ELIZABETH – Gov. Chris Christie’s visit this morning to Trinitas Hospital revealed the ongoing rancor between local Democrats, as Mayor Chris Bollwage, a prospective candidate for governor in 2013, pummeled the Republican and the chair of the local Democratic Party reserved his ire for Bollwage’s ally, state Sen. Ray Lesniak (D-20).
While Christie toured the busy urban hospital this morning, Bollwage buzzed him in a press release, winning the praise of Lesniak, who had earlier endured the wrath of a release by Elizabeth Democratic Party Chairman Carlos Cedeno.
“It is one thing for the Governor to make decisions about people’s lives with a degree of distance, from behind a desk or in front of the media,” said Bollwage, “but to see the impact of those cuts in the faces of the jobless, the lack of beds in a hospital or in the eyes of those who cannot gain access to the services they need to survive – that is reality.”
The mayor said Christie’s visit comes in the wake of severe budget cuts that have not only reduced crucial funding to cities, organizations and programs statewide, but also resulted in the elimination of vital health care, economic development and public safety services.
“Critical funding for emergency services, who protect and assist residents as well as job creation and business attraction programs such as the Urban Enterprise Zone, were two successful and worthy initiatives that fell victim to the Christie line-item veto,” said Bollwage, bemoaning the governor’s 2 percent levy cap. “Christie also chose to protect New Jersey’s millionaires, while cutting funding to the state’s urban hospitals.
“Signing this budget without adequate funding for the quality of life services that residents expect and deserve is providing a disservice to the state’s most in need, particularly within our urban municipalities,” added Bollwage. “the Governor’s recent commitments to reinstate previously vetoed budget items could be viewed as commendable, however when someone is living paycheck to paycheck or their health is in question, I just hope it will not be a case of too little too late.”
Christie at his press conference said he specifically increased hospital funding in the 2011 budget and Trinitas received the largest increase of all New Jersey hospitals.
“I’m no dummy, that’s why I came here,” said the governor.
Lesniak promptly responded to Bollwage.
“Bollwage for governor,” he exclaimed. “A Democrat who stands up for our middle class residents and tells it like it is.”
An ally of the Elizabeth Board of Education and acolyte of Christie-backer and former Board of Ed member Rafael Fajardo, Cedeno didn’t bother criticizing Christie.
Instead, he went straight after old foe Lesniak.
“Raymond Lesniak who resides in Mantoloking while representing Elizabeth is having tonight another political fund raising bash at his posh ocean front home,” Cedeno said. “A hefty campaign contribution is required for all attendees consisting of lobbyists and special interests that flock to Lesniak’s side. It should be quite an event with the likes of Ikea, Developers and financial interest seeking tax breaks all sitting at his Tiki Bar wooing favor. The problem is the phony effort by Lesniak to portray himself as a supporter of workers rights.”