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POG POG POG – Stand up, stand up, stand up for your rights!

MONDAY – 2 MINUTE ACTION REQUIRED!

This notification alert to our Hoboken citizenry came by way from our friends at People for Open Government late last night.  In short, this is not much different than an attempt to take away your right to vote.  The outright scam seeks to take away your right to petition government.  What we have here is an outright attack on your fundamental Freedom of Speech rights.

For more on the the five freedoms our Founding Fathers guaranteed in the 1st Amendment, take a quick look here and then please act on your rights to petition government directly by citizen referendum.  Ask yourself if someone permitting you that right once in a decade versus every couple of years is an attack on your freedom?  And act accordingly!

Last, MSV strongly advocates any contribution possible to POG, an organization acting to keep an eye on government and advance and protect the rights of Hoboken’s citizens.  Before the consensus became known on the crooked ways of Cammarano, they went toe to toe on political contributions to politicians in Hoboken, the pay to play back room deals costing Hoboken citizens untold millions over decades.  This in retrospect was the linchpin creating the conditions where Malibu Pete sought out illegal monies to advance his corrupt political career.

One last point, we believe a phone call and a few original words is the most significant way to make an impact. The points in the POG sample letter are a perfect template but a few choice words mean more than you can imagine.  Shine the light baby, shine the light!

Fellow POGgers,
Twenty years ago, Hoboken citizens availed themselves of the right to present or challenge ordinances by presentation to the city council or before the voters. They successfully challenged a redevelopment plan for the southern waterfront that would have built a high-rise tower where Pier A park is located today. Soon thereafter, state law was changed to disallow citizens from utilizing the I&R process in matters of land use (presumably in reaction to the defeat of the 1990 and 1992 Port Authority redevelopment agreements).
In 2004 and again in 2007, the citizens of Hoboken utilized the initiative and referendum process to enact a number of good-government initiatives, most notably the pay-to-play reform laws that have dramatically reduced the level of influence of campaign contributions on the granting of no-bid professional contracts and redevelopment agreements, while having great effect in leveling the playing field in local elections.
The right of New Jersey citizens to present I&R ordinances to municipal councils and to fellow voters is at risk of being seriously curtailed. The right to petition our local government to change the length of term of office for elected officials or to change our form of government may be severely limited if Bill S3157/A4264 is passed on Monday.  Please read the forwarded letter below and contact our two representatives to the state Assembly and ask them to vote NO on this bill.
Thank you for your attention,
Eric Kurta

NJ Appleseed Public Interest Law Center URGENT Action Alert
 January 8, 2010
Greetings!
A bill that would seriously weaken the rights of citizens living in Faulkern Act municipalities to self-govern has passed the Senate and will be voted on in the Assembly on Monday.  Unless quick action is taken, the bill unfortunately may pass.
Right now, those living in towns organized under the Faulkner Act (also known as Municipal Optional Charter law) have the right to pass ordinances themselves, by getting the measure either before the town Council or on the ballot through a process known as Initiation and Referendum (I&R).

Bill S3157/A4264 would weaken that right of empowerment, by severely limiting the number of times a citizens’ group may use the I&R process.  Currently, an I&R petition to change the length of the term of office for elected officials can be brought once every 3 years, and a petition to change in the form of government can be brought once every 2 years.  But S3157/A4264 would extend that period of prohibition to 10 years in each case.

We believe the timing of S3157/A4264 is not an accident.  Over the summer, New Jersey Appelseed represented a group from New Brunswick called Empower Our Neighborhoods (EON), whose efforts to get a change of government I&R petition on the ballot was thwarted by the New Brunswick city council.  Together, New Jersey Appleseed and EON went to court, and got EON’s right to have the measure appear on the ballot (without a competing measure from the city council) affirmed.  The measure lost at the polls.  Then Bill S3157/A4264 was introduced, in an apparent attempt to prevent EON from presenting the measure again two years from now.  Dragging the process out to 10 years would arguably slow down if not hault EON’s progress to acheive transparent and open government in New Brunswick.

Bill S3157/A4264 has more far-reaching consequences, however.  This is the first step the NJ legislature has taken, since broadening citizens’ rights to self govern in 1982 when it passed the I&R law, to curtail those rights.  Bill S3157/A4264 represents the first step in taking away citizens’ rights of self governance and self determination.  Everyone living in a Faulkner Act municipality will be impacted by this change in the law.

We ask that you contact your Assembly person TODAY and urge him/her to vote “NO” on A4264 when it comes up for a vote on Monday.  You can find your Assembly person and contact information by clicking here.  Also, we ask that you call Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts TODAY and urge him not to support the bill.  Phone: (856) 742-7600 Fax: (856) 742-1831 Email: AsmRoberts@njleg.org.

Bill S3157/A4264 is being sold as a “stability” bill for municipalities, and many lawmakers are not aware of the back story.  A sample letter is found below.

Thank you in advance!

Diana H. Jeffrey, Esq.
Director, Government Accountability Programs

Example letter
Dear Assembly person,

I am writing to you to urge you to VOTE NO on S3157/A4264, which will be posted for a vote in the Assembly on Monday, January 11.  I believe that S3157/A4264 will disempower local communities.  It will do so by severely limiting the ability for citizens to petition for referendum. Specifically, the bill aims to limit citizens’ ability to re-petition from 2 years in the case of an unsuccesful measure at the polls, or 3 years for a successful measure at the polls, to 10 years. Yesterday the bill was pitched to the Senate in Caucus as a “stability bill.”  However an extension of the limitation from 2 or 3 years to 10 years is an unecessary restrictions, and has the affect of derailing citizens’ efforts to self-govern.  The reality is that a 2 or 3  year limitation is sufficient, while a 10-year limitation essentially kills any grassroots citizen’s initiative.  Many Senators who voted for the bill yesterday said that they would have opposed it had they known better, and have committed to opposing it should it come back to Senate with amendment.

I urge you therefore to vote “NO” on A4264 when it comes up for a vote on Monday.  Instead, I ask that you support the intent of the Optional Municipal Charter Law, which is to create opportunities for citizens’ to self govern.  Please don’t vote to strip citizens’ of our right to self-empowerment.

Sincerely,
 

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