Christie out of touch with the state

Gov. Christopher Christie appears to be spending way too much time out of New Jersey in his pursuit of the GOP nomination for president.
Fortunately, he changed his mind about staying out of the state during the blizzard of 2016. Unfortunately, he again miscalculated when blasting the mayor of North Wildwood.
Mayor Patrick Rosenello claimed his part of the state suffered more under the snowstorm that his town did under Superstorm Sandy.
This is true. Cape May County was spared most of Sandy’s fury while 50 miles north, Atlantic City and points north of that got walloped. But Christie called him a “crazy mayor” for saying it.
Christie, who got a boost in the polls back in 2013 because of his moves to help the state recover from Sandy, has since managed to destroy his own credibility. This is due in part to the fact that many parts of the state hit by Sandy are still in need of recovery.
Christie has since apologized to Mayor Rosenello. But perhaps the governor should apologize to the state. The governor is so focused on becoming president he seems unable to handle disasters such as the snowstorm.
While Christie’s popularity has plummeted in New Jersey, his appeal outside of the state – in particular New Hampshire – appears to be on the rise.
Clearly modeling his campaign after former President George W. Bush, Christie may well repeat Bush’s deplorable record in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Racism is alive and well in Bayonne?

Residents came out in mass to protest against building an Islamic Center in Bayonne.
Many of the residents spoke at the Bayonne Planning Board about the negative impact the center would have on local quality of life; others clearly exposed their prejudices, speaking on religion and other subjects not relevant to construction of a building.
So many people spoke at the hearing that the Planning Board had to postpone its vote to accommodate more public comment in February.
The protest against the Islamic Center has drawn attention of regional and national media. This is partly because of the significant anti-Muslim rhetoric being spouted by some national political candidates. It is also partly because of the pumped up fear candidates like Christie have inspired by their opposition to relocating Syrian refugees in the state.
Ironically, the Islamic Center’s development is a sorely needed project for a part of Bayonne that has been in decay for years, a stretch along the eastern side of the Hudson Bergen Light Rail line city fathers have sought long to get redeveloped.
Should the anti-Muslim sentiment win out over common sense, then the neighborhood actually suffers. It is unlikely that this side of Bayonne will see development, while the corridor along nearby Avenue E prospers.

A new faction in Hoboken?

The recent division in the Hoboken City Council over the failed appointment of Frank Raia to the North Hudson Sewerage Authority has shown a significant split in the pro-Mayor Dawn Zimmer faction. Long seen as a rubber stamp for Zimmer, the reformer faction of the council seems no longer willing to simply go along with the mayor’s program, which was reportedly to set up Raia in a two year term that could later be dangled in front of him as an incentive to undermine any challenge to Zimmer’s rumored third term run from the ranks of “old guard” Hoboken in 2017.
The initial word was that Zimmer’s loyalists should re-appoint Raia to the body. But Sixth Ward Councilwoman Jen Giattino apparently swayed newly elected Tiffanie Fisher and Councilman James Doyle to join her resistance. This faction seems to be objecting to backroom deals that make a mockery of the “reformer” label. Councilman Michael DeFusco apparently also had reservations about approving Raia, long-identified with Zimmer’s opponents.
This left the Zimmer and her most loyal council members to rely on votes from the anti-Zimmer camp to try to keep Raia in, but in the end, Kurt Gardiner was appointed by an 8-1 vote, with two Zimmer opponents actually backing Gardiner
If anti-Zimmer people are right that Zimmer made a private deal with Raia to run a third ticket in the last mayoral race in 2013 to undermine the mayor’s opposition, then reformers appear to be resorting to the same political tactics they blasted “born and raised” politicians for in the past. Some of these same anti-Zimmer people point to the 3rd Ward race last year, saying that Zimmer may have overplayed her hand in trying to get Raia to run against Councilman Michael Russo without looking harder for “reform” opposition.
Did Raia, who filed to run and then backed out, sense danger in doing too much of Zimmer’s dirty work without first getting the reward he wanted?
The division in the Zimmer camp against Raia’s reappointment has left Raia out in the cold. Anti-Zimmer people don’t trust him, and Zimmer couldn’t keep her own votes lined up on his behalf.
This is not to say there is an open rebellion in the Zimmer camp. Instead, the new council may finally have some independent voices who will vote on issues in line with their political philosophy, not political expedience.

Gun play?

Newly-elected Jersey City School Board Trustee John Reichart will not be carrying a concealed weapon to school board meetings if these are held in a public school.
Reichart, a retired NJ Transit police officer, is permitted to carry a concealed weapon anywhere in the United States under federal law. But in New Jersey, he needs special permission to carry such a weapon in public schools.
Since Jersey City holds its regular meetings in P.S. 11, he needs the school board to approve, and other school board members have decided against it.
Reichart started his school board career as a voice of reason on the board, offering some suggestions for bringing together the two nearly equally divided factions on the school board. But you have to wonder if he feels just a little bit vulnerable that he needs to arm himself?
Reichart, of course, spouted the usual NRA illogic that his armed presence might deter a terrorist or other attack should it happen. The other board members, however, disagreed.

Al Sullivan may be reached at

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