Saturday, September 20, 2014
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One firefighter's stunning rebuke to Gov. Christie

Bill Lavin, the head of the statewide firefighters' union, launched a stunning attack on Gov. Christie Thursday, alluding to the governor's eating habits and comparing him to "a rodeo clown" as he took issue with the Republicans' pointed critiques of public employee labor unions.

One firefighter's stunning rebuke to Gov. Christie

Bill Lavin, the head of the statewide firefighters' union, launched a stunning attack on Gov. Christie Thursday, alluding to the governor's eating habits and comparing him to "a rodeo clown" as he took issue with the Republicans' pointed critiques of public employee labor unions.

The verbal salvo came in a normally staid committee room where the Assembly Appropriations committee handles bills dealing with state spending. On Thursday, the committee voted on a series of pension and benefit reforms that will impact public workers, teachers, police and firefighters.

Lavin, president of the New Jersey State Fireman's Mutual Benevolent Association, joined several union leaders in saying Christie is using public employees as scapegoats. Lavin, who said his daughter is a teacher, reached the boiling point while referring to a portion of the governor's budget speech that took issue with the dues that fund the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA):

"The teachers, the state workers, the police and firefighters of this state are the role models. They've done nothing, regardless of what they make, to have a governor of the state stand up and say that, like a rodeo clown, for Christ's sake, and talk about the amount of dues that people pay. What business (of his is) that? It’s not different than the amount of cheeseburgers that he eats in a wk for crying out loud."

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Here are some outtakes of the speech that had left reporters and legislative aides open-mouthed:

"Normally I say it’s an honor to speak before this body. I don’t feel that way today. I think it’s worth mentioning the honor and dignity of the NJEA and I want to recognize their leadership . . .

To listen to a speech by a governor who incessantly maligns and demeans people who have never violated any law, have never done anything but follow the process that we all so love to take part in in Trenton . . . I think it was not befitting a governor, I want to be on record as saying that . . .

We have blame, we have our good name undermined, our teachers undermined, and quite frankly I’m sickened by it . . .

Because we have a new king in town our Democratic friends tuck and run and we have deals cut and we think we have friends left . . .

The teachers, the state workers, the police and firefighters of this state are the role models. They've done nothing, regardless of what they make, to have a governor of the state stand up and say that like a rodeo clown, for Christ's sake, and talk about the amount of dues that people pay. What business (of his is) that? It’s not different than the amount of cheeseburgers that he eats in a wk for crying out loud . . .

We want to talk about anger, I’m trying to be as professional as I possibly can, but I’m disgusted . . .

An audience packed with representatives of various labor unions applauded for 20 seconds after the speech. Lavin walked out.

Another FMBA official, Bob Allen, was next to speak. He said, "President Lavin asked me to sit next to him in the event that he thought it might be necessary to apologize for his behavior, but I will do no such thing."

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Garden State Grapevine covers news in South Jersey and Trenton.

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