Gee, what a coincidence… Here’s NJ Politics at its best!

Another reason WHY YOUR VOTE MATTERS. Trenton works for themselves ONLY – We cannot continue to vote these folks in – and we do this by not voting! We need someone who works for US – you and I.

Star Ledger:
Lame-duck senator gets plum job after key vote. Asselta backed school plan, is named to BPU

BY DUNSTAN McNICHOL

Star-Ledger Staff For months, outgoing state Sen. Nicholas Asselta (R-Cumberland) had angled for an appointment to the state Board of Public Utilities.

Yesterday, hours after Asselta cast a pivotal vote to help Gov. Jon Corzine win approval for his $7.8 billion school funding proposal, the governor approved his BPU appointment.

Asselta could not be reached for comment last night and Corzine’s chief of staff, Brad Abelow, said he is “not aware of” any link between the two events.

“We never talk about the process that we go through to get the talented people that we find,” Abe low said. “I’ve got nothing more to say on this other than it had nothing to do with” the school funding vote.

Corzine lobbied both Republicans and Democrats heavily for his controversial school plan, and during the Senate vote Monday night, as the bill stalled one vote short of passage, senators said among themselves that Asselta’s voted yes because he had been promised the $125,000-a-year BPU post.

“A concern an observer might have is that it seemed that some votes might have been geared more on the individual’s needs than on whether the overall school funding formula is good public policy,” said Lynne Strickland, executive direc tor of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, a lobbying group for suburban school districts that opposed the school funding plan.

Trenton’s legislative history is full of horse-trading of critical votes for plum government posts.

Approval of the state’s auto emissions inspection program in 1995 required a deciding vote from then-state Sen. John Scott (R-Ber gen), who got an $84,500 guberna torial appointment to NJ Transit.

And in 1997, Sen. Joseph Bubba (R-Passaic), who had lost a primary challenge, was named a consultant to the state Department of Transportation after casting a pivotal vote in support of then-Gov. Christie Whitman’s plan to borrow $2.8 billion to shore up state pension funds.

The Senate approved Corzine’s school plan with the bare minimum 21 votes needed for passage. He needed at least five votes from Republicans, and ended up getting them only after the tally board stood frozen at 20 “yes” votes for more than three hours.

Lobbyists and Corzine’s lieutenants spent that time scouring the Senate floor for the final vote, which came from Sen. Martha Bark (R-Burlington).

Corzine has until Tuesday to sign the bill, after which the Attor ney General’s Office will ask the state Supreme Court to rule on its constitutionality.

Josh Margolin contributed to this report. Dunstan McNichol may be reached at (609) 989-0341 or dmcnichol@starledger.com.

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