Tag Archive: Deborah Gramiccioni

For NJ Power Couples It Gets Complicated

NJ has its own power couples, and some of them are in a heap of trouble. It becomes complicated when both spouses work for a governor. It is awkward if the governor wants to fire one, or seems to favor one over the other. It may strengthen their loyalty and dependence on the governor but also allow them to be viewed as extra-powerful.

Governor Christie now has at least four power couples working for him in which one or both have been served with subpoenas or are under investigation.

See who they are and why below the fold.

What’s Happening Today Tue. 12/17/2013

On the Portfront: PA MANAGEMENT

NJ’s Stake: The other important issue, frequently unmentioned (except by Assemblyman John S. Wisniewski and Senator Loretta Weinberg) is the overall management of the NY/NJ Port Authority. It is widely acknowledged that more New Jerseyans pay tolls and use busses and cars to pass through the bridge and tunnels to enter Manhattan than vice versa. One of the three large authority airports is in Newark. In spite of our huge revenue contribution more income disproportionately goes to NY projects. NY rules, not the toll payers of NJ.

So what we get for our money is not only incommensurate, it’s a dysfunctional authority. The culture is a cosy relationship with no clear line of authority in which the NY executives do what they want for their turf, and the NJ executives likewise play in their sandbox – which does not lead to the most effective, coordinated policies. Each of the two governors are allowed to appoint individuals to high and low positions with little consideration for their qualifications. A few years ago Christie appointed two friends to the highest level jobs and neither individual had any experience with transportation. These people in turn were allowed to dictate actions and intimidate the professional staff.

When Christie became governor he said he was going to “reform” the authority, but it soon became clear he was not so much concerned with the authority’s mission or the will of New Jerseyans but rather his own political mission. He paid scant attention to the high toll increases imposed on New Jerseyans and more on obtaining funds from the authority that he could use to bolster his flailing NJ Transportation fund. Whatever happened with the “traffic study” his hacks implemented might have just been an additional bonus had it not exploded in their faces and led to their resignations.

The bottom line:  The PA needs far fewer political appointees, and those who are appointed should be knowledgeable about transportation and experienced in their jobs. There should be some independent members of PA Board. The professional staff should feel freer to question their higher ups, particularly with non-protocol orders (and even more so when they believe “This will not end well” as one professional told a NJ political hack.) There should be more coordination and collaboration between the NY and NJ executives. Transparency for such a large organization should be routine, as opposed to what one Christie appointee executive internally said: “There can be no public discourse.” Users should be afforded more opportunities for input. Furthermore, it does not bode well that Christie last week named Deborah Gramiccioni to be NJ’s top executive at the PA – a person with no experience in transportation issues, but a close associate of Christie who will represent his interests and  not necessarily those of New Jerseyans nor even the PA as a whole. See today’s roundup on the possibility of federal investigations of this agency which was originally created by Congress.

OTHER EVENTS

Rep. Rush Holt: 10:30am, press teleconference to announce that the U.S. House has passed provisions he authored to prevent suicide among soldiers and veterans and to strengthen scientific expertise in the Defense Department.

Organizing For Action: Continues its effort to gain House passage for a comprehensive immigration reform bill. You can write to your Republican congressman or tell Speaker Boehner and House leaders to hold a vote: here.

U.S. Senator Robert Menendez is introducing legislation which would require retailers with websites to provide a final tabulation of charges before online orders are placed. Some deceitful websites confuse consumers by offering no such tally.

Jersey Girls Caucus Power List

Loretta Weinberg Binder
Sen. Weinberg looks over the Binder Full of Women

PolitickerNJ’s Power List came out for 2012 a few days ago. It’s a fun list, and we sure did like it when Blue Jersey founder Juan Melli was listed by predecessor PoliticsNJ as Politician of the Year just months after Blue Jersey launched. I don’t always think the same things are important as Politicker does, which is not to disparage them, merely to say when it comes to what’s worth talking about, we have different viewpoints. Nevertheless, fun list. I particularly enjoyed seeing rising Dem leader Vin Gopal show up there.

But Sen. Loretta Weinberg took a closer look. And as you can read in the comment skirmish between her and Politicker’s Darryl Isherwood, the two of them don’t see power quite the same way, and the appearance of so few women on the list – which Darryl defends – is a concern.

Of Politicker’s 100, only 15 are women; there are only 4 in the Top 50. Mary Pat Christie’s highest ranked (6), followed by Christie Communications Director Maria Comella (13), Christie mortgagor Michelle Brown (33) and his Deputy COS for Policy, Deborah Gramiccioni. Weinberg:

PolitickerNJ released their list of “100 most powerful political players in New Jersey.” By the boldface type in the article, readers were warned, “Please keep in mind that, as usual, the list doesnot include elected officials, judges, or former governors.” They forgot to mention, that this year’s list also does not include most of the states most powerful political players who happen to be women. Only 15 women were included in this year’s list of 100. For those lucky 15, many of them are fortunate to have close connections to male “players” listed well above them.

The Jersey Girls List is alphabetical – egalitarian that way. I’m on it. And yes, that makes me stammer a little, blush and kick at the imaginary pebble at my feet. But it’s by no means a Dems-only list. For that would be wrong.

Jersey Girls Caucus Power List, below the fold.