Grading the Governor

By Art Gallagher

Tom Moran is the editorial page editor of the Star Ledger and the reporter who unwittingly made Governor Chris Christie a YouTube sensation.

Moran decided that its time to grade the Governor.  In a column published on Sunday, the pernicious pundit acknowledges that independent polls indicate that the voters are rating the Governor with A’s and B’s. He spends the rest of the column telling the voters (us) why they (we) are wrong about Christie. Moran say Christie only gets a C.

It’s a good thing that New Jersey pays little heed to Moran. If we did, Chris Daggett would be Governor and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver would be taken seriously.

Moran gives Christie high marks for courage, calling the Governor a cage fighter for his cause.  Despite this A, Moran gives Christie demerits for failing to compromise.  This has been a theme of Moran’s throughout the year. Christie came to Trenton promising to turn the place upside down.  Moran wants him to be nice while breaking the furniture.

Moran even gives the Governor a B on the budget, even though he calls Christie’s claim that he plugged an $11 billion budget hole “farcical.”

On the 2% property tax cap, Moran says Christie will earn a spot on the honor roll if it works, but so far it hasn’t. Duh. It hasn’t even gone into effect yet, and the “tool kit” negotiations with the Democratic legislative leadership are ongoing. Moran criticises Christie for not caving and accepting Oliver’s and Senate President Steve Sweeney’s first offer.

Moran takes Christie to task for calling Oliver a liar over her assertion that she tried to meet with Christie over the “tool kit.”

Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver was shocked when she learned that the governor had accused her of lying.

“That has irreparably affected my ability to work with this governor,” she says. “For him to cast aspersions on my integrity and say I would lie? That did it. That showed me I really cannot have a trusting relationship with this governor. Because he will distort the truth. He will stand up and lie.

“It was a game changer for me, a total game changer.”

Will Oliver’s resignation as Speaker be forthcoming?  If she can’t or won’t work with the Governor she has no business being Speaker.   Oliver should be grateful that the Governor and most of the media gave her (and Moran) a pass when she called the Governor racist in an earlier Moran column.

Moran seems to think it is a problem for Christie that Oliver and U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg “hate his guts.” 

U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg felt this sting as well. After he criticized the governor for killing the Hudson River tunnel project, the governor lashed out.

“All he knows how to do is blow hot air,” Christie said. “So I don’t really care what Frank Lautenberg has to say about much of anything.”

This is the downside of the governor’s straight talk. He has to work with Oliver and Lautenberg, like it or not. And now they both seem to hate his guts.

“Look, I worked with Tom Kean and Christie Whitman, and had no problems,” Lautenberg says. “This is really unusual. There’s been hardly any communication from his office, and I’m on the Appropriations Committee. I put my heart and soul into this, and to have someone calling me names and trying to shame me? It’s incomprehensible.”

Lautenberg is old and has been very sick for most of the year. He can be forgiven for not noticing that Christie is not Tom Kean or Christie Whitman.  Now that he’s woken up, he’ll start comprehending, if his heart and soul are really in his job.  How effective has he been for us on the Appropriations Committee anyway?

Moran is right about one thing.  Christie hasn’t delivered yet.  But that is not the measure by which to grade a Governor 11 months into his term.  Moran is a liberal ideologue masquerading as a moderate.  Like ideologues on the right who are critical of Christie because he hasn’t fixed all the inequities of New Jersey government in 11 months, he is driven only by his own narrow agenda.

The NJEA is having a news conference in Trenton today to propose education reforms including “significant reform of the tenure system.”   That is remarkable.  Even if the proposed reforms are full of loop holes, which as a Jersey cynic I suspect they will be, the fact that the NJEA has entered the reform conversation is truly remarkable.  Chris Christie made that happen.

Civil Service and binding arbitration is going to be reformed.  Mayors and councils are going to be unbound from the ties that have driven property taxes to catastrophic levels and be empowered to truly manage their communities rather than rubber stamp state mandates. That is unbelievable. Chris Christie made that happen.

The 2% property tax cap, even with its exceptions, will truly force a reduction in the size of government, especially when inflation kicks in. Share services will become a reality out of necessity, rather than something community leaders pay lip service to during elections.

Chris Christie has changed the tone and transformed the direction of government in New Jersey. “Changed has arrived” he declared in his inaugural address.  He is deliverying change.  Trenton is not quite upside down yet, but it is surely tilted.  He can’t be graded by the old score card, because he has changed the game in New Jersey and given Governors throughout the nation, and our leaders in Washington new rules.

Rather than a report card, lets judge Christie with a scorecard.

Christie is leading by a wide margin as the first quarter of his term comes to a close.  Yet, the opposition of special interests and trough swillers have been studying the films and making adjustments.  The final minutes of the quarter are critical as the effectiveness of the tool kit will be determined.  Next year, the second quarter, is when the real heavy lifitng will start. Legislative redistricting, the budget and the legislative election will dominate the agenda.  Municipal budgets drawn under the 2% cap will dominate the news.  As the economy improves, if it does, “we don’t have the money” will not work as well in forcing reforms.

Christie gets an A for his first year.  Next year will be the real test.  Mid-terms will be in November.  If the voters give Christie and A or B in the form of a Republican legislature, we’ll find out what “turning Trenton upside down” really means.

Posted: December 7th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Chris Christie, Frank Lautenberg, Legislature, NJ Media, NJ State Legislature, Sheila Oliver | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Grading the Governor

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