Governor Chris Christie will hold a press conference at 4:30 this afternoon. It is expected that he will be addressing the Senate Judiciary Committee’s rejection of Bruce Harris’s nomination to the State Supreme Court.
Democrats in the New Jersey State Senate are upping the ante in their unprecedented exercise of legislative power over judicial appointments.
In the wake of their rejection of Phillip Kwon’s nomination to the State Supreme Court, the Democrats are now demanding that Governor Chris Christie nominate a Democrat to the Court.
“The governor may be entitled to his own nominees for cabinet posts, but we will not allow him to pack the Supreme Court,” Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester) said. “The governor must work with us to put together a balanced tandem of candidates for the court. The Senate will not consider anything less.”
NJ.com reports that Sweeney’s spokesman Derek Roseman said that Sweeney was telling Christie to nominate a Democrat.
During his press conference following the Senate Judiciary Committee’s rejection of Kwon, Christie revealed that he had complied with Sweeney’s demand of diversity in his appointment of Kwon, the first Korean-American ever nominated, and Bruce Harris, an Africa-American who is the first openly homosexual nominee.
Reshaping the Supreme Court into a less activist body that does not legislate from the bench was a hallmark promise of Christie’s gubernatorial campaign. During his first two years in office, Christie has been openly critical of the Court and unabashed about his commitment to change it.
Ferraina: “I got $600,000? That’s not much,” he said. “There, you want a headline? ‘That’s not much.’
Casagrande: “Those are dollars that would be better served in the classroom”
Retired Long Branch School Superintendent Joseph Ferraina collected $616,123 in unused sick and vacation pay, not all at once in a lump sum at retirement, but over the course of course of his last ten years on the job, according to a report published at LongBranchPatch.
Go read the article. It is an outstanding piece of journalism by reporter Joe Malinconico who discovered the payments via an Open Public Records Act request and conducted a 57 minute phone interview with Ferraina.
According to LongBranchPatch, the records and Ferraina indicate that the educator only took off time from work if a close family member died; a half day for his father in 2004, a four hours when his brother died in 2005 and a partial day when his son died in 2008. On the day of his son’s funeral he went to work first thing in the mornin, left at 8:45 am, fifteen minutes before the services started, and was back at his desk by 2 pm.
Ferriana’s salary was $244,999 when he retired in June. His annual pension is $154,710.
Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande said Ferraina’s $600K was essentially taken from school children by legislative leaders who have refused to outlaw the practice of paying public employees for unused sick and vacation time.
“This is another example of a system that allows dollars to come out of the classroom and into the pockets of administrators,” Casagrande said. “We had a bipartisan compromise bill that addressed part of the problem and Governor Christie recommended a way to fix the problem, which I support.
“Legislators who agreed this practice is wrong should work with me to enact Governor Christie’s changes so we can end the payout of unused time before there is another example of wasted tax dollars,” Casagrande added.
Casagrande, R-Monmouth, sponsors a bill, A-4193, that incorporates the Governor’s recommendations to ban public employees from cashing in unused sick and vacation days. It incorporates recommendations made by Governor Christie to strengthen a legislative proposal that was approved by the Legislature last year. But Trenton Democratic legislative leaders have refused to advance an outright ban, just a cap on the amount public employees can cash in.
“Those are dollars that would be better served in the classroom,” Casagrande said. “As long as this practice is legal, public employees will continue to use it and every day legislative leaders delay, is another day accrued for public employees, which adds up to many dollars taken from taxpayers and school children.
“These golden parachutes are especially egregious in these trying economic times,” Casagrande added.
Gov. Chris Christie’s announcement Thursday that he was pulling the plug on a new Hudson River rail tunnel that had been more than a decade in the planning stages was his latest in a line of “my way or the highway” decrees.
It is a pattern that is increasingly jeopardizing New Jersey’s ability to work collaboratively with others — its neighbors, public employee unions and members of the opposite political party — to address the short- and long-term challenges facing the state.
If New Jersey wanted a governor to work collaboratively with our neighbors, public employee unions and Democrats, the crew that got us into the fiscal mess we are in, we would have reelected Jon Corzine. Yes, even our neighbors, Pennsylvania and New York who, until Christie came along, have been fleecing New Jersey with glee.
Had the Nudniks of Neptune bothered to read their own columnist, Bob Ingle, since before former Governor Corzine broke ground on the ARC tunnel they would know that the project is an ill-concieved boondoggle that does not connect to New York’s major transportation hubs and that New Jersey taxpayers are bearing the lions share of the costs, while New York is not contributing a penny.
Christie killed the project because New Jersey taxpayers could be on the hook for between $2 and $6 billion dollars in cost overruns, in addition to the $3 billion, plus our share of the Port Authority’s contribution, that we are already on the hook for. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LeHood appealed to Christie for time to review options to reinstate the project. Christie gave him two weeks. I’m looking forward to the Neptune Nudnik’s editorial after LeHood announces that the feds will cover the cost overruns or that New York is contributing to the project.
If LeHood comes up with an acceptable solution to the financial inequities of the project, Christie should insist upon an evalution of the wisdom of building a tunnel that ends 150 feet below Macy’s, rather than a tunnel that could be built in partnership with Amtrak that would end at Penn/Moynihan Station before he commits billions of New Jersey’s dollars to the project.
If the Neptune Nudniks don’t want to be informed by one of their own, maybe they will learn from the Star Ledger which has an excellent article on the controversy.
Did Ronald Reagan want to be president more than anything else in the world? Did Eisenhower or Truman? Did Lincoln want it more than anything?
Clinton did. Nixon did. The Roosevelts sure seemed to want it badly.
Did George W. Bush want it more than Al Gore did?
Is burning ambition the determining factor of who becomes president? In good times it probably is. In times of crisis, the presidency is not an ambition. It becomes a duty. A sacrifice for a transformative leader.
I believe Governor Christie when he says he will not be a candidate for president in 2012. I don’t think he would leave his work in New Jersey half done. I think he really believes in the work that he his doing now, especially in regard to education, is a higher calling. By transforming state government and education, and setting an example for other states to follow, he can make a more powerful impact on the quality life in our nation than many presidents have.
Chris Christie could probably win the 2012 Republican nomination for president. He could probably win the office. If his ambitions were personal, he would probably do it.