Tuesday, January 30, 2007
I admit, I blew off the Town Hall meeting near my home. I was going to go, but it was cold, I was tired, and I was in no mood to listen to her dis the Dems and run for Senate for an hour and a half.
Thursday, January 25, 2007
But smoking ban proponents -- including many casino employees -- said it was not a compromise because they were never given a seat at the bargaining table.
"How could you broker a deal behind closed doors and not bring all parties to the table?" asked Vincent Rennich, a 25-year employee at the Tropicana, who said he lost one-third of his lung to cancer from second-hand smoke on the casino floor. Rennich is suing the Tropicana.
Supporters of a ban felt slighted. More than 200 people packed the council chambers last night, and dozens more -- mostly employees and residents against the compromise -- spoke out, many carrying signs and wearing orange T-shirts that said "Nobody deserves to work in an ashtray."
Jennifer Guillerman, a 22-year employee at Caesars, said no one will want to work in the smoking sections, which she dubbed "the death chamber."
Atlantic City resident Ray Mazzoli said the amendment wasn't a compromise, but a "capitulation." He said the only way to get a ban was to "take that ventilation system and pump it directly into the executive suites."
Venting into the profiteers' offices- sounds fair to me!
From the Press of AC (AP article):
Jennifer Guillermain, who has worked as a gaming supervisor for 16 years at Caesars Atlantic City Hotel Casino, said employees are already balking at working in the smoking rooms.
"No one is going to volunteer. And now we're afraid for our jobs if we say we don't want to work in those rooms," she said.
Which doesn't surprise me. Sickens me, and sickens them too, but not surprised.
Pfc. Wilkus died in Iraq on Christmas Day. He was 20 years old.
Blood supplies are very short right now; this is a great way to honor a local hero as well as make a contribution to our community.
(I tried to call the fire company to confirm, since it's not on their web site and the Times of Trenton didn't put the story up online, but was unable to reach anyone. You may want to call in the evening if you want any more information.)
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
A compromise is being proposed so that Atlantic City could ban smoking in casinos but allow up to 25% of the gambling floor to be designated a smoking section, enclosed and with separate ventilation.
“I have an understanding that we owe the casino industry some kind of a compromise instead of banning (smoking) completely,” said Councilman Dennis Mason, who sponsored the measure after about four weeks of negotiations with the Casino Association of New Jersey, a trade group representing the resort's 11 casinos. “I think this is fair.”
Was that understanding arrived at after intensive lobbying by the casino industry, perhaps? This isn't about being "fair" to the casinos- it's about protecting the workers.
But Councilman Bruce Ward, who proposed the full ban, maintained that he and fellow ban proponent Councilman Gene Robinson will not waiver from their stance to ban casino smoking outright.
“We have signed off in a blood bond,” Ward said. “I'm going to continue do everything I can to protect the employees and patrons so they can work in a safe and healthy environment.”
That environment should include everyone, Ward said, pointing out that while employees working in the smoke-free areas will maintain their health, there are still employees who must work among the smokers in the limited smoking sections.
Actual people, with lungs, will have to work there.
The article also mentions a study by University of Nevada-Reno showing the percentage of gamblers who smoke is just about the same as the percentage of the population who smoke, refuting the old argument that there would be a devastating economic impact to a ban. Honestly, most smokers are quite used to having to smoke outdoors, even during their leisure time; I highly doubt that it will have some huge impact on casino profits. (Don't forget that's what the casinos are actually concerned with- not jobs in Atlantic City, but their profits.)
Thanks for standing firm, Councilmen Ward and Robinson. Hopefully this ban will pass and all the workers who are being treated as second-class citizens by this loophole in the state law will be protected.
Not just 75% of them.
Couples who cite "irreconcilable differences" will be able to get divorced in six months under a bill signed into law yesterday by Gov. Corzine.
State law had required that couples wait 18 months. The bill was approved last year by the Senate and Assembly. It was supported by the New Jersey Bar Association and opposed by the New Jersey Catholic Conference.
Really? The lawyers wanted easier divorces and the Catholics didn't? Shocked, I am.
Must've been the only way to get four whole sentences out of that story.
Friday, January 19, 2007
Saints alive! More questions arise over holidays
Right after that, is the inset quote:
"Will they let our children draw shamrocks and leprechauns when they won't let them draw reindeer and Santa Claus?"
Ok, now that we've gotten past the O'Reilly-like phony-baloney war-on-Christmas sensationalism, here's the actual story:
Hopewell Valley Regional Schools decided to eliminate religious celebrations of Christmas. Some parents got bent, as often happens when people try to separate church and state, and a "local radio station" got involved in whipping up controversy- it doesn't say which one but I'm sure we can all guess. Anyway, at this week's school board meeting where they were trying to standardize the policy about the holidays across the whole district for future years, some parents- from the article it seems to be two, a couple- asked if this would be applied to Saint Valentine's and Saint Patrick's day as well- a valid question since these two holidays, although secularized much more than Christmas, have roots in a Christian tradition. The school board said they maybe will review other holidays in the future, but right now, no:
"No, we're not doing anything with Valentine's Day," said Hopewell Valley
Regional Superintendent Judith Ferguson.
And that's pretty much it. But you wouldn't know that from the huge headline and the inflammatory quote across the top. This absolutely does not deserve big-headline, front-page-above-the-fold treatment- but controversy sells, so the Times splashed it nice and big across the front.
The old line about a "liberal" media is so much hogwash. What we have is a "sensationalist" media- maybe sometimes with a political slant, or a complete Republican lie and twist job, like Fox Newz- a media that is intent on getting us to pay attention to the most sensational stories. That's what sells. I'm disappointed in the Times for making such a big deal of a school board meeting which simply clarified a district policy, but I'm not surprised.
Would everybody- newspapers, bad TV "journalists", religious zealots, anti-religious zealots- please just stop trying to inflame us all about not agreeing with one another? Diversity is a big asset of Our Fair State, not a flash point.
It's a shame because I'm the mother of two school-age kids; I know nothing about NJ night life.
But, luckily, someone else does and decided to write about it. The Star-Ledger has an article this morning titled I Love the Nightlife which should help you find your bars or clubs or whatnot in North and Central NJ. There's also KatManDu in Trenton, somehow open ten years and I still never made it over there (even when I worked a couple miles away.) And don't forget to check out The Crooked Beat, which has calendars, maps and news on brews for bunches of clubs in the NJ and NY area. I also found some news on South Jersey's nightlife- and I admit to having visited several of those places, back before I was a mommy and I had a night life too.
I hope this helps. Now, you go have fun with your nightlife; I'll probably be asleep before you even leave home.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
He proposes a change in how schools are run to consolidate and save money; people bitch bitterly that they won't even try it.
He wants to work with unions to negotiate some changes in state worker benefits; people bad-mouth him and criticize his efforts.
He wants to cap property tax increases at 4% (with some exceptions): people complain about how impossible that will be.
I guess everyone expected Corzine would just get to Trenton and pull the excess money that the legislators have been hiding out from under a mattress? Or wave a wand, perhaps?
This is reality, folks- sacrifices will have to be made. This ain't George W., the only moron to cut taxes in the face of a disastrously expensive war; this is someone who has a financial background and realizes money doesn't just fall from the sky and hope is not a sound financial strategy. We voted for him so he would make the tough changes. For chrissakes, let him change something. Maybe some of his proposals won't work, but face it- it ain't working how it is now.
Give change a chance.
(Special to the woman who I heard on the WHYY report on the Washington Township meeting where they screamed about the chance that they might have to consolidate within their county as a pilot program, the woman who said that Home Rule is what made our education system so great- honey, what are you smoking and will you share? Home Rule isn't what made our education system great, but it is what has made it crazy expensive. Wise up.)
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Teen driving rules often aren't followed and aren't enforced. After the recent accident in Freehold where a teenager was driving and four people were killed, the Star-Ledger found that convictions for violations are rare at best and teenagers simply ignore their licence restrictions:
A tragic two-vehicle crash in Freehold Township last week brought a new focus on the law. One of the drivers, 17-year-old Michael Dragonetti, had two other teenagers in his vehicle, violating the terms of his provisional license. Dragonetti and his passengers were killed, along with the driver of the other vehicle. All four were buried yesterday.
Stand in the student parking lot at any New Jersey high school and you are likely to learn that Dragonetti was not alone in ignoring the restrictions that came with the provisional license he was granted on Nov. 27. Cars and SUVs with three or four students are commonplace.
Teenage drivers interviewed last week said they and their friends are well aware of the restrictions, but pay them little heed.
"I'm breaking them right now," 17-year-old Rachel Borweegen said as a group of her friends piled into her burgundy Chrysler Cirrus at the end of the day at Edison High School.
I wonder if Rachel's parents read the Star-Ledger?
There doesn't seem to be much reason to worry. Between July 2004 and November 2006, only 12 provisional drivers in New Jersey were given tickets for carrying too many passengers in their cars, according to data provided to MVC by the courts, commission spokesman Mike Horan said.
Violations of other restrictions set out under the graduated driver's license law were no more likely to result in convictions. During the same time period, only nine provisional drivers were cited for driving late at night, Horan said.
Does this really shock anyone? It's a shame- these laws were set up so teenagers could learn to be better drivers before they take on full licence privileges, and so they could save lives while that learning happens. Instead, they're a joke for both the young drivers and cops.
Michael J. Dragonetti wasn't supposed to have James S. Warnock or Andrew Lundy in the car with him last week. They and Ruth Mac Arthur, who was driving the minivan they struck, were killed.
This is no joke.
Monday, January 15, 2007
Friday, January 12, 2007
Even though CoNJL didn't take a top spot, it was incredibly encouraging to receive so many votes! Thank you, thank you, fans and friends.
The Pentagon yesterday also announced policy changes that would allow for National Guard and Reserve troops to be involuntarily recalled to the combat zone more readily and add three divisions to the active-duty Army and one to the Marine Corps over the next five years.
New Jersey officials said the expected homecoming for a reconnaissance unit and a combat support unit will be pushed back from March until at least July. The units, the 2nd Battalion of the 102nd RSTA and the 250th Brigade Support Battalion, drill from armories in West Orange, Vineland and Bordentown.
(Gov.) Corzine, a Democrat who voted against the war as a member of the U.S. Senate, visited the soldiers at their base in Balad, just north of Baghdad, in November.
"People were ready to come home. They are stressed out," he said.
Corzine said last night about this that he's "mad as hell" about the extention for 159 of New Jersey's Army National Guard. He's not alone:
Army National Guard Spc. Tony Musgrave, will be staying in Iraq until at least the end of the summer -- one of 21,500 more troops President Bush is calling into the increasingly violent, shattered country.
"I'm not too happy," Dawn Musgrave said from her Hamilton home. "I think someone else needs to take over. I don't think Bush knows what he's doing at this point."
Musgrave said servicemen like her husband haven't even been told that they will be staying -- the official who called her yesterday said soldiers in Iraq won't get the news until the week's end.
Good luck to the Musgraves, and to all our folks in uniform.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Two themes emerged with the questions: First, people were concerned about how the proposed 4% cap on property tax increases would affect their town's ability to provide services, especially with so many unfunded state mandates they must shoulder. Boards of Education have been cutting their spending already since voters are unwilling to pass budgets; how will towns live within a 4% cap? Corzine answered that there would be budget items excluded from the cap, but they were "still working hard at negotiating" the details of the proposal. He also mentioned how he would like to give towns the ability to add revenue raisers, such as impact fees, but hadn't been able to get the legislature on board with it. Corzine also repeated several times that he wants the state aid formula amended to be "per child, not per zip code," so school boards that have received flat funding for years might see an increase.
The second theme was state workers being concerned about a loss of their benefits. Corzine reminded each person who questioned this that negotiated and agreed benefits are non-forfeitable. Workers with 5 years in shouldn't see any impact. A current Turnpike employee who will soon retire was assured that his pension benefits would be assured even if the Turnpike is sold or leased out. Showing his financial background, Corzine took some time to explain why the pension has spread some of its savings into higher risk investments. He was also quick to point out that even if benefits ware changed for new hired employees, that won't make a huge impact on our state budget- "This budget won't be balanced on the backs of the state workers."
When questioned about town and school district consolidation, the governor reiterated his support for the county superintendent pilot program and his support to offer incentives to towns to consolidate to take advantage of economies of scale. But he was clear that this is a democracy and if towns declined to join together he didn't support economic punishment.
When questioned about medical marijuana use (S-88 and A-933, perpetually in committee,) Corzine stated that he did support it but he was clear that it was not a priority at this time. He did mention support for universal health care and needing to get coverage for the 1.3 million in Our Fair State who have no health insurance.
"Mad as Hell" was how Gov. Corzine expressed his feelings about extending Our Fair State's National Guard's time in Iraq and more call-ups of reservists. Amen to that.
Overall, Corzine stuck with the same underlying points that he made in his State of the State address the day before, stressing the ballancing of interests in the common good. The questions from attendees were more specific and much less angry than I've seen at town hall forums like this in the past; almost as if these folks realize that he gets it, and is really working to balance the wants and needs of Our Fair State.
(MCCC's cable channel 26 ran their tape of the forum shortly after it ended. I'm not sure when/if they will run it again; if I find out when they will, I'll post the info.) (Cross-posted on Blue Jersey)
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
BTW: NJN has up their archived coverage of the State of the State speech, so you can watch it at your leisure.
SOUTH HARRISON TWP. Despite racist threats lobbed at the township's first black mayor, this rural community does not have a racial intolerance problem, assured Police Chief Warren Mabey.Thank you, Mayor Tyson, for staying focused. I hope they catch the trash that would threaten a man based on his skin color.
The threats, which began before Charles Tyson took the oath as mayor on Jan. 1, have been described as politically motivated both by Tyson and the township police.
The threats began on Dec. 14 when Tyson received the first threatening call. The threats continued on both his home and cellular phone, carrying over to the new year when he began his first term as mayor.
Tyson, who received one such threat calling him "a dead n..." four days into his one year term, stated that the threats have only made him stronger.
"It isn't going to affect anything," said Tyson. "I am going to move forward and be there for the people of South Harrison. Life goes on, we have a job to do."
Let's just admit that Wierd Al is the best at doing this on a pop culture level. He just is. Every couple years he comes out with an album and he's got at least one or two songs on it that are stellar satire and damn funny. I'll Be Mellow when I'm Dead, Yoda, I Lost on Jeapordy, Eat It, Smells Like Nirvana, Jurrasic Park, Amish Paridise, White & Nerdy- I could go on forever. Some of the videos are pure gold, too.
Others who list will hit the other highlights, but there's three who got life on the internet that I must include:
The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny
Stick Magnetic Ribbons on Your SUV
This Land (Jib-Jab)
Sunday, January 07, 2007
- deleted non-updating or defunct blogs from the sidebar
- added a blog or two that should've been there already
- updated some older posts with labels, so I don't have to do that awkward "list of related posts" anymore
Thank you to the readers who have voted for me for the Screaming Carrot. There are some much more worthy blogs out there than CoNJL, this I know full well, but it's truly gratifying to be nominated and receive votes.
Saturday, January 06, 2007
Judge Linda R. Feinberg said a consultant's study of the wetlands on the tract clearly showed the land could hold as many as 40 homes as township officials and the land's owner, Doylestown, Pa.-based developer Fieldstone Associates, have said and was not a swamp as detractors of the township's purchase of the property have alleged.
If the judge is right, the Central NJ town of Hamilton's mistake wasn't in buying back the land for $4.1 million; it was in selling it for $375,000 six years ago. It certainly looks as if her ruling will go that way.
On the other "fun" part of this deal, the claim that since the town council never formally approved funding for the purchase, it is illegal under state laws:
In a separate aspect of the complicated land deal, Feinberg said she would consider the township council's arguments that the entire purchase should be voided because the council in power at the time of the agreement never approved a bond ordinance to pay for the land. If the new council's argument is upheld, the land would revert back to Fieldstone and the price would become irrelevant.
But in her comments, Feinberg warned that the new council should be "careful what they ask for." If the purchase is voided, she said, the township could be liable for damages to Fieldstone.
"One thing for sure is Hamilton Township wants that property for open space, and if I were to do anything the township would probably end up paying more in damages than the $4.1 million purchase price," Feinberg told the three attorneys representing the township, Fieldstone Associates and the council.
Don't forget the $400,000 owed in interest on the money, making it a total of $4.5 million.
So, it looks like the land is worth what Fieldstone wants for it after all. Since it looks like the taxpayers of Hamilton and Our Fair State will be footing the bill for this, I wonder if the two strange parts of this debacle will be formally investigated:
- the decision in the first place to sell the land for what was clearly VASTLY below its market price to Fieldstone
- the decision to not try to force an eminent domain issue in order to avoid a costly lawsuit
*Hamilton Twp. sold this wooded property to Fieldstone Developers in 2001 for $375,000 with the intent of development. Four years later, Hamilton agreed to buy it back for conservation for $4.1 million. Hamilton foots part of this bill but monies come from the county and the state, through the DEP and low-interest loans- hence the fleecing of all of us on this deal. The key posts of the Center of NJ Life continuing series:
Cut the price, 40 Lots and a scam?, Like a bad marriage, The Fleecing of Hamilton and NJ, Deal postponed, 41 lots not feasable, Klockner Woods, Deceptions, Wheeling and dealing, Lawsuit, Paying interest, Money flow
The mysterious object that shot through the roof of a two-story home earlier this week was identified by scientists as a meteorite, police said Friday.
New Jersey's only other known meteorite, weighing an ounce, fell in Deal in 1829.
The precise research value of New Jersey's newest meteorite won't be known unless it ends up in the hands of scientists who would study its composition.
But Delaney said the Freehold meteorite might be of some interest to researchers because it is rich in metals, a sign that it came from the deep interior of an asteroid.
Friday, January 05, 2007
You don't have to live in New Jersey to vote.
We don't care if you live anywhere. Dead people are people, too.
Vote as often as you'd like, or have surrogates pay others to do it for you.
Unless you're not white - we hear the cops are monitoring the vote and arresting people.
We spent all our money on our new high tech voting system that doesn't keep track of the tally, so if you can hack in and rig the vote, you win - and nobody will ever know or care. Plus, we're all out of money, so it's better for everyone if we just pretend the problem doesn't exist.
Shameless self-promotion and mean-spirited mocking of opponents is encouraged and expected. Lawnmowers optional.
Here's my Shameless Self-Promotion! Vote for CoNJL! Last year, the CoNJL garnered an honorable mention, and I'd love to get it again. We need you to vote for us!
As of right this minute, only 34 folks have voted- have you? Go vote!
Though there's nothing Corzine could say to make the family's pain go away, he expressed his gravest sympathies and told them he is ready to do whatever he can -- anything that may help.
"He was so young, and it breaks my heart," he said as he left the Kingston & Kemp Funeral Home. "I try to attend as many of these services as I can. They've all made such a commitment to their towns and their country."
George Bush has not come to the funerals. 3000+ American soldiers have died in this conflict.
Thursday, January 04, 2007
The legal dispute began in 2000 when a group of homeowners sued in state court, claiming they were being deprived of free speech and assembly. They said the association's rules allowed political signs only in obscure and isolated locations not easy to see; people who were not part of the association's board or committees were not given the same access to the community room and had to pay; and access to the community newsletter was not equal.
Initially, a trial court judge rejected their claims and agreed with the Twin Rivers Homeowners Association. The Mercer County judge ruled the dissident residents had agreed to the conditions when they purchased their properties.
However, in February 2006, a unanimous appeals court overturned the decision, ruling the state Constitution should apply. That decision -- the first of its kind in the country -- set the stage for the current showdown.
It's been a hot topic here in the Center of NJ for quite a while. This is a big issue not just for the residents of Twin Rivers, but for the estimated 1.2 million people in Our Fair State who live in homeowners' associations. This case is being watched closely as precedent.
So, one has to wonder, weren't the folks notified before they bought in that there were rules?
For some residents, moving into a community is all they can afford, and others don't know about the rules, the lawyers argued.
Indeed, (Margaret)Bar-Akiva said she had no idea about the rules when she and her husband bought a townhouse in 1984. "This house was available, we bought it. We didn't even know there was a board," said Bar-Akiva.
There's a lesson there about reading the fine print, I'm sure. But one way or another, it sounds like freedoms, particularly speech, are being restricted by the association- the question is, is it legal? Do the contractual homeowners' association rules trump constitutional rights? Owners of homes all over the country will watch to see what the our Supreme Court says on this one.
(cross-posted at Blue Jersey)
Seriously, it's some of the very littlest things you can do- but if you aren't doing them yet, you should be. (Except the date-a-vegan one; I can't do that, my husband frowns on my dating.)
It came from the sky.
But from how far up the small, silver-gray, rocklike item with a metallic sheen came before crashing through the roof of a Colts Pride development home Tuesday afternoon is open to speculation.
The Federal Aviation Administration, after viewing the lumpy but smooth object, which measures about 2 1/4 inches by 1 1/4 inches and weighs about 13 ounces, believes it did not come from a conventional aircraft, township police Lt. Robert Brightman said.
"Their investigation leads them to believe it's not an airplane part," Brightman said.
"It could be a meteor," said Harry Conover, Monmouth County's emergency management director. "It could have been something floating around in space. We've had satellites fall to earth. What do they call it — space junk?"
Approximately 20 to 50 rock-like objects fall every day over the entire planet, said Carlton Pryor, a professor of astronomy at Rutgers University.
Meteorites in Monmouth County? It's certainly possible. The last recorded meteorite in Our Fair State was in 1829- maybe we're due.
As nearby resident Andrea Hurley said,
"It's weird," she said. "How do you explain that to your insurance company?"
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
When do ya think you'll get it fixed, folks?