Mainor gun bill approved by Assembly committee
Last week, the state Assembly’s Law and Public Safety Committee approved legislation drafted by Assemblyman Charles S. Mainor that would create uniform reporting requirements to log and track abandoned, discarded, or seized firearms.
Under provisions of the bill (A-3797), all New Jersey law enforcement agencies would be required to report certain information relating to abandoned or discarded firearms they have recovered or weapons they have seized. The bill requires that such weapons be reported to the New Jersey Trace System, which is part of the Criminal Justice Information System, and the National Crime Center 2000 System to determine whether the guns have been reported as stolen. These reporting requirements will make available to law enforcement agencies information relating to the weapons’ first owner, and details regarding when and where the guns were purchased.
It is unclear what impact, if any, this measure would have on the many gun buyback programs the city has often sponsored. In the past, these programs have been completely anonymous, with residents allowed to turn guns in for exchange for money at designated locations and designated days, no questions asked.
A-3797 now heads for a vote before the full Assembly this Thursday, Feb. 21.
Healy to give State of the City address this week
On Wednesday, Feb. 20 Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy will give his last State of the City address before the upcoming mayoral election in May. Thus, the address will be one of his last opportunities to convince local residents that Jersey City has flourished under his leadership and that he deserves another term in office.
The mayor used his address last year to kick off his re-election campaign by touting the city’s track record on economic development, real estate development, sustainability, and commitment to the arts.
This year, however, Healy will have to give his address before a divided City Council whose majority is aligned with his chief opponent in the race for mayor, City Councilman Steven Fulop. And while two council members, Peter Brennan and Viola Richardson, are running on Healy’s re-election slate, three others – Rolando Lavarro Jr., Nidia Lopez, and Diane Coleman – are running with Fulop.
Any attempts Healy makes to highlight his record in office are sure to be refuted by the opposition in the last weeks of the campaign. And already the Fulop camp is using the mayor’s 2012 address to highlight promises Healy made and allegedly broke. (No consolidation of the Department of Public Works and Jersey City Incinerator Authority. No consolidated Department of Public Safety that incorporates he Fire Department, Police Department and Parking Authority. No citywide youth fitness and health program. No new development taking place at McGinley Square. Etc., etc., etc.)
Healy will give his State of the City address at City Hall, 280 Grove St., at 6 p.m.
Wintner starts Spectra tax petition; NGP goes nuts!
On the heels of “48 hours, 5400 feet of pipeline” (Jersey City Reporter, Jan. 27, 2013) activist and possible City Council candidate Esther Wintner last week launched an online petition to pressure local, county, and state officials to implement an “equalization tax” to “compensate Jersey City appropriately for the safety risk, loss of revenue both current and future, and additional expenses such as emergency preparedness that will be imposed on us.”
Over the last three years, Wintner has tried to advocate for this idea. Different elected officials have given various answers as to whether an “equalization tax” is possible in this case or not.
But the posting of her idea on iPetitions.com – no Change.org for Wintner! – lit a fire under No Gas Pipeline founder Dale Hardman. Hardman appears to have made many posts on-line shooting down her equalization tax idea.
The upshot of Hardman’s argument, as he himself stated, is, “It does not make sense for the city and No Gas Pipeline to be arguing against the pipeline on the one hand, but on the other saying, “Yes, but if there is a pipeline, it should provide this added compensation.’ ”
Hardman is asking residents to refrain from signing Wintner’s petition and to donate money to the No Gas Pipeline legal fund instead.
Fulop-allied council rejects judicial appointments for Velazquez, Abad
By a vote of 5 to 4, the Jersey City Council last week rejected two judicial appointments recommended by Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy.
Healy had recommended Carlo Abad to be the chief judge for the Jersey City Municipal Court and Radames “Ray” Velazquez to be a full-time judge for the Municipal Court. Both men had also received the support of the Hudson County Assignment Judge, who agreed with Healy’s recommendations.
The decision denied Abad, who is Filipino American, from making history as the first Asian to serve as chief judge in Jersey City.
But City Council members Steven Fulop, David Donnelly, Diane Coleman, Nidia Lopez, and Rolando Lavarro Jr. all voted against Abad and Velazquez, arguing that they wanted more input in the judicial selection process and felt it was inappropriate for Healy to make these important appointments just three months before a municipal election.
Healy is running for re-election in May and is being challenged by Fulop. City Council members Coleman, Lopez, and Lavarro are allied with Fulop and are also running for re-election on his slate.
“In a city of 250,000 residents there are probably many qualified people who should be considered for these vacancies,” Fulop said Wednesday night, explaining his vote against Velazquez. “And when we keep seeing the same people getting appointed again and again, it smacks of political patronage.”
Velazquez has previously been appointed to the Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the Jersey City Council. Last year he was appointed to be one of Healy’s deputy mayors, a position he resigned from abruptly.
Lavarro – who is ironically the first Filipino American to serve on the Jersey City Council – voted against Abad and accused Healy of playing “ethnic politics.”
When casting her vote in support of Abad, Richardson turned to Lavarro and said, “So, what, are you the only one who gets to make history? No one else gets to make history, too?”
Richardson and Lavarro ran bracketed together in a special election held in November 2011. The two are now running on different mayoral slates.
After the vote, Velazquez declined to comment, noting that it would be inappropriate for him to make a statement on a judicial appointment decision. Abad and a disappointed group of supporters left City Hall Tuesday immediately after the vote without commenting.
“The council’s rejection of these two highly qualified candidates for judgeships…is an ugly illustration of how politics has overtaken certain members of our City Council,” Healy said Thursday morning. ”Not only have they deprived the Municipal Court and our community of two tremendous public servants, but they have also deprived our Asian community, and in particular our Filipino community, from a history-making moment with the appointment of the first Filipino and Asian Chief Judge of the Jersey City Municipal Court.”
NJ Transit to offer free light rail parking in Jersey City, Bayonne, and North Bergen
Starting Feb. 16 NJ Transit began to offer free parking on Saturdays and Sundays at all five park/ride locations along the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail system.
“Free parking on Saturdays and Sundays is a great incentive for people to get out of their cars and hop on the light rail and explore,” said NJ Transit Executive Director James Weinstein. “Customers will save more than just money – with convenient access to the waterfront and trans-Hudson connections, they’ll avoid traffic and save time as well.”
Customers will be able to take advantage of free parking from 12:01 a.m. on Saturdays until the end of the service day on Sundays at the following stations:
• 22nd Street in Bayonne
• 34th Street in Bayonne
• West Side Avenue in Jersey City
• Liberty State Park in Jersey City
• Tonnelle Avenue in North Bergen
NJ Transit is initiating the free Saturday/Sunday parking as a one-year pilot program aimed at encouraging use of the light rail system and increasing weekend ridership.
For Hudson-Bergen Light Rail schedules, fares or information, visit njtransit.com or call 973-275-5555.
Liberty Humane Society’s annual wine tasting event
Nothing says “animal welfare” like a good pinot noir, right?
That said, Liberty Humane Society, and Michael Anthony’s Restaurant will on Sunday, Feb. 24 host the organization’s annual wine tasting, sponsored by Yelp. Now in its third year, this fundraiser benefits the hundreds of shelter animals at Liberty Humane desperately searching for homes. Join supporters from 6 to 8 p.m. to sample a selection of red and white wines, cheeses, and enjoy a chocolate fountain for dessert in a beautiful venue overlooking the Newport Marina.
Tickets are $30 and the first 40 purchasers will receive a free raffle ticket to be put towards a chance at winning a variety of great prizes including a gourmet wine and cheese basket and a photo shoot for you and your pet!
To purchase tickets, visit the Liberty Humane Society web site at https://interland3.donorperfect.net/weblink/weblink.aspx?name=libertyhs&id=2.