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."
Nice try, Slick. But not even Steve Sweeney was going to fall for this.Where does he live? Apparently, the New Jersey Senate thinks he lives in the same place he's lived since 1999.
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.