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May 3, 2010

FROM TIME TO TIME – A Quarterly Report on the Activities Of the New Jersey League of Municipalities, January, 2010 – March, 2010. CORRECTED.

Dear Mayor:

Here is an update on League activity during the first three months of 2010. In our last “From Time To Time,” we focused our ‘advocacy’ section on activity during the Lame Duck session and the waning days of the Corzine Administration. This edition picks up from there and begins with Governor Christie’s inauguration and the 214th Legislative Session.

We have advocated for municipalities in Trenton by

  • Presenting testimony - by League President, Clifton Mayor Jim Anzaldi, before the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee in Paramus, and by League First Vice President, Buena Vista Mayor Chuck Chiarello, before the Assembly Budget Committee in Trenton – on Governor Christie’s proposed budget. In the face of unprecedented property tax relief funding cuts, the testimony asked legislators to advance cost-saving mandates relief reforms and management flexibility tools.
  • Contacting the Governor, DCA Commissioner and Legislative Leadership to request the removal, from the proposed budget, of a provision that would allow the State to impose a financial penalty on any municipality that exercised its statutory right to recover from the State’s failure to provide formula property tax relief funding, in accordance with permanent statutes.
  • Working with the Legislature on crafting reforms to the Open Public Records Act.  Longport Mayor Nicholas Russo testified before the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee on the abuse of OPRA.
  • Testifying before and working with Lt. Governor Guadagno’s Red Tape Review Committee.  Mount Arlington Mayor Arthur Ondish, Brick Township Mayor Stephen Acropolis, Glassboro Mayor Leo McCabe, Middletown Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger, Bloomfield Administrator Fred Carr, Millburn Administrator Tim Gordon, Middletown Administrator Tony Mercantante and Hardyston Manager Marianne Smith testified on various unfunded mandates including stormwater management, 4% tax levy cap, pension cost, OPRA, NJDEP regulations and administration of State tax rebate programs.  In addition, we took the opportunity to outline the problems with Civil Service and make suggestions on shared services.
  • Advocating for passage of a bill which would permit municipalities to opt-out of Civil Service.
  • Combating efforts to eliminate the application of the time of decision in municipal land use approval.  S-82/A-437, which has been pushed by development interests, is opposed by a broad coalition of organizations including the League, the Sierra Club, the Environmental Federation, Conservation Foundation, New Jersey Planning Officials and the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions. 
  • Presenting testimony before the Governor’s Privatization of Services Committee.  We presented an over-view of current municipal initiatives which engage workers, other than local municipal employees, to perform municipal services. They reviewed the motivations for this approach, examples of local ‘contracting out,’ and impediments to more frequent use of this management strategy.  These include: Civil Service regulations, PERC statutes, Prevailing Wage requirements, Local Public Contracts Law provisions, Public Safety mandates and Public Employee and Citizen resistance.
  • Continuing advocacy for a legislative solution implementing reform to the State’s affordable housing policy.
  • League President Jim Anzaldi, Mayor of Clifton, met with several representatives of Governor Christie's Administration including State Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff, Attorney General Paula Dow, DEP Commissioner Bob Martin, DCA Commissioner Lori Grifa, DOE Commissioner Bret Schundler, Agricultural Secretary Doug Fisher and Personnel Commissioner Bob Czech. President Anzaldi stressed the importance of open communications between the League and the Christie Administration and explored ways the league can assist the Administration in establishing an on-going working relationship with the State's Mayors. Also, President Anzaldi was a guest on Channel 12's Power and Politics in January and March and spoke on the State Budget and importance of Mandates Relief.
  • During this time period, League First Vice President and Buena Vista Township Mayor Chuck Chiarello, Chairman of the League's Emergency Management Task Force, represented the league at two state wide seminars and meetings of the State' s Emergency Management Stake Holders groups, facilitated by the State's Office of Homeland Security. Mayor Chiarello hosted two meetings of the League's Task Force at the league headquarters.
We have advocated for municipalities in Washington by
  • Continuing our efforts, in cooperation with the National League of Cities (NLC) to promote the reauthorization of transportation funding programs and the modernization of national transportation policy.
  • Working with the National League of Cities (NLC) to promote action on the Local Jobs for America Act. 
  • Cooperating with NLC and other public interest groups to promote the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) program. 
We have strengthened local leadership capacity by
  • Conducting 12 professional development seminars and events for over 800 attendees with 12 more seminars planned for the upcoming months.  The League continually strives to meet the educational needs of its members, and welcomes suggested topics.
  • Hosting the Annual Mayors’ Legislative Day, which included presentations by new DCA Commissioner Lori Grifa and new DEP Commissioner Bob Martin, a panel discussion by key Legislative Leaders, induction ceremonies for our Elected Officials’ Hall of Fame, and a keynote address by Governor Christie.
  • Holding the 2nd Annual Women in Municipal Government Celebration with guest speakers Assembly Speaker Shelia Oliver and Attorney General Dow.
  •  The League’s Foundation held a program on how local officials can utilize social media on March 30 at the Prudential Center in Newark.
 .We have provided municipal officials with resources for problem solving by
  • Continuing to provide several resource centers on our website including, but not limited to: the Grant Resource Center, the Aging and Senior Resource Center, a Purchasing Resource Center and an Ordinance Library.
  • Hosting and administering year-round education seminars to help local officials deal with and solve issues and problems at the municipal level.
  • Making available audio recordings of dozens of educational sessions from the Annual Conference
  • Providing an informational Legal Consultation Service through the Bureau of Municipal Information for municipal officials.
  • Keeping municipal officials advised of legal developments affecting municipalities.
  • Reviewing proposed regulations for municipal impact and commenting if appropriate. 
  • Sending Senior Legislative Analyst Jon Moran to speak before the Atlantic County Township Officials Association and the Sussex and Warren Counties Tax Collectors and Treasurers Association on State legislative and regulatory matters.
  • League Executive Director William Dressel spoke at several regional and county elected officials organizations including the Ocean County Mayors, Morris County League of Municipalities, Atlantic County Mayors, Gloucester County Mayors Association, Essex County League of Women Voters Annual Essex County Mayors Forum. League Director Dressel also appeared on Cable Vision’s Meet the Leaders and Ocean County Cablevision's Keep an Eye on Ocean County and spoke on several matters of state wide significance.
  • League Legislative Analyst Lori Buckelew organized several Mayors to appear at three regional meetings of the Lt Governor's Red Tape Committee in Montclair , Gloucester County and Middletown. Lori also spoke the Annual Spring meeting of the Municipal Clerks Association on Pension Reform.
We have promoted municipal government by
    • Encouraging a complete 2010 Census Count by providing resources to municipalities to promote the 2010 Census.  Held Press Conferences with Evesham Mayor Randy Brown and Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Diaz to kick off the 2010 Census.
    • Authoring several op-ed pieces defending the principles of home rule, self-determination, the need for COAH reform and property tax reform.   Multiple pieces ran in the Newark Star-Ledger, the Trenton Times, the Asbury Park Press, the Bergen Record and across the State.
    • Producing regular Media Alerts to the press, covering every aspect of new public policy developments in Trenton.
    • Encouraging all state and local officials to follow us on Twitter.  You can now follow the League on Twitter (http://twitter.com/njlofm
    • The League's 2010 Census Awareness Committee Co-Chaired by Mayor Randy Brown, Evesham, and Mayor Wilda Diaz of Perth Amboy directed league staff to promote the importance of "getting out the count" by sending out numerous emails, faxes, mailings and postings on the league's home page.
    • Mayor Diaz hosted a major press conference at the Perth Amboy Community Hospital featuring Congressman Albio Sires, State Senator Joseph Vitale , county freeholders and numerous community organizations on Feb 26th.
    • On March 31 Mayor Randy Brown, Evesham, conducted a press conference at the State house with representatives from the US Census Bureau, State Department of Labor, Mayor Robert Bowser East Orange and Assemblywoman Linda Stender. The event drew statewide media attention and was instrumental in focusing attention on the importance of getting out the count in hard to count Hispanic and African American populations in our Urban Areas.
    • The League of Municipalities’ Mayors Book Club, in conjunction with Reach Out and Read (ROR), conducted four state wide press conferences in Neptune, Hope, Hightstown and Trenton to announce the generous donation of over 2,000 books by ROR to promote the importance of early childhood literacy and the goals of the Mayors Book Club. Haskell Berman, Vice President of the Health Care Institute and representative of ROR, participated in the press conferences along with Sam Delgado, Vice President of Government Relations for Verizon New Jersey, which is a prime sponsor of the Mayors Book Club.

     

 

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