Weekly Advance: Week of Oct. 14

TREN TON – A few weeks of relative silence in the New Jersey Statehouse has given way to something not too plentiful around these parts.

Wait for it.

Yep, it’s actually happening. The Senate Judiciary committee is slated to hold a confirmation hearing for one of Gov. Chris Christie’s state Supreme Court nominees.

Judge Faustino Fernandez-Vina will appear before committee members Thursday to replace Justice Helen Hoens on the bench. The hearing comes more than a year after the Democratic-controlled committee canned two of Christie’s appointees to the bench.

And what’s more, the governor has been hammering Democrats and Senate President Steve Sweeney in public since that time to put pressure on them to hold a hearing for nominees David Bauman and Robert Hanna.

So why did Fernandez-Vina get a hearing?

Behind the scenes, Democrats considered Fernandez-Vina’s nomination as a “win-win.”

Hoens, a Republican appointed by Gov. Christie Whitman, was considered by Democrats a guaranteed vote for Christie on controversial issues, and some even privately accused her of pandering to the governor to save her job. That she was one of only two judges, along with the Christie-appointed Anne Paterson, to side with the governor on last month’s decision regarding his plan to abolish the Council on Affordable Housing, only exacerbated that opinion.

So from a judicial balance standpoint, Fernandez-Vina, who supporters say is a lifelong Republican, does not affect the court make-up.  If anything, party insiders say, the new justice – should he be approved – will be a less reliable Christie vote.

Fernandez-Vina also gives the court a minority presence, one it has not had since the departure of Justice Roberto-Rivera Soto.  The court had already dropped from two minority members to one when Christie chose not to reappoint Justice John Wallace in the first salvo of the battle over the court.

A quick confirmation of Fernandez-Vina helps Democrats in other ways, also.

With Bauman and Hanna stuck in political purgatory, Democrats risk living up to Christie’s obstructionist label.

Seating Fernandez-Vina on the court quickly deflects some of that criticism.  Democrats would be two and two on Christie’s nominations, with two still waiting.

Of course, Fernandez-Vina’s approval isn’t guaranteed. But for the aforementioned points, the scales tip in favor of confirmation.

Now, what remains to be seen, is how Democrats will treat the nomination.

 

Monday

Gov. Chris Christie

Not yet scheduled

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno

Not yet scheduled

Legislature

Nothing scheduled

 

Tuesday

Gov. Chris Christie

Not yet scheduled

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno

Not yet scheduled

Legislature

Nothing scheduled

Boards and Commissions

10 a.m., Mosquito Control Commission, Department of Environmental Protection, 501 E. State St., Trenton

11 a.m., Election Law Enforcement Commission, 28 W. State St., Trenton

2 p.m., Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, 15 S. Pennsylvania Ave., Atlantic City

 

Wednesday

Gov. Chris Christie

Not yet scheduled

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno

Not yet scheduled

Legislature

Nothing scheduled

Boards and Commissions

10 a.m., Delaware and Raritan Canal Commission, Prallsville Mills, 33 Risler St., Stockton

10 a.m., Board of Public Utilities, Rm. 11, Statehouse Annex, Trenton

1:30 p.m., Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, 15th floor, 225 Park Ave. South, New York

6 p.m., Delaware River Port Authority, RiverWinds Community Center, 1000 RiverWinds Drive, West Deptford

7 p.m., Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority, 502 Brewer Ave., Oceanport

Daily Events

6 p.m., Awards for Excellence, N.J. Business and Industry Association, Pines Manor, 2085 Lincoln Hwy., Edison

 

Thursday

Gov. Chris Christie

Not yet scheduled

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno

Not yet scheduled

Legislature

Senate

10 a.m., Higher Education Committee, Rm. 7, Statehouse Annex, Trenton

1:30 p.m., Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee, Rm. 1, Statehouse Annex, Trenton

1:30 p.m., Judiciary Committee, Rm. 4, Statehouse Annex, Trenton

Boards and Commissions

9:15 a.m., Health Care Administration Board, first-floor auditorium, Health and Agriculture Building, 369 S. Warren St., Trenton

10 a.m., Sports and Exposition Authority, executive offices, Meadowlands, East Rutherford

4:30 p.m., N.J. Law Revision Commission, seventh floor, 153 Halsey St., Newark

5 p.m., Highlands Council, 100 North Road, Chester

Daily Events

6 p.m., Corporate Awards Dinner, N.J. African-American Chamber of Commerce, Princeton Hyatt Regency Hotel, Route 1 and Alexander Road, Plainsboro

 

Friday

Gov. Chris Christie

Not yet scheduled

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno

Not yet scheduled

Legislature

Nothing scheduled

Boards and Commissions

Daily Events

8:30 a.m., Breakfast Roundtable with gubernatorial campaign chairs Bill Palatucci and Bonnie Watson Coleman, N.J. Chamber of Commerce, Forsgate Country Club, 375 Forsgate Drive, Monroe

 

 

Weekly Advance: Week of Oct. 14