Tag Archives: John Adler

A Few Thoughts on the Late John Adler

I can’t say that I knew John Adler well, but since I follow New Jersey government and politics, I was well aware of his activities as a State Senator and U.S. Congressman. His death at age 51 is a tragedy – not only for those who knew him much better than I did, but also for the New Jerseyans he served as an elected official.

The reaction to his passing – from both Democrats and Republicans – is sincere and provides a badly needed reminder that, even in today’s world of partisanship and polarization, a sense of camaraderie and decency still remains.

The one personal memory I have of John Adler took place late in 2008 when he was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. One of the Hall Institute trustees had been nominated to the State Board of Education, and I sat in on the session to make certain everything ran smoothly, and for our purposes, it did.

But I also had an opportunity to watch Adler deal with a variety of more controversial nominations. He conducted the hearing with class, and he treated everyone fairly, whether the speaker was a powerful attorney, a sitting judge, an influential state official or just an average citizen with a gripe. In fact, he took great care to ensure that the average citizens at the hearing — those not familiar with the Legislature’s role in the nomination process — understood the processes and procedures, so that they would leave Trenton knowing that their state representatives had listened to them.

My brief encounter with John Adler is consistent with what those who knew him better have been saying in the wake of his passing. Rest in peace, Mr. Congressman.

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The Power of the Press Still Stands

Fiscal conditions have drastically reduced personnel and resources at news organizations all over the country, including New Jersey. But over the past week, we have seen two instances in which the media still is impacting public policy in New Jersey.

First The Courier Post reported that Democratic operatives were responsible for getting a Tea Party candidate on the ballot in the 3rd Congressional District, where incumbent Democratic John Adler is locked in a tight race with Republican Jon Runyan, a former Philadelphia Eagles lineman. The theory behind adding a Tea Party candidate to the mix is that it would drain votes from Runyan.

Although Adler has denied any involvement, the Cook Political Report moved the race from the “leans Democrat” column to “toss-up”.

The other example of the power of the press came from former state Education Commissioner Bret Schundler, who testified before the Senate Legislative Oversight Committee about the actions that led to New Jersey’s failure to qualify for $400 million in federal education monies because of a clerical error the state made while it was revising its application for the funds. Schundler told the panel that the application had to be redone at the last minute because Governor Christie did not like what a talk radio host was saying about it.

“The Governor informed me that NJ 101.5 radio host Jim Gearhart was saying he had caved in to the union,” Schundler testified. “He said that the leaders of the NJEA had demeaned him and that it was utterly intolerable for him to be viewed as having given-in to them. The money was not worth it.”

In the interest of full disclosure, Schundler was fired by the Governor because of this incident. Nevertheless, the words of the former Cabinet member are quite intriguing. As Carla Linz of The Press of Atlantic City wrote: “If true, that means Gov. Chris Christie valued his image and ego above $400 million for education in New Jersey. Outrageous. Even worse may be the idea that an entertainment/talk radio show is setting policy in the Governor’s Office.”

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