Following Tuesday’s elections, a confused Democratic Party shows up in Atlantic City
A jangled Democratic Party establishment found itself clinging to recognizable faces and mixing in Atlantic City tonight, where State Party Chairman John Currie sat with party leaders, Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop at one elbow and Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) at the other.
Sweeney and Fulop cordially tried to weather each other’s company alongside Currie – himself wounded in Tuesday’s night’s mayor’s race in Paterson – as the slicing sounds of silverware filled in some uncomfortable conversational silences.
This party convention bash thrown by Currie for the county party chairs (Sweeney allies seeing Fulop in the room of insiders had the same reaction Phil Alagia did when the Jersey City mayor showed up unannounced at an Anibal Ramos fundraiser) was envisioned in part as the Democrats’ prime seaside platform to unveil two establishment mayor-elects: Shavar Jeffries from Newark and Andre Sayegh from Paterson.
Instead, the men who beat the machine in their respective big northern cities have hastily scheduled speaking roles at tomorrow’s luncheon: Mayor-elect Ras Baraka of Newark and Mayor-elect Jose “Joey” Torres of Paterson.
Torres couldn’t attend. (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ)
DeGise formally announces his bid for a fourth term
In a web video released this morning, Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise announced his candidacy for re-election next year.
DeGise, who will be seeking his fourth full term in the Democratic Primary in June 2015, becomes the only announced candidate in the race.
“The job isn’t finished and there is work to be done,” says DeGise in the video. “That’s why I am running for County Executive again next year.”
The video can be seen at tomdegise.com. (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ)
Where was Cory?
To those most cynical observing members of the political establishment, the workload breakdown seemed straightforward enough: Sen. Bob Menendez would handle the heavy lifting in the war and peace department as chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, and Sen. Cory Booker would take charge of his twitter handle and inspire world peace.
That included Booker staying out of Tuesday’s Newark mayoral election.
The man who served as the city’s chief executive for seven and a half years upon swearing-in pivoted to his U.S. Senate duties for the duration of a local and increasingly ugly campaign, choosing peace not war and leaving his closest allies to high-five this week about the political upside of having kept their boss out of the fray.
But questions lingered this week about the condition of the city in the Booker aftermath and the fact that his longtime local voluble political critic and polar opposite on most issues, chiefly education reform, Ras Baraka, assumed power with what appears to be the acquiescence of local Booker world.
One thing is clear from source talk: while financial contacts who lined up behind Booker – hedge-funders, charter school proponents and local powerhouse Ray Chambers chief among them – mobilized behind loser Shavar Jeffries, Booker’s political minders and City Hall-honed operators made the early street assessment that Jeffries couldn’t win. (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ)
Tweets about delays put pressure on NJ Transit
Since Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium – which featured a public transit meltdown – a Twitter account has been trumpeting the everyday delays, frustrations and general poor performance of New Jersey’s mass transit system.
The account, @NJTransit_delay, has a feed that tweets or retweets messages such as “What a commute. @njtransit 6210 was over 45 minutes late but then skipped all stops to NYP [New York Penn Station] and I made it in only 30 minutes late or so” and “I think @NJTRANSIT should just come out with new schedules since everything is ALWAYS late. As of 5/15/14.”
The social media pressure is bringing more attention to the breakdowns and delays at an agency already under scrutiny for its performance at the Super Bowl and for failing to safeguard its railcars before Superstorm Sandy.
On Thursday, the man behind the account @NJTransit_delay, which had 855 followers as of Thursday, called on them to show up and voice their complaints in a more old-fashioned platform by speaking at NJ Transit’s regular meeting. The public session Thursday was a rare evening event – usually they are scheduled for workday mornings.
The turnout was modest: just one other individual referenced the Twitter campaign as the reason for showing up. But the meeting provided an opportunity for an online presence to be heard by the people who run the organization.
The account is operated by Matthew Walters, a 33-year-old actor who moved to Montclair in October and found that his regular commute to New York City was often plagued with problems. (Phillis/The Record)
Christie to speak to Rowan University graduates
GLASSBORO, N.J. (AP) — Gov. Chris Christie will deliver the commencement address to graduates at Rowan University in southern New Jersey.
Friday’s graduation has been moved inside the gymnasium because of the threat of heavy rain. Tickets will be required because of limited seating.
Rowan also will bestow honorary degrees on Christie, Senate President Steve Sweeney and state Sen. Donald Norcross.
Rowan officials say Sweeney and Norcross were instrumental in partnering the university in Glassboro in co-founding Cooper Medical School in 2009. Christie and the Democrats also championed legislation that designated Rowan as a comprehensive research school that could offer both D.O. and M.D. medical degrees.
At Special Task Force, Strong Suggestions for Curing Judicial Crisis
For many New Jersey lawyers, the current fight over the state judiciary is a cause for concern — if not frustration. That was apparent at the second hearing of a special task force yesterday during the annual meeting of the New Jersey State Bar Association in Atlantic City.
Just how troubled some attorneys are can be seen in a comment that one offered, that the crisis facing New Jersey’s judiciary could be solved by filing a misconduct complaint against Gov. Chris Christie, who is also a lawyer.
That was only one of a dozen suggestions, mainly sparked off by a growing anxiety about judges not being appointed in a timely manner and about the possibility that the state Supreme Court will be hobbled by politics.
Unlike the first hearing, those who testified yesterday were admonished not to name names or point fingers at specific individuals and to come up with positive suggestions:
Giving judges immediate tenure until retirement or creating an independent panel to determine whether judges receive tenure after an initial appointment and civics lessons for both schoolchildren and adults were other suggestions made to the Task Force on Judicial Independence during a two-and-a-half hour hearing.
Created by the NJSBA, the task force is charged with studying the status of the judiciary in New Jersey and recommending how to protect its integrity, which many say is being threatened by politics. (O’Dea/NJSpotlight)
On Long Beach Island, Sandy Reconstruction Is Getting Done by the (Code) Book
As the construction official in a barrier island community that was heavily damaged by Sandy, Dane Sprague has had to do a lot of explaining and answering of questions these past 18 months.
As in many shore towns, some residents of Long Beach Township are confused, unhappy, or overwhelmed with the new FEMA flood maps and the increasing flood insurance rates they’ll have to pay. And as the one who often has to deliver the news that they’ll have to spend thousands of dollars to elevate their homes and make modifications to bring them up to code, Sprague has been working his hardest to give people accurate information and dispel whatever rumors they may have heard.
It’s a difficult situation that’s taking place up and down the coast, pitting the desires of homeowners to repair their damages and return to pre-storm life as quickly as possible against the need to make potentially costly changes so they’re less vulnerable to future storms. And at the end of the day, it’s largely up to municipal construction officials like Sprague to enforce state and federal standards on the local level and ensure that residents are fully in compliance with all National Flood Insurance Program regulations.
As hard as it is, Sprague said he’s been surprised at how cooperative most residents have been. “We were mostly met with people who were looking to get information, and they wanted to expedite the process. People seemed to pull their pants up and get to work,” he said. (Gurian/NJSpotlight)
Christie headed to New Mexico to campaign for Gov. Susana Martinez
CARLSBAD, N.M. — Gov. Chris Christie will be in New Mexico later this month to campaign for Republican Gov. Susana Martinez as she runs for re-election.
Martinez campaign officials announced that Christie would be visiting Carlsbad and Artesia on May 29. He also campaigned for the governor in eastern New Mexico in 2010.
Martinez has already raised more than twice as much money as the five Democrats seeking to challenger her in the general election. The most recent financial reports show Martinez has raised more than $561,000 in the past month.
Martinez campaigned for Christie in his home state last fall.
NJ lawyers to highlight judicial independence at annual conference
ATLANTIC CITY — As Gov. Chris Christie tries to reshape the state courts, New Jersey’s largest group of lawyers will meet today to discuss “how today’s political climate affects judicial independence.”
The New Jersey State Bar Association is holding its annual conference, where judges, lawmakers, legal experts and a retired state justice are scheduled to speak about the intersection between politics and the law.
First, Chief Justice Stuart Rabner of the state Supreme Court will give remarks on the state of New Jersey’s judiciary. U.S. District Judge Jerome Simandle, the chief federal judge in New Jersey, will also speak.
Afterward, a panel discussion will turn to judicial independence. Former Gov. Brendan Byrne and state Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee will participate, as will Sen. Kevin O’Toole (R-Essex), a member of that committee.
U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman is scheduled to give remarks later about cyber crime cases. (Rizzo/Star-Ledger)
From the Back Room
Bringing out The Daily Beast in CD12
A story today in the Daily Beast with a link to video drew considerable attention to a CD12 episode reported earlier this year by PolitickerNJ.
The episode involves Democratic Primary candidate state Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-14), Plainsboro.
Find the story and video here.
Report: Mack gets five years
Former Trenton Mayor Tony Mack earlier today was sentenced to five years in prison on corruption charges.
CBS News has the story.
The Tell-Take Heart, by Nellie Pou
It was a little disconcerting for operatives in the Passaic County Democratic Party firmament to have state Sen. Nellie Pou (D-35) campaigning with organization adversary Jose “Joey” Torres.
Pou was a party player.
Why was she saddled up with an irritating has-been like Torres?
So went the grumbling.
Sources say it went deep with Pou.
“Nellie is as close to Joey as Shavonda is to Currie,” said a party source, speaking on condition of anonimity.
Some of the young hotshots in the party didn’t care.
Somebody told Currie that after the election, after the victory party of mayoral candidate Andre Sayegh, the chairman should call in Pou for a meeting – and then never mention the mayor’s race.
The implication would be for the chairman to make the renegade-teaming senator from Haledon sweat and than let her walk out of the room meditating on the party leader’s largesse and ability to change gears without rancor.
Currie didn’t like the idea.
“I don’t want to do that,” the chairman growled.
He didn’t want to play games with Pou.
He understood the loyalty, and gave her a pass.
In any event, it’s a moot point.
Pou’s candidate, Torres, won the election.
“She’s in a good position right now,” a Democratic source told PolitickerNJ. “Nellie will be the conduit between Joey and the party.”
At least one humbled source in the party said he tried to reach Torres in the aftermath and couldn’t get him on the phone.
“Nellie will facilitate stuff like that,” the source said. “She’s the go-between.”