Phil Murphy tries to suppress voting in Sussex County

In a move that is rich in hypocrisy, the Murphy administration has “ordered” the Sussex County Clerk, Jeff Parrott, not to place on the ballot a public question that allows voters in that county to instruct their Sheriff on the Sanctuary State directive issued by Governor Murphy’s attorney general.  The ballot question gives voters a choice to instruct their county Sheriff to (1) obey the state directive or (2) follow the laws passed by the Congress of the United States of America, signed by successive Presidents of both parties, and upheld by the United States Supreme Court. 

So Phil Murphy is telling Sussex County that they must obey him – and join him in disobeying the laws of the United States of America.  And he is attempting to suppress the rights of voters to have a say in the matter.

The “order” was issued by Murphy ally Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, who Murphy appointed in January of 2018.  The Attorney General is the scion of a very wealthy but controversial family of developers.  And it is no secret that Grewal is angling for a spot in some future Democrat administration in Washington, DC, if he can get past the confirmation hearings (which are a whole lot tougher in Washington than they are in Trenton).  That controversial family of developers thing again (it’ll get you every time).

The “order” to deprive the voters of their right to voice their opinions on a ballot question pits Murphy and Grewal against Sussex County’s Sheriff, Mike Strada, who has strongly supported the ballot question and opposed Murphy’s Sanctuary State plan every step of the way. Strada, a career law enforcement officer who led a U.S. Army platoon in Iraq (Desert Storm), has no time for federal law breakers like Murphy and Grewal.

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Murphy & Grewal vs. Sheriff Mike Strada

 
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New Jersey Herald reporter Bruce Scruton did a good job of covering this breaking story, which appeared on that newspaper’s website late last night.  It can be accessed here:

https://www.njherald.com/20190524/attorney-general-nixes-countys-anti-sanctuary-ballot-question

Reactions from the Freeholders have been mixed, with some clearly in the mood to stand up for the rights of voters and others a bit tepid.  Four of the five member freeholder board cast votes in support of the ballot question earlier this year, but there is a long history in Sussex County of elected officials taking the advice of “go-along-to-get-along” establishment types.  This is what lured them into the solar debacle that cost taxpayers $26 million but has yet to identify a guilty party (despite nearly $600,000 in “studies” to find out what went wrong and who done it).

You can’t put a cost on doing the right thing – and the right thing is standing up for the right to vote and the primacy of the Constitution of the United States of America.  Too often doing the right thing is dismissed on grounds of cost (unless it can be monetized, as with the $600,000 in “studies” into the solar debacle). 

This is a moment of truth for Sussex County Republicans.  We’ve heard a lot about the “walk away” movement among the Democrats.  Republicans should understand the frustrations of their own base – at least enough to prevent a “walk away” movement of their own.

Candidate brags to local media about NBC “hit job” on Sheriff

By: Sussex County Watchdog

Since its founding in 2012, the contributors here at Watchdog have generally been just ordinary citizens, not professional journalists.  Nevertheless, we have got the ball rolling on a number of big stories in Sussex County – including the illegal negotiations to sell the county solid waste facility (caught in time and prevented), the solar program that ended up going bust (which ultimately cost taxpayers $26 million), the corruption at the county college (leading to the resignation of several trustees), and environmental issues impacting the health of county workers (CWA members) in Newton (which was addressed after our report).  Whether via tips or submitted columns, we publish stories that address the bad behavior of the government and corporate establishment.  

Generally we work with for-profit corporate media, which is advertising based. As we do not run ads, we do not have a need for click-bait, as they do.  Nevertheless, we respect them for the work that they do.  So we were shocked when a local media person had a story concerning a media organization outside the county – in New York City, in fact – that was using Sussex County to attract viewers.  

Apparently, a candidate for Sheriff in the upcoming GOP primary – Andy Boden – bragged to local media that he had arranged for a “hit job” on his opponent, Sussex County Sheriff Mike Strada.  It seems that Boden said the “hit job” would be about how Strada has suspended him for running, and that now he must work construction and that his wife had to take a job.  Boden claimed that the “hit job” was being done on his behalf by a friend of a friend who has a show on NBC out of New York City.  

Andy Boden is a rather sad case.  Earlier this year, a police psychologist found him “unfit for duty” and he was placed on leave.  Boden went to Sheriff Strada and asked him to restore him to duty – which meant giving him back his power over people, a firearm, handcuffs, and badge.  The Sheriff’s office told Boden that he needed to get well first and re-evaluated by a mental health professional, before he could be re-instated. 

Boden’s case mirrors the current national debate concerning mental health and gun laws.  Should employers act when they observe traumatic stress in employees (in this case, confirmed by a mental health professional) or should they wait until after something actually happens?  It is a complex issue.

Boden’s case has been further complicated by his candidacy, which was not his idea, but rather that of a local union fighting to preserve the jobs of corrections officers at the Sussex County jail (the Keogh-Dwyer Correctional Facility).  The jobs of many who work at the jail were put in jeopardy by the passage of Bail Reform, a bi-partisan bill aimed at reducing the number of people incarcerated while waiting for trial.  Before bail reform, many innocent people were locked up for weeks or months simply because they couldn’t afford the cost of bail.  They often lost jobs, homes, and relationships while they were locked up – only later to be found “not guilty” or have the case against them dismissed.

After bail reform became law in New Jersey, jail populations began to diminish drastically and elected officials started to consider shared services agreements that would allow them to close or scale-down some facilities and save money for taxpayers.  The August 2014 “needs assessment” on the Sussex jail (Keogh-Dwyer Correctional Facility), conducted by Pulitzer/Bogard Associates LLC, clearly outlined the devastating impact keeping the jail open would have on county taxpayers.  Making the jail compliant with basic standards would cost $11 million in short term and $64 million in long term expenditures. 

At the insistence of county Freeholders, Sheriff Strada has been working to scale-down the jail and enter into shared services agreements with Morris County. An agreement to house Sussex County’s female inmate population has recently been reached (and the quality of life for female inmates markedly improved, according to media reports).  

A working group that includes county bureaucrats, elected officials, and union leaders has been working to place every corrections officer likely to be displaced by the plans for the jail.  It is our understanding that County Administrator Greg Poff will shortly announce that positions have been found for every officer likely to be displaced.  Unfortunately, some union people have continued to oppose any changes to the jail.  They’ve complained about the length of the commutes to other facilities and such.  And it is this group who recruited Andy Boden as their candidate and spokesperson.  

They have been using their media contacts to shop around “dirt” on Sheriff Strada and even used a fake Facebook account to distribute a fake video of an “incident” between the Sheriff and a female firefighter, which was later found to have been doctored by the media (including the Star-Ledger/ NJ.com and the New Jersey Herald).  After the media spoke with the female firefighter, who confirmed that the incident never happened, Andy Boden claimed to have had no knowledge of it – despite the fact that Boden’s campaign managers had met with the local party chairman and threatened him with the release of the video some 48 hours before it was released.  This according to a legal statement given by the party chairman.

Boden’s managers went to a well-known statehouse blog in Trenton with their “dirt” – but after the reporter reviewed the transcript of the public hearing Boden asked for regarding his “unfit for duty” status – the story that was written was not to Boden’s liking:  

Incumbent Sheriff Mike Strada faces a challenge from corrections officer Andy Boden, who suspended earlier this year after a police psychologist ruled he was unfit for duty.

Following his suspension, Boden has mounted an offensive against the three-term sheriff, accusing him of endangering his deputies and misusing public funds.

“My decision to run is to end the culture of harassment and mental abuse that Strada has created and fostered. His actions, along with his posse’s, will come out in the upcoming weeks,” Boden said. 

Boden has been suspended since early March. The New Jersey Herald first reported his suspension.

In testimony provided to the New Jersey Globe by Strada’s campaign, a police psychologist said he or she could not rule out the possibility of Boden harming someone if he was allowed to continue working while receiving therapy.

The psychologist recommended the corrections officer receive additional treatment to restore fitness for duty.

“Lt. Boden was to engage in individual treatment outside of the treatment that he had already been receiving with his wife with the sole purpose on managing his stress level, identifying coping mechanisms that work for him so that he could return to his position,” the psychologist said.

For further reading, visit New Jersey Globe at…

https://newjerseyglobe.com/local/sussex/mud-flies-in-sussex-sheriffs-race/

Watchdog is attempting to find out just who the NBC person is who Andy Boden was speaking about when he told local media that a “hit job” was being done on Sheriff Strada.  Stay tuned…

The NJGOP is broadening its base under Steinhardt

In last week’s column comparing the state fiscal rescue plan put forward by Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-03) with the tax-cut plan backed by Republican Assembly Leader Jon Bramnick (R-21), we wrote :  “This situation might be different if New Jersey Republicans had taken the time to build a base of small dollar donors and activists.  But as fundraiser Ali Steinstra noted at the March NJGOP Leadership Summit, broad-based Republican fundraising can only be accomplished by appeals to the party’s conservative base.   

The GOP establishment in New Jersey is barely on speaking terms with its base, so the ground has not been prepared.  We have no equivalent to what the NJEA and the Norcross super PACs will throw against us, so pissing on a hornet’s nest probably isn’t a good idea.  At this moment in time, it is more likely to motivate the kind of turnout that will cost us another four or more seats in November.

Assembly Leader Bramnick has a sensible, Republican plan that addresses the problem of spending and taxation.  It avoids drawing fire from well-organized, well-funded interest groups.  Those on the ballot this year have a choice to make.”

Apparently we had failed to notice that under the leadership of Chairman Doug Steinhardt, the Republican State Committee (NJGOP) has been pioneering new methods of grassroots fundraising, including the use of “investor reports” to set goals and inspire donors.  The idea of investor reports was summed up by Chairman Steinhardt:  “You don’t invest in a business without a prospectus or something else that lets you know it’s a good investment. We created these with the same idea in mind. It’s been very successful.”

 Some highlights of the NJGOP’s success:
- There were just 68 active donors when Chairman Steinhardt took over.
- As of March 30th, there were more than 1800 active donors. 
- Of these 79% were small dollar donors (under $200).
- There has been a 29% increase in new donors in 2019.
- 2019 had the best first quarter fundraising since 2015 (accomplished without a Governor in office and after the set-backs of 2018).
- The NJGOP team of 3 full and 2 part time employees have logged 20,000 miles to grass roots events as of April 30 vs 25,000 in all of 2018.

Chairman Steinhardt noted that that the NJGOP was “reconnecting with Republicans and it’s showing.”  Kudos to the Chairman and his team.

Pastor Brad Winship: Illegal Immigration

The great crisis being ignored by the media is flood of illegal immigrants at our Southern Border.  Supporters of open borders say mercy demands that we welcome all illegal immigrants as refugees.  Opponents say lawless border crossing is not compassion but abuse and human trafficking.  In this week’s program I wrestle with this whole issue of mercy vs. law.  Les Miserables is a timeless example of this conflict.

Scripture References:  James 2:12-13; Luke 6:36; Matthew 5:7; Matthew 23:23; Luke 10:37; Matthew 9:12 -13; Matthew 18; Isaiah 26:10; Jude 4; Genesis 50:20; Romans 3:8

YouTube #73 Illegal Immigration – Mercy and Law

Pastor Winship can be heard at the following times:

  Bridge Christian Radio - Sunday 9 pm
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Listen anytime at http://godandcountryradio.org/   * Click on Program (Left click - The audio should begin playing) (Right click - To save to your computer or device) 

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Bramnick vs. Sweeney: The politics of competing plans

Good for Jim Florio… at least he remembers who he is.

When asked whether or not he would endorse law partner Doug Steinhardt for Governor, the former Governor put it very simply:  “He’s not the right party as far as I’m concerned.  I would not vote for him.  I’m a Democratic voter.”

Doug is the Chairman of the Republican State Committee.  The two are partners at Florio Perrucci Steinhardt & Cappelli.  This insight came courtesy of that doyen of bloggers… David Wildstein. 

But hey, Florio gets it.  Party means something.

It is the job of the leader of every legislative party caucus – the Speaker, the Senate President, and the minority leaders – to defend and expand their caucus at the expense of the other side.  Those are the rules.  It is first and foremost.  We all understand this.

Last week, Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick rolled out his plan for addressing New Jersey’s fiscal crisis.  It was a direct appeal to elect more Republicans to the Assembly and centered on what they would do if elected.

Bramnick did exactly what he needed to do.  After pointing out the fiscal evils perpetrated by legislative Democrats, Bramnick lays out three solid policy positions that points New Jersey Republicans in the direction of what we should be for

(1) Cap State Spending at 2% (just like local government spending is capped).

(2) Cut the State Income Tax by 10% (make NJ more competitive w. other states).

(3) Full Deduction of Property Taxes on the State Income Tax (a move that takes the property tax issue away from Democrats like Andy Kim, Mikie Sherrill, and Josh Gottheimer).

In a political sense, the Assembly Republican Leader’s plan does not demonize any organized, well-funded interest groups – it simply starves government for the benefit of taxpayers.  Bramnick makes war on spending, not people.  And that is good politics.    

Bramnick avoids the mistake made in 2015 by then Governor Chris Christie and his Republican Party.  Christie’s pension/health benefits commission called for many changes but he went further and directly confronted the unions and their members, demonizing them in the process.  Christie inadvertently created well-organized, well-financed cells of opposition in every Republican district in the state. 

Like this year, 2015 was a low-turnout election with the Assembly at the top of the ticket.  Public employee unions targeted Republicans and Democrat super PACs – including those controlled by George Norcross – poured money into the campaigns of Democrat challengers.  Republicans lost four seats – four friends by the names of Donna, Caroline, Mary Pat, and Sam.

Yesterday, Senate President Steve Sweeney announced his “bi-partisan” plan that targets many of the same people that Governor Christie pissed off in 2015.  It should be noted that Sweeney’s plan was formally rolled out after the filing deadline for the Democrat primary.  Unfortunately for Republicans… it is some months until the November election.

This is not about the merits of the “bi-partisan plan” but rather, it is about the politics and timing of the plan.   

Are Republicans in danger of repeating 2015 again? 

Will the super PACS’s controlled by Sweeney allies like George Norcross back up every Republican legislator on the ballot this year?  Or will they stay true to form and support their Democrat challengers?  Will the Republicans on the ballot this year end up getting it from both ends?

This situation might be different if New Jersey Republicans had taken the time to build a base of small dollar donors and activists.  But as fundraiser Ali Steinstra noted at the March NJGOP Leadership Summit, broad-based Republican fundraising can only be accomplished by appeals to the party’s conservative base.   

The GOP establishment in New Jersey is barely on speaking terms with its base, so the ground has not been prepared.  We have no equivalent to what the NJEA and the Norcross super PACs will throw against us, so pissing on a hornet’s nest probably isn’t a good idea.  At this moment in time, it is more likely to motivate the kind of turnout that will cost us another four or more seats in November.

Assembly Leader Bramnick has a sensible, Republican plan that addresses the problem of spending and taxation.  It avoids drawing fire from well-organized, well-funded interest groups.  Those on the ballot this year have a choice to make.