Fulop ordinances limiting perks finally get introduced
The fourth time was indeed the charm for Jersey City Councilman Steven Fulop and his series of reforms that seek to limit patronage perks given to city officials.
On Wednesday the City Council approved the introduction of a trio of ordinances that the council majority had blocked on three occasions.
If formally adopted by the council when it meets again later this month, two of the Fulop-backed ordinances would eliminate healthcare benefits for part-time political appointees of the Jersey City Incinerator Authority (JCIA) and the Municipal Utilities Authority (MUA). The third ordinance places restrictions on the use of municipal vehicles that are assigned to city employees.
The last time the downtown councilman introduced these measures was at the beginning of the year, when he received the support of Councilwoman Viola Richardson (Ward F), Councilwoman Nidia Lopez (Ward C), and Councilman David Donnelly (Ward B).
Due to a policy passed by the council majority last year, members are barred from bringing forward measures that were previously defeated until six months have elapsed. Fulop maintains the policy was passed to keep him from reintroducing his anti-patronage ordinances.
However, council members may feel a unique pressure to address the use of city vehicles now.
Many, perhaps even most, city residents will be affected by the large toll and PATH fare increases being proposed by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Even if the size of the increases is cut, residents who attended the City Council meeting last night said the increases would still be a hardship on them.
Against the backdrop of the fare hikes, it’s possible that the council majority doesn’t want to be seen as protecting taxpayer-funded cars for political appointees.
A public hearing on the three ordinances is scheduled for the next City Council meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 31 at 10 a.m. at City Hall, 280 Grove St.
Menendez asks residents to fight 30 percent cut in transportation funding
Commuters just can’t catch a break.
On the same day that New Jersey residents were still reeling from proposed fare increases on Port Authority-governed crossings into New York, came word that a major pool of federal transportation funding could be slashed 30 to 35 percent.
U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) visited Jersey City last week to ask residents to call their representatives on Capitol Hill to prevent cuts to the federal Surface Transportation Program, which is up for reauthorization next month.
Under the program, the federal government reimburses states for improvements and upgrades made to their transportation infrastructures
“Failure to reauthorize this bill will mean that things like the refurbishment of the Pulaski Skyway, [the refurbishment of] roads and bridges throughout the state of New Jersey and construction jobs] are going to be put in jeopardy,” said Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy. The current law is set to expire on Sept. 30.
“I think that we all understand that an important concern right now is how do we get people back to work?” said Menendez at a press event held Monday in Jersey City under the Pulaski Skyway. “How do we grow this economy? How do we create prosperity? We’re not going to be able to put people back to work if our colleagues in the House of Representatives get their way on the Surface Transportation bill, which is the major federal highway and mass transit bill.”
According to Menendez, who sits on the Senate Finance Committee, Republicans in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives want to gradually shift the cost of transportation infrastructure upgrades to the states.
He said Republicans plan to “hold the transportation bill hostage until we agree to cut 35 percent from the existing bill.”
This amounts to a cut of about $100 billion, Menendez said, which for the state of New Jersey would translate to a loss of more than $500 million annually.
The Surface Transportation Program is funded by the federal gas tax.
Menendez said that a 35 percent cut to the transportation bill would result in the loss of 600,000 jobs nationally, including the immediate loss of 18,000 transit and construction jobs in New Jersey and the long-term loss of 50,000 Garden State jobs in the transit and construction sectors.
The senator said he that believes such a steep cut would “ruin this economy.”
As part of the recent debt deal in Washington, a 12-member bipartisan “super committee” will be tasked with proposing $1.8 trillion in additional federal budget cuts. Given the amount of money that needs to be slashed, several members of Congress have said that every federal program could be vulnerable to steep cuts.
Such steep cuts, however, could not only lead to a loss of jobs and the discontinuation of bridge and road improvements, but could lead to higher tolls and fare increases, similar to the ones proposed last week by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Who says kids don’t read newspapers?
The famine and strife in the east African country of Somalia is getting a helping hand from some very caring and resourceful Jersey City kids.
Lemon-Aid for Relief, a homemade lemonade stand run by Jersey City kids, is raising money through Sunday, Aug. 14 for relief in Somalia while bringing cool refreshing relief to thirsty customers.
The lemonade stand was inspired and created by 7-year-old downtown resident, Jordan-River Samuel, who was moved to action after reading a New York Times article about the strife in the east African region.
“I read in the newspaper that these bad people were keeping the Somalis in a camp and wouldn’t let them get any food,” said Jordan-River. “They needed help.”
The Somali famine also affected Samuel personally, who said he now has a new outlook on the food he eats and wastes.
“I learned that I shouldn’t waste when my mom gives me food to eat because a lot of other people don’t have any.”
All proceeds from the lemonade stand will go toward organizations providing food, shelter and resources in the region, including So Send I You, a non-profit group on the ground in Africa.
Lemon-Aid for Relief is located at 296 6th Street, between Coles Street and Monmouth Street just one block east of the Holy Rosary Italian Festival, in downtown Jersey City. The stand will be open from 5 to 11 p.m. The concession sells homemade lemonade with a variety of real fruit add-ins, including strawberries, juicy oranges, and fresh basil.