The big story in yesterday’s Asbury Park Press was the political spat between southern Jersey lawmakers and U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg over the proposed Rutgers-Rowan merger. Large photos of State Senate President Sweeney and Lautenberg covered most of the front page.
In case you haven’t been following, Governor Chris Christie has proposed reorganizing Rutgers, Rowan and the University of Medicine and Dentistry. Rutgers-Camden would become part of Rowan. Rowan would get a medical school associated with George Norcross Univeristy Cooper University Hospital. Robert Wood Johnson Hospital would become part of a medical school at Rutgers-New Brunswick, and it will be a while before there are more UMDNJ indictments.
MMM hasn’t been following it all that much. Our young legal eagle friends at Save Jersey don’t like it because they think it will devalue their law degrees if they apply to a firm that doesn’t know the difference between Rutgers-Camden and Rutgers-Newark. And then there’s the two idiots who don’t like the deal…that former Navy SEAL that ran for Assembly who got into it with Christie at a Town Hall meeting and Lautenberg.
If not for the idiot SEAL and the idiot U. S. Senator nobody from New Jersey who isn’t directly affected by the merger would know about it, except for news junkies like us.
Lautenberg wrote to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan alleging the proposed merger is improper and copied U.S. Attorney General Eric “Fast and Furious” Holder and New Jersey’s U.S. Attorney Paul “New Jersey is not corrupt” Fishman, thereby implying that the merger is criminal.
Having already used “idiot” and “numb-nuts” with great fanfare, Christie’s team dubbed Lautenberg’s letter as “outrageous,” “uninformed,” and “bizarre.”
None of that was front page newsworthy. It took Norcross and Sweeney launching Sweeney’s 2014 campaign for Launtenberg’s job to make the front page of the APP.
Wednesday morning Sweeney emailed a scathing open letter attacking Lautenberg for opposing the merger and for his failure as a U.S. Senator to bring home Washington money for New Jersey’s higher education institutions. Several other south Jersey lawmakers, including two Republicans, signed with letter with Sweeney. Norcross later sent a statement calling Lautenberg a “great Senator for north Jersey” who has failed southern New Jersey to the same email list.
The Sweeney/Norcross statements are not really about the Rutger-Rowan merger. The real message is that Lautenberg’s career is coming to an end. That message has been confirmed by the silence of Democratic leaders who have staid out of this fight. U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, Assembly Speaker Sheilia Oliver, Democratic State Chairman John Wisniewski, and Newark Mayor Cory Booker have all been silent. No one is backing up Lautenberg.
The message to Lautenberg…prepare for retirement… just don’t quit and let Christie appoint your replacement. The message to Democratic donors…don’t give to Lautenberg’s 2014 reelection campaign.
So, the point of the last 460 words is that The Asbury Park Press made the 2014 race for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate front page news yesterday. That wouldn’t be so bad if there were not a U.S. Senate election between two relatively unknown candidates, U.S. Senator Bob Mendendez and State Senator Joe Kyrillos this year.
Posted: March 30th, 2012 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: 2012 U.S. Senate Race, Rowan Universtiy, Rutgers | Tags: 2012 U.S. Senate Race, 2014 U.S. Senate race, Asbury Park Press, Bob Menendez, Chris Christie, Cooper University Hospital, Cory Booker, Frank Lautenberg, George Norcross, George Norcross University Hospital, Joe Kyrillos, John Wisniewski, Rowan, Rutgers, Rutgers-Rowan merger, Senate, Sheilia Oliver, Steve Sweeney, U.S, UMDNJ | 2 Comments »
By Senator Kevin O’Toole
The appointment of Justices to the Supreme Court of New Jersey is one of the most important duties afforded to the Governor under our Constitution. The men and women called to serve as members of our State’s highest judicial body must grapple with the most significant disputes arising from laws in a variety of areas, ranging from criminal justice to corporate governance. Rightfully, the qualifications of any attorney nominated to sit on the Supreme Court should be carefully scrutinized. In the case of Governor Christie’s two recent nominees, Bruce Harris and Phillip Kwon, that study reveals the backgrounds of extremely well qualified candidates whose experience is entirely consistent with the past and present Justices of the Supreme Court, all of whom enjoyed swift and strong Senatorial support.
Phillip Kwon has admirably dedicated nearly his entire career to various positions in public service within New Jersey. A graduate of Georgetown University and Rutgers Law School, Mr. Kwon has worked over the last decade for the State’s Attorney General and the United States Attorney’s Office as the lead trial prosecutor in matters such as narcotics trafficking, gang violence, and public corruption. He has served with distinction as a manager of dozens of federal prosecutors and thousands of state attorneys, earning the accolades of colleagues and adversaries. As both a private attorney and a judicial law clerk, he has experience in the same variety of civil matters that will occupy the Supreme Court’s docket in the years to come.
Mr. Harris has achieved the rare distinction of combining a successful career as an attorney at two of the State’s most prestigious private firms, with nearly eight years of elected public service. A magna cum lade graduate of Amherst College, Mr. Harris also holds an M.B.A, with honors, from Boston University and a law degree from Yale. In legal practice that spanned nearly two decades, Mr. Harris personally negotiated a wide array of financial transactions, in both the public and private sector, valued in excess of $8 billion. His legal advice and representation ranged from matters involving environmental projects, health care facilities, and public libraries, to assisted living homes, nonprofits, and residences for the disabled. Simultaneously, Mr. Harris volunteered his time with a host of local charities, including the Chatham Environmental Commission, the Chatham Historic Preservation Commission, and as a Trustee of the Foundation of the UMDNJ and New Jersey Health Foundation. He also combined his legal practice with nearly eight years of elected service, first as a member of the Chatham Borough Council and now as Chatham’s Mayor.
Notably, the backgrounds of both of these candidates are highly similar to the experiences and qualifications of our current and past Justices, all of whom received quick approval by the Legislature. Like Justice LaVecchia, who was confirmed within four days, Mr. Kwon is a graduate of Rutgers Law School. Mr. Harris not only has a legal degree, but also holds a Masters in Business Administration, which he obtained in 1979. Similar to Justice Rabner, who was confirmed within 17 days, Mr. Kwon clerked in the U.S. District Court, and held leadership positions in the Office of the United States Attorney. Both Justices Rabner and Patterson garnered experience at the Office of the Attorney General, as has Mr. Kwon, who has been with the Office since 2010. Three of the five current justices have extensive legal experience in private practice, as do both Mr. Harris and Mr. Kwon. Like all members of the court, Mr. Harris and Mr. Kwon have worked in prominent New Jersey law firms. Nor will Mr. Harris become the first elected Mayor and Councilman to sit on the Court, as Justice Daniel O’Hern served as both Mayor and Councilman of Red Bank before his service as a Justice.Water Sports Product
Moreover, the confirmation of both Mr. Harris and Mr. Kwon will restore much-needed political balance to the high court. By unwritten rule, Governors have maintained a political party affiliation split on the New Jersey Supreme Court, with no more than four Justices of the Governor’s party serving at the same time. Since 1947, however, the implementation of that “tradition” has produced a Republican majority a mere five times compared with nineteen Democratic majorities. Governor Christie’s appointments will honor the real intent of the compromise by creating a true party balance comprised of three registered Republicans (Hoens, Patterson, Harris), two registered Democrats (Rabner, Albin), and two unaffiliated Justices (LaVecchia, Kwon).
The Constitution does not permit indefinite, or even lengthy, vacancies on the Supreme Court. While the power of appointment and re-appointment rests solely with the Governor, the Senate holds the privilege of providing advice and consent of all persons asked to serve the people as members of the Court. The Governor’s selection of these two exceptionally qualified candidates, whose backgrounds are substantially similar to the attorneys who have served our State with distinction, will allow the Senate to move swiftly to publicly consider the temperament of these nominees in fulfillment of our Constitutional duty.
Posted: February 2nd, 2012 | Author: admin | Filed under: NJ Supreme Court | Tags: Albin, Bruce Harris, Chris Christie, Constitution, Daniel O'Hern, Hoens, Justices, Kevin O'Toole, LaVecchia, NJ Supreme Court, Patterson, Phillip Kwon, Rabner, Senate, Supreme Court of New Jersey | Comments Off on Senator O’Toole Makes Case For Christie’s Supreme Court Nominees