Grapevine See you in court, channeling Bracken

//August 1, 2011

Grapevine See you in court, channeling Bracken

//August 1, 2011

A BPU bench warmer?
A long-circulating rumor that Lee Solomon could leave the BPU continues, as three N.J. Supreme Court justices are expected to vacate the bench in the coming year.

A BPU bench warmer?
A long-circulating rumor that Lee Solomon could leave the BPU continues, as three N.J. Supreme Court justices are expected to vacate the bench in the coming year.

Solomon — who previously served as superior court judge in Camden County — became BPU president last year, but “clearly wants to go back on the bench,” according to a source familiar with the matter.

He could get his chance, with the initial term of Roberto A. Rivera-Soto — who is not seeking re-nomination — ending in September, and Virginia Long reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70 in March. Edwin Stern — whom Stuart Rabner named as a temporary justice to fill the opening left by John Wallace — retired in June.

Only Rivera-Soto’s seat is spoken for; he will be replaced by Chris Christie nominee Anne Patterson.

Solomon, who also served as a deputy U.S. attorney under Christie, accepted the BPU job because “the governor wanted him to take it,” the source said. “He’s very loyal to the governor.” And if Solomon were to go to the Supreme Court, he would likely go during Christie’s first term, the source said.

As BPU president, Solomon “came to look after the governor’s interests,” and will likely be remembered most for moving the agency to Trenton after 100 years in Newark, the source said. “But if this is his opportunity to go back on the bench, he would certainly like to take it.”

Solomon, who served in the Assembly in the 1990s, “would sail through” if nominated, the source said. A resident of Haddonfield Township, Solomon is well liked by South Jersey Democrats and gets along with Stephen Sweeney.

The business community would likely be supportive too, sources said. Solomon had been engaged in the thankless task of rewriting the state’s energy master plan during the past year. If he moves on, speculation over a potential replacement at BPU has centered on Bob Martin, who worked on energy issues as an executive with Accenture before becoming commissioner of the DEP. The nominations are drawing interest from business groups, since the two Supreme Court positions to be filled in March could lead to a historic shift in how the court rules on a wide range of issues.

Lights, camera, Bracken!
New Jersey Chamber of Commerce head Tom Bracken could soon have a new role — television show host.

Grapevine has learned Bracken shot a pilot earlier this month for a new public television program called “NJ Boardroom.” The show is being produced by the Foundation for New Jersey Public Broadcasting, with hopes it will air on NJTV.

Steve Priolo, president of the foundation, said Bracken did “a great job” as host of the pilot episode. Bracken also assembled its panel, which included New Jersey Business and Industry Association President Philip Kirschner, HealthCare Institute of New Jersey President and CEO Dean Paranicas, Verizon New Jersey President Dennis Bone and New Jersey Alliance for Action President Philip Beachem.

Priolo said the goal is to delve into substantive business issues. He said the audience is serious business leaders — not “lightweights.”

The pilot is currently being reviewed by WNET’s programming committee, among others. If all goes well, Priolo said the foundation would initially produce 11 more half-hour episodes. The broadcast schedule has yet to be determined.

A buzz from COLA
State, county and local unions are gearing up to file a joint lawsuit to decry changes to their pensions, and the filing could come as early as this week, according to one union official.

Two to three dozen lawyers have been involved, with all the major unions having had some type of legal representation so far, the official said. The unions had not decided as of press time if they will file the suit in state or federal court. The cost of living adjustment for existing retirees is reportedly the biggest point the unions will try to argue.

Grapevine received conflicting information about the role of Hetty Rosenstein‘s Communications Workers of America. The union official said the CWA was not joining the joint lawsuit. But another union source said the CWA continues to be involved, and its counsel is still actively involved with the other unions that are filing suit. That second source also made a filing this week seem unlikely, saying the joint suit will be filed in August but “everyone is still preparing pleadings.”

Grapevine reports on the behind-the-scenes buzz in the business community. Contact Editor Sharon Waters at [email protected]