Weekly Advance: Week of Aug. 22

TRENTON – Washington, D.C. is a trending topic in New Jersey, what with the partisan angst and locked horns in the capital so demonstrative of government gridlock. That, and the governor loves to talk some District of Columbia.

No one wants to convince you about the lack of gridlock in New Jersey – aside from the traffic – more than Gov. Chris Christie. This has been an increasing theme for the not-running-for-president governor. Hmm.

As if the Garden State was the bipartisan Mecca of the eastern seaboard, Christie has been shoehorning and crow-barring national political themes into his Q-and-As with the local media. Somehow questions about state revenue wind up in debt ceiling territory, education reform meanders into leadership analyses, and while names like Perry, Bachmann, and Romney are uttered little and only upon request, Obama is becoming a refrain.

Why is Trenton fixated on Washington? Ummmm. No, again, he’s not running.

“Leading is not a political strategy; it’s a moral strategy,” Christie said this week, in what is developing into a stump speak about the way government should work.

All of this brings to mind President Barack Obama’s battles over health care reform, economic recovery, and the debt standoff. And by talking about the nation’s capital, attention is diverted from the ongoing situations in New Jersey that aren’t as easy to explain: uncontested foreclosures; a college conundrum over coaches’ pay; aid to cities still missing; a credit downgrade that overestimated the state surplus; and a toll hike from leftfield. Ouch. But, it’s a bipartisan ouch.

Last week a false media report about Christie exploring a run for the White House was extinguished just as it was beginning to spiral wildly out of control. The incorrect news, while mostly a disservice, provided one telling insight: absolute mania will ensue if Gov. Chris Christie decides to take a run at becoming President Chris Christie.

Why is this in the Advance? Because it could happen at any time. And although almost definitively will not happen this week, we are preparing you. This could come from leftfield. Heck, look at the toll hike.

The blank slate

The Senate is conducting a voting session on Thursday, as well as some committee hearings, but it’s unclear what the session will include since the bill board is empty.

The bills will be announced next week, and some expectations are that Transitional Aid to cities could be voted on. The restoration needs oversight that Christie asked for after the line-item veto of the aid; otherwise the governor is going to red-line it again.

Providing a spark

The final public testimony hearing for the state’s proposed Energy Master Plan will be held in the Statehouse Annex on Wednesday at 1 p.m.

This is the fourth hearing (but technically a continuation), and it comes following a not-so-intense joint energy committee hearing in Toms River last week.

One of the biggest discrepancies is unlikely to change following the draft process, the 22.5 percent renewable portfolio. Democrats have said, though, that they will legislate the 30 percent goal back into existence.


Weekly Advance: Week of Aug. 22