Tag Archive: PolitickerNJ

Hey, PolitickerNJ, think you forgot to mention something?

PolitickerNJ logoMatt Arco has a great story in PolitickerNJ this morning, a warning from Senator Loretta Weinberg to JC Mayor Steve Fulop with a well-deserved zing to the cesspool that is Port Authority. More on that below. First, I want to deal with the fact that I think PNJ owes its readers a disclaimer. After all, PNJ has more than passing connection to this story – that Weinberg’s warning Fulop about – the sudden closure of George Washington Bridge local lanes and the dangerous traffic tie-up that may all have been political payback against a Democratic mayor who refused to fall over for Chris Christie.  

Why should PolitickerNJ disclose? Because in their story, there is zero mention that PNJ’s founder – and driving force for most of its life – is a key player. Maybe the key player. David Wildstein. A/K/A “Wally Edge,” who founded the site, announced its 2007 sale with a quote from Machiavelli, and finally unmasked himself as David Wildstein when he took a $215,000 job as a Port Authority executive. The Record calls Wildstein, hired by Christie appointee Bill Baroni, “Christie’s eyes and ears inside the Port Authority”. Wildstein went to high school with Christie. You can see why there are serious questions about Wildstein’s conduct, after Wall Street Journal reported it was the former “Wally Edge” who ordered bridge officials to close the lanes, then stood and watched the massive traffic jam it created. For days. It’s all a little … close. And while PNJ did no wrong (it remains to be seen if Wildstein did), it’s the kind of thing we expect a responsible news organization to mention. To disclose.  

Weinberg says she wants the Port Authority to answer for those lane closures, and invites Blue Jersey readers to join her as she goes to Wednesday’s Port Authority Commission meeting (yes, in JC). Arco’s story, and what Sen. Loretta Weinberg wants Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop to think hard about, below the fold:  

WSJ: It was David Wildstein – A/K/A PolitickerNJ’s “Wally Edge” – behind sudden GWB lane closures

David WildsteinWall Street Journal is reporting that it was David Wildstein – the former chief at PolitickerNJ, who The Record calls “Governor Christie’s eyes and ears inside the Port Authority” – who engineered the sudden closure of George Washington Bridge lanes that led to traffic chaos, and likely risk to the safety of drivers and ambulances. Wildstein, who started PolitickerNJ and for years wrote about NJ politics under the anonymous “Wally Edge,” went to high school with Christie.

Not long after the closures came suspicion that they were political retribution – from inside the Port Authority from those loyal to Chris Christie – against Fort Lee’s Democratic mayor Mark Sokolich, for refusing to join Democrats endorsing Christie for re-election. Some of the Democrats crossing party lines for Christie have been from areas where Port Authority has presence, including in Harrison, where Democratic mayor Raymond McDonough, endorsed him after the agency committed spending $250M on a new PATH station to anchor that town’s ongoing redevelopment.

Wildstein is one of at least 50 people who got jobs at Port Authority after recommendation from Christie, or hiring by Christie appointees. He is Interstate Capital Projects Director, a slot created when he came on at a salary of $150k. Port Authority is frequently cited as byzantine, unaccountable and non-transparent, and full of high-level people placed there simply to be loyal to Christie’s political interests. Wildstein was hired by former GOP senator Bill Baroni, Christie’s top appointee at the agency. Wall Street Journal sets the scene:

When Blockquotes Confuse

Its often problematic to pull one paragraph from an 800 word column that accurately describes the writer’s intent.  But PolitickerNJ’s daily summary “Morning Digest” today isn’t just problematic, it’s outright wrong.

An Obamacare shock is coming

The Affordable Care Act, a k a Obamacare, goes fully into effect at the beginning of next year, and predictions of disaster are being heard far and wide. There will be an administrative “train wreck,” we’re told; consumers will face a terrible shock. Republicans, one hears, are already counting on the law’s troubles to give them a big electoral advantage. Krugman, Huffington Post (sic)

Now reading that headline and excerpt you would assume that Paul Krugman (who writes in the NY Times, not HuffPo) is saying Obamacare will be a disaster, a “train wreck”, bad, bad, bad, bad.

But that’s not what Krugman wrote at all.  The opening paragraph PNJ included was part of a “people say, but they’re wrong” column and the next paragraph is:

No doubt there will be problems, as there are with any large new government initiative, and in this case, we have the added complication that many Republican governors and legislators are doing all they can to sabotage reform. Yet important new evidence – especially from California, the law’s most important test case – suggests that the real Obamacare shock will be one of unexpected success.

Wait, the column is about Obamacare being an unexpected success?  You wouldn’t know it from PNJ’s excerpt.

Now, they have a standard policy of excerpting the first paragraph of any story they choose to highlight so this fits in their regular format.  But still they selected this opinion piece and it is their policy that created the confusion.  It would have been better to select a different article, or to have a different policy and summarize or choose a representative piece to include.

Because the way they did it misinforms.

PolitickerNJ Announces “Release” of GOP Campaign Video

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A lot of folks think that PolitickerNJ has a rightward lean at times, but this has to be a new … something for a purported news organization partnering with a political campaign.

Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-21) and some GOP candidates in swing disricts are jabbing at Democrats in a new web ad set to be released on PolitickerNJ.com on Thursday and Friday.

Is this what campaigns can expect?  That if a campaign pays for an advertisement on PolitickerNJ they can expect to have an article pre-announcing the ad, and article that has all the content of the ad but is not labeled as such? No need for a disclaimer, ’cause it’s a news article not a paid ad!

Gotta wonder if the Democrats, or Greens, or Libertarians will get these added bonuses should they pay for an advertisement.

PNJ Reports Codey Not Running for Governor

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UPDATE: Apparently Dick Codey’s office sent out a missive confirming he’s not running.

UPDATE: Codey’s full statement is here.

UPDATE: Buono’s full statement is here.

Well, PolitickerNJ is reporting that the field has cleared a bit for Barbara Buono as their sources say Dick Codey will not be running.  Codey was governor after Jim McGreevey resigned, and declined to run for election after Jon Corzine flooded the field with cash.

Two sources with knowledge of former Gov. Dick Codey’s intentions told PolitickerNJ the Essex County senator will not run for governor. Codey began informing high-ranking Democrats this morning.

PNJ also says that Steve Sweeney is still considering running, but other than that it looks like smooth sailing for Senator Buono.

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.

#GOPolitickerNJ

Is there any doubt as to the cheerleading that the FoxNews of New Jersey politics is doing for the Republican Party to go along with casting the Democratic Party in as poor a light as possible?  What was once a somewhat right-of-center but still relatively unbiased place to get the “inside scoop” on New Jersey politics has all but become an arm of the State Republican Party.

Which would be fine if it were to just admit as much and move forward as another piece of the GOPropaganda machine.

Exhibit 1:  When reporting on the NJ Democratic Delegation casting its votes for President Obama at the Democratic Convention, the first sentence leads with “in roll call garbage time…”, and the overall story was a mere few short paragraphs of filler.  Contrast with the glowing review of NJ (and other states) casting their votes for Mitt Romney at the Republican Convention, complete with emotional quotes and double the length.

Exhibit 2:  In one of the intro stories to the Democratic Convention, the intro paragraph begins with this gratuitous and needless dig: “The big white van shouldered into bumper to bumper traffic running parallel to the blocked off Tryon Street downtown and the driver gave pedestrians a big raspberry welcome to the Queen City: “Democrats: Where Socialism and Corruption Meet.”

For the Republican Convention, we get fluff stories about Governor Christie, with (ZOMG!!!) pictures of the kickoff event as well as another fluff story about how things are oh-so-festive despite a Hurricane bearing down on Tampa (and New Orleans).

Irony of Republicans celebrating while New Orleans drowns aside (where have I seen that one before), I can only imagine if the tables were turned and the Democratic Convention was in Tampa while a hurricane was bearing down on New Orleans.

Exhibit 3: Despite there being a well known rift in the Bergen County Republican Party that has seen Party chair Bob Yudin and Christie be on opposite sides of, there is a kumbaya fluff piece about how everything is just peachy keen between Christie and Bergen County Republican Chair Bob Yudin, who was “proudly present at the convention”.  Contrast this with the “civil war” post on what may or may not happen if Senator Buono runs for Governor.

Exhibit 4:  In referring to “winners and losers” of the Republican Convention, the lead “winner” is the “New Jersey State Committee”.  As if there is only one – or more likely only one that matters to GOPolitickerNJ.

Exhibit 5:  Christie’s keynote address.  Despite receiving moderate reviews at best and no evidence that he “hit one out of the park” per se, the story posted the next morning leads off with “New Jersey rejoiced in the speech delivered last night on a national stage by Gov. Chris Christie”.  This was confirmed to be no more than nonsense cheerleading when a poll was released shortly after the speech indicating that Christie’s favorability was pretty much unchanged – but actually dropped a few points since last month.  This, after all of the talk about how the speech and national stage would propel him further into the spotlight and blah blah blah.

Exhibit 6:  What “comeback”?  In not one but two separate posts about the recent poll indicating how most New Jerseyans don’t believe the garbage that Governor Christie is peddling about the so-called “Jersey Comeback”, there is not one mention of the facts and factors that are behind the rightful doubt.  No mention of the poor job numbers and job losses.  No mention of the high unemployment rate.  No mention of the higher property taxes.  Nothing.  Just one “here is the poll” article and one “Christie thinks the polls are wrong” article.

Exhibit 7:  Paul Ryan’s speech.  Despite the fact that it was universally torn apart for being full of lies and crap (and despite the fact that Paul Ryan actually asked for a grant that was made possible by the Affordable Care Act), the GOPolitickerNJ review of his speech talked about him “savaging” the stimulus and healthcare reform.  You’d have to go 14 paragraphs deep to find a comment that is actually critical of Ryan as being hypocritical (which is a very easy point to find), and that is from Congressman Pascrell.  You’d have to go another 4 paragraphs deep – all the way to the end of the article – to find one of the many “inaccuracies” of the speech.

There are more, but this was just from the last week or so.  So what gives, PolitickerNJ?  If you are going to present yourself as “inside baseball”, at least don’t be so blatantly favorable to one party over the other.  And if you are going to be blatant, then just formally link to the NJ Republican Party, to 101.5 and be up front about it.

Deep Thought: Slipping From Print

Man alive, the “Who’s ALEC?” story was everywhere this week! The in-depth piece by Sal Rizzo of the Star Ledger, which brought this story to the fore, ignited coverage across the state and country:

The New York Times – ALEC and Old Yeller

The Atlanta Journal Constitution – ALEC’s Secret Influence on State Laws, Legislators

Think Progress – Christie’s Education Bills Bear Striking Resemblance To ALEC Models

Working America – ALEC Influence Over New Jersey Lawmakers Exposed in Star Ledger Report

Governors Journal – Christie Accuses Press

Jersey Jazzman – Smart ALEC in New Jersey

Even Wall Street Journal reporter Lisa Fleisher tweeted her incredulity at Christie’s claim of ignorance, then pushed back when the governor tried to accuse her of fostering a conspiracy theory.

You know who didn’t cover a lick of this, not even behind their paywall? PolitickerNJ.com. Why wouldn’t the “virtual watercooler for the state’s political elite… a necessary daily stop for politically-minded web surfers” have even a blurb… a tweet… a pixel about this?

Dunno.  

(Note: Our coverage of this story can be found here.)

The “watcher of the entire agency” at the Port Authority “doesn’t do anything publicly”

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If you missed the fantastic article by Shawn Boburg, with contributions by John Reitmeyer in the Record yesterday, I highly recommend you give it a read. It wasn’t the biggest story at the start of the Christie administration when he plucked Wally Edge, the anonymous puppet master behind PolitickerNJ and convinced him to reveal his true identify as David Wildstein, to move over to be his “eyes and ears at the Port Authority.” But Boburg’s piece shows it was clearly one of the more significant steps:

Longtime employees, however, privately describe a man intent on carrying out a political agenda rather than one built on reform or improving the region’s transportation system. They believe the appointment of Wildstein and dozens of others recommended by the governor – for jobs ranging from toll collector to deputy executive director – are evidence that political loyalty trumps merit.

And for his part, Wildstein has gone from the man breaking the stories from the outside, to what appears to be the man who contains or makes the stories on the inside:

When a reporter asked him about his job, past experience and relationship to the governor, he smiled and referred each question to the media relations office. Why, he was asked, would he not talk about his role at the agency?

“Because I don’t do anything publicly,” he said.

But inside the agency’s headquarters, Wildstein plays a central role in decisions that affect the public.

How central a role you might ask?  Just follow me below the fold for the answer.