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Archive for the ‘Joe Cryan’ Category

It’s that time of the year again. The New Jersey Press Association presents the Legislative Correspondent’s Club annual show.

Basically, the state’s  ( now dwindling ) press corps performs a series of skits and songs that mock the political and media elite of the Garden State. It is often quite funny replete with costumes, wigs and other flamboyant accessories that would make even Elton John blush.

As for my role…well, I am El Presidente this year. That means I don’t actually have to sing ( which is not my strong suit ). I have to deliver the introductory speech which is supposed to be funny and slightly mean spirited. Well, I don’t know how funny it shall be, although I’m working on it. It will most certainly be biting, and of course familiar.

Then of course, after the show is over, people get to stand around and hang out in a cocktail party-type atmosphere which is even more fun. And the whole evening is off the record. So, if you are remotely interested, I urge you to purchase tickets. Proceeds go to charity.

Contact Peg Stephan 609-406-0600 ext. 14. or pastephan@njpa.org

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It wasn’t exactly smooth sailing, but in the end the pension reforms passed…but without a key element.

The provision allowing public employees to pay into a 401-k style plan ( also known as the “opt-out” ) went down in an amendment. It was this sticking point that led to a standstill on the floor of the Assembly Monday when Democrats emerged from caucus confident that the entire bill (S-2) would be held.

What followed was a series of closed door meetings amongst the leadership and the Governor. It’s funny because my life covering politics is actually a series of meetings behind closed doors that i am not allowed to attend. It’s kinda like the velvet rope clubs of my youth. But in this case, I am never on the list. So, we try and piece together what transpires after the fact.

here is what I can discern. The Governor and Sweeney appear to have reached an agreement early on for these reforms. Christie agreed to let Sweeney take most of the credit. And he should. Sweeney championed these reforms four years ago, but didn’t have a partner in the Governor’s office who would sign off on them. Now he does. So when the state’s top Democrat started hearing that there were some defections among the Assembly Dems, he started trying to roundup the votes. I’m told that Joe D of Essex County for example, had promised to deliver votes for the reforms that weren’t panning out.

Well, On Monday afternoon those closed door meetings began. And it finally took Speaker Oliver and Majority Leader Cryan meeting with Sweeney to get the Senate prez to agree to remove the opt-out. Sweeney seemed to view this thing as his baby, and didn’t want it changed. But the Assembly ain’t his house. And what is emerging here is a bit of a class divide. Dems see the Assembly as the last bastion of the people’s will. The opt-out is the only provision that is truly ideological. It endorses the view that maybe the idea of guaranteed government provided pensions is old and stale and needs to be phased out. And that troubled D’s who told me they were not prepared to allow it. Democrats believe in pensions and protecting working people. In fact, even some Republicans were troubled by the actuaries on the opt-out. In effect, they feared it would chip away at the health of an already troubled system and numbers suggesting otherwise were not all that clear.

So, a lot of political capital has now been spent. It was a more bruising battle than some had anticipated. You might even see Assembly Dems push back by forcing their Authorities reform on the Senate as they believe pensions were rammed down their throats a bit. Authorities targets more upper income people which brings us back to the class issue.

Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon has introduced a bill that eliminates the 9% pension enhancement going forward ( something the Gov also wants ), but I’m told the Dems will need the bad taste in their mouths to dissolve a bit before they will even consider that.

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I think the story of the next legislature will be south jersey.

In a series of rapidly moving developments, it appears as though a deal has been cut between the Essex delegation and the south jersey dems  ( also known as Adubato and Norcross, respectively ) to support Sheila Oliver for Speaker and Steve Sweeney for Senate Prez.

This satisfies the various factions within the Democratic party for several reasons. For one, Essex County plans to deliver up to 70,000 for Jon Corzine in November. That is by far the highest total of any county in the state. For weeks I had been hearing that a deal was being made for Cryan as Speaker and Sweeney as Senate Prez but sources in Essex had told me “no way.” They said that if Codey did not have the votes to remain Senate President then Essex would need the Speaker’s position. Apparently that held true in this deal.

Members of the Black Caucus are satisfied ( although officially, they don’t endorse ) because you would have the first African American female as Speaker. And that of course, brings me to south jersey.

the south jersey coalition is now 12 members including current elected officials and those expected to be elected in November. As a united front they are a force to be reckoned with. Not only was Joe Roberts one of their own…but now, like the Essex delegation, they too can demand one of the top spots ( in this case the Senate Presidency for Sweeney ) when leadership changes. That’s a pretty big deal. One could even say their power is at its zenith right now. And it will certainly be interesting to see how united they remain going forward. After all, more than one of them may seek the governorship or some other key position next time around. And let’s face it, they may call it south jersey but it ain’t all the same. It’s a pretty big geographic area. The terrain varies, as do the income levels and needs…so it may be tough to keep speaking with one voice.

But If the current leadership deal holds, here are some other expectations:

Cryan would come away with support as Majority Leader in the Assembly, with Barbara Buono stepping into Majority Leader on the Senate side. Sarlo ( who was passed over for the position once before ) would become Budget Committee Chairman.

Less certain is who would move in to Cryan’s current position of DSC Chair.

Of course Codey has vowed to fight, at least for now. He issued an ominous statement warning that leadership fights are “fluid.” But you gotta wonder how he feels about Teresa Ruiz from Essex included on the list of names supporting Sweeney. The word is that Nick Scutari got on board the Sweeney train against his will.

And of course we know that Ray Lesniak is always with the winner.

As a final note – The Sweeney press release listed a total of 14 names that are with him in the Senate ( 12 are needed to win ). 14, if you remember, was the number you heard here first three weeks ago.

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