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on August 24, 2016
When you apply for or renew a driver's license in New Jersey, you need at least a few of the following: a birth certificate, a passport, an old license with a photo, a credit card bill, a social security card, or a bank statement.
From this process, the MVC gets an accurate profile -- who you are, where you come from, and how long you've been around -- which means the State of New Jersey can easily tell whether you are authorized to vote.
Gov. Christie, however, pretends otherwise, so he vetoed a bill last week that would automatically register voters who are renewing or applying for a driver's license.
By Alyana Alfaro • 08/24/16
Christie and Martinez at the Randolph MVC.
RANDOLPH – New Jersey Governor Chris Christie stood in front of the Randolph Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) location on Wednesday to announce that some changes are on the horizon for the oft-criticized state agency.
“The MVC is probably the agency that most New Jerseyians deal with the most when they deal with state government…My experience has always been you never want to go to MVC,” Christie said.
According to Christie, the hours-long wait times that have plagued the agency–and led to hearings in Trenton on the topic being scheduled–are “unacceptable.” In order to combat issues that have created those wait times, Christie has said that he hopes to work with the legislature to make some changes to take place at the agency.
By Max Pizarro • 08/22/16
Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester)
The Senate President with circus strongman presence hails from South Jersey, the most well-organized political machine in the state. An ironworker by trade, Democrat Sweeney additionally has strong Building Trades ties, and a friendly relationship with Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo. Many fellow senators like him, citing his strong work ethic and facility for herding cats. He has a story to tell, about creating government services for children with disabilities, and his own daughter is one of those children. But Sweeney also has very clear cut encumbrances. Tasked with working alongside unpopular Republican Governor Chris Christie, the senate president inevitably carries the baggage of having had to stand on innumerable public stages with the combustible Christie, with whom he notably partnered to produce his signature piece of legislation – public pensions and benefits reform. However bipartisan it looked at the time, Christie’s later reversal on making the pension payment back-splashed on Sweeney, who now must weather the further challenge of having ticked off the leadership of the New Jersey Education Association. Atlantic City going all but belly up on Christie’s watch also doesn’t help Sweeney. On the plus side, the senate president spear-headed marriage equality in New Jersey. Although he has his own base – particularly enhanced by the Building Trades – Sweeney’s path to victory hinges in no small part on the affections of powerful South Jersey Democratic Party Pooh-bah George Norcross III. Sources say that while Norcross adores Sweeney – as a friend – he won’t put his entire statewide empire at risk of suffering a humiliating defeat if he at any point believes Sweeney is not a strong enough swimmer to convincingly navigate the entire state. The senate president has managed to make good use of Christie’s long absences to play the role of adult in New Jersey’s statewide room, but on multiple fronts – including up-in-the-air pensions and Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) funding the state continues to list – and the boss is watching.
By Max Pizarro • 08/19/16
Bergen County Democratic Chairman Lou Stellato.
New Jersey does its best to masquerade as one of the proud 50 states, even as it insists on keeping in place old world models to perpetuate one of the best—and most painstakingly realized—21st Century living replicas of early medievalism.
Democracy is great on paper—but what the people really want is someone who’s not elected and accountable actually running government, kind of like countywide versions of the kings of Spain and England—or so it would appear.
Nowhere is the design better preserved than in county party organizations, whose warlord leaders award the line to those most sycophantic attendants, whose assumption of public power hinges on the underground affections they heap on their behind-the-scenes benefactors.
The biggest ring in the state belongs to George Norcross III, and when he showed up at a meeting in Mountainside Wednesday night, the boss sought a head count of those other bosses, functionaries, luminaries, shadowy operatives on their BlackBerrys, and all their respective details. It was time to examine where the organization stood vis a vis the 2017 gubernatorial contest.
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on August 17, 2016
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie holds a town hall meeting to promote his Fairness Formula for property tax relief, at the Senior Center in Fair Lawn on Thrusday. 07/28/2016
By Richard Muti
Gov. Chris Christie's "Fairness Formula" for public education funding plays upon the frustrations and anxieties of property tax-weary suburbanites like the song of the Sirens played upon the ears of ancient Greek sailors. If listened to, it will surely lead our ship of state onto rocky shoals as perilous as those that threatened Odysseus and his men in Homer's immortal tale.
Most of us plowed through "The Odyssey" in high school, when we were too young, perhaps, to appreciate its poetic beauty and universal truths. One part I do remember is the episode of the Sirens, who called out to mariners traversing a narrow sea passage and lured them, powerless to resist, to their demise on the jagged coast. Odysseus wanted to hear their song, but not at the expense of his ship and crew. He ordered his men to lash him securely to the mast, and then to fill their ears with wax so they could continue to sail their ship through the dangerous waters.
We don't know what enchanting lyrics those mystical nymphs of old sang to entice men to abandon all logic and good sense, but if one were to contemplate their modern-day equivalent, the song might go something like this:
Who cares if the constitution says "thorough and efficient,"
It's not my leadership that has been deficient.
Time to let kids in Newark and Camden and Asbury Park
Navigate their own way out of the dark.
Come to me now if you've had your fill,
and save thousands off your property tax bill.
By Max Pizarro • 08/17/16
From Left: Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, Essex County Freeholder President Britnee Timberlake, and Sweeney.
In the end it proved an anti-climax, that meeting tonight of Democratic Party establishment players in Mountainside, as an abbreviated but dedicated brace of insiders gingerly felt out guv 2017 implications.
Two northern chairs attended, to add to the Southern contingent, and some senators, M. Teresa Ruiz, Nick Scutari and Paul Sarlo among them. All three of those lawmakers are short-list establishment candidates to succeed sitting Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) on the throne of senate power, incidentally.
By the time Chris Christie became governor of New Jersey, the state’s auditors and lawyers had been battling for several years to collect long-overdue taxes owed by the casinos founded by his friend Donald J. Trump.
The total, with interest, had grown to almost $30 million. The state had doggedly pursued the matter through two of the casinos’ bankruptcy cases and even accused the company led by Mr. Trump of filing false reports with state casino regulators about the amount of taxes it had paid.
But the year after Governor Christie, a Republican, took office, the tone of the litigation shifted. The state entertained settlement offers. And in December 2011, after six years in court, the state agreed to accept just $5 million, roughly 17 cents on the dollar of what auditors said the casinos owed.
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on August 14, 2016
The New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund that pays for highway and transit projects throughout the state is poised to run out of cash this summer, and Gov. Chris Christie and lawmakers haven't reached a deal on a new source of revenue. Here are five things to know about the near-depleted Transportation Trust Fund:
During that quixotic tour of windbaggery known as his presidential campaign, Chris Christie told a roomful of fiction lovers that the job of a governor "is to get people in the room and to bang enough heads together and rub enough arms and cajole enough to have them put the state's greater interest ahead of their own personal partisan interests. That's what we did in New Jersey, and that's the model for America."
Actually, the only thing he has done lately is host a sports radio chat show, that place where real men convene to deplete the collective IQ of civilization by dissecting the manly game of football and trading potty jokes.
What he hasn't done is offer any practical solutions to fix a transportation system that is broken and unfunded, while $3.5 billion in road and rail projects are idle, thousands of workers are missing paychecks, and $1.3 million in economic activity is lost each day.
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on August 11, 2016
The trial of two former allies of Gov. Chris Christie in the Bridgegate scandal is scheduled to being in April. A look at some of the key players.
That text message from former Chris Christie staffer Christina Renna stating he "flat-out lied" at a Dec. 13, 2013, press conference is quite interesting in light of what Christie said at a press conference earlier that month.
That was the infamous "I worked the cones" press conference during which Christie tried to bluff his way out of a scandal that was blowing up beneath him.
I was at that press conference. It was a great performance by the governor.
Perhaps a bit too great.