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Re: Councilman gets ethics questions on the ballot
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See the council pass the Pay to Play ordinance on SpeakNJ
Monday 10:30 PM, Tuesday 9:00 PM. The show will play for several weeks on Channel 51
Yvonne
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GagNQSp2Kn8

Posted on: 2008/9/28 16:47
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Corzine's ethics proposals overdue and doomed?
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Corzine's ethics proposals overdue and doomed?

Jersey Journal
Saturday, September 27, 2008

There was an interesting attempt this week by Gov. Jon Corzine to rebuild the public's trust in elected officials by announcing a package he hopes will prevent scalawags from buying influence in Trenton and other levels of government.

With much fanfare about ethics and that ballyhooed word "reform," Corzine unveiled a bunch of executive orders and demands from the Legislature to approve legislation that he says bans the practice of pay-to-pay statewide. What we're talking about is the "traditional" awarding of government contracts - no-bid and mostly for professional services pacts - to those who donate generously to campaign war chests.

In what seems like a Boy Scout merit badge moment, the governor wants very tight restrictions on "wheeling." An example is where one political organization may have donated its legal limit but they then send money to several other organizations who in turn donate that money back to the lucky candidate.

"The public understands all too well the intersection of money and politics is bad for their pocketbooks," Corzine said. "We have reached a point where New Jerseyans have come to believe that instead of government of, by and for the people, we have a government of, by and for political contributors. Today, that era ends."

Well, maybe yes and maybe no.

His proposals say a lot about curbing contributions by state redevelopers and their consultants and a donation ban for developers seeking, well, development contracts. These new rules also extend to county and local governments, school districts, and regional authorities.

While there is much said about making certain there is a "fair and open process" for awarding all professional contracts and "competitive contracting" for insurance pacts, it would sound more sincere if the governor's proposals specifically mentioned law firms and bonding agents - what most state legislators do for a living.

Since this gubernatorial ethics and reform package will supersede all county and municipal laws, Corzine is at least doing Jersey City Downtown Councilman Steven Fulop a favor by including developers. Developers are not spelled out in the councilman's local proposed version. Fulop said it was left out on the advice of a citizens advocacy group which he said believes developers are extremely protected in New Jersey.

Corzine is not winning friends among the legislators. They are mad.

Most of the limitations on campaign contributions have lawmakers grousing. Only millionaires will be able to run for office, they say. Some are calling the governor's measure the Corzine Incumbency Act.

What is worst to some is that Corzine wants to add corruption offenses under the scope of the state's RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) law. This could have a chilling effect on the average businessman or contributor who wants to donate to a campaign, say legislators.

Doesn't this RICO stuff sound like the realm of U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, a Republican whose name pops up as a possible challenger for Corzine ? Assembly Republican Leader Alex DeCroce said the GOP is willing to work with Corzine on ethics and reform, something they have been pushing for years, and he and other GOP members wonder why it took Corzine three years to come up with any ideas.

All this is probably moot because the Legislature does not want to approve any Corzine-proposed ethics bills.

There were some eyebrows raised when Senate President Richard Codey did not show up at the governor's reform announcement. Codey and Corzine both said that no one should read anything into his absence, which means we already have.

All Assembly members - as well as Corzine, come up for re-election next year. They have no choice but to go along with "reform" because they know it is a buzz issue. Assembly members will expect Codey and the Senate to play the bad guys and allow the legislation to die.

Should Codey decide to run for governor, do you think this will hurt him? Do you think.

SOME INSIDER NOTES

- The Hoboken Democratic Organization is getting its members together at Willie McBride's Thursday evening for what they call "Palin versus Biden: The Main Event."

It will cost $15 - considered by some jokesters as half-price - to gather and watch the televised vice presidential debate between the Republican Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska and her Democratic rival, Senator Joe Biden of Delaware.

- Former Jersey City Mayor Bret Schundler is expected to hold a fundraising event next month at Puccini's, according to city and culinary sources. Schundler will be appearing Tuesday at 7 p.m. as a guest speaker at the Jimmy King Civic Association which meets at 440 Hoboken Ave.

We're getting close to the time when mayoral candidates will start publicly announcing their candidacy.

Posted on: 2008/9/28 15:20
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Re: Corzine to announce ethics reform executive order
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getting this order effected on the municipal level statewide will be interesting to observe!

Posted on: 2008/9/25 0:30
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Re: Corzine to announce ethics reform executive order
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An excellent set of proposals by Governor Corzine!

Taking steps to drive these reforms all the way down to the municipal level would really make a difference.

I would like to see our local candidates for office in next year's municipal elections take a stand to support reforms like the following, among the others recommended by Corzine:

*Ban political contributions by redevelopers and their consultants to municipal candidates

*Ban contractor contributions to include those made by partners of professional service firms to municipal candidates

*Amend the Local Government Ethics Law to match state law.

*Enhance financial disclosure rules for members of local office holders, boards and commissions.

*Ban contributions to municipal candidates by developers seeking development approvals.

*Ban contributions to municipal candidates from audit firms and partners to audit clients.

I would really be impressed if some of our local candidates voluntarily undertook to limit the types of contributions they might accept.

Just some food for thought...

All the best.

Geoff

Posted on: 2008/9/24 15:40
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Corzine to announce ethics reform executive order
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Corzine to announce ethics reform executive order

Posted by mschmidt September 24, 2008 07:35AM

Mel Evans/APGov. Jon Corzine, seen here earlier this week talking about toll hikes, is expected to announce an ethics reform executive order today.

Gov. Jon S. Corzine is scheduled to announce an executive order today that would immediately put into place ethics reform measures aimed at reducing the influence of money on the state's political system.

Some other reforms would need legislative approval, according to a summary obtained by The Associated Press from a person familiar with the plan who did not want to be identified because the plan had not been formally announced.

The executive order would:

*Ban political contributions by state redevelopers and their consultants.

*Tighten the current ban on state-contractor contributions to include those made by partners of professional service firms.

*Appoint a task force to study whether the Local Government Ethics Law should be changed to match state law.

*Update financial disclosure rules for members of newly created boards and commissions.

"We have an absolute responsibility to give our citizens the most we can from their tax dollars," Corzine, D-Hoboken, said in a written statement. "This is about ethics in government, which is fundamental. But it's also about fiscal responsibility, which is essential."

Other reform measures, which would require legislative action, would apply to municipal governments, school districts, utility authorities, auditors and county and municipal political party committees.

They address concerns about "pay to play" -- the practice of rewarding political donors with lucrative government contracts -- and so-called "wheeling" of campaign money from one political party committee to another.

The governor also wants legislation to increase financial disclosure by lawmakers.

Among the proposed pay to play reforms:

*A ban on contributions by county government contractors to municipal candidates and a ban on contributions by municipal contractors to county candidates.

*A ban contributions by developers seeking development approvals.

*A ban on contributions from audit firms and partners to audit clients.

Wheeling reforms would set new limits on contributions from one political committee to another and a campaign finance proposal would lower the current annual limit on contributions to a county political committee.

Corzine also will propose a set of contracting reforms affecting local municipalities and school districts.

Among them:

*Requiring a "fair and open process" for awards of professional services contracts.

*Requiring "competitive contracting" for insurance contracts.

*Changing selection practices to ensure the independence of local auditors.

Corzine also wants legislation to convert the State Ethics Commission to a body of all public members; it currently consists of four citizens and three public officials.

Other proposed reforms would prohibit use of state funds to hire lobbyists to lobby state government and give state election officials authority to impose penalties for late filing of campaign finance reports.

http://www.nj.com/hudson/

Posted on: 2008/9/24 14:45
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Re: Pay-to-play passes; vote by council is unanimous
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Pay-to-play is in play - City Council approves Fulop's referendum, won't go to ballot

By Ricardo Kaulessar
Reporter staff writer 09/06/2008

DAY FOR PAY-TO-PLAY ? City Councilman Steven Fulop speaks at a special council meeting on Wednesday, where the council approved an election finance reform measure that he?d supported. Next to Fulop is Councilwoman Mary Spinello.
A proposal to limit political donations from contractors doing business with Jersey City was approved 9-0 in front of 100 people at Wednesday's special City Council meeting. If it had not been approved, it would have been placed on the November general election ballot as a referendum to be voted on by the public.

The initiative was meant to cut down on "pay to play," or the practice of contractors donating to local candidates in hopes of getting city contracts. The proposal, supported by City Councilman Steven Fulop and other local good-government advocates, was initially rejected at a January 2007 council meeting. This spurred Fulop and others to work since last fall to get enough signatures on a petition for it to go to a citywide vote in November.

After they collected the signatures, the council decided to give it a second look. This time, the council voted in the affirmative to implement the pay-to-play legislation, which Fulop called "undoubtedly the most gratifying experience" he has had in his three years as a City Councilman. He received a standing ovation from most of the audience after he thanked the people he worked with on the referendum.

The matter will become city law on Sept. 23, 20 days after it was approved.

The measure was first introduced at a council meeting on Aug. 18 when the referendum was certified by the City Clerk Robert Byrne.

How does it work?

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The ordinance stops any business that does business with the city, such as public relations or insurance firms, from being awarded a contract if they have made a contribution of more than $300 per year to a local candidate and $500 per year to local political party within a year before the start of the contract.

If any entity is found in violation of ordinance, they will be disqualified from bidding on any city contract for four years.

Mayor Jerramiah Healy had sought to include an amendment that would have allowed a higher limit. Healy's proposal was to limit all donors to a maximum $2,600 contribution as stipulated by state law, but it would only apply if one or more candidates in the race was earning $500,000 a year for two years prior to running for office, or had a net worth of $2 million.

Healy said his thinking was that in a race where some candidates weren't making as much money as others, they might need more donations to compete.

But the city Corporation Counsel Bill Matsikoudis gave a legal opinion recently said in a legal opinion that the amendment would alter, to a great degree, the ordinance. Thus, could have been challenged in court by the petitioners.

Came to fight, but it's all right

City Council President Mariano Vega said during the meeting that the council would be voting in favor of the pay-to-play law, and the council members would have to explain their vote.

Downtown Jersey City resident Shelley Skinner, one of the main petitioners for the referendum, said she had expected to "put on her boxing gloves" at the meeting. But Skinner, like other speakers who supported the matter, ended up thanking the council for approving it.

However, not everyone praised the council.

Daniel Levin, a resident of Third Street and another petitioner, pointed out that because it was approved by the council, the council could also amend it later. He encouraged the council to adopt more reform legislation. He didn't mention another Fulop proposal, a referendum to limit the city's public servants to one salary and pension.

Fulop and his supporters are currently studying legal options to put that referendum to a vote in November as well.

The harshest words for the council came from Newport resident Dan Falcon (wearing the now-infamous "Get Drunk, Get Naked, Get Elected" Healy criticism T-shirt). Falcon took them to task for waiting a year and a half to adopt the pay-to-play legislation.

"Why should we thank you?" Falcon said. "We wanted two ordinances, we're getting one, and we're getting one because we have to twist your arm."

Longtime resident James Francis Waddleton was the one speaker in opposition to the referendum, saying it is a "means of prejudice" against business people who want to donate to political candidates.

Council gets on board

City Council members were in defensive mode when they explained their votes.

Ward A City Councilman Michael Sottolano said before voting for the referendum that he does not benefit from political donations. He said the money donated to him goes to various community organizations including Little League teams.

Fulop took issue with Sottolano's comments, saying donating money to baseball teams and taking political contributions from contractors wanting to do business with the city are two different issues.

Ward F City Councilwoman Viola Richardson, who along with Fulop voted for the pay-to-play legislation in January 2007, commended Fulop and his supporters in the audience for working to get the pay-to-play legislation passed. But she said she did not appreciate remarks from several of the public speakers implying that council members were dishonest.

City Councilman-At-Large Peter Brennan took issue with Fulop, saying that he looked at Fulop's election reports, and found Fulop raised more money in his three years in office than other council members in that time period.

Comments on this story can be sent to rkaulessar@hudsonreporter.com

Posted on: 2008/9/7 3:39
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Re: Pay-to-play passes; vote by council is unanimous
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I?m pretty sure I wasn?t the only person sitting in the auditorium Wed. night thinking something fishy was going on. Then Dan Levin hit on it. Something like? if the council approved the ordinance, then they have the ability to amend it at any time. If they didn?t approve the referendum and it goes to the ballot and passes in the election next May, then they would have to WAIT 3 YEARS TO AMEND IT.

Five bucks says the fat cat$ rewrite it before the end of this year.

Posted on: 2008/9/6 14:29
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Re: Pay-to-play passes; vote by council is unanimous
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HAIKU FOR A SUNNY DAY

STEVE FULOP FOR MAYOR
OUT WITH THE DOUBLE DIPPERS
SKINNER FOR COUNCIL

Posted on: 2008/9/4 15:07
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Re: Pay-to-play passes; vote by council is unanimous
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Quote:

Another ordinance, to ban City Council members from collecting a second government paycheck, fell short when the petition organizers were told shortly before the deadline that they needed about 10,000 more signatures because it dealt with payroll.


Fulop and others who championed this initiative should be applauded. This may seem like small potatoes but it is a seismic change in the city's political process.

Anyone in the know can shed light on next steps?

Posted on: 2008/9/4 14:56
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Pay-to-play passes; vote by council is unanimous
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Pay-to-play passes; vote by council is unanimous

Thursday, September 04, 2008
By PAUL KOEPP
JOURNAL STAFF WRITER

More than 100 Jersey City residents came to Middle School 4 on Bright Street last night, geared up for a fight over ethics reform that never happened.

The City Council, with all nine members present, unanimously adopted strict limits on campaign contributions from contractors hired to do work for the city.
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"I had my boxing gloves in the car ready to go," said Shelley Skinner, one of the principal supporters of the ordinance. "I can't tell you how happy I am."

The pay-to-play measure advanced by Downtown Councilman Steve Fulop is the first of its kind in the city, the result of a petition drive that garnered signatures from more than 2,000 Jersey City residents.

The ordinance limits how much vendors who receive no-bid professional contracts can give to municipal campaigns to $300 per calendar year, or $500 per calendar year to candidate committees.

State law permits contributions of up to $2,600 per election per candidate, with primary and general election contests counting as two different elections, and $7,200 to county committees.

Fulop received a standing ovation when he addressed the audience.

"If you think back to one year ago we literally got laughed out of the council chambers," he said. "It really speaks to the power of the people."

Several other council members said that while they were voting for the ordinance, they resented any implication that they have been tainted by campaign contributions.

An amended version put forward by Mayor Jerramiah Healy would have raised the limits with the entry of a candidate who earned $500,000 or more a year or had $2 million or more in assets. He argued that limiting contributions from city vendors would be unfair to candidates of "modest means."

"I regret that Councilman Fulop rejected our financial disclosure proposal that would have provided for unprecedented transparency and that he refused our attempt to keep a level playing field in elections, which will just make it easier for rich candidates to buy their way into office," Healy said.

Another ordinance, to ban City Council members from collecting a second government paycheck, fell short when the petition organizers were told shortly before the deadline that they needed about 10,000 more signatures because it dealt with payroll.

Posted on: 2008/9/4 6:40
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Re: Healy pay-to-play proposal won't fly meeting tonight
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I was waiting for the the pig to fly threw the room.It was a really crazy moment in the history of jersey city politics.

Posted on: 2008/9/4 3:56
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Re: Healy pay-to-play proposal won't fly meeting tonight
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Shockingly, the Pay-to-Play ordinance was unanimously approved tonight.

Congratulations to Steve and all who worked with him on this.

Next up: single salaries/ no double dipping.

Steve has turned on the lights and the roaches are running scared.

Posted on: 2008/9/4 1:47
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Healy pay-to-play proposal won't fly meeting tonight
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Healy pay-to-play proposal won't fly meeting tonight

Wednesday, September 03, 2008
By PAUL KOEPP
JOURNAL STAFF WRITER

A proposal by Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy to amend Councilman Steve Fulop's pay-to-play ordinance will not be on the table tonight when the City Council holds a special meeting to consider the measure and possibly adopt it.

Healy had argued that by limiting the contributions city vendors can make in municipal elections, the ordinance would put candidates of "modest means" at a disadvantage. He proposed throwing out the limits if a candidate who earns $500,000 or more a year or has $2 million or more in assets enters a race.

In an opinion requested by Fulop, Jersey City Corporation Counsel Bill Matsikoudis wrote yesterday that the mayor's version could not be adopted by the council as an amendment since it would "alter the form" of the ordinance.

That means the City Council will either adopt the ordinance as it is or it will go before voters in November.

In a statement, Healy said that while he respects Matsikoudis' opinion, he is disappointed no changes were embraced Fulop and the rest of the five-member "committee of petitioners" who organized the gathering of over 2,000 signatures for the ordinance. Four of the five would have to agree to any amendments.

"This is a good win for us and a good step in right direction," Fulop said. "Jersey City will now have a chance to have the strictest ethics laws in the state."

The other petition committee members are James Carroll, Daniel Levin, Aaron Morrill and Shelley Skinner.

Tonight's meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Middle School 4, 107 Bright St.

Posted on: 2008/9/3 14:01
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Re: 'Pay to play' hearing moved up to Sept. 3
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Under law, when a council is presented with a petition for an initiated ordinance it has only TWO choices. They can pass the ordinance in the same form as the petition or it can reject the ordinance. Nor can the petitioners agree to any amendments.

Mayor Healy in a disingenuous effort has now proposed an amendment to the petition initiated ordinance.

To make it very clear, the council is prohibited from honoring the Mayor?s request to amend the initiated ordinance. If the council fails to pass the initiated ordinance as drafted, the public will expect to see it placed on the ballot in November.

Let?s hope that our city council will respect democracy and let the residents of Jersey City decide by voting only on the petition initiated ordinance.

Posted on: 2008/9/2 19:01
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Re: 'Pay to play' hearing moved up to Sept. 3
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More than two years ago CivicJC proposed Pay To Play reform to the Jersey City council. Councilman Steve Fulop then introduced the ordinance and in an unprecedented move the Council voted it down on the first reading. This video shows your elected public servants give their reasoning at the January 2007 Council meeting where 250 people were present Thanks to the effort of CivicJC, Steve Fulop, and many concerned citizens we will get a second reading this Wednesday at 7:00pm. This is the result of our referendum effort, and if the Pay To Play Reform is not passed on Wednesday it will go on the ballot this November. This is a special Public Hearing on this ordinance where the public may speak without signing up in advance. This will be our opportunity to address to the Council and Mayor in a public forum. Wednesday September, 3 2008 - 7:00pm Middle School #4 107 Bright Street near the corner of Jersey Avenue and Grand

Posted on: 2008/9/2 2:20
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'Pay to play' hearing moved up to Sept. 3
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'Pay to play' hearing moved up to Sept. 3

Tuesday, August 26, 2008
By KEN THORBOURNE
JOURNAL STAFF WRITER

A Jersey City City Council public hearing on the "pay to play" ordinance that has qualified for the November ballot has been rescheduled for next Wednesday, Sept. 3, 7 p.m., at Middle School 4, 107 Bright St., officials said yesterday.

Initially set for Sept. 8, the hearing was moved up to allow more time to get the measure printed on sample ballots, said City Clerk Robert Byrne. The ordinance will not be placed on the November ballot if the council adopts it on Sept. 3.

The council also has the option of amending the ordinance. But the "committee of petitioners," led by City Councilman Steve Fulop, who collected the signatures to qualify it for the ballot has already said it won't accept any changes.

The measure would limit how much vendors who receive no-bid professional contracts could give to local campaigns to $300 per calendar year or $500 per calendar year to candidate committees.

State law permits contributions of up to $2,600 per election per candidate, with primary and general election contests counting as two different elections, and $7,200 to county committees.

Mayor Jerramiah Healy has proposed an amendment to allow the higher state limits for all candidates if one candidate in the race has assets of $2 million or more or earns $500,000 or more annually.

Another initiative championed by Fulop - to limit council members to one government salary - did not qualify for the ballot.

Fulop and his team of petitioners were under the impression they only needed 1,500 signatures of registered voters to put the measure on the ballot.

But because the ordinance involves the earnings of council members, Bill Matsikoudis, the city's top attorney, determined Fulop needed to collect more than 12,000 signatures.

Fulop has vowed to fight the matter in court.

Posted on: 2008/8/31 3:34
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Re: Healy & HCDO Block Ethics Questions on the Ballot!
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Jersey City Council to consider ethics reform initiatives

For everyone interested in ethics reform in Jersey City, this coming Wednesday morning will be a banner-headline moment, as Municipal Council will receive and consider the certified "pay-to-play-reform" initiative -- and possibly the "municipal salary" measure, if the emergency legal effort is successful. We hope that you are able to attend this historic event. The Council meeting will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, August 20th, at P.S. #7, located at 229 Laidlaw Avenue; Jersey City, NJ, the new school near Pershing Field and the Reservoir #3.

For those not immediately familiar, Click here for the MapQuest link.

Please consider calling the City Clerk's office in advance to sign up for the speakers' portion of the meeting. Even if your schedule might preclude your attendance, please call and sign up and leave a message for your Councilperson showing your support for the passage of this ordinance. Council members wake up and take extra notice when numerous citizens are listed as speakers. The City Clerk's office phone number is: 201.547.5150.

If enough Civic JC members, and other community activists supporting the initiative(s), sign up to speak, those of us actually in attendance can orchestrate (with the Clerk and the Council) for an effective, representative series of citizen presenters to articulate our common concerns, aspirations, etc.

We hope to see you there on Wednesday morning, or at least your name(s) listed as a potential speaker.

Two years ago, Civic JC asked our City Council to adopt an "anti pay-to-play" ordinance aimed at eliminating the corrupting influence of money in local politics. While we were completely ignored initially, we're proud to have begun a process that is now on the verge of bringing real change to Jersey City. Through the hard work and support of Councilman Steve Fulop and a band of dedicated volunteers who gathered thousands of signatures, Jersey City voters will, on November 4th, have the chance to enact an anti pay-to-play ordinance that will begin to move Jersey City politics into the 21st century.

The political machine is now rising against us and we want your help . Once it is confirmed that our referendum questions are on the ballot we will start an awareness campaign in preparation for the November election.

Civic JC will be setting up tables at key locations in Jersey City where we will register voters we want volunteers to man these tables. (People will be paired up so don't worry about being out there alone!) We will provide you with all the information and literature you need to do a great job and we can tell you from personal experience that it's very rewarding.

If you're interested, please Reply to this email: webmaster@civicjc.org with your name and phone number.

Thanks in advance for your help!


Civic JC
www.civicjc.org

Posted on: 2008/8/18 13:44
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Healy & HCDO Block Ethics Questions on the Ballot!
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Hacks dig in, playing dirty

Monday, August 18, 2008

Letters to the Editor
From the Jersey Journal


Shame on the Jersey City political hacks who want to stop the people from cleaning up local government by trying to derail our ballot initiatives. Personally, I collected over 1,000 signatures for each, door to door, in every ward, devoting many weekends and evenings to the task. Numerous other volunteers did also, because we believe in Councilman Steven Fulop and the reform measures he champions.

Voters in our city are FED UP with the double-dipping and the double-dealing that many elected officials take for granted. It is disgusting that some council members treat government payroll as their privilege, as a personal "friends and family" job placement program. County and municipal jobs for themselves, their grown children. Cars? What right do they have to spend our tax dollars on themselves?

I've been very involved in local politics since Bret Schundler's first term, and remain committed to improving Jersey City. And a lot of improvement is needed, especially under the current "gimme, gimme, gimme" administration. Next May, a new era will come, with a different Mayor and Council.

But the political forces of darkness will not go quietly or easily. And they are willing to drag down good people in their frantic efforts to keep control. Right now, the city's own lawyer, Bill Matsikoudis, has essentially torpedoed the city clerk, Robert Byrne, by radically changing the legal advice he once gave, at the last minute. Byrne, a career 25-year civil servant who stands head and shoulders above the partisan strife, is made to look a public fool by a hatchet man covering for his real bosses at the HCDO.

Sunshine is the best disinfectant. Hopefully, both these ballot initiatives will be certified and come before the City Council, and then the voters on Nov. 4. Thanks to Steven Fulop's citywide supporters, we will have many cloudless days ahead.

MARIE TAURO JERSEY CITY

?2008 Jersey Journal
? 2008 NJ.com All Rights Reserved.

Posted on: 2008/8/18 8:26
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What if I whisper my dirty secrets into the wind?
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What if I whisper my dirty secrets into the wind?

Jersey Journal
by Thurman Hart
Friday August 15, 2008

The legal wrangling over Steve Fulop's attempt to ban pay-to-play politics in Jersey City and limit office-holders to a single public paycheck is sure to move forward. But in the contest over who would blink first, Mayor Jerramiah Healy has already lost. The same goes for the contest to look reasonable.

Healy's proposal is to have candidate's file disclosure statements. The idea, obviously, is that people would spend hours pouring over the disclosure statements and, if they found something they didn't like, they'd vote for the other guy. It's an incredibly simplistic view of voting that the regular voter should find insulting.

Healy is right that campaign donation limits hurt candidates of modest means. It may not be fair, but that is the reality of our electoral system from top to bottom. Since money is equated to "free speech" in campaign terms, attempts to limit donations and loans to one's self have consistently been struck down. The insanity of it all is demonstrated by the fact that, if giving money to one's own campaign is "free speech", then giving money to any other campaign should be viewed the same way, but isn't. Some public financing schemes try to get around this and create an even playing field, but all that I've seen fall short.

But an even greater threat to democracy is the outright buying of favors during election season by allowing a few people with lots of disposable wealth to toss it around to slant the results in their own favor. That, at least, is the idea behind the pay-to-play bans. They have a point. Just to make up an example, if Bill Gates wanted to build something in Jersey City, it would be possible for him to simply wait for an election, throw enough money into the election pot that his favored candidates win, and then watch them cast the votes the way he wanted. Something akin to that used to take place under the watchful eye of Frank Hague (though it was public jobs and public money he threw at people).

What we have, with Healy's proposal, is the time-honored practice of killing a proposal by amending it to the point of uselessness. For Healy's proposal to be useful, then the disclosures would have to be made public. That means it could be put online (like the federal disclosures are) or it could be published in the Jersey Journal (where it would be sure to be missed by a large number of voters). Jersey City doesn't even do that with its budget. Beyond the problem of making the information public, it has to be made popular - it has to be put into the hands of the voters. Jersey City has never done that.

It also operates on the assumption that whatever differences exist between candidates can be found simply by looking at their disclosure statements. What we would likely find, at least in some cases, is that some donors have a thumb in every pot - giving a little bit to everyone who has a chance of winning. The result is that the disclosure does nothing except depress voters as it indicates there is no difference at all between candidates. Of course, this is exactly what some candidates say, but if it is true, then why go through the trouble of the disclosures?

This is power politics, and at this point, Healy has the power to block Fulop and to provide a "reasonable" alternative. As Mel Brooks famous line tells us, "It's good to be the king!" It is the time-honored Jersey City practice of killing by overload. Once these proposals are reduced to legislative language, it's a bit difficult for the average voter to know the difference. Which do they choose? It's pretty easy for Healy, with a hand in the HCDO office, to wage a successful PR campaign against the likes of Fulop, who is engaged in good old fashioned retail politics. It has the added benefit for Healy of allowing him to say, "I proposed a workable pay-to-play ban and Fulop refused for purely political reasons."

Fulop is now wondering if the move is aimed at blunting a self-funded run by Bret Schundler. Schundler is just a convenient foil for Healy to spew at and take some of the heat off of the issue. Schundler's presence, however, may allow Healy to rally a few worried Democrats to his side in an effort to keep the Republican down. I don't think anyone needs to worry about that. Bret Schundler is claiming to be too poor to pay his campaign debts.

If the choice is between Healy's choice and nothing, then a reasonable person would back Healy's proposal. But it should not be viewed as anything less than a step in the right direction. Whispering dirty secrets into the wind has a very slight chance of bringing those secrets to light, but it is better than no chance at all. Politics may not be baseball, but this is definitely a screwball aimed at getting a homerun to slide just outside the foul line.

Posted on: 2008/8/15 20:17
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Re: Healy: Modify the pay-to-play proposal / Healy to Fulop: let's make a deal
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Let me get this straight. Healy is saying that:

It is unfair for "candidates of modest means" to run against "persons of wealth," so the "candidates of modest means" should be allowed to take bribes?

Posted on: 2008/8/15 14:18
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Re: Healy: Modify the pay-to-play proposal / Healy to Fulop: let's make a deal
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Fulop's reform bid gets assist from Schundler

Friday, August 15, 2008
By KEN THORBOURNE
JOURNAL STAFF WRITER

The war of words between Jersey City Councilman Steven Fulop and Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy over Fulop's pay-to-play referendum that's set to appear on the November ballot has widened to include former Mayor Bret Schundler, who confirmed yesterday he's running for mayor.

Fulop's referendum seeks to limit the amount of money local politicians can collect from vendors who receive no-bid professional contracts from the city.

In a letter dashed off to Fulop on Tuesday, Healy argued the councilman's ordinance would hurt "candidates of modest means" who are up against persons of wealth.

So Healy proposed that all candidates submit financial disclosure statements when they file to run, and if any single candidate earned more than $500,000 a year or had assets totaling $2 million or more, then the state law that allows candidates to collect more campaign dough than Fulop is proposing would apply to all in that contest.

Yesterday, Fulop offered a counter-proposal.

"I hope your latest idea is a genuine effort to reform campaign finance and not a pointed attempt to put potential opponents who are running in next year's mayoral election, like former Mayor Bret Schundler, at a disadvantage," Fulop wrote to Healy.

Schundler said yesterday he supports Fulop's pay-to-play provisions.

As for the mayor's concern that wealthy people would have a built-in advantage, Schundler said that's only if they are allowed to dump as much personal money into their campaign as they want.

"I have no intention to self-fund a mayoral run," Schundler said. Instead, Schundler suggested, everyone - the candidates and potential donors - should be governed by the standards Fulop is proposing.

Fulop added in his response to Healy that he would be willing to explore amendments to his pay-to-play ordinance if the mayor was also willing to discuss making the City Council post a full-time job, taking away "perks" from the council job such as use of municipal vehicles and curtailing the use of gas cards, and implementing strict anti-nepotism standards.

Healy then sent Fulop a missive stating he's dead-set against making the council a full-time job that would "preclude" qualified people such as doctors, teachers, lawyers, and stockbrokers, which Fulop is, from running for office.

Healy noted city officials pay income taxes for their use of municipal cars and his administration has cut back the use of gas cards to 18 gallons per week. In regard to nepotism, he referred Fulop to an executive order that prohibits the practice.

The City Council will have a chance to adopt or amend Fulop's pay-to-play proposal next month. If the council chooses not to act, then it will go before the voters in November.

Posted on: 2008/8/15 11:56
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Healy: Modify the pay-to-play proposal / Healy to Fulop: let's make a deal
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Healy: Modify the pay-to-play proposal

Jersey Journal
KEN THORBOURNE
Thursday, August 14, 2008

In the name of looking out for the little guy, Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy is proposing an amendment to the pay-to-play ordinance Councilman Steven Fulop and other activists have qualified for the November ballot.

But Fulop says he's not talking to the mayor about changes unless his other ordinance to limit council members to one government salary is on the table as well.

Fulop's pay-to-play ordinance would limit the amount of campaign cash vendors awarded no-bid contracts could bestow upon local politicians to $300 per calendar year or $500 to candidate committees. State law permits contributions of up to $2,600 per candidate per election, with primary and general elections considered two different contests, and $7,200 to county committees.

Healy argues that limiting political donations puts "candidates of modest means" at a disadvantage against wealthy opponents.

Healy proposes making every candidate submit a disclosure statement. In a race where at least one candidate has earned $500,000 or more each of the past two years or has net assets of $2 million or more, then state law would govern the contribution limits for all candidates in the race.

Next month, the City Council gets the opportunity to adopt the pay-to-play ordinance or amend it, providing it's not a "substantial change." If the council chooses not to act, then voters get to decide in November, officials said.



===============================================
http://www.politickernj.com/matt-frie ... ealy-fulop-lets-make-deal
================================================

Healy to Fulop: let's make a deal
By Matt Friedman
politickernj.com

Although Jersey City Municipal Clerk Robert Byrne has sided with the city against one of Councilman Steve Fulop?s ballot initiatives, the signatures for his anti-pay-to-play intiative, were certified today.

But that initiative might not make it on the ballot after all if Mayor Jerramiah Healy has his way, depriving Fulop of a chance to make his case directly to the voters of Jersey City.

Healy wrote a letter today to Byrne, members of the city council and Fulop?s legal team proposing an amendment to Fulop?s pay-to-play initiative.

The amendment would require candidates to file personal financial disclosures when entering a race. If the candidate is running against someone who makes $500,000 a year or who has a net worth of $2 million or more, then the rules set forth in Fulop?s initiative that bans pay-to-play do not apply.

?While pay-to-play regulations such as the initiative currently before the City Council seek to eliminate the appearance of favoritism in the awarding of government contracts by limiting political contributions from contract awardees, an unintended consequence is that they create a disadvantage to candidates of modest means,? wrote Healy, who said that such rules ?only exacerbate the disadvantage of these non-wealthy candidates.?

If Fulop agrees to the amendment and the city council passes it, then it won?t have to be on the ballot in November. But Fulop, who?s laying the groundwork for a mayoral bid next year, will want that initiative to remain on the ballot.

It?s Fulop?s call, but the mayor will be able to frame a rejection as Fulop favoring rich candidates.

?We hold the cards now, is really what it comes down to,? said Fulop.

Fulop said he?ll consider Healy?s amendment ? once Healy decides to do something about city council members taking more than one public salary.

?I got his letter, and my initial take is that, in my experiences with Jerry Healy he has never kept his word about anything,? said Fulop So there is a trust issue as always. My goal and the petitioners? goal is a better Jersey City. I?ll discuss it with the other petitioners and we?ll go from there. But the way Jerry Healy has handled the salary situation certainly jeopardizes any trust.?

?We will consider the amendment when he considers our amendment that there?s no double dipping on that council.?

Posted on: 2008/8/14 11:25
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City refuses to certify Fulop's petitions; councilman lashes back
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City refuses to certify Fulop's petitions; councilman lashes back
by Ken Thorbourne
Wednesday August 13, 2008, 12:08 PM
Councilman Steve Fulop

Jersey City City Clerk Robert Byrne has declined to certify petitions Councilman Steve Fulop submitted in hopes of placing a referendum on the November ballot that would limit City Council members to one public salary.

"Along with the thousands of people in Jersey City who worked so hard to support this referendum, I am disheartened to learn that City Clerk Robert Byrne has decided not to certify the petition signatures," Fulop said in a statement.

"I understand that the Clerk has a job to do and that he was likely under enormous pressure from Mayor (Jerramiah) Healy's lawyer not to certify," Fulop added. "Mayor Healy, his political cronies and those who collect multiple public paychecks because of his policies, have a lot to lose if we change the way business is done here in Jersey City."

Healy shot back: "As usual, Mr. Fulop wants to rely on hyperbole rather than accept the fact that he did not follow the laws of the State of New Jersey.

"The number of signatures submitted was grossly short of the statutory requirements," Healy added. "The only person who is wasting time, effort, energy and taxpayer dollars is Mr. Fulop who is continuing this ridiculous fight though he is more than 10,000 signatures short."

Byrne has indicated he was persuaded by a legal opinion from Corporation Counsel Bill Matsikoudis that Fulop needed 10 percent of all the registered voters in Jersey City to qualify the initiative for the ballot -- more than 12,000 signatures.

Up until he turned in the signatures, Fulop had been led to believe he only needed 1,506 valid petition signatures, or 10 percent of the number of persons who voted in the last general election.

Fulop vowed to take his case to court to get the initiative on the November ballot.

Another initiative championed by Fulop to limit when and how much vendors who receive no-bid professional contracts from the city can donate to local campaigns will appear on the ballot.

http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/20 ... es_to_certify_fulops.html

Posted on: 2008/8/13 19:12
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Fulop not giving up reform bid
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Fulop not giving up reform bid

Saturday, August 09, 2008
By MEGAN DeMARCO
JOURNAL STAFF WRITER

Although he doesn't have the 12,227 signatures Jersey City officials say he needs to get a reform initiative on the November ballot, Councilman Steven Fulop is still pressing ahead with his plan.

Originally told he needed 1,506 signatures of registered voters, Fulop was taken by surprise last week when city Corporation Counsel Bill Matsikoudis said he needed more.

In a legal opinion filed with City Clerk Robert Byrne yesterday, Fulop's lawyers cite a recent state Supreme Court decision and say that Matsikoudis "misrepresents the facts and misapplies the law."

In addition to the legal document, the councilman filed 600 additional signatures on top of the 1,800 he submitted last month, which he said "well exceeds" the number of registered voters' signatures required by his original estimation.

The reform initiative, if approved by the voters, would ban City Council members from collecting a council salary if they already have a public job. Seven of the nine council members have other public jobs.

"I think we're on solid legal footing," Fulop said. "We think the Mayor's Office is trying to move the goalposts back."

Byrne has until Wednesday, five days from the filing, to certify or reject the documents, Fulop said.

"Now I have two opinions," Byrne said. "I want to read what Mr. Fulop has sent me and read everything I have and make an intelligent decision."

Fulop said he hopes Byrne gives voters the opportunity to decide for themselves in November. But if Byrne sides with the city's corporation counsel, Fulop says he'll fight on.

"I guess we'll explore our options," he said. "We'll continue to fight."

Posted on: 2008/8/11 13:49
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Re: Councilman gets ethics questions on the ballot
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Politicker.com is reporting that a new set of petitions have been submitted today.Where this will go i don't know but i am glad this did not go away quietly.

Posted on: 2008/8/9 0:03
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Re: Councilman gets ethics questions on the ballot
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Anyone know the status of the Petitions now?Has the time run out?Have they gone to court?

Posted on: 2008/8/4 13:17
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Re: Councilman gets ethics questions on the ballot
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Quote:

groovlstk wrote:
Quote:

NNJR wrote:
I just donated $20 here
http://www.betterjc.org./subpage.php?catagory=main&page=contribute

I hope it helps to get this ballot through.

Are there going to be any other petition signups in the next week?


+1, me too


+1; hope this goes through.

Posted on: 2008/8/2 17:59
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Re: Councilman gets ethics questions on the ballot
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Quote:

NNJR wrote:
I just donated $20 here
http://www.betterjc.org./subpage.php?catagory=main&page=contribute

I hope it helps to get this ballot through.

Are there going to be any other petition signups in the next week?


+1, me too

Posted on: 2008/8/2 17:42
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Re: Councilman gets ethics questions on the ballot
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I just donated $20 here
http://www.betterjc.org./subpage.php?catagory=main&page=contribute

I hope it helps to get this ballot through.

Are there going to be any other petition signups in the next week?

Posted on: 2008/8/2 14:49
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Re: WAY SHORT, FULOP TOLD
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Quote:

Waggs wrote:
I'm surprised this thread isn't generating more talk. 2 people have asked what are we going to do (well, one suggested a protest..not a crazy idea, anybody else?)...is anybody really up for making more of a stink?
Its like somebody just got collapsed on Grove st midday..we're all staring at each other to make the first move.

Has anybody contacted Steve or CivicJC to see what their thoughts are?

I don't have a solution either right now, but don't want to see this thread buried.


a) I agree with you

b) Why did the webmaster find it appropriate to bury this thread within another one. It's certainly not encouraging posts on the thread or awareness of the issue. In fact if I recall correctly the original poster specifically made it into a different thread *because* it deserved to be talked about separately from the other ballot initiatives.

Posted on: 2008/8/1 20:48
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