Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Lou Greenwald’ Category

Speaker Oliver is in a tight spot.  She owes her job to the Essex connection…and now those same forces are aligning against her. It may be “only a matter of time” until they really move against her. For good.

Like I said to all who would listen ten months ago when I was asked what I thought about the Speaker in waiting…she is not to be underestimated. And one of these days she is gonna tell the powers that be her answer is “no.” Her personality is not suited to taking marching orders, even when given by those who employ her.

Let’s back up a little. All last week, a long and tedious negotiation was underway to reform arbitration awards. On Thursday, Lou Greenwald, Sheila Oliver and Stephen Sweeney held press conference to announce that they had reached a deal on an arbitration bill. The Gov didn’t like it because it had no hard cap like Republican Declan O’Scanlon’s bill does. O”Scanlon and Greenwald had been meeting with Chief Counsel Jeff Chiesa to hammer out a deal everyone could live with. When those negotiations fell through, the Dems cut their own deal and went public.

On friday, I’m told that a Republican lawmaker called Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo who works hand-in-hand with Big Chief Steve Adubato from Newark’s North Ward. When this Republican gave him a bit of a hard time, Joe D hit the phones.

Fast forward to Monday’s Democratic Assembly Caucus. When Oliver tests the room to see if there are enough votes to move Greenwald’s arbitration bill the entire Essex delegation tells her “no.” Bill is shelved. The Democrats once again appear in disarray.

The unions say, “hey we were against this from the beginning…this latest crumble has got nothing to do with us.” Dems thought they had the votes, but the Gov’s reach runs deep in the county of Essex, which lived up to it’s mantra of “Essex First.”

I think it was the 80’s hit “The Breakfast Club” where Mr. Vernon warned a young Judd Nelson not to “mess with the bull” or he’ll “get the horns.” The horns are awfully sharp in Essex these days.

And while we are talking about the “Breakfast Club” let me just take a moment to vent about Emilio Estevez who was great in that movie, and was also a fantastic Kirby Kager in St. Elmo’s. But “The Mighty Ducks” franchise was truly an affront to the civilized world. He oughta be brought up on charges and tried at the Hague for crimes against humanity for those films.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

In the early 90’s classic “What About Bob?” Richard Dreyfuss ( this was before Kippendorf’s Tribe  ruined his career ) plays the straight man to Bill Murray’s fury-inducing bafoon. The movie is a series of situations in which Dreyfuss, playing the shrink, tries not to explode at Murray who keeps pushing the envelope. This includes Murray ( his patient ) arriving at Dreyfuss’ country home uninvited and unnannounced. We keep waiting for the explosion of anger, and every now and then it comes…although not always when we expect it.

What can I say about the handful of Democrats who are on the precipice of open revolt within the Democratic caucus. Governor Christie is running the table, and those who don’t want to go along with his game plan don’t have enough votes to override the South Jersey and the north Jersey Democratic coalitions. Chris Christie, George Norcross and Steve Audubato who works through Joe D are calling the shots. And according to a disgruntled few, they had better get all these reforms done soon because this united front cannot last forever.

After Steve Sweeney stood with Christie to announce a compromise on the property tax cap the Assembly Democrats held their own caucus Wednesday morning. A handful of people who feel Sheila Oliver should not go along with the compromise caused “quite a bit of unrest.” And it’s not one single issue – which only adds to the chaos. On the one hand, you have some women legislators who feel Oliver has not done enough to challenge Christie on the women’s health issue. I am told that when Valerie Vainieri Huttle complained about that and other issues in caucus Wednesday, Oliver said something along the lines of “while you were out shopping over July 4, I was here working.” Needless to say that did not go over well.

What’s more, Assemblyman Lou Greenwald ( who is south j, but seems to wanna buck the new world order a bit ) said he doesn’t think Democrats should keep reacting to what Christie says all the time. They should instead make the Governor respond to them. I’m told Greenwald, Pam Lampitt, John Wisniewski and others feel the Democrats need to bring their own agenda instead of trying to glom onto things like the cap by declaring it was their idea all along…then insisting they “got some major concessions” from the Governor.

Oliver said Wednesday that the Assembly would fix the mistakes of the 2.0 cap bill after it passes through subsequent legislation. John Burzichelli and John McKeon met with Kevin O’Dowd in the Governor’s office to find out what exactly they could change…but some felt it was a little bit like asking permission.

Moreover, there are some who feel the party needs to do more for their traditional allies – specifically the working class union guys. Those guys voted for Christie in the last election. And since then, Democrats have done nothing to try and woo them back. In fact, just the opposite has taken place. They have undermined labor’s agenda at every turn; when traditionally it was Dems who protected workers, it’s now that same party trying to undermine them with non-negotiated givebacks that do an end run around collective bargaining.

Hey look, times have changed. One could fairly make the argument that unions gotta get real and stop threatening strikes over unused sick time and Lincoln’s birthday ( full disclosure: I’m CWA local 1032 ). But on the flip side, perks – however petty they may sound – are bargaining chips in the larger chess game of negotiating multi-year deals. The unions at least want the Democrats to pretend to show them some love instead of jumping on the “my property taxes are high and it’s the unions’ fault!” bandwagon.

The Democratic party needs to think about – you know, the party. They gotta stand for someone. Unions vote. And as one Democrat observed “It’s easy to craft a mission when you are unified, it’s nearly impossible when you are not.” If the anger from these loose coalition groups that comprise the Democratic party starts to bubble over the surface, the party could lose it’s cool like Richard Dreyfuss and never outsmart the guy who is actually outsmarting them.

Read Full Post »

Well, if they did…perhaps they spoke to soon. And by “they” of course I mean me. Not just me…many others as well. The narrative last week was that the basic framework for a budget deal is firmly in place. But…here it comes…you ready…Here comes the cliche…the devil is in the details. bang.

Apparently last Thursday the principals were supposed to meet at Drumthwacket with Christie to finalize the budget. However, there were some differences of opinion over who that should be. I’m told that the Dems wanted to bring Barbara Buono, Paul Sarlo and Lou Greenwald to which Christie simply said, “no way.”

At issue are a handful of restorations. The D’s have reportedly dropped their ask from $400 to $200 million. But there are still some hang-ups over things like family planning, and no one seems to know what to do about Bergen County. Christie is not ready to concede the point on blue laws, even though both parties up in Bergen seem to want them to stay. The figure is reportedly $65 million in sales tax from allowing Sunday retail, which is a decently large number to fill in the budget. Although during a Senate budget hearing recently David Rosen said OLS “would need to do it’s own analysis” of the $65 million projection, which is a polite way of saying it might be wildly off the mark.

Well, we certainly know that Sarlo favors keeping the blue laws on the books, so that might explain why Christie wanted to keep him away. But what about the others?

All I know is that I hate missing the insider dinner or party. All your friends go, then every time they get together they reminisce about how much fun it was, and you feel all left out. Then they develop private, inside jokes from that night which you will never share or be a part of. Aw Man, I hate that.

Anyway, in the meantime both sides seem to be digging in on the budget. Dems now say they will vote to override the Gov’s veto of the  Millionaire’s tax…and someone from the front office appears to have strategically leaked a memo to the Ledger stating that preparations are underway for a government shutdown.

Read Full Post »

Well, I suppose it was only a matter of time. The gloves had to come off and the true colors had to come out. The differences on this budget are just too stark. You saw flashes of it during the confirmation hearings of Hal Wirths and Janet Rosenzweig ( who withdrew her nomination late Friday afternoon ). And you saw evidence of volcanic activity just below the surface during Bret Schundler’s testimony before the Senate Budge Committee. Then of course there was the dust-up between DCA’s Lori Grifa and Assembly Budge Chair Greenwald.

But there was a particular brand of unraveling that began this week. It all started When Senate Majority Leader Barbara Buono did not sign onto the recommendations of the much ballyhooed Red Tape Review Group. Then the Repubs circled the wagons when an AP report accused the Christie Administration of boosting payroll in the Executive offices ( btw – I’m not sure this had anything to do with the Democrats but it certainly didn’t help foster a climate of peace and reconciliation ). And then Tuesday, the gloves came off during budge hearings in the Senate. First Chairman Paul Sarlo squared off with LT Gov. Kim Guadagno. Then Buono and Guadagno went back and forth about the budget ( although they also exchanged barbs over Red Tape Review ). Then Senator Bucco tried to defend Guadagno who then turned around and accused him of arguing with Sarlo. So, it was a bit of a three-ring circus…although I must admit an unusually entertaining one ( I’ve actually always hated the circus…I find clowns to be a bit sinister. And yes, I have seen “Killer Klowns From Outer Space” – that terrifying B movie…although Dean Wormer from “Animal House” plays the cop, which is kinda awesome ).

Anyway, it was bound to happen…even if it’s enough to make your head spin. After all, elected officials of both parties are realizing that they are going to make their constituents very unhappy no matter what. That is not a recipe for bi-partisanship…or perhaps it should be?

Programming note – the title comes from the original ’80’s hit by the band “Dead or Alive.” The song’s ( hehe ) chorus was recently co-opted in a remake by “Flo Rida.” And I give credit to my friend Josh who once asked the brilliant rhetorical question ‘how did it take any Florida-based rapper this long to come up with the name “Flo Rida?”‘

Read Full Post »