Winners and Losers of 2013, Part One

Winners

January 2013 seems like a long time ago.

The years are supposed to go by faster as we get older.  2013 missed the memo, at least for me. President Obama’s second Inauguration and Freeholder John Curley’s second swearing in seem like a long time ago.

Selikia Joshia Gore started us off in 2013 with a timeless call to renew our humanity; the ongoing struggle of saints and sinners to love one another regardless of standing, status or creed.   It is a winning message that works only by embracing our failures without resigning to them.

The Governor. Governor Chris Christie started the year lambasting House Speaker John Boehner and the Congressional Republicans for playing politics with Superstorm Sandy aid and ended the year as the front runner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. In between he built a bi-partisan and multi-cultural coalition that reelected him with over 60% of the vote in Blue Jersey.   Christie had the best year of any politician in America.  Only Pope Francis and Vladimir Putin had better years globally.

U.S. Senator Bob Menendez.  Menendez started the year on the losers list. Embroiled in a sandal of allegations of his cavorting with teenaged girls in the Dominican Republic and using the powers of his office to benefit the businesses of the donor who arranged the party, speculation was that he would resign as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, if not his Senate seat.  Menendez seems to have survived an FBI investigation into his relationship with Dr. Saloman Melgan unscathed.

At the end of the year, Menendez’s position seems secure. He is the leading, and most powerful, critic of President Obama’s foreign policy.   His approval ratings are net positive 22 points in the last Monmouth University Poll. He got engaged to be married earlier this month.

Given where he started, Menendez may have had the best 2013 of any New Jersey public figure, other than Christie.

The Gramiccionis.  The Wall Township power couple had a very good year.  In March, Christopher, the Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor and U.S. Naval Reserve Officer, received orders to report for a 9 month tour of active duty in Afghanistan effective in August.  Those orders were canceled in July, keeping Chris on the job fighting crime in Monmouth County and home for the holidays.  Deborah was appointed by Governor Christie to be the Deputy Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.  The job pays $289,657.

Monmouth County Republicans.  Sheriff Shaun Golden, Freeholder Director Tom Arnone and Deputy Director Serena DiMaso were always expected to be reelected on the strength of their records and due to the fact that Monmouth County Independent voters usually vote Republican.  They make the winners list by virtue of fact that they ran as if they were behind, not taking any votes for granted.  More importantly, they ran a positive campaign based on reducing spending, holding the line on taxes, and improving services, in the face of yet another negative campaign on the part of the Monmouth County Democrats.

Monmouth County’s Legislative Delegation.  Each member of Monmouth County’s Legislative Delegation deserves more recognition than space will allow.

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Posted: December 28th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Monmouth County, New Jersey | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Meet Deborah Gramiccioni


Governor Christie: I am sending to the Port Authority somebody who has been one of my most trusted friends and advisors for the last ten years, and my instruction to her is the instruction that I have given to her in every task I’ve asked her to undertake for me, to use her best judgment, to put integrity first, and to make sure that she makes the tough decisions that need to be made in order to make sure that the taxpayers of this state and in the case of the Port Authority, the toll payers of the region are protected and respected. I want to thank Senator Baroni for his four years of service to the people of the state and of the region, and I look forward to changes that will result from Deb’s leadership along with Chairman Samson and the other Commissioners of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. So I’m going to introduce Deb to make some remarks and then I’ll come back to take your questions. Thanks Deb.

 

Deborah Gramiccioni: I would just like to thank the Governor for his continued faith in me. It has been an honor to work for the Governor the past ten years, first as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, then as director of the Authorities Unit and now as Deputy Chief of Staff. I also want to thank my policy team. I’m going to miss all of you, and I’m ready to get to work.

 

Posted: December 13th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Chris Christie, Port Authority | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

Baroni Is Edged Out Of Port Authority

Governor Chris Christie has announced that former State Senator Bill Barnoni has resigned as Deputy Executive Director of the Port Authority of NY/NJ.

Deborah Gramiccioni has been tapped to replace Baroni.  Gramiccioni is a long time Christie staffer, going back to his tenure as U.S. Attorney.  She is the wife of Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

Christie said he had been planning to the change ” a while back.” He said that Baroni offered his resignation and he accepted given the “distraction” over ‘Bridgegate.”

Christie said that Baroni had acknowledged that ” a mistake was made” regarding the George Washington Bridge closure last September, and that Baroni has taken responsibility for it.

Deborah Gramiccioni

Posted: December 13th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Chris Christie, Christie Administration, Port Authority | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments »

Jersey Style Appointments and Hearings

Monmouth County Prosecutor Peter E. Warshaw, Jr was nominated by Governor Chris Christie to become a Superior Court Judge on June 14.  The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold his confirmation hearing today.  He is likely to be confirmed by the full Senate before the end of the week, ending his 18 month tenure as county prosecutor.

First Assistant Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni is expected to be nominated to replace Warshaw as the chief prosecutor in Monmouth County.  Word in the legal community is that Gramiccioni, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney under Christie, was the governor’s first choice to become Monmouth County Prosecutor in 2010 but that he was 18 months short of the residency requirements.

Former Monmouth County Sheriff Joe Oxley, also former Monmouth GOP Chairman, was nominated to the Court on May 14. Oxley’s confirmation has yet to be scheduled by the Democratically controlled Judiciary Committee, due in part to a Star Ledger report that federal informant Soloman Dwek accused Oxley, Senator Joe Kyrillos and Assemblywoman Amy Handlin of trading favors for campaign contributions.  

Dwek’s allegations were revealed in discovery documents in the civil case of former Hudson County Assemblyman Louis Manzo who unsuccessly sued the U.S. Attorney’s office to recover $100K in legal fees that resulted Manzo’s 2009 Operation Bid Rig indictments. Manzo was accused under the Hobbs Act of accepting bribes from Dwek in exchange for future help in zoning and permit applications should Manzo be elected Jersey City Mayor.  Manzo was running for Mayor for the fifth time when the alleged bribe occurred.  Federal Judge Jose Linares threw out the charges on the basis that the Hobbs Act applied only to elected officials, not candidates.  The Appellate Court affirmed Linares’ ruling.

The discovery documents in Manzo’s civil case miraculously found their way to the Star Ledger in what Kyrillos called an “oppo (opposition research) dump” by U. S. Senator Robert Menedez’s reelection campaign.  Kyrillos is the GOP nominee to unseat Menendez and a minority member of the State Senate Judiciary Committee which reviews judicial nominations.

Expect the Judiciary Committee to schedule Oxley’s confirmation hearing in September or October as the general election campaign is heating up.  Democratic Senator Ray Lesniak has called for Dwek, who is in federal prison, to testify at Oxley’s hearing.  That would put Kyrillos, as a member of the committee and also accused by Dwek of trading favors for contributions, in a hot seat at the height of the U.S. Senate campaign.

In another potential twist in this tangled web, Gramiccioni was one of the federal prosecutors working on the Bid Rig investigations, including Manzo’s, according to Bob Ingle and Michael Symons in Chris Christie: The Inside Story Of His Rise To Power (page 90).  Should Gramiccioni be nominated Monmouth County Prosecutor, as expected, his nomination will also be subject to a Judiciary Committee hearing.

Gramiccioni’s wife, Deborah, is Governor Christie’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy and Cabinet Liason.

 

Posted: June 25th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Monmouth County, Monmouth County Court, Monmouth County Prosecutor, NJ Courts, NJ Judiciary, NJ State Legislature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »