Tag Archive: Justice John Wallace

Christie Trying to Pack Our Supreme Court

After Governor Christie was so insensitive as to remove the highly qualified African-American Supreme Court Justice John Wallace from the bench in 2011 he should not have been surprised that Senate Democrats took a jaundiced view of his later nominations. They deliberately delayed his appointment of conservative Justice Anne Patterson by over a year.

Christie then proceeded to mask his desire to pack the court with like-minded conservatives when he nominated African-American Bruce Harris, an out and proud gay man who it was announced would recuse himself on a court case that so defined him – marriage equality. Christie also nominated Asian-American Phillip Kwon who it appeared was an Independent in name only and who was unable to remove the cloud surrounding his family’s liquor store finances. Neither nominee passed Senate muster.

Now, with only five of seven members on the Supreme Court, with no African-Americans, no Hispanics and only two Democrats, Christie proposes to add two new members but not an African-American, Hispanic nor a Democrat. “It is unacceptable for the New Jersey Supreme Court, for a decade to come, to exclude one-third of New Jersey’s population by having no African-American and Latino members,” NJ Legislative Black Caucus Chair Essex County Senator Ron Rice said. The caucus joins dozens of organizations, ranging from the chapter of the AFL-CIO to the NAACP state conference, urging senators to reject the new nominations. Also in a state in which there are more registered Democrats than Republicans it is unacceptable to have only two of seven jurists who are Democrats.

In his Supreme Court nominations Governor Christie has been acting too clever by half, particularly, with his continuing claim that his recent nominations are a “compromise.” It is time for him to go back to the drawing board and re-introduce nominees who reflect the diversity and political balance of our state.  

So Can There Be any Happy Medium Here??

 Quite a week it was!  Thousands of first responders demonstrating in front of the State House on Thursday.  Made my way to the rostrum on the late side and before I could speak I had to get back inside to chair the first of two afternoon committees.

On one side we have our tough (and sometimes mean) acerbic Governor enjoying the limelight! He actually criticized President Obama for suggesting that elected leaders should not vilify public employees.  He seems to enjoy escalating the noise level while he calls our public safety personnel, the “Me First” group.

There’s the building trades who, though we know they have suffered terribly during this economic downturn, it is still suprising seeing their lack of public support for public employees. Whatever happened to the sisterhood and brotherhood I grew up with?

We, Democrats, have to overcome the noise coming from the administration We should recognize that Senate President Steve Sweeney is calling attention to real issues of escalating pensions, health benefits and sick leave. His responsibility is to put forth ideas for the public and their legislative representatives to discuss and debate.  But I believe we need to negotiate these (not legislate them) with union leadership who also must be willing to clearly state they understand the plight of the highly taxed New Jersey homeowner, and they’re ready to become a part of the solution!

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One Two Punch – Christie Subverts Labor, Divided Government At Same Time

Ira Mintz was first hired to work at NJ’s Public Employee Relations Council in 1985, under a Republican administration. Put simply, PERC’s role is to mediate the negotiation process between labor and management, allowing agreements to be reached through a reliable process. PERC is designed to oversee that process neutrally and independently, like a referee in a football game; as an agency, their reputation is excellent, and has been since the body’s formation in 1968.

Today’s Star Ledger reports on Mintz’s January termination, the first ever of its kind in state history. Because while the administration dismissed the firing as the kind of standard deck-shuffling that comes with new state leadership, nothing could be further form the truth.

“I think that my termination is directly related to my work on collective bargaining for public employees in New Jersey,” Mintz told Blue Jersey. “The administration didn’t like the neutral and independent results in recent PERC decisions.” Specifically, Mintz and some of his colleagues believe that the firing came as a result of a decision made by PERC last year; the Council opposed Christie’s attempt to void an agreement, made by Corzine administration, in which employees would work on Lincoln’s birthday in exchange for no work the day after Thanksgiving. For whatever reason, the governor opposed this.

In other words, Mintz’s firing was retaliation for ….

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