The Star-Ledger Editorial Board weighs in on the absurd mechanism of “senatorial courtesy,” which allows NJ state senators to block appointments for nominees from their home district. In this case, Senator Ron Rice is blocking the appointment of Acting Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf who hails from Montclair, Rice’s district. From the editorial:
It’s time for New Jersey’s senators to end their tolerance for this antique sideshow — which places an unreasonable amount of power in the hands of 1/40th of the Senate, allowing one person to hold state government hostage while he procedurally stomps his feet and holds his breath.
The reason for Sen. Rice’s disdain? “Rice was upset that Cerf didn’t appear before a committee he chairs, and accused the commissioner of misleading him about his role as an adviser to Newark Mayor Cory Booker.”
Sen. Rice, by the way, sponsored a bill that would award non-tenured school employees the equivalent of tenure during dismissals, has called for a moratorium on the opening of any new charter schools, and is one of the top benefactors of NJEA’s political contributions.
What to do? Comm. Cerf could move to a different district, of course. But in the end Sen. Rice’s temper tantrum just looks infantile and unprofessional. The “Acting” modifier before Cerf’s title has no impact on his ability to do his job, or the authority he wields. This exercise of “senatorial courtesy” makes the whole Legislature appear, well, discourteous.