Tag Archive: Donald DiFrancesco

9/11 Memo to Gov. Christie: Not Everything is About You

Like everyone, I’m still dumbstruck by the events of September 11, 2001. I was in Detroit, not here. Detroit, sharing a river, bridge & tunnel with Canada, is the nation’s most vulnerable area to illegal entry. City was in lockdown. Travel between the two countries at dead-stop. On Woodward Avenue, National Guardsmen on jeeps with rifles on their shoulders.

But I’ve always believed that September 11 didn’t happen to America, it happened to New York – and also to New Jersey & Connecticut. Because the people who died in the World Trade Center were our people. I can’t imagine what it was to be here. In the middle school, kids throwing up whose parents worked in NYC. The flyers. The smoke and steam visible from our cities on the Hudson.

With the 10th anniversary coming, felt as deeply near the Pentagon, Christie’s usual bombast seems particularly unwelcome now. In the last few days, Christie has called Mayor Bloomberg, whose city deserves respect right now, a Napolean a dictator and a putz. I realize part of what he’s is after is to get recognition for Donald DiFrancesco, who was ever so briefly sitting as governor when 9/11 happened. That he wants a role for David Samson, Port Authority Chair, and not inconsequentially his appointee. That some of it is wanting to make sure NJ has a role in the commemoration, as we certainly had a role in the loss.

But, even giving the Governor that benefit of doubt, most of his embarrassing kicking and screaming is simply typical Christie conduct.

But as we come up to the worst national day in most of our lives, it’s time for the Governor to tuck away his tantrums, and show respect – with his own behavior – for that loss. It’s not the time for ungentlemanly name-calling or jockeying for position. Gov. Christie is the biggest of big wheels – okay, Governor, we all get it, bully for you. But arguing about the program? People died – try to keep your eye on the ball. Grow up a little before September 11, 2011. Try to remember that not everything is about you.

Postscript: At a presser this morning at Trinitas Hospital in Elizabeth, the Governor denied calling Bloomberg any of those things. I don’t believe him for a minute.

A look at the new NJ-21 (and a brief history)

by Stephen Yellin

First, a friendly welcome to the residents of Kenilworth, Chatham Borough, Bernards Township and Far Hills (all 919 of you in the last case) to the 21st Legislative District of New Jersey. I hope you find your accommodations comfortable, as you’ll be staying here for the next 10 years. 🙂

Second, we in the 21st bid a fond farewell to Chatham Township, Madison and Millburn, which will now have a Democratic delegation to represent them in the form of Dick Codey, John McKeon and Mila Jasey. While this Berkeley Heights resident is more than a little jealous to be less than a mile away from having this awesome trio as my delegation, I take comfort in knowing that my friends at Drew University will get to know another awesome ex-Governor a lot better in the year ahead*.  

SEC charges and why politics matters

On Wednesday, the Securities and Exchange Commission (S.E.C.) charged New Jersey with improperly funding the state’s public pension fund.  While the acknowledgment of the commission’s cease and desist order satisfies the official accusation, one is reminded of why, despite widespread apathy, politics still matters.

In 2001, at the behest of Republican Acting Governor Donald DiFrancesco, the Legislature voted to increase teacher retirement benefits by 9%.  The bills proponents believed that the jump would attract a new generation of talent to the state.  There was also an off the record assumption that the increase boded well for a Republican leadership about to exit to the wings of power.  Not to be outdone, many Democrats shared that assessment.  The legislation passed in a bipartisan vote and DiFrancesco obliged, a decision that dramatically altered the state’s financial fortunes.  And what’s worse, it was enacted with inaccurate information.

The stock market was doing quite well in 1999.  They grabbed hold of a phantom revenue source for the increase – a $5.3 billion jump not reflected in actuarial reports.  Using that unreported sum as the basis for the law’s financing was improper: the gain

And it could have been avoided.

Codey and DiFrancesco on Who Wants What

The Star Ledger explains that the federal subpoenas investigating “Christmas Tree” appropriations in the state legislature because there’s a very small paper trail. It’s so informal, that it’s rare to find in writing where the item originated from.

The Ledger doesn’t completely rail against the old practice (likely because the system has changed), and neither do some of NJ’s prominent lawmakers.

“I can’t say it’s been a bad process because I was a part of it. It has to be under control,” [former Gov. Donald DiFrancesco] said. “The purposes have to be legitimate in terms of where the money is going.”

Last month, [Senate President Dick] Codey moved to change the practice, announcing a plan that would force legislators to publicly disclose their budget insertions at least 10 days before committees vote on the request.

“It’s now a thing of the past,” Codey said last week of the secretive process. “We need to have it out in the open so it’s all debated. So everybody knows who wants what.”

Political Roundup

  • Opening up what could be a top target for Democrats, the 12th district’s Republican Assemblywoman Jennifer Beck will vacate her seat to run against incumbent Democratic Senator Ellen Karcher. Wally Edge says the matchup will be “one of the premier legislative contests” of 2007.
  • Rumor has it that ultra-conservative Assemblyman Guy Gregg will challenge senior Republican Senator Robert Littell in the 24th district’s GOP primary.
  • Long-time Menendez chief of staff Michael Hutton is starting his own lobbying shop.
  • The newly-minted RNC Communications Director, Lisa Camooso Miller, was once a special assistant to former Acting Governor Donald DiFrancesco.
  • And fresh off of nabbing a hit-and-run driver, Democrat Barbara Buono (LD-18) steered a successful resolution through the Senate that urges the federal government to protect Title IX in athletics.