Liaison CC Min 4-1-15

Monthly Liaison Conference Call Minutes

April 1, 2015, 8 PM

In Attendance:

Toby Tyler (Morristown)
Lorraine Wearley  (Summit)
Diane Finn (Montclair)
Elaine Nigam (Princeton)
Al Stawsky (Palisades)
Edie Waill (Parmaus)
Sally Gellert (Paramus)
Bill Potter (Princeton)
Laurice Grae-Hauck, Administrator
Rev. Craig Hirshberg, Exec. Dir.

AGENDA:

Congregations Check-in: 

  • Sally (Paramus): “Escape Fire” film screening was snowed out. Community Garden raised $6,000 for Center for Food Action.  Lots of things coming up for Earth Day.
  • Lorraine (Summit): Has been taking emails and names from people during tabling and forwarding them the sick days action alert later in the day.
    Last fall effort, interfaith organization.  Minister Emilie is the chair.  Monthly discussion on race.  19 faith based organizations participating.  Claudia Cohen facilitating the discussion.  5 African-American churches in Summit involved.  Green Earth Ministry, chaired by Margaret Babcock, a new environmental group being formed with a mission statement in the process.  Group will focus on local issues.
  • Diane (Montclair): Not been very active with UULMNJ lately. A program on campaign finance reform this Monday and have a very active Green Sanctuary committee.
  • Elaine (Princeton): Tabling the last couple of weeks for paid sick days. 87 letters out to legislators, using the SALSA template that was sent out as an Action Alert.  Tabling for annual meetings and coordinating carpooling. Spring sale proceeds will go to social justice activities, $27,000. Various activities on the Campaign to end the New Jim Crow with other organization.
  • Al (Palisades): Topic “You, Me and Black History” service being led by Al this Sunday, snowed out in February.  Bergen County joint social justice event over the weekend. Film screening Friday, “The House I Live In” good attendance and discussion.  Dinner with a panel on Saturday night.  Service in Ridgewood on Sunday by a MUF member, Elias Ortega.  Well attended events.
  • Toby (Morristown): Morristown has not done a lot specifically with UULMNJ recently, but did host the MUUsic Festival.  A member started a discussion group on Justice, using a book, A Theory of Justice by Harriett Rawls.

Task Force:

  • Al ( Justice): No urgent activity at the moment as far as legislation. Only exception being some of the bills in the 21 bill package for treatment with opioid addiction. Medical Assisted Treatment bill is waiting for an Assembly vote, passed the senate last week. NJ Campaign Against Torture working on solitary confinement.  Dialogue likely in committee post hearing.  Call your legislators, especially those on the law and public safety committee.  We don’t know what behind the scenes discussion are happening. Presumptive Parole Act, parole reform bill in both assembly and senate committees.  Top bills the Drug Policy Alliance has been pushing. Marijuana decriminalization is becoming more and more an issue of interest, making an impact on mass incarceration in the United States.  8 states have decriminalize, with 4 legalizing. A coalition for marijuana reform has been formed in NJ, The New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform.  A change in marijuana criminalization would make a big dent on the number of people incarcerated in New Jersey.    A bill to defelonize 2oz or less of marijuana from last year has gone nowhere.  Alex Shalom from ACLU-NJ will be speaking in the task force meeting on April 18 in Montclair. Urging congregations to get their congregational activities on the event calendar on the new UULMNJ website. S2806 is being supported by Deb Ellis of NJ Coalition to End Homelessness removes restrictions on convicted drug offenders receiving general assistance benefits under Work First New Jersey program.  Could be a great opportunity for the Legal Advocacy Project.
  • Lorraine (Economic Justice): Have been thinking about ways to make it easier for people to contact legislators.  Want to start making EJTF action alerts more letter friendly.  Focused on two main issues. Active housing issue in the legislator, around 10 bills having to do with foreclosure.  The reason there are so many is NJ has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country.  It took until now to work their way through the courts.  Many empty houses, sheriff sales, etc. causing whole neighborhoods to turn into slum zones.  Progressing at a reasonable pace.  New software developed for town to keep on top of these foreclosures, working with the banks. Earned sick days bill has had absolutely no action.  Disappointing because we were hoping to push it through before March because of election season.  If you have suggestions on how to condense info on the foreclosure laws Lorraine would love to hear your ideas.
  • Bill (Environment): NJ Free agenda began a year ago. Had a presentation about how to achieve 80% renewable energy in Princeton by Lyle Rawlings, president of MidAtlantic Energies. Legislation in both houses to achieve these goals. RETA renewable energy transition act, and another to modify an existing unnamed law.  These are enforceable goals with annual milestones.  Letter writing campaign starting soon to get support for the position in municipalities.  Odds of enacting this year are not great.  Don’t believe Gov. Christie will support the bipartisan legislation.  Very active on fracking.  Draft letter links fracking and renewable energy.
  • Diane (Gun Violence): Bill introduced about removing weapons from people with domestic violence restraining orders at the temporary restraining order (TRO) phase. Currently weapons are removed when a final restraining order is issued (FRO).

News:

  • Wind of the Spirit sponsored a march to the Governor’s mansion protesting his immigration policy.
  • UULMNJ has just joined the newly formed New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice.

Reminders:

  • New website will be launched in the coming weeks! There will be a calendar for statewide congregational events.  Plan on submitting community events to be added to the statewide calendar to events@uulmnj.org!
  • Registration is now open for the Spring Plenary in Montclair on April 18. Register at http://bit.ly/16hBBgl.  Stay up to date with information and attendees, invite friends or share the event at https://www.facebook.com/events/1543470649257947/  Keynote address is “The Inconvenience of Modern Racism”. Same numbers of delegates your congregation would have at district meeting at our annual meeting.  Get your delegates lined up!

Adjourned at 9:09 p.m.

Minutes submitted by Laurice Grae-Hauck, UULMNJ Administrator

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