Weekly Roundup: Week of Dec. 19

TRENTON – As the end of the year approached, Gov. Chris Christie continued  reshuffling his Cabinet. On Thursday, he announced the resignation of Richard Bagger, his chief of staff.

After two years as one of Christie’s main confidants, Bagger decided to return to the private sector and head a life sciences company. He described his experience in the public sector as “an extended sabbatical.”

He is one of several high-level advisers to leave their current posts either for  greener pastures or to fill other vacancies within the governor’s inner circle.

While Christie acknowledged things will be different with other people assuming different posts, he doubts his agenda will change. And the replacements are also people he’s worked with in other capacities.

It should not be read as anything more than people deciding to move on, Christie said, saying that compared to prior administrations, his staff has been remarkably stable.

 

The Legislature may be done for the year, but enactment of the laws they passed are still dependent on Christie. In the past week, Christie has signed some major pieces of legislation.

It’s official, many of the distressed cities will receive a piece of the $139 million in Transitional Aid funds that were passed by both houses. The normally-routine issue of state funding to keep financially-strapped cities afloat became a political football this year with the revolving issues of accountability and transparency. Democrats expressed outrage at the initial veto, saying it would lead to reduction in police and fire department personnel.

 

Another major bill Christie signed is one that would help set up a developmental disabilities task force to review which centers need to be  closed. New Jersey hopes to follow a similar trend in other states in eventually getting many of the residents out of the hulking institutions and into community-based, group home-type facilities.

Vineland Developmental Center was scheduled to be shut down in the summer, but that was halted at the urging of Sen. Jeff Van Drew, who authored the legislation calling for the task force.

 

In what could serve as a major blow to the Occupy New Jersey movement, the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs proposed some rules that would prevent people from using the World War II Memorial as an encampment of sorts.

The rules would prevent people from leaving items like tents, bags and chairs there, all items frequently used by the Occupiers.

Protesters there couldn’t help but feel they are being targeted by these rules, which have yet to be approved. However, the Military and Veterans Affairs personnel said it was important to maintain the integrity of the war memorial and not let it be vandalized by urination and generator burns.

 

The state also reached agreement with the thoroughbred horseman’s association to keep horse racing operations at Monmouth Park going, averting a deadline and shutdown and continuing the administration’s goal of ceasing public subsidies for that entertainment business.

The agreement calls for 141 dates with five days a week of racing from May 12 to Nov. 25.

 

 

 

Weekly Roundup: Week of Dec. 19