A slow week in Trenton but nevertheless an exciting one for winners and losers. Our list this week runs the gamut from federal to local government and even includes some members of the 4th estate, who stood their ground against the tyranny of the state…well, against a sunglasses wearing city cop anyway.
U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg
While Democrats at the state level have mostly flailed in response to Gov. Chris Christie, U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-Cliffside Park) worked his know-how at the federal level to get funding for New Jersey teachers. It’s not a done deal – the U.S. House votes on it next Tuesday – but the 86-year old senator, along with U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-Hoboken) got it through the Senate this week.
Phil Mickle and Meir Rinde
The crusty city editor of the Trentonian and the meticulous reporter with the Trenton Times tag-teamed a badly overmatched Mayor Tony Mack at Thursday’s press conference. When Mickle asked Mack about his hiring of a guy with a record to run the city’s housing department, the mayor unleashed a sun glasses-wearing henchman on Mickle, who stood his ground and refused to leave the press conference. Then Rinde asked Mack if this was how the new mayor intends to manage disagreeable episodes. Mack said the cop was there for Rinde’s safety, to which the reporter dryly asked if the mayor really thought that other reporters posed a danger.
Same sex couples and Garden State Equality.
Appearing on our losers list last week after the state Supreme Court refused to hear a case brought on the constitutionality of the state’s civil union law this group got a boost this week from their friends on the left coast. A California court struck down that state’s Proposition 8, which forbade same sex marriages, saying the ban violated the constitution’s guarantee of equal protection. It remains to be seen how the case will be applied to New Jersey’s civil union law, Steven Goldstein of Garden State Equality said the laws are similar and New Jersey’s day will come. Experts say it could be two years or more before the case again reaches the New Jersey Supremes.
Assemblywoman Alison McHose
Taken to task on these pages and others for shooting blanks during her budget stand, disappointing constituents who thought she had the moxie to go the distance, McHose remains in the good graces of the party. This week, Sussex GOP officials and her senate running mate each said McHose would have the establishment support for her 2011 re-election bid.
Trenton Mayor Tony Mack
With the city facing a $55 million budget deficit, you’d think a new mayor would have enough on his plate to keep him awake nights. But Mack must have been sleeping well so he went out and hired himself a man with a rap sheet to run a department. The city’s new acting director of housing and economic development , Carlton Badger, was “twice indicted for forgery, pleaded guilty to a theft charge that was brought in 2001, and has a history of bankruptcies and other financial difficulties,” according to a report in the Trenton Times. Badger resigned but Mack was still faced with the self-created debacle caused when he fired Deputy Municipal Clerk Cordelia Staton, a former at-large councilwoman and Doug Palmer loyalist who found a termination letter on her office chair after returning from lunch. To finish off Mack’s hat trick of incompetence, he used police to threaten Trentonian Editor Paul Mickle after Mickle demanded answers on how Mack could have hired Badger. Mickle stood his ground and refused to leave. Oh yeah, mayor’s house has been foreclosed on, a topic Mack said was a “family matter” while refusing to answer questions about it. We can’t wait for his second month in office.
The City of Newark and Mayor Cory Booker
The mayor’s municipal utilities authority (MUA) proposal died this week when the city council tabled the item and told the public it won’t come up again. Booker’s opponents rejoiced in watching the mayor get banged up, but the fact remains: New Jersey’s biggest city has a $70 million budget deficit and its residents face the prospect of a 37% tax hike.
Former Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano
Riding high as the glamorous mayor of Hoboken a little over a year ago, this week, Peter Cammarano stood in a courtroom and received a two-year prison sentence on corruption charges. Cammarano has a month before he reports, just enough time for the nightmares about prison life to really take hold. The one bright spot for the disgraced politico whose personal life has crumbled alongside his professional is that he was given some leniency by the court for pleading guilty to the charges.
Sen. Loretta Weinberg and Assemblywoman Linda Stender
This pair of legislators has appeared on our list often in the past month with their standing fluctuating alongside their bill to restore family planning money to their budget. After getting slapped with a Gov. Chris Christie veto last week, the two geared up for an override only to be smacked from the blind side by six Republican senators who had originally voted in favor of their bill but pulled their support in light of the veto. The bill appears dead to everyone but the two tenacious lawmakers who vowed the fight was not over. This is about the time on ER when one of the old-hand docs would tell the idealistic intern struggling to save a life to “call it.”