Sweeney–Christie wannabe–practices bullying on Rutgers.

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What sort of state allows a barely literate thug like Steve Sweeney–with aspirations to the governorship–to intimidate, browbeat and extort a nationally respected institution like Rutgers University? The same state, I guess, that allows Chris Christie, a clownish, dancing governor–dancing just one step ahead of the sheriff–to fly to New Hampshire in the middle of a budget and pension crisis because he pretends he can be president.

“Rutgers has a chance to reform itself or the state will reform Rutgers,” said Sweeney.  What arrogance–a riff on Louis XIV’s “L’etat, c’est moi” from someone who, without George Norcross, would be “Steve who?” No, Steve, you are not the state.  Must be something in the water coolers in the Statehouse, a sort of political Viagra that swells egos.

Still, the only reason why Sweeney, a union official who hates unions and robs working-class pensioners of their benefits, can smear Rutgers is the abject failure of the university’s administration to stand up to political bullies like him. There are those close to the top of the Rutgers administration who, for years,  have collaborated with Sweeney and his master  (and Chris Christie’s co-governor) George Norcross–the Boss Tweed of Cherry Hill–to weaken the independence of the university’s governance structure. Those enemies within, some with strong ties to the Republican Party, would have been fired long ago if presidents like Mason Gross and Edward Bloustein were in charge.

Let’s get this straight: Sweeney is not bullying Rutgers and demanding its governing board be further politicized  because such changes will enhance the university’s reputation. He is not intimidating the university with ultimatums because he wants Rutgers to be more economically efficient or academically rigorous. He isn’t holding a rusty razor blade to Rutgers’ throat to make its admissions and financial aid policies more equitable. Sweeney isn’t even doing it to improve the university’s athletic teams.

He is not talking about reform. He is talking about pillaging a 250-year-old institution to please the man who yanks his chains. He is doing it to weaken the university further so ultimately it will give in to the demands of the Poobah Norcross to create a rival state university out of Rowan–just, recently, Glassboro State College. And Norcross wants Rowan–undoubtedly some day called Norcross University of the Political Arts–because he is George Norcross and, damn it, he gets what he wants. Even if that means stealing the Lanning Square School, a public school,  from the children of Camden so he can have a charter school named after him.

This is payback, ordered by Norcross for a university trustee board that, two years ago, wouldn’t bend to the wishes of the brutish state senate president and the Camden County Machiavelli who holds his leash. Payback–and foreplay–because Norcross won’t stop until someone stops him. And just who would that be? Chris Christie, as US Attorney, contemplated that until he decided Norcross was more useful to him as an ally than as a defendant.

By neutralizing the board of trustees and increasing the  number of political appointments to the board of governors,  Sweeney will have given New Jersey a politicized state university, just as it has a politicized education department that makes a mockery out of a state public school system that, throughout the nation, was known as one of the best.

Once Rutgers is completely politicized, vultures like Norcross can have easy pickings on the bones of a once proud university. Imagine the patronage possibilities for the Norcross family and his lackeys throughout South Jersey and in the Legislature once Norcross University is established.

What is saddest of all is that those one would expect to be the heroes of this farce hide in the wings and say only polite and reasonable things, afraid of the bullies. What happened to Robert Barchi? Why isn’t he traveling the state arguing the case for the political independence of the state university? C’mon, doc, stop fixing clocks as a hobby–start fixing the relationship between the university and the politicians who pretend to be the state.

Do state officials, including university presidents and education commissioners like David Hespe, undergo some sort of surgery that removes wherever their courage is located before they are allowed to take office? How else can one explain the president of Rowan, still a teacher-training college,  giving teacher-hating Christie, Sweeney, and the not-quite-so-evil Norcross twin Donald honorary degrees, all at one, backside-kissing commencement? Norcross’s own private Cooper/medical school/hospital must provide the surgery.

Alas, New Jersey! New Jersey jokes are no longer about Turnpike exits or refineries. New Jersey jokes are the clowns and moral midgets elected to lead us. We are the punch lines. So why isn’t anyone laughing?

 

8 comments

  1. Becca Field

    While I do not disagree with what is said here, I do object the lumping together all New Jersey voters. I did not vote for Christie, and he did not ask me for permission to go to New Hampshire. I cannot even vote for Sweeney as I do not live in his district. I am an activist fighting for a better New Jersey. If we want to make New Jersey better we can – and it starts with acknowledging that there are lots of people out here trying.

    Bob Braun: True. Every now and then I slide into a Menckenesque funk when I contemplate the polity.

    • Becca Field

      That would be a funk I would not like to find myself in. He did not offer much in the terms of optimism despite his genius.
      Bob Braun: I’m not sure optimism is an appropriate emotion.

      • Becca field

        Well, Mr. Braun, I suppose we differ here. I choose always to believe that we can improve our circumstance from personal to political. I do not give up so easily. As long as I have free choice, I will use it to believe and fight for positive change.

  2. Meral K Smith

    Becca Field, I would be interested to hear what you do not wholeheartedly agree with in Bob’s article. Everything he’s said rings true to my ears. If you live in South Jersey you have to see the corruption and mis-use of government that happens every day here, yet the majority of the voters continue to vote in the corruptors themselves.

    • Becca field

      I believe you have misread my statement Meral K Smith. My first sentence, while a double negative, states I am in agreement with Mr. Braun. I only object to being lumped together with those that vote for politicians such as Christie and Sweeney. If those of us who see what is going on work together our minority can become that majority. If we are not prepared to fight why take the time to point out what is wrong?

  3. William F Mead

    Through the influence, if not direct orders of State Senator Sweeney and George Norcross, the Gloucester and Camden Counties Democratic Party Machinery has been able to stack the Rowan Board of Trustees, with at least 9 members that have demonstrative political or personal ties to Steve Sweeney or George Norcross. With the tacit collaboration of Governor Christie, they have also successfully engineered stacking the new Joint Rutgers Camden/Rowan Governing Board with a four vote majority of loyalist appointees. With the advent of Sweeney’s proposed legislation, they’re taking a shot at using a similar strategy with the Rutgers University Board of Governors.

    Democratic Party controlled majority of seats on the fifteen (15) members Rowan University Coard of Trustees are:

    1. Linda Roher, Chairman of the Rowan Bd of Trustees is also Vice Chairman of the Camden County Improvement Authority. She is President of her own Real Estate Firm that does business in Camden and Gloucester Counties.

    2. Chad Bruner is Secretary for the Rowan Board of Trustees and he is County Administrator for the Gloucester County Bd of Chosen Freeholders. As such, he handles the Resolutions and Contracts that come before the Rowan Board. He also serves on the Joint Rowan/Rutgers Camden Board!

    3. Fred Graziano is head of Retail Banking and Executive Vice President of TD Bank Financial Group. Norcross’ Insurance Company is a subsidiary and he serves as an Executive Officer for TD Bank, which took over Commerce Bank. Graziano also serves on the Joint Rowan/Rutgers Camden Board!

    4. Helene Reed is the Democrat Gloucester County Surrogate, a former Freeholder and a retired health/medical services professional.

    5. James Kehoe is Business Manager for the Plumbers and Pipefitters Local Union with strong political and union ties.

    6. Martin F. McKernan Jr. serves as Commissioner, Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority.

    7. Nick L. Petroni, CPA is the Principal at Petroni & Associates, which handles accounting and other no bid government professional services throughout Gloucester and Camden counties.

    8. George Loesch serves as vice president for Campbell Soup Company, with international corporate headquarters in Camden and personal ties to George Norcross.

    9. Robert Poznek is the Principal for Poznek Builders, a single family housing construction company with close ties to Sweeney.

    If you look at the Joint Rutgers Camden/Rowan Governing Board, in addition to Bruner and Graziano, additional seats are held by:

    1. Chad Bruner (see above)

    2. Fred Graziano (see above)

    3. Jack Collins – Former Republican Assemblyman and Speaker was also Glassboro State College’s Executive Director and a faculty member during his term in the Assembly.

    4. Lou Besich – Former Camden County Administrator and Democratic Party loyalist with close ties to George Norcross.

    5. Camden Mayor Dana Redd – Although she is a Rutgers Camden Alumna, Mayor Redd will be hard pressed to vote against the interests of Sweeney and Norcross.

    The Joint Rutgers Camden/Rowan Governing Board has already made their intentions clear by voting to hire a Camden Democratic Party loyalist lawyer as CEO without calling for resumes or a search committee. Such a call is standard operation procedure for governing boards of university level educational institutions.

    Sadly, I do not have the opportunity or access to public documents to research campaign donation histories, no bid professional contract allocations or other contracts put forth by the Rowan University Board of Trustees. Perhaps you or your news outlet would be interested in pursuing this matter? In any event, please feel free to publish this information as a letter to the editor or some other format of your choosing.

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