The Airing Of Activists' Grievances

Politico — November 22, 2019

New Jersey Playbook
By Matt Friedman

Good Friday morning!

With Sue Altman's ejection from Monday's state Senate committee hearing still resonating, a coalition of advocacy groups — mostly liberal — plans to bring attention today to what they say are slights by the Legislature when they've tried to make themselves heard at committee hearings.

In a letter they plan to send to the legislative leadership, the groups — including New Jersey Citizen Action, New Jersey Policy Perspective, Environment New Jersey and League of Women Voters New Jersey — say they've been denied access to certain parts of the Statehouse for events, repeatedly had their committee hearing slips marked "no need to testify" even though they sought to testify and seen "sporadically deployed rules that are intentionally burdensome and unworkable in an attempt to shut down events."

"The shocking, forcible removal of New Jersey Working Families Alliance Executive Director Sue Altman this week is the latest — and most egregious — example of the many attempts to silence and sideline our voices, especially voices of dissent," they wrote.

Yesterday, I spoke with a Democratic lawmaker who doesn't fit neatly onto either side of the Sweeney/Democratic divide. The lawmaker, who didn't want to be identified, said that what happened Monday has been dominating his recent conversations. He sees this as a generational shift in Democratic politics and warned his fellow lawmakers not to ignore the "cracks in the foundation."

There's been intra-party fighting as long as there have been parties. But it was nothing like this — at least not publicly — when there was a Republican governor in office.

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