A Challenge: Choosing to Act
Two days after we posted the article below, and three days after a peaceful protest at the West Deptford home of New Jersey senator president Stephen Sweeney, his township committee voted along party lines to propose a new ordinance banning "picketing that is targeted at and is within one hundred (100) feet of the property line of a residential dwelling." Protesters abiding by that limitation would still "be limited to no more than 10 people for 'one hour every two weeks.'" Violators would be subject to fines of up to $2,000, and imprisonment of up to 90 days, or up to 90 days of community service.
Note that the verbiage doesn't state that the property line must be of the dwelling picketed. It could be read, by an authority inclined to break up a protest, as indicating a ban on any picketing targeted at a residential dwelling and within 100 feet of any residential dwelling. This essentially means that, to be in compliance, protestors would find themselves in the middle of the street - and violating traffic ordinances as well as rules of common sense safety.
It would seem that the recallers need to be concerned about their First Amendment rights in addition to their other concerns listed below....
As we mentioned two months ago, New Jersey citizens have mobilized to follow in Colorado's footsteps and launch their own historic recall effort. As with Colorado, the catalyst was the betrayal of local values - and, in this case, promises - for the sake of currying political favor over the subject of gun control. However, the root cause of the problem was less strategic or sophisticated. It was simple arrogance.
In both states, a Senate President simply decided that he knew better than those he was hired to represent. Citizens' objections and concerns were summarily dismissed. Constituents were essentially told that they would simply have to deal with their betters' decisions. It cost Colorado's now-former Senate President Morse his political career - and history may be ready to repeat itself.
What's happening in New Jersey
A recall campaign against Senator Stephen Sweeney has been launched by local citizens organized as "the New Jersey Second Amendment Society." While Sweeney's political dealings and arrogant attitude on various subjects had rankled many, the final straw was the passage of a firearm magazine capacity limit for private citizens, a move that contradicted campaign statements and promises to constituents of his district.
From The Courier-Post:
"He looked me in the eye and told me, as long as he was Senate President there would never be an anti-gun bill to hit the floor," recalled Dan Roberts, a Franklin Township Second Amendment advocate. "He wasn't going to touch it, and he maintained that right up until he'd been safely re-elected."
This prompted outrage from many in the rural counties making up Sweeney's district, including local businessman Alexander Roubian, president of the NJSAS. To him, it was the latest in a long train of policy blunders making his home state the worst for economic growth, and the "number one state people are leaving" due to the high cost of living and exorbitant taxes. He also cited as motivators Sweeney's refusal to listen to educators and parents to stop PARCC, his refusal to allow as simple an act of independence as pumping your own gasoline, and his refusal to modernize New Jersey gun laws - an act of negligence that many say is directly responsible for the death of Carol Bowne.
Bowne was stabbed to death by a violent ex-boyfriend, against whom she had a restraining order, while she awaited approval for a firearms permit. Under current New Jersey code, the permit application required a response within thirty days. She was on day forty-three - and still waiting for word - when she was ambushed and murdered.
Previously, Senator Sweeney dismissively responded, "Bring it on," to threats of recall, rather than seek to understand and address citizens' concerns. He further displayed his character on June 14th when protestors - including the brother of Carol Bowne - gathered outside his home and attempted to speak with him directly. Without saying a word to any of those seeking redress for their grievances - he turned on his lawn sprinklers and then drove off. Rather than dispersing the protestors, it gave Roubian the opportunity to channel his inner Dienekes and gracefully thank the senator for providing cooling water on a brutally hot day.
Alexander Roubian and the citizens supporting the recall are doing something about what they feel is an elected official that has forgotten his role. They are not merely making snarky comments on the internet, or complaining to their spouses, or whining about how bad things are. They are doing something about it.
In order to be successful and remove Senator Sweeney from office, they will need to collect 34,808 valid signatures which means they will likely need to collect closer to 48,000 to ensure victory. They will need help - volunteers to go door-to-door; donations to pay for everything from printing supplies to a defense fund for the inevitable legal challenge when the signatures are turned in; publicity to bring in more of both over the next 160 days.
Our challenge is this: What will you do to help? Will you sit on the sidelines, silently wishing them luck - and then ignoring their fate? Or will you do something, however small it may seem, to ensure that fellow citizens are able to rein in their government?
Saturday, June 27th, is the official "Day of Action" kickoff. The clock starts running on the recallers and signature collection will begin en masse in Glassboro, NJ. They are seeking committed people to help them. Sign up. Volunteer your time. Share their Facebook page. Donate whatever you can, as their bills will be tremendous.
But do something with them.
In his 1922 essay, "A Visit to Holland," G. K. Chesterton wrote, "I do not believe in a fate that falls on men however they act; but I do believe in a fate that falls on them unless they act."
Our challenge to you: Choose to act.