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Archive for the ‘Paul Sarlo’ Category

In the mid-90’s there was an “independent film” ( I put that in quotation marks because this was around the time America was obsessed with movies that were well – you know, ‘independent’ ) called “Kicking and Screaming” about a bunch of college friends who graduate school, but can’t really let it go. So, instead of  moving back home and trying their luck in the real world, they return to school to attend freshman parties and live in a big house together off-campus. Anyway, you can imagine where this goes from here…a buncha over-educated and under-skilled dudes who make pithy comments and wry observations about college life when in fact, they are the losers who have failed to move on.

I feel like there is a bit of a stubborn reluctance amongst the Democrats to take up the tool kit. The Assembly has passed no bills, and while the Senate has passed one, they haven’t tackled any of the tough stuff even in committees. In fairness, the Senate Budget Committee has been holding hearings through the Summer. And Monday they passed new limits for public workers on unused sick time. But even the Senate Budge hasn’t taken on the sacred cows such as arbitration and civil service reform.

Chairman Paul Sarlo told reporters today that the “civil service opt-out provision is off the table.” Sarlo said Sweeney was the one who said that already, but I don’t recall him being so definitive. Anyway, the larger issue here appears to be in the Assembly.

Republican Assemblymen Vince Polistina and Domenick DiCicco issued statements criticizing the Democrats for convening committees Monday but failing yet again to take on the tool kit items. That prompted a sharply worded response from Dem Communications Director Tom Hester Jr.

The point here is that some of the tool kit will pass, and some will not. Democrats wouldn’t be Democrats if they passed all the bills as they currently are…But one might humbly suggest that they at least get to work figuring out what in those bills will work, and sifting out those ideas that won’t.

Speaker Oliver told us in an interview last month for NJN’s On The Record that she agrees the tool kit is just as important as the 2% cap. That is how the local communities will be able to comply with cap come January. So, let’s get to work.

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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.

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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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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?”‘

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