Ken Kurson Resigns As Observer’s Editor-in-Chief

photo via Facebook by I. Trump

Ken Kurson has resigned as Editor-in-Chief of Observeraccording to multiple published reports.

Kurson will be joining Teneo Strategy, a division of Teneo Holdings, a global CEO advisory firm, as a senior managing director.

Described as a close friend of Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor who owned Observer prior Trump’s inauguration, Kurson was publisher since 2013.  During his tenure, Observer dropped “New York” from its title, becoming an online only publication. Kurson merged PolitickerNJ, another Kushner property into Observer.

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Posted: May 25th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Media, New Jersey, News | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Where was Vin?

Vin_HeadshotSouth Jersey Democratic boss George Norcross invited the “reconfigured power elite” of the state Democratic Party to dinner in Colts Neck last night, according to a report at PolitickerNJ.

Monmouth County Democratic Chairman Vin Gopal was not there; not invited to a high powered Democratic gathering in his county.

Also not present, gubernatorial nominee and head of the party in name only, State Senator Barbara Buono.  Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, not there. U.S. Senate nominee Cory Booker represented Essex County.  Essex County Executive Joseph Divencenzo, who has endorsed Governor Chris Christie for reelection, was not invited.

Gopal would not comment on this story. He said via text that he is traveling and would call back Monday.

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Posted: August 16th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: 2013 Election, Chris Christie, Monmouth Democrats, NJ Democrats, NJ State Legislature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

Poll biases: It’s not just the sampling weights

As some national polls show President Obama widening his lead in his race for another term, much has been made about the sampling weights that pollsters use.  Analysts on the left insists the polls are accurate.  nalysts on the right say the polls are inaccurately favoring Obama by assuming his supporters will come out on election day in the same numbers as they did in 2008.

But its not just weighting that reveals a pollster’s bias.  The way the question is asked also makes a difference.

In a Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press  poll  about the 2013 New Jersey gubernatorial race released this morning, pollster Patrick Murray asked if voters were “bothered” with how Governor Chris Christie interacts with his critics and detractors.

Thinking about Chris Christie’s style and not his policies, does the way he speaks to or about people who disagree with him bother you personally or not bother you? [If BOTHER: Is that a lot or just a little?]

63% of respondents said they weren’t bothered by Christie’s style.  23% said they were bothered a LOT and 11% said they were bothered a LITTLE.  Given the way Murray asked the question, one could conclude that 74% of New Jersey voters are indifferent about Christie’s style.

In his narrative of the poll, which sets the tone for how much of the lazy lefty media covers it, Murray highlights his spin on Christie’s style.

“NEW JERSEY ON CHRISTIE’S STYLE: ‘MEH!’ ” is Murray’s headline.   His opening sentence:

Governor Chris Christie’s job approval rating has ticked up a few points in the latest Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press Poll and few New Jerseyans are particularly bothered by the way he deals with people who disagree with him.

Notice the use of the word few.

Christie’s numbers are the highest they ever been in a Monmouth poll. 55% of registered voters approve of the governor’s performance. 36% do not approve.

Yet Murray spins the results to read that a few people like him better and a few people are bothered about how he talks to people who don’t agree with him.  The few who are bothered take top billing over the fact disclosed but not reported that Christie’s numbers are better than ever in Murray’s poll.

What does that tell you?

The Asbury Park Press’s coverage of the poll leads with the “bothered” question.

The headline at NJ.com for an Associated Press story is Christie’s approval rating up slightly, poll says.

To their credit, PolitickerNJ cut through Murray’s spin and covers the poll results very well.   They reported the real news of the poll results;  New Jersey’s sagging economy is not hurting Christie’s popularity with voters and that of potential Democratic challengers in 2013, only Newark Mayor Cory Booker and former acting Governor Richard Codey have sufficient name recognition to be considered credible candidates for governor next year.

What if instead of asking if voters were bothered by Christie’s style, Murray asked if they liked his style?   If Murray had done that, the headline would be:


New Jersey voters like his style

Posted: September 27th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: 2013 Gubernatorial Politics, Art Gallagher, Chris Christie, Cory Booker, Monmouth University Poll, NJ Media, Patrick Murray, Richard Codey | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Kyrillos jumps into the Rape and Abortion fray

Missouri Congressman Todd Akin, a GOP candidate for U.S. Senate, set off a national uproar and likely ended his poltical career with his comments comments about rape and abortion over the weekend when he said pregancy from “legitimate rape” was rare and that women’s body have a natural way of “shutting that whole thing down,” during an interview on a St. Louis Fox afflilate wherein he was asked about his views on abortion in the case of rape.

“From what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” said Akin said of pregnancy caused by rape. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist.”

Akin issued an apology of sorts on facebook later in the day on Sunday and told Mike Huckabee on the radio that he should have said “forcible rape.”

President Barack Obama called Akin’s comments offensive during his press conference this afternoon.

GOP Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney distanced himself from Akin, calling the congressman’s remarks “insulting, inexcusable and frankly wrong,” according to the Washington Post.

Governor Chris Christie called Akin’s comments “asinine” and “ridiculous” during his press conference in Asbury Park this afternoon, according to Poltickernj.

In a press release, New Jersey GOP Senate nominee Joe Kyrillos took his criticism of Akin one step further than his fellow Republicans by addressing the congressman’s views on abortion :

“Like many I am outraged by Representative Todd Akin’s remarks regarding pregnancy and ‘legitimate rape’ – they have no place in our public discourse. But beyond my concern for our national public discourse, I am saddened and disappointed as a husband and a father to a 10 year old daughter. Not only are Representative Akin’s comments about a horrific act of violence wrong and inappropriate, he and I disagree on the issue of abortion, generally.”
(emphasis added)

Neither Kyrillos nor his campaign have responded to requests for a clarification on what he means by his “general” disagreement with Akin over abortion. 

U.S. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell is suggestting that Akin withdrawl his Senate candidacy by the 5pm Tuesday deadline, according to the LA Times. 

Posted: August 20th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: 2012 Presidential Politics, 2012 U.S. Senate Race, Abortion, Rape, Todd Akin | Tags: , , , , , , , | 31 Comments »

Just A Little White Oversight

Anna’s Little campaign has finally addressed the missing FEC paperwork.

Politickernj reports that a campaign volunteer told them that the paperwork had been filed nine months ago and that a paperwork backlog at the FEC was to blame.  A spokesperson for the FEC denied there was a backlog and said that everything filed by Little had been processed by the agency.

Finally, Rob Little, the former mayor’s husband, admitted to Politickernj that the required paperwork for her congressional campaign has not been filed.

A spokesperson for the campaign said the failure to file the required paperwork was an oversight that would be corrected immediately and Rob Little said it would be filed before Tuesday’s primary, according to Politickernj.

Posted: May 30th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: 2012 Congressional Races, Anna Little | Tags: , , , | 11 Comments »

Middlesex County PACs Update

Middlesex County Democratic Chairman Peter Barnes is responding to the controversy over the Middlesex County PACs that are circumventing the State’s pay to pay laws by ranting that Governor Christie is doing the same thing, according to a story at Politickernj that also takes credit for breaking the PACs story last month, even though Harold V. Kane broke the story here at MMM last September.

Someone should tell Barnes, and Politickernj’s Darryl Isherwood, that Democratic NY Governor Andrew Cuomo is employing the exact same fund raising technique to promote his agenda in New York that Christie is using in New Jersey.

All of this ranting about PACs and 501(c)4’s circumventing the pay to pay laws is silly.  The campaign finance system is working exactly the way it was designed to work.  It decreases transparency and gives politicians something to shout at each other about while the public tunes out to pay attention to something more entertaining.   That’s what the system was designed to do!

Note to Isherwood:  The New York Times broke the story about Cuomo’s use of a 501(c)4.

Posted: May 18th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Andrew Cuomo, Campaign Contributions, Campaign Finance, Chris Christie | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Pay to pay investigation probes Birdsall Engineering

The State Attorney General’s office executed search warrants on Birdsall Services Group’s Eatontown office yesterday, according to reports in Politickernj and The Asbury Park Press.

Politickernj cites a source saying that the investigation is into campaign contributions, including the Middlesex County PACS first exposed by Harold Kane writing for MMM in September of 2011.  Politickernj is erroneously claiming credit for first exposing the activities of the Middlesex County PACs and their donors.

Birdsall Services is cooperating with the investigation, according to The Asbury Park Press account.

Posted: May 3rd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Harold V. Kane, Pay-to-play, Public Corruption | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on Pay to pay investigation probes Birdsall Engineering

Turning up the heat on Middlesex County pay to play scandal

Politickernj writers Darryl Isherwood and Max Pizarro posted an in depth piece yesterday afternoon that exposes an incestuous web of influence driving planning, zoning and development approvals before the Middlesex County Freeholder Board and several municipal planning boards in the county.  

State Senator Bob Smith of Piscataway is the leader of the PACs that fund the campaigns of the Freeholders and municipal officials who approve the applications.  The applicants are donors to the PACs.  Smith is the applicants’ attorney.

It’s all legal.  And no one would know about it if not for Harold Kane of Monroe Township painstakingly examining thousands of pages of ELEC reports to find out where all the Middlesex Democratic money was coming from and the good journalists at Politickernj and The Star Ledger following the money.

Smith, the Senator working the system, and Peter Barnes, the Assemblyman and Middlesex County Democratic Chairman who’s candidates benefit from the system, know the solution to this “craziness.”   Barnes said that “any impetus to close the hole lies with the legislature.”  Smith said, “There is a solution to the craziness we have now and that is publicly financed elections – or complete transparency. “In New Jersey, we have nothing but chaos. The state needs one set standard across the state.”

Where is their legislation?   Smith and Barnes are both powerful members of the legislature.  They obviously know how the work the system.  They know how to fix it. 

Sponsor the legislation gentlemen.  Publicly financed elections won’t work.  Complete transparency will.

Here’s a campaign finance system that would be transparent:

1) Remove all limits on campaign contributions.

2) Require that all candidates and campaigns disclose all contributions of any amount on a dedicated website within 24 hours of receipt.

3) Competing campaigns, good citizens like Kane, and good journalist will examine the donations and expose influence.  Voters will decide if the influence is acceptable of not.

Correction: Peter Barnes, Jr, the Middlesex Democratic Chairman is no longer in the legislature.  His son, Peter III is an Assemblyman.

Now there are two Barnes and a Smith who can advocate for legislation that creates complete transparency.

Posted: April 20th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Campaign Contributions, Campaign Finance, ELEC, Middlesex County Democrats, NJ State Legislature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments »

The Folly Of Campaign Finance Laws

Over the holiday weekend Politickernj and The Star Ledger  caught up with the good work that MMM contributor Harold Kane did last September in shedding light on political spending in Middlesex County.

Like Kane, Politikernj and The Star Ledger framed their articles as if the PACs set up to funnel campaign donations from engineers, lawyers and their firms to political campaigns were doing something scandalous.   Each of the articles acknowledges that the contributions are legal, yet they say that the donors “skirt” or “cloud” the law or that the contributors are “buying” the candidates that ultimately benefit from the contributions.

The real scandal is that campaign finance laws at every level of government, federal, state, county and local, that are ostensibly designed to eliminate the influence of money in our political system and to increase transparency actually have the opposite effect, by design.

Money is like air and water.  Set up a structure to restrict it and money, like air and water, will find a crack in the structure to get to where it wants to go.  With enough pressure the structure breaks.  Fix or reform the structure and the cycle repeats itself.

Our campaign finance laws decrease transparency in the process.  Kane and the reporters from Politickernj and The Star Ledger spent many unproductive hours combing through ELEC reports of campaigns and PACS to connect the dots.  Not many people have the time or resources to make that effort.  Kane, Politickernj and The Star Ledger reporters did us all a service by connecting those dots.  It is appropriate for the public to know who is financing the campaigns of their candidates for public office.

Restricting the amount of money that a person or entity can contribute to a campaign is inappropriate.  Such restrictions are impediments to free speech and push otherwise well meaning people out of the political process or into breaking ill conceived and complex laws.  Such restrictions don’t and won’t keep “bad money” out of the process.

The only way to increase transparency in the process is to require immediate disclosure of campaign contributions. Removing the limits that candidates and campaigns can accept would reduce the utility of PAC, Super PACs, etc. 

Creating a simple system of full disclosure would increase participation in the political process.  It would increase competition among government contractors and professionals.  It would make the entire process more democratic, which is probably why we won’t see such a simple system anytime soon, if ever.

Posted: April 9th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Campaign Contributions | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Herman Cain Reassessing His Presidential Bid

Bayshore Tea Party Group Standing By Their Man

GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain is reassessing his candidacy in the wake of allegations of a 13 year extra-marital affair, according to a story broken by National Review Online. NRO reports that they had a writer on Cain’s five minute conference call with his senior staff wherein he discussed his campaign’s latest setback.

Cain has denied the affair, as he has denied allegations of sexual harassment while he was the CEO of the National Restaurant Association.

Cain attempted shore up his weak foreign policy credentials by issuing his denials in German, “nine, nine, nine.”

Locally, Bayshore Tea Party Group leader Barbara Gonzalez told Politickernj that her group continues to support Cain, “Until they can prove something, we continue to support him….it’s a smear campaign….no one is buying it.”

Posted: November 29th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: 2012 Presidential Politics, Bayshore Tea Party Group | Tags: , , , , | 20 Comments »