Tag Archive: charles stile

News Roundup & Open Thread for Monday, September 14, 2015

ON MEET THE PRESS

  • Christie’s reaction to the news about former PA Chair David Samson: “Let’s stop just reading the newspapers.” Oh really?
  • After NYC Police Commissioner said Christie made “a bit of a fool of himself” for criticizing NYC’s mayor on crime statistics, Christie, ignoring NJ’s crime problems, charged the commissioner with being “completely ridiculous.”

  • An interesting article on the origin of the feud between Christie and NYPD.

  • News Roundup and Open Thread for Monday, August 17, 2015

    A tunnel powwow: The Record’s Mike Kelly reports, “Gov. Christie, Sen. Booker, and U. S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx will meet in Newark tomorrow to discuss how to fix the growing problems with the rail tunnel under the Hudson River.” Don’t expect a lot, but it’s a beginning.    

    Julian Bond, civil rights leader and campaigner against the Vietnam war, passed away Saturday. In 2010 he came to Trenton to speak on behalf of marriage equality, saying, “My gay brothers and sisters came South and marched alongside me in the struggle for my civil rights. I came North today to support the struggle for their civil rights.”

    Two snakes in the Pinelands: The decision of Christie appointee Pinelands Commission Executive Director Nancy Wittenberg that the Pinelands Commissioners no longer need to approve the gas pipeline, only the state Board of Public Utilities, sparks outrage and a potential legal battle. (See below the fold what Jeff Tittel has to say.)

    Out on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City, the presidential race can feel rather personal. The town’s been intimately dependent on both Donald Trump and Gov. Christie, not to mention Trump’s cabinet choice, Carl Icahn, owner of Tropicana.

    Seaside Heights Casino Pier gets OK to rebuild, and will move the iconic Sky Ride 160 feet away.

    Christie sinks to 11th. With the second national post-Fox debate poll, Christie and John Kasich are at 3.8% in Real Clear Politics average of the four most recent polls. Like the Fox show, the CNN Sept. 16, debate  will be divided into two parts. One grouping will feature the top 10 candidates according to public polling.

    Roundup of media coverage of Chris Christie’s $1 million PR stunt

    Much of the time, I wish the DNC and the DGA would pull back on, or at least refine, the Christie-bashing. It’s an optics issue. I get that they smell blood. And I think they believe they’re helping. But there are still people here making up their minds how they feel about the daily Christie news in New Jersey. His avoidance of the press and their hard questions vs. “town halls” where he get mostly softballs. And his “Bridgegate”  denials that his key operatives ever checked with him on anything vs. the investigations, where that hasn’t been determined yet. What I always want the D.C. Dems to recognize is that there’s still slow, linear, dogged due diligence going on in these investigations. And New Jerseyans who haven’t made up their minds yet what they believe are watching it all. In the legislature, Wisniewski & Weinberg appear to take that work very seriously. No showboating. No overreach. No partisan scoring (the GOP would disagree, but their leader’s a key player in the scandal **). I hate anything that looks like that investigation is rigged by party (including D.C. bombast) Because I don’t think it is.

    So I prefer it when the national Dems keep it simple. So, I like this unvarnished roundup of media response to the news that Christie’s “internal review” – conducted by friendly, politically-connected lawyers at taxpayer expense – finds him blameless. Who thinks Christie’s “internal investigation” has credibility? Read on:

    Christie’s Bridgegate investigation is baloney

    The Star-Ledger // Editorial Board

    “It cost New Jersey taxpayers at least a million bucks, but here’s what we finally know for a fact: Gov. Chris Christie’s lawyers think he’s innocent.”

    That’s the best headline. The rest, on the jump.

    QoTD: Gov. Kean on his political son vs. his actual son

    A couple of pullout quotes from a couple of illuminating interviews with former Gov. Tom Kean by Charles Stile of The Record and Matt Friedman at the Ledger – a rare one-two punch from competing newspapers.

    First from Friedman’s:

    “You assume that if the governor wins by 20 points or more you’d have coattails,” Kean said. “No governor I know in any state has won by 20 points and not had coattails.”

    Uh, yeah, I’m thinking Christie doesn’t much care about the no-coattails thing, Governor. Christie’s political rise has always been about Christie, and less about bringing along fellow Republicans who might share his worldview of how things should be run. GOP donors considering 2016, take note.

    Kean Sr. seems pretty pissed in chats with both reporters, though he’s too much of a gentleman (or so I suppose) to suggest his disaffection is permanent against his political protege who first came to him as a fresh-scrubbed 14-year-old. I should add, he’d probably not choose my word, “pissed”. Though I imagine even gentlemen get that way when they realize NJ politics has devolved to the point where your political son actually tries to take out your actual son. Had Christie’s failed move against Kean Jr. succeeded, Stile suggests, it might have ended Junior’s political career.

    Christie’s skulduggery against his own party’s legislative leader was almost certainly political payback on behalf of his political ally, Steve Sweeney. It was Junior who financed the GOP effort to take Sweeney out November 5th, recruiting attorney Niki Trunk to run against him. I’ve had my issues with Sweeney’s leadership – he’s made some good moves and some awful ones – but I’m glad he beat Trunk, and by a healthy margin.

    But just the same way it’s doubtful Christie cares about his lack of coattails, I doubt he’s losing sleep over the disappointment Gov. Kean now feels for him. But this quote, from Stile’s piece shows Christie’s self-serving schtick is getting old for even the most loyal in Christie’s circle:

    “He’ll have a microscope on him and we’ll find out … if he’s qualified,” he told The Record.

     

    Ouch. But yeah. Bring on the microscope.  

    CEC Investigation: There’s A Lot Of Dirt In Them Thar Hills

    Eleven months after an inmate was killed at CEC’s Delaney Hall, Governor Christie served as keynote speaker for its 2010 10th-anniversary celebration. He said, “This is where I need to be, because even as governor, you treasure the times when you can come and be someplace where the work is purely good.”

    Following the New York Times three-part series, countless other newspaper articles over the years, NJ Comptroller Boxer’s report, an SCI report Gangs in Prisons, information from prisoner advocacy groups, and many Blue Jersey diaries, the need for a full independent investigation of Community Education Centers (CEC) is apparent. Its facilities are not places where “the work is purely good.”

    The problem as Charles Stile points out is that founder William Clancy, his family, and CEC since the early 1990’s have donated over $600,000 to elected officials at the state and local level. That’s a lot of dirt and many enriched hills. Essex County has proven particularly fertile ground for CEC, but Clancy’s largesse has included governors of both parties and officials in counties where CEC operates or would like to operate. Particularly troubling has been Governor Christie’s past participation as registered lobbyist for CEC, his frequent visits to the centers where he spews praises, his acceptance of donations, failure to address publicized problems, and his close relationship with CEC Senior Vice President William Palatucci.

    In addition to the largesse, which constitutes conflicts of interest for those who might investigate CEC, the problem for any investigatory group is the sheer number of issues to be examined: “pay-to-play,” public safety when inmates “walk away” from a facility, violence, rape, and drugs within the institutions, lack of quality counseling and education, lack of financial accountability and collusion with local authorities to obtain business.  

    With so many pockets of enriched hills and so many varieties of dirt, what group is independent enough with sufficient staff and skills to attack the problem?

    Charles Mainor (D-Hudson), Chair of the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee, is one of two individuals who has called for legislative hearings. How independent can he be, however, as his county houses and receives monies for CEC’s Talbot Hall in Kearny. In Part I of the NY Times series he was quoted as being asked for his estimate of how many people escaped from halfway houses in 2011. “I have heard of no more than three,” he responded. According to state records, the number was 452. Another member of the committee Sean Kean (R-30) in the NY Times article appeared dismissive, saying about the escapes, “It’s not really a problem. It’s a cheaper way of doing business, so that’s why it behooves us to use that option.” In summary, this committee is not a promising group to investigate the matter.

    Senator Barbara Buono is the other individual who has expressed concern, stating, “They should be held accountable for their failures.” One of her key staffers said that with the current budget issues on the front burner, she has not yet developed a strategy on how to move forward. She is Vice Chair of the Senate Oversight Committee. Although she has received a combined $2,600 in donations in 2010 and 2011, she has shown the independence and fervor necessary to undertake such an investigation. She has not discussed the matter yet with Chair Robert Gordon (D-38), nor Paul Sarlo (D-36), neither of whom reside in a county where CEC operates. However, another committee member Teresa Ruiz (D-29) is a part of the Essex County Democratic machine which is probably the largest recipient of CEC largesse. With a small committee and an even smaller staff it would be difficult for this group to undertake such a far-ranging investigation.

    Because of conflicts of interest and the broad scope necessary, a legislative investigation does not seem the best course. Individual committees, however,  can review matters within their purview and promote legislation. There is currently a Senate bill (S927) sponsored by Jeff Van Drew (D-3) and Steven Sweeney (D-3) which would require the State Auditor to review Department of Corrections privatization contracts to determine whether privatization yields a reduction in costs and whether there was any malfeasance on the part of DOC with the contract. It has been reviewed by two committees, however, the identical Assembly bill (A1880) has seen no committee action. If the bill were to gain passage it would represent a step forward, with some dirt removed, but large mounds still remaining.

    There are other more promising venues for investigation which will be discussed in Part II of this diary.  There is a lot of dirt, a lot of hills and we need heavy duty equipment to level the land.