Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Notes from a statewide schmooze-fest

The New Jersey League of Municipalities' convention, one of the biggest events on the political class' schmoozing calendar, is in full swing here in Atlantic City.

Notes from a statewide schmooze-fest


The New Jersey League of Municipalities' convention, one of the biggest events on the political class' schmoozing calendar, is in full swing here in Atlantic City.

Officially, it's all about seminars and discussion groups on hot topics such as "E-mail Retention and Document Management Policies, Problems and Solutions" and "Government At Work - Realizing Customer Satisfaction and Taxpayer Savings" - along with pontificating by top cabinet officials, legislative leaders and high profile mayors in a series of panels.

But the real buzz here comes from the mixture of lobbyists, municipal officials and the political elite, who duck out for meetings at restaurants or just at the metal tables in the lobby of the city's convention center. And for the night-time parties that draw from all aspects of Trenton's cast of characters. Information is traded fast.

The top nuggets so far:

- Senate President Richard J. Codey (D., Essex) appears resigned to losing his leadership post to Senate Majority Leader Stephen Sweeney (D., Gloucester). Codey is said to be holding out for some protection for the people who backed him, but seems unlikely to try to stop the Monday vote that is expected to end his term atop the Senate.

- Sweeney said Democrats should focus on the economy and not issues such as same-sex marriage.

- People here say things are more tame than in the past - though I've heard that for years about just about every major political event. Everything, it seems, was better in good ol' days.

- Corzine administration officials aren't expecting any big news when the governor speaks here tomorrow. Gov.-elect Christopher J. Christie is up after Corzine. It will be the first time they speak at the same podium since the election.

The Bergen Record's Elise Young had a story today that showed that the league lobbyist/executive director running this whole show, William Dressel, is among scores of people who are not public officials, but still get public pensions on the taxpayers' dime.

Meanwhile, the post-mortems on Election 2009 continue. At a discussion of legislative leaders, Democrats said Corzine failed to connect with voters and was hurt badly by the recession. Republicans said voters were angered by high taxes and budget problems.

A panel of former governor's looked ahead at the Christie administration - with members of both parties saying he will have a difficult time keeping his no-tax-increase pledge given the state's budget woes, according to The Star-Ledger's Lisa Fleisher. Former Democratic Gov. Byrne said Corzine's accomplishments were not the type that you can ride to re-election.

"Corzine did not connect with people, and it was not for lack of trying," Byrne said. "You can't go around campaigning on the fact you get the death penalty abolished, you can't do it. You can't do it on things that were incremental."

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Garden State Grapevine covers news in South Jersey and Trenton.

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