2015: Education in NJ Will See the Consquences of Earlier Policy Decisions

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Port Authority Follies

By PolitickerNJ Editor | 01/02/15

Opinion

 

On the surface, it would seem as though Governors Christie and Cuomo have missed an opportunity to bring genuine change to the Port Authority. But their joint veto of a bi-partisan, bi-state reform package was not, in fact, a missed opportunity. It was a deliberate and cynical maneuver to block reform and to protect their patronage privileges. In the end, neither governor had any intention of shaking up the status-quo.

So they didn’t miss an opportunity because the opportunity never existed. Except, perhaps, in the minds of every state legislator on both sides of the Hudson who for the reform package and who surely assumed nobody would stand in the way of such necessary changes.

The reform package would have brought transparency to a famously opaque agency that long ago strayed from its core mission of overseeing and maintaining a regional transportation system. The reforms would have subjected the agency’s finances to carefully delineated auditing standards (amazingly, this is not already common practice) and would have required the agency’s leaders to file financial disclosure forms (ditto).

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At portentous swearing-in, DiVincenzo floats Menendez and Booker for VP

By Max Pizarro | 01/01/15

PolitickerNJ

NEWARK – If theater inevitably permeated today’s Essex County government reorganization ceremony it was not Shakespeare, or even Christopher Marlowe, whose Doctor Faustus doomed to spiritual serfdom the title character on the substance of his decision-making.

In this case, Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo – a leading New Jersey Democrat who in 2013 backed Republican Governor Chris Christie then turned around and ran unopposed in the 2014 Democratic Primary – appeared absolved for all time – or at least until 2016 and the coming portents of presidential politics – and 2017, where indeed, his ring of glory beckons all statewide players forth to kiss.

It’s Essex, the county with the most Democrats packed into its northern borders, and so important politically to put it mildly.

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N.J. court rules Christie administration exceeded authority in raising retirees' copays

By Samantha Marcus | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on December 31, 2014

WOODBRIDGE —New Jersey’s pension division overstepped its authority when it raised state retirees’ prescription copays, the state appellate court ruled today.

The Division of Pensions and Benefits should have maintained the status quo while labor and public employer representatives resolved a dispute over revised copays for 2013, judges ruled.

Hetty Rosenstein, director of the New Jersey branch of the Communications Workers of America and a plaintiff in the suit, said the retirees overpaid for their prescriptions — a few dollars on each, she suggested — and should be reimbursed.

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Why N.J. has seen historic lows in voter turnout recently

By Brent Johnson | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on December 30, 2014

Gov. Chris Christie exits a voting machine at the Emergency Services Building after voting in the 2014 general election. Mendham, NJ

 

TRENTON — Last month's elections continued what has become a striking trend in New Jersey recently: People are voting at historically low rates.

Though U.S. Sen. Cory Booker — a nationally known politician — won his first full term in Washington and all 12 of the state's seats in the U.S. House of Representatives were up for grabs, only 36 percent of New Jersey's registered voters cast ballots in November's midterm elections. It was the lowest voter turnout for a regularly scheduled federal election in state history.

In fact, each of New Jersey's last seven statewide elections have set some kind of record for low turnout — a stretch of voter apathy that experts blame partly on citizens being frustrated with partisan bickering and campaign finance issues.

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2014 in New Jersey: The Year of Steven Fulop

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Mayor Steven Fulop of Jersey City is New Jersey’s political wunderkind. He is a political consultant’s dream candidate: a combination of populist, intellectual, ex-Marine Iraq war veteran, triathlete, and ex- Goldman Sachs financial wizard.

2014 was a year of remarkable governmental and political triumph for Steve Fulop. As mayor of Jersey City, he launched new measures in property tax reduction, urban parks, inner city revitalization, and prisoner reentry into society occupational training. His image as an urban reformer was indeed further enhanced in 2014.

Yet it was the political arena in 2014 in which Steve Fulop enjoyed his greatest success. He won new key political allies in Essex, Passaic, and Bergen counties by his campaign activities on behalf of winning candidates, most notably 1) Mayors Ras Baraka in Newark and Joey Torres in Paterson, and 2) Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco.

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Christie Roams, and Popularity Suffers at Home

When the Chris Christie-for-president chatter first started, in 2011, voters in his home state of New Jersey took pride in having a celebrity governor. As Nancy Reagan escorted Mr. Christie to his speech at her husband’s presidential library, and hedge fund billionaires, The Weekly Standard and The Wall Street Journal’s editorial pages urged him to run, his approval ratings jumped. Voters told pollsters the national attention made him more effective, and improved their state’s long-maligned image.

Four years later, with Governor Christie again considering a run for president, his constituents appear to be tiring of the whole routine.

Polls taken over the last three months reveal a list of home-state complaints: Mr. Christie’s favorability is at its lowest point, with more voters disapproving than approving of his job performance. New Jersey residents think he is making decisions with an eye on his national standing rather than on what is good for their state. They do not think he should run for president — they are, as the slogan goes, ready for Hillary — but most expect he will, and want him to resign if he does. Political talk in New Jersey centers less on Mr. Christie running for president and more on which one of three Democrats quietly seeking to succeed him will win — even though that election is three years away.

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Cuomo and Christie, Defying Legislatures, Reject Bill to Overhaul Port Authority

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Longtime Irvington councilor, Essex freeholder recalled as dedicated, influential public servant

By Dan Ivers | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on December 23, 2014

IRVINGTON — Former Essex County Freeholder D. Bilal Beasley was remembered today as a dedicated man whose influence stretched across nearly every corner of public life in his home of Irvington.

The 68-year-old was a fixture in the political scene in Irvington and across Essex County for decades, beginning with his election as a township councilor in 1988 and culminating in four terms on the county executive board beginning in 2002.

Family members said he died as he attempted to recover from a recent surgery.

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Essex Freeholder D. Bilal Beasley has died

By Max Pizarro | 12/22/14

PolitickerNJ

 

Essex County Freeholder D. Bilal Beasley has died.

The veteran Democratic Party leader was the immovable force behind local political machinations in his hometown of Irvington.

“I’m saddened for any number of reasons,” said Essex County Democratic Chairman Leroy Jones. “I’m sad for the family. Bilal has been a patriarch for a long period of time. I’m also sad because I lost a personal friend. In the business we do, he has been a teacher and a mentor for the extent of my political career. Bilal was a leader who in 1988 saw something in me. Most important, he was a political ally. in his later years he became the conscience of the Democratic Party: a man’s man and there are not a lot who can lay claim to that. He was a man and family man who happened to do something called politics.

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