POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

Legislative Black Caucus Hearings Help Formulate Policy

By Michael Hill
Correspondent

Essex County’s Register of Deeds and Mortgages told lawmakers too many home owners, many of them elderly, are losing their properties to scams — fake and forged deeds filed and successfully recorded to change ownership illegally — because New Jersey law doesn’t allow the registers to “police” the documents.

“If the documents comes in, it meets the criteria we have to record that document.,” said Dana Rone, Register of Deeds and Mortgages, Essex County.

The solution: changing the law to require a notice of alert.

“If it’s a lien that’s happening, if it’s some activity that’s happening on the property and change that we are forced to notify the last owner of the property that there has been some activity,” Rone said.

Eighteen of New Jersey’s 120 state lawmakers are African-American. They make up the Legislative Black Caucus. Today, the caucus, the NAACP and other organizations held three simultaneous hearings to help formulate policy, set spending priorities and seek parity.

The Association of Black Women Lawyers of New Jersey lobbied for a faster filling of judicial vacancies and more diversity in nominations.

“Almost 50 percent of our population is diverse, over 50 percent are females, so we believe that the court system is not as diverse as it should be and should represent all of us,” said Geraldine Eure, president of the Association of Black Women Lawyers of New Jersey.

The lone African-American on the state Senate Judiciary Committee said the nomination of Walter Timpone to the Supreme Court was Senate President Steve Sweeney’s choice.

“Without consultation with any of the African-Americans in the caucus and certainly without my consultation,” said Sen. Nia Gill.

One of the major issues here: the future of Atlantic City. One senator said the proposed takeover of the city was a fundamental attack on democracy.

Atlantic City activist Steven Young called for a black agenda to oppose a state takeover.

“When they’re talking about taking away your water, your voting rights and your bargaining and then want to take away your freedom of speech and redressing your government as well as freedom of assemblage then we don’t have nothing to lose,” he said.

Many members of the black legislative caucus favor giving Atlantic City’s elected leaders the opportunity to fiscally fix their city.

“And those who are elected to serve should be held to task about how they serve their community. You don’t just charge in and throw everybody out and say like it’s a military takeover,” said Gordon Johnson.

“Sometimes people come after your civil rights now, but they don’t do it with a dog or a hose,” Gill said.

Caucus leader Sen. Ron Rice on what today is all about: “Hopefully by the time we pass the budget, we’ll have black caucus some issues it can be a part of the compromise before we give our vote up.”

The give and take of lawmaking in Trenton.