While most of today’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing will focus on the marriage equality bill, the most rancorous debate of the day may be over the renomination of Nicholas Fargo to the Hudson County Board of Taxation. Today, the committee is expected to vote on Fargo for the second time in the last week. Committee Chairman Sarlo tried unsuccessfully to sneak Fargo through the Judiciary Committee last Monday, but Republican Senators Bill Baroni and Jen Beck objected to the nominee. Fargo, who is a Republican, pulls in almost $200,000 per year from four taxpayer-funded jobs—two part-time gigs with Wood-Ridge Boro (of which Sarlo is mayor), and two full-time jobs. When brought up for a vote, Fargo won the support of just five members of the thirteen-member judiciary, with Brian Stack and Nia Gill abstaining and Loretta Weinberg joining the five Republicans to vote no. Sarlo then threw a childish tantrum, cussing, “bullshit, bullshit, bullshit,” into a live microphone.
Apparently unwilling to let the Democratic process get in the way of his friend’s pension-padding, the stubborn Senator has put Fargo’s nomination on the agenda for today’s Senate Judiciary Committee meeting. While it certainly isn’t the biggest item on the agenda, it will no doubt be the subject of a heated debate, and perhaps it will attract more widespread scrutiny from the media as well. Thus far, PolitickerNJ’s Wally Edge and Charles Stile of The Record have each covered the story extensively, but few others have taken notice. Today, that may change. Members of the press from all corners of the state will be watching the Judiciary hearing this afternoon for the debate on marriage equality. The Judiciary Committee usually considers nominations first, so Sarlo will have to do his dirty laundry before a large audience. We can only hope that the increased media attention will convince the senators, who with the decline of the statehouse press in recent years have become used to being ignored, to take another stand against pension-padding and political patronage.
Keep your eyes peeled on Blue Jersey for live coverage of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing starting at 1:00 PM today.