Category Archives: Stephen Sweeney

Wastewater Well in Ohio Triggered Quakes in Ohio; Is Fracking To Blame?

Did fracking cause the 4.o magnitude earthquake that rocked Northeastern Ohio on Saturday? Experts are begining to think so:

CLEVELAND (AP) — A northeast Ohio well used to dispose of wastewater from oil and gas drilling almost certainly caused a series of 11 minor quakes in the Youngstown area since last spring, a seismologist investigating the quakes said Monday.
Research is continuing on the now-shuttered injection well at Youngstown and seismic activity, but it might take a year for the wastewater-related rumblings in the earth to dissipate, said John Armbruster of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, N.Y.
Brine wastewater dumped in wells comes from drilling operations, including the so-called fracking process to extract gas from underground shale that has been a source of concern among environmental groups and some property owners. Injection wells have also been suspected in quakes in Ashtabula in far northeast Ohio, and in Arkansas, Colorado, and Oklahoma, Armbruster said.
Thousands of gallons of brine were injected daily into the Youngstown well that opened in 2010 until its owner, Northstar Disposal Services LLC, agreed Friday to stop injecting the waste into the earth as a precaution while authorities assessed any potential links to the quakes.
After the latest and largest quake Saturday at 4.0 magnitude, state officials announced their beliefs that injecting wastewater near a fault line had created enough pressure to cause seismic activity. They said four inactive wells within a five-mile radius of the Youngstown well would remain closed. But they also stressed that injection wells are different from drilling wells that employ fracking….
Read more …Here
The evidence seems to be piling up on the harmful and potential cataclysmic effects that fracking can have on the environment, is there any good reason now to oppose a moratorium on this process of energy recovery until the consequences of this process is fully known?
Learn what you can do by stop fracking by going to the website for Food & Water Watch, get educated and sign their petition to congress.
There is also a move afoot to ban fracking in NJ, by overwhelming bipartisan support our State Legislature passed a ban on fracking last year, only to have Gov. Christie veto the bill.
Food and Water Watch is urging Senate President Stephen Sweeney to hold a vote to override the Governor’s veto and are asking residents to call his office and ask that he do so by calling 856-251-9081.
Residents can also sign-on to a letter asking Senator Sweeney to hold a vote to override
Governor Christie’s veto of NJ’s fracking ban by contacting Rachel Dawn, NJ’s organizer for Food and Water Watch at RDawn@fwwlocal.org before tomorrow, January 5th

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Filed under Associated Press, earthquake, Food and Water Watch, Fracking, Gov. Chris Christie, Ohio, Stephen Sweeney

Senate President Sweeney Nearly Struck By Lightning

I’m sure Governor Christie wouldn’t have been alone in wanting Steve Sweeney to be struck by lighting, I think there are a few NJ progressives out there that wouldn’t have minded it either.

http://www.myfoxphilly.com/video/videoplayer.swf?dppversion=10588

Lightning Almost Hits Christie Foe On TV: MyFoxPHILLY.com

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Filed under Gov. Chris Christie, myfoxphilly, Nj Senate President, Stephen Sweeney, struck by lighting

Countdown: How Big a ‘Bully’ is Chris Christie?

If you haven’t been keeping up with Keith Olbermann since returning to the airwaves last month,you’ve been missing out on some good TV. Last night Olbermann ran a segment that addressed NJ Senate President Steve Sweeney’s recent outburst concerning Governor Christie use of the line-item veto to slash many provisions out of the Democratically crafted State budget.

Sweeney went ballistic on Friday, calling Christie every name in the book after learning of the cuts. Evidently Sweeney is feeling a little betrayed and let down by the Governor after delivering him his victory in the fight over pension and benefit reforms with state workers unions.

In the future, Stephen Sweeney should be a little more leery about who he intended to make a bed with. Once you decide to sleep with them, your soiled for life and it is hard to undo sleaziness of how you feel after.

After all, what did Sweeney expect from a big bully like Chris Christie? Once a bully, always a bully. Your either a friend or a foe, there’s no in-between. And Christie has made it very evident what he considers Sweeney to be. The problem for Sweeney however, is that many of his constituents around the state are also beginning to see where Sweeney stands on the issues and they don’t like it.

On Friday, New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney called Governor Chris Christie a “bully” and a “rotten bastard.” And that wasn’t all. Keith talks with Evan McMorris-Santoro of Talking Points Memo about the political betrayal that set Sweeney off and what it reveals about New Jersey’s large-and-in-charge governor.

http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1&isUI=1

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Filed under Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Gov. Chris Christie, health benefits and pension reform, line item veto, NJ State Budget, public unions, Stephen Sweeney

>George Norcross tales dubbed "bogeyman" bunk are rooted in reality

>

Good video for your watching from the Star Ledger’s Brian Donohue, it leaves you scratching your head afterwards:

Ledger Live for June 25, 2011 –

Ledger Live with Brian Donohue. On todayapos;s show, Brian Donohue examines how the battle over the pension and benefits reform bill passed by the New Jersey legislature raised questions about the influence of South Jersey Democratic leader George Norcross. Assertions by Norcross ally Sen. Steve Sweeney that Norcross plays little role in the legislative process contrast sharply with Norcrossapos; own words, as captured in 2001 recordings made as part of a state attorney generalapos;s office investigation.

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Filed under Brian Donohue, Democratic Leader, George Norcross, health benefits and pension reform, NJ State Legislature, political machine, South Jersey, Stephen Sweeney, the Star-Ledger

>Fine Print: Senate Bill No. 2937 Proposed legislation would dictate sweeping changes to public employees’ pensions and healthcare benefits

>By John Mooney – NJSPOTLIGHT.com

Synopsis: “An act concerning public employee pension and health care benefits, and amending and supplementing various parts of the statutory law and repealing P.L.1999, c.96 and P.L.1985, c.414. Makes various changes to pension and healthcare benefits for public employees”

Related Links
Senate Bill No. 2937

Primary sponsor: Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester)

What it means: The 120-page bill makes sweeping changes to public employees’ contributions to their pension and health benefit plans, and to the rules that dictate those benefits. Pensions and benefits have been at the center of debate between Gov. Chris Christie and the legislature since Christie took office, and the apparent agreement on this bill — at least for now — has consumed Trenton for much of the last week and likely for the next.

It’s all in the details: The new bill, introduced yesterday, would require public employees pay up to an additional 2.5 percent of their salaries toward their pensions, and up to 30 percent of their healthcare premiums. But how the law meets those thresholds represents the key differences between what Christie has sought and what Sweeney now proposes, with the Democratic leader phasing in some of the increases and also scaling the healthcare contribution, depending on salary. Low-paid public workers will barely make any contribution at all.

Riding off into the sunset clause: Sweeney struck a deal with Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-Essex) in introducing the bill to also include Oliver’s proposal that the health benefits changes would have a “sunset clause” and revert to being a subject of collective bargaining in 2014. Christie has not yet commented on the proposed sunset, but has appeared reluctant to back any reforms that have a limited shelf life.

What’s next: The Senate budget committee is set to hold a hearing on the bill tomorrow, with the Assembly budget committee slated to hold its own hearing on the companion bill on Monday.

The reaction: Needless to say, public employees unions aren’t taking too well to the ideas, and have big protests planned tomorrow for the Statehouse and maybe legislators’ homes. The New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) is also holding a press conference today to point out what it calls the false assumptions and savings in the proposals.

Will it pass? That of course, is the bottom line. It’s as close as ever to passage, to be sure, but it faces lots of questions both in substance and politics. Sweeney has said he will push it through, even if it means defying some of his Democratic caucus. Oliver has been less willing, and has indicated she may not post it for final vote without consent of her members.

In the end, it will require what was once unfathomable: a sizable number of Democrats going against organized labor during an election year. But these are remarkable times, with similar measures passing in other states with Democratic support.

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Filed under Gov. Chris Christie, health benefits and pension reform, NJEA, NJspotlight, public unions, senate bill 2937, Sheila Oliver, Stephen Sweeney

>Sweeney: Gov. Christie’s tools aren’t the sharpest in the shed

>NJ Senate President Stephen Sweeney has written the following article that appears online this morning on NJ.com. It’s a must read for anyone who thinks that Governor Christie’s “Tool Kit” is the be all, end all solution that will control the rise of property taxes in the state.

Of the 33 bills in the Governor’s “tool kit”, Sweeney rightfully points out that some of them overlapped and were combined to form 24 and later reduced again to by the Governor when he finally realized that proposals about higher education would do nothing to lower property taxes, leaving 20.
Sweeney points out that the Legislature has passed 8 of the 20 bills thus far, the 2% cap on property tax increases and arbitration reform for police and fire contracts being the key pieces passed. While 2 other bills dealing with civil service reform and a cap on sick-leave payouts were passed by the Legislature but vetoed by the Governor. Sweeney then goes on to tell how many of the remaining “tool kit” reforms will do little to bring down property taxes.
So the next time anyone has to hear Republicans in Middletown chastise Democrats in Trenton for not acting on the “tool kit” and saying that these reforms are necessary so that they can control themselves from overspending, I think Sweeney’s article should be read into the record and see what comments, if any Tony Fiore, Gerry Scharfenberger or the others have to say:

The governor has blamed everything and everyone for the highest property tax increase in four years. He continues to state that if only his “tool kit” were passed, New Jersey’s property tax problems would magically disappear.


Closer scrutiny of the governor’s kit proves his claims are false and are merely meant to distract from his own culpability in property tax hikes. The governor cut more than $2.4 billion in funding to schools and municipalities last year. That is why your taxes are going up. The tool kit will not make up that shortfall.

There are reforms that must be implemented, such as pension and health benefits reforms, which I have supported since 2006. I am committed to getting those done. But those reforms are not — and never were — part of the governor’s proposed tool kit.

First, let’s have truth in numbers. The governor started by saying there were 33 bills in the tool kit. Actually, there were 24 after items were combined. Now the governor says there are 20, because he finally realized that four proposals dealing with issues at colleges and universities have absolutely nothing to do with property taxes.

The Legislature did pass eight tool-kit items. First was the creation of the 2 percent cap on annual property tax increases, which the Legislature lowered from the 2.5 percent cap the governor initially proposed. Second was arbitration reform for police and fire contracts, which was heralded across the state by local officials as key to reining in property taxes.

Two others — comprehensive civil service reform and a cap on sick-leave payouts for public employees upon retirement — were passed and sent to the governor, who vetoed them. We have no reform in these two areas because the governor chose to kill reform.

Civil service needs to be reformed and modernized, but abolishing it will not lower property taxes. Only one-third of New Jersey towns are bound by civil service rules, and those towns actually have lower property taxes per capita than towns without civil service. Civil service was established to protect against political corruption and nepotism. It is puzzling that the governor wants to completely eliminate this protection.

Sick-leave payouts should be capped, but the governor vetoed a bill to do that because he wants to take away benefits workers have already earned. That may be a nice talking point, but it won’t stand up in court. And it would create a flood of new retirements as workers cash out before the law would take effect. If the governor got his way, this tool would actually cost taxpayers even more.

Two other parts of the tool kit are already in comprehensive shared services legislation I am sponsoring with Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt and Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, which goes far beyond what the governor envisioned, and which will move through the Legislature later this spring.

These are the only parts of the tool kit that will save you money on your property tax bill. We did them. The handful of remaining bills that the governor clings to won’t save you anything.
One would cap spending on state government operations — which already exists under law, and even if it did not, would have no impact on local property taxes. Another would allow local governments to use furloughs to save money — which they already can do as long as furloughs are negotiated.

Another bill to centralize all power over civil service decisions in the Civil Service Commissioner (read: czar) would only consolidate the governor’s power and do nothing to lower property taxes.

One bill would move school and fire commission elections to November — a move whose total property tax savings, according to the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Service, would be “minimal.”

Others would change the way some employee discipline measures are handled (OLS estimated savings: $140,000), require the mailing of only one sample ballot per household (OLS estimated savings: $1.4 million), and allow municipalities to offset property tax delinquencies against state income tax refunds (OLS estimated net savings: zero).

The governor’s rhetoric does not stand up to simple math. The tool-kit bills that haven’t yet been passed offer no real help from New Jersey’s crushing $25 billion property tax burden.

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Filed under 2% cap, arbitration reform, civil service, Gov. Chris Christie, NJ State Senate, NJ.com, property taxes, Stephen Sweeney, tax saving tool, toolkit

>Just Curious – What Gave Mayor Gerry The Authority To Declare A Local Emergency?

>I have been thinking about this all night and I’m really curious, who or what gave Mayor Gerry the authority to declare a local emergency in Middletown yesterday and what type of “Power” did this give him?

What penalties could residents have expected if they were found to be in violation of Gerry’s “State of Emergency”?

I understand that this was just another grandstanding incident by Gerry Scharfenberger attempting to make it seem that he was in charge. But I am serious, what could have happened under this circumstance? Is there anything in the Town Charter that allows the acting mayor to declare a local state of emergency and if so what powers are provided at the time of declaration?

Further more, was it really nessasary to declare a local state of emergency when an actual State of Emergency was already declared by acting Governor Stephen Sweeney?
Obviously, Gerry’s declaration was nothing more than grandstanding and purely symbolic and had no real teeth, otherwise many of those driving around town Monday and Tuesday would have been stopped by the police and either issued summonses or had their vehicles confiscated

If someone has time to find out answers to the above, I would be interested in hearing them.

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Filed under Gerry Scharfenberger, Middletown, New Jersey, snow storm, state of emergency, Stephen Sweeney