EDUCATION

Weinberg Says Cerf’s Positives Outweigh Concerns

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted unanimously today to confirm Christopher Cerf’s appointment as the state’s education commissioner. The confirmation comes after an 18-month delay.

Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D), who has been critical of Cerf’s nomination, has been quoted as saying that Cerf’s “antenna needed to be sharpened.”

In an interview with Managing Editor Mike Schneider, Sen. Weinberg clarified her remark by saying that there was a certain “disingenuousness” about Cerf that troubled her, especially with the way he satisfied the residency requirements of his position.

“I don’t think there was any of us sitting in that dais or sitting in the audience who believed that he took that apartment in Somerset to be closer to work and yet he almost acted as if he believed it.”

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Despite her reservations, Weinberg said she voted to confirm Cerf because of his experience and willingness to “shake up” the establishment. Additionally, she said that Cerf has been more responsive to concerns over charter schools.

“I think he understands more the problems surrounding the charter schools. Hopefully, he understands none of us are looking forward to having education performed to New Jersey in a for-profit environment.”

Weinberg is one of several lawmakers who support the idea of having gaming at the Meadowlands when Super Bowl 2014 is played there with thousands of visitors expected to descend onto the area. Gov. Chris Christie and several South Jersey lawmakers have already voiced their opposition to a casino at the Meadowlands. But the proposed casino, Weinberg insisted, would be for one week and one week only and even benefit Atlantic City.

“The proposal that we’re putting forth is nothing more, nothing less. It would just be the week of the Super Bowl. We could put it out to a bid for a casino itself to operate so that the casinos in Atlantic City or at least one of them, whoever got to operate it, would realize much of the revenue. So it would help us advertise Atlantic City. It would help our income stream up here in northern New Jersey and I think it’s a worthwhile idea.”

According to Weinberg, Senate President Steve Sweeney, who is known to be a staunch supporter of Atlantic City, is committed to looking into the idea. But time is of the essence.

“It would also require a referendum by the way, a constitutional amendment which we would have to do … this November and we would have to implement it pretty quick.”


Related: Cerf Likely to Be Confirmed As Education Chief