NEW JERSEY (WTXF) - Crows filled the skies and lurked in the trees over the New Jersey State House tonight. The legislature was in session. "I'm voting no on it, a resounding no," said Senator Shirley Turner of Trenton, "Just as I've voted no on all of these salary increases..."
Senator Turner, a Democrat, was in her State House office when FOX 29's Hank Flynn found her and she was disgusted with a bill to be voted on that day. "Things are done behind closed doors. It's always these backroom deals that are cut."
She was blasting a bill that would permit New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to sign a lucrative book deal, something state law prohibits him from doing before he leaves office next year. The trade-off? Bigger salaries for judges and legislative staffers. Senator Ray Lesniak called it a deal with the devil. "I've never seen a deal this bad in all my years," said Lesniak, well into his third decade in the NJ Senate. "It's Democrats colluding with Republicans and the Governor to screw the public."
Also included in the bill? A provision repealing a law that requires local governments to publish notices in local papers, one that has New Jersey papers outraged.
But would it even come to a vote? As the Assembly convened, Republican Michael Patrick Carroll couldn't see why not. One of the bill's co-sponsors, Assemblyman Carroll couldn't understand the objections. "We created this law about eight years ago, I don't know why, but we did it, which forbids the governor from taking pay for a book. What's the harm?"
Republicans were split however. Assemblyman Jack Ciatterelli said his constituents were furious at the bill, and he refused to support it.
"It's a terrible quid pro quo," said Ciatterelli, who's announced a run for Christie's governor's seat next year. "The governor's book deal is included in the same arrangement that increases staff? Salaries for legislators? It's just not the way to horse-trade."
As the day grew late the bill wasn't voted on or even called to a vote by Assembly Speaker Vince Prieto.