Thursday, May 15, 2003

Debate Tonight!

"Maplewood's Democrats" Vic DeLuca and Jerry Ryan take on "Newark Machine" candidates Ken Pettis and Kathy Leventhal tonight at the Hilton Neighborhood Association sponsored debate, leading up to the Democratic Primary on June 3.

The debate takes place tonight (5/15) 7:30 - 9:30 PM, at the DeHart Community Center - 120 Burnett Ave., Maplewood

It will be videotaped for future broadcast on Maplewood's cable Channel 35.


Noel Redding
Dave Debusschere

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Verizon anounces free WiFi hotspots in NYC payphones

Verizon internet subscribers will have access to 1000 wireless 802.11b access points distributed throughout Manhattan. You'll need a password from Verizon to use the service, and as per usual you have to be wihin about 300 feet of an access point to use it. I'd guess that most of them will be in Midtown and in the Wall Street area, so coverage may be pretty good.

A great deal for Verizon ISP customers, but I'll still pass on their DSL service myself and stick with Speakeasy. And I wish they'd dump that crapulous MSN service.

South Orange re-elects incumbents

Bill Calabrese, Art Taylor, Allan Rosen, & Mark Rosner win big.
Especially Calabrese, who spanked Brian O'Leary 60% to 40%.

An abysmal 34% turnout.

Report: U.K. Doctors Illegally Took 20,000 Brains For Research

So THAT's what happened at the White House and 10 Downing Street!

The Matrix Reloaded!

The long awaited sequel to The Matrix, called The Matrix Reloaded, opens tonight, at

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

I guess it wasn't those "Tax and Spend Liberals" after all

Deficit to Be Largest Ever, CBO Predicts

MDC By-Laws amendments defeated, despite Pettis' and Grodman's Support

Well, as I reported on Sunday, the MDC met last night to consider some by-laws changes. The effect of these changes, produced with little input beyond MDC Chair Doug Bland and By-Laws Committee Chair Jon Zeifert, would have been to stifle debate within the party, entrench the leadership, and allow the nominating process to proceed "under cover of darkness."

The by-laws changes were, by the way, defeated on almost straight factional lines - the Profeta/Bland/Newark Machine members voting in favor of the amendments, the remainder voting to keep openness as a party principle by opposing the changes. It was telling that, on a vote intended to prevent most secret ballots, district leader (and Pettis/Leventhal campaign committee member) Henry "Dytunck" Hamel requested a secret ballot. Bland, to his credit, ruled the request out of order.

It was clear from the start that Bland didn't have the 2/3 majority he needed to pass the changes, but he soldiered on and put them to the membership anyway. As noted, the votes were on almost straight factional lines. I apologize in advance if I have the vote counts off slightly - I didn't write 'em down at the time. There were, I believe, 14 members of the Profeta/Bland contingent present as well as 14 others. It was surprising how few of Fred's/Doug's folks showed up - they were the ones who called the meeting, after all. (If someone has the actual attendance/vote count numbers, please send 'em to me.)

The first of the amendments, to curtail the right to a secret ballot, was defeated 13-15. The second and third amendments, extending the terms of MDC officers, were also defeated, 14-14 (thus failing of a 2/3 majority). The fourth change, allowing the MDC Candidates Nominating Commitee to ignore any candidates they don't want to talk to, also failed of even a simple majority, garnering only 10 votes in favor.

The most notable thing to come out of these votes was to see where MDC member and current TC candidate Ken Pettis stood. I was personally disappointed to see my friend Ken go along with the machine guys and vote to stifle openness within the MDC...but there it is - Ken Pettis voted YES on every single one of these amendments. So much for the Pettis-Leventhal campaign's tag line "...not politics as usual"

Related, and not unexpectedly, Maplewood Township Committee member Ian Grodman also voted to enact three of the four amendments, abstaining on the final one (maybe because he saw which way the wind was blowing ???).

Considering the lengths Doug Bland, Jon Ziefert, and MDC Vice-Chair Lydia Lacey went to in order to slip these changes in under the radar, they certainly didn't manage it very well. It doesn't bode well for the town if the machine's hand-picked candidates win the Primary and then try to manage the Township in the same way - i.e. poorly planned, poorly communicated, and intolerant of dissent. Maplewood deserves a lot better.

Monday, May 12, 2003

Weapons of Mass Destruction?? Never Mind...

In today's (I guess it's yesterday's, now...) Washington Post
Frustrated, U.S. Arms Team to Leave Iraq
Task Force Unable To Find Any Weapons

BAGHDAD -- The group directing all known U.S. search efforts for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq is winding down operations without finding proof that President Saddam Hussein kept clandestine stocks of outlawed arms, according to participants.

The 75th Exploitation Task Force, as the group is formally known, has been described from the start as the principal component of the U.S. plan to discover and display forbidden Iraqi weapons. The group's departure, expected next month, marks a milestone in frustration for a major declared objective of the war.

Leaders of Task Force 75's diverse staff -- biologists, chemists, arms treaty enforcers, nuclear operators, computer and document experts, and special forces troops -- arrived with high hopes of early success. They said they expected to find what Secretary of State Colin L. Powell described at the U.N. Security Council on Feb. 5 -- hundreds of tons of biological and chemical agents, missiles and rockets to deliver the agents, and evidence of an ongoing program to build a nuclear bomb.

Scores of fruitless missions broke that confidence, many task force members said in interviews.

Army Col. Richard McPhee, who will close down the task force next month, said he took seriously U.S. intelligence warnings on the eve of war that Hussein had given "release authority" to subordinates in command of chemical weapons. "We didn't have all these people in [protective] suits" for nothing, he said. But if Iraq thought of using such weapons, "there had to have been something to use. And we haven't found it. . . . Books will be written on that in the intelligence community for a long time."

(thanks to Kathleen Quinn)

Oh well, whatever... we whipped their asses, and that's what really counts.
[edited 5/13: consider this comment tongue-in-cheek. It's a shame sarcasm doesn't translate into type very well]

Sunday, May 11, 2003

Quicksilver is on the way!

Spotted on Slashdot - Quicksilver, the next installment of Neal Stephenson's retroactively named Baroque Cycle, will be released on September 23rd. It's kind of a prequel to Stephenson's last novel, Cryptonomicon, and apparently it chronicles the Root, Shaftoe, and Waterhouse family histories. Between now and September we'll just have to satisfy ourselves with this short excerpt.

I've been waiting for this book for what seems like years now ... so I'm pretty excited about it. And, it's being bracketed by the two new Matrix movies - how cool is that?

A pub grows in Mapleberry!

I stuck my head into the old MacGuire's Men's Store in the Village yesterday - they told me the new Irish pub going in there - The St. James's Gate Publick House - should be open on June 1.

Save a table, a few Black & Tans, and a bottle of Jameson's for me!

WHO are the supporters of open government?

Has anyone besides me noticed that, on Maplewood Online, it's mostly the supporters of Ryan and DeLuca who identify themselves? Clearly it's not every one, on either side, but most of Vic and Jerry's friends and supporters are right up front about who they are, why Vic & Jerry have their support, and what they think the important differences are between Ryan/DeLuca and the machine candidates. On the other hand, almost none of the FOKKs (Friends of Ken&Kathy) have anything positive to say - even about their own candidates. Their preferred method is the anonymous attack - witness the number of new ID's (not to mention the old reliables) that have shown up on MOL recently, to anonymously attack Vic & Jerry.

So - if their opinions are worthwhile, their positions secure, and their confidence in their candidates unassailable, why are they so afraid of showing their faces?

Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms out there, especially my own.

Thanks, Mom!


I was in Maplewood Village this morning, campaigning for Vic and Jerry, and Republican Township Committee candidate Ed May drove by me, up Maplewood Avenue. I saw Ed through the windshield, looked at his car, and had a horrifying thought ... if he ran me down, my last sights on this planet would be 1) Ed May and his tie, and 2) The bumper sticker on the front of his car which, although faded, obviously still says BUSH. Now, Ed's a nice guy and all, but come ON - Ed May and Dubya as my swan song? How revoltin'!

What's up with Doug Bland and the "New" Maplewood Democratic Committee?

I guess it wasn't enough for the Newark Democratic machine to wrest control of Maplewood's party organization. They have to make sure that we locals never get control back, either.

With little advance notice, Maplewood Democratic Committee (MDC) Chairman G. Douglas Bland distributed some proposed changes to the MDC's by-laws, to be voted on at the next MDC meeting on May 12. Although MDC district Leader Amanda Jaffe is a member of the by-laws committee, she was never called to attend a meeting where these changes might have been discussed. Theodora "Theo" Buklad, former Township Committee member and previous party Chair, is a member of the MDC Executive Committee and, although the current by-laws require Executive Committee approval of any proposed by-laws changes, she never saw them either. Mr. Bland, when asked about the apparent oversight, merely referred Ms. Jaffe to the by-laws commitee chairman, Jon Ziefert (who has, so far, not responded).

Of course, neither Ms. Jaffe nor Ms. Buklad are on Mr. Bland's "good guy" list, because they chose last year to support the party's "line" candidates, who lost to the challengers in last year's primary. Mr. Bland and the majority of the current MDC were elected as the challengers last year, with the encouragement and financial support of that quintessential Newark Machine guy, Joe DiVincenzo.

It's also worth noting that Mr. Bland called this meeting for 6:30 PM - an hour earlier than any MDC meeting in memory. I guess he's figuring that he only needs a quorum of 13 members to pass the changes, and if everyone else shows up at 7:30, so much the better - the new by-laws will be a fait accompli by then.

Reading through by-laws can be a dry, uninspiring experience, but read them I did - with the proposed changes close at hand. Doug provided only the few changes themselves, without the originals for comparison. When I asked for a copy, his reply was, simply, that everyone ought already to have a copy. Here are the changes, the original texts,, and my comments on what these changes might mean. I think you'll see what I had in mind in the opening paragraph of this item.

The By-Laws changes unleashed
Location in By-LawsOriginal TextNew TextMy Analysis
Article Three, Section 2. Voting Rights (last sentence)Unless any member calls for a secret ballot, all votes shall be by hand and shall be open votes."Unless the majority of the members present calls for a secret ballot, all votes shall be by hand and shall be open votes."MDC members have no right to a secret ballot, unless the majority wants one. Can you say "tyranny of the majority?" Or maybe "intimidation?"
Article Five, Section 2. Term of OfficeThe term of office for all officers shall be one year or until a successor is duly electedThe term of office for all officers shall be concurrent with their term as members of the Committee or until a successor is duly electedTThe officers may serve, at their own discretion, until they choose to step down or they are defeated for re-election. Sure, this may just be incredibly ham-handed wording intended to make the terms 2 years instead of 1, but it could certainly be interpreted the other way - and it no doubt will be, sooner or later.
Article Five, Section 3. Election of Officers (second sentence)All officers shall be elected annually at the June organizational meeting of the CommitteeAll officers shall be elected at the June organizational meeting of the Committee immediately following the Democratic primary election in which the members of the Committee were elected.Reinforcing the Article 5 Section 2 "serve forever" change
Article Seven, Section 4. Nominating Committee (second sentence of subparagraph (a) )It shall interview persons who wish to run for the position of Township CommitteeIt may interview persons who wish to run for the position of Township CommitteeThey won't have to talk to anyone, for any reason - they can pick their candidates without reference to anyone outside the committee. No need to bother ever again with those tediously inconvenient Democrats who don't kowtow.

This blog is dedicated to Maplewood, NJ - my home town. I hope to touch on its politics, especially (but not limited to) the Democratic Party, on goings on about town, on the world as I see it and, like bloggers everyone, on whatever else strikes my fancy (or my ire) that day.

I'll continue to post on Maplewood Online's message boards, mostly under my own name - Jeff Markel - but also under my old MOL nom-de-net, Curmudgeon - but this venue will let me talk about things that I'd otherwise avoid on MOL, for a variety of reasons.

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