Tag Archive: appointments

Give Us 5

As we mourn Senator Frank Lautenberg, we can all demand that the Democrats in the United States Senate stand up for a cause Senator Frank supported – democracy and workers rights!

Right now, the United States Government is completely dysfunctional because the Republicans use the filibuster to stand in the way of appointments to the court, and to the Boards and Commissions that oversee Government.

In one of the worst abuses of them all, the Republicans will not approve any Obama appointment to the National Labor Relations Board.  Without a quorum, there is no NLRB.  The NLRB has all oversignt over union elections, unfair labor practices, and private sector labor rights.  Without a National Labor Relations Board – workers have NO LEGAL UNION RIGHTS.

The Democrats in the Senate MUST reform the rules that allow the minority Republicans to effectively shut down government.

Please sign here,  http://action.cwa-union.org/c/… to tell the Democratic Senate to give us 5 members of the NLRB and stop the Republican attack on democracy in America.  

Politics over transparency in Governor Christie’s Press Releases

When Jon Corzine was Governor of New Jersey, a little press release went out for every appointment. Reporters were therefore able to check on these people and write stories for the general public. Even if no one found the appointment interesting enough to publish, the releases were also posted on the governor’s website, where anyone could check them out. Similarly, the Obama Administration also maintains a webpage of all nominations and appointments.

Governor Christie is flouting that tradition of disclosure. There are press releases on his priorities, and even quite a few highlighting favorable media coverage, but no one has been announced since Bill Baroni on February 19.

Reporter Michael Symons recently posted a list of Christie appointments. How did he get them?

No direct appointments have yet been announced by the Governor’s Office – but then again, they haven’t yet announced the nominations they made to the Senate yesterday, either, so perhaps they’re still coming. The list cited in this blog entry is gleaned from the Legislature’s website.

“Gleaned” from the someone else’s website. It’s not a good sign. Surely the Governor is not trying to keep his appointments secret since eventually they will come all out. The Governor has plenty of people who should be doing this work so why can’t he disclose his appointments in a timely manner? Four out of the last five releases criticize the teachers union (the other criticizes the administrators!) so it seems clear that politics takes precedence over transparency in the Christie Administration.

The McBride nomination was the surprise they all knew about

Talk about grandstanding. If you listen to Republicans, many of the nominations from the Governor during lame duck were completely unexpected, came out of nowhere and are cause for uproar. Take for example Ed McBride, the Governor’s former chief of staff to a judgeship in Burlington County who the GOP says was a complete surprise and pushed them over the line. The reality is far from that and indicates grandstanding to score political points. Call it the surprise they had advance notice of:

So, let’s go back. On November 12, Christie and Corzine met face to face for the first time since the election. They were joined by the ArchBishop of Newark, because the meeting took place after the blue mass. There, they discussed transition and according to Corzine some appointments the Governor was hoping to make in the coming weeks before leaving office.

Was there an actual agreement? hard to say. But if there was at least a gentlemen’s agreement, at some point it deteriorated. Perhaps it was the sheer number of nominations and appointments Corzine asked for: 180.  The Christie people feel that this is an attempt to jam through unpopular appointments at the 11th hour. Or perhaps it was the nomination of Chief of Staff Ed McBride to a judgeship. Here is where this gets tricky. The Corzine camp says it was made clear as early that Newark meeting that McBride was one of the appointments he’d like to make. They think for Christie’s people to object now is disingenuous.

Separately, Blue Jersey has also been told that the Governor conveyed his intention to nominate McBride in that very first meeting. Not only did Christie and his team know, but sources in the Governor’s Office confirm to BlueJersey that Christie’s senior staff was directly informed of Corzine Chief of Staff Ed McBride’s judicial nomination several days before the nomination was dropped.  In addition, we’re also told that McBride personally reached out to each member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, both Demcorat and Republican, days before the nomination was filed.

The same situation happened with Senator Phil Haines, who for months was speculated to get a nomination for judgeship.  Then he gets the nomination he’s been seeking and rumored to have and he turns it down. He didn’t turn it down because he doesn’t want it, in fact he really does. He just will wait until Christie nominates him again. In fact, Haines pending nomination became an issue in the local Medford Council race last cycle, where his rumored successor Chris Myers was called on to withdraw from the race and answer questions on the matter.

Along with those situations, you have Tom Kean Jr. crying about a nomination to the BPU when he himself stood in the way of the potential nomination of Linda Stender long before it came to this.

Whether or not the Governor should have made appointments before lame duck is a separate issue from whether the Republicans are just trying to score political points and run out the clock before he can make the appointments and nominations. And even though two wrongs don’t make a right, the 257 lame duck nominations the GOP approved when Don DiFrancesco left office in 2001 shows that they know how the game has been played and only have born again opposition to it because of how Corzine is now leading the way. To act like they didn’t know is beyond disingenuous.  This is the surprise they all knew about in advance. Doesn’t that mean it’s not really a surprise at all?

Quote of the Day: “I guess I’ve passed the mantle to his son”

The uproar over nominations and appointments continues from the Republicans. The problem is, some of the situations have been caused by their own actions and created the opportunity for these reactions:

Kean also criticized Corzine’s delay in filling the BPU spot. But The Auditor has learned the Republican himself prompted it. Earlier this year, the senator invoked “senatorial courtesy” to block Corzine’s planned nomination of Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D-Union) to the post. All that was publicly known was that Corzine wanted to put Stender on the board, but backed off without explanation. She would have been easily confirmed if the nomination were allowed to go through.

“Talk about hoisting yourself up by your own bootstraps,” said Kean’s fellow senator from Union County, Democrat Ray Lesniak, who supported Stender’s BPU nomination. Lesniak noted that back in the 1980s he was criticized by Kean’s father, the popular governor, for blocking nominations. “Governor Kean called me ‘the King of Senatorial Courtesy’,” Lesniak said. “I guess I’ve passed the mantle to his son.”

It looks like things have come full circle.  

Weinberg to block reappointment over benefits cut

We get the news from Charles Stile:

State Sen. Loretta Weinberg says she will block the reappointment of Stanley E. Wiklinski to the New Jersey Maritime Pilot and Docking Pilot Commission if he doesn’t agree to a 10 percent cut in pay and forgo pension and health benefits for a year.

Weinberg made the same threat last week to four Bergen County Tax Board members that Governor Corzine had recently nominated for reappointment. Wiklinski, a real estate agent who lives in Old Tappan, has been a longtime member of the board, which oversees the pilots that guide commercial vessels in New York Harbor.

The Senator, along with Sen. Beck, has been voting against all tax board appointments which have come before the Judiciary Committee as well as other part time boards & commissions before the Senate for the last month. She echoed the sentiments of furloughed state workers who say that the appointees have been left untouched while they are the target:

Weinberg says she simply doesn’t think taxpayers should be paying for benefits for part-time, political appointees – including positions held by prominent lobbyists – at a time when the state is furloughing workers, trimming benefits and cutting services.

“I know they work hard, they have to take educational requirements,” she said. But she reasoned: “So they work for $18,000 and pay a few thousand dollars for the privilege of staying in the public employee pension plan.”

This is just the latest skirmish for Weinberg on the issue of benefits for political appointees.

In recent months, Weinberg has taken aim at pay and benefits of political appointees. She argues that recession-weary taxpayers should not be subsidizing benefits for appointees who work at part-time boards and commissions.

Unable to move a bill that would rein-in benefits, Weinberg told The Record last week that she intends to use her unilateral “Senatorial Courtesy” power to block home-county nominees, if necessary, to force small, mostly symbolic concessions.

Weinberg’s bill which hasn’t gotten traction, is only a resolution urging, not even requiring:

This House urges members of boards, commissions, and authorities of the State, and of any political subdivision of the State, who provide service on a part-time basis that is equivalent to less than 25 hours of work per week and who receive a salary or a per diem payment for that service to waive, before June 30, 2009, the receipt of an amount equivalent to three months of the salary or per diem payment received annually.  The House also urges that such members reimburse the boards, commissions, and authorities for the portion, that represents that member’s membership, of the 2009 contribution paid by the public entity to a State-administered retirement system.

The Senator also has a bill that requires certain appointed public officials to work 35 hours or more per week to be eligible for pensions and benefits, but the fact that they can’t even get support for a bill urging an action says something in itself. I understand the appointees wouldn’t like it, but you would think even politically it could be a winning issue for many of these legislators by saying they are trying to tighten the belt some more. It’s unclear whether the Senator is just trying to raise attention to the issue or would follow through on the block if the cuts aren’t agreed to. Ultimately though, that’s a limited solution to her wider issue. What do you think of the Senator’s potential use of the courtesy and do you think these cuts are a good idea?