If the South had its way, the speaker from Hudson County would have been impaled on the dome of the Statehouse. But Prieto – well-liked by a majority of his caucus-members – systematically organized support for his version of an Atlantic City bill and stared down a South Jersey insurrection. To cowed Northerners slumped in their chairs for years helplessly awaiting bills shoved into their suit jacket pockets by the South Jersey-Chris Christie nerve center, Prieto’s defiance struck a folk hero chord. The same people who had watched him stumble down the stretch of a valiant run to hobble Christie’s and Senate President Steve Sweeney’s northern casinos legislation this time watched the speaker quietly notch a victory. Of course, it’s not over. Prieto’s arch rivals are sharpening the knives for next week’s renewed fight. But today, it’s the speaker’s – not the South Jersey-based Senate President’s – bill that stands closer to introduction on the assembly floor, having come through committee with bipartisan support. There’s already irritation with the notion of Prieto standing in the winner’s circle, with senate prez allies arguing that Christie’s on record asserting that he’ll never back the speaker’s bill. But whatever happens next week, Prieto proved yesterday that he will not be buffaloed.
The Republican assemblyman from Atlantic County appears to have increases his influence within the Republican caucus as he sides with local Atlantic City officials and improves his chances for a fortified crack at the LD2 senate seat in 2017.
The president of the AFL-CIO jumped aboard the Prieto train with strong statements of support for the speaker’s bill, which passed out of the Assembly Judiciary Committee on Thursday morning.
The Middlesex County Democratic chairman kept his delegation together and – in the name of maintaining the sprawling Central Jersey county’s independence – refused to release his assemblymen into the maw of South Jersey’s will.
L. Grace Spencer
The chair of the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee helmed the successful passage through the assembly of an emergency allocation of $10 million for lead-based paint abatement. Gov. Chris Christie’s likely to veto the measure, but the Newark assemblywoman said she intends to keep pressing for more funding.
The assembly majority leader endured a torturous backroom beat down from his northern colleagues after insurrectionary plans to buck Prieto over the Atlantic City takeover went awry.
The governor still wields the veto pen, but at least today, Prieto survived the governor’s much ballyhooed record of winning games of chicken with lawmakers who cross him. What’s more alarming for Christie is the GOP caucus that for years marched in lockstep to the snap of his fingers now appears to be showing signs of independent thought.
As Brown (see above) snares headlines with his opposition to the senate takeover bill, the LD2 assemblyman – by all accounts a nice man – appears at a disadvantage right now in a long-anticipated 2017 match-up for Senator Jim Whelan’s (D-2) senate seat in the event Whelan retires.
Chong S. Kho
The Fort Lee real estate developer and landlord of commercial buildings in Palisades Park this week fessed up to soliciting a $50,000 bribe payment to a Palisades Park borough official, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
The compliance officer with the Union City Community Development Agency (UCCDA) this week admitted that he manipulated the contractor selection process for federally funded residential rehabilitation and sidewalk replacement projects, causing losses of $40,000 to $95,000, Fishman announced.