Happy Hour at the NJEA

This is a funny one. The NJEA is unhappy because it says some lawmakers are refusing to meet witjh its lobbyists. So, the NJEA’s solution is to visit lawmakers’ offices en masse.  The first such visit is planned for Friday at the Burlington County office of state Sen. Dianne Allen. A memo from the NJEA speaks of the union possibly funding a “happy hour” after the visit to Allen’s office. In response to all of this, Allen wrote the following:

I have been copied on an email you sent to quite a number of people requesting that they join your “minivan motorcade” to my office to “lobby me.”  Your email indicates Friday for your onslaught, but the Burlington Police have now contacted me to say you are planning to bring 40-50 people (and a lot of cars) to my office around 4:30 tomorrow afternoon. As it happens, I am meeting with constituents tomorrow until 3pm, and then leaving for a meeting out of the office.  As every other constituent and lobbyist does, the people with whom I am meeting called to make an appointment.  I gather you did not do this because you do not want to actually meet with me, but rather you want to make a statement – you want this, in your words, to be “the NJEA’s shot heard round the world.”

   You claim that I am “ignoring” NJEA lobbyists – a claim that is simply untrue.  I am on the Education Committee in the Senate and see Ginger Gold Schnitzer, Wayne Dibofsky, and Brian Baker often in Trenton.  We always speak and our conversations are quite cordial – or at least that is the way it always has been on my behalf.  Anytime they have asked to discuss various topics I have been happy to do so.  In fact, I attended an NJEA event several days ago, spending a lot of time with Ginger and quite a number of teachers discussing a wide range of topics.

    I am unsure why you would lie in your email, and can’t figure out why you think that your actions would be considered “lobbying.”  There is one thing I am certain about:  I will be reexamining my relationship to the NJEA.

    I am saddened that the NJEA would stoop to this kind of tactic. While you have accomplished one of your goals – you do have my attention – you certainly have failed miserably if you actually thought I would end up thinking better of the NJEA.  Do you realize your plan will block constituents from getting in to see my staff and cause the local police to spend time and tax payer dollars to deal with what one officer called, “a mess in the middle of town.” 

   Perhaps the most depressing part of you email was your desire to use NJEA funds to buy beer for the 40 or 50 folks who accompany you on your “Minivan Motorcade.”  I doubt that the average teacher who pays a lot of money to the NJEA in dues would be pleased that their hard earned dollars might go to a booze party for you and your friends. 

   If at some point you want to actually speak to me about issues of importance to the NJEA, you are welcome to call my office and make an appointment.  I would be happy to sit down with you.



About fsnowflack
Fred Snowflack was editorial page editor and a political columnist for the Daily Record of Morristown for almost 12 years. He has won numerous awards for editorial and column writing from the New Jersey Press Association and has written a blog on county and state politics for the last three years. He lives in Ledgewood in Morris County.

One Response to Happy Hour at the NJEA

  1. P says:

    The NJEA has been leaning on people for years. It’s only because we have a governor who is willing to stand-up for everyone else that politicians are willing to expose the union’s thuggery.

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