareness also increasing the penalties is necessary.”

Under current New Jersey law, leaving child unattended in a car is a fourth degree child neglect crime for which there is no presumption of jail time. Under Dancer’s bill, anyone who leaves a child, age 6 and under, alone in a vehicle would be subject to a $500 fine. If the child is injured, it would be a third degree crime punishable by up to five years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

“If God forbid the child is seriously injured or dies it would be a second degree crime and a $150,000 fine and potentially 10 years behind bars,” Dancer said.

According to the DMCS, a child hasn’t died in New Jersey after being left in a car since 2008. The tragedy occurred in Atlantic City and the registered outdoor temperature at the time was 91 degrees. Since 1998, 12 Garden State kids have died after being left unattended in a vehicle.

“The most often given reason for leaving a child alone in a car is the parent or caregiver simply forgot that the child was in the back seat,” Dancer said.
Currently only 20 states have laws specifically addressing the issue of leaving a child in a car unattended.

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Schepisi, Carroll question Bridgegate cellphone subpoena

Source: New Jersey Law Journal -

Lawyers representing the committee of the New Jersey Legislature investigating last September’s closure of local access lanes to the George Washington Bridge were to spend Tuesday huddling with lawyers for AT&T to discuss whether the telecommunications company would comply with the committee’s request for cellphone records of Regina Egea, the chief of the Authorities Unit in the administration of Gov. Chris Christie.

But attorneys outside the matter who are familiar with how telecommunications companies operate questioned the enforceability of the subpoena, given that the committee is not a law enforcement agency.

Holly Schepisi

 

“It’s an exercise in silliness at this point. I hope this is not just another mechanism to keep this alive in the newspapers.” – Asw. Holly Schepisi

 

The Legislative Select Committee on Investigation issued a subpoena to AT&T on Aug. 25 demanding the records for Egea’s state-issued cellphone for December 2013. The committee co-chair, Assemblyman John Wisniewski, D-Middlesex, said the committee is looking for information about text messages allegedly sent by Egea to Christie about the closures and to determine whether he responded.

Michael Patrick Carroll

 

“What’s the point? The whole point of the committee was to investigate abuses of power. What is this going to show? It’s likely to be another dry hole, the same as before.” – Asm. Michael Patrick Carroll

 

Egea testified that she sent Christie a text during a December hearing of the Assembly Transportation Committee, which was looking into the Sept. 9-13 closures, but deleted it. Christie has said he does not recall receiving a text message from Egea about the hearing.
The phone was scanned by Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, the law firm hired Christie to conduct an internal investigation of the closures, but Wisniewski, who runs a firm in Sayreville, N.J., said lawyers at the firm told the committee it could not produce the information being sought.

It remained unclear Tuesday as to how AT&T would respond to the subpoena.

When asked to comment as to whether AT&T would comply, company spokesman Marty Richter issued a statement: “AT&T takes its obligation to assist law enforcement very seriously. We’re also committed to protecting our customers’ privacy. When presented with a request from law enforcement for call records or to otherwise assist with a criminal investigation, we require the requesting party to comply with all applicable laws—e.g., present us with a valid search warrant or court order.”

The subpoena is neither a search warrant nor a court order, and Richter declined to address further questions.

Defense attorneys told the Law Journal that the committee may have to do more than just issue a subpoena if it wants to obtain those cellphone records if either Egea or the administration objects.

John Furlong, a litigator with Furlong & Krasny in Ewing, N.J., said the committee may have to ask Mercer County Assignment Judge Mary Jacobson, who has been presiding over some of the committee’s legal entanglements, to ask for a communications data warrant.

“The legislative committee is no different than any other civil litigant,” Furlong said. “It is not a prosecutorial agency of any sort.”

Darren Gelber, who focuses on criminal law at Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer in Woodbridge, N.J., said AT&T may take the position that it needs more than a legislative subpoena.

“AT&T is saying they’re happy to comply, as long as there’s a search warrant or a court order,” Gelber said. AT&T is not saying that it will comply with a subpoena from a committee of the Legislature, he added.

Wisniewski said the committee’s counsel, Reid Schar, of Jenner & Block in Chicago, was to discuss the issue with AT&T’s lawyers on Tuesday, and that he did not foresee a problem since Egea indicated during the July hearing that she did not object to the committee obtaining the records.
Wisniewski said the committee was not prepared at present to subpoena Christie’s cellphone records.

“An incremental approach is the best approach,” he said. “This is not necessarily our last step. This is a very deliberative process.”

The subpoena is demanding records of any incoming or outgoing calls from Dec. 1 to Dec. 31, 2013, the time, date and duration of the calls, and the sending and receiving numbers. The subpoena also demands the same information about income and outgoing text messages for the same period and the contents of any of those messages.

Nine months after the Transportation Committee’s hearing, it remains uncertain as to how much information AT&T has retained.

How much information is retained and for how long varies from carrier to carrier, both Furlong and Gelber said, adding that it is unlikely that the carrier would still have copies of any text messages Egea might have sent to Christie, or that Egea may have received from Christie.

Both Furling and Gelber said it is probable AT&T would at least have records of text messages being sent and the parties involved.

“If a text message was involved, it might be possible for the carrier to give the number of characters,” Furlong said.

Wisniewski said the uncertainties are why a subpoena was necessary. “We won’t know unless we ask, so we ask,” he said.

If AT&T refuses to comply with the subpoena, or if Egea decides to object, the committee will have to demonstrate to Jacobson or another judge assigned to hear communications data warrant cases that there are compelling reasons to issue an order demanding that the records be released, Furlong said.

“There is a question of expectation of privacy,” Furlong said.
But, the fact that a state-issued cellphone was used would “make the committee’s case stronger,” according to Furlong.

Furlong said the U.S. Supreme Court has addressed that issue before in the 2010 case Ontario v. Quon. There, the court ruled that the city of Ontario, Calif., could audit text messages among a group of the city’s police officers using department-issued pagers without violating the officers’ Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures.

“The carriers say they only keep information for 90 or 180 days, but in reality they keep the information much longer,” Furlong said.

Republican members of the committee questioned the necessity of issuing a subpoena for the records.

“What’s the point?” said Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll, R-Morris. At most, the committee might learn that Egea sent a text message to Christie, he said.

“The whole point of the committee was to investigate abuses of power. What is this going to show? It’s likely to be another dry hole, the same as before,” said Carroll, a Morristown, N.J., solo.

Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi, R-Bergen, agreed. “It’s an exercise in silliness at this point,” she said. “I hope this is not just another mechanism to keep this alive in the newspapers.”

Schepisi said she and the other three Republicans on the committee had no advance knowledge of the decision to issue the subpoena to AT&T. “We’re very much out of the loop as to what is transpiring,” she said.

Gibson Dunn has cleared Christie and most of his administration of any wrongdoing, and have instead pinned the blame on a former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, and David Wildstein, a Christie appointee at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Christie fired Kelly and forced Wildstein to resign.

Wildstein initially said the closures were part of a traffic study, but that story has since been debunked. It is claimed that Kelly and Wildstein ordered the closures as retribution against Democratic Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, who would not endorse Christie for re-election.

Egea is set to become Christie’s next chief of staff if the person currently holding the job, Kevin O’Dowd, is appointed attorney general. Christie has said he wants to nominate O’Dowd for the position, but has made no moves to do so.

Egea’s attorney, Michael Martinez, of the New York office of Mayer Brown, did not return a phone call.

Kevin Roberts, a Christie spokesman, declined to comment on the committee’s subpoena.

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Gun case draws look from Dancer

Tri-Town News -

Several weeks after reports surfaced that Shaneen Allen, a Pennsylvania woman who may face prison because she entered New Jersey with a legal firearm in her possession, one state legislator is proposing a bill that he says will provide relief from mandatory minimum sentences for certain firearms offenses.

Assemblyman Ronald Dancer (R-Monmouth, Ocean, Middlesex, Burlington) introduced A3608 to the state Assembly on Aug. 4. He said it was “unreasonable” for state lawmakers to expect all law-abiding gun owners to know about every gun ownership law throughout the United States.

Ron Dancer

“Each case of an illegal gun possession charge should be judged on the particular facts surrounding that case,” Dancer said. “States have their own firearm laws, and a person visiting New Jersey may not be totally familiar with every aspect of New Jersey’s law.”

According to reports, during a motor vehicle stop in Atlantic County on Oct. 1, 2013, Allen voluntarily told police officers that she had a legally purchased handgun in her car. Allen said she was unaware that her concealed carry firearms permit from Pennsylvania was not valid in New Jersey. However, she was still charged with unlawful possession of a weapon. She is awaiting trial on Oct. 6.

Similar instances regarding interstate travel and transporting firearms have occurred in the past.

In 2009, Brian Aitken was moving back to New Jersey from Colorado when he was stopped by law enforcement officers. When the officers searched Aitken’s vehicle, they located two locked and unloaded handguns in his trunk. Both weapons were legally purchased in Colorado. Aitken was sentenced to seven years in prison, but that punishment was ultimately commuted by Gov. Chris Christie.

According to the proposed legislation, judges will be able to look at the circumstances surrounding a firearms arrest when determining a sentence.

Currently, when residents from other states are found to be in possession of a firearm without a New Jersey firearms license, they face a mandatory prison term of no less than 42 months with no possibility of parole.

If eventually signed into law, A3608 would give judges the option to impose the mandatory minimum sentence or to allow the defendant to enter a pretrial intervention if he is found to have no prior criminal record, no association with known street gangs and is in compliance with the gun laws of his home state.

“The court should be able to consider if an out-of-state resident has a valid legal permit where they live,” Dancer said. “ … Judges should be allowed to use their discretion if there was no criminal record or intent.”

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Public employee benefits at center of budget storm; O’Scanlon plans reforms

Source: Edison Sentinel -

A ranking Republican legislator predicts that skyrocketing health benefit costs for public employees in New Jersey will cripple the state’s budget in less than six years.

Declan O'Scanlon

State Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth), who serves as the GOP budget officer in the Assembly, said last week he is hoping to unveil a package of reforms before the end of the year in an effort to stave off the growing cost of health benefits.

“The state of New Jersey’s fiscal health is precarious. You can’t argue with the math,” he said. “The commitments that some well-meaning — but irresponsible, nonetheless — previous New Jersey officials made will crush the taxpayers of New Jersey. “If we don’t have [reform], this all explodes. And somewhere between three and six years from now, this is going to come to a head.”

O’Scanlon’s comments came a week after Gov. Chris Christie said during a town hall meeting in Long Branch that the state will pay more in benefits for retired employees than for active employees over the next year.

Though he did not present a specific plan, O’Scanlon said the reforms must result in employees contributing more for health care.

“[Public benefits] are extremely generous. The overwhelming majority of the people in the private sector don’t get health benefits from their employers anywhere near what public sector employees get,” he said. “That has got to change.”

However, the state should focus more on driving down premium costs rather than increasing contributions, according to Kevin Lyons, a spokesman for the New Jersey State Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.

“Almost every plan the state has come up with to save costs is nothing more than cost shifting,” he said. “That has nothing to do with the exorbitant prices we are paying.”

Lyons said Christie’s 2011 pension reforms led to a rush of retirements that are now in the system.

“So, essentially what the government has done is attempted to break the system even worse and incentivize people to retire,” he said. “Now you are paying more people who are retired, rather than people who would make contributions to the pension system.”

Lyons said PBA sources have indicated that while Christie’s assessment was current, retirees generally cost the state less because they have fewer dependents and are more likely to use Medicaid as a primary provider.

While Lyons was critical of previous reforms, O’Scanlon said the much-discussed pension reform has resulted in a nearly 50 percent decrease in state pension costs.

If the health benefit problem isn’t dealt with properly, the taxpayers will bear the brunt of it, he said.

“If New Jersey becomes insolvent, nobody is well-served — public workers included,” he said. “There are ways and changes to that system that will rein in those costs.

“If the bills are going to be egregious and we rely on tax increases, you are talking about dramatic tax increases that will crush New Jersey’s economy.”

During his Aug. 19 town hall meeting, Christie said the pension and health benefit programs collectively are more than $40 billion in debt, and the state would have to raise $4 billion in additional tax revenues to make the required pension payments for the next four years.

Patrick Colligan, state PBA pension coordinator, said the union would hold a meeting in September to discuss various proposals to lower costs.

“It’s the unions that are trying to help to keep costs down and work on the premiums,” he said. “We are the ones that have to address the cost savings, and the state hasn’t made any effort to help us along the way.”

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Munoz taking the Food Stamp Challenge

Source: NJ 101.5 -

As The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge dies down, a new challenge has emerged. From Sept. 8 through Sept. 14, two New Jersey Assembly members will take part in the Food Stamp Challenge.

Assembly members Nancy Munoz (R-Summit) and Mila Jasey (D-Maplewood) will have to survive on the amount of money food stamp recipients get, and it’s not much.

Nancy Munoz

“For an individual, the food stamp program provides $29.40 per week which actually divides out to $4.20 a day,” Munoz said. “This (Food Stamp Challenge) is a really good thing to go through to understand what others are feeling and how difficult it is and the challenges they face.”

With recent cuts to the U.S. Farm Bill, New Jersey is likely to be one of the hardest hit states in the country, and hunger is already a very real issue here, Munoz said.

“Over one million New Jersey residents suffer from a lack of a constant food supply and that’s really worrisome. This is bringing an awareness to that so that we can see what we can do as a state and as a nation to make sure that our people are well fed,” Munoz explained.

The legislators have sent a letter to their colleagues asking them to join in the Food Stamp Challenge. Munoz said she plans to give updates on her Facebook page throughout the week.

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Red-light cameras: Following O’Scanlon’s lead, Trenton might do the right thing for a change

Source: The Star-Ledger (Paul Mulshine) -

The term “blue moon” describes the second full moon occurring in one month. This rarely occurs, hence the saying “once in a blue moon,” as in “Once in a blue moon, the Legislature actually does something that makes life better for the average New Jerseyan.”

The next blue moon will occur on July 31 of next year. By then, New Jersey drivers could well be enjoying life without red-light cameras. If so, we will have Declan O’Scanlon to thank.

Declan O'Scanlon

O’Scanlon is a Republican assemblyman from Monmouth County who has taken on the task of fighting for Jersey drivers against the many efforts by public officials to take our money under the guise of safety.

Such efforts usually come to naught. But when it comes to red-light cameras, the stars may be lining up in our favor. I saw evidence of that on Thursday when O’Scanlon attended the Governor’s press event in Sea Bright.

While we were waiting for Chris Christie to show, O’Scanlon told me the cameras don’t reduce accidents but do enhance revenues for the municipalities and the companies that run them. The companies can then afford to spend millions lobbying (or perhaps bribing) to keep them in operation.

But they’ve got a problem: The legislation permitting their use included a sunset provision. Unless a new statute is in place by Dec. 16, this experiment ends.

Normally that legislation would be renewed. But this year things aren’t normal. The Chicago Tribune reported recently that the former head of U.S. operations for Redflex, which is one of the two companies operating the cameras in New Jersey, was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of bribing city officials. Meanwhile a fired executive is charging that the firm paid bribes in 13 other states, including New Jersey.

“I’m assuming that if he cooperates fully, the U.S. Attorney’s office will be interested in going wherever that leads,” said O’Scanlon.

Where it will lead is anybody’s guess, but what politician wants to be risk being seen as the champion of red-light cameras as that story develops?

Not Christie. After he showed up to announce that funding has been released to extend the town’s sea wall, he took questions from the press. As a service to my fellow motorists, I decided to pin the governor down on whether he would support the continued use of the cameras.

“I’m not predisposed to continue it,” said Christie. He added ,“My inclination is not to continue it, but I haven’t made a final decision on it yet.”

Such a decision would be necessary only if the Legislature sent him a bill. The bill would have to get through the Assembly Transportation Committee. That’s headed by John Wisniewski. O’Scanlon said the Middlesex County Democrat is much loved by the lobbyists.

“He’s obviously in their pocket so he can’t say anything negative about them,” said O’Scanlon. “But it’s gonna hurt his run for governor. He’s in a real tough spot.”

The run in question would be in the Democratic primary to succeed Christie. Wisniewski has been seen as positioning himself for a shot with his work in exposing the Bridgegate scandal. So would he want to run as the man who unveiled corruption or the man who fronted for a company accused of corruption? I gave him a call.

“If we can’t have a debate about the merits without overblown rhetoric, this legislation will not go anywhere,” Wisniewski replied. “Moreover the governor has said he may not be inclined to sign it. Why would anyone want to sponsor legislation when the governor has announced he’s not going to sign it?”

Why indeed? O’Scanlon seems to be winning this fight. And not a moment too soon.

Entire industries are springing up dedicated to preying on drivers. Under pressure from O’Scanlon, Hoboken recently ended the practice of booting cars parked in residents-only zones. But when the assemblyman looked into it, he found himself chatting with some lady in Seattle who collects credit-card information from unlucky drivers in Jersey.

Then there are those proposals to install roadside speed cameras, which Wisniewski has backed. O’Scanlon has issued a challenge to him and any other legislator who supports speed cameras: He will fit their cars with a GPS device that tracks infractions.

“I’ll put one in every car Wisniewski owns so we can improve safety for his entire family,” he offered.

When I bounced that off Wisniewski, he replied “That’s absolutely absurd.”

He’s right. Who would expect a law-maker to live by the the laws?

Why, that sort of thing only happens once in a blue moon.

O’Scanlon maintains this program is corrupt even in the absence of any explicit bribes. I agree.

The municipalities should not be making a profit from efforts they falsely claim are done to improve safety. To do so is corrupt.

If they really wanted to improve safety at intersections, O’Scanlon said, then they would lengthen the time for yellow lights. Instead they artificially decrease the time in an effort to catch unwary drivers.

Yellow lights are supposed to be rigged to 85th percentile speed.That’s the speed at which 85 percent of the traffic approaching an intersection normally travels.

But the towns have tried such stunts as doing their monitoring during rush-hour traffic jams, when the cars are barely moving, he said.

Another trick is to do the monitoring from a marked police car. Upon seeing the car, the drivers tend to slow down, he said.

The reason they do this is simple, he said.

“If they have proper yellow-light times, the numbers go down 80-90 percent,” he said.
“Unless the lights are rigged with short yellow light times then there is no profit.”

Of course, there should be no profit in the first place. If the goal is safety, then the right thinng to do would be to increase the yellow-light times. These cameras are achieving the exact opposite.

O’Scanlon warns it would be even worse if those speed cameras were ever installed. At first they would claim to be using them only in school zones and work zones. But before long those zones would start getting bigger and bigger – as would the cash flow to corrupt officials.

And that’s just the beginning. As O’Scanlon noted, it’s now possible to monitor every action of every driver in America.

Do you think they won’t do it?

Then you’re a very trusting soul.

Here’s just one citation from the state list of contributions Wisniewski received before he became the biggest booster of the red-light cameras:

REDFLEX TRAFFIC SYSTEMS INC
15020 N 74TH ST
SCOTTSDALE, AZ 85260
750.00
10/19/2007
BUSINESS/CORP MONETARY

There are plenty more where that came from. Go to the state Election Law Enforcement Commission site and you can do a search on all the contributions he received from Redflex. My search shows Wisniewski received more money from the firm than any other state elected official.

So maybe he’s not really intending to run for governor after all. That’s the only explanation for why Wisniewski would want to keep pushing red-light cameras after taking all that swag from Redflex.

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Dancer introduces bill for common sense in gun law enforcement

Source: Burlington County Times -

Ron Dancer

New Jersey Assemblyman Ronald Dancer has introduced legislation intended to give state judges more discretion when sentencing out-of-state residents found in violation of New Jersey’s strict laws against carrying or transporting guns.

Dancer, R-12th of Plumsted, authored the bill earlier this month in response to the case of Shaneen Allen, a Philadelphia woman who was charged with unlawful possession of a weapon and hollow-point bullets last year after she told New Jersey State Police troopers she was carrying a handgun during a traffic stop in Atlantic County.

Allen was issued a concealed-carry permit in Pennsylvania but the license is not recognized by New Jersey, which has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation.
Furthermore, New Jersey law mandates that she receive a minimum of 3½ years in prison if she is convicted of the charges.

Dancer’s bill, named “Shaneen’s Law,” seeks to address the latter issue by permitting judges to consider mitigating circumstances in sentencing weapons possession violations involving residents of another state who have legal gun permits in their home state and no known criminal history or criminal intent.

The bill would allow judges to impose either the mandatory sentence or have the defendant enter a pretrial intervention program provided the defendant has no prior criminal record, no association with a criminal street gang and is in compliance with the handgun laws of their home state.

“Each case of an illegal gun possession charge should be judged on the particular facts surrounding that case,” Dancer said this week. “The courts should be able to consider if an out-of-state resident has a valid legal permit where they live. States have their own firearm laws and a person visiting New Jersey may not be totally familiar with every aspect of New Jersey’s law.”

Dancer cites the case of Brian Aitken as another example in which judges should be permitted to have more discretion. The former Mount Laurel resident was arrested in January 2009 after Mount Laurel officers found three handguns and 39 hollow-point bullets in the trunk of his car.

Aitken claimed he purchased the guns legally in Colorado and was in the process of moving back to New Jersey when he was arrested. Like with Allen, the case garnered national attention from gun rights groups and Gov. Chris Christie wound up commuting his seven-year prison sentence.

“Judges should be allowed to use their discretion if there was no criminal record or intent,” Dancer said.

Gun rights groups appear supportive. Earlier this month, the National Rifle Association created a Web video about Dancer’s bill and the Allen case (http://www.nranews.com/ginny/video/shaneen-s-law-restoring-justice-in-new-jersey).

Gun right groups also have lobbied for New Jersey to loosen the state’s narrow conceal-carry laws and to grant reciprocity for other states’ gun permits. In the NRA video, Dancer said he supports reciprocity.

Gun control groups are opposed to reciprocity, arguing that New Jersey’s strict gun laws promote greater public safety and responsible gun owners from other states should be required to obey them.

Still, one of New Jersey’s leading advocates said the group was interested in learning more about Dancer’s bill and possibly meeting with him to discuss it and other “common-sense” gun legislation.

“We’re amendable to things that help clarify (gun laws) or are common-sense pieces of legislation,” said Nicola Bocour, project and legislative director for Ceasefire NJ. “If this isn’t reciprocity for concealed-carry, we’d certainly be interested in learning more.”

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