Bloomfield Council Moves Forward With Six Points Intersection Project

BY  |  Tuesday, Mar 18, 2014 6:37pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

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At Monday evening’s conference meeting, the Bloomfield Council authorized the Engineering Department to issue an RFP for improvements to the Six Points, which is the intersection of Broad Street, Bloomfield Avenue, Washington Street and Glenwood Avenue.

The project had been delayed due to changes in the requirements to receive a grant from the Department of Transportation, necessitating the creation of a document detailing Standard Operating Procedures for managing such grants. The SOP document was approved at the previous council meeting on March 3. Continue Reading

Steve Crooks: Just Showing Up

BY  |  Thursday, Feb 20, 2014 12:07pm  |  COMMENTS (1)

Let me tell you about my son, Gordon. He may be what you would term a ‘special-needs’ kid in today’s vernacular, but if you only knew the extent to which I look to him as a role-model… Continue Reading

Chris Durkin: How 140 Votes Could Decide Who Our Next Governor Is

Friday, Feb 14, 2014 11:30am  |  COMMENTS (4)

In a span of 4 years – from January 2001 to November 2004 – New Jersey residents saw seven Governors occupy the top spot in the State House.

The revolving door began spinning in January 2001 with Governor Christine Todd Whitman resigning to take a position in President George W. Bush’s cabinet and continued to November 2004 when Senate President Richard Codey assumed the helm as Governor on November 15, 2004 after the resignation of Governor James McGreevey. In between, Donald DiFrancesco, John Bennett and Richard Codey (twice) dually served as Senate President and Acting Governor. Let’s also not forget that for 90 minutes in 2002 then-Attorney General John Farmer, Jr. was our Governor.

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The Governor of New Jersey is vested with awesome powers; the line item veto and the appointments of the Attorney General and State Superior Court Judges along with key appointments to many powerful Authorities that ooze public money.

DiFrancesco and Codey both served long periods as both Acting Governor and Senate President: DiFrancesco for 11 months and Codey for 15 months. During those times, one person posted bills and then signed them into law.

Now that’s real power.

In an effort to ensure that too much responsibility did not fall to one person again, in November 2005, voters passed a Constitutional amendment creating the position of Lieutenant Governor and making New Jersey the 45th state with such an office. The lieutenant governor must be from the same party as the governor and assumes the governorship in the event of a vacancy.

In most states, when a vacancy occurs in the governor’s office, the lieutenant governor ascends to the governor’s office for the remainder of the term. But, not here in New Jersey. Article V of the Constitution states, “if a lieutenant governor becomes governor, or in the event of simultaneous vacancies in the offices of governor and lieutenant governor, a governor and lieutenant governor shall be elected to fill the unexpired terms of both offices at the next general election, unless the assumption of the office of governor by the lieutenant governor, or the vacancies, as the case may be, occur within 60 days immediately preceding a general election(this year that date would be after September 5, 2014), in which case they shall be elected at the second succeeding general election.”

In the event, the governor and lieutenant governor vacate their respective offices, the senate president; in an act of déjà vu becomes the “acting governor.”

A vacancy in the office of governor between the dates of 55 days before a primary (in 2014, this would mean April 9th N.J.S.A. 19:23-12) and more than 60 days before the general election (in 2014, the date would be September 4th), except for the last year of the term would trigger a meeting of the Republican and Democratic State Committees to elect the nominees for each respective party; who would then face-off in the general election.

Every four years, members of the Republican and Democratic State Committees are elected to a four-year term at the primary election where candidates for governor are nominated. There are 42 members of the Republican State Committee; one man and one woman from each of the twenty-one counties. The Democratic State Committee, of which I am a member, consists of 98 full votes that are apportioned among the counties based on the total population of each county. The voting body is made up of members with whole votes and members with half votes.

New Jersey’s constitution also has its limits when it comes to winning the unexpired term, by stating that, “no person who has been elected governor for two successive terms, including an unexpired term, shall again be eligible for that office until the third Tuesday in January of the fourth year following the expiration of the second successive term.”

Therefore, in theory, it is possible for a governor to be elected to successive terms and only serve 6 years in office.

Our constitution should be further amended to allow for a governor to serve two consecutive full terms, even after serving an unexpired term. And, in the event the Governor and Lieutenant Governor both vacate their offices, the Senate President should relinquish his or her Senate Presidency to the Senate Majority Leader while “acting” as governor. After all, wasn’t that the intent of the constitutional amendment in the first place?

Christopher J. Durkin is the Essex County Clerk.

Blog: Three Big Lessons From The Big Game

Monday, Feb 03, 2014 3:30pm  |  COMMENTS (3)

I am a Jersey girl. I was born, raised, went to college, and settled in this bountiful Garden State. And I am proud we had the opportunity to host the Big Game this year. I have thought a lot about the arguments put forth regarding the NY versus NJ headlines. The anger leading up to February 2nd escalated to the point where social media posts were going viral…by people who didn’t even care about football. And I’m not sure if they understood that the NFL awarded the Super Bowl to the “New York/New Jersey region.” I admit, I wasn’t happy to see the Seinfeld piece touting NY. All promotions should have recognized the area as a whole. But in my mind, there are three big lessons to be learned from New Jersey’s Big Game experience.
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Blog: How Many is Too Many? Group Homes in Montclair Neighborhoods

BY  |  Friday, Jan 03, 2014 9:30am  |  COMMENTS (49)

Group Homes in Montclair

It is not news that there is a very lopsided distribution of affordable housing units and group homes throughout the town of Montclair, with the lion’s share all being situated in the 4th Ward (81% of affordable housing and 55% of group homes in town are in the 4th Ward). What is news is that on the tiny two-block long Irving Street, located in a critically sensitive part of the 4th Ward, a mental health organization is right now buying a single-family house (45 Irving Street) to create transitional housing for at-risk young women, a mere 170 yards away from an existing group home for men at 21 Irving Street.

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BLOG: One Commuter’s Tale from the Rail

BY  |  Thursday, Dec 26, 2013 9:30am  |  COMMENTS (22)

nj transit

Let’s start at the beginning. I am not an apologist for New Jersey Transit.

There are any number of things we can agree on: the age of their fleet is shameful, their communication skills are sorely lacking, and we all know that as soon as they send around a customer survey there will be single-tracking into Penn, Midtown Direct will be diverted to Hoboken, and something will have happened to something on/around/at the Portal Bridge.  Add to this the fact that the Montclair Boonton line is the bastard stepchild of NJT and you have yourself a perfect storm for commuting hell.

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BLOG: Surviving the First Holiday Without A Loved One

Friday, Dec 20, 2013 10:37am  |  COMMENTS (0)

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Photo credit: Fran Liscio

From Ginny Montella, the program director at the Compassionate Care Hospice in Clifton:

Rebeccah and her two sons are looking out the window at the beech trees in the front yard. Last year at this time they would have hung pine cones dipped in peanut butter and bird seed on the branches, tied with bright red holiday ribbons. This year they can’t bring themselves to do it. The holidays are not the same this year–Keefe, the boy’s father, died in early March from a chronic lung infection. Rebeccah* (*names have been changed) doesn’t know how she will handle the holidays without her husband. The family feels like it has a huge hole in it. The pain feels more raw when those around them are singing carols, decorating for Hanukkah or Christmas, and laughing with anticipation of big family meals.

Rebeccah and her two sons need love, support, and a plan to make it through the first holiday without Keefe.

There are no hard and fast rules in a case like this. But in my many years of experience helping people with sick or dying loved ones, I have found there are some things that might help. Continue Reading

No Excuses and No More Silence

BY  |  Friday, Dec 13, 2013 9:00am  |  COMMENTS (8)

No More SilenceBack in March, I attended an anti-violence rally in Elizabeth, NJ as a representative of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. It was one of many humbling and heart-breaking moments I would have this past year. At the rally, filled with people talking about what has been done, what can be done, what must be done about gun violence and domestic violence and violence in our communities, a mother stood up to speak. She was raw and angry and unapologetic.

She said that yes, she was sorry for “the babies killed in that Connecticut elementary school,” but that she is hurting too. And, she wondered, where is the attention to her family? Five years ago her son was shot dead on his way home from visiting friends. This mother described still waking up every night just before 1 AM, the time when her son was shot and killed and left on the sidewalk. She half-wailed, “Where is the sympathy for my dead son?” She wondered where was the outpouring of help for the son she still has with her? It was painful to watch and hear. It was honest, unpolitical, furious, and desperate. Five years later the pain was still tender and raw.

It’s the horrific mass shootings — the Tucsons, Auroras, Columbines, Washington Navy Yards, Oak Creeks, Newtowns — that get the most attention. It’s difficult to distance oneself from going to movie, attending religious services, hearing a public official speak in a public place, going to school. So when these massive and public atrocities occur, we are forced to confront — if only for a moment — the reality that it really could have been us in those theatre seats or behind those desks or in the benches of a house of worship.
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Blog: All Mom Wants for Christmas is Yoga and Passes to The Yoga Journal Conference in NYC

BY  |  Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013 6:00pm  |  COMMENTS (2)

The Yoga Journal Conference in NYCKristen Kemp blogs about her Christmas wish:

Or maybe I should say that all this mom wants for Christmas is yoga. But it’s true for more than just me. People in our area are obsessed with this ancient-slash-modern practice that moves our bodies and shifts our minds. I mean, we have 10 studios and counting plus our own lululemon. And somehow still, my husband keeps saying I’m difficult to buy for, and he doesn’t know what to get me. Honey, if you’re reading this, yoga would be totally cool. I’d like passes for classes, special workshops and gift certificates for clothes.

But being the good wife that I am, I will tell him about a super special surprise that will make any yogi take a huge Lion’s Breath:

We dream of going to The Yoga Journal Live Conference in New York City from April 24 through 28. This event ain’t cheap ($195 to $225 for one super fun day–more for more days), so a gift like this would be a real treat. What could be better than sneaking away to the city for to take classes from today’s rock stars of yoga? Buying a busy parent some alone time doing the thing he/she loves will always be the perfect present.

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BLOG: Montclair’s Former Township Manager Hartnett Defends Police Chief Sabagh

BY  |  Tuesday, Nov 19, 2013 2:30pm  |  COMMENTS (2)

Baristanet-Blog-disclaimer

When Montclair community leaders issue indictments charging insufficient civilian oversight of the Police Department, just who is it they are indicting?

Under New Jersey law, all Police Departments come under and report to civilian authority.  The law refers to this as the “appropriate authority” ultimately responsible for the rules, regulations, and policies of the Police Department.  Under Montclair’s form of government, the Township Manager is the Chief Executive Officer over all departments and moreover is specifically named as the “appropriate authority” – i.e., as the civilian authority – over the Police Department.  Therefore, anyone who charges a failure in civilian oversight is charging a failure by the Manager and no one else. Continue Reading

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Interesting developments in the Afterglow story. It can see it as a special on the Bravo network.

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