Senator Bob Menendez, left, and Congressman Frank Pallone, making like chimpmunks at the 2012 Belmar St. Patrick’s parade. Photo credit Charles Measley
First of all, Senator Bob Menendez might not even be indicted. Leaks out of the Justice Department have been notoriously unreliable since Chris Christie resigned as U.S. Attorney in 2008.
If Menendez is indicted, he probably will not resign. In his press conference this evening, the Senator defiantly insisted on the “appropriateness and lawfulness” of his relationship with Dr. Salomon Melgen, the Florida ophthalmologist who is Menendez’s friend and benefactor. He declared that he is not going anywhere.
If, as CNN speculates, Menendez is charged with corruption this month, it could be Halloween before he goes to trial. Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell was indicted in January of 2014. His trial didn’t start until late July and didn’t end to early September. Unless Menendez makes a deal to avoid prosecution that includes his resignation, there is not likely to be a Special Election to fill the Senate seat until next year….2016, the year of the next presidential election.
If Chris Christie is still Governor in 2016 and Menendez’s seat becomes vacant, he will get to choose the next Senator and set the date a special election. There could be a mid-year Special Election or the Special Election could be on the same day as the presidential election. There’s no way to know now what is likely to happen.
Still, the prospect of a Senatorial vacancy stirs speculation and the phone lines among both Democrats and Republicans have been burning this afternoon since the news of the possible prosecution broke.
As Gov. Chris Christie’s Pension and Health Benefits Study Commission wrestles with the issue of how much public employees should pay toward their health insurance, New Jersey’s public-employee unions are focused not only on how much they will pay, but also on making sure they win back the right to collective bargaining on healthcare issues. It… Read the rest of this entry »
TRENTON — No one wants to be the politician who guts spending, raises taxes or reneges on a promise. But thanks to Gov. Chris Christie and a sluggish economic recovery in New Jersey, those are the choices facing Democratic leaders in the state Legislature…
TRENTON — The New Jersey Senate today approved a package of bills that calls for state agencies and bi-state commissions, including the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, to buy products made in America. If approved by the Assembly as well…
Citing the shortage of federal and state funds available to assist Superstorm Sandy impacted homeowners in rebuilding their homes, the Middletown Township Committtee this week joined Marlboro Mayor Jonathan Hornik and Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon in calling on the state legislature and Governor Chris Christie to put the more than $100 million in Affordable Housing Funds that are sitting dormant to work.
With a unanimous 5-0 vote, the committee passed a resolution on Monday, April 21, calling for legislation that would reinstate Regional Contribution Agreements (RCAs) “for the limited purpose of getting victims of Superstorm Sandy back in their homes during this time of need.”
RCAs were created in the original 1985 Fair Housing Act whereby towns with funds raised from developer fees or through bonding could transfer up to half of those funds to another community for the purpose of building affordable housing as required by the New Jersey Supreme Court’s Mt. Laurel decision.
NEWARK — Hours after Senate President Stephen Sweeney floated the idea of halting a legislative investigation of the George Washington Bridge scandal, he issued a statement saying the panel still has lots of work to do. “I do not believe the committee…
NEWARK — The state legislative committee investigating the George Washington Bridge scandal should “walk away” if a judge doesn’t rule in its favor on a key case, state Senate President Stephen Sweeney said today. State Superior Court Judge…
Pallone says legislation is not necessary, regulators can change the rules
Governor Chris Christie listens to a resident’s question in Belmar. March 25, 2014 MMM photo/Art Gallagher. Click for larger view.
Governor Chris Christie told the 650 people in attendance at his Town Hall Meeting in Belmar yesterday that he went to Washington last week to ask HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan to waive the rule that is keeping Sandy victims from rebuilding their homes while they are waiting to find out if they will be approved for Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) grants of up to $150,000.
The RREM program will not reimburse homeowners for work done on their homes prior to their acceptance into the program. Over 3000 people are on the RREM waiting list for the second round of HUD funding which is expected to be awarded late this spring. They are in limbo, living in temporary housing, paying rent and mortgages, while their ruined homes are dormant.
Christie said that Donovan told him he could not waive the rule because a specific federal law prohibits grants being used to pay for work performed prior to the federal approval being secured.
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.