Senate president: Come home, Chris Christie. N.J. needs you

IMG_3507TRENTON — Senate President Stephen Sweeney has a message for Gov. Chris Christie: Log off Twitter, come home and work to fix the state’s economy. “He actually needs to be back here meeting with the legislative leadership. He needs to be back here with a plan on what we’re going to do to fix this place,”… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: April 28th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: 2016 Presidential Politics, Chris Christie, Economy, New Jersey, New Jersey State Budget, NJ State Legislature, Stephen Sweeney | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Assembly Passes Gay Marriage Bill

NJ Supreme Court is end game for Same Sex Marriage Advocates

As expected, the New Jersey Assembly passed the Marriage Equality and Religious Exemptions Act today.  The vote was 42-33.  No Republican voted for the bill.  Two Cape May County Democrats, Nelson Albano and Matthew Milam voted NO, according to NJ.com

The bill passed the Senate last week and now heads to Governor Chris Christie for his expected veto.

Christie has called for the issue to be put to referendum this fall.  Senator Christopher “Kip” Bateman has proposed legislation authorizing the referendum.

Senate President Stephen Sweeney has said the referendum legislation will not make it to the Senate floor for a vote.

Christie has said the Democrats handling of the matter is political theater. He told Poltickernj,

“If they don’t put it on the ballot, you’ll know the whole thing was political theater,” Christie said. “I trust the people.”

However, same sex marrige advocates seem to think that legislative passage of the bill will make a difference in their efforts to get the New Jersey Supreme Court to impose same sex marriage in New Jersey regardless of Christie’s veto or whether or not there is a referendum.

In an email to his membership, Steven Goldstein, CEO of Garden State Equality, said,

… Meanwhile, Garden State Equality continues its lawsuit with Lambda Legal –
where courts will now see the legislative intent of marriage equality…

…         “Pursuing all roads to justice, Garden State Equality and seven-same sex couples will continue our lawsuit for marriage equality, where we are represented by Lambda Legal and the nationally renowned Gibbons law firm.  With this victory, the courts will see the legislature’s clear intent to replace the state’s failed civil union law with marriage equality.”

Posted: February 17th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Marriage Equality, Marriage Equality and Religious Exemptions Act | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Same Sex Marriage Passes Senate Judiciary Committee

Christie Calls For a Referendum

The Marriage Equality and Religious Exceptions Act passed the New Jersey Senate Judiciary committee this afternoon on a partisan 8-4 vote. Democrats Nicholas Scutari, Nia Gill, Nellie Pou, Paul Sarlo, Brain Stack, Loretta Weinberg, and Joe Vitale voted for the bill.  Republicans Kip Bateman, Michael Doherty, Joe Kyrillos and Kevin O’Toole voted no.

While at a Town Hall meeting in Bridgewater, Governor Chris Christie called for putting the question on the ballot in November.  Back in Trenton, Senate President Stephen Sweeney quickly rejected Christie’s call for a referendum, calling it a civil rights issue that should be decided by the legislature, not the people.

Former Governor Jon Corzine’s Public Advocate, Richard Chen, said that Women’s Suffrage was on the New Jersey ballot in 1915 and was defeated, passing only in Ocean County.



Posted: January 24th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Marriage Equality | Tags: , , , , , , , | 30 Comments »

MMM Year in Review – May

Seal Team 6 killed Osama Bin Laden.

Having lost the legislative map battle, Governor Christie made a deal with Senate President Stephen Sweeney over Supreme Court Justice nominees’ confirmation hearing.  In making the deal, six months before the general election, Christie implicitly conceded that the Democrats would retain control of the State Senate and the Sweeney would remain Senate President.

Howard Birdsall resigned as chairman of the Brookdale College board of trustees.

The world did not end.  The Rapture was rescheduled for October.

The State Supreme Court reaffirmed the Abbott decision, assuring that New Jersey’s educational system would remain racially segregated  and funded by the highest property taxes in the nation.

The Neptune Board of Education made a deal with the ACLU that prevented litigation and kept the high school graduation at the Ocean Grove Great Auditorium.

Governor Christie pulled New Jersey out of the RGGI cap and trade scheme.

86 veterans of the Battle of the Bulge and their families attended a Survivors Reunion and Monument Rededication Ceremony at Thorne Middle School in Middletown.

Rutgers paid Snooki $32,000 to bestow her wisdom upon the student body. They paid retiring University president Richard McCormick $550,000 to take a year off and will pay him $335,000 per year to teach history when he returns.

Posted: December 29th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: 2011 Year in review | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on MMM Year in Review – May

Poor Dick Codey

Power Has Its Privileges

codey-book-coverSenate President Stephen Sweeney famously called Governor Chris Christie a “rotten prick” last summer over the budget.  Assembly Speaker Sheila has called Christie a liar, a bully and implied his his administration was racist.  Christie just shrugs it off and keeps working with them.

Former Acting Governor Richard Codey, Sweeney’s predecessor, called Christie a liar earlier this week.  Christie responded by firing Codey’s cousin from a $215,000 job at the Pork Authority and cancelling Codey’s State Police security detail.

Codey can take comfort in the fact that Christie is giving him more rough and especially tumble material for the paperback edition to his book and that he hasn’t tumbled as far as Jon Corzine.

Posted: December 15th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: New Jersey | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Running Out The Clock?

With Just 56 Days Remaining In The Session, Let’s Hope The Legislature Gets Back From Their Current Vacation Ready To Finally Address Some Of New Jersey’s Most Pressing Issues

“You know we have more work to do, the tool kit has to happen. We have to find a way to put a tool kit together, again I’m sure it will be some kind of a compromise, but the core principles will be the same. … We need to continue to work now and seize the momentum that the Governor said to continue to make improvements in New Jersey.”– Senate President Steve Sweeney, Press Conference On Bipartisan Property Tax CapCompromise, July 3, 2010




Education Reform

  • Failed to take action on the Opportunity Scholarship Act (S-1872/A-2810) which establishes a five-year pilot program to provide tax credits to entities contributing to scholarships for certain low-income students.
  • Failed to take action on the School Children First Act (S-2881/A-4168) to provide for an educator evaluation system based on multiple measures of teacher effectiveness.
  • Failed to take action on the Urban Hope Act (S-3002/A-4264) which provides for the creation of as many as ten “transformation school projects” in the worst performing districts.
  • Failed to act on Charter Reform (A-4167) to provide critical updates to strengthen and improve New Jersey’s charter law.

Civil Service Reform

  • Legislature-passed Civil Service Reform failed to include the critically needed opt-out and furlough options for municipalities.

Sick Leave Reform

  • Public employee unused sick leave and vacation payouts cost New Jersey taxpayers over $43 million in 2010.

Ethics Reform

  • Failed to take up Governor Christie’s Ethics Reform Package, Introduced back in September, 2010.
  • Failed to Act to bring Accountability and Transparency to the Legislature through Increased Disclosure (CV of A2768)

Shadow Government Reform

  • Failed to Act on Bipartisan Legislation to Extend Oversight and Accountability to the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commissioners and the North Jersey District Water Supply Commission.
  • Failed to Act on Governor Christie’s Comprehensive Shadow Government Reform Legislation.





Directs that one sample ballot shall be delivered to each residence address where at least one resident thereof is registered to vote.


Eliminate eligibility for State retirement systems for non- government groups and associations.


Allows gross income tax refunds to be credited against a taxpayer’s delinquent local property taxes.


Permits layoff plans as substitute for employment reconciliation plans for joint meetings or shared service agreements under certain circumstances.


Employee Discipline Reform.  Limits right of appeal of disciplinary action taken by employer against certain public employees.


Concerns collective negotiations for school employees; repeals law prohibiting school boards from imposing terms and conditions of employment.


Authorizes executive county superintendent of schools to require implementation of shared services arrangements and to approve school district collective negotiations agreements prior to execution of agreement.


Concerns collective negotiations for public institutions of higher education.


Amends State college law to remove certain employees from civil service system and allow boards of trustees to conduct collective bargaining.









Authorizes the establishment of probationary periods for non-tenured faculty members at State colleges.


Amends State college law to allow boards of trustees to conduct collective bargaining.


Amends State college law to remove certain employees from civil service system.

Posted: November 15th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Chris Christie, NJ Judiciary | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

What if we held an election and nobody cared? Part 2, 13th Legislative District

Prelude from Part 1:

In seven weeks New Jersey voters will have the opportunity to elect an entirely new state legislature.

Patrick Murray’s Monmouth University/Neptune Nudniks poll conducted in August indicates that New Jersey voters disapprove of their legislature by a 48%-35% margin.  Democrats disapprove by 45%-38%.  Independents, the majority, disapprove by a whopping 50%-28%.  Surprisingly, Republicans approve of the legislature by a 45%-41% margin.  Public workers disapprove by 55%-26%.

Based solely on those poll results, one might expect that we’d be in the middle of a spirited campaign with Democrats and public workers rallying to throw the Republicans out of office.  Obviously that is not the case.  Democrats control the legislature that their base and Independents disapprove of strongly.

Due to Dr. Alan Rosenthal’s decision that New Jersey voters are better off being continuously represented by legislators they don’t know, there are only a handful of competitive legislative races.  The Democrats will continue to control the legislature for the next two years.  Probably the next ten years.

13th Legislative District

This district keeps the Bayshore towns of Aberdeen, Hazlet, Holmdel, Keansburg, Keyport, Middletown, and Union Beach from the old 13th, adds Atlantic Higlands, Highlands, Monmouth Beach,  Rumson and Sea Bright from the old 11th and Fair Haven, Little Silver, Oceanport, Marlboro from the old 12th.

The Republican incumbents are Senator Joe Kyrillos and Assembly Members Amy Handlin and Declan O’Scanlon. O’Scanlon previously represented the old 12th.

On paper this should be a competitive district.  Democrats actually have a voter registration edge.  According to Labels and Lists Inc there are 34,193 registered Democrats, 33,758 registered Republicans and 74,492 unaffiliated (Independent) voters in the district.

Despite the slight registration edge for Democrats, the district generally votes Republican.  John McCain won the district in 2008, Chris Christie beat Jon Corzine here by a wide margin, and Anna Little beat Frank Pallone here in 2010.

Of the 16 municipalities in the 13th, 9 of the are comfortably controlled by Republicans. 6 are competitive towns with a local governing body that shifts from R to D on occasion.   Aberdeen is the only reliably Democratic town on the municpal level.

With 31% of the registered voters in the district, Middletown dominates.  Even though their registration edge is less than 2000 voters, Republicans dominate Middletown.  Middletown voters love their hometown office holders, Joe Kyrillos and Amy Handlin who they have elected time after time over the last two decades plus; Kyrillos served two terms in the Assembly from 1988 through 1991 and has been a Senator since 1992.  Handlin was a Monmouth County Freeholder from 1990 through 2006 when she entered the Assembly.

Roughly 73% of the district is new for O’Scanlon.  Yet, that 27% from his old district, Fair Haven, Little Silver, Oceanport and Marlboro knows O’Scanlon well.  They elected him to two terms in the Assembly after he lost to Michael Panter by only 73 votes in 2005.

The Democrats are running two former Hazlet mayors and a former Middletown township committee member. 

Christopher Cullen is the former Hazlet Mayor challenging Kyrillos for Senate.  Cullen, who served one term on the Hazlet Township Committee, won the nomination for Senate as a write-in candidate in the primary after failing to submit his petitions after being tabbed at the nominating convention in the spring.  He is the director of facilities maintenance and custodial services at MAST High School.  He is a member of Operating Engineers Local 68 and was previously a member of the teamsters.

Hazlet’s Community Center is named for Cullen’s father, James J. Cullen, who served the community for many years as a Republican office holder.

Both Democratic Assembly candidates won their first municipal elections in the wake of Operation Bid Rig.  Lavan was elected to the Hazlet Township Committee in 2005 and served through 2010 when he lost his reelection bid.  Like Cullen, his union roots are deep.  He has been a member of the International Longshoreman’s Association for 46 years.  He is making his support of unions, and the Right to Work legislation that Handlin and O’Scanlon have sponsored, the center piece of his campaign.

Short, a former Republican and a West Point graduate was the first Democrat elected to the Middletown Township Committee in 2006 in the wake of Bid Rig. He was swept out of office with Jon Corzine in 2009 as Chris Christie and the GOP swept Middletownoverwhelmingly.  Short was ambivalent about seeking a second term, but ultimately ignored MMM’s advise that he take the plaque.

Based on the early inactivity of the campaign, I was wondering if the feisty Constitution Party slate of Steve Boracchia for Senate, Bill Lawton and Frank Cottone might actually garner more votes than the Democrats in this race.  However, a volunteer from the Democratic campaign reached out to me to optimistic declare that the Democrats will produce a shocking victory on election day.  The volunteer said that Cullen, Lavan and Short are going in 20 different directions knocking on doors and that they are marshalling their scare resources for a last minute sprint into office.

While the 13th districts candidates don’t have the state Democratic support that the 11th district candidates have enjoyed….a paid staff and high profile fund raisers hosted by Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Senate President Stephen Sweeney…the volunteer said that the campaign is expecting an influx of union money and that Assembly Majority Leader Joe Cryan is coming to the district next week to raise money for the slate.

Posted: September 29th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Declan O'Scanlon, Monmouth County | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Weinberg Should Know Her District Better

Governor Chris Christie’s visit  to the Roy W. Brown Middle School in Bergenfield to tout the pilot of his new teacher evaluation system brought back fond memories for me. I attended the school from 1969 -1971.

The Bergenfield school system has a long tradition of excellence and out of the box thinking.  It is appropriate that one of their schools was chosen for the pilot program.

Senator Loretta Weinberg, whose district includes Bergenfield, and Senate President Stephen Sweeney used the occasion to issue a snarky partisan statement that has nothing to do with the merits of the teacher evaluation system.

Snark is par for the course with Weinberg, but I didn’t expect her to make such a blatant gaff about Bergenfield’s history and the history of a New Jersey Hall of Fame member, Jersey Boy Frankie Valli.

Weinberg and Sweeney opened their statement as follows:

“It is great to see the governor visiting the wonderful schools in Bergenfield, home to the outstanding music program where Frankie Valli got started.

Bergenfield does have an outstanding music program. It has for decades. But that is not where Frankie Valli got started.   Valli grew up in Newark.

Bob Gaudio, Valli’s partner in The Four Seasons and the writer of most of the group’s hit songs, got his start in Bergenfield. Gaudio had his first hit record, Short Shorts, at the age of 15 while still a student at Bergenfield High School. 

Guadio and Valli met in 1958 while they were both touring with different groups. Two years later they formed The Four Seasons.

Weinberg should know this. Not because it is Bergenfield trivia, but because she attended Gaudio’s honorary graduation from Bergenfield High School only two years ago in 2009.

That Gaudio didn’t graduate with his class is an example of the long history of out of the box thinking for Bergenfield educators.  Paul Hoffmeister, then-principal of Bergenfield High School, helped Gaudio convince his parents to let him drop out of school to pursue his musical career, according to the Jersey Boys Blog:

But, in 1958 he was only a 15-year-old kid who had tasted the success of “Short Shorts” and knew in his gut that music would be his life.

Concerned parents

Now he only had to convince his parents that it would be a good idea for him to leave school so that he and the Royal Teens could go on tour with the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry.

Though it was an easy decision for Gaudio, he knew it would be a hard sell to his parents.

But an ally came to his aid from a very surprising corner during a meeting with Bob, his parents and Paul Hoffmeister, then-principal of Bergenfield High School.

“My parents were very concerned,” said Gaudio, “and this meeting was my last resort to try and convince my dad, in particular, to let me go.”

“But I didn’t expect what happened,” he said. “I thought the principal would side with my parents, but he didn’t; and he shaped my future.”

“It was very astute of him,” said Gaudio, “and I think he was very tuned in to what kids were thinking and how they’re feeling at that stage in their lives.”

“I don’t know if he gave that type of advice to other people,” he said, “but it just made sense to him and was definitely the right decision for me, though I’m sure a major part of it was that I already had a hit record — I wasn’t just going to quit school and twiddle my thumbs and throw darts.”

Not only was Gaudio’s life shaped by Hoffmeister’s risk.  American culture was shaped by it.

Weinberg and Sweeney should get their facts straight if they’re going to be snarky.

Posted: September 14th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Education | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Quinnipiac Poll: Christie Up, Obama, Sweeney and Oliver Down

New Jersey Has A Huge Gender Gap

By Art Gallagher

A Quinnipiac poll released this morning indicates that Governor Chris Christie’s approval numbers have rebounded since their June 21 poll. Today New Jersey narrowly approves of the Governor’s performance, 47%-46%.  In June Christies’s approval rating was upside down, 44%-47%.

“By a 50-35 percent margin, New Jersey voters like Gov. Christie as a person,”  said the Quinnipiac release.  

As opposed to what?  An alien? A pet? A superhero?   Christie did not have to provide a copy of his birth certificate to earn that popularity.

Obama in trouble

President Obama’s approval ratings have taken a huge 10 point negative swing in New Jersey since the June 21 Quinnipiac poll. 

In June New Jersey voters approved of the President’s performance, 50-46 percent.  Today New Jersey voters disapprove of how the President is doing his job by 52-44 percent.  These are Obama’s worst numbers ever in New Jersey.

Unless Obama’s New Jersey numbers improve, Senator Robert Menendez’s reelection prospects are in jeopardy.  Menendez’s numbers have been anemic and are declining.   In June only 45% of NJ voters approved of Menendez vs 38% who disapproved.  Today 39% approve vs 42% who disapprove.  Only 41% say Menendez deserves to be reelected vs 43% say he does not.  Yet, by a 45-39 percent margin voters say they would back him over an unnamed Republican.   Republicans need to nominate a named candidate.

Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver should thank the Lord that their positions are not subject to a statewide ballot.

Sweeney’s numbers are 23% approve to 40% disapprove.  He has suffered a 10 point drop since June.

Oliver fares better only because 54% of New Jersey voters don’t know who she is.  21% of voters approve of the Speaker’s performance and 25% disapprove.  Oliver has suffered a 6 point drop since June.

Gender Gap

Men approve of Christie 58-36 percent while woman disapprove of him 55-37 percent.

Women approve of Obama 51-44 percent. Men disapprove 60-37 percent.

MMM accepts responsibility for the gender gap.  According to the web tracking site alexa.com, MMM’s audience is overwhelmingly men with children and graduate degrees.   We need a female writer or two.


Posted: August 17th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Barack Obama, Chris Christie, Robert Menendez | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on Quinnipiac Poll: Christie Up, Obama, Sweeney and Oliver Down

Sweeney Needs To Grow Up And/Or Seek Therapy

 By Art Gallagher

Sweeney's childishness manifest with an outbreak of acne. Photo credit APP.com

Sweeney's childishness manifest with an outbreak of acne. Photo credit APP.com

Three weeks after his profanity laced rant over Governor Chris Christie’s budget cuts, during which he threatened violence towards the Governor, Senate President Steve Sweeney says he’s still too angry to engage in the State’s business and “jokingly” says he hasn’t talked to Christie yet because there might not be enough troopers available to police the eventual face to face they’ll have.

Christie has proposed legislation that would reverse the cuts to “transitional aid” for New Jersey’s distressed urban areas.  Sweeny said “people will die” as a result of those cuts, yet he has taken no action on the reversal Christie proposed.

As a State employee, Sweeney has first class health insurance.  He should use it and get some anger management treatment.

Sweeney’s remarks were at a meeting with New Jersey Press Media’s (Gannett) editorial board in Neptune that played more like a group therapy session than it did an interview with the President of the Senate.

Sweeney told NJPM that shared services and education reform are next up on the Statehouse agenda, but not before he gets over his issues.

Sweeney also said he’s suspicious of Christie’s budget.  He thinks Christie designed a budget that will get New Jersey’s fiscal house in order so that he can lower taxes in the next budget.  In other words, Sweeney suspects Christie of working to keep his campaign promises.

Posted: July 22nd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Chris Christie, Stephen Sweeney | Tags: , | 11 Comments »