Greenwald Op-Ed: Gov. Christie hits 'new low' in 'cold-hearted' veto of gun magazine limit bill

Times of Trenton
July 9, 2014
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Leadership includes effectiveness, honesty and the ability to do the right thing, no matter the consequences.

It does not include pandering to far-off voters instead of those you are sworn to protect, nor does it include putting rabid personal ambition above public safety.

In other words, leadership is not Chris Christie.

Gov. Christie’s recent veto of legislation I sponsored to reduce the maximum capacity of ammunition magazines to 10 rounds was among the more faint-hearted acts one will ever see from an elected official. It was also among the most cold-hearted.

Soon after the parents of children murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., dropped off petitions asking Christie to sign the bill, the governor rejected it and released a statement that stated supporting the bill amounted to “grandstanding” and employing “empty rhetoric.”

Only someone with craven cowardice could make such a statement.

This legislation to reduce magazine capacity was in response to the horrific tragedy in Arizona, where an assailant used a large-capacity ammunition magazine to kill six people and injure 13 others, including Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Among those murdered was 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green, who was shot that day by the 13th bullet.

Assembly OKs direct Tesla sales in N.J.

June 18, 2014
Andrew Seidman
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The Assembly passed a bill Monday that would let manufacturers of zero-emissions vehicles such as Tesla Motors bypass auto dealerships and sell cars directly to consumers.
Lawmakers introduced the bill after the state Motor Vehicle Commission ruled in March against Tesla's direct-sales model and the company's chief executive, Elon Musk, accused Gov. Christie of cutting a "backroom deal" with the auto-dealer lobby.

Following the ruling, Tesla converted its two New Jersey stores to galleries, where the company cannot discuss price, take orders, or offer test drives.

Diarmuid O'Connell, Tesla's vice president for business development, praised Monday's 77-0 vote, with one abstention, as "an overwhelming message of support for consumer freedom of choice."

The bill has made for strange bedfellows: Before the vote, environmentalists, consumer advocates, and business groups held a news conference outside the Statehouse to support the measure.

"We're truly at a crossroads in history here when we have commerce and industry lining up with the environmentalists," said Assemblyman Tim Eustace (D., Bergen), a bill sponsor who owns an electric car.

NJ bill to renew key property tax law is on fast track to Christie's desk

Star Ledger
June 16, 2014
Matt Friedman
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An expired law that was credited with helping stem the growth of property taxes is on the fast track back into the books.

Over the objections of police and firefighter unions, the state Assembly today voted 78-0 to approve a measure that restores a 2 percent annual limit on the amount third-party arbitrators can award police and firefighters in raises and other forms of compensation.

“This is a bill that was deeply necessary in order to move forward with controlling the ever-increasing burden of property taxes in the State of New Jersey, and make sure we treat with respect the people who put themselves in harm's way,” said Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (D-Camden), a sponsor.

The state Senate plans to vote on the measure on Thursday.

Arbitrators step in to make decisions when police and firefighter unions are deadlocked with municipalities or counties on their contracts. Beginning in 2011, the arbitrators were limited to awarding 2 percent annual raises.

But the law expired on April 1 after Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson) and Gov. Chris Christie failed to reach an agreement on extending it.

Mayors said the law was an important tool to help them meet the state’s 2 percent cap on local spending. Police and firefighter unions said it unfairly hobbled them in negotiations.

Bill to allow direct Tesla sales in NJ makes progress

Star Ledger
June 16, 2014
Matt Friedman
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The state Assembly today easily passed a bill that would allow electric car manufacturer Tesla to once again sell its cars at its New Jersey showrooms, and even open two more.

But the bill’s fate in the state Senate is unknown.

Without any debate, the Assembly approved the measure (A3216) by a vote of 77-0 with 1 abstention. It would allow Tesla, or any company that sells zero-emission vehicles directly to consumers, to open up to four stores in the Garden State — up from Tesla's current two showrooms. The company would also be required to have at least one facility that services the vehicles.

Although the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission had previously allowed Tesla to sell cars at its showrooms in Paramus and Short Hills, it halted the sales in April. The commission justified the decision on a state law from the 1970s that requires cars to be sold through dealerships.

The New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers supported the MVC's rule change.

Tesla officials said the old sales model does not work for their product because dealerships make much of their money from maintenance, and Teslas — which currently start at around $70,000 — require far less maintenance than traditional cars.

Greenwald Op-Ed: On Tesla, driving solutions for New Jersey

Burlington County Times
June 8, 2014
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In New Jersey, we pride ourselves on supporting innovation and entrepreneurship—two values that have been fundamental building blocks in the history of our state. Leading minds like Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein have made the Garden State their home, contributing significant advances to our society from within our own state’s borders. That tradition continues today, as New Jersey is home to top-flight institutions of higher education, a thriving pharmaceutical and biotechnology research sector, health care institutions doing cutting-edge research and trials in cancer treatments, and one of the most highly educated workforces in the country. That is why I was alarmed several months ago when I learned that the Motor Vehicle Commission had issued a decision that undermined this competitive, innovative, and entrepreneurial spirit.

Tesla Automotive, Inc., is an innovative company that produces purely electric, plug-in vehicles—representing the cutting edge of efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in automobiles. The engineering, style, and safety ratings of Tesla’s Model S have drawn rave reviews from consumers and industry-watchers alike. Indeed, when Consumer Reports turned its scrutiny on this vehicle, it won 99 points out of a possible 100, ranking as the top car for 2014.