Tag Archive: Lee Solomon

Christie Loses His Battle to Dominate the New Jersey Supreme Court

The Senate’s resistance to Gov. Christie’s efforts to re-make the court has proven worthwhile. The Star-Ledger reports, through three anonymous sources, that a deal has been reached between Senate President Sweeney and Governor Christie which will lead to Democrat Stuart Rabner being re-nominated as Chief Justice and Republican Lee Solomon nominated as a Justice. Christie probably decided that not re-nominating Chief Rabner would release a firestorm of protest that he does not need now.

There are currently five Justices – two Democrats, two Republicans and one Independent – and two temporarily appointed Judges filling vacancies. Under the above plan Solomon becomes the third Republican, and Judge Mary Catherine Cuff, currently a temporary judge, is the third Democrat. With the other temporary Judge stepping down, the court membership then would consist of 3 D’s, 3 R’s and 1 Ind.

It has been a long and distasteful series of events beginning in 2010 when Christie took unprecedented steps in denying tenure to the respected Democrat Justice John Wallace, and later in 2013 to Republican Justice Helen Hoens, who did not always vote in Christie’s favor. At various times the governor continued efforts without success to add enough Republicans to dominate the Supreme Court. In recent months there were hints that Christie would deny tenure to Chief Rabner.

What’s Happening Today Tue. 12/03/2013

Events today: Board of State Canvassers meets to certify the results of last month’s general election, noon, in the Statehouse Annex’s Committee Room 5. Communications Workers of America union endorses Councilman Ras Baraka in the Newark mayoral election, 12:30pm at CWA Local 1037′s office in Newark. Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey, 9:15am holds its annual summit, with speakers Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera and union executive Milly Silva, 11:30am, Crowne Plaza Monroe, South Brunswick. U.S. Sen. Cory Booker visits Cumberland County.

Where Are They Today?

Gov. Chris Christie resigned his job as New Jersey’s U. S. Attorney in 2009 to become governor. He brought with him an extraordinarily large number of former staff members from the Attorney’s Office. Who are some of these people and where are they today?

  • Paula Dow: Christie’s first cabinet appointee served as NJ’s Attorney General for less than two years and then was named to a NY/NJ Port Authority post by Christie after his nomination of her as a Superior Court Judge ended in a political standoff with the Senate.

  • Phillip Kwon: Appointed First Assistant Attorney General. In 2012 Christie nominated him to the NJ Supreme Court but the Senate Judiciary Committee rejected his nomination and he also took a job at the NY/NJ Port Authority.

  • Marc Ferzan: Appointed Executive Assistant NJ attorney general. Then after Sandy he was appointed Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Recovery and Rebuilding – “the Sandy Czar.”

  • Ralph J. Marra Jr.: appointed to the top legal post at the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority.

  • Marc Larkins Appointed Executive Director of the NJ School Development Authority Board.

  • Lee Solomon: Appointed President of the Board of Public Utilities and then returned to one of his prior positions as a NJ Superior Court judge.

  • Robert Hanna: Appointed Director of the Division of Law in the Attorney General’s office and then head of the NJ Board of Public Utilities, replacing Lee Solomon, where he remains today. Christie also nominated him last year to the NJ Supreme Court, but the Senate has not acted on the nomination.

  • Stephen Taylor: Appointed Director of Criminal Justice in the AG’s office.

  • Deborah Gramiccioni:  Appointed Director of the Governor’s Authorities Unit, then Deputy Chief of Staff.

  • Jeffrey S. Chiesa: Appointed Christie’s Chief Counsel. Then in 2011 Attorney General, replacing Paula Dow. Then interim U.S. Senator following Frank Lautenberg’s death and until Cory Booker became U.S. Senator. Chiesa is now with a prominent NJ law firm.

  • Kevin M. O’Dowd: Appointed Deputy Chief Counsel, then in 2011 appointed Chief of Staff replacing Richard Bagger. Yesterday he was nominated to be Attorney General.

  • Charles McKenna: Appointed Head of Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, then replaced Jeff Chiesa as Chief Counsel.

  • Michele Brown: Governor’s Appointments Counsel, then in 2012 CEO of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.  

  • Paul Matey: Appointed Christie’s Senior Counsel; in 2011 he replaced O’Dowd as Deputy Chief Counsel.  

    Make of this what you will: A raiding of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Christie creating a “Law and Order” governor’s office, Christie finding comfort with loyal former employees, etc. These attorneys have played key (successful and unsuccessful) roles in Christie’s administration. However, in 2011 Christie with remarkable candor and bravado said, “It’s my agenda, It’s not Kevin’s agenda or Rich’s agenda or Charlie’s agenda, or Jeff’s agenda. It’s my agenda…”

  • Senate Democratic Leadership – Part 2

    Yesterday, I interviewed Senate President Steve Sweeney and Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg. Part 1 was posted yesterday, here.

    In Part 2, below, the senators discuss the issues with New Jersey’s halfway houses, Governor Christie’s intransigence on providing low cost insurance through health exchanges, the vacancies on the state Supreme Court, the so-called Jersey Comeback, and Senator Weinberg’s Jersey Girls Caucus.



    Blue Jersey Focus – Senator Barbara Buono

    I met with Senator Barbara Buono in Edison yesterday to discuss some current issues. In this interview she talks about (among other things) “The Ghost Entity”, why the two weeks after the November election are extremely important, why it’s taking so long to implement a law that helps sick people, the governor’s destruction of the integrity of our judicial system, and of course property taxes. She even lauds a Republican New Jersey governor (not the current one!)

    Communicating – One Drip at a Time

    There has been a lot of press lately on infrastructure – concentrating on energy, roads, and tunnels. Yet, there’s another aspect of infrastructure in New Jersey that seems to take a back seat in the newspapers and blogs – the reliability, quality, and cost of our water systems.

    So when you gather a bunch of water geeks together, what do you think the most important issue is? At such a forum today, sponsored by NJ Spotlight, one issue was repeated continuously – it was the thread that wound through the almost two hour discussion on our water infrastructure.

    If you guessed reliability or quality, you would be wrong. Both of these were discussed. But the biggest issue on the plate for the assembled executives was communicating to the public the justification for rate increases.

    Lowering the Bar – Bad for New Jersey

    In a densely populated state with few indigenous traditional sources of energy, the cost, safety, and reliability of New Jersey’s energy supply present significant challenges. Energy prices are rising, the capacity for energy distribution is becoming strained, and environmental impact is a major concern. Some of those challenges were addressed today at a joint Senate/Assembly hearing in Toms River co-chaired by Senator Bob Smith and Assemblyman John McKeon.

    By law, the state must issue an Energy Master Plan (EMP) that documents the administration’s “strategic vision for the use, management, and development of energy in New Jersey over the next decade.” The plan must be revised every three years.

    Governor Christie’s draft EMP was the topic of today’s hearings.  Prior to these discussions, hearings were conducted by the governor’s Board of Public Utilities (BPU). I did not attend those, but from the information I have, those hearings were biased toward the traditional electrical power generation and distribution industries. By contrast, today’s hearings gave environmentalists and activists an opportunity to be heard.

    New Jersey’s Thirst for Power

    With the Governor on vacation and Senator Sweeney’s bombast being supplanted by the hand wringing surrounding the Casey Anthony verdict, you would think that Trenton’s name-calling and argumentative style would be on hiatus, and you would be wrong.