It’s beginning to look like Governor Chris Christie’s Boulevard of Compromise is a dead end.
The 2% property tax cap is under attack, as the Trenton Democrats are on the verge of passing an “extension” of the Interest Arbitration Award Cap that eliminates the cap on most arbitration awards and increases the cap on the remainder of the potential awards by 50%.
In my piece last night about the Interest Arbitration Cap, I raised the hope that published reports that Assembly and Senate committees cleared an identical bill that guts the cap were inaccurate because Senator Mike Doherty was co-sponsor of the Senate bill and because of Senate President Steve Sweeney’s comments about the cap at his Town Hall Meeting in Keansburg last week. It turns out that was wishful thinking. MMM has learned the bills are identical and, inexplicably, Doherty is a primary sponsor of the Senate bill, giving Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto “bi-partisan” cover.
Doherty has yet to return our call for comment. We’ve been told his attitude about the bill he is sponsoring with Sweeney is “a bill that will pass is better than no bill.”
Doherty has a point, albeit a minor one. If no bill passes by April 1, there is no cap on Interest Arbitration awards at all. If the bill that cleared through committees yesterday passes the full legislature and is signed by Christie, there will be a 3% cap on a minority of municipal government labor contracts for the next few years. If Christie vetoes the bill, even conditionally, there is no arbitration cap. Either way the property tax blaze is about to be reignited and/or the pain inflicted upon municipalities will be so great that consolidations and mergers will be forced indelicately. The backdoor destruction of municipal governments appears to be Sweeney’s undeclared plan.
Congressman Robert Andrews will resign as a representative of the southern jersey 1st congressional district, according to a reports in Poltico and The Philadephia Inquirer.
Once a Democratic contender for statewide office who competed in primaries for Governor and U.S. Senate, Andrews’s career has apparently been derailed by an ethics investigation into the misuse of campaign funds. He is taking a job with a Philadelphia law firm, according to The Inquirer.
The Inquirer, majority owned by South Jersey Democratic power broker George Norcross, is reporting that State Senator Donald Norcross, the boss’s brother, will be the Democratic nominee for Andrew’s seat in the House.
South Jersey political powerbroker George Norcross is now the majority owner of the city’s two largest newspapers, although a rival holds equal power under their managing partnership. Norcross, a New Jersey-based insurance executive, doubled his holdings…
South 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.
Camden Democratic Boss and King of the World George Norcross joined Monmouth County Democratic Chairman Vin “Pro-Buono” Gopal in endorsing State Senator Barbara Buono as the Democratic nominee for governor.
Norcross told PolitickerNJ that Buono is “a high quality candidate, and in the absence of anyone else, the party ought to rally around her and move forward.” He said he applauds Buono for getting into the gubernatorial race when no one else has. Can you feel the love?
While Gopal praised Buono’s guts in his endorsement on Tuesday, Norcross had choice words for the lack of guts of Senator and former Acting Governor Richard Codey. Codey has not announced his gubernatorial candidacy, but many Democrats expect that he will jump into the race soon.
“I’ve never had any confidence in Dick Codey’s courage and I don’t expect that to change,” Norcross said. “I think he likes to have people say ‘run Dick run’ and I think at the end of this period we will look back and say ‘this looks like the Brett Favre, Green Bay Packers fiasco that played out over four cycles and the party will be in a position where we don’t have a standard bearer and aren’t in a position to compete in the election this year.”
Norcross compared Codey to the cowardly lion in the Wizard of Oz and said his gubernatorial aspirations amount to nothing more than a “theatrical presentation.”
Codey took Norcross’s bash as a school yard challenge. The anti-bully lobby would be proud.
“I had the guts to take him on and I’ve been doing it since 1993,” Codey said in response. “He’s done a good job of trying to wreck this party so he can run everything in concert with the governor. As he said very famously, no matter who runs, I win. That’s the attitude we have to change.”.
Despite the lack of an announcement, News12 reported Wednesday night that Codey is a candidate. The former Acting Governor sounded very much like a candidate on the cable new station, discussing how Governor Christie could be beat and how he would defeat him.
Norcross’s endorsement of Buono is a good indication that his protege, Senate President Steve, “The Kitten” Sweeney will not be a candidate for governor.
I have nothing against Christine Hanlon. I understand she has come up through the ranks as a boots on the ground fighter and I’m down with that. If she becomes Monmouth Chair and needs me I’ll be there for her.
But I must confess County politics is not my brand of Tea Party. It embodies clientelism. I say that not to down the good people involved – it is designed to be clientelism. I can’t imagine a local system that wouldn’t work that way. So I watch from a distance, rooting for the Republican side, and serving when asked.
I’m compelled to write now due to the recent treatment of John Bennett. In 2003 he was attached by a Camden County hydra. That’s why he lost. He suffered no ethical or criminal lapses (as the Press was forced to later print – one time).
What concerns me is that this website and some others are forgetting what went down in 2003. To attack John using the hyperbole of Norcross warriors and Skip Hidlay fans is to use the weapons of an enemy to defeat a loyal friend.
I’ll hold no grudge if John loses this race to Monmouth people over Monmouth issues. But to continue the Democrat attack that was started in 2003 to beat him is unfair and irresponsible. It invites the Democrats to target more of our good people. Let us not do their work for them. Let us remember what went down in 2003 (the following was printed in the triCityNews on late October, 2003):
Camden’s Political Boss, The Asbury Park Press and Swaying Monmouth’s Elections
O, it is excellent to have a giant’s strength, but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant. William Shakespeare
The people of Monmouth County are under attack. A two-headed beast from Camden County is stealing away with our sovereignty. We must make a fight in our own defense for the sake of self-determination. Self-determination is why we fought the Revolutionary War; to govern ourselves, so not to be governed from afar.
Your attackers are stealthy. They won’t let you know what’s happening until it’s too late. First examine the attack, and then join many of your Monmouth County neighbors in a grass roots effort to defend yourself.
Karin McQuillan, a retired psychotherapist and author who served in the Peace Corps in Senegal, writes at American Thinker that Hillary Rosen’s recent rant that Ann Romey never worked a day he her life is part of the Obama political strategy rooted in the politics of envy. Worse, she says the strategy is deeply rooted in Obama’s psyche as a result of his upbringing.
Closer to home, our friends at InTheLobby have a hilarious account of how Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni turned the table on U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg during the senator’s hearing this week over the fairness of toll increases and patronage at PA.
Turns out that Lautenberg as a former commissioner of the PA he had a free EZ pass for decades and didn’t pay tolls from 1978 through 2006 when the PA stopped issuing free EZ passes to cronies.
Regarding patronage, a former Lautenberg campaign staffer joined PA in 2002, and U.S. Senator Bob Menendez’s son is an intern at PA now.
West Virginia U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller came to Lautenberg’s defense. New Jersey Democrats have been silent, just as they were during Lautenberg’s dust up with State Senate President Steve Sweeney and George Norcross over the Rutgers-Rowan merger earlier this month.
The big story in yesterday’s Asbury Park Press was the political spat between southern Jersey lawmakers and U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg over the proposed Rutgers-Rowan merger. Large photos of State Senate President Sweeney and Lautenberg covered most of the front page.
In case you haven’t been following, Governor Chris Christie has proposed reorganizing Rutgers, Rowan and the University of Medicine and Dentistry. Rutgers-Camden would become part of Rowan. Rowan would get a medical school associated with George Norcross Univeristy Cooper University Hospital. Robert Wood Johnson Hospital would become part of a medical school at Rutgers-New Brunswick, and it will be a while before there are more UMDNJ indictments.
MMM hasn’t been following it all that much. Our young legal eagle friends at Save Jersey don’t like it because they think it will devalue their law degrees if they apply to a firm that doesn’t know the difference between Rutgers-Camden and Rutgers-Newark. And then there’s the two idiots who don’t like the deal…that former Navy SEAL that ran for Assembly who got into it with Christie at a Town Hall meeting and Lautenberg.
If not for the idiot SEAL and the idiot U. S. Senator nobody from New Jersey who isn’t directly affected by the merger would know about it, except for news junkies like us.
Lautenberg wrote to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan alleging the proposed merger is improper and copied U.S. Attorney General Eric “Fast and Furious” Holder and New Jersey’s U.S. Attorney Paul “New Jersey is not corrupt” Fishman, thereby implying that the merger is criminal.
Having already used “idiot” and “numb-nuts” with great fanfare, Christie’s team dubbed Lautenberg’s letter as “outrageous,” “uninformed,” and “bizarre.”
None of that was front page newsworthy. It took Norcross and Sweeney launching Sweeney’s 2014 campaign for Launtenberg’s job to make the front page of the APP.
Wednesday morning Sweeney emailed a scathing open letter attacking Lautenberg for opposing the merger and for his failure as a U.S. Senator to bring home Washington money for New Jersey’s higher education institutions. Several other south Jersey lawmakers, including two Republicans, signed with letter with Sweeney. Norcross later sent a statement calling Lautenberg a “great Senator for north Jersey” who has failed southern New Jersey to the same email list.
The Sweeney/Norcross statements are not really about the Rutger-Rowan merger. The real message is that Lautenberg’s career is coming to an end. That message has been confirmed by the silence of Democratic leaders who have staid out of this fight. U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, Assembly Speaker Sheilia Oliver, Democratic State Chairman John Wisniewski, and Newark Mayor Cory Booker have all been silent. No one is backing up Lautenberg.
The message to Lautenberg…prepare for retirement… just don’t quit and let Christie appoint your replacement. The message to Democratic donors…don’t give to Lautenberg’s 2014 reelection campaign.
So, the point of the last 460 words is that The Asbury Park Press made the 2014 race for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate front page news yesterday. That wouldn’t be so bad if there were not a U.S. Senate election between two relatively unknown candidates, U.S. Senator Bob Mendendez and State Senator Joe Kyrillos this year.