Friday, December 30, 2011

The Sixth Floor Summit

(Update - On Friday, 2/17/2012, Andy and I went to Dallas for our JFK Oral History Project interview. It went very well. Read all about it HERE.)


Some of you know the story - two boyhood pals in suburban New Jersey: While other kids were playing sports, Andy and Jeff were consumed with the JFK assassination. We both vividly remembered where we were on November 22, 1963, and from the time we met in 1967 at age ten through our teenage years and early twenties, we delved into the Crime of the Century - reading books, engaging in deep discussions of conspiracy theories, examining the Zapruder film frame by frame. We vowed to one day visit Dealey Plaza in Dallas. Over the years, we lost touch, but reconnected in 2002. We remembered The Vow, and that neither of us had let go of it.

Then, in 2005, I learned I had to go to Fort Worth for business. By that time, Andy had relocated to Houston. I contacted Andy and the plans were underway. On November 16th, 2005, 11:45 CST, we both arrived at the parking lot of the Sixth Floor Museum - formerly known as the Texas School Book Depository - each clutching our copies of Best Evidence.

We spent the day at Dealey Plaza, covering every inch of the Grassy Knoll, visiting the Sixth Floor Museum, re-enacting the frantic drive from Elm Street to Parkland Hospital, even visiting the grave of unsung 11/22 hero J.D. Tippit.

A while back, I heard about the JFK Oral History Project, which:
explores the history and culture of Dallas and the 1960s, and preserves personal recollections regarding the life and death of President John F. Kennedy. These candid, informal interviews offer insight into the Kennedy legacy and the local—and global—impact of his assassination.

I contacted Andy and we knew we HAD to do this. So, on November 22, 2011, we simultaneously contacted the curator of the Sixth Floor Museum, who found our story compelling enough to invite us to Dallas to be interviewed on video for the Project.

Our interview is scheduled for Friday, February 17th, 2012, at 2:00pm CST. I will fly to Houston the night before, Andy and I will head to Dallas Friday morning, on the ultimate road trip. The journey will be documented on video and in writing. Stay tuned to Pick's Place for updates.

The video of our interview will be archived for viewing on the website or at the Museum itself. We will not only talk about history. We will be part of history.

This will be HUGE.

This will be EPIC.

Friday, December 23, 2011

2011 airing of "The Spirit of Christmas", featuring the Mabel Beaton Marionettes

This vintage Christmas special, featuring marionette performances of  "A Visit From St Nicholas" and the story of the Nativity, has been shown in TV every year since 1950.

As a public service, Pick's Place is providing the show times for "The Spirit of Christmas":

The Mabel Beaton Marionettes perform " 'Twas The Night Before Christmas" and "The Christmas Story" 
Where: WHYY Channel 12
When: Saturday, December 24 - 10:00am, Sunday, December 25 - 1:30pm

You can now see these vintage shows on YouTube, or DVR them, or buy it on DVD, but there's no substitute for catching them in real time on regular TV (for me, at least).

"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night"

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Pitman Punts

"Even though the prospect sickens, brother here we go again"
 - Tom Lehrer, "A Christmas Carol"


It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year again folks, and it wouldn't be the "Holiday" season without the War on Christmas, and all its battles, real and imagined, from the annual rumors that our secret Muslim President is changing the name of the White House Christmas Tree to the Holiday Tree, to the real story of the Governor of Rhode Island and the State Holiday Tree, to the various whining talking heads on Fox "News", and the usual skirmishes over Nativity scenes on public property, which can easily be fixed by placing a Menorah beside them.

But there is a real war on Christmas right in my own backyard, in Pitman, NJ, where someone has hung a sign above Broadway (Pitman's main drag), that reads, "Keep Christ in Christmas". Now, you don't need to be a constitutional scholar to understand that this sign breaches the wall of separation of church and state, and one First Amendment advocacy group, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, has complained.

Now, this sort of thing is not unusual, but the response of the Pitman Borough Attorney, Brian Duffield, is quite interesting:
“We found out that the banner is attached on one end to the old bank — which is privately owned — and on the other end it’s connected to an Atlantic City Electric or Verizon pole which the borough does not own. Also, Broadway is a county — not a borough — road. Everything related to the sign is not on Pitman public property.”

Huh? According to my map, the location of this banner lies withing Pitman's borders, hangs in Pitman's airspace, yet the Borough of Pitman has no legal jurisdiction to take it down? The banner, according to the Borough, hangs in some generic part of Gloucester County, not in Pitman. The banner just appeared by magic. Using this logic, I suppose I can park my car at one of the metered spots on Broadway without putting money into the meter, and no cop would give me a ticket because Broadway is out of Pitman's jurisdiction.

Pitman takes pride in its origins as a Methodist encampment and its many churches, but there is no religious test to live in Pitman, nor is there a religious test to travel to or through it, to park on its streets, or to shop at its Mom and Pop stores on Broadway. A banner with a religious proclamation, hanging in a public street, whether it's a municipal road or a county road, is inappropriate and should come down.

Duffield's punt on jurisdiction here pretty much ensures that the banner will remain in place, at least for the near future, but with Christmas just over a week away, it will be down in a few weeks anyway.

So, what can church/state separation advocates do? A legal battle would not be resolved between now and December 25th.

How about some civil disobedience, climb up there and take the sign down ourselves? After all, since the banner is out of Pitman's jurisdiction, we can expect the police to stand idly by and wait for the Gloucester County Sheriff to arrive, by which time the sign and the removers will be long gone, right?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Disgruntled Eagles fan declares "Christmas in Distress"

(Update: the final sentence of this post refers to a lost Vinny Testaverde ornament. In what can only be described as a Christmas Miracle, a new Vinny ornament arrived in my mail Monday night, 12/12, the work of a mysterious benefactor).

I've been accused of being a Scrooge, and a Grinch, but I like Christmas. Really, I do. I like the lights on our house and our tree. I especially like my ornaments, in particular, my Jets and Eagles ornaments.

Eight Christmases ago I ordered an Eagles ornament from Danbury Mint, and every year (springtime, I think) I get the new year's ornament. Then I put it away and wait until December, when I enjoy adorning my tree with my ornaments.


However, this year has been different. The Eagles have been terrible. As in they suck, they suck really bad, and each game they find new ways to suck. If they suck so bad, how can I be enthusiastic about putting their ornaments on my tree?

Yes, I know you should be loyal to your team through thick and thin, and I am. But I cannot simply do my usual ornament thing without making a statement.

The Solution:
As we all know, the American flag flown upside down is a sign of distress. And distress is what I would call the Eagle's situation this year (as of this writing they are ahead of the Miami Dolphins, but I don't care. I'm not watching it). So I have decided to display my Eagles ornaments on the tree, upside down, as a sign of protest against a team in distress.










Maybe next year will be different. And maybe next year I will find my lost Vinny Testaverde ornament :(


Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Closer Look at Rick Perry's Video "Strong"

Perry's homophobic video, "Strong", has overtaken Rebecca Black's "Friday" for the record of YouTube "dislikes", at 535,249 and rising as of this writing.

Pick's Place has done a closer examination of "Strong" and found some subliminal messages. Rick may not be as homophobic as we think.

In fact, Rick actually supports marriage equality:





Here Rick shows us a sample from his music collection:
Candace Gingrich may be an Obama supporter, but she still {{hearts}} Rick:




While Fox may be Rick's favorite TV station, he still likes to Lean Forward with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow:
Somewhere in Heaven, Harvey Milk is smiling at Rick:
Do you have any  of your own? Email them to jrpickens@gmail.com and we'll post them.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

I heard the news that day, oh boy

Where were you on December 8, 1980?

That night, actually. I was 23 years old. It was just after 11:00PM EST, I was watching the news on New York City's NBC channel 4 in my bedroom in New Jersey. Chuck Scarborough was delivering the news when he was handed a bulletin: "We just received some startling news. A man believed to be former Beatle John Lennon has been shot outside Central Park". That was all the details he had. Later in the broadcast he confirmed that the man was indeed John Lennon, and he had died.

I then shut the TV off and tuned my radio to WNEW-FM ("Where rock lives"). DJ Vin Scelsa, his voice shaking,  was riffing on the shocking event that had just happened, lamenting that "the life of a man of peace would end in such a damnable manner". He then cued-up "Watching the Wheels" from John and Yoko's comeback album, "Double Fantasy". I fell asleep listening to the radio.

I cannot say that the death of John Lennon affected me personally, but like many of my generation, for us, the music of The Beatles was the soundtrack to our childhood and coming-of-age. From their arrival in 1964, a welcome antidote after the assassination of John F. Kennedy (another "Where were you?" moment) when I was in 2nd grade, to the break-up in 1970 when I was entering high school, to Lennon's surprise appearance at an Elton John concert in Madison Square Garden on Thanksgiving 1974. I had a third row center seat that night, and it was, of course, one of the highlights of my life as a music fan. It was also the last time Lennon would ever appear on a stage.

It is impossible to say what John Lennon would be doing now if he had lived. I am almost certain, however, that he would have continued to be an outspoken critic of war and an advocate for peace.

Would he have made more music? I hope so.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Where Were You on 11/22/63? The JFK Oral History Project

CLICK HERE for an update on the Sixth Floor Summit.

(co-written with Andrew Kadin)


Update: Shortly after this blog was posted, Andy and I were contacted by a representative of the JFK Oral History Project who invited us to Dallas to be interviewed and have our story recorded on video. Details to follow, once arrangements have been finalized.

Anyone old enough to remember can recall where they were on November 22, 1963 when they heard the news that President John F. Kennedy had been shot. Mine is a story of a childhood memory, a lifelong interest, and the reuniting of two boyhood pals.

On November 22, 1963, I was in the second grade at St Francis School in Ridgefield Park, NJ. It was a Friday afternoon. I remember a kid coming into the classroom and handing the teacher a piece of paper. The teacher told us the President had been shot, then made us say a prayer, then sent us home. I went home and my mother was crying. What I remember the most about that day and the next three days was that time stood still for those three days. Everything was closed. No store would dare be open, not in the Irish-Catholic town I lived in.

Meanwhile, in Bridgeport, CT, a few years before moving back to New Jersey , Andrew Kadin was a second grader. Says Andy:

I was 2 months past my seventh birthday and I was home from school sick on Friday, November 22, 1963. I remember lying on the couch in the living room in my pajamas watching some sort of ghost-comedy movie ("Topper"?) when the FlashBulletin screen appeared on the TV.

I vividly remember the announcer saying that shots were fired at the President's motorcade in Dallas but that no one was hurt. The movie returned and in a short time the Flash Bulletin screen was back and now the announcer spoke of people being hit. This went back and forth for a bit until a following bulletin first announced Kennedy was hit, perhaps fatally. The TV coverage was continuous now and next I remember the announcement that JFK had died.

I think my mother phoned my father at work and he may have come home early.

The next few days are fuzzy but I remember my father picking me up from Sunday school. The radio was on. That's when Oswald was shot.
Fast-forward a few years. Andy and I met in 1967 and as youngsters, we both read many books and publications regarding the assassination. We had always promised that one day we would meet up in Dallas to test various theories and to visit specific locations now part of the assassination's history.

Those plans came to fruition on November, 2005. Both of us had plans to be in the Dallas area on business travel, and our long awaited historic summit occurred on November 16th when we met up at the Sixth Floor Museum, then spent the afternoon touring Dealey Plaza and the surrounding area, a boyhood promise fulfilled.

Andy and I have submitted our stories to the JFK Oral History Project, associated with the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas TX. We hope to be interviewed and recorded and have our story archived for posterity.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Guest Blogger: Abraham Lincoln

148 years ago today, President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address as he dedicated a national cemetery at the site of the Civil War battlefield in Pennsylvania.

278 words.

Less is more:
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Washington Twp (Gloucester County) Mayoral Debate

In addition to the very important NJ State Legislature and County Freeholder elections on Tuesday, Washington Township, Gloucester County, will be holding a Mayoral election.

(Disclosure: I have the unique distinction of having lived in two of the five(?) Washington Townships in New Jersey)

Notwithstanding the unfortunate headline juxtaposition on the front page of the Washington Township Times, for the benefit of Washington Twp residents, there will be a debate between Mayoral hopefuls Kevin Murphy (R) and Barbara Wallace (D), in the Washington Twp Municipal Building on Egg Harbor Road, Tuesday, November 1, at 7:00pm.

The one-hour debate will be held in the main council meeting room of the municipal building on Egg Harbor Road. The candidates will each respond to 10 questions – eight of which will come from the public, but not the audience. Murphy said they’ve established an email address – wtmayoraldebate11@gmail.com – where they’re asking the residents to submit questions. The questions must include the resident’s name, address and phone number in order to be considered.

 See you there, and don't forget to VOTE on Tuesday, November 8.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Election? What Election?

This is the question I get all too often when I talk about the upcoming NJ State Legislature elections on November 8, 2011.

It's not surprising. Most people who bother to vote pay attention to even-numbered years, when we vote for US House, US Senate, and, every four years, US President. It's different here in New Jersey, where state elections are held in odd-numbered years. Our gubernatorial election is the year after the presidential election, which draws some attention.

Unfortunately, the non-gubernatorial odd-numbered year is a black hole of voter awareness in New Jersey.

The NJ State Senate and Assembly candidates who are "walking", knocking on doors, have a two-fold task: They are asking for votes, and more often than not, they must explain what office they are running for, and that the election is this year, not next year.

There are approximately 1.7 million registered Democrats in the state of New Jersey. I wonder how many of them know there is an election here in less than three weeks? How many of them drive past yard signs without notice?

So, mark your calendar, November 8, 2011, and remind your friends that, however entertaining the 2012 Republican freak show my be, 2011 is not an off year in New Jersey. We have an election this year, and we need to vote.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

I'm Not Sure I Can Hold My Nose This Time

It seemed like a simple question to me. A question I posted on the Facebook page of the Democratic NJ State Legislature candidates for the 4th Legislative District.

Senator Fred Madden and Assemblyman Paul Moriarty are incumbents. Gabriela Mosquera is a newcomer, running for the seat formerly held by Republican Domenic DiCicco, who was redistricted out of LD-4 in April.

I have written to my state representatives numerous times on a variety of issues, both state and local. Never once have I ever received a response, not even a form letter or a robo-email, from Madden or Moriarty. Mr. DiCicco, the Republican, has personally responded to me, as has Governor Christie. I even got a phone call from a Christie staffer responding to one of my letters.

Madden and Moriarty are also among the "Christiecrats" who sold out the public unions on pension and benefit "reform" (why does that now sound like such a dirty word?).

Back to my question on the Facebook page. In response to a post boasting of Mosquera's endorsement by the Women's Political Caucus, I wrote:
 
"Ms. Mosquera: If elected, will you legislate in accordance with progressive Democratic principles, or will you vote in lock-step with the Sweeney/Norcross Christiecrats, like your running mates?"

Now, it's always a good idea to do a screen grab when making a comment in a political forum, just in case it gets removed. Governor Christie's Facebook page is regularly scrubbed, as are many other politicians' pages. I posted this comment on a Friday morning, checking back regularly to see if there was any response. By Saturday afternoon the comment was gone. No response. No comment. No email. No phone call. Nada. Nothing.
 
I don't begrudge these guys the right to scrub their Facebook page. After all, it's their page. But if they want people to vote for them, pissing me off is not a good idea.

Being a Democrat has been baked into my DNA since birth. My parents and grandparents were Democrats (although my Dad now calls himself a "libertarian", but that's a whole 'nother story). We were New Deal, New Frontier, Great Society Democrats. I could not imagine myself voting any other way.

But, considering the absolute lack of interest in any type of constituent service on the part of these two, to never once respond to a constituent's concerns, and their unsatisfactory voting records, is there any compelling reason why I should hold my nose and vote for them?
 
Yeah, I know, the 11th Commandment, "Thou shalt not speak ill of your fellow (Democrats)", but these two make it nearly impossible.

So, help me out here. On November 8th, two things I will not do is stay home or vote for a Republican. But what should I do? Do I hold my nose and vote for two individuals I have absolutely no respect for, or do I write my own name in (as I did in the Primary), or do I vote for the third party candidate?

What would you do?



Sunday, October 9, 2011

Thumbs Up for Amazon.com Customer Service

Brace yourselves, folks. Pick's Place is about to say something positive.

Since I spend so much time on this site bitching about anything and everything, it's time I gave credit where it's due, so props to Amazon.com for their outstanding customer service.

The other day I found the screen on my three month old Kindle frozen. After Googling "Kindle troubleshooting" I found this:

SymptomResolution
Kindle screen frozen or Kindle unresponsive.

Possible cause:
  • Low battery charge.
  1. Plug the Kindle into a wall outlet.
  2. Ensure the Kindle is charging (the indicator light should be on).
  3. Wait 2 minutes.
  4. If necessary unplug the Kindle and reset by moving and holding the power switch for 20 seconds before releasing it.

I tried this, and it didn't work. Other Kindle discussion boards had the same advice.

I braced myself for the worst and called Amazon customer service.

Amazon: How can I help you?
JRP: My Kindle screen is frozen
Amazon: Have you tried holding the switch for 20 seconds?
JRP: Yes.
Amazon: May I have your name, email, and address?
JRP: (provides requested info)
Amazon: OK, it looks like your Kindle is still under warranty. We're putting a new one in the mail and You should have it by October 11.
JRP: That's it?
Amazon: Yes, and we will provide a prepaid mailer for you to return the old Kindle. Is there anything else I can do for you?
JRP: No, you've been very helpful, thank you.

What I just described is 100% true and is a case study in customer service. It seems very simple to me. Why can't all companies do this?

Thank you, Amazon, for showing us how it's done.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Carl Lewis: Where was the due diligence?

So, it looks like this is the end of the road for the on again, off again, on again, off again, doomed-to-fail campaign of former Olympic gold medalist and Willingboro, NJ hometown hero Carl Lewis. On Thursday, 9/22, a three member panel of the the Third Circuit Court of Appeals denied Lewis' eligibility to serve in the State Senate because he does not meet the residency requirements.

I am not a political professional. I am an accountant by trade, and I specialize in auditing. In the course of my work, when about to embark on a audit, the first thing we do is a risk assessment on the area being reviewed. We start by asking, "What can go wrong?". Brainstorm the scenarios from worst case to least bad. From there, we construct our plan.

I would think that a person considering running for political office, or encouraging another to run for office, would do a similar due diligence. I would be wrong.

Apparently, the geniuses in the Democratic party of New Jersey did not bother to do this due diligence when they drafted Mr. Lewis to run for Senate. I was excited about his candidacy and hopeful to see a Democrat take a seat that had historically been Republican. However, when I learned that Lewis, although he has owned homes in Burlington County, New Jersey since 2006, had for the most part lived in California, and voted in California in 2009, my hopes sunk.

Why? Because I knew that the Republicans would do everything they could to get Lewis tossed off the ballot based on non-residency. The decision was first made by Lt Governor Kim Guadagno, in her dual role as Secretary of State. At the time, I criticized this decision as that of a partisan hack acting in the interests of her party, and not the state. I said if the decision were made by a court of law I could accept it.

After numerous appeals, Lewis' candidacy was a go, then a no-go, then (I've lost track), but now the Court has ruled and it's a done deal.

So, now what do we do?

If a dumb guy like me could see this coming, how could the Democrats who drafted Carl Lewis not have seen this coming? A simple due diligence exercise would entail asking Mr. Lewis if there was any reason he thought he would not meet the residency requirements, anticipating a Republican challenge. If Lewis cited his 2009 voting in California as a potential issue, his sponsors should have been ready to answer this legitimate concern, planned how to fight it, and have a Plan B in case the Lewis candidacy did not work out.

Instead, we now have no Democratic candidate for State Senate in the 8th Legislative District. Once again, the Democrats find themselves outmaneuvered by the Republicans. Why? Because Republicans fight, and Democrats bend over and take it.

When will we learn?

Note to Governor Christie:
When you learned about Carl Lewis' potential candidacy, you had one of your aides call Lewis and threaten to withhold funding from his youth athletic foundation. Now that Lewis is no longer a candidate and the Senate seat is safely Republican, is your funding for the program back on the table?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Dear Scott's Lawn Service: Please stop calling me.

Not sure Scott's Lawn Service understands the meaning of the words "Do not call". See email trail, and the ensuing Twitter exchange:

From: jrpickens@gmail.com
Sent: Tuesday, August 30, 2011 8:33 AM
To: SLS-Runnemedebranch
Subject: Runnemede Customer Service Inquiry from JeffPickens
 The following information was submitted from the Scotts LawnService customer service page:
First Name:Jeff
Last Name:Pickens
Email: jrpickens@gmail.com
Message: I received a voice mail about an alleged service call. When I tried to call back 856-312-0480, I was put on hold, then prompted to leave a message. When I was transferred to the voicemail, I got another message that the voice mailbox was full. This is no way to run a business. My lawn is still an infestation of crabgrass and weeds, and you have the audacity to send me a bill? There is no evidence that you have done anything to my lawn, except leave some paperwork on the ground on the side of the house.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
from: SLS-Runnemedebranch runnemedebranch@scotts.com
to: jrpickens@gmail.com
date: Wed, Aug 31, 2011 at 9:20 AM
subject    RE: Runnemede Customer Service Inquiry from JeffPickens

I see we came out to do a service call for weeds on 8/10 but we don’t charge for service calls and this was a weed control the balance you see is from 6/30 we didn’t charge you for the service done on 8/10 please call customer service 856-312-0480

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
from: Jeff Pickens jrpickens@gmail.com
to: SLS-Runnemedebranch
date: Wed, Aug 31, 2011 at 10:13 AM
subject    Re: Runnemede Customer Service Inquiry from JeffPickens

There is no evidence that any service was performed on 6/30. There is also no evidence that any service was performed on 8/10. My lawn was and remains an infestation of crab grass and weeds, and is an eyesore in my neighborhood. Any reasonable person looking at my lawn would agree there is no rationale for paying one cent for this alleged service.

When I attempted to call, I was put hold for an interminable amount of time, then directed to a voice mail and a message that the mailbox was full and I was unable to leave a message.

I consider my business relationship with you terminated and I have no intention of paying you any more than I have already paid.

 - JRP

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
from: SLS-Runnemedebranch runnemedebranch@scotts.com
to: Jeff Pickens
date: Thu, Sep 1, 2011 at 8:52 AM
subject    RE: Runnemede Customer Service Inquiry from JeffPickens

I have cancelled the account as of today any questions please call office 856-312-0480

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

from: Jeff Pickens jrpickens@gmail.com
to: SLS-Runnemedebranch
date: Fri, Sep 9, 2011 at 5:46 AM
subject    Re: Runnemede Customer Service Inquiry from JeffPickens

What part of "cancelled the account" don't you understand? STOP CALLING ME!






















































































































Thursday, August 11, 2011

NJ-CAN Organizes to "Dump the Christiecrats"


Today, I received the following email from a new organization called NJ-CAN. Their objective is to remove from power the so-called "Christiecrats", NJ Democrats in the State Legislature who have betrayed Democratic principals and sided with Governor Chris Christie's anti union, anti middle class, pro corporate agenda.

On Monday, August 8, 2011, NJ-CAN held a press conference at the Veterans Plaza in Trenton, New Jersey, to demonstrate democracy still works and the people have power.
This event marked the launch of a petition campaign demanding the removal of Senate President, Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker, Sheila Oliver, from their positions as leaders of New Jersey Senate and Assembly.

Spearheading both a Statewide petition and a “write-in” campaign, NJ-CAN, a newly formed Statewide organization comprised of  various community groups, labor organizations and unaffiliated concerned citizens, to mount a counterattack on those Democrats who voted for the disastrous pensions and benefits bill this summer, inflicting undue pain and suffering upon the working people in New Jersey. Their actions prompted the naming of the 22 Democrats, who voted to pass the bill, to be referred to as the Christiecrats.

Assembly and Senate Democrats, including Senate President, Stephen Sweeney and Speaker Sheila Oliver, have repeatedly spoken of their credentials as defenders of the working and middle classes. However, actions speak louder than words, and the surrender to Christie’s pension and benefit plan displays a traitorous betrayal of the Democratic party principles.

As stated by Labor Attorney, BENNET D. ZUROFSKY, “As Democrats, we are deeply ashamed.  If we sit still for this, we will be akin to those suffering from “battered spouse syndrome” – unable to summon the courage to break away from an abusive relationship despite knowing that we must end it for our own good.”
Therefore, citizens, through the formation of NJ-CAN, have taken it upon themselves to hold these Christiecrat Democrats accountable.

The petition and a “write-in” campaign are an outward expression of the outrage felt at such a betrayal to the people of New Jersey, and failure of the Christiecrats to remember that this is OUR government; a representative government: “OF the People, BY the People and FOR the People”.


NJ-CAN was formed to be a Statewide umbrella group for all unions, community organizations and involved residents of New Jersey  to work together now and in the future to build a strong network within the state to hold our elected representatives accountable, to actively seek  challengers when need be and to fight against destructive legislation that is detrimental to the residents of New Jersey in a unified manner.

If you wish to become a member of the group, go to our website  NJ-CAN [1]  and register. If you have any questions, or wish to sign up as a co-sponsor, there is a place to contact us on the website.

NJ-CAN’s statewide petition drive “Demand Removal of Sweeney and Oliver from Leadership Positions” is the first part of a three phase campaign named “Dump the Christiecrats”. You can sign the petition here [2] or on our website NJ-CAN.org [3] . Also on our site you can print out copies of the petition and help us to collect signatures, then return them to NJ-CAN, P.O. Box 54, Collingswood, NJ 08108

We are happy that for a change, we did receive some press coverage of the kick off , by the Courier Post [4]and it was also picked up by PolitickerNJ.

We are still receiving more inquiries from the press and other groups who want to know more about what NJ-CAN is trying to achieve.

You can play an important part in growing this movement, by telling others about it, by entering comments under articles about NJ-CAN or related news items, volunteer to secure signatures on the petition at events, shopping centers, or neighborhood corner.


New Jersey…Here is Your Chance to Fight Back Like Wisconsin !!!
[1] http://www.nj-can.org/
[2] http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/dumpchristiecrats/
[3] http://www.nj-can.org/
[4] http://www.courierpostonline.com/article/20110809/NEWS02/108090337/Liberal-group-goes-after-Christie-crats- 


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Dear Courier-Post

Dear Courier Post:

Please be advised that I do not want home delivery of your Christie-loving right-wing rag. I am sick and tired of the daily phone calls and want them to stop, immediately. I have repeatedly told the unwanted callers to STOP CALLING ME.

I am putting you on notice that the next time I get a call from the Courier-Post asking me about home delivery I am going to file a complaint with the Prosecutor's offices in Camden County and Middlesex County for harassment. The calls appear to be coming from Woodbridge, NJ

The number I want you to STOP CALLING is (phone # redacted).

I hope I have made it clear that I DO NOT WANT HOME DELIVERY OF YOUR PAPER AND I WANT YOU TO CEASE AND DESIST ANY CONTACT.

Please make sure this message gets into the right hands.

Jeffrey R. Pickens

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Would you sign this?

Today's guest blog from Thomas Jefferson.

Suppose someone approached you with this petition, or you saw it as an e-petition on Facebook or elsewhere.

Would you sign it?

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

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We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. --Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature.

He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states:

For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing taxes on us without our consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:

For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:

For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these colonies:

For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:

For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Barack Milhous Obama, War President

The only thing we ever learn from history is that we never learn from history. Unless, of course, you are running for re-election during war time. In that case, the lesson is, keep the war going through to Election Day because everyone loves a "War President". After all, it worked for Nixon in 1972 and Bush in 2004.

In President Obama's speech on the Afghanistan war pull-out, he proposed (in round numbers):
  • 10,000 troops out in the near term (to satiate the peaceniks)
  • 20,000 troops out by the end of November 2012 (how convenient)
With roughly 100,000 troops currently in Afghanistan, this leaves - again in round numbers - 70,000 troops still in country, scheduled to leave in 2014. Of course there is no guarantee this will actually happen.




Why not pull them all out now? Does anyone realistically believe the situation in Afghanistan will be at all improved between now and 2014?

Take a look at this word cloud from the President's speech. Can you find the word "PEACE" in there anywhere? I'm still looking.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dad

In the photo, Harold Pickens, newly-minted Jersey Guy, transplanted from Cincinnati, OH, gazes lovingly at his young son (can you blame him?), while the little boy, safely enclosed behind the bars of his play pen, thinks, "some day I want to be like him".

On a side note, Mom was a much better photographer than she was ever given credit for, usually ceding that job to Dad. But the photos of me and Dad from the old days are gems.

Dad is holding what appears to be a staple gun, fixing something, as he often did. He fixed everything. When the TV broke, we didn't buy a new one. Dad would take the back off the TV, remove all the tubes, and we would go to the hardware store and test each tube in the tube tester. Once he identified the bad tube(s), he would buy news one(s), put all the tubes back in the TV, and it was fixed.

An aircraft mechanic by trade, Dad fixed the cars, and tried, with moderate success, to teach me how to do the same. I was not that good at it but at least I understand (kind of) how an internal combustion engine works, and was able to do basic repairs, and today I can speak to a mechanic with some degree of knowledge and not get ripped off.

I never really fully picked up Dad's penchant for DIY-ing; I am basically useless in that regard. About five years ago Dad called me to help him install a garage door opener in his house.


"Where did you buy it?"
"Sears"
"Why don't you have them install it?"
"Because they want $150 for it"
"You can afford that"
"I want to do it myself. Come over and help me"

So I went over and we got to work, me on the ladder and Dad handing me the hardware and giving instructions. It went well until we hit a spot in the garage ceiling where there was no stud. Dad said, "looks like we need a molly", and went over to his tool box to get a molly screw and handed it to me.

I held the molly; clueless.

"Don't you know what to do with that?"
"Uh, no"
"Don't you ever have to hang anything in your house?"
"Sometimes"
"What do you do?"
"I find the stud"
"What if there's no stud?"
"I don't hang anything unless there's a stud"

And so, at the ripe old age of 49, I learned how to use a molly screw. It was the first and last time. I know better than to try it myself at home.

Dad fixed everything. He picked me up whenever I fell, as he did for Mom, and my brother and sister. He is the most selfless person on the planet; the real deal when it comes to family values. It will take a lifetime to repay him for all he's done for me and my family.

Happy Fathers Day, Dad

Friday, June 3, 2011

Guest Blog - Martin Bashir on Gil Scott-Heron

I'm not much of a fan of Martin Bashir, but his tribute to the late Gil Scott-Heron, one of my all time favorite performers, was spot-on. From his show today on MSNBC. I'll post the video when it's available.

The music world is notoriously divided when it comes to deciding who are the great artists and who’s had the biggest impact on a particular genre.

But the loss of one particular musician has produced an unusually united response. From places as far afield as Chicago, where he was born, to South Africa, where he campaigned against Apartheid – almost everyone seems to agree that we have lost one of the greatest musicians that ever lived.

Gil Scott-Heron passed away here in New York, a week ago, and will be buried after a private funeral service tomorrow. He was a novelist, a composer and a lyricist. He combined the insight of a social scientist with the intuition of a poet.

I can remember hearing his most famous song, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” as an eight-year-old child in London in 1971, and asking a teacher, how it was possible for a man’s voice to be so dominant across the whole record? She told me, then, what I would soon discover for myself – that Gil Scott-Heron possessed more talent than most bands put together.

His music often conveyed the anger felt by so many African-Americans during the post-Civil Rights era – when the hope of change collided with the still powerful forces of institutional racism. From “Home is where the Hatred is” to “Whitey on the Moon,” he described the predicament of joblessness and hopelessness for so many of his contemporaries.

But it would be a disservice to describe his music as driven solely by anger. In fact, many of his songs are tender and romantic and often speak of the brittle nature of love and family life. And he wrote from experience.

The separation of his parents when he was just two was followed by 10 happy years living with his grandmother. But then, aged 12, he would wake up to find that she had passed away in the night. The pain of that loss lived in his memory and can be heard in the harmonies of so many of his songs.

His album, “Pieces of a Man,” features a song entitled, “I think I’ll Call it Morning.” It is one of Gil Scott-Heron’s most beautiful compositions and may yet prove to be true for him.

“I’m gonna take myself a piece of sunshine,” he wrote, “and paint it all over my sky… be no rain, be no rain.” Gil Scott-Heron was 62. He will be laid to rest tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

"Coptergate" eclipses "Iowagate"

Or, "Drumthwacketgate", if you're into tongue twisters.

By now we all know that Governor Christie used a state helicopter to watch his son's baseball game at St Joe's in Montvale yesterday, and the Liberal Media was all over it.

Am I alone in being less than apoplectic about this? I am no expert in the do's and don'ts of the use of state vehicles by the governor, so I can't say if this was an improper use of the state helicopter, although it certainly seems so. And for all I know there may have been some important state business he needed to get to or from before or after the game.

In the list of outrages committed by this governor this incident ranks somewhere towards the bottom. Bad optics? Absolutely. But hey, he was going to watch his kid play ball, so at least he walks the walk rides the SUV when it comes to family values.

Far more offensive (to me at least), and I'm no lawyer but possibly illegal, is his using the taxpayer owned governor's mansion, Drumthwacket, to host a cadre of GOP bigwig donors form Iowa to beg him to run for president. This story was buried deep below the fold yesterday; I needed to hit "next" several times on nj.com to find any reference to it. As of Tuesday morning  there was only a passing reference to it.

If outrage is a limited resource, we should care more about Iowagate and less about Coptergate.

This is neither the first time nor the last time Christie  has misused NJ taxpayer dollars (e.g. "town hall" meetings, YouTube videos). Does anyone care that he hosted GOP donors from Iowa at the taxpayer-owned governor's mansion?

I would like to know what he was anticipating was going to happen at that meeting to cause him to pull a stunt like Coptergate to create such a diversion and deflect attention from the Iowa meeting, which was a more egregious misuse of taxpayer funds. If creating a diversion was his intention, it worked.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Imagine someone still driving around with one of these?

Spotted recently in a parking lot in Atlanta:


If I had one of these at the time, I would have covered it up:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

For them that must obey authority...

...that they do not respect in any degree(*)

I cannot think of the song Blowing In The Wind without thinking of an incident in Catholic school, 4th grade, which would have been 1964-1965, Sister Catherine Imelda's class. For some reason we were singing BITW, and Sister handed out mimeographs of the lyrics, which we all of course pressed to our faces to embrace the aroma of the mimeograph ink.

I had never heard of Bob Dylan at the time. I only knew BITW as a Peter Paul and Mary song. Sister probably hadn't heard of Dylan either.

Anyway, the mimeograph had a typo. The line:
How many times must I stumble and fall
was printed as
How many times must IS stumble and fall
Always the ever-vigilant proofreader, I started laughing (big mistake) and pointed out the typo to the kid next to me (bigger mistake). Suddenly, I heard the swoosh of an approaching habit and rosary beads clacking against the desks, and I braced for what I knew was about to happen:

I was yanked out of my desk by the ear, angrily asked what was so funny, and instead of saying "Nothing, S'ter", I showed her the typo, which got her even angrier. After a verbal tirade I was slammed back into my desk to resume singing.

The story above is an excerpt from my upcoming memoir (in progress), working title "It Was Hell, Recalls Former Child" (pending approval from the BKilban estate)








 - Bob Dylan, 1964

Sunday, May 22, 2011

There's one thing that makes spring complete for me.....

Thank you, Tom Lehrer, and special thanks to my Troy-Bilt weed whacker and cultivator attachment, which actually started up and worked yesterday (leading me to believe that I had been Raptured). Who thought that cleaning the air filter (something so easy, even I could do it) would make such a difference?

So, yesterday I got my garden started, turning over the soil, first by hand, then tilling with the Troy-Bilt. Today it's off to Bloomers for some plants (I don't do seeds), then planting today. Tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, cucumbers, basil. That's it this year.

Stay tuned for an update when things start to grow. In the meantime:

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Walk Now for Autism Speaks - Please Help!

My friends, Melissa and Brian Bernardo, are participating in the South Jersey Walk Now for Autism Speaks event on May 21, 2011. Walk Now for Autism Speaks is a charity that raises money for Autism research. Please help them reach their fundraising goal of $200.00

Melissa and Brian are walking with Team Bancroft.  If you are not from the South Jersey area, Bancroft School is one of the leading providers of programs and support for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, autism, and acquired brain injuries.

Please CLICK HERE to access Melissa and Brian's personal page to make a donation. Every little bit helps.

Thank you!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Another Weekday, Another "Town Hall"

This is getting old. I got the news late Saturday afternoon that Governor Chris Christie would be taking his "Town Hall" road show to Evesham, NJ this Tuesday, May 10th. Again on a weekday, again in the middle of the day.

I learned this through a Google alert, in a news site I hadn't heard of called southjerseylocalnews.com. Apparently I have once again been purged from the governor's email list. After a conversation with a Christie staffer a few weeks ago, in which he denied that non-supporters were being removed from the email lists, and denied the existence of a secret advance notice email list for supporters, the staffer promised to add me back to the list.

After that I got not one but two invites to last week's Manalapan event, one from the standard email distribution and one personally sent by my new "friend" from the governor's constituent relations office. I politely declined, citing the need to show up for my day job.

I was told by my friend from the governor's office that these events cannot be held in the evenings because the governor works very hard during the day, has four kids, and spends evenings with his family. Fair enough (I have four "kids" myself, but they're grown), but somehow the governor has had time to travel across the country last fall, campaigning for fellow Republicans, attend a White House state dinner, and attend the Time 100 Gala, after which he gloated about having the Lincoln Tunnel cleared by his State Police detail to facilitate his arrival at this mission-critical event.

So, here we go again, this time in Republican Burlington County, on a Tuesday afternoon, with a diverse crowd of white retirees who feel that they no longer need to support the public education system with their property taxes, now that their own children have been educated and graduated.

For what it's worth, here are the details:
Tuesday, May 10th. Doors open at 12:15pm   
The Blue Barn - Evesham Recreation Center
1004 Tuckerton Road
Marlton, New Jersey
Click here to RSVP:
http://goo.gl/CWulF

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Elections Matter

They certainly matter to NJ Governor Chris Christie, who took a special interest in the election for State Senate in the 8th Legislative District, in which Olympic Gold Medalist and Willingboro native Carl Lewis had plans to run as a Democrat.

Now, it is hardly breaking news that the Governor is a petty, vindictive bully. By the time Lewis formally announced his candidacy on April 11, calling Christie a "good friend", Christie's plan to derail Lewis' candidacy was well underway, and the fate of the campaign had been all but sealed.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Christie sent one of his young thugs after Lewis, in a series of "increasingly tense phone calls", marked by attempted intimidation and implied threats:

(H)e received the first of increasingly tense phone calls from Frank Luna, a veteran political operative who performs constituent services for the governor.

Luna asked Walker, executive director of the Carl Lewis Foundation, whether Lewis was running for the Eighth District Senate seat. According to Walker, Luna told him: "The governor is concerned."

The two spoke daily the next two days, and on April 9, Walker said, Luna told him "the governor is very upset and disappointed, and Carl would be embarrassing himself by running."

Walker said that in that April 9 conversation, Luna told him, "How can you expect the governor to work hand-in-hand with Carl when Carl is working against him? You can forget about this program."

Christie and Lewis spoke April 10.

Christie knew that, should Lewis decide to declare anyway, the Republicans would challenge Lewis' NJ residency in court, and if the court punted, he could count on Lt Governor / Secretary of State Kim Guadagno to pull a Katherine Harris and rule against Lewis,

We get the government we deserve. For those Democrats who were disappointed with the Corzine campaign and decided to stay home in November 2009, or worse, voted for Christie thinking "how bad can he be?", consider this: It could have been Loretta Weinberg making the decision on Carl Lewis' eligibility to run in NJ.While we cannot know for sure how a Secretary of State Weinberg would have ruled, we can be reasonably sure that, stateswoman that she is, she would have given careful consideration to the facts of the case and ruled as Secretary of State, not as the Governor's sock puppet.

To paraphrase Bill Clinton: if you don't vote, you are, in fact, voting for the person you don't want. Let's not let that happen again.

Get out and vote today if your school district is holding elections today.

Get out and vote in November. We need a Democratic majority in the Legislature to hold this out-of-control Governor in check.

Remember, elections matter.
 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Guest Blog - "Keep It Warm"

On the occasion of Mark "Flo" Volman's 64th birthday, one of my favorite songs from the Turtles and Flo and Eddie. The lyrics still resonate, 35 years later:




Write another song for the money
Something they can sing, not so funny
Money in the bank to keep us warm

Stick another grape in the juicer
Or fill your guts with grease and get get looser
You are what you eat , so eat it warm

Roll another joint for the Gipper
Get the Gipper high, he gets hipper
Stick it in his mouth and keep him warm

Elect another jerk to the White House
Gracie Slick is losing her door mouse
Take her off the streets and keep her warm

Fight another war if they make you
Squeal on a friend or they'll take you
The future's in your lap, so keep it warm...

Warm, here in your arms
Safe from all harm, where I belong
Warm, cozy and calm, another
Dawn together warm....

My woodie's broken down by the beach now
And TM's gotten far out of reach now
Tell the Mahareesh to keep it warm

George is suing Paul, suing Ringo
and immigration wants John and Yoko
All they need is love, to keep them warm

Kill another whale with your power
Or shoot a bunch a kids from a tower
Snipe them in their cars
Blood keeps them warm

Or

Make a better world from the old one
Make yourself a baby and hold one
Hold her in your arms and keep her warm,
Keep her warm, Keep her warm,
Keep her warm...........

Sunday, April 17, 2011

This Is Not Kosher - The Wall of Separation, Redux

Another week, another "town hall".

This time it's at the Westlake Golf and Country Club, an over-55 community  in Jackson, NJ. This event is about the same as all the others, held on a weekday morning, with little or no advance notice, except to Christie supporters, all but guaranteeing a homogeneous crowd, this time packed with retirees who feel they no longer should pay property taxes, now that they no longer have kids in school.

But what makes this "town hall" different from the others?

Because this event is being held on Tuesday, April 19th, the second day of Pesach, or Passover, when Jews are preparing for the second seder, and will be unable to attend. This is either a deliberate attempt to exclude Jews from the event, or at best, extreme, insensitive, political tone-deafness.

In March 9, Christie breached (in my opinion) the wall of separation between church and state by holding a "town hall" at a Catholic Church on Ash Wednesday, a Catholic holiday. An OPRA request that I filed to learn who paid for this event was blown-off by the governor's office, on a technicality, when I made the mistake of using the word "information" in my request. Although the governor's counsel understood full well the intent of my inquiry, he refused to answer.

About a week later, the governor held a "town hall" in Woodbridge, where he stacked the audience with parochial school students wearing t-shirts supporting the Opportunity Scholarship Act, a voucher program that would steer taxpayer funds into private schools.

There is no question, now, that the governor is using these "town hall" meetings as a tool to promote his anti-women's health, pro-voucher, papist agenda. This is further borne out by the timing of the latest "town hall", erecting a new wall of separation by making it difficult or impossible for Jews to attend.

If this bothers you, and it should, please write to the governor's office to express your outrage.
Contact Matt Mowers at the Office of the Governor: Matt.Mowers@gov.state.nj.us,
and cc Constituent Relations: Constituent.Relations@gov.state.nj.us

Remind Governor Christie he is he Governor of ALL the people of New Jersey.