I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Cerf's Down

Oh, dear (and big congrats to Blue Jersey for breaking the story):
Acting NJ Education Commissioner Chris Cerf's hearing before the NJ Senate Judiciary Committee has just been canceled, I am told by a member of the Committee. 
The Judiciary Committee has determined that Cerf - widely reported to have moved out of Essex County to the more GOP-friendly location of Somerset County, still lives at the same address in Montclair, where he has lived since 1999. 
That move might have removed him from the jurisdiction of Essex Senator Ronald Rice, who has blocked his nomination for months on the basis of questions about his history and financial entanglements in the education reform industry.
But Cerf's hearing is off. The Judiciary Committee has determined he is not in fact a resident of Somerset County. And so, the practice of senatorial courtesy prevails, and Cerf's appointment for the hot seat before Senate Judiciary on Thursday is off.
What tripped him up? Well, it might have been his own interviews. John Schoonejongen recounts an editorial board meeting with Cerf last week, in which he was asked where he lives. The exchange is telling:
While making a point about school consolidation, Cerf said he was using Glen Ridge and Montclair as examples because that's where he lived. Seeking clarification, I asked him specifically where he lived. 
"Montclair," the acting commissioner answered. 
"Oh," he then said laughing. 
"Where are you living again, one more time?" I asked. 
"I actually have two residences," he answered. "In fact, I spent last night outside of Rocky Hill (in Montgomery). I'll spend tonight outside of Rocky Hill." 
Where does he live? Apparently, the New Jersey Senate thinks he lives in the same place he's lived since 1999.
Nice try, Slick. But not even Steve Sweeney was going to fall for this.
State Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3), West Deptford, shut down the Thursday hearing for Acting Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf based largely on discomfort about Cerf’s declared residency status, a source said. 
A resident of Montclair in Essex County, Cerf sought refuge in Somerset County, away from the entanglement of Essex County Sen. Ronald L. Rice’s (D-28), Newark, invocation of senatorial courtesy to block him.
But Sweeney told fellow lawmakers the Senate wouldn’t hear Cerf as anything other than a resident of Essex County.
“We talked about it and the consensus was we wouldn’t hear him this Thursday,” state Sen. Nick Scutari, (D-22), Linden, told PolitickerNJ.com.
Scutari was prepared to give Cerf a hearing but Sweeney decided to take Cerf off the agenda.
Rice told PolitickerNJ.com he's not budging on his opposition to Cerf's nomination.
I have to say I'm more than a little disappointed. There has been so much nonsense out of the Christie administration when it comes to education, and this could have been the first chance someone had to actually face up to what these people have been doing. Of course, if the entire hearing was going to be spent on figuring out where Cerf lives, that would have been pointless.

Well, don't worry folks: the Jazzman abides. I'm still watching, I'm still writing, and I'm still waiting. When and if this hearing ever happens, there will be a record of this administration's adventures in reforminess right here.

Stay tuned.


Anonymous said...

Who talks like this: "I actually have two residences," he answered. "In fact, I spent last night outside of Rocky Hill (in Montgomery). I'll spend tonight outside of Rocky Hill." 

"outside of Rocky Hill", who speaks like this about their new hometown?
. Doesn't this sound like someone who is trying to hide something?

Duke said...

No one I know. He's having a hard time charming his way out of this one.