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Christie Abuses of Power Go Unchecked

Where are Democrats in the Legislature as the Governor continues to abuse power?

[Updates below]

During the infamous “Saturday Night Massacre“, President Nixon ordered the firing of Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox.

Attorney General Eliot Richardson refused to comply and resigned in protest. Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus also refused and resigned.

Then Solicitor General Robert Bork did the dirty deed – and lived to regret it.

Governor Christie is approaching Nixonian levels or arrogance and abuse of power.

The Star Ledger reports today:

TRENTON – In the middle of Gov. Chris Christie’s battle with public employee unions, a veteran attorney for the commission that resolves disputes between the state and its workforce was abruptly ousted, prompting an outcry from commissioners and labor attorneys.

Ira Mintz, who was hired in 1985 when a Republican was in office, served as a staff attorney and general counsel to the Public Employment Relations Council until January. In his 25 years with the commission, Mintz said he never saw a career staff member fired without cause.

“I have been told there will be seismic change,” Mintz said. “I would have been an obstacle because I’m a professional and I think cases should be decided on the facts.”

Christie’s office said politics was not part of the decision.

In the governor’s first year in office, PERC sided with employee unions when Christie tried to void an agreement they had made with former Gov. Jon Corzine to get the day after Thanksgiving off for working Lincoln’s Birthday.

While no one has confirmed it publicly, PERC Commissioner Pat Colligan, a labor representative on the committee from the Police Benevolent Association, suggested the Black Friday decision contributed to Mintz’s termination.

“To see him get fired they’ll call it a retirement, but he was told he was being terminated” that is a real disgrace,” Colligan said.

The political hack that played the Bork role and did the firing is new Christie PERC Chair –  a woman named P. Kelly Hatfield.

It just so happens that Ms. Hatfield has no legal training or labor experience:

Hatfield, who worked on Christie’s gubernatorial campaign, holds a Ph.D in microbiology but has no background in labor or law. Hatfield said her involvement with negotiations while on the Summit town council and school board made her want to be involved in the “great opportunity” at PERC.

Where are the Democrats in the Legislature as this Governor continues to abuse his powers?

Update 1: here’s another egregious example: N.J. public defender says Christie is trying to force her to resign]

Update 2: 3/3/11 – Star Ledger editorial calls out Christie on arrogance: “a prepubescent teen adoring himself in the mirror after his first shave“. Ouch!

Update 3: 3/4/11 – At least the Star Ledger editorial board is fighting back: Christie guilty of same political games he criticized

Oh, how Chris Christie, then governor-elect, and his mouthpieces screamed about Jon Corzine’s last-minute appointments. They accused Corzine of playing the usual political games, padding cronies’ pensions and appointing unqualified people to important policy-making boards.

Now, fast-forward a year to P. Kelly Hatfield, whom Christie has appointed as the new chairwoman of the Public Employment Relations Council, the agency that resolves disputes between public workers and the state. With Christie targeting public workers’ pay and benefits, PERC will be a bloody battleground as the state negotiates new contracts. Christie pledges an “adversarial” relationship with unions.

Hatfield, however, has no background in labor or law. She is a former Summit councilwoman and former school board member. She has run for Assembly and Congress, and lost both times. Questionable qualifications for running an important state agency, but, hey, anybody can be a hatchet (wo)man.

Update 4: 3/9/11 – The abuse keeps coming – this time with a right wing judicial nomination that bypassed Bar Assc. review. Maybe the Senate Dems will refuse to confirm? Star Ledger story: Gov. Christie announces Superior Court judge nomination before bar association finishes review

Update 5: 3/12/11 – Well, well, Dems stood strong and King Christie blinked: Christie yanks nomination of N.J. assemblyman as Superior Court judge

[Update 6: 3/28/11 – more radical and unprecedented arrogation of power. Star Ledger:  Gov. Christie makes ‘unusual’ appearance at commission meeting to draw new legislative district map

The presence of the head of the executive branch in the process raised eyebrows among Democrats in the hotel and left some Republicans at times refusing to admit the governor was in the building even though his security detail was standing outside the door.

Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex), the leader of the Democrats’ redistricting team and the party’s state chairman, said it was inappropriate for Christie to take part in negotiations.

“Under our constitution, it’s a legislative function, not an executive function. The executive branch has to implement the map, he said, noting the attorney general has to defend the map from lawsuits. It raises the question about the ability of the executive branch to impartially carry out its duties.

Leon Sokol, who served as the Democrats’ redistricting counsel three times from 1981 to 2001, said he’s never seen a governor directly take part.

“They’ve always taken a hands-off position and left it to the legislative leadership to develop their strategy,” he said. “I’m pretty confident in saying that in the 30 years I was involved, the governor was not involved.”

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  1. jim
    June 2nd, 2011 at 19:10 | #1

    Gov. Christie again displays why many Americans feel their voted rep. are taking advantage of the system. Many many Americans work and are not able to see their
    kids participate in activities. Governor if the schedule doesn’t work don’t abuse, quit and find other employment.

  1. April 25th, 2011 at 15:55 | #1
  2. May 20th, 2011 at 13:36 | #2
  3. January 1st, 2012 at 12:27 | #3
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