Tag Archive: NJ State Legislature

NJ State Legislature Goes after Rutgers Governance again, Ignores State Mismanagement

The State Legislature is taking another swing at the Rutgers University governance structures after failing to gift Rutgers-Camden to Rowan University in 2012 and failing to eliminate the Rutgers Board of Trustees in last year’s legislative session.

S1860 and A3046 Sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto respectively, would increase the number of political appointees on the Rutgers Board of Governors (the BOG) from 15 to 19, effectively diluting the Board of Trustees voting rights by creating a 12-7 majority of political appointees on the Rutgers BOG. The Rutgers BOG has already expanded from 11 to 15 members as part of the UMDNJ merger and a further expansion to 19 members would create a very unwieldy operating board sitting on top of a complex governance structure that was made even more complex by the “compromises” arising from the recent machinations surrounding the proposed give-away of Rutgers-Camden to Rowan and the Rowan-Cooper Medical school.

This is simply a bad bill. It creates more complexity and an unwieldy operating board. If the goal is to add medical and biomedical expertise to the BOG (Something the Rutgers Board of Trustees has already done with their own appointments to the BOG following the merger with UMDNJ), simply require that a certain number of gubernatorial appointments have a medical, pharma, or biomedical background.  Starting July 1st, there are three BOG vacancies that the Governor can fill with candidates from a medical or biomedical background. These are part of the normal governance rotation and do not require any special legislation or changes in the existing governance structure.

The Rutgers BOG oversees Rutgers $3.6 billion dollar annual budget, appoints the president and provides oversight on key executive, leadership and reputational strategies and initiatives.  They are the board that oversees the people and policies that govern Rutgers operations on a day to day basis, while the Rutgers Board of Trustees has primary responsibility for all the assets and property that existed prior to our 1956 contract with the state to serve as New Jersey’s public university.

Rather than focusing on a pattern and record of continual state mismanagement under Governor Christie — the various NJ Transit debacles, a track record of missing deadlines and losing out on Federal dollars across various state agencies, the sacrifice of NJ’s Equine Industry for Atlantic City casino interests, failed economic development initiatives such as the failure to leverage Fort Monmouth’s assets to create new high tech and university innovation clusters, to name just a few — Democratic leadership in the state legislature seems intent on fixing a system that isn’t broken and that has served the state well under both Democratic and Republican leadership since 1956 when Rutgers — founded in 1766 by Royal Charter — entered into a contract with the State of New Jersey to serve as New Jersey’s State University.

The Rutgers Act of 1956 does not allow for changes to Rutgers governance and organizational structures without the consent of the Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees has fiduciary responsibility for the university’s assets and property dating back to 1766 and provides a direct link with Rutgers colonial heritage. Rutgers is one of only 9 colleges or universities founded before the American Revolution, and along with William and Mary, one of two public institutions of higher education with a colonial heritage. The 1956 Act was structured to keep this heritage intact and to keep Rutgers protected from political interference and outright land grabs.

After two failed attempts at politicizing higher education at Rutgers, you would think New Jersey’s State Democratic Leadership would have learned their lesson by now and would focus on the real issues of stalled economic development, high unemployment, high property taxes, unsustainable traffic congestion, a decaying transit infrastructure and threats to our watersheds in the Highlands of North Jersey and the Pinelands of South Jersey.  

New Jersey’s Environment: A Matter of Life and Breath

The LD16 GOP incumbents get a big, fat “F” grade on environment. Time for a change. 2 Days till Marie #CorfieldMoneyBomb. Blue Jersey's all-in. Promoted by Rosi.

“What's the use of a fine house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on?” ~ Henry David Thoreau

Have you ever seen a fish out of water, lying there helpless as it gasps for oxygen? That’s what it feels like to have asthma. I know because I have it—along with a host of other food, air and chemical allergies.

The single most important thing we do every day is breathe. To the average person it’s a no-brainer. They can do it in their sleep—literally. But, for almost 700,000 New Jerseyans, breathing, even in their sleep, is a life and death struggle. Fortunately, my disease is well managed. That means taking 3 different prescription medications and carrying an Epi-pen. (Thank goodness I’ve never had to use it.) But for those without health insurance—many of whom are children—every day is a potential fish out of water day.

I grew up in the heart of the opening credits of the Sopranos—Kearny—smack dab in the middle of the toxic stew of the Passaic River and the Diamond Shamrock Plant to the West, New York City and the once-pristine-meadowlands-turned-garbage-dumps to the East, and Newark Liberty Airport and the oil refineries to the South. As a kid, the only time I could really, truly breathe was when we were on vacation in LBI. I moved to Hunterdon County almost 20 years ago for, among other things, better air quality.

But many people in New Jersey don't have that luxury.

According to the New Jersey Environmental Federation, a chapter of Clean Water Action:

• In 2011, there were nearly 2500 hospital admissions for asthma in New Jersey at an average charge of $15,000/stay. Extreme heat and declining air quality are expected to increase risk of respiratory problems and heat stress, including premature death.

 

I’m Not Sure I Can Hold My Nose This Time

Multiple attempts to reach out to state representatives without ever a response? What could possibly be your reasons, Senator Madden? Assemblyman Moriarty? Assemblywoman Mosquera seems to have a chance here to do better with this constituent than her colleagues. – promoted by Rosi

It seemed like a simple question to me. A question I posted on the Facebook page of the Democratic NJ State Legislature candidates for the 4th Legislative District.

Senator Fred Madden and Assemblyman Paul Moriarty are incumbents. Gabriela Mosquera is a newcomer, running for the seat formerly held by Republican Domenic DiCicco, who was redistricted out of LD-4 in April.

I have written to my state representatives numerous times on a variety of issues, both state and local. Never once have I ever received a response, not even a form letter or a robo-email, from Madden or Moriarty. Mr. DiCicco, the Republican, has personally responded to me, as has Governor Christie. I even got a phone call from a Christie staffer responding to one of my letters.

Madden and Moriarty are also among the “Christiecrats” who sold out the public unions on pension and benefit “reform” (why does that now sound like such a dirty word?).

Death Penalty

The State Legislature is preparing to act on the bill to abolish the death penalty and substitute a sentence of life without parole.  Joe and I have strongly supported this legislation for a variety of reasons–both moral and practical.  The number of people exonerated by DNA evidence grows every day, and here in Plainfield we are acutely aware of the recent exoneration and release of Byron Halsey, who fortunately did not receive a death sentence but who spent two decades in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has already approved release of the bill, but it was referred to the Senate Budget Committee for analysis and action.  That group will have a hearing and vote on Monday, December 3, so it’s important to reach out to the Committee’s key members now.  The bill is S-171.  Here is some contact information:

Senate Majority Leader Bernard Kenny:  201-653-1466 (SenKenny@njleg.org)
Senate Minority Leader Leonard Lance: 908-788-6900 (SenLance@njleg.org)

Monday’s meeting is at 1 pm in Committee Room 4 of the State House Annex.  If you can attend, it’s suggested that you plan to arrive before 12:30 so you can get a seat–and please let our friends at New Jerseyans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty know you’re coming (609-278-6719 or email abe@njadp.org.  (There’s a lot of good information on their website:  www.njadp.org.)

We expect that the appropriate Assembly Committee will take up the bill soon and release it for a full Assembly vote, and we hope the bill will be released by the Senate Budget Committee for a full Senate vote before the end of this legislative session.

Editorial opinion in NJ papers and the NY Times supports us. Here’s today’s editorial from the Philadelphia Inquirer:  http://www.philly.co…

Wouldn’t abolishing the death penalty in NJ be a wonderful way to end 2007!!