Tag Archive: George Gilmore

Cerf shore rental complicates senatorial courtesy calculations

In the latest episode of the year-long saga over Acting Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf’s stalled nomination in the Senate, Cerf has rented a LBI home for the summer. In doing so, he hopes to avoid the longstanding hold on his nomination from Sen. Ron Rice, who is concerned about his prior role as an outside consultant paid by the Newark schools.

The move, adding to his longtime residence in Montclair, Essex County and a rental in Rocky Hill, Somerset County, has veteran political observers scratching their heads.

“What does this move mean for senatorial courtesy considerations?,” asked former Region IX EPA Director Alan Steinberg. “I remember a time when I visited a Superfund site with former Governor Whitman on one side and President George W. Bush on the other…”

The remainder of Steinberg’s hour-long remarks did not appear to have anything to do with Cerf.

Other commentators speculate that Cerf’s move may have something to do with little-known Senate Rule 24(a), instituted during the last time Senate Republicans had a majority, which gives the power of senatorial courtesy in Ocean County solely to county boss George Gilmore, and also gives him the power to directly approve any nominations from the county without the customary Judiciary Committee review.

“Cerf has been surprisingly effective at putting the Democrats in a bind,” Patrick Murray, Monmouth University pollster, said. “Do they ignore time-tested Senate rules? Or do they simply cede their power to George Gilmore?”

Further complicating the matter is Cerf’s bizarre remarks to the Save Jersey editorial board, which make his prior comments to the Asbury Park Press, which had scotched his last confirmation hearing, look mundane in comparison.

In response to a question about where he sleeps at night, Cerf offered the following answer:

“It really depends. Some nights, I start by sleeping on LBI. But then I get up in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep and drive up the Parkway to Montclair. I stop in and get something to eat, and then I go to my apartment in Rocky Hill, because that’s the closest for my commute to my job in Trenton. So basically I’d say that my domicile is in Somerset County.”

Ultimately, it is up to Senate leadership to determine when, or if, to bring Cerf up for a hearing.

Will the Adubato-Norcross ‘Axis of Evil’ fall apart at the redistricting table?

Two very interesting articles about redistricting were posted on PolitickerNJ.com today that could provide anyone interested in the redistricting process with some insight into the developing drama as Republicans appear united in their efforts to reclaim majorities in the State Assembly and State Senate that have been out of their grasp for the last decade against Democratic adversaries who seem to be anything but that.

After a year that has seen the Democrats in Trenton capitulate to our state’s Republican Governor on issue after issue, thanks primarily to overly cozy relations between the Governor and acolytes of Steve Adubato and George Norcross, the two most powerful Democratic Party bosses in the state, the unholy alliance between Adubato and Norcross seems to be fraying at the most dangerous possible time for all Democrats, when division could result in a legislative district map that could guarantee Republican dominance in the state for most if not all of the next decade the way that the last map, conceived by then-Senate Minority Leader, Richard Codey, who would go on to become Senate President and Acting Governor before being unceremoniously ousted from his leadership position in a coup, led by his fiercest adversaries, Adubato and Norcross and their acolytes, enabled the Democrats in Trenton to enjoy the majorities that they have held and squandered for the last decade.

One article presents the players for each team that will go head-to-head in the weeks and months to come to either draw competing (most likely) or cooperating (highly unlikely) legislative district maps that will determine the playing fields on which the next decade’s worth of legislative elections will be held and infers about the strategy that could lead to the end of Codey’s political career.

The other discusses potential fractures in the Democratic ranks in general and between Adubato and Norcross in particular that could spell doom for the Democratic majorities in Trenton once and for all.

GOP cesspool about to explode in Ocean County

promoted by Rosi

The poop is about to hit the fan in GOP-controlled Ocean County as the APP is reporting an “unnamed executive” of the Toms River School District received 100s of thousands in bribes from insurance contractors doing business with the District.  The story quotes an anonymous source with inside knowledge of the case that the “unnamed executive” is Schools Superintendent Michael Ritacco, a vital cog in the GOP-controlled political machine that has been running Ocean County for decades.

This isn’t Hudson County, folks, but rather the heart of the most powerful GOP political machine in the State, and the fiefdom of perhaps the most powerful GOP “Boss of Bosses”, George Gilmore.  Ritacco has a strong connection to “Boss” Gilmore, as well as convicted former GOP Assemblyman Daniel Van Pelt, who evidently is warming up his vocal chords to do some serious singing for the feds in exchange for a lighter sentence.  If Ritacco goes down along with Van Pelt, it will be interesting to see whether Gilmore somehow avoids going down with them.  Gilmore’s law firm, btw, is the school district’s legal counsel.

Something fishy in Toms River

promoted by Rosi

There’s something fishy going on in Toms River/Ocean County and it isn’t Barnegat Bay.  Yesterday the APP reported that GOP machine connected Schools Superintendent Michael Ritacco is the target of a grand jury investigation involving fraudulent insurance practices.  Today they are reporting the insurance company which manages health claims for the Toms River School District has been delinquent in paying health care providers.  It’s gotten so bad some doctors won’t even treat school district employees.  Interestingly, the insurance company which got the contract from the School District is owned by none other than former GOP Gubernatorial and Senate candidate Douglas Forrester.

Ritacco, who makes nearly double what the Governor of New Jersey makes, is connected to Ocean County GOP boss George Gilmore and his political machine.  The only Republican to go down in last year’s corruption sting, former Assemblyman Daniel Van Pelt, is also connected to Gilmore.  Van Pelt has not been sentenced, and is evidently looking for a performance contract to sing his way out of the jam he’s in ala Solomon Dwek.  As the feds close in on Ritacco it will be interesting to see if Ritacco does a song-and-dance routine as well to cut a deal for himself.  

While our Governor is traveling the country flexing his blubber and promoting his brand name, the noose is slowly tightening on a major portion of his political base.  

An opportunity for Dems in Ocean County?

Check out this story in the Asbury Park Press.  It looks like there is going to be a real dog fight among Republicans in Ocean County for the vacant County Clerk’s position.  All the “underbosses” in George Gilmore’s political machine are circling around like a pack of hungry dogs ready to pounce on one another over a large piece of red meat that fell off a meat wagon.

And what will the Democrats be doing while all this infighting is going on?  According to the article, apparently, nothing.  I have seen some items posted on other websites that the Traditional Republicans of Ocean County (TROOC) who managed 40% of the vote in this years primary, may put up an independent candidate which should make things interesting.

There is an irony to all this, however.  Carl Block vacated the County Clerk’s job to become the County Administrator at substantially higher pay and pension benefits.  Block, who was double-dipping on state benefits as Mayor of Stafford, was thrown out of office last year by a coalition of Democrats and reform Republicans led by TROOC.  If they get together again this year like they did last year, Gilmore & Co. will have to do some rather heavy lifting to GOTV if they want to keep absolute control of County government.

Not the best for the job, but the person in best standing with Ocean County Republicans

The extensive search, or lack there of which has landed Carl Block his latest plum position in Ocean County government has drawn the scorn of an Asbury Park Press editorial:

Earlier this week, longtime double-dipper Carl W. Block was appointed as the next Ocean County administrator. In accepting the job, Block said he will resign his elected office, that of county clerk. That is not a selfless act of public service: Block will earn $149,500 per year as administrator, 30 percent more than his $115,000 salary as clerk.

With public pensions based on the three highest years of one’s salary, the new job will set him up nicely for retirement.

I’m sure the Governor is just waiting to use this as the latest example of abuses in the pension system, right.

That speaks poorly of the Ocean County freeholders’ desire to find the best person for the job, rather than the person in best standing with Ocean County Republicans

If he’s the person in best standing with the Ocean County Republicans, that speaks volumes in itself.  Their bench did get shorter when Assemblyman Van Pelt went down on corruption charges, but apparently Block with all his past questions is just the man for the job. As the editorial notes, how would they even know if anyone was better for the job than Block because they never bothered to even look. Looking forward, Block moving to the County Administrator spot does create an opportunity for Democrats.

An opportunity for Dems in Ocean County

Check out this editorial in the Asbury Park Press condemning Ocean County’s GOP bosses for choosing one of their own, County Clerk Carl Block, as County Administrator.  Block’s salary will go up substantially, as will his benefits under the current pension plan.  Last year Block was defeated for re-election as Stafford mayor by a coalition of Democrats and reform Republicans opposed to Boss George Gilmore’s stranglehold on county government.

The two Democratic candidates for freeholder have already condemned Block’s appointment, and I saw a recent post on an internet blog from one of the reform Republican leaders indicating they may run as an independent candidate in the special election this November to fill the County Clerk’s position vacated by Block.  If there is an independent “tea party” candidate this could be an opportunity for Ocean County Dems to make some inroads in the GOP-controlled county government.  Let’s hope they don’t blow it.

Van Pelt neglected to disclose he already took money when seeking ethics advice

Former Assemblyman Van Pelt’s defense is that he was merely starting a consulting business and that the $10,000 cash he took was nothing more than a retainer. But when he sought advice on whether his actions would cross ethical lines, he didn’t tell the full story to the Legislative Counsel:

Marci Hochman said Daniel Van Pelt did not mention the payment when he phoned her two days after accepting a cash-stuffed envelope from an FBI informant who was posing as a crooked developer.

Hochman said Van Pelt told her he was thinking of starting a consulting business, not that he had already been retained for cash. She said he also failed to mention his relationship with the informant two weeks later during an annual ethics consultation required of all legislators.

She said that her advice “absolutely” would have been different had Van Pelt just told her the whole story. She also said he specifically denied having any clients. Van Pelt is trying to say he followed the advice as he got it.:

Van Pelt, however, also acknowledged accepting payment from Dwek before fulfilling two self-imposed conditions for his fledgling consulting business — leaving the Waretown council and consulting with a lawyer. He also said he didn’t have a consulting contract drawn up or spend any of the money on his business.

I still wonder how Van Pelt became the only Republican that got caught up in such a large bust. It doesn’t seem like we’ll get that answer in this trial, but we will find out whether you can actually start a business without doing anything more for it than taking an envelope full of cash as an elected official. If Van Pelt ever “starts another business”, he may want to hire a consultant to advise him on what he needs to do so he avoids these corruption problems.

Paging George Gilmore…

The APP reports a “startling revelation” in the Van Pelt corruption trial:

Opening arguments began this morning in the trial of former Assemblyman Daniel M. Van Pelt, with the prosecution beginning its case by revealing that the former Ocean Township (Waretown) mayor met real estate mogul turned government cooperating witness Solomon Dwek at the ‘offices of the head of the Ocean County Republican Party.’

Assistant U.S. Attorney Rachael Honig confirmed the statement during a recess after opening arguments, but did not elaborate. It was not clear whether she was referring to Ocean County Republican Headquarters on Route 37 in Toms River or the law offices of George R. Gilmore, also in Toms River.

Could political boss Gilmore or other Republican leaders be dragged into the case?  Certainly Gilmore has not been charged with any wrongdoing but it does make me wonder what’s going on.


Quote of the Day: “While he’s been a registered Republican for 3 months…”

As the GOP machine lines up behind Jon Runyan and he prepares to launch his campaign this week, Justin Murphy isn’t ready to give him the primary victory just yet:

“If Jon prevails, I would be happy to support him in the general election (against incumbent U.S. Rep. John Adler), but while he’s been a registered Republican for three months, I’ve been a registered Republican for 30 years,” Murphy adds. “We need more substance.”

With some of Runyan’s positions, it will be interesting to see what the Tea Party does and if they get behind Murphy’s effort. Up until now, the GOP has been able to avoid the brutal primary that plagued them last time around.